Videos

Pentecostal Atheist Bible Study: Special Guests Shannon Q and Paulogia

It’s time for another bible study this time with very special guests. We were truly honored to have Shannon Q and Paulogia join us today. Sorry that my sound isn’t great I will work on that for when we do the next Bible Study. It sounded fine in the test we did but then was muffled during the actual video.

Wednesday Woo

Wednesday Woo: Christian Edition: Name It And Claim It

So Jennifer is recuperating from the holidays and our daughter just went back to school today so writing a blog was the last thing on her mind. So I figured why not jump on here and write my own article for the Wednesday Woo series? Today I will be talking about some of the woo like beliefs that many Christians follow even if there is no biblical standard for any of these beliefs. While New Age beliefs and Fundamentalist Christianity seem to be on opposite ends of the spectrum in terms of theism some of the beliefs are so similar that you would think they are one and the same.

Prosperity Doctrine

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One of the major ways that American Christianity sets itself apart from the rest of the world would be the plethora of televangelists that promote what is commonly known as “The Prosperity Gospel.” What this set of beliefs attempts to promote is the idea that god will financially bless anyone that fully puts their trust in him. Now how does one put their trust completely into the hands of god, you ask? Well by sending cash to whatever televangelist you happen to like best.

This belief is built around a scripture in the parable of the Sower:

“And those are the ones on whom seed was sown on the good soil; and they hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold.” – Mark 4:20

So basically the parable is about reaping souls for god, in other words saving lots of people from the fires of hell. However those who promote the prosperity gospel will use this verse and a few other cherry picked scriptures in an effort to give the idea that god wants to make you rich. The other scriptures that these pastors will use deal with the idea of tithing, giving a tenth of all your increase(income) to the priestly order, a practice that was stipulated in the old testament and continued by many Christian sects throughout the centuries. What they then say is that if you give 10 dollars you will receive 100 or 1000 in return and so who wouldn’t want to give a small offering if god is definitely going to return to you all of it and way more.

Well the facts are tithing is a tremendously arduous and sometimes painful process. If you have never practiced tithing, imagine having to set aside ten percent of your income, income that may be needed for food or bills, and giving it away, hoping that you will be blessed in the future. Now charity is good but tithing is in some ways nearly murder. I have known elderly women on social security who have begging for food simply so that they can pay their tithe and not fear the wrath of god if they don’t. This is one of the main reasons that when I was a minister I never taught on tithing, it’s one of the few things that I am proud of from that facet of my life.

So anyway, you give your 10 dollars and you get 100 back, everyone wins right? No because you almost never see this return and when you don’t see the blessings that the minister guaranteed who is at fault? If you said the minister, you’re wrong. The person who is always at fault is the one who gave the money to begin with. What you will hear is that the person gave with the wrong idea in mind, because if you give wanting a blessing then you will never receive that blessing, even if the minister promoted the blessing as the only reason to give.

Now imagine if you went to buy a car, you give the dealership your money and the dealership throws you out on your ass. When you ask why the dealership states that you gave your money expecting to get a car in return and so you don’t get the car. If you had only showed up and given the money with no expectations in your mind, the dealership would have blessed you with a car in return. Does that make any sense? Absolutely not, but this is the exact same mindset that the prosperity gospel promotes. Give your money because a blessing will be returned to you but be sure that you aren’t doing it expecting a blessing because if you do that you’ll end up fucked….It’s absolute bullshit.

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Name It And Claim It

In the same vein as the prosperity gospel is the “name it and claim it” crowd.  An offshoot of mainline Pentecostalism this group of ministers claim that your words have power and that if you claim good things you will receive good things, if you claim bad things you will receive bad things. If you think this sounds exactly like new age gobbledy gook then you would be 100% correct.

Basically, what this theology teaches is that our world is shaped by the things we think and more specifically the things we say, hence the “name it and claim it” moniker. While on the surface it might seem innocuous in reality this belief system can be incredibly dangerous. Positive thinking can help to a certain point and a healthy psychological perspective can be built around telling yourself good things that you like about yourself.

Saying “I like my smile” may bring you a simple confidence boost and help you feel better about yourself, however when you look at the opposite side of the coin things get very murky. Let’s say you go to the doctor and the doctor runs some tests only to find that you have cancer, well the “name it and claim it” crowd would tell you that if accept what the doctor says then you do have cancer and it will only get worse the longer you say things like, “I have cancer.” So what are you supposed to do? Go around saying, “I don’t have cancer,” and believing that god has healed you of your cancer. You don’t receive chemo, or surgery, or anything that would take away any amount of trust in god and you simply believe that the cancer doesn’t exist. Do you see the problem with this type of theology?

To bring this to a personal note, my great-grandmother went to a revival meeting one night and asked for prayer due to a heart issue that she had suffered with for several years. The minister prayed over her and asked her if she believed she had been healed, she said that she believed and so he told her to throw away her heart medication in a show of faith before god. The minister moved on to another revival in another town and my great grandmother, full of faith and lacking the heart medication that she desperately needed died of a heart attack. I’m sure the minister never thought of my great-grandmother again but the family lost a matriarch and a young boy got his first taste of skepticism which would stick with him and helped aid him leave the faith many years later.

Oil, Sand, and Other Such Bullshit

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I’ve laughed and joked about crystals and salt lamps in the past but Christianity has its own bullshit market filled with trinkets that will definitely get you closer to god. You can buy oil from the holy man that has been prayed over by a televangelist. You can buy sand supposedly from the path that Jesus walked which has healing properties because Jesus walked on it at some point in history. I knew a man who had a cloth that he said was dipped in the blood of Christ that he had purchased during a revival, in reality it was a cloth that had been dyed red but he earnestly believed that when he prayed with that cloth in hand that he was closer to god.

A local woman had scriptures written all over her house because it protected her from evil spirits. Really all it protected her from was visitors because there was no way that I was going into the creepy scripture coated house. She had them on her walls, in her cupboards, in every drawer and in every room, the worst thing was she had them scrawled all over the walls of her kids rooms too. I was friends with her son for a short period of time and knowing what teenage boys do with free time on their hand I can only imagine the psychological torture of having to wank it with the bible staring you straight in the face 24/7….not that he wanked 24/7 but you get the picture.

Anyway, most of the trinkets and practices that you see going around from church to church have little to no biblical backing whatsoever and they are simply done because it makes the person who owns it feel better. I’ve always found it hilarious that many people walk around with crosses draped around their neck even though the bible explicitly prohibits any sort of iconography. The Catholics get around this by simply removing that commandment from the top 10 but isn’t that just cheating?

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To finish up I’ll leave you with another personal story. We had a woman in church, an elderly woman whose husband had died many years prior. She had her husbands bible and she would say that whenever she read from that bible it was as if her husbands warmth enveloped her and she felt gods power working deep inside her…Basically god granted this bible orgasmic properties which….more power to her but not the type of thing that a teenage boy wants to think about when he’s trying to wank it in his room after church….

That’s right I told the story of my great-grandmothers death and included two wanking jokes in the same blog….yep, I’m awesome!

 

 

General Information

New Articles On The Way

So I’ve been writing again which is good and I hope you’ve enjoyed the newest articles from myself, Jennifer, and all the others who have submitted entries. I’ve had some new ideas that I will explore over the coming weeks.

1.) BS News report

This is a satirical take on the news of the week from my own unique point of view.

2.) The return of A Pentecostal Atheist Bible Study

3.) Deep Thoughts

Subjects may include science, medicine, paradoxes, riddles, basically anything that gets me thinking.

Anyway, keep on the lookout for these new articles as well as other posts in the future.

Thank you so much to everyone who has read so far, I appreciate you all.

Side note: What would you like to see more of in this blog. Any suggestions and help will be greatly appreciated.

Matt

A Pentecostal Atheist Bible Study

A Pentecostal Atheist Bible Story: Noah: Part 1

For last weeks Atheist Bible Study, click here.

If you would like to follow along with today’s study read Genesis Chapters 5&6

So today’s study starts with a bunch of genealogy from Adam to Noah. Why do we need this stuff? Maybe just to point out who got laid? It’s really more a way to say that lots of people existed by the time of Noah, lots of wicked and evil people…

Chapter 6

This chapter begins with a bunch of horny angels, seeing just how sweet the women on Earth are and so they take some and impregnate them. The result of these unions are, of course, giants. God gets pissed off because he didn’t remember giving the angels sex organs to begin with. If anyone is going to impregnate a woman, it’s going to be him, but that won’t be for a couple thousand years… It then says that these giants became the men of older myths, which ones? Who knows, but anyway these half angel, half men, were like hercules.

hercules

Now for some reason God gets mad at man, even though he wasn’t the one having sex with angels, and limits their lives to 120 years. He’ll then immediately break this in later chapters but God’s kinda forgetful about his decrees and shit. So man looks at his 120 years and things….this is not enough time to do all the fucking and debauchery done…so man turns their sin on overdrive and gets busy. It states…

“The LORD saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time.” – Genesis 6:5

Now, you might ask yourself at this point. When did god lay out the rules for what was good and what was evil? How could man have any idea on what was sinful and what was good for them to do in the sight of god? Pleasure makes us feel good and pain makes us feel bad so perhaps humans were using this as their guidelines at the time. They had no rulebook, no commandments, it seems like god hadn’t even talked to anyone for several generations, so maybe they assumed that god had been a figment of their ancestors minds?

Yet, god is pissed that they are doing things that he doesn’t like. Instead of simply showing up, like he did numerous times before, and telling them to stop it. He decided that mass murder is the much better and more holy option. Not only that but he decides that he hates man so much that he’s just going to kill everything, and I mean everything…

So the LORD said, “I will wipe from the face of the earth the human race I have created—and with them the animals, the birds and the creatures that move along the ground—for I regret that I have made them.” – Genesis 6-7

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Take that you fucking platypus, screw you cow, go to hell salamander…God is pissed at man so you gotta go too! Who knows, maybe angels saw the sheep and did with them as they had with the human women? I mean is that any worse? Angels and Humans are different species or being as it is so maybe angels were just busy fucking anything that their light penises could penetrate?

Anyway,  so it says God decided to kill everything, ….

But Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD. -Genesis 6:8

It goes on to say that Noah is a righteous guy, who walks with God. How is he righteous? Who knows? Once again there is no rule book or guidelines, so we are to assume that Noah was just really lucky.

So anyway, the next section says that God goes to Noah and says…

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“Hey, Noah… I am really pissed off at man and I don’t like how violent man is!” Noah nods and then god goes on and says, “So since they are all so violent I’ve decided to kill them all…”

Now, why at this point does Noah not ask if god understands the difference between a little violence and complete genocide, but he doesn’t. God then tells Noah to build a boat and it has to be to his specific standards. Since we now have a representation of such a boat in Kentucky and can say conclusively that this boat would never float, Noah should have been skeptical. Seriously a wooden boat this large would be torn to shreds by the action of the waves.

Anyway, god gives Noah all of these directions about the boat and then tells Noah he has to get 2 of every animal in order to save them from the flood. We will find in a later chapter that god actually wants Noah to take 7 of every clean animal and 2 of every unclean animal. Now just remember this because there is no rule book yet for Noah to know what a clean or unclean animal is. As far as we know, according to scripture, man is still subsisting on a vegetarian diet, not being given the ability to eat meat from god yet. So clean and unclean would be absolutely meaningless to Noah.

Anyway it then says that Noah does everything that god commanded him to do. That’s what you do when an omnipotent being threatens the entire world with murder, you get shit done and do it as fast as possible. It’s not like Noah had any choice in this matter, it was either do it or die…How’s that for Free-will?

Now, a question you might ask yourself here is why would god need to flood the earth in order to kill everything?

lazy god

Isn’t this a being that simply spoke creation into existence? Couldn’t he just have easily spoken creation out of existence? If he wanted to start over with Noah, then he could have just as easily said, “Humans, be gone except Noah and his family. Animals, be gone except enough to repopulate.” Yet, no, the only way he can do it now is through mass murder. God’s gotten kinda lazy by now and I guess has forgotten that he is capable of speaking things into or out of existence.

So now, how is this taught in the churches that I’ve attended?

Well for one, it is never mentioned that god hadn’t actually set any rules for man at this point. It is often assumed that anything in the old testament is under the old testament law, and yet that supposedly hasn’t been written yet. So none of the people before the flood could have been said to be breaking any rules that had been set up by god.

The other thing that we are told is that, once again, the sins that the people were said to be committing was homosexuality. It seems that no matter what the story is, fundamentalists will inject a healthy amount of butt sex into it. What does that tell us about fundamentalists? Anyway, there is nothing to point to this in the story yet many Pentecostal ministers will point to this story as being the eventual effect of rampant homosexuality. This is also where fundamentalists get the idea that natural disasters are explicitly due to the sins of mankind and in no way due to anything natural. It’s dumb but it’s true that many teach it this way…

Anyway, I hope you have enjoyed the first part to this story and will stick around for future developments in Noah’s weird relationship with god. This is the first story with a bit more narrative and explanation, so the writers of the bible are getting better, it just took some time. Thank you for reading.

A Pentecostal Atheist Bible Study

A Pentecostal Atheist Bible Study: The Garden Of Eden

So just to let everyone know, this study will not be a verse by verse exposition style study of the bible. I wouldn’t want to bore you with that. What this series of articles will be is an explanation of how these stories were described to me, as well as how I taught it during my time as a minister. Within various Pentecostal denominations, the stories of the bible can be taught in many different ways. Some churches choose to teach them exactly as they are written, others teach the stories as allegories, while still others add their own strange spin. I will try to describe all of these as best as I can.


If you would like to follow along, this article deals with chapters 1-3 of Genesis.

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Chapter 1: Let’s Make Some Shit!

So the book of genesis begins with the creation story, first god moves over the face of the waters seeing that the earth is formless. So he decides to do something about that…Now some will ask, how did he just happen to come across this giant water planet, well that is explained by how you view the first verse of this chapter.

“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.”

So if you are a biblical literalist, you read this scripture as god created the earth and then he moved over it. If you are an allegorist you teach that this was billions of years after the big bang and so the earth had cooled and was covered in water. Either way the earth is already made when god begins his real creation work.

So to give a synopsis of creation.

Day 1: Light
Day 2: The Firmament (We live in a giant dome…)
Day 3: Dry Land and plants
Day 4:  Two big light bulbs, the sun and the moon.
Day 5:  Fish and Birds
Day 6: All the animals and humankind

Now a few things to note from this first chapter. Light is created before the sun, the moon, and the stars. That’s pretty damn impressive isn’t it? I mean, if it were me, I’d probably have to create nuclear fission prior to any light being shone, but hey, I’m not god….am I? Secondly, god explicitly creates a firmament, no question about it, we live in a giant dome with water below it and water above it. No wonder people can’t breathe in space, it’s all water.

You might also note that plants are created before their ability to grow is, plants require sunlight to grow and so you’d think they would need the sun to be created, but once again, I’m not god and I wasn’t there, so who knows how plants grew 6,000 years ago. I mean maybe they didn’t require any light to grow back then, who knows….

So if you aren’t a literalist, you basically consider the first 2 days to be billions of years. Everything else you explain as a biblical description of evolution, however this is a poor way of describing it. Notice that fish and birds are created on the same day? Does evolution even come close to describing fish evolving into birds? Of course not. Secondly, no one who has studied evolution would state that the sun came after plant life. That’s simply ridiculous.

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Chapter 2: Beastiality and Boobies!

Chapter 2 begins with god taking a nap. Omnipotent beings are still incredibly lazy and they need their beauty sleep. It then goes on to give us a summary of the information that we just read, in case we weren’t paying attention the first time. Strangely though this creation story is decidedly different from the first one.

In chapter two we have god creating just one dude, Adam. He takes some dust, makes Adam and then breathes life into him. This forms the basis of the belief that man has a soul and animals do not, god breathed a soul into man but just spoke animals into existence. God then walks Adam through the garden of Eden, showing him all the cool shit he just made. Adam is told that he can eat any fruit from any tree, except one, the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, this is god’s special tree and he doesn’t like it when people touch his shit. I heard he hides his weed in the trunk.

After a while, God sees that he forgot to make something for Adam to stick his peepee into, so he creates all the animals and brings them to Adam.  Note in the first chapter that these were created before man, but hey, who is paying attention. Adam isn’t into beastial pleasures, but he does at least name everything, before getting bored and lonely again.

So god puts Adam to sleep, takes a rib out of his chest, and forms a woman. Why Adam’s rib had two X chromosomes instead of one X and one Y, we will never know? Adam wakes up and is like, “Holy Shit, Boobies!” They are both naked and not ashamed of being naked.

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Chapter 3: Walkin and Talkin Snakes

Chapter three begins with a snake talking to eve, just having a chat, it never states that this is odd to Eve, so we must assume that animals could talk back then. So the snake says to Eve, “Hey, God’s a fuckin liar, you know that tree where he stores his weed, that shit is fucking delicious and it makes you smart. You eat that shit and you’ll be like God.” Eve says, “God told us we would die if we ate it.” The serpent then asks, “Do you know what death is? It means get smart, duh…”

So Eve eats the fruit and then gives it to Adam. Adam was having a rough day and really didn’t want to get into an argument with his new spouse so he goes ahead and eats it. They then look at each other and realize they are naked, “OH NO!.” No reason is given why being naked would be considered a bad thing as it was how they were created but anyway they take some leaves and get a bit more modest.

God shows up and says, “Hey, Adam and Eve, where the fuck are you guys? I’m Omniscient but my dealer gave me some really strong shit which is messing with my perception. Come on guys, where the fuck are you?”

Adam and Eve come out and say, “Hey, just noticed we’re naked and so yeah….we didn’t want you to see our naughty bits.”

God, still not come down from his high asks, “Who told you that you were naked?

Eve blames the serpent, Adam blames Eve, and the serpent is just like, “What the fuck are you gon do about it?”

God gets pissed, curses the serpent to crawl on its belly and eat dirt. 

God curses Eve by making her menstruate and have painful childbirth.
God curses Adam by making him work hard for his living.
God even curses the earth, why? Because Reasons.

He then kicks them out of the garden to prevent them from eating from the tree that would give them immortality, because god is scared of losing his status. He places a flaming sword and some angels at the gate of the garden, just to prevent them from sneaking back in.


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The Strange

Now, having spent a good deal of time in the Pentecostal church, I’d like to describe some of the weirder beliefs about Adam and Eve’s time in the garden.

1.) Adam And Eve Were Beings of Light

Some teach that Adam and Eve didn’t actually have a physical form prior to eating of the fruit. This is to explain why, when they eat the fruit, they are ashamed of their physical forms. Adam and Eve were also sexless beings that, like angels, lack sex organs and butt-holes. Only when Adam and Eve ate of the fruit did their bodies take on a physical form and their sex organs developed. The first fart must have really freaked them out.

2.) The Serpent Was Another Woman Who Gave Eve Her First Orgasm

This stems from a Jewish tale of Adams first wife, Lilith. She wanted to have an equal say in everything, especially in sexual positions, and so god banished her from the garden. She is then said to have given birth to all the evil that exists in the world. It was even taught at one point that she was the cause of wet dreams. Anyway, she returns to the garden and shows Eve her cunning lingual ways, which opens Eve’s eyes to sexual pleasure. Eve then takes this knowledge and blows Adams mind. Thus they understand the mind expanding abilities of orgasms and god gets pissed off.

3.) The Fruit Of The Tree Was Sodomy

So in this interpretation the serpent is more human than animal and teaches Eve the joys of butt sex. Eve then teaches this to Adam, and they feel the shame of the sin of sodomy.  So it wasn’t Adam and Steve, it was Adam and Eve and butt-sex snake dude.  To be perfectly honest, I have absolutely no idea where this idea came from. I only know about it because this is how my grandfather taught it as well as how I have heard several other ministers teach it over the years.

If you’ve taken anything away from this it is that sex is evil, in order to make that fact a truth, the story is interpreted in a way to include way more sex.


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How I Taught It

To be completely honest, I rarely taught about the creation story.  As a child I had been a bit of a young earth creationist, but by the time I became a minister I viewed the book of Genesis as decidedly unimportant to the Christian faith, especially the first three chapters. When I did speak on the topic I would say that the only message we really need to take away from it is this.

1.) God created the world as perfect
2.) Humans chose to sin
3.) Humanity fell due to that sin

Looking back I see that this is still incredibly simplistic. If god created us as perfect then how could we do anything that would be considered as sinful? Why would humanity’s ability to choose to go against something god has said be considered sinful? How could humanity even know what sin was if they had been created in a sinless world?  If they had never experienced immorality, how could they even have an idea of what immorality was or what it might do? Why did god lie about what would happen if they ate from the tree? I mean personally if he had said, if you eat from this tree, your women will bleed and be in pain, both monthly as well as during childbirth, and your men will have to really work hard to survive. Maybe then I might steer clear of the tree.

Basically though, this creation story is one of the more basic stories of the ancient world. God simply speaks things into being and they exist. It’s a silly story and one that causes a huge amount of contention in the church today. If this creation story hadn’t been included, would evolution be an issue? Would Christianity have such issues with science? I don’t think they would, but they do and it’s foundation is built upon this strange, strange, story.

General Information

Update: Weekly Format

So now that I have finished the entries to my journey, you might be wondering, where does this blog go from here? Never fear, this blog will still be chock full of daily content for your viewing pleasure. Entries will mostly follow a weekly format as described below.

Monday: Extra-Biblical Teachings/Crazy Christians/Strange Bedfellows
Tuesday: An Aspie In Iowa (Posts dealing with Autism/Aspergers)
Wednesday: Wednesday Woo & Strange Questions
Thursday: Arguments Against Atheism
Friday: Free-Thought Friday & Eat Me
Saturday: Something Different Saturday
Sunday: Satanic Sunday & A Pentecostal Atheist Bible Study

I will also write various posts as they come to me. I love writing and will continue to fill this blog with interesting tidbits that you might find both entertaining and informative.

Thank you so much for following this blog and for your continued readership, I appreciate each and ever one of your comments, your likes, and your questions. It has been a wild ride so far and I have loved every minute of it. You readers are fucking awesome!

My Journey

My Journey Away From Faith: Part 27

For part 26 of my journey, click here.
To start at the beginning of my journey, click here.

“Some things are in our control and others not. Things in our control are opinion, pursuit, desire, aversion, and, in a word, whatever are our own actions. Things not in our control are body, property, reputation, command, and, in one word, whatever are not our own actions.” – The Enchiridion of Epictetus

As I read through the paperwork the officer had handed me, I fell deeper and deeper into depression. She accused me of being both physically and mentally abusive, claimed that I was mentally ill, and said that I would definitely be a harm to the children if allowed to interact with them. I decided that I would fight this and went to the courthouse prepared to give my side of the story.

“I never deny a restraining order that has been sought in my courtroom…”

The day of the hearing arrived and I stood as the judge came in to take his place. We all sat and the first thing out of the Judge’s mouth was, “I never deny a restraining order that has been sought in my courtroom. We can either sit here and discuss this til we are blue in the face or I can simply grant it and we can be done with this situation for the next year.” I realized no argument I could make would change the judges mind, and she was there crying and acting as if I was crazy. When the judge asked me my opinion, I simply said, if that meant a year of no contact with her, I would be more than happy to agree.

I drove home with deep feelings of despair and foreboding. How was I going to survive an entire year without any contact with the kids that had become such a crucial part of my life? I was crushed and sobbed much of the next few days. My life at home was bad but only because I was in such a deep depression. The love of my life felt the brunt of it and didn’t feel as if I wanted her there. Sadly our relationship almost ended in those first couple of days after the restraining order went into effect. In such a sad state, I considered putting things on hold and told my love about it. She burst into tears and told me I needed to figure out exactly what I wanted and fast. The second I saw the pain in her eyes, I knew I never wanted to see that pain again and that I wanted to spend the rest of my life bringing joy to those eyes.

StoicismHowever, getting out of a depression is not an easy matter, it isn’t like turning a light switch on and off and I had to find my own way out of it. Luckily, my love, had an idea that might just help me. She had been a psychology major in college and had studied philosophy as well, knowing my love of philosophy, she encouraged me to look into some of the Stoic writers of the early first and second centuries AD. It was exactly what I had been looking for. For those that don’t know, modern CBT therapy is based on Stoic ideas.

Marcus Aurelius

The Stoics (Epictetus, Seneca, and Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius) taught that some things are within our control and others are not. That’s a very basic explanation of their philosophy but it is enough to get the general idea across. Those things that are within our control should be the things we dwell upon and deal with, those things outside of our control are things that we shouldn’t spend much time, energy, or thinking on. I read several of the classics as well as modern stoic works written by non-believers.(Stoicism was not based on a belief in god and so it fits well with the atheist mindset) I found within these works that you can love someone who does not currently love you back and still be fine.

I knew I had a year that I couldn’t see those kids and the thought had crushed me, but being able to see them was completely outside of my control. Being able to love them, even though I wasn’t able to see them was still fully within my control. I also had a deep love for the woman I was with and a growing love for her daughter as well. I decided that for the next year I would dwell, not on what I couldn’t do, but only upon those things that I could do. It took some time but my depression began to gradually subside.

Over time, my happiness and tranquility increased to a point that I was able to beat my depression and move forward with my life.  The fact that god and faith played no role in overcoming this depression made the results twice as satisfying. Not only was I just living life but I was truly enjoying the life I was living.

One day I checked the mail and got notice that the final hearing for my divorce was coming up.  Also in the mail that day was a letter stating that I owed some $10,000 dollars in back child support for the daughter of Jennifer. Confused, I contacted child support services and asked them why they felt I owed this. Come to find out, since Jennifer had her daughter while we were still technically married, the state of Iowa considered her my legal daughter. When I explained that they were living at my residence and that I was back in a relationship with her mother, they told me I owed nothing and that I could put in a request to have her status as my legal daughter removed. They said if I did nothing, she would still be considered my legal daughter.

I thought about it for only a minute or two before deciding that I would give her the final say in what occurred. Jennifer agreed and when she got home from school that day we sat her down and talked it over with her. She instantly said that she always had wanted a “real” dad and was really happy to find out that I was her real dad. That settled it, she is my daughter and always will be. I love her so much and she acts so much like me it’s hilarious.

Anyway, the day of the final hearing arrived and the judge signed the decree, I was now divorced once again. I felt a deep sense of relief having that period of my life over with. I still missed the kids a great deal but was fully capable of loving them without being able to see them. We went home and I went to work where my coworkers had bought me a cake to celebrate the end of my divorce proceedings. All in all it was a great day.

Deadbeat

We spent the next year just enjoying being around each other. We learned a lot about one another and our relationship continued to deepen. My faith had been removed but I still claimed a deistic/agnostic style of belief, claiming that either god doesn’t exist or he created everything and then took off to avoid child support payments to his newly created beings. I did however begin to read some scientific journals, things that would have been considered taboo while I was in the faith, and found great enjoyment in learning about topics like physics, the big bang, and evolution. Life was good but I still wasn’t ready to call myself an atheist just yet.

 

To continue on to part 28, click here.

My Journey

My Journey Away From Faith: Part 26

For part 25 of my journey, click here.
To start at the beginning of my journey, click here.

“For everything there is a season,
a time for every activity under heaven.
A time to be born and a time to die.
A time to plant and a time to harvest.
A time to kill and a time to heal.
A time to tear down and a time to build up.
A time to cry and a time to laugh.
A time to grieve and a time to dance.
A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones.
A time to embrace and a time to turn away.
A time to search and a time to quit searching.
A time to keep and a time to throw away.
A time to tear and a time to mend.
A time to be quiet and a time to speak.
A time to love and a time to hate.
A time for war and a time for peace.”
-Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

I cannot tell you how hard it was for me to write those first few words to my ex-wife. For nearly a decade, I had told myself time and again how much I hated her, how every thought of her made me angry and sad. Even though all of those feelings had been a sham and a protective covering for the hurt I truly felt, I was sure that she hated me and would never message me back. I spent hours debating whether or not I should even message her, but I did it and immediately felt foolish for the corny way I initiated contact.

She responded, “HEY!”

That went way better than I expected it to go, now was time for me to attempt a conversation with her, but I had absolutely no idea what to say.  I asked her how she was and if she had heard about my second marriage breaking down, surprisingly she had. My ex had contacted her and asked her for help in getting back with me, which is a really weird thing to ask someone. Anyway, we chatted for a bit and then I told her how sorry I was for how distant I had become during our marriage, I accepted my role in our divorce and told her I no longer felt any ill will towards her.

“I accepted my role in our divorce and told her i no longer felt any ill will towards her.”

She was shocked by the apology but acted cordial and let me know that she had forgiven me years before. We were both young and had both made mistakes. She then apologized to me for giving up on our marriage so quickly and for not being as understanding as she felt she should have been. In the end of our first conversation we agreed that we were mature and old enough to be friends.

I went to work after that and my mind kept wandering back to the beautiful redhead that had once sang to me on a rooftop so many years before. Talking to her again online had brought back all of those feelings that had been lost to me for so long. When I got home, I hoped on-line and saw that she too was on-line. We talked for a couple of hours and then she said she had a question for me…

“Do you still have feelings for me?”

My answer was an immediate, “no.” We talked for a few more minutes and were getting ready to end the conversation when my mind burst into action. “I lied,” I said “I have never stopped having feelings for you, losing you was the most painful thing that I have ever gone through but I still love you and always will.” Her response was, “I still have feelings for you too.”

Now this might seem a bit silly, but do you know the scene in “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” where the Grinch hears the Who’s down in Whoville singing and his heart grows three sizes? That’s the absolute best way of describing what seeing her type those words did to me.  I literally jumped in the air and did a little dance in my friends living room. Never once did i think that I might have another shot with the woman of my dreams but this was it.

Thus began another series of late night talks like we had shared almost a decade earlier. Talking to her made me feel like a teenager again and every conversation left me wanting more. For nearly a month we continued these talks and eventually we decided that she should move to Iowa. Only a couple of issues, I was in the middle of a divorce, needed my own place, and had an old beat-up van that I feared wouldn’t make the journey to Texas and back.

“…I was in the middle of a divorce, needed my own place, and had an old beat-up van…”

Her life in Texas was stagnant, her mother had passed away and so she had no real family connections in Texas anymore. She had a daughter who was performing horribly in school due to the large class sizes and lack of one on one attention. She believed that the smaller class sizes would be good for her and so she decided to ask her if she would be interested in the move. One night she told her daughter about me, about Iowa, and about the new school she could attend. She was excited but demanded that she get to talk to me before any decision was made.

Our conversation was the moment my heart grew its fourth size. She had a sweet voice and demeanor, was absolutely in love with the movie Frozen, and insisted that I listen to her sing, “Let It Go.” We chatted for a bit, discussed our mutual love of video games, learned much more than I ever needed to know about “My Little Pony,” and she told me she couldn’t wait to meet me. I hung up the phone happy with how well that conversation had gone.

Almost instantly I found an apartment, I took my van to the shop and had about a grand in repairs done to it. I asked the mechanic if the van would make the trip and his words were, “If it would float, i’d drive it to Hawaii. It’s not going to give you any problems.” Everything was going so well and I thought they would continue to go well…

(Ron Howard Arrested Development Voiceover) “…they did not continue to go well…

It turns out that my wife at the time had hacked my e-mail account. She quickly learned that I planned to make a long trip, knew I had recently moved into an apartment, put two and two together and realized what was going on. She called me fuming. “If you get back with her you will never see the kids again!” I told her that we were separated and that I could do whatever I wanted with my life. She repeated the threat once again and I told her, “Do that and eventually the kids are going to hate you for it. In time they will realize what actually occurred and you will regret it.” She hung up on me.

About 20 minutes later she arrived at my apartment. She pushed her way in and quickly grabbed every picture of the kids that I had in my possession, or so she thought, I had in my binder an envelope filled with pictures that I had grabbed shortly after moving out. She broke several frames and I told her she needed to leave or I was going to call the cops. She left and went straight to the van and began kicking at the tires and beating on the windows. I ran outside and screamed that I had called the cops, I hadn’t, but that they would be there soon so she had better leave. She swung at me with a handful of junk mail, cutting my nose with one of the edges. I told her to leave and she finally did.

Later she called me and made the kids get on the phone and tell me how much they hated me. I could hear the pain in their voices as she goaded them to say these mean things. I told them both I loved them dearly and hoped they would understand one day. She then took the phone back and told me that I wasn’t allowed to see the kids again and that if I tried she would get a restraining order against me.  I laughed and said if anyone needs a restraining order, it would be me against her but that the whole idea was preposterous…

A few days later I hit the road and was on my way to Texas. I drove straight through the night, only stopping long enough for gas and to grab a couple of snack foods, nuts and beef sticks.  I reached Dallas by dawn and realized that my trip was nearly over, just three short hours to go. As the miles past, my excitement continued to grow. I pulled in to her driveway at around 11, gave her a quick kiss, loaded the van and we were back on the road before noon.

Only with my luck could we hit a blizzard in the middle of Texas, but that’s exactly what happened. We made it halfway through Oklahoma before we had to stop for the night. We were snowed in for nearly 3 days and what was worse, the nuts and slim jims had not done me any favors. I spent those three days in excruciating stomach cramps and pain, turns out I’m slightly allergic to nuts. Who knew? Nothing says love than being able to sit in a room where feet away the guy you love is shitting his guts out for three days.

When we finally reached Iowa, I thought things were going to calm down for a bit. We spent the next couple of days just enjoying being in each others company. We signed her daughter up for school and spent some quiet time alone. These days passed by so quickly that it was soon time for me to return to work. I hated having to leave her, but money had to be made and so I went back to work expecting a long and boring day.

Long and boring it was not, a couple of hours into my shift a police officer entered the premises. Speaking to the boss he asked if I was working. I stood up and said I was the one he was looking for. He walked across the room, handed me a stack of papers, and said “You’ve been served with a restraining order, you are to not come into contact in any way with your wife or her two kids.”

My brain checked out and I give my boss props for not sending me home. I sat in silence, feeling as if I had lost two of the most important parts of my life forever. Nothing, not even the feelings of losing my faith or my first marriage breaking down, had ever hit me with such deep depression and horror as hearing those words come out of that officers mouth. I was, once again, dead inside.

To continue on to part 27, click here.