Satanic Sundays

Satanic Sunday: Final Fantasy

Good morning heathens and hell-bound friends and foes alike! Today marks another edition of Satanic Sunday, if you’d like to read the last Satanic Sunday, click here:Satanic Sunday #9: Muppets, Bowie, and Aslan. Also this article will hearken back to the first Satanic Sunday post, Satanic Sunday #1: The Legend of Zelda. As you know by now, this article is about things that were considered Satanic while growing up in a fundamentalist household, they might be things my parents actually considered Satanic or just things that the church or society in general deemed as such. Enjoy!


Growing up in the 80’s, you had to have an NES in order to be included in the social structure of the time. Sure, some kids were unlucky enough to have parents that bought them the Sega Master System instead, but the rest of us had our Nintendo’s. Those Sega Master kids I’m sure have endured countless hours of therapy due to their lack of social life as a child…who did they trade and borrow games from as a child? So sad…

Anyway, the NES was pretty damn cool and for good reason, I mean look at these graphics!

Anyway, as I stated in the blog about the Legend of Zelda, my parents were very selective in what games my brother and I were allowed to play.  Anything involving magic was completely forbidden and so there were a lot of great games that I wasn’t allowed to enjoy as a child. A strange one being Mega Man, not sure what the reasoning was on this but he was considered evil as well.

“It might seem a bit silly, but for the time this story was EPIC!”

Anyway, Final Fantasy is a role-playing series of games that have existed from the dawn of time, well the dawn of my time that is.  The first game followed the journey of the Four Warriors of Light, who are seeking to restore four orbs of light that have been darkened by the evil Chaos. It might seem a bit silly, but for the time this story was EPIC! The game allowed you to fight evil with good magic and so of course it was considered evil.

I’ve included a gameplay video below so you can see just how awesome these spells looked…I mean who wouldn’t want to play this game?

Well, if you read my post about the Legend of Zelda you will know that my cousin gave me a huge collection of NES games and that one day my mother destroyed any game that even might contain the slightest amount of magic. Included in these titles was a copy of Final Fantasy.

muppet adventure
Sadly, there would be no #2. Since this game was shit…

What my mother didn’t know is that shortly after this incident I worked out a deal with a friend of mine for another copy of the game. I gave up a copy of the Muppet Adventure, TMNT 1, and Bomberman for Final Fantasy, when I look back I’m still pretty proud of that trade. My friend definitely ended up on the bad side of the trade.

So now that I had another copy, I had to keep it safe. So while some kids might have concealed a porno mag or cigarettes, I had my copy of Final Fantasy stowed away securely in the garage. This was a great hiding spot and it never was found by my parents. Unfortunately I never had the courage to actually get the game out of its hiding spot and actually play it. I mean my mother had burned my games in the past, who knows what she would do if she found that I had gone against her wishes and procured one of the games again. So there it sat, in my garage, hidden away from my parents, and my fear prevented me from ever playing it.

Well, we moved away from that house and, for all I know, my copy of Final Fantasy remained tucked away in the corner of the garage long after we had moved. Recently that garage has been torn down and so I can only hope that someone found this gem, wrapped in plastic, and got some good use from it…if not it more than likely ended up being burned along with the rest of the garage after they tore it down. Such a sad fate for an incredibly game.

nes_final_fantasy

Well, the years passed and I stopped caring what my mother thought of the games that I played, sometimes she would cry if she thought we were playing something evil but she never did burn any of our games again. I grew up, have a family of my own now and much less time for gaming. I had honestly forgotten about this game until one day, in a used game store, I saw a copy and decided to pick it up. Unfortunately, I had forgotten my wallet so I made the journey home to grab my greenbacks.

I walked into the game store, and slammed down my money…sadly, looking in the display case I realized that the copy of the game had been purchased within the 15 minutes that it took for me to run home and grab my wallet.

I seethed in anger, this game had been stolen from me again. What diabolical force of chaos had swooped in and purchased this title? Would I need to gather three friends and go on a search for the game? Well…no…because when I got home and jumped on Facebook the identity of the culprit was made known to all.

It was my brother…

of course.gif

 

Well, another year went by and I had almost forgotten about the anger that I felt for my brother and the sadness that I experienced over this game that the universe seemed to be keeping me from playing. Christmas came and my brother handed me a gift, I opened it to find a collection of NES games, including the game that have evaded me for so long, Final Fantasy.

final fantasy.jpgThe game is great and it’s honestly sad that people actually found anything evil about the game. The graphics are good but good for the time, the most you learn about spells is that they are done by going through a menu and clicking a button on your controller. It’s a fun game but there is nothing about the game that could ever actually lead a person to evil or dark magic. It’s a good game, I’m glad to have it in my collection, but it is definitely not satanic at all.

Advertisements
Arguments Against Atheism

Arguments Against Atheism: Tradition

For last week’s Argument Against Atheism, click here.

Since I was a child I was raised to believe that the faith is true. One of the arguments that people use is that religion would not have existed for so long if it wasn’t true. My own mother used the example that, “she refuses to believe that her parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents were wrong.”  While at first this seems like an awful argument, which it is, it is also one of the tougher arguments that you might face.

First off, religion itself is almost entirely based around personal experience and feelings, when you add prior generations of believers, the strength of the belief seems to be hardened. You will hear theists speak of pasts scientists and world leaders who were believers as evidence towards a belief in a personal god. Using myself as an example, my family had been ministers for generation after generation. Even my earliest known ancestors on my mother’s side were ministers and priests. Tradition was even hard for me to give up but i felt it was necessary.

When someone gives up a traditional belief, they might feel as if they are doing some form of harm or insult to their ancestry. It’s a tough pill to swallow, that some of the people you loved and were closest to, were wrong. When you go deeper though you find that this argument is just as bad as it seems from the offset.

Humans used to believe that thunder, lightning, blizzards, sunlight, and volcanoes were all the result of gods. We then learned that these things were actually natural occurrences that simply occurred due to atmospheric conditions or tectonic forces. With this knowledge, would it make any sense at all to continue believing in the supernatural cause of these phenomena? Of course not.

Imagine seeing someone on the street, just before a thunderstorm, praying to Thor to spare him from the wrath of his thunder. You walk up and tell the man he is being silly, thunder is not caused by a god. He then tells you, it’s not silly, because his ancestors believed in Thor and so obviously he must exist or they would not have believed in him. You might consider calling the authorities to come and get this delusional man and have him evaluated.

Using tradition as a basis for your belief is no better than the theoretical man in the last paragraph. Offering your own mind to the superstitions of the past does nothing more than stagnate your own personal abilities and growth as a human being. Simply accepting that something is true is what the dark ages are all about. Only when we decided to reject the superstitions and beliefs of the past did we once again begin to progress as a species again.

All of the technology that you enjoy today is due to someone giving the middle finger to tradition. Why build washing machines? Washing boards were good for our grandparents and great grandparents. Why invent television if the radio was good enough for great-grandpa? Why invent the internet if letters worked well for those 100 years ago?

Part of what makes us human is that we are constantly striving to better ourselves as a species. We have set-backs and stagnate at times but the entire history of our species has been one of forward momentum. We shouldn’t allow the traditions and beliefs of the past to dictate where we are now or where we can go in the future.

A Pentecostal Atheist Bible Study

A Pentecostal Atheist Bible Study: Cain and Abel

For last weeks article on the Garden of Eden, click here.
If you want to follow along with today’s article, read Genesis Chapter 4.

So after last week, god had kicked Adam and Eve out of the garden for eating some fruit or maybe, if you are to believe some fundamentalists, for having orgasms or sodomy. Anyway, Chapter 4 begins with Adam making sweet sweet, pre-personal hygiene, love to Eve. She then gives birth to Cain. Adam, liking that sweaty sex, goes at it again with her and she gives birth to Abel, and they all lived happily ever after…lol

So anyway, Cain and Abel grow up to the ripe old age of who knows because it doesn’t tell us. Anyway Cain grows crops and Abel raises sheep, good careers for people to have when there are no other people in existence besides Mom and Dad. Though one has to wonder, without women, what was Abel doing with those sheep?

So eventually Abel decided, for no apparent reason at all, to kill one of his sheep and burn it in an offering to god.  Seriously, he just does it, there was no call for it, or a commandment to do so, he just does it. God’s response is, “Holy shit that’s really fucking cool, thanks, bro!”

Cain sees this and so he takes the best of what he has grown from his crops and presents it as a burnt sacrifice to god as well. This time god is like, “Ew….vegetables….I hate vegetables…you fucking suck Cain….” Or at least we have to surmise this because god rejects Cain’s offering for once again, no apparent reason whatsoever.

So Cain gets pissed off and kills his brother. Did he mean to kill his brother? How could one of the first people on Earth even know that it was possible to kill another human being? Outside of animals did they even understand exactly what death was at this point?

So god comes up to Cain, since he still walks around with them and says, “Hey, where the fuck is your brother? Off with one of his sheep again I’d assume?”

Cain says, “How the fuck should I know, am I his babysitter?

God says, “Look mother fucker, I’m omnipresent and shit and I know what you done did, now fess up!”

Cain says, “Geez, fuck, I’m sorry. Just bring him back to life, yo…”

God responds,”You know I can’t do that…I’m cursing you bro, this ground that you till is going to be even less fruitful. Now get out of my fucking face.”

Cain pleads, “But people will know what I did and they will kill me…you know…the people….all of them that don’t exist yet….”

So god marks Cain on his forehead and says any of these nonexistent people who harm you will be harmed way more. Now get out of my face before I get really angry.”

So Cain moves away, finds a nonexistent wife to marry and a bunch of other nonexistent people in the land of Nod. There he has sex with this nonperson, they have a son named Enoch and build a city called Enoch, even more impressive since they couldn’t grow any food due to the initial curse that god had placed on Cain. So it then tells us that Enoch of Enoch has a son, he has a son, and it continues with this genealogy for a bit.

We then get to Lamech who tells his wives, “I’ve killed someone, a young person”….probably a kid…we don’t know.  He then says, “I’m going to be punished even worse than Cain.” We really don’t know anything more about this, it doesn’t explain it, just says he killed someone and will be punished. Story-telling in the bible would take some time to provide actually important information to the plot.

So anyway, we end up back with Adam and Eve, who have some more fun with their naughty bits, and they give birth to Seth. We haven’t and won’t hear of any women being born yet, because the rest of humanity either reproduces asexually at this point or women just aren’t important enough to mention at this point.

So Seth grows up, finds a nonexistent wife and they have a son names Enos. it ends by saying, “then began men to call upon the name of the Lord.” Who the fuck knows what this actually means but it seems like before then people hadn’t prayed. They just killed things and burnt them. I mean praying is better than killing things for no reason, but they still continue burning things for a couple thousand years.

Thus ends the story of Cain and Abel. Now we get to the fun part…what is taught about the story…

So Christians will teach that god denied Cain’s offering because he didn’t give it in the right fashion. They say he was prideful or tried to hold back some of the better fruits of his labor. The bible though gives no such explanation, it simply says, Cain tried giving the offering and god said, “Fuck you Cain.”

One of the funniest things that I have ever been told in regards to this story deals with Cains wife. As you know, there are no other people at this point and yet Cain moves away and finds a wife. I remember sitting in church one Sunday when an evangelist spoke on this passage. It’s going to get weird…

So with no other women, Cain was forced to marry an ape, and all of their descendents were half man, half ape. Their hairy skin was also the mark that would tell people not to mess with any of Cain’s descendants. Due to their shame, the descendents of Cain only live in remote forests and mountainous regions of the world. They are…of course….Bigfoot and Yeti, as well as any of the other legends of large ape like me throughout history.  I remember hearing laughter from others in the church when this was said, and the evangelist getting really angry and stomping around a bit before moving on to something else. So this wasn’t a common belief, just something I thought I would mention because of its humor.

The “real” origin of Bigfoot will have to wait for another time….

Satanic Sundays

Satanic Sunday #6: Children’s Cartoons

I can’t believe how many times I had to point out last week that this article is a satirical take on some of the things that were considered as satanic, sinful, or evil when I was a child. So hopefully writing that bit got that out-of-the-way for the moment.

For last weeks article, click here.

So you might think that the world of Saturday morning cartoons was beyond the reach of christian superstitions. Not so, says the fundamentalist, nearly every single cartoon was an attempt to win your child over to Satan’s army. Today I will go through a top 10 list of sorts in regards to these dreadfully evil and obviously satanic children’s programming.

Papa_Smurf123

10.) Smurfs

You might say to yourself, how on earth could the smurfs have been considered evil? Well, Gargamel was a sorcerer, who needed the smurfs to complete his wicked spells. This meant that the smurfs was all about magic and satan. The smurfs themselves were also small, blue, and used their own magic, meaning they were of course demons. If you can’t see just how evil this show is, then you are more than likely a rational and sane person.

Rainbow Bear

9.) Care Bears

The Carebears spent their time trying to help out people feel emotions. They would see someone who is sad or hurt and try to help them with their “Care Bear Stare.” So what evil could be found in this show? Well, for one, the care bear stare was seen as a type of magic, and so it was inherently evil. Secondly and much more important came with the Rainbow bear. As many people know, the Rainbow is used as a symbol for the gay rights movement and so Rainbow Bear was deemed as a homosexual, only existing in the show to invite your children to the wonders of gay sex. I remember being told, “It seems innocent enough, but they’ll see that rainbow elsewhere and they will be led astray.” Personally, I’ve never seen a rainbow and wondered if dick was yummy, but hey, I’m not the sexually repressed sick individual that comes up with this type of backwards thinking.

Transformers

8.) Transformers

More than meets the eye is what the Christian fundamentalist would say of this show. Transformers are an abomination in several respects. Number one, they come from another planet where machines are the evolved life-form. We all know that humans are the only species that god created and so they must have been created by satan. Secondly,  the transformers are powered by the “allspark.” This is what holds the “soul” of the transformers and is a cube which has symbols on them. A transformer can be good or evil, depending on the nature of the “allspark.” Fundamentalists would say that this is promoting the idea of possession by good or bad spirits, something your child should steer clear from. Lastly, the transformers, transform. It was believed that this might instill some idea that if you don’t like who you are, just make a change and become something different. Fundamentalist churches are incredibly transphobic and the idea was that the transformers might encourage boys and girls to decide to transform into the opposite sex…I know….it’s just plain idiotic…

bart

7.) The Simpsons

A bit of a jump away from the Saturday morning programming, this show was blasted not because of any magical ideas but because it would turn your children into hoodlums. Bart Simpson was seen as the exact opposite of the child that anyone wanted, he swore, he spray painted graffiti, he was brash and disobedient. On top of this, his father was decidedly nonreligious, preferring to spend his Sundays drinking and watching football. To the fundamentalist this was seen as a show that would lead to the complete disintegration of the wholesome and loving family. I can personally remember my mother crying her eyes out when she found out that I was watching The Simpsons with my grandmother. (Strangely enough, The Simpsons is now one of my mothers favorite shows…)

turtles

6.) Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

This one even came as a shock to me as a child since I was crazy for the turtles. At one point I have every single action figure that they had produced. For a good period of time, the TMNT’s, were my life. Yet to some fundamentalists they were considered as evil for a couple of reasons. First off was that they were mutants. The reason this is evil is that it taught that mutation was possible, a key aspect of evolution. Secondly the turtles were sentient, and so were their numerous friends and adversaries. Animals don’t have souls and so animals like this were seen as an abomination. Strange that the church which promotes a talking snake and donkey would be against other animals exhibiting similar traits. Lastly was a very strange belief. It was rumored that the show emboldened nazi propoganda. This stemmed from an artist who made a puzzle that happened to contain a swastika in the artwork. The puzzle was recalled and it had no real connection to the show but it was enough to get this rumor circulating.

Colorir-Muppet_Babies-00b.png

5.) Muppet Babies

Once again we go back to anthropomorphic animals being a source of evil in the world. Yet the real evil stems from a single episode titled “Nice to have Gnome You.” In this episode the show refers many times to the movies “Labyrinth” and “The Witches” Two movies that were completely banned by most parents in the fundamentalist community. This was seen as the Muppet Babies attempting to push the ideas of witchcraft and sorcery into the minds of children and so it was incredibly evil.

scooby.jpg

4.) Scooby Doo

So this show gets hit from both sides. The first being that each show centers around a haunting presence in a spooky castle, a museum, amusement park, etc… This was seen as promoting the idea of ghosts and spirits, something the church frowns heavily upon. “We are appointed once to die and then judgement,” is something you hear numerous times growing up, so ghosts are not allowed in the picture. The second issue with the show is that the teenagers use logic and reason to expose all of these hauntings as frauds and the magic as simple tricks. This is believed to promote the idea that nothing supernatural exists in the world and thus god cannot exist.

pokemon

3.) Pokemon

A bit later than my own youth was the insurgence of Pokemon onto the scene. Along with it many copy cat shows also emerged. All of these shows were deemed as evil within the church because they promoted harnessing demons for your own purposes. The pokemon were not simply creatures that would fight one another but actual evil beings based around Asian lore and mythology. It was believed that allowing your children to watch the show might invite them to research the myths behind some of the characters and thus turn them into enchanters.

Zelda

2.) The Legend of Zelda

This show was loved by children who loved the game, little more can be said about the show. It was really not that great of a show, featured horrible storylines and the artwork was dull and drab. Yet because the show centered around the magical land of hyrule, the evil Ganon, and the powerful tri-force, the church saw it as just as evil as the game. You might remember an earlier Satanic Sunday post about my mother burning my copy of the game, it can be found here.

He-man

1.) He-Man and the Masters of the Universe

Magic, sorcery, demons, enchanters, evil galore, this show was completely banned in mine and many others households. He-man was said to use dark magic to power himself in an effort to fight the even darker magic of Skeletor. I remember being told so many times that this show was evil that I was actually fearful to watch the show, thinking I might become possessed if I even viewed a single episode. I would hear the theme music and instantly turn the tv off, panting hard from the fear that I almost unwittingly worshiped the devil. Since that time I have gone back and watched the show, it’s completely benign, absolutely nothing that I was told about it was true and yet I still approached it with trepidation upon my first viewing.

There are many other shows that I could have spoken about. This was not meant to be an exhaustive list but simply a way of showing just how superstitious parents were during the 1980’s Satanic scare. If you have others that you feel I should have mentioned, please respond with them in the comments section below. Thank you for reading!

 

Satanic Sundays

Satanic Sunday #4: Dungeons and Dragons

To read last weeks Satanic Sunday post, click here.

If there was one thing that was considered the ultimate in satanic practices during the 1980’s, it would be cat sacrifice, the second would be Dungeons and Dragons. This benign role-playing game was blamed for all of the evils of society at one point or another. The main issue with the game was that it would change your children from the fine, upstanding, christian kids they were into evil, hate filled warlocks and witches in a single session. That’s only one point that was made though, allow me to explain some of the other stuff here now.

Dungeons and Dragons Creates Witches and Warlocks

Mage.jpgFirst and foremost, as mentioned above was the belief that anyone engaged in this game would be instantly converted into Satan’s ministry, taking the role of a witch or a warlock.  Parents who never took the time to read anything about the game believed that you were actually learning spells that could be used in day-to-day life. If that were the case I would cast a firewall spell anytime I see someone who I don’t want to talk to on the street. This stems from a couple of places, one Christians believe in magic, both good and bad, and secondly they believe Satan likes to use magic to lure kids, like a creepy dude in a van might use candy.  Never once have I ever played D&D while thinking, boy this spell of revelation sure would help me find my keys….or maybe I have…I’m a nerd.

Dungeons and Dragons Will Make Your Kids Commit Suicide

This was based on nothing more than anecdotal evidence of a single parent, whose child had committed suicide and had happened to be a D&D player. The media picked up on this and produced a 60 Minutes special based entirely on this anecdotal evidence.

This belief expanded to the point that in many Christian churches it was taught that there were groups of D&D players who would commit suicide or murder a player who died within the game. I had numerous friends who played the game at the time and found this hysteria to be rather silly, not having a single friend who had ever committed suicide or been killed for dying in the game.

Dungeons and Dragons Will Turn Your Sons Gay

Unicorn.jpgSo freedom in character selection and creation is a big deal with Dungeons and Dragons. You can play as a Barbarian, a mage, a rogue, an ogre, a gnome, etc…you can also play as a member of the opposite sex. This caused huge uproar in the christian community, finding out that some of their children might be fantasizing about being a member of the opposite sex. This was Satan’s way of turning all of our children into homosexuals!

In reality, the ability to play as the opposite sex generally just turns into a laugh fest with a bunch of immature teenagers acting out the silliest of activities. “I hit the skeleton with muh boobs” kind of stuff.  Now I’m not saying that some kids, who are already gay or trans-gendered, don’t express those feelings through the safety of the game, which I think is healthy for them to do, but the idea that dungeons and dragons was creating an army of homosexuals was by far one of the most ridiculous things I ever heard…except for the next item.

Dungeons and Dragons Will Give Your Kids AIDS

AidsThis goes hand in hand with the item above. Since Dungeons and Dragons was supposedly turning your children gay, and at the time AIDS was considered a gay disease, it was only a matter of time before someone made the above claim. I was even told that AIDS was a curse caused by using the magic within the game, that god curses those who practice magic with homosexuality and AIDS. So there you have it, eliminate Dungeons and Dragons and then imagine the amount of money our government can save on AIDS medication. This item should show just how far grasping people in this community go to explain matters of science through the magical powers of their deity, it’s bad for you…

The Truth About Dungeons and Dragons

FuelTruthfully, these things really did worry me as a child and I didn’t play the game until I was much older. When I did begin playing, I found a fun environment, a great use of my imagination, and way more laughs than you could ever imagine. Dungeons and Dragons allows those who maybe have issues with self-esteem and confidence, though not always the case, to experience what it is like to be a hero, to be a powerful person, to escape the bullshit of everyday life for a few hours with friends who won’t judge them for who they are. The biggest issue with dungeons and dragons might be the sugar you consume due to the large amounts of Mountain Dew I have drunk during my time playing the game or the hours of sleep I have lost due to long sessions lasting well into the night. Dungeons and Dragons is a fun game that many people enjoy, it is no more harmful that Fantasy Football and can be a great escape from the hardships that life might throw at you from time to time.

Wednesday Woo

Wednesday Woo #3: Astrology

For last weeks Wednesday Woo, Click here.

“The criterion of the scientific status of a theory is its falsifiability, or refutability, or testability.” — Karl Popper

If you’ve ever been on social media, there’s no doubt you’ve come across astrological personality memes, articles regarding planetary influence or some form of vague horoscope. Most of the claims are rather general and often harmless, but others have a tendency to show an ugly bias that is based on one’s personal experience with certain signs as opposed to actual statistics. Every assumption can be made about certain sun signs or planetary aspects, including a person’s taste in entertainment, whether or not they are prone to accidents, how much they talk, or even crazy things that arouse suspicion, such as: “Geminis are more likely to lie and to cheat on you.” Holy shit! For real? I guess I’d better steer clear of those lyin’, cheatin’ Geminis, right? But wait, there’s a “study” that came out recently that ranked Sagittarius as the most likely to cheat on their partners. Then again, here’s another “study” that says Sagittarius is least likely to cheat. What is going on here? Why aren’t these astrologers coming to the same conclusions?

“Holy shit! For real? I guess I’d better steer clear of those lyin’, cheatin’ Geminis, right?”

While astrology is really popular, and can be quite amusing as entertainment, one cannot help but wonder about their true value. Just because it’s popular doesn’t mean it’s a valid way of thinking. Is astrology truly a reliable form of science, or is it a pseudoscience? This is often one of many questions poised to astrologers, and it seems to really be a thorn in the side of their profession. Astrologers have big claims about the predictive nature of their methods, as well as what a natal chart can reveal about an individual’s personal nature. These claims, of course, are unfalsifiable, which plants a big, red flag in the astrologer’s corner. Real science provides conditions where a claim can be proven false (falsifiable), whereas astrologers leave absolutely no room for this, and instead, only seek confirmation of their claims while ignoring any evidence to the contrary. There’s no peer review, nor any evidence that planets and stars impact personal aspects of our lives. This is not how science works, but it is exactly what one would expect from pseudoscience. As Carl Sagan asserted, “Extraordinary claims requite extraordinary evidence.” So, where is the evidence?

There is no scientific basis for the notion of far away planets or constellations have any intimate influence on human lives in the way astrology claims. Many astrologers will use gravity to argue their position, since the tides are affected by the moon’s pull, and our bodies mostly consist of water. They don’t take into account that the moon’s gravitational influence only includes open bodies of water, not the enclosed water within our bodies. Astrologers will also assert that technology, communication, travel and contractual obligations are not a good idea during mercury retrograde, but they do not seem to offer a real reason other than folklore. Is this a gravitational phenomenon as well? That to me is doubtful, since Mercury retrograde is mostly an optical illusion. Despite there being no evidence to believe that retrogrades and moon phases have anything to to with our lives, these myths are still believed so fervently that every few months you will see all kind of crazy memes and articles shared about retrogrades and super moons. A new shift occurs just as soon as people get over the last, and most believers attribute them to planetary activity. One thing I always found strange personally, was that astrology does not take into account the gravitational pull of airplanes passing over those who live next to airports, or the massive ships in which those on the coasts are exposed. If gravity is truly the most influential aspect of a person’s natal chart, why aren’t the flight patterns included, or even traffic of nearby cars? These would actually have more of a gravitational impact on a person than any of the planets outside of our own.

Bullshit 2.png

When the validity of astrology has actually been tested, their predictions and assessments work at a rate no better than chance. Like I said before, the astrologers can’t seem to even agree on interpretation of charts they studied. If it were a truly accurate and predictive source of understanding reality, surely there would be no personal bias involved. But it turns out, it’s mostly based on intuitive feelings (*cough* cold reading *cough*) the chart reader has when gazing upon the chart positions and its many aspects. Despite this lack of evidence, astrologers all over the world still maintain they are providing a useful service, oftentimes charging lots of money in order to provide answers to people who are desperate to find romance, riches, or good fortune. The situation is really bad in India, where not only are they charged for astrological services, but also duped into buying gemstones to alter their fortune; sometimes even urged to change their names and location.

Starter pack.jpg

One again, confirmation bias rules supreme in the world of woo, and since astrology is so deeply connected to various lore, I would be surprised if belief in it vanished into the dark ages from which they came. The desire to assign anthropomorphic features to stellar objects seems to bring a mystifying allure that is difficult to overcome. I cannot say that it has been completely useless in our development to take such interests in the stars and planets, for it has paved the way for astronomy and physics. What I can express is the desire to know the truth about our reality, and in order to do this, I must find credible data and evidence to justify things I believe. I used to believe in astrology, so much so I dedicated large portions of my day to study natal charts and their progression. After a long standing faith in this idea, I finally decided to take apply critical analysis, and it did not hold up to scrutiny once I began thinking with more skepticism, and definitely fell apart once I understood the scientific concept of falsifiability. The conclusion I came to: astrology is a historically outdated and empirically wrong form of pseudoscience that holds no justification for belief.

Bullshit.jpeg

My Journey

My Journey Away From Faith: Part 22

For part 21 of my journey, click here.
To start at the beginning of my journey, click here.

“I don’t share the opinion that suicides are certainly to be damned. My reason is that they do not wish to kill themselves but are overcome by the power of the devil.” – Martin Luther

Looking back, I can’t help but believe that the reason I didn’t get removed from the ministry that day is because of two factors. The first factor is that I believe the majority of the church simply thought that I was in a deep state of grief, which I was, and that I should be given some leeway in the things I said. The second is that my family made up a large portion of the church and it was probably thought that the votes needed to remove me from my ministerial duties wouldn’t have been there and that if they just removed me without a vote, my family would no longer be tithing members of the church.  Regardless of those factors I would continue preaching there for the next couple of years.

“Of course my cousin wasn’t in hell, he was demon possessed, and thus it wasn’t him that had done the deed but the demon controlling him.”

When I got home, I was still just as angry and distraught as I had been prior to giving the sermon. I began searching the scriptures and came up empty.  I searched on-line for ministers who have spoken on suicide and found the quote above. Whether or not it is actually Martin Luther didn’t matter to me, what did matter was that it gave me an out from my own doctrinal beliefs. Of course my cousin wasn’t in hell, he was demon possessed, and thus it wasn’t him that had done the deed but the demon controlling him. He had been saved in my church and was now resting peacefully in heaven.

With the first doubt somewhat removed from my mind, I felt better and went to work on my second problem. Our church was losing members and the excitement that had been felt when I first started preaching was no longer there. We needed revival but I wanted to know how to do it in the right fashion, so it could be permanent and not a fleeting thing. For years I had been told of the great revivals in the 1950’s, and so I figured, why not start there. So getting on-line I began researching sermons from the 1950’s.

The first thing that struck me was that the sermons I read had a clear theme. These ministers from the 1950’s were talking about the revivals that had occurred in the distant past and how they needed to find some way to make those revivals a reality again. So I went further back into the past and found the same thing, ministers speaking about the need for revival and speaking of mythical revivals in the distant past. I know revivals have occurred sparking huge numbers of converts but it seems like every generation is attempting to chase after something that the last generation never fully captured.

“…every generation is attempting to chase after something that the last generation never fully captured.”

The second thing that struck me is how “spirit filled” some of the messages were that had been given and yet before the 1920’s I could find very few references to Pentecostalism.  It was actually a huge surprise to me to find that Pentecostalism is a very new version of the faith, a little more than 100 years old. Now I had been raised to believe that anyone outside of the Pentecostal church was not really saved and so either, every Christian born prior to the 1900’s was in hell, or Pentecostalism was wrong.

If Pentecostals were wrong about salvation, then possibly they were wrong about other aspects of the faith. I decided to reboot my Christianity, calling it “Radical Christianity.” This was going to take a lot of research and time but I felt that if I re-figured my doctrine and dogma, I could move closer to god and closer to real revival. If the bible didn’t teach it then I would not be preaching on it.  I started with the early church fathers like Origen, Ignatius, Irenaeus, and Polycarp, yet the more I read the more it seemed like I was researching a completely different faith.  That’s the thing though, Christianity of the early years is in fact a completely different faith than what is taught today. (For more on this I recommend this article about the diverse beliefs of early christians.

There was however one man who I began reading that I found to be absolutely fascinating, Martin Luther. Martin Luther fought back against a church that had completely lost its way, much in the same way that I felt I was currently doing. His work “A Treatise on Good Works,” completely mesmerized me. Within he describes how faith is the key to a Christian life and from faith good works will ultimately spill forth. This was exactly the type of thing I needed to hear at the time and so my search for “Radical Christianity” was found within the words of the man that had comforted me after my cousin’s suicide.

For a couple of months I preached on nothing but the works of Martin Luther and his explanations of faith. Standing before a Pentecostal church, I denounced the showy and emotional observances of Pentecostalism.  I began to become very skeptical of pentecostal spiritualism and so I researched the various things that were the norm in the church.  Each time I found enough information to disprove an act, I would preach on it and this led to several angry phone calls but not much else. I preached against speaking in tongues, being slain in the spirit, and I even preached against miracles. To me, one of the key aspects of “Radical Christianity” was removing the need to feel god and simply know he is always around. Pentecostalism is built almost totally around emotional outbursts and I sought to eliminate every aspect of that from my walk of faith.

Initially, I felt great about the choices I made and this toned down Pentecostalism was beginning to gather some steam. We had Baptists, Methodists, Lutherans, and others show up and sit in on a sermon I would give and in the end thank me for a message that they never expected to be taught in a Pentecostal church. The church once again began to slowly grow and talk of revival started once more, yet spiritually I was empty. While I felt I was teaching a much more Christian version of the faith, I not only felt no closer to god than I had at the very beginning, I actually felt farther away.

Outside the church, my marriage continued to crumble but there was one thing that was bringing me the same sense of fulfillment that church once had, my schooling.  College allowed me to expand my mind like you wouldn’t believe. I took classes in almost anything that I found interesting; history, science, literature, ethics, etc… Growing up being taught a biblical based worldview left me not understanding very much about the outside world and so at the same time as being ignorant educationally, I was also xenophobic, homophobic and racist. Being in school though, with a diverse group of people, started to tear down those walls that faith and family had built up so many years before.

I remember sitting in my grandfathers kitchen, watching him throw out a loaf of bread stating that he could smell the N***** fingers that had made it.  Being anti-LGBTQ was key to my fundamentalist faith and I’ve preached many sermons over the years against the members of that community. We were taught that family was important and to fear anyone outside of your family and your local church, for fear that they might hurt you, or worse, lead you away from the faith.

These things could not stand when I entered college. Being forced to work with members of the LGBTQ community, minorities, and all sorts of diverse ideologies opened my mind even further than the studies did. I will forever be grateful to those who saw me back then, realized I wasn’t quite right, and yet still treated me with dignity and respect. You were far greater saints that I can find anywhere else in the world of faith.

During my second semester of school I took a western civilization course. One of the assignments was to pick a book of philosophy, study it, and take a test on what was found within its pages. I wasn’t very interested in philosophy at the time and so I asked the instructor for a book that would be fairly easy to understand. Knowing my background, this professor, who happened to be a staunch atheist, picked a book that he hoped I would enjoy and that might challenge me a bit. The book was “Candide,” by Voltaire, a book that I still recommend to anyone I possibly can and one that would change my outlook on life, spark an interest in philosophy, and lead me down a path I never thought I would take.

To continue on to part 23, click here.