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.

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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…

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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.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

My Journey

My Journey Away From Faith: Part 21

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

“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” – Philippians 4:8

My faith was strong. I spent long periods of time in prayer nearly every day. I communicated with god daily as well as spent much time reading my bible each day. I say this because the following blog posts will show how one might lose their faith and I get tired of hearing people say, “You didn’t lose your faith, you never had real faith.” If all that I did during my ministry can’t be called real faith, then no one actually has faith. There isn’t a single person on earth who could be considered faithful if my own journey is negated as fake faith. I preached the gospel for years and not a single person would have questioned my faith then, yet now it is one of the major arguments that I hear almost daily.


Thanksgiving Day, 2013, began like any other Thanksgiving has, I awoke ready to eat Turkey and stuffing. This year was going to be a bit special because not only was I going to be at my grandmothers house, as I am every year, but my grandmother had invited her two living sisters and all of their family. Normally I don’t do well with crowds but the idea of having that many of my family all together was a joyous celebration. Not too many years before there had been a huge wedge between my grandmother and her sisters due to the circumstances surrounding my great grandmother’s death. One sister had basically been left everything in the will and this had caused a major split in the family.

Luckily though, over the last couple years, that gap had been filled and we were enjoying being one big happy family again. I arrived at my grandmother’s house and was filled with the warm and delicious smells of home cooked thanksgiving dinner. There were three turkeys, two huge bowls of mashed potatoes, a humongous tray of stuffing and all the rest of the fixings for an amazing meal.  We sat around chatting and waiting for the eventual time that dinner would be ready and we could all stuff ourselves sick.

We were getting ready to eat when my great aunt realized that one of her grandsons was not in attendance. She called him on the phone and he told her that he wasn’t feeling well and that he hoped we all had a great time. She told him that we all hoped that he felt better and if he did he was more than welcome to show up late and grab a plate of food, if he didn’t she promised to make him a plate and take it to him later that night.

“…he wasn’t feeling well and that he hoped we all had a great time.”

My cousin had recently begun coming to the church that I ministered at and the Sunday prior to that Thanksgiving he had been saved during one of my services. It was an absolutely joyous event because this was my closest cousin, only a month younger than me, and we had lived fairly parallel lives. Both raised in the Pentecostal church, both fell away during our teens, both of us struggled with early marriages that fell apart, and both of us had also struggled with drug and alcohol addiction in our early twenties, my cousin though had only broken that spell a few short weeks before Thanksgiving, at least that is what we had all thought. I cannot count the amount of times my great aunt had requested prayer for god to touch his life like he had mine, and bring him back to the church like I had done. So his getting saved was a miraculous event in our family.

“I went home that night thinking how blessed we all were to be together again and how nothing could possibly ruin the memory of that day.”

The dinner went off without a hitch, everything was fantastic. I had two huge plates of food and later that day returned for another huge plate of food. There was so much that we all took home enough food that no one would need to cook for the next couple of days. The day was perfect, it was one of those rare occasions in life that I could truly say that I was blissful. I went home that night thinking how blessed we all were to be together again and how nothing could possibly ruin the memory of that day.  As I laid down to go to sleep, happiness filled my heart, and I couldn’t wait to get to church the next Sunday to tell everyone what an amazing day it had been. As soon as I started to drift off to sleep, the phone rang.

The voice on the other end of the phone was my father, I could instantly tell that something was wrong. My father almost never cries and I could hear the quiver in his voice as he began to talk. “This is your dad, “*your cousin” took a shotgun and shot himself tonight, he’s been rushed to the hospital but he isn’t going to make it.” I don’t know if I finished the call or not, all I remember was being on my knees begging god to save my cousins life. How on earth could this be happening? Hadn’t god just saved him? Shouldn’t he be filled with the light of god and incapable of such an act?

How on earth could this be happening? Hadn’t god just saved him? Shouldn’t he be filled with the light of god and incapable of such an act?

I fell asleep that night on my knees. Awakening in a lot of pain I realized that as the minister and family member of a large portion of my church, it was my job to call and inform everyone on what had happened. First though I made the trip to my great aunts house to check in on her. She was in shambles, my cousin had a daughter who was just around 7 or 8 at the time and all she kept saying was, “my daddy shot himself last night.” I tried my best to comfort my aunt before heading back home and picking up the phone. Every call was excruciating and between each call I would bawl profusely. A minister must be strong in a time like this but I was destroyed. Finally all the calls had been made and I let myself completely release all the grief that I felt. I went to bed that night with a horrible headache and all the questions I had asked myself still unanswered.

Sunday was coming up and it was my turn to preach. I knew my message had to be one of comfort to my family, who would all be hurting as well as uplifting to everyone affected by my cousins suicide. I prepared a sermon that was in reality, one part sermon, and one part eulogy. It wasn’t a very good message but all that I could come up with in my current state.

I remember sitting outside the church, in my car, for much longer than normal. I didn’t want to go inside, I didn’t want to be the one that people looked towards for comfort and stability. I knew it was going to be the hardest sermon I had ever delivered and I was not ready to give it. Finally, I got out of my vehicle and I walked inside.

When a tragedy occurs in a church it is often the thing on everyone’s lips the next Sunday and this tragedy was no different. People were coming up to me and offering condolences which I greatly appreciated. I comforted some family as best as I could but something took everything out of me. An older woman in the church came up to me and said how sorry she was after hearing that my cousin has committed suicide, she then went on to say how sad it was that he was now in hell for having committed the act. I began to hear others speaking the same thing throughout the church and my mind began to swim in grief and anger. In reality the comment shouldn’t have affected me as much as it did, it was well known that suicide was considered a sin that instantly sent the person to hell. They took their life and destroyed the temple that god had given them, it was unpardonable and I had even spoken on the subject in years past. This time though something snapped in my brain and as I took my seat all thoughts of the sermon I had prepared went out the window.

I don’t remember the songs that were sang, I don’t remember the prayers that were requested, I don’t remember walking to the stage but I do remember the first words that came out of my mouth.

“If god sends tortured souls like my cousin to hell, then he isn’t a good god and he isn’t a god that I could worship.”

The rest of my sermon is a complete blur. I’m told I gave a touching message on how the bible does not teach that suicide is unpardonable and that even a suicide can receive redemption and salvation. It is as if my body went into autopilot and my mind continued to swirl around the question, “Is god good?”

This was the very beginning of my doubts, but it definitely would not be the end of them.

To continue on to part 22, click here.

Satanic Sundays

Satanic Sunday #3: Heavy Metal

For last weeks Satanic Sunday post, click here.

I bet you didn’t see this one coming did you? No, of course you did. Probably one of the most attacked topics, during the 1980’s, in the church was heavy metal music. These long-haired, supposedly satan worshiping, drug using, sexually immoral musicians were fodder for just about any pastor looking for an easy sermon to give. Rock music was long considered evil by many in the church but when heavy metal embraced the evil accusations and went with it, the church fought back twice as hard.

Probably no other band was hated more than AC/DC, the Australian rock band with hits like, “Shook Me All Night Long,” and “Highway to Hell.” I remember being in a service where a pastor encouraged members to tear their kids rooms apart and if they found any AC/DC music they were to destroy it immediately. The pastor gave a warning though, “You can’t burn their records, the devils power is too great on them and they will not burn.”

“You can’t burn their records, the devils power is too great on them and they will not burn.”

Does that statement sound strange to you? If it does you might be surprised to hear how prevalent those sentiments were during the 1980’s. In fact the idea that their records would not burn gave the 5-year-old me an amazing idea. During one service when that statement was said I raised my hand and asked why people don’t build houses with heavy metal records….needless to say the pastor was not amused.

“… why people don’t build houses with heavy metal records….”

Heavy Metal music was blamed for just about everything that was wrong with society. It was why children were rude, why people were murdered, why women were raped, and why your grandmother’s joints ached on a cold winter day.  Yet as with everything popular in society, Christianity wasn’t going to be left in the wake of all the money to be made by heavy metal music. Christian heavy metal music was just around the corner and considered just as evil as regular heavy metal in my local Pentecostal church.

When I was about 12 years old, my aunt took me to a “Whitecross” concert. “Whitecross” was Christianity’s answer to bands like “Poison” or “Twisted Sister.” Look them up if you want to enjoy some incredibly bland lyrics with angry heavy metal screeching. Anyway, at the time it was incredibly fun and the closest thing to an actual rock concert that I had ever experienced. The next Sunday, at church, I was treated as if I were demon possessed. The church prayed over me to remove the evil beats and riffs of heavy metal music from my mind. A scary situation to say the least.

What Christianity never understood was that heavy metal musicians were, for the most part, satirizing the fears of the Christian church.  Folks like Ozzy Osbourne, Alice Cooper, and Kiss were simply taking what Christianity was saying about them and running with it. The fact that the church spoke so hard against the music is why nearly every kid in the church absolutely loved heavy metal. When you prohibit kids from doing something that seems fun, more kids are going to sneak around their parents and do exactly what was prohibited.

The 1980’s and early 1990’s satanic craze came to an end but the sentiment against rock music remains relatively the same in most churches. This actually stems back to a much older belief that rock music was attempting to infiltrate our homes with African beats and racially impure lyrics. Look to how Elvis was treated by the church for evidence of this. Racism plays a huge part in why the church was so anti-rock music for so long. It was believed that your pure, white, daughter would listen to a bit of rock beat and you’d find her shacked up with a black man in no time….so scary…

I still love many of the bands that I was told not to listen to as a child. It shocked me to no end when I found out that Alice Cooper was a born again christian and that one of the members of “Slayer” was also a believer. Rock music never led me to devote my life to satan, or murder anyone. It did lead me to sitting alone, rebelling in my room, listening to music on my tiny radio that I had been told was evil.  It was silly and considered satanic, but nothing evil ever came from it. Much like the entire Satanic craze of the 1980’s and early 90’s.

My Journey

My Journey Away From Faith: Part 20

For part 19 of my journey, click here.
To start at the beginning of my journey, click here.

The next day, after the big blowup at the church, seemed like a relatively normal day. I awoke, went to work, came home and started doing some chores around the yard. My son brought the phone to me and I found it was the head pastor who had called. What he said would change my ministry entirely.

“Hello,” He said, “I just wanted to say how hurt I was last night during the service. Now I don’t want to worry you, but there are rumors that the district is going to strip you of your credentials. I don’t want that to happen and so the district has agreed that if you will get up next Sunday, apologize for the disturbance you caused, and say you were completely wrong, they will forget the whole thing.”

The only thing that I could say at the time was, “I’ll think about it.” He told me to think and pray about it, knowing that I would eventually do the right thing, the thing that god would want me to do. I hung up the phone realizing, that for the first time in my life, I was actually being blackmailed. I felt sick to my stomach, sad, hurt, and beaten down. How on earth would god allow something like this to be done to me after I had stood up for actual biblical teachings?

I don’t remember much from that week outside of the prepared statement I made. It wasn’t very long, about two paragraphs but had taken me almost the entire week to write. Every time I sat down to write it, emotion would overtake me and I that same sick feeling would hit. I knew that this was going to be something I would not be able to turn back from, and so just the thought brought waves of nausea and panic.

I arrived at church very early, the next Sunday, and spent a long time in prayer. This wasn’t something I wanted to say but I was being forced to say it. I had spent a good period of my life trying to become a minister and being threatened with the stripping of my credentials had hurt me more than you can possibly imagine. As the service started, the pastor came to me and asked if I had thought about what I was going to say. I told him that I had and was ready to give my statement.

I really don’t think I have ever been in a service that seemed to last as long as that one did. Every note during the song service seemed to last longer than the one that had come before it. The prayer requests seemed to go on for an eternity, and then the sermon seemed long and drawn out. I remember the message, the pastor gave, was on heeding authority and bowing before god. It was obvious to me that I was being told to tow the line and get back into my place before it was too late.

Finally, the sermon ended and the pastor said that I had a short statement to read before the church. I took the stage and gathered my thoughts. I looked out among the congregation of people who had become my friends. I saw the faces of my family in the congregation as well and knew how shocked they would be by my statement. Then I caught the face of the head pastor, smiling in the way one does when they know they’ve won.

I pulled my statement out from my bible and began to read. I will summarize the majority but here was the first couple of sentence. “I know that you know how much I love being a pastor here. So it saddens me to say that I am giving up my credentials with my denomination.” The church was absolutely silent apart from a few gasps that escaped the mouths of a couple congregants. As I said those words you could see the smile of victory fade from the head pastors face and replacing it was a look of fear and anger. “I have been told that my credentials would be stripped if I did not come here this morning and tell you folks a lie.I will not lie in order to please man.” I remember watching as the head pastor stood up, along with his wife, and walked out of the church.

I am not a bold person, but my point was made, I am not someone who can be blackmailed. The idea that my credentials were being used as a weapon against me had sickened me to the core and it was not something I could stand for. The rest of my statement went on to say that I would still be happy to fill in as a lay minister(A preacher who doesn’t hold credentials) and that I loved everyone in attendance.  I walked off the stage with the congregation in complete and total shock. I grabbed my stuff and I left.

Later that day, one of the deacons called me, he had been one of the people that had agreed with me during the fateful night that I had called out the non-biblical beliefs. He said that as soon as I had left the church board had met and decided that I could continue to preach as long as I felt willing. The also said that they would speak to the head pastor about what had happened and never again would that fraudulent woman’s faith healing be taught in our church.

As I hung up the phone, I don’t really know how to describe the feelings that overtook me. I had won, I was still going to be a minister at my local church, even without the credentials backing me. The joy would follow me to the next Sunday when I was handed the printout of ministry duties for the next month. The head pastor filled this out and when I looked at it I found that I was scheduled to preach only one Wednesday night bible study for the entire month, no Sunday morning or evening services. It was obvious, if he couldn’t force me to accept his dogma, he was going to try and force me out of the ministry one way or another.

The next couple of months went exactly like this and then the night of the church business meeting arrived. The first thing that was brought up was why I hadn’t been preaching as much as the other two ministers? A vote was taken and the church stripped the head pastor of his scheduling duties and gave it to my aunt. From that point on, I was back to my regular schedule.

After the initial statement was given before the church, the head pastors messages took a dark turn. He gave the same sermon nearly every Sunday that he preached, a message against those who dare to usurp authority and go against the will of god.  For the next couple of years, that was basically the only sermon he would deliver. He might switch the biblical passages up, but the message was clear, he was saying that I was an evil usurper and that I was hell-bound. Inwardly, I took a little pride every time he spoke out against me.

The next few years went by in a fairly normal fashion. Eventually the church told the head pastor that he had to stop beating me up every sermon and had to apologize before the church or he would not be allowed to preach there any more. The apology was lackluster but things did seem to improve for a bit after it was given. He started preaching less and less at the church which meant more services for me and the other minister.

Around this time I decided to go back to school. I had worked at the meat packing plant for nearly 5 years and it was killing me. Ministry wasn’t going to be something I could make a living on, the most I ever made was 50 dollars per sermon, and so I decided to go back to school and get a degree in accounting, actually it was history at first but I found accounting to be much more practical. Going back to school was scary but i found that I really enjoyed it. I was studying topics that broadened my mind and I loved it.

Life was seemingly getting better and while my mind was broadened in many aspects, my faith had never been stronger. I knew that god had protected me from the wrath of the head pastor and that I was doing his will. My sermons were still filled with fire and brimstone, sin and hellfire, a very dogmatic approach to the faith. I felt that if I just continued on this path I was on, that life would continue to get better. Things at home had seemed to calm, mostly due to the fact that my ex was having another affair, during which she would more or less leave me alone. I was happy and healthy and making a better life for myself and the kids.

I remember thinking at the time that nothing could shake my faith, I would learn very soon that not only could my faith be shaken but it could eventually leave me altogether…

To continue on to part 21 of my journey, click here.