Category Archives: christianity

Torture Machine

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Today was the day I was scheduled to get an MRI for the back pain that has been plaguing me for the last 5 weeks.  Anyone who has experienced an MRI knows that these machines are borderline torture devices.  They slide you into a claustrophobic tunnel of severely loud banging and then tell you to lie still and relax for the next 30 minutes.
Today my MRI technician slid me in to the machine and tortured me one step further by taking me back in time…

Tech: What music would you like to help you relax?  Any FM station will work.
Me: NPR would be great
Tech: I have no idea what NPR is.  Is it an FM station?
Me: Yes.  89.1 and if that doesn’t work 92.9 will be just as good.
Tech: Okay.  Here’s your emergency button.  I’m going to turn down your microphone so I don’t have to listen to the machine.  Just squeeze this button if you need me and only for emergencies.
Me:  Great.  I’m ready.

I am then entered in to the chamber and close my eyes to pretend I’ve not been crammed in to a stifling little mouse hole.  The music starts up and I immediately begin to feel a little panicky.  I’m being transported back to a former self.

NO!  NO!  NO!  Stab me in the eye with a fork!!!!!  NO!  She put in 88.1 KLOVE christian radio!

For the next 30 minutes I try and relax while listening to:
Our god is an awesome CLUNK CLUNK CLUNK RRRRRR CLUNK
He reigns from heaven above CLUNK CLUNK

Commercial pipes in between all the clunking and RRRRRing to which a voice from highschool years starts speaking…
Hi, this is CLUNK CLUNK CLUNK and I’m asking you RRRRRRRR RRRRRRR CLUNK

Does anyone else know of a person that is just exuding God’s greatness?   Love is just flowing CLUNK RRRRRR

I’ll bow down CLUNK cross RRRRRRR worthy CLUNK….

OMG PLEASE GET ME OUT OF THIS TORTUROUS DEVICE!!!!!!!!!

The universe had a good laugh today submitting me to that nasty little joke ūüôā

Marriage After Religion

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It’s been two years since Mark left Christianity and not much less than 2 years for myself. ¬†Prior to leaving religion we were constantly told how much people admired our marriage and our commitment to each other. ¬†We were asked to lead marital class after marital class in our churches and often mentored newly married couples. ¬†Even after leaving the church and religion people still approach us telling us how much they look up to us as a couple.

Ah, I wish I could say the last two years has held the same amount of admiration and bliss for us as it has been perceived by others. ¬†While leaving religion has been absolutely the best decision for me, for Mark, and for our boys I can’t sit here and pretend that it hasn’t come with a shit load of difficulty.

A Godly MarriageIn religion you have a set of rules that you live and die by.  You have a community of peers that are there to encourage you, mentor you, and give you tools to adhere to the rules that god has set for you.  You have the guilt and shame factor that comes in to play when you break any of those rules by lusting, coveting, lying, cheating, stealing, etc.  You take pride in having been two people now formed into one flesh, leaving your parents and cleaving to your partner.  Women know that they are ultimately to submit to the patriarch (husband).  And the husband knows he is to provide.  Divorce is not an option unless your spouse is beating you or cheating on you.  Porn is considered a taboo sin and often lands a man in church run therapy sessions for sex addicts.  And, sadly, you have a false sense of security that your marriage is great because you are doing all the things god has asked with a few failures but those are quickly hidden and never discussed for fear of judgement.  And while many christian marriages appear to be happy and godly, many of them (at least the ones I have known) are really just maintaining an appearance of godly.  Many men are hiding their porn use and when their wives eventually find out they are subjected to shamefests that rival republican/democratic debate practices.  Men (and women) are hiding their true sexual desires and fantasies and resorting to biblical standards of vanilla and missionary.  Always pleasing to the third man in the sky who is ever present in their lives.  Again anything outside of the black and white rule box including questioning areas of grey is often unheard of and leaves so many people stifled, confused, and inhibited.  But they are safe there and it becomes a really really comfortable place to reside.  And in the end if you do start to question your marriage, your vows, the what ifs, you can always fall back on the belief that god chose the two of you for each other.

Remove the book, the rules, the community, because god said so lines, the lifetime of black and white and the shit hits the fan!

We left our bubble and after spending so much time questioning everything about our religion the questioning moved on to everything outside our religious walls. ¬†They just shifted from ‘is there evidence to support this’ to
Is divorce wrong? ¬†Is there even such a thing as right and wrong? ¬†As a society why do we practice monogamy? ¬†What would an open marriage look like? ¬†A threesome? ¬†Is pornography really harmful and bad? ¬†Are all drugs harmful? ¬†Are some safe and in what amounts and circumstances? ¬†What fantasies have we suppressed? ¬†Where do we land on abortion? Gay rights? Spanking? Politics? Lying? Secrets? Individuality? Expressions of self? Boundaries? Evolution? Strip Clubs? Prostitutes? What do we want to teach our boys about religion(s), masturbation, sex, relationships? ¬†How do we define our integrity and morality? ¬†If there is indeed no heaven and this moment is all we have will we regret having¬†only been with one partner? ¬†Having not experienced everything under the sun? ¬†Will we lie on our death bed knowing that we lived a genuinely good and happy life? ¬†What is happiness? ¬†What are our natural biological drives and emotions? ¬†How much do we fight against what we see as harmful? ¬†How angry do we get? ¬†When do we let the boys experience church? ¬†Which relationships do we let go of? ¬†Which relationships do we maintain? ¬†Do we even maintain ours? ¬†Is it important enough for us to stay together for the kids? ¬†What does a voice really sound like? ¬†How do I know I’m not being duped or controlled again? ¬†How do I find peace within myself? ¬†What are my new boundaries for myself and my marriage? ¬†How do we respect each other when our answers are not the same? ¬†What do I share and what secrets are good to keep? ¬†Are secrets ever good? Is it possible to share all of oneself and experience intimacy rather than judgement?

And the questions just keep coming and coming and coming. ¬†It’s an endless cycle of learning, exploring, challenging, and that can be a very scary place in a marriage. ¬†It often feels unsafe for me. ¬†I’m a person who is challenged with anxiety issues and severe fears of abandonment. ¬†So to hear Mark talk through some of his questioning and to hear his thoughts that have always been hidden or silenced because of my judgement and the church’s judgement can send me spiraling in to the ugliest woman full of nasty insecurities. ¬†And what do I do when I fear the worst and can’t find my footing? ¬†I fight!

Mark is a man who struggles with ADHD and the need to always push the envelope.  He also is really struggling with anybody controlling him.  He feels he has been controlled and manipulated for most of his life and now wants to control his own life.  And what does Mark do when he feels others are trying to control him?  He fights!
And so just as my anxiety and fear of abandonment can cause me to unjustly turn Mark in to my enemy and I can slaughter him with false accusations and assumptions, his fear of being controlled can unjustly make me out to be a raging nag or cause him to toe the line of safe just so he feels he has his independence.  As you can see the polarizing stances of one needing independence and often losing sight of partnership and the other stance wanting to bail out before the ultimate imagined abandonment happens, causes some serious conflict.  Neither one of us feels completely understood or safe.  And the scale has become unbalanced.

It was much easier for someone like me to feel safe when there were rules to guide me and someone watching¬†me from up above. ¬†I work well under that kind of pressure to perform. ¬†This newfound freedom with my own regulations is quite frightening and intimidating and at times I find myself desiring to once again hide under the confines and restrictions of religion. ¬†It feels safer there because it’s what I have always known. ¬†Outside of it the world and it’s lawlessness is quite frightening.
I can’t speak for Mark and how religion probably felt safe at times for him too but I have a pretty good idea in the ways a box helps reign in a wild stallion like him.

Randall Sellers  Untitled Landscape with Man and Two Women, 2005  

So leaving religion and remaining married has been a painful and arduous endeavor. ¬†I have been quite shocked at how difficult it has been. ¬†I’m not sure we would’ve survived at all if one of us would’ve remained in christianity. ¬†I’m not sure how any couple ever manages living in a home with completely different ideas about life and the afterlife. ¬†And for now that is where we have landed. ¬†We’ve landed with an agreement to focus on what we have in common. ¬†To focus on all the ideas we actually agree upon (because there are so many). ¬†We’ve agreed to continue working with our therapist (who is superb I might add!) . ¬†We’ve agreed on the urging of our therapist to actually talk less! ¬†Yes, she says we are the first couple she’s EVER had to demand that they stop talking about tough subjects. ¬†I have started on medication for my anxiety and find that it’s remarkable what happens when your mind is not making up stories about your spouse all the time. ¬†I can actually hear what Mark is saying and believe that he loves me. ¬†In my anxiety I hear what he says and immediately translate that in to a¬†way he’s going to leave me. ¬†For example, if he says “A threesome would be¬†awesome!”¬†¬†I hear “a threesome is something I need to have and I won’t be happy til I have it.¬†¬†You are not enough for me”. ¬†On medicine I hear “A threesome would be awesome” and recognize that sure at times I’ve thought that could definitely be sexually stimulating but that does not mean I need it, want it, or desire anything beyond the fantasy and Mark probably doesn’t either. ¬†I recognize that threesomes and a committed, monogamous, loving marriage are not really conducive to one another. ¬†Bravo to those who can pull it off though. ¬†I’m way too jealous and possessive to share my husband.

Right wrong..!I’m starting to get glimpses of hope that we can land on different spectrums of what is right and wrong and still love and respect one another. ¬†We can have different opinions without hurting one another. ¬†We can share our fantasies, our questioning, our fears and our desires without being fearful of the what ifs. ¬†We can still be on the same team. ¬†Differences do not have to be deal breakers and partnership is a gift in this life. ¬†To have someone who loves me so deeply and to whom I also return that love is actually a really safe place to be. ¬†We just need to recognize how beautiful what we have is. ¬†And that is just going to take some practice and some work. ¬†I know I’m up for the challenge.

For Better…
Or Worse…

Do I think we will make it?  I do.  But not without a few more big battles and not without a mutual respect.  But I think we are nearing the end of our trauma and wounds will soon begin to heal.
Even through all of the pain and fear I can say that our marriage is deeper, richer and way more genuine than it has ever been. ¬†Religion caused too much hiding and too much power over one another. ¬†We lost ourselves and our individuality or if we didn’t lose it we never had it. ¬†Our intimacy is much deeper and secrets are fewer. ¬†There’s a passion and desire for one another that has been stifled for too many years. ¬†We have a friendship that is uncharted. ¬†We laugh together. We cry together. ¬†We dance, we sing, we challenge, we flirt, we scream, we battle, we resolve, we see, we accept and we persevere. ¬†Because of that we will not only survive marriage after religion but we will make it the best damn partnership a couple could desire.

Amen!

No Child Waiting

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Yesterday I posted about the need for christians to stop controlling women’s access to birth control and abortions but rather do something positive such as start caring for the half a million foster children in the US.  Read Here.

Today I want to prove I can be positive too and give props to the Arizona churches that are calling on their members to do just that.  I heard about No Child Waiting through my ex-home church and found myself very interested in seeing what the church communities were asking their members to do.

A description of NCW and their mission:

No Child Waiting is a coalition of Evangelical churches and non-profit agencies who envision a day when there is no child waiting to be placed in a home. There are over 500 children in Arizona that are eligible to be adopted but are awaiting a home. There are 11,000 children in foster care that need healthy homes and families to provide support, mentoring, love and grace through this difficult time in their family. The church is clearly called in Scripture to care for these children:

We exist to glorify God by uniting and mobilizing the Evangelical churches in Arizona for the purpose of connecting every waiting child in foster care into Christ centered families by December 31, 2015.

Now this is a mission I can support the church in.  Currently there are 14 churches/organizations in AZ involved with NCW.  If you would like to encourage your pastoral staff to become part of NCW ask them to join the cause.

The churches encourage their members to not only foster/adopt the children but also are encouraging members who are not in a position to foster/adopt to be mentors to teens in the foster system or offer support to the families that have taken on the extra burden of housing children.  There are many ways one can be involved and successfully care for these many children.

My only hang up is that I know of some of these organizations.  One through which we adopted our fourth son.    They have mission statements and requirements of faith to care for children.  Children will only be adopted to heterosexual married couples.  No adoptions to same sex couples, non-christian couples, or singles.  My feeling is that if you really cared about this mission to provide “healthy homes and families” you would open up the consideration to more than just evangelicals who are willing to sign a statement of faith.  But you can read my rant on that organization and it’s policies on this previous post: Only Christians Need Apply

But seeing as this is mostly positive I want to at least acknowledge that some churches seem to have the right focus.  Be a part of the positive change.  That ultimately makes the biggest difference.

If you would like to learn more attend an information meeting:

On February 11, 2012 from 1pm-5pm at Scottsdale Bible Church hear about AZ kids who are waiting, the process of adoption from foster care and ways to support adoptive families. In addition, agency and county representatives will be on site to answer questions and help you get started. 

http://nochildwaiting.org/

It’s Been 39 Years for Roe vs Wade

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Today marks the 39th anniversary for Roe vs Wade which means FB is full of pro-life/pro-choice controversy.  Abortion was the topic that inspired me to start blogging on Shades of Grey nearly a year ago.  You can read that heated post here: Shades of Grey-Abortion.

In the span of time since I wrote that post I have thought about abortion on numerous occasions and I become more and more pro-choice as I continue on this journey. ¬†I get hung up at times as to when I think abortion is justified. ¬†And for that reason alone I don’t think any of us should have the right to dictate under which circumstances abortion is right or wrong. ¬†And I still don’t believe those who are fighting against abortion should have the right to sit on their righteous high horses spitting out that adoption is the only answer. ¬†Believe me…I LOVE adoption…you can go back and read post after post about my opinions on adoption and seeing as I have adopted two special needs children myself it seems very clear that I think adoption is a viable option but here’s my two cents on the pro-life/adoption is the answer messages I read today:

I think the concept of adoption as a fix all is far too idealistic. The problem is that those who demand (typically the religious) that women carry their unwanted child to term and place them up for adoption have not stepped up as part of the solution. While people may be “lined up” to adopt, the reality is they are typically lined up to adopt healthy, Caucasian infants. Those who are dictating pro- life laws are not out adopting the 500,000+ unwanted children in the US foster care system. Instead they are birthing their own children and neglecting the biblical command to care for orphans. The problem is also exacerbated when they go as far as boycotting companies, including the wonderful Susan Komen, that give to planned parenthood therefore providing less low income women the ability to use birth control now only adding to the number of abortions or unwanted children in foster care!
Lastly I think we tend to look through our narrow American perspective. There are 13 million orphans globally! 13 million!!!! Is it not better for a child in Africa to be aborted before it is born only to starve to death a few weeks later? Or a woman to abort her child who is the result of a military rape before that child is born in to a savage war or is trained to be a violent assassin? Each situation is not black and white, candy and roses.

   

I have been stewing on this all day today and I have more to add to my opinion. ¬†I sat here imagining the woman who unwillingly carries her baby to term. ¬†The woman who has been knocked up because she didn’t have access to affordable birth control nor the education. ¬†She gets pregnant, the dead-beat dad leaves her high and dry, republicans and the religious have told her abortion is murder and shut down the clinics that afforded her that option so she carries the baby the full 9 months all the while scared to death of how she will provide for it.There are no families that are interested in adopting her child and the idea of putting him in the foster care system where he will likely never experience a loving family devastates her more. ¬†She reluctantly gives birth to him. ¬†She’s uninsured so she now has an outstanding hospital bill to pay and a child who has needs for food and shelter. ¬†So she takes a job that she knows will provide. ¬†She starts to strip and prostitute for guaranteed income. ¬†It makes her feel disgusting and violated but at least she’s providing for her son and that’s most important. ¬†She’s a good mom. ¬†But she’s lonely and she’s often confused because the same people who told her¬†she would be a murderer and would be selfish if she aborted her son are now stoning her with judgements and unacceptance. ¬†They tell her she’s a sinner. ¬†They tell her she is lazy and could find another way to provide for her son. ¬†They tell her she’s going to hell. ¬†Damn.

http://dancing-shiva.deviantart.com/art/Single-Mom-Third-Trimester-I-152841154

What’s a woman to do? ¬†What’s this innocent child to do? ¬†Why are some of us willing to dictate every area of one’s life? ¬†Who gives you the wisdom or the right?

And one last thought I had and this probably won’t make sense to a lot of you but it makes me question.

If God willingly “murdered” his Son and it is called a beautiful sacrifice why do we think God would admonish the women who sacrificially “murder” their child? ¬† Not every woman who aborts is doing it out of selfishness. ¬†I truly believe the woman who knows her child will be born only to starve to death, or will be mercilessly raped and abused, or will not know love, or knows she will have no means to provide for the child is not selfish. ¬†She’s not much different than the very God you claim sees her as a murderer. ¬†Not that much different at all.

So instead of trying to control what choices a woman can or cannot make and what laws need to be in place to make you feel that God’s will is being done why don’t you just put in to practice the other part of the Bible that tells you to go out and care for orphans (and widows). ¬†That would be much more empathetic, loving, and christian…don’t you think?

James 1:27(TNIV)
27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

The Reality God

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I did it again…suffered through an entire season of Survivor gasping and rolling my eyes at how much the contestants use and abuse the christian god.  Every single episode was filled with tribal prayers, prayers by contestants on who they should vote out, conversations about wins and losses being in god’s hands, doing god’s will, not wanting to disappoint god, wanting to be a good, honest christian, and god used as a manipulation tool to coerce and convince people that one has been given a clear, christian answer in the game of Survivor.

Really, people?  Really?

I wonder do christians sit at home watching this show thinking what an awesome avenue it is for god to get his word out through contestants on a reality t.v. show?  Or are many christians more like me gagging on their food with the amount of nonsense oozing from these game show contestants?
My guess is that many christians are on both sides of this.  I know christians who have prayed for everything from where to place the furniture in their house and they praise god when they figure out where the couch looks best.  This type of christian probably praises shows like Survivor.  And I know christians who don’t believe god cares to participate in the little daily activities of our lives.  He could care less if my couch looks good on this wall or that one.  Much like me they probably choke on a few kernels of popcorn during these episodes.

But my question is this: God, when are you going to stop playing reality t.v. game shows and start…

Saving the children in the Horn of Africa?


A doctor examines Mihag Gedi Farah, a seven-month-old child who weighs just 3.4kg,  in a field hospital of the International Rescue Committee, IRC, in Dadaab, Kenya
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/picturegalleries/worldnews/8663176/Horn-of-Africa-drought-starving-children-suffer-during-famine-in-Somalia.html?image=1



Or Give Us a Cure for Cancer?

figure 20FFUB
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2653576/


Or Control Natural Disasters that Kill Hundreds of Thousands?

Japan: The tsunami wave crashes over the sea wall in Miyako City and (right) the smouldering remains of the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear complex
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/japan/8382734/Japan-earthquake-timeline-of-the-disaster-from-tsunami-to-nuclear-crisis.html



Or Put a Stop to senseless murders made in the name of God?

mizocz2.jpg (67271 bytes)
http://www.english.illinois.edu/maps/holocaust/photoessay.htm


Or Put an End to the Suffering of the Innocent?

A God who spent some energy on handling a few of these issues is one that might get my attention.  A god who continues to care about who wins a million dollars on a stupid game show will continue to get my scorn and disbelief.