Category Archives: religion

My Journey to Atheism (Nutshell Version)

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Yesterday I told you I was an atheist and a secular humanist.

For Part Two of the atheist series, I want to dive in and explore the journey that brought me to the point I am now.

In an eensy-weensy nutshell:

33 years I was a committed follower of Christ.  Born and raised in a christian home.  My parents were leaders in our small church.  My dad teaching our Awana club and my mom the church piano player.  I attended a teeny tiny christian school on the same campus as my church for the entirety of my education years (with a quick and limited transfer to public for 5th grade where I heard about the Big Bang Theory *gasp*).

Not that one:

List of The Big Bang Theory episodes (season 1)

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This One!

The 6 Stages in the Universe

The 6 Stages in the Universe (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I was baptized by choice and said the salvation prayer more times than I can count.  I followed the rules and rarely questioned.  I never drank, never smoked, never had premarital sex (clarify: premarital intercourse).  My summers consisted of church and church camps.  We were consistent sunday morning, sunday evening, and wednesday night attendees.  My circle of friends never (or rarely) consisted of any one outside the faith.  We all believed the same things and walked the same straight line.  Mostly.  The most rebellious thing for me…I kissed a lot of boys and found myself attracted to boys I wasn’t supposed to like, those who were a little rebellious or outside my faith.  There was the mormon, the camp leader, the jailed wiccan, the cute waiter, the arrogant twin, the heavy weed smoker, the boys I met at golf n stuff and hopped in their car to wherever, the foreigners I met on the beach, all the ones I don’t remember, and then the one I was supposed to love, the school chaplain.  The golden boy that all mothers wish their daughter would date.  He was my first love.  My first real heartbreak.  And, finally, at the ripe old age of 15 I started dating my husband!  These years were filled with natural desires conflicted with shame.  And that shame still surfaces today.

The Virginity Hit

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I married Adam when I was 20 and he was 19.  We were still both walking that straight and narrow purity line of christianity so in order for us to remain faithful to our beliefs we needed to get married so we could have sex.  Seriously.  This is a key component to why we married!  It’s almost laughable now.  Okay, it’s downright funny (and stupid)!  I wouldn’t recommend getting married at 20, waiting to have sex, or letting religion teach you about your sexuality but that’s a post I’ve already written.

During the first 13 years of our marriage we carried on what we were taught.  We attended church each Sunday.  We went to weekly Bible studies.  We prayed and did devotions, taught marriage classes in our church, voted republican, shunned science (and I have a science degree…again, crazy laughable), tithed our 10%, spanked our child, taught christian based parenting classes, feared what we didn’t know (homosexuals, democrats, feminists, eastern medicine, meditation and yoga, yada yada).  We were the model christian couple and, yet, we were both suffering with shame and small doubts.  Silently and alone.

Belief + Doubt

Belief + Doubt (Photo credit: jpellgen)

For us doubt began to trump faith.  Long story short, Adam started questioning and through education, experience, and reason he came to a place where he could no longer put his faith in god, his time and money in church, or remain in the beliefs he had held without question for so much of his life.  Adam’s leap to find answers and make room for questioning eventually encouraged me to allow myself to seek answers to the questions I had buried or excused away.  I devoured every morsel of fact and reason I could find only to become an atheist faster than Adam, surprising both of us.

Finding our truth did not mean the road was easy.  All you have to do is look back at my earlier posts and see what leaving religion was like.  It rocked our world, our marriage, our lifestyle, our friendships, our family, our sense of self.  It rocked our entire beings until we were so completely broken and angry.  Angry at ourselves for never questioning.  Angry for the way we had parented our oldest.  Angry at others for selling us lies.  Angry at religion for it’s use of shame and manipulation.  Angry at others for defending a belief that they blindly follow.  So much anger.  Anger is an important fuel to bring people to new levels of awareness but it is exhausting.

It’s only been recent that anger has subsided.  It still surfaces when I focus on atrocities and nonsense that can come from the religious.  It still surfaces when people question my morality, pray for my soul, or tell me that my children will never know peace.  And it still has a rightful place in this continued journey.  Anger is just no longer necessary for me to survive.  It was then but it’s not now.

That brings us to today.  Today our families (most of the members) are still highly religious.  My dad and stepmom are missionaries.  My mom is a pastor’s assistant.  Adam’s mom remains committed to her beliefs in god and a bigoted prophet.  But we are different and we are confident about where this journey has brought us.  Honestly, life has never felt more genuine.  More peaceful.  More accepting. Even with the amount of judgement and rejection we have and continue to experience.

Today we are,without a doubt, atheists.  Full fledged non-believing atheists.  We value the amount of studying and vulnerability we

The New Atheists @ Creepy Library

The New Atheists @ Creepy Library (Photo credit: ~C4Chaos)

experienced to reach this point.  And today we are better human beings raising more aware and socially conscious children.  We give ourselves more grace and the shame that religion so strongly forced upon us is slowly dissipating.  We take pride in our atheism and our non-belief.  We take pride in our secular values and the life that we are living.  And, honestly, after being on both sides of the fence I wish that every person could experience a life that is good without god (secular humanism).  I, personally, think that the world would be a better place without the fantasy of the supernatural and the fantasy of an afterlife.  I wish every person would find answers to their doubts, ask the important questions, give their religion a hefty once-over, and find the strength to walk away from something that feels really comfortable if and when reason trumps faith.

Journey On.

Tomorrow (or the day after…I’m non-commital these days with four kids on summer break to chase around) part 3 in the series.

Religious Choices Made Simple

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I’m crazy busy with family in town and a quick anniversary trip so today I thought I’d pass along a flow chart for those undecided about religion.  “How do you feel about bacon?” certainly seems a logical deciding factor in religious preference,  don’t you think?  Love it.

howmanygods

Thanks to my friend, Vicki, who sent this to me.

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!

Picture Perfect

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I’ve been viewing a lot of nude women these past months as I explore my take on pornography, media, women’s rights, and body acceptance.  I, personally, have rarely ever frowned upon an obese person and thought of them as disgusting or not attractive.  In fact I usually find that ALL people are beautiful in one way or another.  True that I am more attracted to the tighter, firmer, more hairless bodies but I understand that what is underneath our clothes has little to do with the person we are or the attractiveness we carry.  Certainly we have all been around that super model 20-year old who even with all her physical Kabam! can’t keep our interest for more than a minute.  You know, the girls that look gorgeous but carry absolutely zero substance because society has praised them for their looks and left them unchallenged in their maturity and growth as women.  These are the women who you like to ogle and fantasize about as long as their mouth is taped tightly shut.

And, of course, I’ve longed to look like the swimsuit models, playboy models, or porn stars that men often seem to think are the pursuit of life.  I’ve wanted to be physically desired in the same manner as those women.  I’ve never wanted to be the envy of other women but to know that a man, including my husband, would think that I could compete with a supermodel, well that would just be a life worth living.
How many of us get caught up in wanting to be physically desirable?  How many of us alter ourselves through diet, exercise, surgery, beauty products, clothing we can’t afford, all so we feel desirable?  I know I have and do.
But the more I research the more I understand that there is so much more than our bodies that makes us desirable.  Unfortunately cameras usually can’t capture our essence but only our outward appearance.  And as we age, as we birth babies, as we get illnesses, as we fluctuate in weight, as gravity takes it’s toll, the pictures will always fail our true beauty.
And when it comes down to it…you can alter me with photoshop and make me stunning too.  I can be thinner, with less acne, brighter skinned, and made in to a picture perfect false image of myself just like every supermodel, playboy model, and porn star I see.  That’s not really them.  That’s just the image of those women that greedy companies are selling us so we keep trying to live up to an impossible standard.  The very women in those pictures are unable to live up to the standard they are selling.
So I’m saying bravo to the women in the Nude Photo Revolutionaries Calendar!  Men and women, these are what real ladies look like and they are far more beautiful than anything I’ve seen in Glamour, or ENews, or Playboy!  I would love to see a nude revolution.  What would happen if we took the shame and sexuality out of nudity? A breast would be a breast would be a breast.  An ass an ass an ass.  A woman is a woman is a woman.  All of us different and unique and all of us stunningly beautiful.  If we were all naked we might start to see the essence of our beings rather than a body I must fuck.  Or a standard I must achieve.  We might all start accepting one another on a level playing field.  Religion has put shame in our bodies since the first chapters of the Bible when Adam and Eve covered themselves with leaves.  It’s time to take religion out of our bodies and leave the shame behind.
Real women take pride in your bodies and the life they give you.  Real women lose the shame and understand your beauty is far more than skin deep.  Real women look in the mirror and smile and recognize that you are just as beautiful as a Kardashian…because each of us has beauty.  Real, genuine beauty.

Talking Dirty. Or Am I?

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SEX!!!!!!

SEX!!!!!!
SEX!!!!!!






Hanky Panky, A Roll in the Hay, Lovemaking, Fucking, Knockin’ Boots, Masturbation, Self-Love, Intercourse, Getting Laid, Banging, Gettin’ It on, Makin’ Whoopie, Mattress Mambo, Home Run, Horizontal Dance, Humping, Mating, Putting Out, Quickie, Monkey Love, Tappin’ Ass, Shag, Mounting, Gettin’ Busy, Gettin’ Lucky, Swappin’ Juices, Doin’ the Nasty, Bumpin’ Uglies, Fornication, Screwing, Jumping Bones, Bumpin’ and Grindin’, Boning, Making Babies, Sleeping Together, Having Relations, Being Intimate, copulate, consummate, Gettin’ some, Bonking, Getting Off, Reproducing, Wild Thing, Nookie, Booty Call, Foolin’ Around, Nooner…



However you refer to sex, don’t let religion shame you in to believing it’s a dirty word!
no sex - do not thinking about sex sign