“Late Fragment” by Raymond Carver

And did you get what
you wanted from this life, even so?
I did.
And what did you want?
To call myself beloved, to feel myself
beloved on the earth.

~ Raymond Carver~

Read in Good Poems by Garrison Keillor

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Martin Luther’s Anti-Semitism

I’ve been listening to this audio book:

The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined by Steven Pinker

It’s a fascinating book. I highly recommend it!

There is no shortage of vivid descriptions of violence from mankind’s past and present. And of course, there is plenty that details the horrific torture, violence, and murder done in the name of religion.

Yesterday, I listened as the author quoted from Martin Luther and it struck me how, when I was a Christian, I was taught how wonderful Martin Luther was! He was the person who stood up against the Catholic Church and taught about the truth of salvation – that it is by faith alone!

So listening to his words yesterday about how to treat Jews really caught my attention. It doesn’t surprise me that Martin Luther’s views were whitewashed and then handed to me on a shiny platter by Christians: this practice is pretty much par for the course in modern Christianity.

Here is a link to some of Martin Luther’s views and advice on how Christians should treat Jews:

Anti-Semitism: Martin Luther: “The Jews and Their Lies”

Here is an excerpt:

First to set fire to their synagogues or schools and to bury and cover with dirt whatever will not burn, so that no man will ever again see a stone or cinder of them. This is to be done in honor of our Lord and of Christendom, so that God might see that we are Christians, and do not condone or knowingly tolerate such public lying, cursing, and blaspheming of his Son and of his Christians. For whatever we tolerated in the past unknowingly ­ and I myself was unaware of it ­ will be pardoned by God. But if we, now that we are informed, were to protect and shield such a house for the Jews, existing right before our very nose, in which they lie about, blaspheme, curse, vilify, and defame Christ and us (as was heard above), it would be the same as if we were doing all this and even worse ourselves, as we very well know.

Second, I advise that their houses also be razed and destroyed. For they pursue in them the same aims as in their synagogues. Instead they might be lodged under a roof or in a barn, like the gypsies. This will bring home to them that they are not masters in our country, as they boast, but that they are living in exile and in captivity, as they incessantly wail and lament about us before God.

Third, I advise that all their prayer books and Talmudic writings, in which such idolatry, lies, cursing and blasphemy are taught, be taken from them. (remainder omitted)

Fourth, I advise that their rabbis be forbidden to teach henceforth on pain of loss of life and limb. For they have justly forfeited the right to such an office by holding the poor Jews captive with the saying of Moses (Deuteronomy 17 [:10 ff.]) in which he commands them to obey their teachers on penalty of death, although Moses clearly adds: “what they teach you in accord with the law of the Lord.” Those villains ignore that. They wantonly employ the poor people’s obedience contrary to the law of the Lord and infuse them with this poison, cursing, and blasphemy. In the same way the pope also held us captive with the declaration in Matthew 16 {:18], “You are Peter,” etc, inducing us to believe all the lies and deceptions that issued from his devilish mind. He did not teach in accord with the word of God, and therefore he forfeited the right to teach.

Fifth, I advise that safe­conduct on the highways be abolished completely for the Jews. For they have no business in the countryside, since they are not lords, officials, tradesmen, or the like. Let they stay at home. (…remainder omitted).

Sixth, I advise that usury be prohibited to them, and that all cash and treasure of silver and gold be taken from them and put aside for safekeeping. The reason for such a measure is that, as said above, they have no other means of earning a livelihood than usury, and by it they have stolen and robbed from us all they possess. Such money should now be used in no other way than the following: Whenever a Jew is sincerely converted, he should be handed one hundred, two hundred, or three hundred florins, as personal circumstances may suggest. With this he could set himself up in some occupation for the support of his poor wife and children, and the maintenance of the old or feeble. For such evil gains are cursed if they are not put to use with God’s blessing in a good and worthy cause.

Seventh, I commend putting a flail, an ax, a hoe, a spade, a distaff, or a spindle into the hands of young, strongJews and Jewesses and letting them earn their bread in the sweat of their brow, as was imposed on the children of Adam (Gen 3[:19]}. For it is not fitting that they should let us accursed Goyim toil in the sweat of our faces while they, the holy people, idle away their time behind the stove, feasting and farting, and on top of all, boasting blasphemously of their lordship over the Christians by means of our sweat. No, one should toss out these lazy rogues by the seat of their pants.

A hello and an update

I still have people who stop by my blog and leave comments, often letting me know how my site has helped them in their deconversion struggles. This means so much to me and it is why I will always leave this blog up even when I don’t post often. If I can make anyone’s deconversion experience even a little easier than mine was, then I will feel a great deal of fulfillment from sharing my story here.

As for an update, things are going well! Life has had its ups and downs (as is the case for everyone). In the spring I began taking university classes part-time online. My five ‘kids’ are not all that kid-like anymore – they are 18, 16, 13, 10, and 8. We are all non-believers now and we are a home and family filled with laughter, love and joy. They all live at home still, so while they are getting older and I have more freedom, the online classes suit me best right now. I have a major in mind now, and that should be in place by the end of next summer.

I love university! After leaving Christianity, I found I had an insatiable desire to learn all that I could now that I was out from under the intellectually stifling environment of Christianity. Now that I’m back in university, I just love it! There is so much to learn and it’s all so interesting! I find it very fulfilling.

I still have a strong disgust for Christianity, and religion in general. However, with all that is happening in the world, I lean a bit more towards hoping that we can all get along. I hope my site, and my life, are a testament to the wonderful life and freedom that can be found in atheism. A life filled with purpose, meaning, love, and joy! But in the day-to-day, I mostly keep my opinions to myself and I am encouraged when I see religious people who are committed to living peacefully with people of other faiths or those with no faith at all. I am not under the illusion that somehow everyone will all of a sudden reject religion, although I hope that happens over time. But in the here-and-now, I hope religious people adopt attitudes and behaviours that are accepting of all people and use their beliefs to bring people together, not to create division.

I’d love to hear how some of my followers are doing. Feel free to leave comments. Life is busy, but I will try to respond when I can.

Cheers!

Brenda

Missing in Action

I just wanted to let everyone know that I’ve been reading the comments that come in on the blog but I’ve been very busy and I’ve needed to stay very focused on the tasks in front of me. Most of it is good – so no worries – but I do need to give my offline life the focus it needs right now.

I appreciate my readers (and especially my fellow deconverted friends) who have jumped in to answer some of the questions. It seems you often give better replies than I could have come up with on my own! I really appreciate your input and it has helped me to know that the people coming here are getting some answers to their questions – or at least different ways to look at things. 🙂

I may be able to devote some time to the blog soon, but I don’t want to promise – it may still be awhile yet. Just writing out this post makes me want to make some time to properly address the questions and comments that have come in recently, so maybe I’ll get to it sooner rather than later.

Wishing you all the best in your journeys – whatever stage you’re at!

I Stand Corrected

After initially posting, William Lane Craig Advises Christians on How to Deal With Their Doubts, I made an addition concerning his advice to Christians – implying that he was sending a hidden message that if they’d only attend to their spiritual disciplines more then they wouldn’t be having those doubts.

UnkleE called me on it:

Brenda, I must say I was very disappointed with this final comment. I didn’t get any sense of blame from Craig here – he was at all times earnest, positive and encouraging. And as for manoeuvering to avoid valid arguments, Craig is one of the most powerful christian debaters who wins far more than he loses, and has been willing to address a wide range of topics, so that comment is simply untrue. Saying these things makes you sound petty, like you are just trying to find fault, when you usually seem to try to be more fair-minded. I think the post was better without this comment, I’m sorry.

I think he was right and now that section of the post says:

[I want to focus on #3 for a bit.  When I originally wrote this post I made it sound as though Craig was purposely trying to blame the person doubting by telling them that if they’d only attend to their spiritual disciplines more then they wouldn’t have those doubts.  In hindsight I think what I should have said is that it could be taken that way by someone truly in the middle of some serious doubts.  I think I am always on the alert for when Christians use fear or blame to keep people from questioning the religion and in this case I crossed the line and implied intent on Craig’s part when that probably wasn’t his meaning.  I still want any doubters to be alert for anyone who tries to tell them that if they’d only do (blank) more then they wouldn’t have those doubts  – so I stand by that warning in general but not how I implied intent on Craig’s part.]

It was interesting that this all happened right after I’d posted about The Courage to Be Imperfect.  I had a chance to put that into practice right away!

I hope I don’t have a post that sucks that much energy out of me for a long time!

Question/Comment About Hell.

I received a comment/question about hell and I was spending so much time on my response that I figured it was worth a post.

Here’s the question from Tamlor (on the ‘My Story’ page):

I have always been sooooo consfused over the issue of how people that say that they  don’t believe in God hold Him responsible for “sending people to hell”. i have always had the understanding and belief that to acknowledge and accept the we are created in the image of God, believing that He came Himself to earth to take responsibility for His creation and the mistakes (or sins) that we  make BECAUSE He created us and Loves us beyond our understanding, not holding us responsible because He KNOWS HE created us, and would never expect us to take responsiblity for what He created.  asking only that we BELIEVE in Him, not our own understanding. Those of us that accept this, that believe this, have the joy of eternity with Him where those that deny Him choose to take responsibiltiy for themselves and they CHOOSE to NOT spend eternity with Him, choosing instead to make a well informed decision to spend eternity instead without Him which is hell. He has made it very clear that we have that choice and has also made it very clear that He desires but never forces us to do anything, that includes Him never “forcing” us into hell. His Judegement will be a time of truth for those that trust, believe and accept as well as for those that refuse, deny and doubt.   He will simply say, as they have said, that He doesn’t know them, which is what they agree to while living here…they don’t even believe He exists let alone know Him.

Here’s my response:

Thank you for leaving your comment.  I appreciate the question.

First, here is something I copied and pasted from my ‘Bible‘ page:

HELL

As a Christian I cringed at some of the Old Testament atrocities but I believed Christ had come to change all that so they didn’t cause me to waiver in my faith.  (Never mind that Christ and God are supposed to be one so Christ was also a part of those atrocities.)  But over time I came to agree with Dan Barker who says in ‘godless‘ (p. 181): “But probably the worst of all Jesus’ ideas is the teaching of hell.  He did not invent the concept of eternal punishment, but the promotion of the Christian doctrine of hell originated with Jesus.  In the Old Testament, hell is just death or the grave.  With Jesus, hell became a place of everlasting torment.  In Mark 9:43, Jesus said that hell is ‘the fire that never shall be quenched.’  In Matthew 13:41-42, Jesus gives us a graphic (and almost gleeful) description of the place he created: ‘The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; and shall cast them into a furnace of fire:  there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.’  Hitlers gas ovens were horrendous and the the suffering was unspeakable, but they did not burn forever.  The murdered victims of the Holocaust suffer no more, but the victims of God’s anger will scream forever and ever.”

Watch this video concerning the concept of hell:

Here are some thoughts from Atheist Universe by David Mills:

“Suppose, by analogy, that a stranger pulls a gun on you and says, ‘Your money or your life.’  You refuse to surrender your money, and the robber kills you.  Do you believe that a jury would acquit the gunman because he had offered you a ‘free choice’?

Would this gunman deserve praise and worship if, after putting a gun to your head, he decided to spare your life?  No, because he was merely removing the threat that he himself had imposed upon you unasked and unwanted.  Yet the biblical God is viewed as ‘merciful’ because He ‘saves’ a minority of human beings from His own hideous tortures, imposed upon humanity unasked and unwanted.

‘But,’ Christians respond, ‘without the shedding of blood, there can be no forgiveness of sin.  And God asks only that we accept the blood sacrifice that Jesus offered for us on the cross.’

And who, may I ask, established this rule that ‘without the shedding of blood, there can be no forgiveness of sin’?  The answer, again, is ‘God.’  If truly omnipotent, God could have proclaimed that ‘without the drinking of apple cider, there can be no forgiveness of sin,’ or ‘without the expulsion of farts, there can be no forgiveness of sin.’  God, if omnipotent, could do anything He wanted, including forgiving all ‘sinnners’ unconditionally.  The fact that God supposedly demands blood before He offers forgiveness is indicative of the bestial mindset of the primitive cultures extant when the Bible was written.  The biblical God was created in man’s own vengeful, bloodletting image.”

(I encourage you to read the entire chapter on hell from The Atheist Universe.  It is a  very indepth discussion.)

Then my thoughts went to this video which is on the ‘My Story’ page.  It highlights why the Christian story seems so implausable to many people.  The longer I’ve been out of Christianity the more glaring and fundamental holes I see in the whole thing.  So when you tell me that all I have to do is believe, I see all these massive and numerous unbelievable things that I would have to accept and I just can’t be that intellectually dishonest with myself or anybody else.  Please watch the whole video, but I list some of his basic arguments about hell starting at the 6:45 mark.

6:45 Christ’s sacrifice is required because of our sin but God created us with sinful natures in the first place.

7:00  Do not make this sacrifice free!

7:10  Despite the quality of their intentions, any cognitive being who is unconvinced that these events actually took place is designating themselves to the endless suffering of hell.

7:25  Refrain from making it clear and knowable that these events actually took place.  Make sure they happen before technology and science would have allowed people to verify that they took place if they were not present.

8:02  Make sure that beleiving in something without evidence is morally superior to investigation and verification.

8:20  Bible – This is how we’re supposed to know that these things happened but it is FAR from reliable.

8:40  God can’t use his omniscience to discern who is truly rebelling and who just can’t distinguish Him from other versions of God with the same claims of exlusivity?

9:00  Do not make it clear that You’re even here.  Allow for Your existence to remain an easily debatable, easily questionable, easily doubtable proposition.

9:14  Allow for billions and billions of souls to be unthinkablly tortured for all of eternity regardless of their character, integrity, bravery, responsibility, or conduct because they had not correctly assumed that the right set of propositions were true by the time their lives on earth were over.

9:40  Demand that you be praised for this plan.

I would love to discuss any or all of these issues with any Christian.  It really is an interesting topic and one that I take very seriously.

Checking in …

I don’t like to post something just for the sake of posting and nothing has grabbed my attention lately.  However I am doing some fascinating reading that I will likely do a post about soon.

Other than that – just the usual everyday busyness of living in a house with seven people!

Looking at a beautiful sunrise out my window right now.  The calm before the storm of getting five kids out the door for school!