Thursday, October 20, 2011

"Artless" Christianity Part 3: Metaphors?? How very dare you???

   One of the idiosyncratic modes of belief of this idiotic form of Christianity involves overlooking all the literary elements that are "inherent" in our language and pretending that these elements are "true," and undeniably literal. Meaning, some Christians believe that the "Tree of Good and Evil" was a real physical feature of this very mythic garden that is alluded to in many religious poems throughout the medieval times. If anyone who is remotely familiar with the cache of medieval literature, these mythic locations from Genesis are often alluded to in much the same way the Greeks interposed mythological allusions within their works. For the people of Greece who are immersed in this culture, these mythic references bolster the relevance of the work to these Bible. Many poems written by the hands of highly devout Christians feature some of the same allusions and allegorical language that is predominant in the Bible. Why then are there some Christians that pugnaciously defend the fallacious idea that their literature is somehow divided from the archetypes and language techniques that are pivotal to reading text in a respectful and intellectual manner?

  It is something that really confounds me. In many ways, its prideful, deceitful, and even heretical. Jesus commonly created parables because stories have a mythic dimension that articulates a deeper message than language that is unpoetical. Art eludes us from focusing on the superficial level alone and makes us focus upon deeper truths. When Biblical literalistic Christians read the Bible in this vacuous way, they are depriving their followers of these deeper, more urgent messages than what shallowly lies above. Is it really important that it was a fruit that "Eve" ate or that her act symbolized defiance against some idea of God? More importantly, do we need to stress Eve's gender as if the fact that she is a female somehow factors into her treasonous act?

The Adam and Eve myth can be misused some many ways if it is taken literally. Some Christians have warped the "Adam and Eve" story as something that somehow backs up the vile idea that women are untrustworthy and lack any credibility whatsoever. Therefore, they must be monitored closely like hounds and the man must strongly support his superior role in order to keep himself from succumbing effeminately to the whims of these irresponsible emotional creatures. With this misinterpretation of a myth, we later see New Testament text echo this very misogynistic re-rendering of the text with the silly idea that husbands mustrule over their wives as the church is overruled by God. In last few centuries, domestic abuse was overlooked because the wives could not be "trusted" Maybe, she was being defiant like Eve was in the face of the patriarchal God thus she was deserving of punishment. The Jewish people who wrote the Adam and Eve story were be profoundly confused by this weird mishandling of their text. Furthermore, How did the snake morph into "Satan" when the snake originally represented the archetypal symbol of evil that exists within the Egyptian religion.

Typically, some Christians read their Biblical text as dry historical text though most of it is mythic history with a few historical facts thrown in. Or, some other texts are, for the most part, heavily historical though there are obvious mythical elements thrown in. For example, Jesus never really fed those droves of people with a handful of fish and bread. Instead of purely instilling belief in the literal truth of the superficial content of the text. We have to consider the underlying message. Also, if we are competent and ethical, we will take the fact that most of the Jesus accounts were written eighty or ninety years afterwords. In church, we also focused on believing that the fish and loaves story actually happened . To children in their formative years of learning, this teaches them to read stories shallowly: it is no wonder then that many people struggling with critical thinking later because their church stressed the least important element of a story over the deeper spiritual truth.
 The "anagogical" meaning of the fish and loaves story metaphorically depicts the community element that is very important to Christian ethos. If we just understand the silly fish and loaves story as something that actually happened, we miss the stressed element of this story that is an instructive story of sorts for Christ followers. Jesus is essentially showing that Christians are symbolically of "one-flesh" when they have gathered and the food thus must be distributed evenly among these people. No one is to gloat that they had more bread than their neighbor and absolutely no one is to whine that they did not get enough. "Equality" is the  reoccurring message of Jesus. We all are members of "one body" which is the whole of humanity. Fascinatingly, "bread" reappears in the communion scene where Jesus once again represents his gathering as something that is intrinsically equal. Both these "fellowships" involve bread because on a spiritual level, we are all equal. It is imperative to Christians that no one is excluded from these gatherings. Christianity initially was a philanthropic religion that highlights charity Where have we gone wrong? Thankfully, there are legions of Christians that are more progressive who really know the "anagogical" truths of the Bible rather than these flimsy superficial messages

Perhaps, the real logic behind Biblical Literalism lies with the fact that arrogant megalomaniacs can use the superficial artless interpretations of the Bible to gain control over people. The whole African American community in our country was debased and enslaved because so many people thought that they were the corrupt descendants of Abel.  This idea of the non-Christian or the "other" was often seen as descendants of the evil race of Abel and his band of hybrid "nephilim." (In another post, I hope to showcase the abuses done to minorities throughout history by "nominal" Christians who completely misread the Bible for malicious purposes)

Sadly, the superficiality of this type of Scripture reading does have consequences. Its vital tool is depriving people of doubts and their own autonomous thought processes. That is why we sadly see a bunch of bullies feeling that their bullying of gay teens is "biblically" justified. Republican candidate, Michelle Bachmann, has vested interest in this idea and thus has taken no measures to strengthen tactics to decrease this kind of bullying in her state of Minnesota. She masquerades her ideas as being "nominally" Christian to deflect any criticism. God has no real involvement in this type of shrewd misrepresentation of Christianity. He is simply there to shine his favor down on despots throughout history and several notable "Tea Party" figures." There are number of people who aren't Christians who are morally appalled by the number of gay teens that have committed suicide. Then, there are those "nominal" Christians whom like Michelle Bachmann make snide remarks about the tragedy as if the true evil lies with the fact that these guys are "sinfully effeminate and thus walking targets." (I hope to do a whole post about Biblical Literalism lending to sexism/homophobia. Both matters are inextricably linked.)

Some disgruntled Christians might ask: "Well, if the story is not LITERALLY true, you are reducing our biblical stories to fluffy-wuffy metaphors?" Sadly, I've seen some very irate responses from Christians to the notion that their God might actually be an adept poet. Or, the larger truth might be that writers of religious text knew that art is the only way to express something that is ineffable. God neither "exists" or is a "singular being," these are metaphoric ways of depicting something vast and unknowable. Actually, God being unfathomable to our minds and being elusive is a much more respectful manner of viewing God then as this anthropomorphic being that some Christians become so enamored with that they begin decorating him with some of their own egotistical ideas thus their "literal, ego" God becomes their little pet. The literal interpretation of Biblical text becomes nothing but his shallow liturgy that is leached of the artistry and wonderment that is omnipresent in real works of art. We need to regain the tools to read text carefully and inquisitively. Without this, religion easily regresses to something primal. Throughout history, Christianity sadly really have become deservedly infamous for being inhuman rather than humane.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Annihalationism: Hitler-God and the Second Holocaust

    Recently, esteemed theologian: "John Stott" tragically died in August and therefore some Christians are reverently depicting him as a positive force within a religion that is filled with some pretty wretched characters like "Jerry Falwell." Admirably, John Stott did represent a more healthier form of Christianity when opposed to the depravity of Jerry Falwell or that crazy Camping fellow. Except, John Stott also argued for acceptance of an idea of hell that supposedly presented God as more merciful than the merciless God that permits the torture of his own creation for eternity for not believing properly.

   John Stott thus supported the more deceptively  humane idea of "annihilationism." For some reason, most people would think that the word "annihilate" connotes something sinister and evil. Except, John Stott presented the idea of "annihilationism" as the less barbaric concept of hell. Reasonably, the idea of perpetual torture for someone who could not believe in the Orthodox ideal was obscene and presents an obtuse God who fails to have any grasp of the idea of forgiveness. In John Stott's mind therefore, the majority of people who are destined for hell will not be consciously aware of torture because God literally sentences them to a "second death," which means that this person's life is obliterated along with any memory of them within their loved one's minds.

  For proponents of this tamer idea of hell, the inhabitants of heaven who are fixed in their celestial bliss would not be able to inquire to God: "God, what happened to "so and so??" The tyrannical God made sure that the very existence of that person also eradicated the memory of that person which symbolically would have made them immortal in a sense.  Of course, we should all feel our wealth of sadness become assuaged by this because those people whom we profoundly loved may be forgotten in heaven. In order for "God" to preserve the infinite state of heavenly bliss, he has to accordingly wipe out any emotive memory attached to that person who has been condemned to hell or the unfathomable idea of a "lost existence."

Would God even forget these people in this concept of heaven? Isn't this malicious God much like Hitler in a sense? As long as these odd ideas of  hell are predominant in Christian theology, God is very much "Hitler" albeit he is indubitably "perfect justice" therefore immorality within our eyes become morality as long as its "God" being the one to commit these acts. Some Christians believe they are lessening the inherent evil associated with this tyrannical "God." "But, God feels immense pathological sadness when he wipes people from existence altogether." Would we condone Hitler's cruelty just because he might have shed tears as he heard the harsh reverberations of piteous screams from Jews and those who were not members of the special race being incinerated in ovens? If Christians believe that God  condemns those who are not Christians to hell, the six million Jews who were initially killed by the malevolent Hitler would then be wiped clean from existence?

I know some Christians like "C.S. Lewis" love to portray these people who are cosigned to hell as being people who are not contrite. Suddenly, this apathy about their torture justifies hell or makes it righteous in the minds of Christians who struggle with the immoral ramifications that these various hell concepts present. In our reality, morality dictates that torture of any kind cannot be warranted just because the person is not protesting against the torture. C.S. Lewis is definitely someone who would not be termed as unloving or someone with a cold heart. But, his concept of hell is fraught with moral problems. His justification for "hell" mirrors the ignorance of rape or sexual abuse because victims were thought to have felt pleasure from having forced sexual intercourse. Or, they were not pitied because they didn't even try to struggle against their rapist thus the fault lies with the "victim" because they succumbed far too easily. Except, we know that torture of any kind dehumanizes therefore people who are tortured are often "numb" or "lost" to themselves.

In my empathetic mind, I just cannot conjure this image of all people the people in hell being complacent with their punishment just because they hate God. Personally, I would hate this sort of God who might have permitted my life to be filled with incessant torture to the extent where I could not believe in the type of God who seems to be uncaring to people who just couldn't believe within him. It has been proven that kids who are sexually abused often have distrust in people and even God. How can God judge these people while being cruelly unaware of their tragic circumstances on this Earth?

None of us have any real notion of God. We have forced God to be some sovereign king who is infallible and odious? In life, we all are grappling with the search for meaning and love in a world that can often be filled with grief and pain. Why are we viewing God from that stoical state of mind that has no empathy or consideration for anyone but ourselves? In our mind, we feel worthy of being in heaven except those "others" who are undeserving of our high stature and ultimate reward in paradise. How did we allow such an awful idea of God be permitted to preached about? God is not someone that is "static" in the Christian mind often, a skewed construct of God has become immutable in our senses. Paradoxically, we know nothing about this God but yet we pretend to know him better than the other people we share this Earth with. Our biggest problem is a deficit of love therefore we project that onto our "idea" of God who more often than naught acts more like a "sociopath" than some transcendent being that was "the prime mover" and the greatest enigma in our universe.  We need to stop accepting this deranged  Hitler-God whom we permit to be monstrous just because we are so frightened by "the degenerate tyrant," that we cannot and refuse to believe in a God whom might be the antithesis of all our crude ideas of "God."

Sunday, October 9, 2011

"Artless" Christianity Part 2:Why do some Christians believe in a "stupid" God?

   A strange trend has been ongoing among "believers" for centuries where the prodigious figure of God becomes a "big idiot." Suddenly, the word "transcendent" which believers ascribe to this powerful figure means "He who is dumber than thyself, rather than greater." God, in a sense, becomes our little beloved "ego" pet where he languishes in our biases and becomes our support partner. Next time,a biologist elaborately explains the complicated  theory of evolution, we are to ignore his insane babble and sic our "ego" God on him. Envision this pugnacious dog drooling like someone who has rabies and readying himself to tear apart the evil scientific theory while the owner stands back and chants his vacuous interpretations of scripture madly. "God created the world in six days. Eve, that spiteful women, ate the accursed fruit that made her smarter than our "stupid, primeval" God. Now she must submit to God once again because this God cannot be insulted in this way. He (or I) is/am  smarter than anyone, that is that..."

 Why do some Christians recklessly drop God on his head when they are introduced to him when younger? It does not help that some Sunday School teachers unwisely teach their kids how to keep God fixed in this infantile mode of behavior. That is why children's minds are flooded with doctrines that seem incontestable to other evil unbelievers. Our little God often is indoctrinated with all the same stereotypes that we learn during our formative years. These are this God's formative years as well. When he grows up, he will keep reiterating the same vile ideas that we goad him into believing. Thus if my parents instructed me that "their" stupid God doesn't like those pesky lesbian neighbors next door. Your God will soon learn to accept that belief without doubt as well which effectively makes you believe those things unquestionably as well.

 Now, the true story made be that your neighbors aren't even lesbians yet your father finds that their practice of Buddhism or some other heathen religion might be abhorrent. Once you debase someone once in your mind, you then find other negative traits to further devolve them into your mind. Your hatred is warranted because your stupid God minion justifies it without any inkling of guilt.

Remarkably, we condition ourselves into enslaving God. To enslave someone, we must insure that they are inferior and obedient to our "beck and call." They must take take upon the different characteristics that we affix to them. This profoundly idiotic "God" is the literal God of the Old Testament who was often the "pet God" to various Old Testament patriarchs. When the Bible is read as literature, we can see that these "God's" are often hypothetical Gods that the different mythical figures in the Old Testament converse with. In the realm of mythology, things that are intangible become "tangible." Within Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings, none of us "believe" that the mystical elements are real. They're part of an imagined world where magic is manifested and is something that intercedes in the affairs of this fictitious reality.

The Bible works the same way. We've lost the art of reading mythology. In essence, we're illiterate readers of mythology. Yet, we're smart when it comes to reading other texts. None of us readily believe that the Greek myths contain real distinct deities that engage with us in conversation. Why do we think differently when it comes to Christianity. How come reading the Bible requires eschewing reason and nearly all the intellectual gifts that God bestowed upon us?

Why do we forcefully make God "a ridiculous being swathed with diaphanous smoke who has also a fuzzy beard that looks like billowy clouds? Within the Genesis myth, this God takes seven days to create the Earth and then appoints Sunday as "his" day of rest. Realistically, a being that is transcendent would not expend his energy and need to act like mundane mortals. Culturally, the story of creation was stylistically set up much like how a holy week works within Judaism.

Of course, some Christians fail to understand the cultural elements that naturally exist within any mythological text and take this creation account as a literal seven-day schedule for a deity who looks kinda like Santa Clause in their minds. Santa Clause within Christmas folklore can deliver gifts miraculously to children of all shapes and sizes in one evening. God can do everything instantaneously within the Bible except create the entire world. He takes a short hiatus on Sunday because behaving like a mortal for one week is tiring. More importantly, trying to live up to some Christian's superficial ideas of him can be very disillusioning.

Seriously, the man even has to pretend that he has male reproductive organs thus earning him the lovely pronoun "He." Its important to note that in other languages, gender specific pronouns are used for inanimate objects and do not necessarily denote one as having male or female reproductive organs. This concept of God as an "old man" is a quirky invention within our modern world.  Yet, it sort of matches the concept of a God whom many view as being very idiotic and subservient to our will and theological doctrines. Masculine God is a bemusing idea as it only proves that this idea of God is subject to human manipulation. Having God be a man exclusively makes "masculinity" and all of its stereotypical implications become a graven image in Christianity: a golden idol. How important is this brawny-man God to Christians?

Recently, droves of irate Christians were positively enraged that a new translation of the Bible had less gender specific pronouns used for God. Suddenly, these Christians forcefully braced themselves and grabbed the leashes of their fickle "ego" Gods. If God doesn't have a male reproductive organ, we cannot believe in God anymore. Some churches that believe their holy leaders are a "model" for God insist that this leader must be masculine because isn't God himself definably masculine? "Come on you heathens and evil feminists, the "he" pronoun is always attributed to God because God is male and has to use the little boy's room time to time. Perhaps, he needed Sunday off from creation to take care of such health problems related to holding it over the course of six literal days."

Why do some Christians obstinately insist that God is a little ineffectual old man with a dunce cap? When it comes to Judgement Day, why does he lack so much discernment when it comes to heinously judging people for not being a member of a certain church? Could this entire idea of God be one huge conspiracy? Have people just depended upon this God as some sort of way to prevent them from taking responsibility for hating people and hurting others? Is this God just our "complacency" that keeps us from being compassionate or intellectually humble? Humanity, even before the introduction of the curmudgeonly masculine God, has never liked inquisitive individuals or anyone that discerns past their silly categories, labels and stereotypes.

Socrates was killed unmercifully because people could not stand the fact that he may them go through a process of self-examination. We don't like to take responsibility for our actions or to truly admit that some of our ideas may be erroneous. I have to admit freely that like all other humans even I stubbornly dismiss ideas and refuse to examine them because its certainly more comfortable remain within Plato's Cave and remain sealed in our fallible concepts of a world that no one has perfectly understood. Hence, Socrates characteristically states that he truly knows nothing which is very unpopular in a world that reveres stubborn certainty. We often hear it describes humorously as "holding to your guns" which could mean to some people that they'll righteously defend their unproven ideas of "the male God" who created the world in six days and then find his plans foiled by a defiant female.

For me, God can only be "infallible" if we stop giving him so many fallible qualifications. It makes no sense to enshrine our feeble ideas of something that is "ineffable," and grant them the power to be above our reasoning. Yet, these weak ideas of a stupid God were the sole product of our reasoning so we are only deluding ourselves into thinking otherwise when we pretend that they are "inerrant." Perhaps, unbelievers like myself refuse to think of God in such a linear way. God should be more respectfully placed in the "throes of the unknown," "the cloud of unknowing," or the nihilistic nothingness that our human reasoning can only restrictively view as "absent of meaning." That is why I'm not an atheist because I don't like any kind of certainty be forced upon something that truly beyond our reasoning powers. Then again, the atheists might be a bit more reverent by just declaring God as nonexistent as he really isn't some being that "exists" anyways. Etymologically, the word "exists" implies a limited life span therefore God neither exists or does exist. This notion of the supernatural really is a way to artfully express the mystery inherent  within our lives.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

What really destroyed my faith? The Illogical Hell Concept and Christianity's Vilification of Honest Seekers/Doubters

   On my main blog,back in March, I wrote this disheartening account of a preacher who was excommunicated not for something lecherous but for something far more tamer and human. He was fired for questioning the "existence" of hell. The congregation reacted in a sanctimonious manner: "What? You don't "BELIEVE" in hell doubtlessly! I mean, we question it time to time but to effectively doubt is a transgression."

 Imagine the angels appearing to Jacob acting like this congregation? Would they stand and reprove Jacob for being unable to not wrestle the angel in a period of intense doubt? Throughout the Bible, nearly all the Biblical character has occurrences of doubt. Some of them even question "God," much like the Jews who put God on trial during the holocaust. They are grappling with both their confused lives and the ineffable idea of God simultaneously. None of them invoked their spiritual safety blanket of abstruse doctrines to deflect unwanted doubts and thoughts that are a natural feature of humanity. So, what Bible are some Christians reading if they think doubt is something so criminal or unnatural?

   How could no one doubt the existence of hell? Its wholly illogical and paradoxical like most dry theological doctrines. As with most Christian doctrines, there are an innumerable amount of different ideas about hell. But, all of them seem to deprive the believer of any sense of compassion or humanity. When I was a Christian, it was demoralizing and shocking to hear so many Christians repulsively say that they accept an idea of God who would banish agnostics, atheists, people with mental disabilities to hell for simply not believing their abridged version of Christianity? Essentially, we could accidentally be placed in hell for not following the correct doctrines. Basically, this idea of the Christian hell makes God become some obtuse forensic God that scrutinized us for any imperfection that might not make us one of the "elect."

   One of the most perplexing paradoxes of this construct of hell lies with "How can we be mindlessly happy in heaven when we're mindful of the fact that some of our loved ones and friends might not be heaven?" Remember that creepy pastor at the pulpit mournfully saying: "Only a few will enter through the crevice into heaven while everyone else albeit those who "TRULY BELIEVE" will smolder for eternity in some large pot of boiling hot lava." Weirdly, this sort of disparaging, inhuman message crept its way into a funeral I once attended. To me, there is nothing more abject  than using a person's funeral as a platform to scare people into believing in this monstrous idea of God. Its no wonder that at the end of the funeral, I was left crying over the hopelessness and emptiness of mainstream Christian belief. Perhaps, I was grieving for all those wonderful people who will be in hell just because they did not believe properly. Even writing this makes me both aggravated and sad.

    Think of all the parents and families who have lost someone due to suicide? In some Christian doctrines, people who have committed suicide are commonly depicted as being hell-bound because they had no chance to repent of the sin of suicide. Shouldn't religion be comforting in these very grievous situations? Except, the Christian idea of hell instead poses as a very abrasive, venomous idea that triples the sadness of "suicide" and incriminates the family (who already feel responsible for the suicide though they're not..) for not preventing the victim from committing this unforgivable sin. Let's not get started with the suicide victims that might have also been gay! There have been instances of churches denying funeral rites to deceased loved ones who just happened to be gay. Again, Where is the supposed love and forgiveness of Christianity in these tragic circumstances? Is Christian doctrine, beneath the supposed edifying facade of compassion, really as malicious as the idea of hell for a majority of humans?

      According to this doctrine, I'm bound to hell and so are millions of others who honestly sought truth in their lives. Not every Christian believes this. I've recently rediscovered Madeleine L'Engle's writings which are the antithesis of the damning messages of mainstream Christianity. Her stories showcase someone who is authentically seeking a loving God that isn't what she titles the schoolyard bully, the maniacal, condescending Forensic God. To me, I am very attracted to her idea of God because her faith seems real and isn't dependent on forceful belief in tons of doctrines. Her idea of God is open to mystery and to the hope that God truly does supersede us. Some Christian doctrines pin God down unnecessarily and makes him pretty unreasonable. Who wants to believe in a God who says that a loving Buddhist is going to hell for not following the right religion? How about the large number of people who suffer from mental disabilities that prevents them from believing lucidly in these preposterous doctrines?

   Autistic kids are brilliant in different ways than we are. Many of them might not be able to believe in God in the stringent way fundamentalists believe in him. Perhaps, these individuals are showing that we can't place too much importance on our thoughts. Religions historically have been about freeing the "ego" from its centrist view. Christianity forces that "ego" in a mind prison where we are to only thoughtlessly believe in a number of silly doctrines to earn our way into heaven.   There are values such as humility, forgiveness, and compassion embedded in Christianity. Yet, Christianity undermines them by strictly enforcing belief over these things. Agnostics and atheists are often treated as scourge worse than people who have harmed another human being. Its absolutely ridiculous that a religion that presents themselves as "moral" seems to be immoral by righteously believing and reconciling the idea that so many people are bound to hell.

   In Karen Armstrong's "Spiral Staircase," Karen finds serenity in the idea that God is "unknowable." This is my current freeing idea of God. Like her, my recovery from Christianity has been a slow process of finding myself and not being afraid of my own thoughts. For my whole life, I've suffered from OCD that was exacerbated by Christianity. To love God, I had to effectively begin repressing myself and despising myself until I skillfully couldn't find God for me. If there is a hell, being a Christian was like being in hell where I tried to deny myself both my imagination and empathy.

     During one of my deepest depressions,  I had harrowing visions of being part of a crowd of people admitted to heaven that were congratulating God on being judicious when choosing those who are unfit for heaven. This sequence might have been partly inspired by sequences in historical movies where innocent victims are being sent to the gallows and the crowd effusively cheers for their deaths. In my heaven vision, it was even worse because these same people had false smiles and were cheering on the deaths of a number of my friends who weren't Christians. One of them was my best friend on Earth who was one of the kindest people I knew yet she was in the line going to hell just because she was an agnostic. Another of my friends was gay and they exemplified many of the virtues that believe so highly in yet they were going to hell because God was weirdly blind to any examples of love outside of Christianity.

   Soon enough, I began cheering because sadness was banned in heaven. But internally, I did not feel any semblance of happiness at all. Instead, I was being forced against my compassionate spirit to cheer for their deaths even if some part of me felt torn to pieces. Being in heaven was like wearing the masks provided at the Capulet masquerade party in Romeo and Juliet. Within Shakespeare's beautiful plays, there is always an emphasis on the dichotomy of our socially accepted, orthodox selves and that interior self that contains our true thoughts. Doesn't Christianity preach that our treasures lies eternally, that our very mysterious selves represent the enigma that is God? If we cannot fully understand other people, How do we understand God with so much false lucidity? In Hamlet, an appalled Hamlet asks: "You would pluck the mystery of me right out of myself.." (not a direct quote). When this curmudgeonly, tyrannical God judges us, does he forcefully pluck the mystery of our minds, our interior selves and only focus on all the sordid details of ourselves separate from our humanity? 

    Writing this entire entry made it clear to me that leaving Christianity was my only choice to spare myself from the cruel, inhibiting darkness of Plato's cave of unenlightened dwellers who dare not question anything? I couldn't be part of a religion that prides itself on a hell belief that reflects the sanctimonious attitude of some believers. I recall some very disturbing exchanges with some Christians that were spoken in cold voices... "Well, you just have to accept it..." What? I have to accept the dark idea of so many people are going to hell. I have to condemn my empathy for these people. Selfishly, I have to believe in forcing them into a religion only to supposedly save them but simultaneously destroy their individuality all the same.

There are countless numbers of wonderful Christians. Writers like Madeleine L'Engle insure me that there are many who are also very artistic, liberated believers. But personally, I cannot find that shred of freedom that many more progressive Christians are discovering for themselves. Right now, I only clutch a "hope" for a God that is truly transcendent for why would a divine being that is supposedly be better than us reflect the worst elements of ourselves? Do we forget that many of the Old testament figures were as contradictory  and flawed as Shakespeare's characters? Yet, both these sets of characters are like us because we really are flawed yet consistently, many of strive to be moral. We are paradoxical and to think otherwise is to delude yourself into thinking you're better than others and worthier of salvation. In Greek myths, this is called "hubris" and I think that is mainstream Christianity's fatal Shakespearean flaw.
Artless "Christianity" Part 1: The Fallacy of Reading the Bible Literally

     The Illiad, Lord of the Rings, The Arabian Nights, Marie De France's "Bisclavaret," and even Harry Potter are amongst the many titles that are myths. When we read them as stories, we unhinge ourselves from our preconceived bias
' and even some of our rationalistic boundaries. In school libraries, we often see a sign that reads "Reading takes you somewhere else.." plastered all across the walls because reading or engaging ourselves in any artwork truly helps us to depart from everything that is either conventional or material.

  Music is commonplace in churches because it helps instill us with this transcendent feeling that all exceptional art works accomplish. In church, my greatest memory lies with the music which was often either sonorous or ambient. Strangely, this music imbued me with a sense of imagination. Suddenly, my mind was unbridled from the restraints placed by the orthodox teachings I had earlier used. In my mind, I could roam freely and try to envisage some depiction of God.

   Suddenly, the pastor's brusque voice interceded and that imaginative scenery within my mind receded much like a genie back into its polished lamp. Weirdly, many preachers speak with an incisive tone to provoke us into examining our defiled selves versus thinking freely about a God that is truly beyond ourselves. As a child, those images of an enigmatic, artful God were often replaced by a cheap replacement in a  suit purchased from Walmart. The preacher inveighed against different carnal sins that prevent us from entering heaven. In his litany of earthly evils, one of the worst was to doubt the existence of what he considered God and thus disbelieve in "him."

    In my childlike mind, I often wondered to myself if the pastor was curiously referring to "himself," rather than God. If our knowledge is gleaned exclusively from our earthly experiences within a material world, How can this pastor be so decisive about matters that are "immaterial," "ineffable." In the end, any pastor or human for that matter must depend upon some idea of God constructed from either their imagination or a set of dogmatic limits imposed by a religious order. These limits include reading mythological text literally. 

   It was these stories that thoroughly entertained me as a child. They still offer me joy and ecstasy even when trying to rehabilitate myself from a religious experience that made me "masochistic," and conceited. In many of the Old Testament stories, hubris is the chief evil. These stories thus are comparable to the Greek stories like The Illiad or The Odyssey where a character's overweening pride brings about their destruction. Humility, in the end, has a pacifying effect upon the individual that is maimed by a worldview filled with egotism and unsubstantiated certainty.

   How about the story of the cyclops within The Odyssey? Odysseus, unmindful of his manners, begins devouring some of the cheese and other items that the Cyclops stored within his cave. Odysseus views  himself as being inherently superior to the uncultured monster that inhabits this cave. Like any individual that thinks they're superior, they begin to think little of the similarities that exist between themselves and the debased "other"

   Was the Cyclops really uncultured? Later in the story, we see that the Cyclops has reason and he even expresses care when milking his goats and attaining food for others of his kin. Alas, Odysseus has the nerve to respectfully ask for the Cyclops permission for an invitation only after he and his men had raided his food. Of course the Cyclops refuses, he begins eating his men.

   Since Odysseus, from the outset, viewed the Cyclops as something that needs to be eradicated. Of course, the Cyclops reciprocates and treats Odysseus in a similar fashion. As with all wars, two egocentric mindsets are embattled with one another because each side is thoroughly convinced that they're superior to the other. Inevitably, religion is brought into the fray as Odysseus beseeches the God for help. One can liken this circumstance to the manner that we pray to God often. Even, I find myself still praying when in fearful situations or when completely convinced that "I," more so than others, deserves to be rescued.
In the Crusades, the kings tamed the enigmatic God and made him nothing more than a support for their brutality. Within the Greek myths, different Gods are allied with different people with varying interests. Thus, wars happening in the mortal world are simultaneously occurring within the cosmic world  as well.

  If we were to have read this particular Greek myth literally, our imagination and minds would be bereft of the "wonder" that these stories leave with us. More importantly, we wouldn't recall the story because it has no ethical significance. Christians don't read Jesus' parables literally but focus entirely on the meaning that underpins the mythic fabric of these stories. Yet, some Christians view the Adam and Eve account as a scientific theorem. Many other stories are seen as nothing more than dry historical accounts. As a result, the adventure, the poetry, and the fascinating elements of "language" are lost as religious individuals instead use the Bible as a holy encyclopedia to consult when placed in extenuating spiritual circumstances. 

    Being an agnostic has aided in helping me to finally read the Bible as a wonderful book of stories. My Bible was once a deterrent to my imagination. Once I left the flock, I could finally persuade myself to read the Bible as one cohesive book that includes a history of humanity's ideas of God. While David, Moses, and even Jacob are not true historical figures. I've still learned to see the values and beliefs of Jewish Culture back during the period Christians title "BC" which condescendingly states that all people before Christ are essentially screwed because they did not live during the era where they could find the right religion with the best eternal life insurance.

  In my next part of this article, I will strive to dissect the character of God in the Old Testament. Sometime in the future, I hope to focus on the many mythological features in the Bible that appear within other mythologies from various religions. For many readers here, this is probably a very uncomfortable reader. I'm fully aware of that but I'm very happy where I am currently. If you think I am a morose agnostic who is unhappy without the benefits of joining one of the millions of churches with millions of ideas as to the "truth," you're wrong. I am far more relaxed and hopeful than ever before in my life. I'm writing these posts and making this blog because I know that there are many disillusioned people out there like me who yearn for a religion with less egotistical certainty, and more intellectual humility( a virtue of the Greek rationalists) when it comes to metaphysical matters.