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The Passionate Persuit of Madness
The greatest lie the devil ever told was that he didn't exist
That's what I used to hear growing up. That was almost a mantra to live by for several
years for me.
When I moved into the Bible Belt of Western North Carolina I was truly searching for some kind of meaning to this whole thing and eventually became a Christian. Things seemed really nice for a while. I would go to church, come home, go to work. I was a music minister for 7 years, a youth pastor for 2 years. But I always had some kind of inner struggle with the concept of Jesus and God. I always viewed God as a loving father figure (even more so after the birth of our first child Lyric). But the more I went to church, the more I saw something that was not loving. Now, I'm not saying that I don't think that God is loving, I'm just saying that the God of the Bible and the God I experienced weren't the same God. And this same polarizing viewpoint also crept into the Christians I new in my life.
The Pastor of the church, I'll call him Paul for the sake anonymity, and I were good friends. I was a rough kid, long hair and various piercings. A respectful smoker, yet a bit brash in my political views. But he took me in, he saw a bit of himself in me. We would eat breakfast or lunch often. We took the youth group to various out of state revivals where people would be slain in the spirit and speak in tongues. There was an amazing energy to the place and I had thought that I had finally found the authority over my life I was looking for. Unfortunatly, after 7 years of service to the church, he asked me to step down from the Worship Team for being a smoker and then proceeded to not speak to me for a year. So, I lost my position in the church, and also a friend in 5 minutes that was 7 years in the making. The church, the people who are supposed to be the hands and hearts of their God were no longer righteous in my eyes. They had no more power and authority over their lives then any other person. STRIKE 1
The constant influence of my grandmother traveled with me most of my life. She is an old school Pentecostal, tongue talkin, God fearing woman. Short and chubby she was huggable at a young age. She used to always make me crackers and cheese as we watched pirated VHS tapes she copied from the video store. She told me that Jesus was always watching and was ready to judge me. At family functions, she would attempt to minister to my sister who was a punker (back when punk actually meant something and Birkenstocks were meant to kick ass not look cute). It always fell of deaf ears. She was who she wanted to be. Unfortunately, my grandmothers influence turned oppressive after the death of my Grandfather. She literally lost her marbles and became a tremendously judgmental person and used the Bible to justify her actions. Its like she could say that anything she wanted no matter how rude or disrespectful as long as she said it was the truth. This influence was the most difficult to shake for me. If anything else I had the fear of hell to deter me from straying from the faith. STRIKE 2
Our daughter was diagnosed with Type-1 Diabetes just before her 3rd Birthday. This perfect little creature whome I love more than anything on this earth had just been given a life expectancy of 10 years less and a lifetime of struggle. If God doesnt create imperfection, then how could this have happened? Doesn't this fall in the line of the "Age of Reason" that many Christians claim to be truth to make themselves feel better that unsaved children dont go to Hell? This situation was compounded by my Grandmother (The crazy one I mentioned before) stating to me that "The sons of the father falls onto his children". As to somehow imply that its something that I had done. STRIKE 3
The breaking moment for me was attempting to rationalize a concept I adopted called Universal Salvation. I had thought for a while that the Bible has been used as a system of control for a while. I understand the will of evil men is absolute and nothing is sacred. What better way to enslave people then to paralyze them with fear of an eternal torment? To capitalize on their imaginations. Universal Salvation changed This concept really fit in to my line of thinking at the time. It goes something like this. The sacrifice of of Christ was for all men for all time, going back to Adam. This covered original sin and all other sins no matter how obscene, so no one goes to Hell. I presented this idea to a group of people that knew the Bible forwards and backwards and weren't going to shut me out for a differing opinion as Christians don't like to ask themselves basic theological questions. Atheists. It was a lively theological conversation and really fed my intellectual side. You can check it out HERE if you would like. My wife was also following the thread and we had great conversations over the span of a few days as well. But after a while, I realized they were asking me questions that I couldn't answer, and truly should had been asking myself. I started to sway a bit and really wonder if I was a Christian at all.
Towards the end of my time on the Atheist forums, my wife hit me with something VERY deep. She asked me that without the fear of God, what is truly keeping both her and I in Christianity. I really couldnt give an answer. After truly believing in Universal Salvation, the concept of damnation was no longer in my system of belief. She informed me that she always had a hard time believing in the Christian God, that there was something wrong with the whole thing. After about an hour of REALLY talking about our hearts and feelings, things were different. And in that moment, I no longer believed in the Christian God, the Bible, even in Jesus.
But she wasnt done with me yet. Turns out my wife had been a closet Wiccan for some time. She was afraid to tell me as a HUGE portion of christian marriages wouldn't make it through something like that, I was HARDCORE. And my wife made total sense to me from then on. She has always been a cloth diapering, anti-vaccing, booby baby mama. In touch with the earth and her love of people. A feeler of others emotions. Neither of us ever fit in to the typical christian mold, but she was unhappy in a way that a christian shouldnt be. It was something fundamental. She had been so unhappy for so long, but she was so afraid to talk to me about it. I love her now more than ever and we're actually HAPPY in our marriage for the first time in a long time. We had become stagnant. It opened up a massive door for our relationship.
This path that I had chosen to take for a lifetime, and over 10 years devoted, was crushed. Now, this took time. I think in reality I was closer to STRIKE 1,264,798. It was a culmination of many factors, as some listed above. But the one thing that kept me there was the fear that was instilled in me by my Grandmother and when she passes on, so shall ultimately my fear. I am a Pagan.
The greatest lie the church ever told me was that the Devil existed. Certainly a good matra to live by for a lifetime to come.