Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Introductions



Well hello. Thanks for stopping by. My name is Erica and I'm a recovering Christian. Through this blog I'm going to walk my way through understanding what it means to no longer under the weight of religion or a god or a hell or any of that business.
I'll first tell you the story of how I got to where I'm at right now.

At 19 my mother married an alcoholic. She went on to have 4 children with said alcoholic. She had 4 children with him despite the fact that he beat her and her 2 oldest. Eventually she decided she'd had enough and after 8 blissful years of marriage, walked out.
Yours truly was 5. About this time my mother started going to church...I think in hopes of meeting a nice man. At this age the only thing I knew of a father was one that hit me and my family. I was brought into this church where I was taught that God is my heavenly father that would never do anything to harm me. This was a great concept for me at the time. For the next 10 or 11 years I would hold on to the idea of a heavenly father who loved me. It wasn't until I got a little older and started getting mixed reviews of who God was to everyone else. My mom did meet a man at church. When I was 14 he became my step father. I got one very different view of who god was from him. When I would get into trouble my step dad would yell and say that he would ask god how he should punish me and the next morning I'd have some ridiculous sentence laid on me. So, here I was thinking god was on my side and all of the sudden he's on my step dads side. Huh.
The church I was raised in was Pentecostal. They are big on using scare tactics as a means of conversion. It was ACCEPT JESUS AS YOUR LORD AND SAVIOR RIGHT NOW OR BURN IN HELL FOR ALL ETERNITY!!!! NOW NOW NOW! REPENT YOU SINNER! This scared the shit out of me. Growing up I was always terrified of dying because I was afraid that I wouldn't have time to repent whatever measly sin I'd committed and I would end up in hell anyway. Later I'd come to realize that I was a Christian out of a fear of hell and not for feeling the love of Christ. When I was old enough to be able to step back from the church and look at it as an outsider is seemed ludicrous. Why would someone want to worship a being who could so easily send anyone to hell? Why was the god I thought if as my replacement father this awful person that scared the shit out of me?
By the time I was 17 the puzzle was falling apart. Slowly pieces didn't quite fit the same anymore. I didn't understand the contradictions in the way that I felt versus how I was supposed to feel. That's when I stopped going to church. At the time I attributed it to my teen rebellion, but after leaving the church I felt like a sane person. I was no longer beating myself up about not being the good christian I was expected to be. I've never been good at conforming without question. That stance is not conducive with organized religion. During this time I still believed there was a god and a devil and a heaven and hell but I didn't understand where I fit into all of it. I wanted to believe in something but I wasn't sure what.
For the next few years I would go through life and not think too much about religion. My mom had stopped asking me to go to church on holidays and I didn't feel right about closing my eyes during prayers. That was about the extent of my participation.
After one night of heavy drinking with a friend, we stumbled on to the topic of religion and she asked me if I believed in god. I said I didn't think there was a god. That was the first time I said it out loud. Even in my drunken state I knew I'd done something. She then asked me what my motivation was for wanting to go into nonprofit work after I graduate. I said I just want to help people. I couldn't get her to understand that I didn't need a set of religious rules to dictate to me how to be a decent person. I want to be a good person for the sake of being a good person. Helping people makes me feel good. I know, I'm selfish that way.
The thought that the only thing keeping people from killing each other is a set of stone tablets handed to Moses from god is horrifying to me.
Not long after that drunk conversation I started hanging out with a girl who proudly called herself an atheist. She was a good person. Before this, atheist equated satanist to me. In my head an atheist was someone causing trouble, running a muck and bringing chaos to the rest of us. It never crossed my mind that an atheist was just someone who didn't believe in god. That's when it occurred to me that I was an atheist.
Ok, so I'm an atheist.
Check.
Now what?