“I told her to play it cool for a little while and pray to God for advice, because he knows her problems deeper than either one of us and can sort it out better too. She decided that that was best for her and she felt a lot better too.”This shows a complete lack of doubt — a full assumption on my part that God was real and in complete control of everything, not to mention easily accessible. This pervades my early journals; if anything went wrong, it was either our fault for being sinful humans or part of God’s larger, ever-mysterious plan. Nearly every journal entry mentions either prayer, church, or Bible study, and many also mention my struggles to maintain or attain a Godly life (July 8, 1987: “I think I will always remember this summer as the time I unofficially rededicated my life to Jesus”).
“I prayed that the Holy Spirit would tell me if she was the one for me. He said to wait and see. So I waited, she stayed open [available], and I never found out one thing.”After further prayer, I related: “He said ... I’ve got some problems that He wants me to clear up.”
High School Years
“Please God, if you are really there, save me from this mess,1989.05.15, poem: A Heart So Cold (the whole thing, but especially):
Sometimes I feel you there, and sometimes
I just can’t perceive your presence,
Please give me a sign or speak to me in some way,
give me someone to understand
Just let me know you’re out there, or I might cease to be a man.”
“But now something’s left my life1990.03.10, journal:
My heart is growing so cold...
I’ve reached out for Jesus, my Savior and Lord
hoping to hear just one encouraging word
But dark, ominous silence is all that’s heard”
“...I got a little depressed... I complained to God... I got bold and foolish enough to say that I didn’t like His timing... I was so distressed, I couldn’t sleep, so I went outside and prayed. I even started doubting if God were really real. I told God that if He were real, He’d give me a sign, like any thing that would be undoubtably (sic) from Him, to let me believe for the rest of my life. I promised to be an atheist, if He didn’t do it. He didn’t. I went to sleep that night, still distressed, and woke up sick.”1990.07.06, poem: MLASP:
“I will soon be lost, Yet once I was found”1990.08.05, journal:
“I really want to grow up to do great things for God, and I think I see it in my future. Almost everyday, I have visions and daydreams of evangelizing the world. I see myself singing for God, preaching his word, ministering to all kinds of people. I pray that God would let me do great things for Him. Please, Lord.”1990.11.08, journal:
“I spent a lot of time standing out in the rain, praying. I prayed that God would somehow, in some way, show me what to do, or where to turn. I really need direction in this matter of finances for [Bible college].”1991.04.08, journal:
“It seems lately that the evil spirit of Despair has taken me over the coals, as I search for meaning in my life... Despair has almost convinced me that there is no hope for the souls of those other people... I then, will ‘wait upon the Lord’ and ‘renew my strength’. It is all I can do.”
Bible College Years
“Now, I will have to pray more often, more seriously, and for the right reasons, so I can become intimate with Christ, and know him in a fuller, more complete way. I want to know Christ for who He really is, in all his power, in all the reality of who He really is. Lord, grant that I may know you in this way. Amen.”1992.03.05, poem: So It Seems (the whole thing)
“I prayed a lot, asking God for some kind of special revelation of Himself, to endue me with power, and vision, and real faith. Well, what God ministered to my heart was that if He revealed Himself in some great glory-cloud to me, and filled me with so much of His spirit that I would see visions & heal people, then, I would stop praying. I would forget that I need daily fellowship with God... I felt refreshed though, from all the praying.”1992.04.20, poem: the call
“Somewhere along the weary way1992.07.23, journal:
The voice I heard has gone away”
“Do I read my Bible and pray? Not like I used to or ought to. I’ve prayed several times lately, ‘Lord, dear Lord, give me grace and mercy... please don’t judge me like I’ve judged others... forgive me for ignorance and stupidity.’ But what I feel is remorse and regret, not repentance. In these prayers I don’t recall deciding to change, or to turn around. Is my conscience seared? Am I no longer a believer? Have I cast aside the sincere Christianity of earlier days for the empty shell of outward actions and deeds?” (emphasis added)
“Lately... when I pray, I start to feel like God is not real. Of course, you will ask, ‘if you were praying, didn’t you have at least a measure of faith?’ No, I think lately I’ve only prayed because of three reasons: 1) It’s habit, 2) people are watching me, and 3) My life is falling apart from the inside, and I’m vainly hoping that whatever power is out there will hear and end my misery.1992.11.03, journal:
So, this morning, I thought to myself, ‘With all of the inside knowledge I have of Christ, and my sense of sarcasm, I could make a great comedian, or dissuader of Christians.’ (Of course, my thoughts did not take on those exact words, but that’s the gist of it)...
So, after all this mental debate, I came to this conclusion: There must be an omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient God, but I don’t know how to contact Him, or talk to Him, or serve Him correctly, or why He lets me walk on in confusion.
God, dear God, whoever you are, and wherever you are, please come to me. Talk to me. I need to hear your voice. I need for you to grant me enough faith to believe you are there.”
“I would love to know Him completely, but I guess I’m just too blinded by the material world.”1992.11.26, journal:
“I am being drawn ever so strongly in my spirit to pray. To have intimate fellowship with God. Yet when I pace my floor, and call His name, speaking to Him, I don’t feel as if I’m being heard. And even if I am I don’t feel like I’m being spoken to.”
“Reaching out a hand, feeling for something to hold1993.02.22, journal:
Finding only garbage, when searching for gold
Eyes looking up into empty air
Hoping, wishing answers were there”
“My question in prayer is, ‘God, what ails my troubled soul?’ There must be something deep inside me, either emotionally or mentally, that is causing my problems.”1993.03.11, journal:
“I’ve been doing a lot of thinking this week, and feeling, and feeble praying, and what I’ve come to is this: I don’t understand God’s direction in my life. I realize that trials are sent to help us mature and grow (according to Scripture), but in my trials, my first reaction is to quit, or get mad... I’ve become a fleshly person, without discipline, guided by my natural desires.”1993.09.28, journal:
“I was considering going insane myself... I seemed to think that I would be an eligible candidate for such an illness because of my apparent inability to interpret or make sense of my life incidents. The possibility becomes remote however, when I consider God... As long as I hold to a definite and concrete belief in the God of the Bible, I shall have no fear of insanity... If our present culture in this nation continues along the road it has taken, I shall soon be considered insane merely because of my absolute trust in and dependence upon God. However, these are the very things I must keep to avoid TRUE INSANITY... Perhaps we are all ‘crazy’ in one sense or another.”1993.11.07, journal:
“Shadows haunt the hallways of my mind, dancing in mockery, leering at my foolishness... The Word of God, pure and holy, leans over my shoulder, witnessing my conduct, and keeping record. How wonderful that this same Word offers complete forgiveness for all sinners, and even backsliders... [O]bvious boundaries were carelessly crossed, leaving me empty, hollow, wishing to be pure again. But God’s Spirit has assured me that though my sins were as scarlet, they are white as snow, though they were red as crimson, they are as wool. He has washed my spirit clean, but my mind retains everything... [S]hould I crumble inwardly, utterly destroying my God-given sense of self-worth? I choose to rest on His grace, being led by His Word.”1994.02.03, letter to JLB:
“...I know God is answering my prayers.”1994.02.10, letter to JLB:
“As I've told you many times, I believe God is in touch with mankind, constantly waiting for us to pray, to reach out to Him in some way, thus showing our great trust in Him... God's not just part of someone's vast imagination, or just an emotional booster shot. He's real, and He loves you. He waits on high to have compassion on you.”1994.04.04, journal:
“God, sensing my growing coldness, has reached out in a desperate attempt to re-direct my life.”1994.04.06, journal:
“I’ve begun to feel like God’s voice is just beyond my hearing, and that the Sight of the Spirit is just beyond my vision.”1994.summer, journal (written 1997):
“As I sat there, on a wooden picnic table, Dawn lit a cigarette, and we discussed the dangers of smoking, and what the Bible says (or doesn’t say) about it. What made the event so memorable to me is that the entire time I was fingering the unopened pack of Winston cigarettes in my suit coat pocket. I had become a hypocrite of the fullest measure.”1994.08, journal (written 1997):
“All throughout the summer of 1994, I was wavering between two opinions. For brief instants, sometimes entire days, I wondered if it was really worth it to give thousands of dollars to CBC for the degree they would give me. Also, I wondered if I was ‘cut out’ to be a minister.”1994.09.22, letter to my family:
“It seems like it's harder and harder to trust Him as the years go by, even though He is constantly proving Himself trustworthy to us.”1994.12.02, journal:
“Today, earlier, she was really depressed, and then later began having doubts about God, etc., just like I used to.”1994.12.30, letter to JLB:
“I have seen God answer so many prayers... I KNOW it's real. I live it every day... Don't neglect the Voice in the Wind that's calling you. I KNOW it's there. I've heard it during the darkest times of my life, when I was the farthest from God. It draws you. Listen to it.”1995.02.24, journal:
“Of course, there is still a hollow place in my heart that cries for fellowship with the Divine... [S]o somehow I merely ‘muddle’ along, hoping that something miraculous and extraordinary will happen that completely changes me and thrusts me into the life of a Christian minister ‘super-hero’. But, obviously that extraordinary phenomenon is not happening... The only problem is that the flame of passion within me for Christian perfection has died.”1995.03.25, journal:
“The other night, as I walked home from work just after midnight, I prayed to God, trying to piece my life together. I thought of all my memories, all my experiences, all my pain, all my joy... and I asked Him, ‘What does all this mean?’ I’m still waiting for the answer... So I’ll restart my engines. I’ll keep reading in the New Testament just before I go to bed. I’ll keep praying on my long walks home at night. I guess I have no other choice for true happiness.”1995.spring, journal (written 1997):
“I was also disillusioned about the ministry in general...”1995.04.18, letter to DY:
“Remember, even when everyone else on earth has left us, and even our conscience has disappeared, there is still a Right and a Wrong. There is still the Word of God.”
“God is doing a marvelous work in my heart AGAIN, pointing me in the right direction AGAIN, and I thank Him for His mercy.... Our lives depend on His grace, and I, for one, am glad He gives it to us abundantly.”
Post-College Years (Arkansas)
“If we truly desire God’s presence, then we’ll beg for it in prayer, and He’ll respond.”1996.03.10, poem: I Am Small (the whole thing)
“I was still plagued with guilt, as can be seen in my poem I Am Small, written during this time. A large part of my mind was still convinced that Christianity was the ‘right’ way, yet my will refused to go along with it... Religion had failed to completely satisfy me, and I was finally ridding myself of the delusion that it could. It would take years, though, before the guilt would completely go away. And there would always be flashbacks.1996.06, journal:
I began doing things that I knew were wrong, just to cauterize my conscience... and a few times I even cursed God. This was not because I was ‘mad at God’, as many will believe. It was, rather, an attempt to rid my mind of any feelings of guilt or a desire to return to church. In my heart, I wanted to go back. In my mind, I knew it would be fruitless, so I seared my heart’s tender touch, and became a true reprobate. After a while, my feelings of guilt began to ease.”
“I visited [a church] in Jacksonville [Arkansas] for a while, trying to see if God would jump out and grab me, but nothing happened.”1996, treatise: Want Versus Need:
“In a more practical sense, I ask, is God necessary for life today? Since we have stipulated that He already set everything into motion, and designed the environment we live in, must we also stipulate that He is necessary for its continuance?...1996.07.31, treatise: Future Possibilities Of Evolution:
Some say, ‘I need God to supply my financial needs.’ Do you? Can you not earn, or save, or borrow, or find, or steal, or inherit, or accept as a gift some kind of money?...
Some say, ‘I need God to heal my relationships with other people.’ Really, now. Perhaps being humble and using some common sense in dealing with others would soften a lot of the rough edges of your personality...
I am saying Mankind does not need God for the day to day existence he calls life. Everything I did today could have been done without God’s direct intervention...”
“But even if one holds to the unpopular beliefs of Creation Science — and many do, albeit in widely differing forms — almost all of us believe, take for granted, and even admit that some forms of ‘evolution’ actually happen.”1996.10.03, letter to SAJ:
“Speaking of the Pickle, did you know that I started a cult in High School? Yes, the ‘Honorable Worship of the Green Gods From Waldo’s Vegetablic Kingdom’. Well, actually, we just called it the Pickle Cult. But now, just last week, I wondered about the truth of such a thing. What makes my religion less feasible than the accepted ones? Is it any more probable that a bodiless being called ‘Yahweh’ created the universe than my theory?1997.03.12, letter to SAJ:
‘In the beginning, the Gardener of the Skies created the Garden, and called it Terra.’
What’s so wrong about that? And is it so unbelievable that his first three plants (the cucumber, the avocado, and the cabbage) would become the proper deities in a universe ruled by vegetables?”
“...a part of me still holds to the belief that everything happens for a reason. The only thing wrong with this belief is that I’m always looking for the reason, instead of just enjoying life as it is.”1997.03.14, poem, In The Least (the whole thing, but especially):
“My heart belonged only to you, except1997.06.12, letter to SAJ:
You wouldn’t have it. Now I stand
Alone, and just can’t seem to comprehend
The Destination. Where do I go
From here? Who do I know
[When I wrote this poem, it was about a woman. It was only in hindsight that I realized every line of it could apply to God as well.]
“I hate myself for being unsure of life, the universe, and everything. How can these people be so sure that the Bible is the inspired, infallible Word of God? How was I so sure of the same damn thing not two years ago?”1997.10.06, letter to ALA:
“Most of the morals I live by are purely hangovers from the old me... There is no driving force that compels me to keep these standards, except perhaps my own selfish gain, or personal prejudices...1997.12.09, poem: Questioning Man (the whole thing, but especially):
“As for the ten commandments, I guess I’m breaking a few of them...
“Paul says to break even one commandment is to break the whole LAW. I guess I’m screwed there. What if the U.S. had a Justice System that thought that way? ‘Okay, son, I see you’ve been speeding... Doing 70 in a 55. Well, that’s the gas chamber for you.’ ‘But officer, I was just speeding!’ ‘Come on, son, you know that if you break just one law, you’re guilty of murder, rape, extortion, armed robbery, mail fraud, terroristic threatening, possession of illegal substances with intent to sell, besides reckless driving, failing to signal properly, treason, aiding and assisting a convicted felon, public discharge of a handgun, public intoxication, statutory rape, shoplifting, prank phone calls, breaking the curfew, driving without a license, not to mention kidnapping, child abuse, sodomizing young children, tax evasion, conspiracy to overthrow the government, assault and battery, jaywalking, public indecency, smoking in a federal building, providing alcohol to minors, grand theft auto, illegal wire tapping, breaking and entering, impersonation of a police officer, absent without leave from military service, driving at night without headlights, failure to obey traffic signs, unnecessary display of acceleration, disturbing the peace, and last but not least, you haven’t bathed recently.’
“You see, I really don’t understand that part about breaking the WHOLE LAW. Nope. Not gonna do it. I just broke number 2 and number 7. And besides, that crap about lusting after a woman in your heart is the same as adultery! Adultery is when you screw some guy’s wife, or some lady’s husband... So that leaves only idolatry.
“Which just happens to be the worst one, doesn’t it? Oh well. I told you that my heart’s gotten pretty cold. Deal with it.”
“So be cautious of the answers you seek1998.04.30, letter to SAJ:
And wary of the truths that can be bleak
But never let your deep questioning cease
And the RAW, COLD TRUTH can still bring release”
“So I wasted seven years, and over 20,000 dollars [on Bible college], searching for something that could never truly make me happy. And it’s made me bitter.”1998.05.12, letter to ALA:
“Life is like a cigarette. It starts off nice and fresh, and smells good. Then you light it, and it starts burning faster and faster, until your lips get hot. In the end, it kills you. And all that’s left is a nasty, non-biodegradable butt, lying on the sidewalk, giving testimony to the short, brutal, meaningless, and eventually fatal existence.”1998.06.14, letter to JDB:
“I came to [Bible college] as a burning torch for God, with the Holy Ghost supplying the fuel. I left a scorched ember, smoldering in the ashes of my own disillusionment.”
“Ever since leaving Bible College, the only times I’ve wanted to get back into ‘organized religion’ is when my life was going badly, and I was searching for some peace of mind. I kept looking back at something that had solaced me in the past, and hoping it would fill the hole in my soul once again. But now I realize that the religion of my youth will never again be what I need it to be...”1998.06.21, journal:
“Not to say that I don’t believe in a ‘God’...”
“I could believe evolution brought about the Solar System, with its gases and rocks, and the burning brightness of our nuclear sun. I can even see how one species might possibly, over billions of years of trials, develop into a newer and better species. Man himself even, just maybe...”
“Somewhere, sometime, somehow, there must be a Being so much higher than ourselves who appreciates such things, and had the wisdom and compunction to create them...”
“But when you start talking about forbidden fruit, angels with flaming swords, animal sacrifices, the Ten Commandments coming down on the mountain top amid thunder and lightning, the endless slaughter that the Israelites perpetrated when they drove the natives out of the ‘promised land’, or Jesus dying on the cross for our ‘sins’, or an eternal Heaven and Hell, that’s when I get suspicious. And now I’m wondering how ‘speaking in tongues’ fits into all of this. Where did that come from? Was there some ‘holy man’ that suddenly had an epileptic fit, and everyone else started imitating him? I don’t know about all that.”
“Some say that losing your faith in ‘God’ and giving in to humanism will inevitably bring on thoughts of worthlessness, insignificance and a conviction that everything is meaningless. Perhaps this is true. Yet, I don’t want to believe in ‘God’, just to have meaning in my life; this would only serve to prove the atheists right: that religion is only a crutch for those too weak to survive on their own. I want to believe in ‘God’ because He’s real, not because I’ll kill myself if He’s not real. I need to want to live, whether or not He’s real, then worry about His reality. I don’t want to lean on God, just because I’m weak, and can’t live without Him, although that’s what ‘religion’ says I should do.”1998.08.16, letter to SAJ:
“Last night... I almost decided to go back to what I had been before — a ‘Holy Roller’. I only barely remembered all the troubles that caused me, and all the unanswered questions I’ve always had...1998.09.22, journal:
“I’ve been heard to say — out loud — ‘Fuck God.’ I can just imagine the unbelieving smiles that would meet me if I walked in [to work] and told them I’d turned my life over to God... But, some days, it does seem like the thing to do.
“Still, I feel deep down that would be just another form of giving up... I would be trying to force myself to believe in a God that I don’t really believe in, just to gain some kind of emotional solace. Of course, as [redacted] would say, that’s just what God wants me to do. Admit that I’m a failure, and turn over my mess of a life to Him, and let Him come in and Clean It Up.
“But I’ve heard all those lines before, a thousand times. Hell, I’ve used those lines a thousand times. I know how to win myself over to ‘God’. I’ve played that part enough. I’ve got a dozen Bibles that I haven’t read in years, because I still know exactly what they say... I know all those words. I even know what they mean, and what different theologians say about them. I understand the ‘deeper meaning’ behind them, and the nuances of the Greek phrases used in constructing those famous passages.
“That doesn’t make it any easier for me to give in. It doesn’t make it any easier to believe that there is some great Cosmic War going on out there.”
“Many preachers (and certain passages in the Bible) emphasize that ‘God is there for you’, at your weakest point, when all other hope is gone, when there is absolutely nothing else on which to lean. Perhaps this is true. Perhaps it’s also true that God is there beside me, whether I feel Him or not. But I have grown used to behaving based on feeling. Many times I ‘sense’ or ‘feel’ the presence of ‘God’, or something like Him, and in those moments, I speak to Him, sometimes thanking Him for the goodness in my life, sometimes asking for a ‘sign’, or at least an explanation for what goes on.”1998.12.07, letter to CH:
“Life has been like that for me lately. A lot of strange coincidences that appear to be organized, directed, planned out. It gets harder and harder to believe that even the little things happen by accident. Of course, we believe that the Whole Direction of Things is governed by a higher power, but now I’m coming to learn that teensy weensy little every day things may be Planned Out as well.”1998, fiction, “Hope” (quoting characters):
“Maybe I’m convinced that God gave up on me.”
Petr Novgorod: “I hope we never have to explain how all of this stuff is true, yet completely separatist and contradictory!”1999.01.14, journal:
“[I wanted] to numb myself to a life that is unexpectedly disappointing... I was born into this world, expecting a lot more from it. And I had a good start. Whether it’s me who didn’t measure up to the world, or the world that didn’t measure up to me, I’m not sure. All I know is that I don’t fit.”1999.02.20, poem: The Long-Spurned Friend of the Tortured Soul:
“Streets of dubious destination lead away1999.04.19, journal:
Feigning a rosy road...
So get in touch with your peelings
Leaving the dead
And the roots are replanted on the other side of the fence
Where the glass is cleaner...”
[I left this quote out originally, thinking that it required “too much explanation”, according to a note I left for myself. However, I do think it’s relevant and that it should be in this list.]
“RECENT RELIGIOUS INSIGHTS: I think it’s obvious from spring flowers and showers, from... etc., that some kind of ‘higher power’ or godlike being had a hand in creating everything that we call the universe. The organization of matter, from the tiniest microscopic particles all the way to galactic clusters, shows that an Architect was at work. However, this in no way proves to me that this godlike being is still at work, or overseeing anything. Many times, things happen in our lives that make us think that maybe, just maybe, there is a GOD. When I was driving my Dad’s VW Bug on Dec. 23, 1998, and slid on the ice, going all the way across the highway median, across the lanes of oncoming traffic, and ended up facing the opposite direction on the opposite shoulder, I was not hurt at all. Incidents like that can lead one to believe in some kind of higher power that watches over and protects. Others come to believe in ‘luck’ or ‘fortune’ or ‘fate’. I reserve judgment at this time. Coincidences happen all the time. Sometimes bad fortune is due to poor planning, or an oversight of some kind. Sometimes good fortune is the result of good planning, thinking ahead, being prepared. Other times, things just happen. Perhaps there is a guiding being, but I am finding it difficult to believe that He/She/It is the speaking, interacting, loving, judging, forgiving, protecting, destroying God that is found in the Bible or Koran. Who is He? Where is He? What is He? What is He doing? Why does He do it? These are questions I’m finding hard to answer.1999.04.19, letter to CH:
When we see things on the TV News like the shooting at Columbine High School in Colorado, where teenagers assaulted their high school with pipe bombs and automatic rifles, it makes us question the universe’s purpose. Of course, it reminds me of things in the Bible like when some kids outside Bethel made fun of Elisha’s bald head and Elisha called down a curse on them in the name of the Lord; bears came out of the woods and ‘mauled’ 42 of the kids (2 Kings 2:23-25). To me, this does not seem like God is fair or just. Why are innocent children being killed? Why don’t these horrible things happen to mafia (sic) kingpins or hardened criminals? Why can’t crooked politicians or wife-beaters be the victims of gruesome crimes?
So, I’m reserving judgment on things like that for now. I try to be nice to people, to help people when I can. I don’t steal from people, whether they’re my friends or not. I try to be politely honest, and so forth, and settle disputes between my friends... I try to be fair when playing games. This is the extent of my religious activity right now. I guess that makes me a ‘humanist’.”
“On the one hand, I am no longer completely sure what my ‘calling’ in life is, or should be. On the other hand, I am far from considering my time at Bible College as wasted time. The seven semesters I spent there were valuable times...1999.04.26, letter to no one:
[Note: the previous two sentences completely contradict earlier statements. I can’t be sure if I was simply lying, or confused, or had changed my mind.]
Somewhere along the line, while in college I guess, I became disillusioned with the whole entire ‘religious conglomerate’. By that I mean the encompassing system and business that we as humans have built of ‘religiosity’. It has started to remind me of what the Jews were doing just before Jesus’ arrival on the scene. They started with the Written Word of God, and added the traditions of men. Then they wrote those traditions down, and added them to the body of written work that we know as the Pentateuch (the first five books of the Bible). Soon, these written traditions became just as powerful as God’s law. They made rules about farming, family, sex, eating, drinking, entertainment, religious services, cleaning and washing, tithing, and other things, then obeyed these laws more fervently than they did the Laws of God.
“We, as New Testament ‘Christians’, have done the exact same thing. Starting many centuries ago, we began piling our own traditions and opinions on top of the Bible, then we wrote those down, calling some ‘Doctrines’, calling others ‘Theology’ and calling stil others ‘the great writings of the Church’. These we have come to follow more stringently than the actual intent of the divinely inspired Word of God.
“Some groups have departed from these traditions, and so we derisively call them ‘cults’, or ‘heretics’, or — even worse — ‘backsliders’. When we call someone ‘pious’, we do so because they are at every church service (and they don’t get there late!), they read their Bible for hours a day, they always have ‘messages in tongues’, they teach Sunday School, etc. If someone misses a service, or goes on vacation without attending church, or doesn’t want to participate in the Easter pageant, then we begin to suspect that they may be ‘falling away’.
“If a deacon lights up a cigarette as he drives out of the church parking lot, we convict and judge him in our hearts as a closet sinner. If we visit a fellow Christian’s house, and they have a beer in the ‘fridge or a bottle of wine in the pantry, we feel the same way. We also feel it is necessary and RIGHT to tell the others in our church about what we saw. (‘Guess what, Jenny? The other day, I came out of the grocery store, and I saw Brother Skinner. When I said something to him, he hid one hand behind his back, and I saw — you’ll never believe it — A CIGARETTE!’) Even the more kind-hearted of our brotherhood will merely think of him as weak, or maybe he needs support. ‘We should pray for Sister Jan. I found out that the reason she doesn’t come on Wednesday nights is because she plays BINGO.’ ‘Oh no! Not BINGO!’ ‘Yes, Bingo. I know. She really needs our support.’
“We use obscure passages and out-of-context verses to support our own personal theories and to justify our actions. I had a friend at our church in San Antonio who used to walk up to smokers (people he didn’t know, in public places), and loudly ask, ‘Did you know the Bible says your body is the Temple of the Holy Spirit?’
“Also, we have amalgamated our biblical standards with modern cultural and social mores. Two millennia ago, two Christians kissing each other on the lips was a common sight, whether or not the two in question were of the same gender. Now, because of our social standards (not biblical standards), this practice is discouraged. If you were in church this coming Sunday, and saw your husband kissing another woman on the lips, you would immediately get your ‘hackles’ up, and want to know just what the heck was going on. And you would probably not be comforted if you saw him kiss that woman’s husband on the lips, either. Yet the Bible says, ‘Greet one another with a holy kiss’ (Rom. 16:16; 1Cor. 16:20; 2Cor. 13:12; 1Thes. 5:26; 1Pet. 5:14).
“It has come to the point where people no longer read the Old Testament, except for certain ‘popular’ passages. We like to read Genesis, because of the familiar stories of the creation, the flood, the tower of Babel, and about Abram. We read the first part of Exodus. We REALLY love Ruth and Esther, now that our society has come to accept the crucial roles of women. We like to read the Psalms and Proverbs as personal devotionals (I personally used to read five Psalms and one chapter of Proverbs EVERY day). We like to read in the prophets where they predict Jesus’ coming. But besides that, we skip hundreds of pages in the O.T. I think it’s because we don’t understand a lot of it, and we’re afraid to question the Bible.
“For instance, why did Noah curse Canaan? Right after Ham (father of Canaan) made his mistake, Noah cursed Ham’s son Canaan. What of the actions of Lot, who had taken the two angels into his house? When the men of the town wanted to (no pun intended) sodomize the angels, he says, ‘No, my friends. Don’t do this wicked thing. Look, I have two daughters who have never slept with a man. Let me bring them out to you, and you can do what you like with them. But don’t do anything to these men, for they have come under the protection of my roof’ (Gen. 19:6b-8). Then, later in the same chapter, after Lot’s wife dies (think of that next time you put salt on your food), Lot’s two daughters somehow convinced their father to drink so much wine that he ended up having sex with his oldest daughter. ‘He was not aware of it when she lay down or when she got up’ (Gen. 19:33b). The same thing happened the next night, with the younger daughter. The offspring from those two relations became the Moabites and the Ammonites. Nowhere does the Bible say that Lot repented of any of these sins, or if he made animal sacrifices; however, 2 Peter 2:7,8 calls Lot ‘a righteous man, who was distressed by the filthy lives of lawless men (for that righteous man, living among them day after day, was tormented in his righteous soul by the lawless deeds he saw and heard)’. We can’t explain these kinds of things, so we avoid them. Besides, they are a little too rough for our tender Christian palates.
“In Isaiah chapter 13, the entire chapter being a prophecy about the destruction of Babylon, God says, ‘Their infants will be dashed to pieces before their eyes; their houses will be looted and their wives ravished’ (Is. 13:16). INFANTS? Yes, because their parents and forefathers were evil. How about Hosea 13:16? (Yes, the numbers are the same.) ‘The people of Samaria must bear their guilt, because they have rebelled against their God. They will fall by the sword; their little ones will be dashed to the ground, their pregnant women ripped open’...
“But, no matter what you’ve heard, I have not become a debaucherous lecherous infidel. I have not renounced my faith in God, or become an atheist or agnostic. Closer to the truth would be the following statement: I have reevaluated my adherence to man-made religious systems, and introspectively searched my own heart and mind. Some things have become clearer, while others have become less sure.”
“Around the same time (Aug ‘96) I began getting reacquainted with God. Or at least I began to reevaluate my opinions about Him. Not that my opinions matter to Him, but they sure as fuck matter to me. Who is He? What is He up to? I began thinking seriously about all that.”1999.06.04, letter to SAJ:
“I've even picked up the Bible a few times in the last several months, and it only convinced me that I was completely blinded for most of my life.”1999.07.29, poem: This Mountain:
“The verdant hills are alive with the creation of the benevolent creator”1999, fiction, Time Boy (.pdf, 523kb)
Clint: “Please, God, or whatever deity is out there...”1999.09.05, poem: Soul to Break (most of it)
Clint: “Hadn’t thought about it, baby. I guess it doesn’t add to or take away from the possibility of God’s existence.”
“Perhaps I was just really bad in my last life... Perhaps by suffering through this one, I’ll earn a little better life next time around.”1999.09.06, journal:
“The band U2 sang about ‘I still haven’t found what I’m looking for.’ Maybe that’s my problem. Perhaps I’m still looking for something that I haven’t found. The scary thing is that maybe I CAN’T find it. Maybe it’s not in the cards for me. Maybe I will live out the rest of my life pretending that I’ve found it. Perhaps I will have to act constantly as though I’m complete and whole as a person. Maybe I will have to always live with this emptiness that abides in me. If so, I’m not too impressed with whoever is in control.”1999.09.07, poem: Enough:
“I wonder1999.09.18, poem: Prostitute's Smile (the whole thing)
Is there more to this?
Something more than just a badly written story-line in a low-budget film...
That bliss which all men seek
Is not to be found
And I am only one more soul that has walked that road, and found it to be lacking”
“I want to raise my voice, and wake the deafened ear of God”1999.10.02, poem: Portal (the whole thing)
“And the genie grants none of the wishes...1999.10.28, poem: Languish (the whole thing)
But still I seek it, I search for that ungraspable mystical wisp of nothing...
Closed are the doors of the chapel, for God is sleeping”
“Before the questioning comes the sin...1999.11.27, poem: A Path Is Set (the whole thing, but especially):
Not quite what I expected or hoped...
Sincerely doubting that there ever was a REASON for all of this...
Where were you, God?
In all of this.”
“Paths of misdirection, I know1999.12.05, poem: No Disney People:
Led me to misery and woe
Lusts of flesh, and of eyes and life
Fed me daily and led to strife
Protecting what now still remains
I regain control of the reins
A path is set, not tried but new
Steps taken toward what is true”
“Who knows what the Purpose is?1999.12.27, journal:
“I’ve... prayed to every known deity... changed every opinion I ever had at least once...1999.12.29, poem: Too Much To Mend:
I spend a lot of time thinking about love, death, true beauty, the supernatural, spirits, et cetera... I believe in ghosts, in a deity who created this universe, in angels and demons, in reincarnation, and a lot of other things...”
“And still, I can’t feel Heaven’s touch”1999, fiction, “Prichard’s Choice”:
Author’s Note: “...my Creator — whoever He or She may be...”2000.01.10, journal:
Jewel (robot): “Suppose you humans finally found ‘God’, and scientifically proved His existence.”
Jewel (robot): “That, then, may be the purpose of your human race, Nate. Reproduction.”
“I have dabbled seriously in the labyrinths of organized religion and found them to be false and overly pretentious... For some reason, a greater Soul watches me, directs me, teaches me, and caresses me in my doleful moments... I am the ‘Lone Questioning Man’, and I will continue to question life’s truest meanings. I am sure I will continue this quest in solitude. But continue I will, and not only that, but I will increase my efforts.”2000.02.21, poem: Dirty Snow:
“Dirty snow tells the truth: it all breaks down as time goes by2000.02.23, letter to EP:
Yesterday you were born, but tomorrow you’ll surely die
In the end, the corpse will lie, still and stiff and cold
And we see no moral to the story that’s been told”
“Perhaps he is right about the artistically inclined being spiritually retarded.”2000.02.24, poem: I Am A Movement:
[Referring to the Mark Heard quote: “Maybe those inclined towards the arts are so spiritually retarded to a degree that we must go through the whole process of cathartic expression just to discover how we really feel.”]
“The words at which I marvel and which I contemplate are my own...2000.03.07, letter to EP:
I am not Catholic. I am not Protestant...
I am not an agnostic. I am not an atheist...
You won’t put me in a box, for I’m not a labelist...
I am a movement. I am a religion of my own.”
“We may never know God’s reasons, but we can invent some of our own that sound pretty plausible.”2000.03.15, poem: Evil Twin:
“As for me? Off the ‘family’ record? While most of the Family seems to think that I’ve abandoned the idea of God altogether, or that I’ve backslidden completely, it’s simply not true... Basically, I just decided that I am a human being with God-given desires, and that ‘Rules, rules, rules’ isn’t how life should be. What good does it do you to ACT like you’re serving God, when every minute you want to try something else? That’s not serving God, is it? Yet, for much of my time at [Bible college], I was craving other things. Things I couldn’t do, because I might get kicked out of school, or abandoned by the denomination. I was trapped inside a human-built bureaucracy and I was miserable. I decided to live in the world that God made — and that humans screwed up. And I decided to enjoy it.
I got my ears pierced. If I was still at CBC, they’d kick me out for that. I got a tattoo. Of a cross. But they would’ve kicked me out for that, too. I drank beer. I smoked cigarettes. I loved women. I went to rock ‘n’ roll concerts. I watched rated R movies (which you can’t do as a CBC student or A/G preacher.)
I guess I really changed when I decided that the Bible wasn’t completely literally God’s Word. I still read it. I think that perhaps God’s character and His attitudes remained mostly intact through all the translations, etc. And I found that the God of the Bible is not exactly Who the preachers always told us He was.
I really don’t want to (or have time to) go into a full biblical treatise on my new opinions, nor would it really enlighten you to read them, but that’s where I am.
I believe there is an ultimate power of some kind that built our universe — it didn’t just appear. I am comfortable calling It/Him/Her/They ‘God’. I believe that God wants us to be kind and considerate to one another. Why? Because we were created to want that. All of us are happier when people treat us well. So we should treat others nicely. Stealing doesn’t help anyone, it just makes prices go up and wages go down. Rudeness, haughtiness, jealousy, hate, murder, adultery: all of these things cause pain. So I think it stands to reason that God is against them...
I don’t have any problems praying privately, or in public. I still talk to God from time to time, but I don’t get any more answers than I used to get.
I try to do the best at whatever I’m doing, whether it’s working..., helping a friend move to a new place, driving a drunk home from the bar, writing, reading, loving...”
“We are what we feared and2000.03.18, poem: The Beauty Of Life:
We embrace what we once despised...
Having disposed of your heart-felt convictions
You are the evil twin of your former self”
“...all those fanatic, right-wing, Nazi, sin-hating, devil-chasing conservative Christians... I wish those [redacted] Christians would just leave us all alone sometimes... but somehow they always get back on their powertrips... and point their fingers and say I’m going to hell... since the BIBLE says it’s wrong and so I’ll burn in hell for having fun... even though it was ‘God’ who gave me these horrendous desires that plague me...”2000.04.16, poem: God Went Bowling:
“In this technical age, some believe in fairies and elves”2000.04.20, letter to EP:
“Whether something is ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ is irrelevant. The real questions... are: ‘Will it cause me pain down the road?’ ‘Will making this choice ruin my life?’ ‘How much will it cost?’ Practical questions.”2000.04.28, letter to EP:
“Maybe the days spent on the Ark fits my situation more closely. I’m convinced that there’s solid ground down there somewhere, but I have no idea when the flood will abate. And I have no idea on which mountain I will land. But no, I am not in a static position; I am floating, letting the winds of time move my frail canoe along to its destination, learning all I can along the way.”
“And for some reason, people in bars tend to get into religious discussions. Every time this happens, when I’m there, whoever is arguing about religion will ask me to settle it... And compared to these people, I’m Charles Haddon Spurgeon or Billy Sunday. So, I always answer their questions carefully, and give the most Biblical answer I can think of...2000.05.11, letter to EP:
“...when I was in high school, or college, I would have given my answers differently. With more conviction and fire... Now I start by saying, ‘Do you want to know what I think, or what the Bible says?...
“I’m not quite the Believer that I was.”
“I don’t even feel embarrassed or put on the spot if I’m asked to pray, because I DO believe that there’s something out there, somewhere, that can hear us.”2000.05.12, poem: Where Is Eli? (the whole thing)
“Lord, I’m talking to you, because you’re the one I grew up with...2000.05.25, poem: Heaven:
But with you, Lord, I can say whatever I feel...
Either you’re only a fictional character
In what just happens to be the best-selling novel of all time
In which case you can’t tell anyone
Or you’re really the Son of God, the Way, the Truth, the Life, the Door
In which case you won’t tell anyone...
Thanks for listening, even if you’re just my imagination”
“This life is so tiring, it’s no wonder that men invented Heaven...2000.05.30, journal:
I know I’m only twenty-seven
But already, I’m ready for Heaven”
“I don’t think that I’m about to ‘re-convert’ or anything, although I’ve considered it.”2000.05.31, poem: Will I Ever Know?:
“Did I kick the wrong God in the nuts? Did I?”2000.06.09, journal:
“I consider myself a disaffected, alienated, questioning, deistic-agnostic-hedonist.”2000.06.16, poem: Janis, Jim, and Me (the whole thing, but especially):
“What is death?2000.06.20, letter to EP:
Many times, it is synonymous with the END...
But do we END? Do we STOP? CEASE? DISCONTINUE?
Are we only occupying this small space on a timeline?...
...life is but a tiny island
Where the ghosts outnumber the living.”
“I don’t believe in God the same way I used to, but when I’m alone in those canyons, after a few hours of letting the stress bleed away, I can feel a Spirit. Maybe it is the Great Spirit of the American Indians that hovers there — a window to the Happy Hunting Ground... I don’t know, but I can feel it. And I miss it when I’m gone.”2000.06.20, poem: Halloween ‘93 (most of it, but especially):
“It’s easy to see now, that one night changed it all2000.06.25, journal:
And some high-and-mighties might call it a Fall
But the decision was never hard, once I thought it through...
But right now, looking back to that All Hallow’s Eve
I don’t miss who I was, and I never thought to grieve...
Oh, I’m still a good guy, and I’ll still pray
But if your religion forbids [redacted], then keep it away
Thank God for the food, and thank Him for every day
But [redacted], well, I’ll thank her for showing me the Way”
“I believe in god, music, money, and sex. Not necessarily in that order... I need to straighten out my own self.”2000.06.25, poem: Another Realm:
“Thank god there is no cost2000.06.26, poem: No Longer Enveloped (the whole thing)
And there is no one’s hand on the helm”
“And I still believe in magic2000.07.12, letter to EP:
At least, I want to...
Am I good or evil?
Is there a difference?”
“I’ve lost the Faith of my childhood.”2000.07.21, poem: I Wish They Would All Go Away:
“Made the wrong decisions2000.07.23, journal:
‘Cause of voices and visions
If I can’t see the top,
Isn’t it time to stop?”
“It seems that many of my life’s BIG CHANGES have come from outside influences... What I’m saying is that maybe I should just wait for the next outside influence to come along... Wait for aliens to abduct me. Wait for discovery of secret, magical powers. Wait for a god to speak to me. I don’t know.”2000.08.20, poem: This Land:
“Perhaps God will hover nearby,2000.08.27, letter to EP:
nearly as tired as I,
and look out over this land,
That He made with His hands
And He might watch me as I stand.
And maybe, like me, He will look out at the grass, trees and wind
Then say, with me, ‘This is the best I ever did’.”
“I don’t have the Map. I don’t have the Key. I don’t know the Leader. But, I have been lost, and survived, so far.”2000.08.27, poem: Circling, We Came (the whole thing, but especially):
“I have ‘found God’, and then changed my mind.”
“For all our striving and attempts to find a secret,2000.08.31, letter to SAJ:
for all our work throughout the night
We learn that no secret exists, life must be accepted,
and that there is no Light”
“You, like me, know how hard it is to shuck the confining thought-patterns created by stifling, man-made religion... Religion was my life. Prayer was my breakfast. Bible-study was my lunch. Preaching was my dinner. Counseling was my afternoon snack and midnight snack. Witnessing was my hobby. ‘Christian fellowship’ was my party life. Self-discipline was my motto. ‘Win The World For Christ’ was my creed. Don’t do anything that might even remotely be considered sinful.2000.09.07, letter to EP:
It takes years to flush all that out. God was a junior high school boy, in a science fair, and this is what he made. He didn’t win the science fair, because the girl that sat across from him created a planet where lifeforms were nice to each other.
God is me. God is you. We are god.”
“A few times, I even prayed for her, just hoping, ... WISHING that there was a god who could hear me and help her.”
“If I were God, the almighty creator, I would be more concerned that people just be nice to each other, and care about each other. That’s where the merit would be earned... I think what’s more important is how we treat each other. Not how or what we believe about a deity.”2000.09.11, poem: A Nomad, As Always:
“Fighting off the elusive delusions
Somehow, I evaded the illusion
Well, we’ve lost our faith in many things
Love and Heaven and angels with wings”
“God is all around us, above us, under us, and more importantly, IN US. Here in the country, I can see it more profoundly: God’s finest work, which is Nature. Even the thorn bushes are beautiful.”2000.10.17, letter to EP:
“And, believe me, it is MUCH easier to see God when I am away from Springfield, MO. Contrary to many people’s beliefs, God the Father does not reside at The Assemblies of God General Headquarters. In fact, no offense intended toward you, I think He must sometimes shy away from that place.
Although, on the other hand, I make no claim to know the exact whereabouts of God’s present physical manifestations. I also do not know His schedule, or itinerary. If I did, I’m sure I would publish it, ‘cause I know so many people are trying so hard to ‘find God’, but never seem to get it quite right. You know the ones... They pray sporadically, they barrage their pastor with questions, they scour their Bibles, looking for a new, secret inspiration, or a ‘word from God’.
Don’t laugh. I actually heard a pastor in the pulpit say, ‘...as I was searching the Bible for a word from God...’ How ridiculous is that? If you’re searching the Bible, and you can’t find a word from God, I suggest that there may be an operator dysfunction. Blindness may also be a factor. The Bible IS the WORD of GOD.”
“Love, not judgment, is the way to spread the gospel. —Whatever your gospel may be— whatever message you want the world to hear, it’s better to shower it with love, than with condemnation.”2000.10.20, poem: Another Psalm (the whole thing, but especially):
“When I step outside, mostly here in the country, I feel it. Something. I am no longer apt to name or label what I feel. But I still feel it. When I step off that lip of the canyon, and make my way to the floor, sheltering myself from the rest of the world. I can feel a power, like when you’re in a locked closet, with the lights out, you can feel someone near you, breathing. Or the warmth from their body. A rhythm. A cadence. Nature’s dance. It is peace. It is rest. Whatever the season, whatever the weather, and whoever my company, I feel that spiritual ‘high’ out there.”
“And is there anyone who wants to know God more than I do?2000.10.28, poem: T.D.F.P.:
I want to meet with Him
Face to face...
And, more importantly, I want to receive
Yep, I’m still right here.
“We learn our truths2000.11.06, journal:
And take our dares
We change our facts
And say our prayers”
“Blessed be the gods for such renewal of my spirits and that I am now on the road to finding out what my road may be.”2000.11.15, poem: When You Open Up Your Heaven (the whole thing, but especially):
“I used to feel God's hand on me2000.12.09, journal:
But now I don't feel it anymore”
“I used to be horribly plagued by guilt, thinking that every desire I had was wrong.”2000.12.18, poem: A Different Set Of Trees:
“Each life has its purpose, some strange and varied.2000.12.19, journal:
And upon each back, a different burden is carried.
Look not harshly upon another pilgrim, if you please,
Merely because he walks under a different set of trees.”
(After reading through old journals:) “I found peace in religion — through prayer, good Christian songs, etc., but I was in no wise a better person for it... Religion was a soothing, relaxing force for me. Believing that an almighty, all-knowing, ever-present, fully holy, and fully loving God watched my every step and interceded in my every trial — this is a great balm for a shattered soul. The question then, is ‘when and why did I stop believing in Him?’ Or, ‘DID I stop believing in Him?’ We shall see...2000:12:20, poem: Years Gone By:
Also, many times, the answer is so obvious that a child can see it, but our complicated lives block our vision.”
“We thought life would surely turn out bettercirca 2000, fiction, “The Last Rock Band”, first draft:
We thought Someone was watching over us”
Klin Romnel: “The monkeys in the suits tell us of Jesus, who will save our souls, and lead us to Heaven. That’s funny, ‘cause I never knew that my soul was in trouble... And I never really needed a guide. All I need is Debbie, sweet Debbie. Now they tell us that we can’t have sex until we’re married — I guess it’s a little late for that, huh? Can’t fault ‘em, though; I lived for two weeks in one of their missions, when Debbie’s mom kicked me out. The monkeys fed me, gave me a bed, washed me up, and talked forever on end about Jesus, who died for my sins. Interesting. I never knew I was sinning, until they told me. They say I’ve rebelled against God’s law. Au Contraries... How can you rebel against something that you didn’t know about? How can you follow someone you’ve never met? They say I need to meet him. Jesus, I mean. I asked them where he was, and they said he wasn’t a physical person anymore, but that he would meet with me in my heart, if I was sincere. I said I guess I wasn’t sincere about that right now. I miss Debbie.”
“I told too many lies, then I fully compromised,2001.01.21, journal:
And I did all the things I said I’d never do.
I closed both my eyes, and hardened my insides,
But all the while, I waited to hear From You.”
“In reading my old journals, I learned that it was not my break with organized religion that plagued my life with difficulties, as so many of my acquaintances have assumed — as even I began to believe. My life has always been besought with trials, and I have always been a socially flawed individual.”2001.02.13, poem: 2-13-01:
“And soon, you won’t recognize me as the man I used to be”2001.02.26, poem: Timidly, I Awake (the whole thing)
“I still wonder about God, although I avoid the circular reasoning of my college years.”2001.05.04, poem: One More Piece (the whole thing)
“If I wanted to, I could believe that all of those past decisions were directed by Fate or Destiny, to bring me to RIGHT NOW, but don’t think I have ever fully believed in Destiny. I believe that Fate may bring certain decisions into the life of an individual, but that it is up to each individual to do as he/she wishes with that decision.”2001.08.19, journal:
“I believe in a ‘higher power’ (too many things wouldn’t make sense to me without that). But I have yet to see evidence that this ‘higher power’ is active in my life. One could say that my streak of good luck here in Oklahoma is due to ‘Providence’ or God’s Hand, but it could also be due to the fact that I’ve made a lot of good decisions recently. I’m looking for more proof than that.”2001.09.08, poem: Drink Til You Drop:
“I tried all the churches2001.10.15, poem: On Our Way To Being Dead:
To see if they could help me out
I prayed up at the front
While the choir sang ‘n’ shout
Taking notes on the sermons,
I filled five or six books
And I gave all the sinners
A lot of dirty looks
Went to all the socials
And played my Christian part
But when it was all over (all over)
I still had a broken heart!”
“Don’t be surprised that it’s meaningless2002.01.21, poem: Never The Right Ones:
When you lie down and die.”
“And I asked too many questions2002.01.23, poem: Stepping Over (the whole thing)
But I never asked the right ones
And now I’m tired of Asking at all
Am I better off not knowing?
Is it burning where I’m going?
What’s waiting at the end of my Fall?”
“On the other hand, I agree with Darwinian theorists who hold to the ‘survival of the fittest’ ideology — if one species is no longer ‘fit’ to survive in the continuing evolution of our planet, then maybe it is time that species is purged from our gene pool.”2002.05.24, journal:
“God! Are you listening?... You said troubles and trials come to ‘test our faith’ and ‘make us stronger’, but I don’t feel that. I feel like I’m getting weaker each day. I feel my cynicism growing, year by year, and my lust for life diminishes in direct proportion...2002.06.27, journal:
What a scary, terrifying place I’ve grown out of, and it sure feels like you’ve required me to do it all by myself...
I’m still waiting for the Sign that I asked you for, back at CBC. Remember that? I do. I remember clearly walking down the trail, past the married-housing area, through the thin, hilly woods, and into the field where the thirty or forty wild turkeys were roosting. I remember kneeling, crying, pleading and begging you to show me a sign. I was doubting, even then. And the preacher says, ‘Just have faith, son.’
Well, preacher, I tried that. I tried the whole faith thing, for nearly 25 years, on and off. And I told others about it. I looked and found proof of Your existence. But every day, I found less and less evidence that You’re helping me out. You may be watching, that’s true — just like people watch horror movies or pornography. But where’s the Sign?...
Please let the record show that I TRIED. For all of my successors on this lurid planet, let me leave this record: I attempted to believe that God is indeed the Jehovah/Yahweh of the Bible. And I REALLY wanted to believe that Jesus, His Son, was the pure and holy virgin-birthed Seed of God, sent here to take my sins upon His glorious back, and die cruelly for my transgressions against God’s Law.
Instead, I found that Life is frustrating, without much purpose, hard work and not much fun.
But I’ll keep on trying to better myself. To attain the heights from which I’ll fall to my death. Because that’s the end of it all, isn't it?”
“There are allegedly millions of atheists, agnostics, Muslims, Buddhists, and people of other belief-systems in our country. Some would even consider ME to be among them. (Why not?)”2002.11.21, note: The Basic Fallacy Of The Bible:
“The basic fallacy of the Bible ... is that it makes God necessarily responsible for all good and — at the same time — all evil... Never mind the minor inconsistencies that many atheists or agnostics paraphrase to their own ends — these are inconsequential, and appear in most major religious literary works.2002.12.31, journal:
However, the basic theme of the Bible is that He is all-powerful, in full control, and that He manufactured everything. An addendum to this theme in the Bible is that God is infallible and cannot err. It follows, therefore, that every evil and malicious force in the universe springs from God, at His bidding, in His will, and with His foreknowledge. According to the Bible, it is His fault.”
“I now believe that the cultural mores we all pretend to live by, though sanctioned by the Bible and other religions, are not valid, and in fact are so constricting as to be responsible for many, if not most or all, of the psychoses with which modern humans are diseased.”2003, fiction, Robber Baron:
Destiny Dester: “Well, I mean, I don’t believe that God would send us all to Hell, or anything. But I believe in God. I mean, someone had to build all of these planets... I know that in school they keep saying that it all just happened. But how could all these beautiful things just come into being? And how could we humans be self-aware, and intelligent, and able to appreciate all the beauty?”2003.04.18, journal entry:
Destiny Dester: “I can’t imagine a being that’s powerful enough to make all of these planets. But logic tells me He’s real. And if He is that powerful, but still made everything beautiful... then why would He also be so mean as to want to destroy us after it’s all over?”
Philipp Kaplan Bates: “I think maybe there’s some people who deserve to burn in Hell. Like maybe men who get drunk and beat their wives and their children, or murderers, or rapists...”
Gov. Howard Bates: “[T]he only religion I have is that which makes the galaxy an easier place to live in. I don’t pray, I don’t give money to churches, and I don’t believe that if I sneak off and drink a beer I’m going to Hell. But I try to do right by people... When I leave this dirtball for the next colony world, I hope to leave it a decent place for people to raise kids... That’s my religion.”
Jason Quivers: “The woman is the highest animal on the food chain. It’s the highest mark that human evolution has ever achieved.”
“If there is a God, and he/she is helping me, then THANK YOU. But it sure feels like I’ve done it all on my own.”2003.07.06, journal entry:
“It’s been a few years since someone just asked me what I believed and it was more difficult to answer than one might have imagined. I don’t think I’m agnostic, since I technically believe in a god of sorts — I’m convinced there’s something beyond what we can see.”2003.07.09, journal entry:
“Now I am man enough to admit that there is a hole in my soul. I don’t feel that it is the ‘god-shaped hole’ of which preachers speak. I feel that it is a ‘love-shaped hole’, and because I have known so many loves, that hole has been stretched wide... Purportedly, answers are waiting for us after the Judgment Day, but I also fear that this is not so. I fear, deep in my spirit, that this ‘Judgment Day’ is merely an affectation of tight-assed, over-moralized religious nuts, looking for a way to control disruption in ancient societies.Not long after the last journal entry above, I ceased to keep a regular journal until I began blogging in 2005. Since my journal (blog) was then public, I was more careful about recording personal feelings or opinions.
As my agnosticism turns to atheism, any viable proof of ‘God’s’ existence washes over me as so many trite words which I have spoken before.
Much like before, I cannot attribute the existence of this planet or my consciousness to random chance, but I see less and less of a probability that a single, all-powerful being created all of these things.
However, consider this: many people in our current society have created things: poems, songs, blankets and children, which they later abandon, either through forgetfulness, shame or through the finding of something newer, better and more exciting. Perhaps, on a much larger scale, the almost — infallible being who created all of this has moved on in a similar fashion.
Maybe ‘god’ made this world, and started the great chain of life, and then moved on to a more exciting project, a project of which I cannot conceive in my smallness...
Do not hate me for my doubt.”
“She was in the world, and the world came into being through Her, yet the world did not know Her.” (paraphrasing John 1:10)2003.12.23, note to self:
[The entire short story was about a 14-year-old girl from the distant future who went back in time with her uncle’s planet-building machines.]
“To be forsaken by fate is much worse than to be forsaken by another human. I have seen both, and both are devastating. But there are always other humans with which to connect, unite and correspond. There is only one Fate, and she is mercilessly cruel.”2004, fiction, In Moderation (.pdf, 31kb):
2004.01.19, poem: Fight Beyond Today (the whole thing)
[Quotes from first-person narrator.]
“Is it my place to judge? No, I don’t believe so... No, I won’t judge. They just live a little differently, that’s all.”
“And, well, I’ll admit that I’m a little jealous of Mishael Cooper for his completely uncomplicated view of the universe, where everything’s either good or evil, and there’s no in-between.”
“...nothing I do can avoid dying. We all try so hard to avoid it. But it will come. Oh yes, it will come.2004.07.05, email to CO:
And what then? A Reckoning Day? The Judgment? Eternal Bliss? Continued existence as ghost, sentenced to wonder the Earth unseen forever? Reincarnation into another human, fleshly body, only to suffer the whole thing all over again? Who is to say? Everyone seems to have their own opinion, even those whose opinion is to have no opinion. But nobody knows. None of us have been beyond that barrier. Not one of us has crossed that river. If we had, we would be on the other side, not here.
And if an angel, or demon, or ghost, or spirit, or god appeared to me to explain the intricacies of life beyond this one, how would I know that that apparition was not merely a product of my imagination, trying to convince me of something I want to believe? I cannot tell you that.”
“Religion: None.”2005.02.04, blog entry:
“I hope the family will understand my lack of religion, as well as my extreme respect for theirs.”2005.03.20, journal/blog:
“The fact is, I’ve shied away from church lately for several reasons. One, I don’t agree with so much. But that’s not enough to keep me away. I think what really bugs me is that I know so much about religion, the Bible, and theology (after a lifetime of immersion in it and four years in Bible College), and I think I would be bored with a pastor trying to convince me of something I already know.2005.05.18, email to ALA:
The problem, I guess, is that even though I KNOW it, I can’t say that I BELIEVE in it anymore. It’s all cold, dead knowledge to me. I think about it more than I’d like to, wondering what it would take for me to ‘convert’, or ‘become a believer’ again. I don’t want to be overcome with the emotion of a church service, and make a false commitment. And I definitely don’t want to ACT like I believe something, just to fit in or make the believers comfortable.
But, with most churches, you can’t just be a neutral bystander. That goes against the purpose of why they’re in existence. When I walk into a church, I’m always met by prying people who want to know the state of my religious affairs. They want to know where I stand, so they’ll know how they should act around me. Why can’t church people just be friendly to me without trying to convert me?”
“I DO believe in God, and I always have. I try to convince myself that I believe in Him because the world logically proves he exists, but I’m sure it’s actually because I was educated so deeply in these matters as a child. God is a ‘fact’ to me, not a matter of faith, and this is as it should be. The Bible never says to take God’s EXISTENCE on faith; it just ASSUMES that He exists*. The part you have to take on faith, according to the Bible, is that Jesus was God’s Son, and that Jesus carried our sins to the cross, and that, therefore, our sins can be absolved, if we have this faith. This is the foundation of Christian religion, NOT whether God exists. God’s existence, or the existence of something like Him, should be obvious to the thinking individual...* The above quote is incorrect, and I knew it — and the recipient of the letter should have known it too, and should have corrected me on it. It’s true that the Old Testament simply assumes God’s existence, but in the New Testament there was a shift to faith, noted explicitly in Hebrews 11:6: “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” It should also be noted that this is one of those letters I wrote to reassure an old Christian friend that I had not slipped away. It should be obvious from reading my writings of previous years that I no longer believed in the God of the Bible, and was in fact doubting the existence of any god at all.
I do believe that Jesus was God’s Son, and that he carried our sins to the cross, and that we can therefore be absolved of our sins, if we have this belief.”
“I don’t really have a problem with God, the Bible, Jesus, or the Cross.”
(When someone asked what’s something about religion that I’m no longer sure of.)2005.07.27, email to MF:
“The biggest thing? That the entire Bible is the literal, infallible, inspired Word of God, meant to apply strictly to us today. I realized that modern theologians had already washed away some things, like a woman’s right to speak in church, and putting witches to death. If these things aren’t meant for us today, then who’s to say which parts are?”
“I still believe in God. I’m not sure what you would call my belief system; I had Comparative Religions in college, and still can’t come up with what I ‘am’. Part naturalist, part deist, part agnostic, part hedonist.”2005.07.28, email to BG:
“I’m not convinced that the Bible is the literal, all-inclusive word of God anymore... One day, I realized that the church had already discarded so much of the Bible, without a lot by way of explanation, and without logical reasoning. I started examining much more of it, and found other parts that didn’t seem to make any sense either.”2005.10.17, email to AQ:
“Everything that happened after [Bible college] centered around this fact: I pretty much changed my belief system. The problem was, I didn’t know that’s what was happening at first... I still believe in the God I grew up with, and I believe He is omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent. I believe He loves all of us, and wants us to love Him back, primarily by loving other people. What greater expression of our love for God can there be, except to love our fellow man?”The astute reader will notice a large gap from 2005 to 2013. This is not because I ceased to write. Quite the contrary; I wrote as much as ever. Just not on this subject. From 2001-2009, I was paid to write — at a newspaper, and from 2005-09, I wrote even more at work. Also beginning in 2005, I began blogging — keeping my journal online. I did not explore my doubts and beliefs in that public forum. In 2006, I got married. My poetry and questioning ceased almost entirely for several years.
“...I fooled myself and — by default — misled others...”
“Evolution’s evidence2014.05.28, poem: That Never Shone (the whole thing):
The details make so much sense...
Yet some still choose to believe
Writings on pressed pithy leaves
When only the Sun’s travels measured the day
Old stories that were conceived
Legends weren’t to be believed
Faith in them has led us all too far astray
I once lived wearing blinders
Praising keepers not finders
Until the Truth forced mental revolution
If I may mount a defense,
My faith was my hindrance, but
Information will beget a solution”
Varying Degrees Of Veracity
• Edit, 2015.03.04: Added link for Robber Baron, and quote from 2003.07.09 journal entry.
• Edit, 2015.08.09: Added fuller quote for 1992.07.23.
• Edit, 2015.08.20: Added quote for 1999.04.26.
• Edit, 2015.08.21: Added quote for 2000.01.10.
• Edit, 2015.08.25: Added quotes for 2001.01.21, 2003.04.18, and 2003.07.06. Expanded quote from 2003.07.09.
• Edit, 2015.08.26: Added quote for 2001.03.27.
• Edit, 2015.09.10: Added quote for 2006.07.20.
• Edit, 2016.01.24: Added link to original version of this page. Moved “On This Page” navigation to the top of the More menu. Added in-page link to this Edits section to the More menu. Added emphasis to one sentence in 1992.07.23 quote. Added extra parts to quotes from 1992.11.26, 1993.09.28, 1996.03, 1996 treatise “Want Versus Need”. Added quotes from 1993.03.11, 1994.04.04, the summer of 1994, which I actually wrote in 1997, the spring of 1995, which I actually wrote in 1997, In The Least (1997.03.14), 1998.05.12, The Long-Spurned Friend Of The Tortured Soul (1999.02.20), 2000.02.23, In Moderation (2004).
• Edit, 2016.05.31: Added asterisk and a note to quote from 2005.05.18. Added “meta” tags into the html header (invisible to the average reader).
• Edit, 2016.10.06: Added quote from 1998.04.30. Added more to the 1998.08.16 quote, and corrected the recipient. Added significant explanatory passages from 1999.04.19 letter, which help to illustrate some of the problems I was having with religion and the Bible. Added more to the quote from 2000.04.28 letter.
• Edit, 2016.10.07: Added quote from 2016.10.07 letter.
• EDIT, 2017.07.20: Added quote from 1989.01.16 poem. Added quote from 1989.05.15 poem.
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