The Yeshua Fog Conundrum

jesus-king-copynThere’s been a big emotional explosion at Le Café Witteveen. Unknown to me before last week, my brother, SiL (sister in law) and dad are all regular readers (hey guys!). I’ve been ignorantly and egregiously beleaguering the lot of them (their views really, but it’s hard not to take that personally) with an insolent blitzkrieg of atheist word bombs. Sometimes I post videos or gather ammunition from other blogs or regular readers, and they act as my New World Order Obama Army of Darkness. Some times I get Julie to sniper rifle a hefty hole in wackaloonery. Or I will get Petursey to sick the dastardly dogs on the matter and cause a sense of dominating dereliction.

[insert cricket sound]

The awakening, however, of my family frequenting Le Café as regulars punched me in the nuts.

On one hand, maybe they lurked because they didn’t want to disrupt the flow. They realized it was my little dirrrrty secret. Or they rubbernecked the trainwreck and they were amazed by the amount of carnage laying around the front doors of Le Café.

On the other hand they lurked because they wanted to know me. And that feels good. Nothing says “I love you” like sifting through someone’s diary and not telling them.

I KID!

I really want to know my family too. It’s flattering to know that they want to read here, and come back 4 or 5 times a day (WOOT)!

The pain from the original explosion has subsided for the most part, and I’m still digesting the phone call I had with my brother about the whole shebang. There was a lot of personal information exchanged (I had really no idea of SiL’s bra size. Really?).

I would do well to keep digesting it for the time being. One thing I can divulge is how disappointed my family is that I would pursue religious topics with sheer disdain. Whether my intention or not, they feel disrespected or as if I view the southeast as a literal place of “complete retardation” (their words, not mine — honk).

Love the Neighbor, Hate the Neighs

So the conundrum is how to keep this a place of expressing, without self editing, how I view the world and keep the idea in tact that I “love the sinner and hate the sin” per se.

I loathe “hate sin love sinner” It’s a ruthless lie in church vernacular. The main sins this statement addresses are sexual sins, namely homosexuality. You never hear someone say, “Hate the lies love the liar” or “hate the work done on sabbath but love the worker”. It’s hands-down the most insincere level of dishonest judgement that a person of any background can make.

How do I make this statement pertain to me. Do I say, “I love the religious person but hate the religion they follow”? Because that’s intolerant and haughty (but it’s a certainly true feeling, eek).

Is there really no way to pursue the topics I might like to pursue without making people feel ehrm … poopy?

One initiative I will make is more academic and less rebellious, juvenile verbal vandalism (how many times did I say some variation of “fuck” in the last couple posts? It had to have been a million.). I will make an effort to be less directly offensive. Because until now, the majority of my readers all agreed with me a good amount of the time (not all), and there were few that found offense.

Don’t forget, I’m better than you.

One thing I must point (and perhaps a reminder is), I lived as a “Christian” for about 20 years. I was educated from pre-school through college in primarily Protestant  academics. I acted as a Christian zealot for the duration of those years. I cried genuine tears to bring others to Christ (I personally convinced two), and I have asked and re-asked Jesus into my heart 100s (maybe thousands) of times.

In school, my teachers taught me how to attack other religions and the non-religious alike. These attacks were — at their base — steeped in supercilious tone, which makes it hard not to retaliate against them sans disdain.

Jesus-and-Dinosaur

Like if you say Jesus rode dinosaurs, you throw out all known scientific evidence. This would not be a good strategy. (I saw this drawing posted over at Hemant Mehta's Friendly Atheist blog and couldn't resist)

I have a wealth of knowledge about the Hebrew and Greek languages, and know chapter and verse many go-to biblical references that “prove” the points made by Protestants and Catholics. I have found that the biggest weakness of Christians is that they are not well-versed in their own history, theology and dogmas. And they are severely handicapped when talking/writing about the things that supposedly threaten their views namely about evolution and the Big Bang. And yet, many Christians use notes derived from pastors and teachers rather than their own readings and understanding of the topics. If an evolutionist makes you feel stupid for not having an basic understanding of evolution, it’s because you likely don’t understand have a basic understanding of evolution. Christians must provide some sense of the attempt to say, “Hey, I read about natural selection and I understand you agree with X, Y, and Z, but here’s why I don’t.” Ta-dah, you’ve established respect with the “opponent”.

I’ve read an incredible amount of pro- and con-religious literature, as well as logged 100s of hours listening to Christian versus Atheist debates. From many real-world instances, I can confidently say, I know the bible better than most of the American population. I scored very high in biblical studies, except one time in 5th grade, I got a D on verse memorization. It’s the lowest grade of my school career.

I guess what I’m trying to say is, “I try to understand the world from a well-rounded education. Most non-theists I know also pride themselves on this. I encourage anyone who disagrees with atheism to truly ‘try’ (just try) to understand through education and empathy what you’re arguing against. Because a lot of us are coming from a place that used to be “inside”.

Or better yet, quiz me. Or not. I know it means nothing to you. I feel much better tooting my horn. I might need to go self-gratiate my business.

“Jesus loves you, but I think you’re an asshole” <—- arsehole to you, Peter.

This is where it gets tricky. For all the purportedly great “love” that churchgoers claim the bible offers, I see none. I see love in the acts of the church goers, but none in the church. I think the concept of hell is an awful concept to teach children, because it tormented my young head for so long. An extremely arduous amount of therapy and homework was needed to exterminate that awful imagery from my head, but yet it’s the best argument for god that most people use in a pro-sense of love and affection. Hell is truly an antithesis of the greatest love ever offered (which is what Christians are taught), and I find it’s a disingenuous fear tactic that explains how to keep uneducated populations in the pews during the church’s beguilingly embarrassing history. Please do yourselves a favor and study the history of heaven and hell. There are great resources available. You can start with their wikis: here and here.
>>>

This is where atheists get frustrated. Churches can be amazing places (We agree!). They are rich, safe havens for its congregations to gather and sing in like-minded unison. They are places to encourage each other to moral behaviours (that spelling’s for you, Petursey). They are places to help the destitute back on their feet. They are places to order up a double-grande encouragement spiritual latte to get you through your week. They can be amazing places! This is NOT the issue. The issue is that if a person doesn’t form-fit to the rules of the game (e.g. accept Yeshua, his resurrection and subsequent springback to life and trust that his presence “guides” you through the world and then when you die, there’s an eternity of Yeshua love) despite ALL the evidence to the contrary, you’re out of the love club.

BUZZ BAM MASTER SLAM!!! You’re out. FOREVER and EVER and EVER. For a devilish eternity of fire and gnashing teeth.

(Hell or Heaven are your choices little children! Now who do you love? Make a decision. Go ahead. Nope, not that one!)

What’s the choice again?

There’s not one stick of butter of truth that can convince any religious people that the concept of hell is a callous, hateful dogma entrenched in a reckless history or wily human interference.

If you take the Yeshua out of Church, it ceases to be a good place to go. Really?

Wouldn’t it be cool if there were husbands on church stages making poetry and public announcements of love to their children and wives? Wouldn’t it be much cooler if there were wives singing songs to their husbands and children about how much they love them? How about singing about the things that piss you off? How about addressing the sick and the poor in a way that doesn’t include going out in the world and saying, “Hey we know it sucks now, and to avoid an eternity of this torment, Yeshua wants you to love him! After you die, THAT’S when things get better.” How about instead of being angry that your kids are dabbling in drugs or alcohol, embrace it and make the church a safe place to talk about those things instead of making every concerted effort to ignore the truth of life and hide all your pain in the back of your mind? How’s that sound?

How about a place where people feel safe to admit their indiscretions or at least not made to feel like their sub-human for being (fucking) HUMAN. I truly think my brother and SiL approach the world this way, but I know very few who agree with them.

Well that’s why I’m here. Because I took the Yeshua out of my Church, built a safe Café and it’s a great place to frequent. We have food, music and drinks. We encourage monogamy and having children. We teach don’t lie, steal or covet. We teach the power of loving neighbor as self.

I do all the great physical, natural and measurable things the church does, but we go further. I sing and dance with my wife. I have parties and emphasize togetherness through gastronomy (the church does this, but it’s a little bizarre eating the flesh of the savior, who’s with me?). I write and read poetry to my wife. When I have kids, I will tell them they are loved, no matter what they think about, no matter what they do, no matter what mistakes they make. Discipline and education will be priority. Life is now, and soak it up! I love and will love in measurable weights and evidence. These are all things we can measure and feel. I removed all the stuff that is invisible, because the invisible doesn’t help/hinder/understand that my devotion is family first.

So you might think there’s an extra place for god in all that? Great. By all means, please.

It’s like the little boy in the video above. He’s got a choice to paint his room whatever color he wants, but the choice MUST be the one or his hopes and toys will be dashed over the rocks below.

So now that everyone feels comfortable and happy, we can move forward … you know … without all the disdain. Right? Right.

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24 Responses to The Yeshua Fog Conundrum

  1. makarios says:

    Because I took the Yeshua out of my Church, built a safe Café and it’s a great place to frequent.”

    No it isn’t. It’s dripping with rage and bitterness and danger for those who don’t believe as you. You’re every bit as vile as those you condemn. The only difference between you and the Christians you mock is that you deny a need for forgiveness because you are too blind to see a need for same.

    Such is the level of your narcissism that not even your in-group is safe.

    • cafewitteveen says:

      The chasm between belief and non will remain wide with you. I understand. It’s unfortunate.

      How’s marital and family counseling going? The Kids? The wife? All going well?

      I’m still waiting for your less-indolent reply, makarios. Or is Jesus still your proof for heaven and are you still claiming quotes to those whom did not speak those words?

  2. cafewitteveen says:

    I still love you, Makarios. Thanks again for stopping in. You’re always welcome here.

  3. Julie says:

    I learned a new phrase today “illusory superiority.” It reminds me of makarios.

    Since I finally shed the years of guilt, confusion, and fear supplied by my catholic upbringing I’ve never been happier and more understanding of humanity. True, I publish a blog poking fun at some of the sillier fundamentalists, but it’s a humor blog geared towards other non-believers. I’ve even had the odd Christian stop by and comment, saying how funny the tweets are, and that they give real Christians a bad name. It may be a “true Scotsman” defense, but they’ve been nice about the blog and have enjoyed particular posts.

    If someone chooses to believe in god, it’s their choice and most atheists can respect that despite not agreeing with it. As a secularist I just do not want that belief anywhere near my government or my school system. I also do not think religious people should get a “get out of jail free” card whenever they commit an act condemned by society, but revered by their faith.

    I agree that what goes on among congregations can be very good; that is the essence of community spirit though. Caring about your neighbor is not an exclusive right of the church; it’s only a nice side effect. And from my perspective, as an atheist, my “neighborhood” spreads outside my street, town, county and city–regardless of one’s beliefs or actions. Evolutionary speaking we are all the same and that gives me surprising peace.

    The myth that atheists have nothing to live for is amazingly ignorant. I have found so much more since becoming an atheist.

  4. petursey says:

    WOW !…not strident..not disdainful..just brutally honest..and thanks for the mention.

    Shame about the usual type of response we’re used to when we dare to disagree..thanks Makarios.. i don’t love you..I’m a different type of atheist to Julie and Jeremy. I don’t take no schoolyard type of shit…so if you don’t like what’s said..now matter what pithy condescending “holier-than-thou” bordering on arrogance response you give…it won’t matter.. we’re just a few insignificant human beings on an amazing planet revolving round a star…revolving in a universe of billions of other stars..so a couple of little arguements and messages aren’t going to affect that.

    Rant over… in follow up to Jeremy’s line “Because I took the Yeshua out of my Church, built a safe Café and it’s a great place to frequent. We have food, music and drinks. We encourage monogamy and having children. We teach don’t lie, steal or covet. We teach the power of loving neighbor as self.” maybe I would add…and we don’t choose to beat up people who are different or sleep with people of the same sex and try to treat them unequally… when the shackles and chains or organised religion are removed and a person becomes a humanist (ie the nice word for atheist) you treat people as people…everyone..full stop..everyone has a right to do what makes them happy..just as long as they don’t hurt someone else doing it.

    I usually find atheists/humanists/freethinkers to be the most accepting, live and let live, friendly, generous, kind, considerate, intelligent and un-arrogant type of people…as well as mostly being witty, funny and having a great sense of humour… you get too with some religious types..but there’s always some blinkers and arrogance there..from my experience.

    I was lucky, none of my immediate family were/are overly religious, my Dad is an atheist republican, Mum believes in fate and angels…BUT the one thing they never did was try and force their beliefs on me..they were discussed…but I was allowed to make my own mind up, I tried going to church as a teenager for a couple of months but I found it hollow, meaningless, arrogant and ultimately false and boring… I will always thank my parents for never forcing non-belief or belief on me. I suppose I was lucky…in the UK in the 80′s being gay was worse than being an atheist….now society is catching up..but I still see that in some US states being an atheist would be worse than being gay…. and being both..then I suppose I’m beyond the pail. I’d rather spend time with thinking people than people who hate me without knowing me.

  5. petursey says:

    I must point out by saying my Dad is a ‘republican” ..in the UK that’s not like being a Republican in the US…it just a nice way of saying that the Royal Family should get proper jobs and pay for themselves and let us have an elected head of state please….. that’s his opinion anyway…I may not agree but I accept his right to have and voice that opinion.

  6. cafewitteveen says:

    Hell yeah, Peter, thanks for the reminder that includes people of all sexual orientation. I take for granted that there are so many monogamous gay people in my circle that it seems weird to have to remind people. But it’s a good reminder and something to write about, because other people aren’t as open yet.

    As for makarios (which means schlemiel in Greek slang) he’s upset because he inadvertently tried to play marriage counselor to a 16-year old on her blog (he never links to what he’s talking about so you can’t verify a word he says). When he got shooed off, name called (imagine that), he hilariously quipped, “What century is it in Arkansas?”

    Funny, right?

    Kinda sad? Yep.

    Mary, the mother of Jesus, was purportedly 14, was she not? Young women marrying is good enough for god, but not good enough anymore?

    Does that mean there are other outdated aspects of the bible? Nooooooooooooo. Really? Yes, yes yes! Sweet.

    Honk.

    There is so much funny about the “What century is it in arkansas” question. I don’t think there’s enough room to write here.

    • Julie says:

      I’m confused, he played marriage counselor to a 16 year old–was she already married and having problems, or was she considering marrying? Or was he himself trying to marry her? Arkansas is one of those states where you have to be 18 to marry…unless you’re pregnant, then a female teen is allowed to marry the father of the baby. I wonder if that includes family members though. It is Arkansas, after all.

      • cafewitteveen says:

        Here’s the post I’m referring to:

        http://makarios-makarios.blogspot.com/2009/10/arkansas-is-calling.html

        His words:

        Wow! I commented on a blog yesterday. She was talking about getting married to this guy who doesn’t know that she is an atheist, neither does / did? her parents. She described both her boyfriend and her parents as “devout christians.”

        So, based on my experience as a marriage and family therapist, I urged her to think twice about this marriage since she is already lying to her soon to be husband about something that is a common issue in marital breakdown.

        So what happens? I find out, from this blogger’s MOTHER, that I was replying to a sixteen year old. The old one lambasted me for
        (a) being a counsellor (“You know what a therapist cut in half is? A rapist.”) and
        (b) for “harassing” her “little girl.”

        The mother’s delicate little flower urged me to “SUCK IT MAKARIOS.”

        The mother is actually defending this child getting married.

        What century is it in Arkansas?

  7. Julie says:

    oh my…I’m not sure who needs to most help there, makarios, the mother or the daughter…it all sounds pretty distorted

  8. Richard Wade says:

    Jeremy, you asked:

    “How do I make this statement pertain to me. Do I say, “I love the religious person but hate the religion they follow”? Because that’s intolerant and haughty (but it’s a certainly true feeling, eek).
    Is there really no way to pursue the topics I might like to pursue without making people feel ehrm … poopy?”

    Don’t base your behavior on some else’s dichotomy. Use your own terms. Don’t use the Christian’s terms of “love” and “hate.” That’s a mistake.

    I suggest that you should think in various forms of the word “respect.”

    Think of people’s being, beliefs and behaviors as three separate things.

    Think of treating people respectfully, respecting a belief and respecting a person as three separate things.

    Being: Treat people respectfully simply because they are people. That is your baseline.

    Beliefs: Respect someone’s beliefs or do not respect someone’s beliefs according to whether or not those beliefs make sense to you.

    Behavior: Actually respect or do not respect someone beyond the baseline of treating them respectfully, because of their behavior, their conduct, the actions they take in the world around them.

    This way, you can treat someone respectfully whether or not you respect their beliefs, AND whether or not you respect them because of their behavior, conduct, and actions.

    So for example, I generally do not respect Christians’ beliefs because they don’t make sense to me, but I can respect them if they behave in ways that I admire, that I find respectable. Regardless of those two things, I try my best to treat them respectfully whether or not I respect their beliefs or them.

    On the other hand, I might respect an atheist’s view on a subject if it makes sense to me, but I might not respect them if their conduct is not respectable. I’ll try my best to treat them respectfully regardless.

    So when you are writing on your blog, agree or disagree with a belief or opinion according to whether or not it makes sense to you. Respect or disrespect a person according to whether or not you find their behavior, their actual actions in the world to be respectable. Treat them all respectfully.

    You can disagree with people’s opinions, views and beliefs and you can even disapprove of people’s behavior without being cruel or rude. That’s the “treating respectfully” baseline.

    Don’t let someone try to sell you the idea that their beliefs are them, one and the same, implying that you must respect their beliefs because you should respect them. That is baloney. Respectfully disagree with them, explaining how being, beliefs and behaviors are three separate things.

  9. JulietEcho says:

    Oy, what’s with all the monogamy talk? I assume it’s being used as short-hand for “not cheating,” and that you’re unfamiliar with happy, healthy, secular polyamory.

    If that’s the case, I direct you here: http://friendlyatheist.com/2009/08/08/polyamory-and-polygamy/

    Anyway, I applaud your bravery in dealing with an awkward issue, and I hope that you find you can keep your blog the way you like it, even while knowing that your family is reading it. I don’t know if I could.

    • cafewitteveen says:

      I sincerely appreciate the reminder about the polyamory post. Our group encompasses many, and that inclusive nature is what draws us to it.

      I was referring to an interview with Richard Dawkins in which he discusses the evolutionary/biological benefits of partner monogamy, as well some other rationale for particular moralities from evolutionary perspective. I’ve been looking for this particular interview and can’t find it. What a douchy thing to say if I couldn’t find it. If I find it, I’ll drop you an email.

      I found another article that Dawkins’ discussed polyamory, and of course a must read for those interested in the topic is Barash and Lipton’s “The Myth of Monogamy.”

      Thanks again for your comment and advice. :)

  10. [...] 5, 2009 · Leave a Comment I continue getting amazing feedback about the Yeshua Fog Conundrum, a.k.a. learning that my family has been reading my blog long before I knew it. The entry continues [...]

  11. prophetlady says:

    how do you explain that i have understood dutch, italian and hindu languages by holy spirit then?

    • cafewitteveen says:

      Je m’en fou, alors. Le Saint-Esprit t’a indiqué venir ici? Tu es une grosse connasse. J’essuierai mes boules sur ta visage.

      Mais bienvenue. Reste ici tant que tu aime.
      :)

  12. prophetlady says:

    and no one enjoys reading about your privates on twitter dear, time to mature

    • dirty ho says:

      No one? So you think you speak for the entire twitter community? That’s quite an ego you’re sporting, lady. I enjoy reading anything M. Witteveen posts. What’s the big deal about anatomy, anyway? Pro-tip – if you don’t like his tweets, DON’T FOLLOW HIM!

    • Julie says:

      Hmmm…stranger spouting off cultish gibberish vs all of us who know and love this blogger and are interested in whatever he has to say… I’m going with the latter for the win.

      I hope the voices are nice to you today, it can be a bitch when they’re feisty. Thanks for stopping by.

  13. prophetlady says:

    if you see the witness site I also teach in multiple languages too, does it remind you of any verses in revelation of teaching in languages

  14. [...] been called names before. Just yesterday, I was reviewing this post and noticed the first commenter called me vile. [...]

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