Monday, February 25, 2013

My Mind Is Not For Rent

I don't like to spell the word "god" with a capitol "G" so usually, I don't. Not only do I not recognize god as a "capital G" kind of dude but I've never seen evidence that he exists. I also don't think there is anything wrong with questioning the existence of a greater power, though I may very well be in the minority in that regard. Generally speaking, I have always considered myself to be agnostic, but the more I think about religion the more I come to realize that I lean more towards being an atheist. The one thing that had always stopped me from classifying my beliefs in such a way prior to now was that I had always thought atheism was sort of extreme. I didn't want to put an absolute on the idea that there is no greater power out there somewhere in the universe. These days, I guess I would consider myself an agnostic with atheistic leanings. But unlike many bible-thumping Christian fanatics out there, my mind is open to change. If someone came along with empirical data to prove that god exists, it would not be impossible to convince me.

I have committed myself to a lifetime of research and questioning authority; I will die an anarchist, with no allegiance to any master but myself. One of the many problems that I see with religion is that all too often, followers are either willingly or unknowingly stripped of their own free-will and that is not a state of mind in which I ever want to be chained. It is my experience that any authority which claims to have all the answers yet doesn't allow room for any questions is a dangerous one, and my opinion that religion is about control: control of the minds, bodies, and allegiance of it's followers. I believe that children should be taught how to think, not what to think, and that they should be allowed the freedom of mind enough to make their own choice as adults about which if any religion they want to follow: this means not exposing them to any religion save for the introduction of all religions in a strictly analytical sense, until they are of a consenting age. In other words, religions could be taught without the shoulds, presented as systems of belief and not as fact. I was raised without religion in my life and the freedom to choose any path I wished to take. If I had wanted religion in my life, that was my prerogative. It is that same freedom of choice that I am passing down to my children.

When I was about eight, I asked my dad where god was. He told me that if there was a god, he was all around us, in all things. I found that to be a little creepy. When dad went back inside the house, I stood out on the deck calling out, "Hello god!" and listening to the sound of my voice stretching out into the great woods in my parent's backyard. I imagined what it meant for god to be in everything and I pictured tall, skinny men with great long beards living in every single one of the trees, and tinier versions of those same men in each blade of grass. I wasn't convinced, it seemed ridiculous.

When I was about eleven I remember having a short conversation with my cousin who is ten years older than me. I remember telling her that I thought god was made up by people who were afraid of lightening and other phenomena that they didn't have answers for. She told me that I had made a very intelligent observation. All my life, I have had moments like these. Atheism was a natural state of being for me; no one had to convince me either way whether god did or did not exist. I didn't see the evidence and so I didn't believe. I don't think there was ever a time when I believed in god. And I know there was never a time I believed in religion, though I've never begrudged anyone his or her own right to one.

What I don't like is what people do with religion; what the powers that be do with religion; how religion is used and for what purposes. In more recent years, I came into contact with people who, had they not been related to my husband in some way, would have disgusted and outraged me on the sole basis of their extreme religious beliefs and world-views. People like EFIL and L, who either knowingly or unknowingly set themselves up as god-like figures to their offspring repulse me with their condescending, ignorant, and hypocritical vision of the world around us. I recognized this in EFIL and L early on in my relationship with DH and I never stopped using their behaviors as clear evidence that their vision of life, so colored by their Jesus-tinted-lenses, were unhealthy for us and our newly created family. If god does exist, theirs was not one I wanted in my life or in the lives of my children.

I've explored my Narc In-laws' behaviors many times on my blog and I've been struck by a few mind-blowing observations: 1. That EFIL had set himself up as god to DH; expecting DH never to question his authority, to be eternally grateful to him for all that he had "sacrificed," to have faith in him blindly, and to offer respect where there was no promise for it to be returned in kind. And 2. That NMIL's religious beliefs are no more genuine than her love is unconditional. These observations have lead me to the theory that narcissists, like many religious leaders, use religion as a form of manipulation and control. In EFIL's case, it's likely because he is such a weak person that he required the rigid thinking that his Christianity could provide for him - his mind was for rent to god and only god; in NMIL's, it's because she wishes to appear loving and pious in the eyes of the people she is constantly trying to impress. In a world where god is a capital-G kind of fellow, it really doesn't look good to swim against the stream.

So okay, whatever, right? Team NMIL can belong to whichever cults they wish, for whatever reasons they see fit. The problem I had with their system of beliefs was in how I felt it effected DH and I. It is very possible, if not probable, that their religious beliefs alone would have caused an estrangement eventually, even if they were not abusive, narcissistic assholes. I had found that their religion was a side-effect of their small-mindedness and in-general mindlessness. In my life, I have encountered some religious folk who are quiet in their faith and unshaken in their beliefs even in the face of my disbelief, but DH's parents were not a part of such a system.

I've been collecting a bunch of quotes recently that, besides reminding me of my disdain and disgust for EFIL and L's ignorance and bigotry are excellent commentary about religious extremists in general:

"You can safely assume that you've created god in your own image when it turns out that god hates all the same people that you do." - Anne Lamott

"Morality is doing what's right, no matter what you are told. Religion is doing what you are told, no matter what is right." - Unknown

"Your ignorance is their power." - Unknown

"The bible should be one sheet of paper. And on that sheet of paper, it should say, 'Try not to be a cunt. If you do that everyday, you are being a good person." - Jim Jeffries

"Here the ways of men part: if you wish to strive for peace of soul and pleasure, then believe. If you wish to be a devotee of truth, then inquire." - Friedrich Nietzsche

"Religion: No question. No doubts. Never admits when it's wrong. When challenged becomes hostile."

"Eternal suffering awaits anyone who questions god's infinite love." - Bill Hicks (I told DH, this one could read, "Eternal suffering awaits anyone who questions dad's infinite love." as a way to illustrate to him how I believe EFIL has set himself up as the very same kind of god that he worships).

"The basis of religion isn't faith, it's fear."

"I guess the all-powerful, all-knowing god of the bible never expected anybody to 'Google that shit!'" - Dusty Smith

"The time has come to find a way of thinking about spirituality and ethics that is beyond religion." - Dalai Lama

"If god doesn't like the way I live, let him tell me, not you."

"I don't want to believe. I want to know." - Carl Sagan

"From my rotting body, flowers shall grow.
And I am in them, and that is eternity."
- Edward Munch

"I distrust those people who know so well what god wants them to do, because I notice it always coincides with their own desires." - Susan B. Anthony

"They swallow god without thinking.
They swallow country without thinking.
Soon they forget how to think.
They let others think for them."
- Charles Bukowski

"Your beliefs are a magnet that create your reality."

"You only need a shepherd if you are a sheep."

"The mind of one freethinker can possess a million ideas. A million fanatics can have their minds possessed by a single idea."

36 comments:

  1. I too have always, since I was a tiny child, thought that the 'god' concept was false.

    I remember being in 1ST GRADE and quietly refusing to say the 'under god' part of the Pledge of Allegiance. And I was raised Catholic, with all of the saints and kneeling and rosarys included. I abandoned religion as soon as I moved to California when I was 5. It's another way that I feel like I have always 'seen' past the gauze curtain into TRUTH.

    "Faith is the absence of all question" I can't remember who said that, but no thank you. I have questions, and I want answers. I want truth. Like the quote you have above from Carl Sagan, "I don't want to believe. I want to know."

    You know I've been exploring bible stories once in a while. I am finding there is probably actual real people FACT under the crap of magical fairy tales, but the coating is so thick now, and believers are TAUGHT not to question! How can that NOT be about power and control? And every religion I've ever heard about is completely and absolutely misogynistic at its core. I am certainly not a"Feminist" with the whole raised fist! "Fuck men"! attitude, but this absolute FEAR of women in every religion makes me think.

    The abuse that is handed down in the name of religion is horrific. I have read what Sadam Hussein's regime did to dissenters of the Koran (and continues to happen. Not to mention female circumcision, which is enforced - don't look it up if you don't want to see fundamentals being who they are), we all know what has happened in our Catholic churches. I've been peeking under the edges of the Irish church scandals that also include unwed mothers and orphans - I haven't written about it because it is SO VERY BAD. I almost don't want to know more about it. All in the name of whatever GOD happens to float in the sky above that patch of land.

    Even the Native American tribes had religious crap going on that people seem to want to smooth over, somehow those races of people are held to some spiritual heights which are false, and just as awful as any other religious tyranny. Pagans, Mormons, blah blah another name for CONTROL.

    Thank god <--ha see what I did there? my particular narc never tried to control me with religion. Although, he DID set himself up as the god of our family! That part of what you wrote resonated with me like a damned BELL. All knowing, the only authority, the final answer-er of all questions. His way, or no way.

    All that being said, I DO appreciate people who believe in their own God. I respect those beliefs, and if I am in your home for dinner you better bet I will bow my head when you begin to pray over the food. Because I RESPECT people and their paths. Any friends I have that are God believers feel the same toward me, we have a quiet respect for our differing paths.

    I cannot say the same of any religious fanatic types I have come across, in real life or on FB or the internet. There is scorn, derision, and judgement handed down from those types.

    That is how I know your soul. It is patently obvious who is towing the Control Party line.

    And Jonsi, I agree whole-heartedly. My mind is not for rent either. I will think, question, and discover for myself.

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    1. Gladys,

      I love reading your conspiracy-theory(esque) type of posts about religion and politics and the political inner-workings of various institutions. I find that the most interesting people out there are the ones who never stop questioning and thinking and reasoning. As far as I can tell, there are too many people out there who use religion as a crutch and who like it because it allows them not to think. That's just not my (our!) cup of tea, is it?

      I thought the idea that many of these NPs see themselves as a god of some sort (though they'd never admit it) was sort of profound. They maintain the same philosophies in parenting that their skydaddy maintains over them. And it's all a man-made construct! Farking crazy.

      But like you, I respect that everyone has the right to believe in and practice whatever religion they wish. I just don't like it when they try to shove it down everyone else's throats; when they try to get everyone to live the same way they do; when they are so bigoted and small minded that they can't see there are other ways to live; other ways to find happiness.

      I always want to walk up to them and ask, "But what if you're wrong?" That's the big question at the end of the day. What sucks is that their answer always seems to be, "I'm not wrong."

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    2. My husband doesn't get why I constantly question, wonders how I could not be concerned that I could question myself into atheism. But it's just the way I am. I don't want to become an atheist. I also don't want to fear for my eternal soul just because I question. Some sects will say you're doomed if you question. But Orthodoxy and Catholicism call it the Long Dark Night of the Soul, and even saints go through this. I say, if Mother Theresa can doubt and still be a saint, it's okay for me, too. :) If religion is true, then it can withstand questions.

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  2. The "God" thing is a real stumbling block for me in AA. They say "God of your understanding" then end their meetings with the Lord's Prayer. Old timers tell me I'll never stay sober until I "find" God...their God.

    Some folks in AA will find a ten dollar bill that they'd left forgotten in their pocket and point to God as the source, rather than their own forgetfulness. God clears traffic jams just so they can get to work on time. If there is a God who could control every little aspect of our lives, I'd rather "he" focus on the suffering of innocent children than getting me to work on time! I'm not arrogant enough to think God has nothing better to do than drop ME a ten dollar bill!

    When you have a father that went to church in the morning then beat your brother unconscious that evening, it's no wonder I have trouble trusting God's ground troops!

    I do love the Serenity Prayer but and have it engraved on a bangle, minus God at the beginning. I've settled on a kind of "spirit of the universe" that does big stuff like keeping the planets aligned, although some people in Russia might question that.

    Most of all, I think people should fuck off and leave me to believe what I want to believe and I'll be happy to offer them the same courtesy!

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    1. I've never understood the idea that human beings can not be moral creatures without a god to worship. That's bullshit, in my opinion.

      You make a great point about the hypocrisy of so many Christians - I've met so many who talk pretty but who do awful things in the name of god and then excuse themselves through their religion. It makes me sick.

      I believe in practicing spirituality, just not the religious kind - and not any kind that abusers preach.

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    2. mulderfan,
      I struggle with the same types of people in AA, who would really, really like for me to understand that the god of their understanding is the one they have to offer me. I take it in stride and tend not to form close relationships with those people.

      But I do have a 32-year sober excommunicated Catholic, practicing Buddhist friend (he also drives a school bus, which I think qualifies him nicely as a Sage Guru of Understanding of the World,) who says this, and I believe it:
      The god of AA is nothing more than the absolute magic that happens when the heart of one alcoholic connects to another and creates understanding.

      I like that. :)
      Love,
      Vanci

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    3. Vanci, So that I could move past Steps 2 and 3, I accepted AA as my higher power because it's a fucking miracle that a bunch of drunks have not only kept the program going since the thirties but have spread it worldwide.

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  3. Jonsi,
    Intelligently designed post, dear (hardeeharhar.)

    I, like so many others, was abused and controlled and ravaged by bad people who often did so under the guise of religion or their God. Abusers always seek power to hide their sins behind. Weak people seek out the powerful to help them (to be more powerful.) The morally corrupt seek out the power of free absolution. I thought and thinked and thunk about how religion and God-wielders had hurt me and I decided, like you, to study up.

    I have yet to come across any religion that qualifies itself as such that is NOT hypocritical, as they all seem to be based on a sliding scale of forgiveness for sale: Sin A is forgivable if you ask party A for forgiveness, but Sin B is only forgivable by sacrifice of animal B (or in modern times, by a tithe of X percent,) and Sin C is only unforgivable if the elders of the board say so. Christian, Judaism, Muslim, Hindi, Buddhist, Christian Science and all of the various degrees and denominations of each sect are all pervasively hypocritical and judgmental.
    So, I decided to operate from my very simplistic understanding of the seperation of Wonder from Dogma, as summed up eloquently by a toothless down and out drunk I met many years ago:

    Religion is for people who are afraid to go to hell, spirituality is for people who've already been there.

    Love,
    Vanci

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    1. Is it very surprising that narcissists are often "religious" or that they typically befriend the religious? Not to me it isn't. And is it very surprising that many who have been abused either go on to reject religion entirely, or else embrace it entirely (and often become abusers themselves?) Again, not to me.

      There are, of course, exceptions to these rules. But so far in my life, I generally see things go that way.

      Vanci, your conjectures about abusers seeking power through religion and weak people seeking out the powerful to help them is spot on and speaks to my experiences dealing with the personality disordered. It also perfectly illustrates why all of NMIL's husbands fall into the same category: fanatical Christians. They are weak and she is "powerful." They are drawn to each other. Unfortunately, her victims never realize that she is a spider and she's going to eat them and then discard what's left of them when she is done.

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    2. Some spiders deserve to be eaten!

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  4. I saw a cartoon on FB recently that depicted Jesus, Buddha, and Allah arm and arm out for a stroll with the caption, "We are all just walking each other home." And that has long been my philosophy. That there are many paths home but we all get to the same place.
    I wasn't raised in religion or even given much knowledge of it. I often felt weird because I wasn't any "thing". Like i needed to belong somewhere and we didn't. But my extended family was a mishmash of religions and ideals and so I didn't think about it too much.
    When I met NMIL, she used religion as a controlling device. When she first saw my tattoo she said "None of MY BOYS would do that because their body is a temple (according to God)" She bullied me with it, controlled her family with it and expected compliance with it, as that is how she had always been. Religion was something you did, but did not question. She used it as a cloak, and like you mentioned, a crutch. Religion softened out her rough edges and allowed her to make excuses for herself and helped her push off her need for introspection. It also helped her to keep her kids in line and compliant with, what really was, her agenda.
    I don't like it when anyone uses obligation (to a family, to a religion, to a political party) to control people. I think that the greatest gift God ever gave us was free will and the ability to think. And that he expected us to use these tools.
    But for me, I don't see all people (or even most) who accept religion as control freaks. And really, the control freaks would just use some other method if religion wasn't available. Religion can be comforting and soothing to many.
    I personally don't subscribe to a religion but to spirituality and I do believe in a God. I hope to teach my children about all religions (and even celebrate some parts of religion. Some of it plays so much into cultural traditions and I think that is important too.) And I hope to continue to learn about religions and ask questions and grow my spirituality and I hope that for my kids too.

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    1. Jessie - What you're saying about your beliefs is so reasonable. Perhaps that's the difference that I'm trying to grasp between hypocritical bible-thumpers and the rest of the religious community - that there are reasonable followers of religion, and not-so-reasonable followers. You and I have talked before about how true faith is quiet, that it's not something to yell about. And believers who are confident in their belief systems are not threatened when someone comes along and says, "I don't believe what you believe."

      It's okay to believe. It's okay not to believe. It's not okay to hurt people or use it as a method of control. I think you're faith is beautiful and that it will enlighten your children, not enslave them. I also like the idea that you're willing to teach them about all religions, not just one. Aren't they all worth learning about?

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    2. I see so many similarities between them all that it's hard for me to ignore it. So, I generally don't really align myself with one side or the other. DH does, but that's OK too. And if I don't expose my children to it all, how will they be prepare to "choose" when it's time (even if that means choosing nothing). Growing up, I was exposed to nothing. It was done right embarrassing at times as a young adult to realize how little I knew (at 16 I remember being asked if I was Catholic or Christian and having no idea what the hell that meant. I mean I'd heard of them, but I was very uneducated in this area). And I kind of resented it. It wasn't particularly important to my mom and my dad is now an atheist. I don't know if they purposely didn't say anything or were just oblivious, but I wished they'd exposed me to more. And I wish I'd been exposed more to the actual ways in which religion is intertwined with each other and woven into all of history. I think it has so much basis for so many of our cultural traditions that to ignore it is to miss out on a huge part of our history as a "people" (and I mean global people). It gives depth and meaning to the experiences I want to give my kids in life (not a religious meaning, but a meaning of tradition and history and even family).
      And it really is fascinating to study (not that I am educated in this area at all!). I think, for me, no one has given the evidence that God does exist. But no one has provided me evidence that God doesn't exist either. So, I have to go with what I know at the moment to be true, but be willing to continue to search and investigate and study and keep my mind open to it all. I think God always intended for us to be evolving and learning and changing, even in religion and refusing to see that has distorted religion and made it into something that people are able to use for control. And like you said, that's NOT ok. Sometimes I think it's difficult to separate the effects of religion or religion in itself from the people who have chosen to pervert it and use it for it's own purposes. Those people are unwilling to question or search because changing religion might mean they were wrong, which would cause them to loose power. Real spirituality or religion should always be able to with stand questioning. We need to question it all.

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    3. I had a friend a few years back who studied the various world religions in college. I think it is a worthwhile pursuit to learn about all of them because you're absolutely right, they impact such a large portion of our society. And I actually enjoy a good lively debate about religions in general, as well as how they affect people/society/politics. And I don't believe that religion is all-together bad, like you've already mentioned. It can do good for some people.

      I'm not such a fan of the bible, or that some people read it literally; I feel that science has already dis-proven so much of what has become an archaic history book. Whenever people tell me, "I'm a Christian [man/woman]." I usually say, "If you're an honest man/woman, that's all I need to know." I don't believe that everyone who reads the bible or goes to church or prays is inherently good. It takes much more than that.

      Jessie, you're so brilliant - I agree that it's important to keep our minds OPEN, which is why I've always been so hesitant to call myself an atheist. I don't want to say, "absolutely, there is no such thing as god." I've never seen evidence that one exists, but that doesn't mean there isn't a god out there, or that there isn't some sort of higher power at work.

      I think I said it above somewhere, but the question I always want to ask these "perversionists" (made that one up) is: "What if you're wrong." It's so unfortunate that they are not willing to consider that as an option.

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    4. I think these last two paragraphs is where I was trying to get to with my point. Simple this: what if you too are wrong? I can see why you would want to call yourself an atheist. And I'm going to go at this from a purely logical standpoint (because really, your belief in God is immaterial to me). But you said that you don't believe in God because you have never seen evidence to support it. But you've never seen evidence to support that he is not real either. So, if you use that as your basis of argument, you can't really believe either way. Does that make sense? I'm guessing there is more to why you believe in atheism, but the argument that it's because their is no proof might not hold up. Lots of things existed that people used to not believe in (gravity, cells, the earth being round) but we simple had no proof to prove it. And the evidence was there, we just didn't see it for what it was yet.

      And as a response to your last question, I once say someone on FB answer like this who was a devout Christian, "Well, if I'm wrong, nothing happens to me. But if you are wrong, you go to hell." I don't know if that lends to this discussion or not, but maybe can give you some insight on how they think.

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    5. I always feel so overwhelmed when I'm discussing religion for exactly this reason, because I don't want to over-simplify things or water down the concepts, and because I find the subject in it's entirety to be so consuming. I kind of feel like this post and even our comments here are just scratching the surface, you know?

      On atheism - I agree with a lot of atheist sentiments, but I still don't consider myself a full-blown atheist. I am open to the idea that I could be wrong too - that there is (absolutely) a god, even though I haven't seen evidence that one exists. (And to answer your question, there is definitely more to my lack-of-belief than just that I haven't seen evidence of his existence - I've never seen a million dollars, but I know that exists).

      I think it's hard to reconcile our fears and the evidence or lack-thereof and science and human nature and theories, etc. Because I'm sitting here saying to myself, "I don't believe that if there is a god, that he'd send me to hell for not believing in him." But is that just my fear talking? Is that just a pretty little hope I have about what's in store in the afterlife for me? (If there is an afterlife, that is).

      It doesn't make for a very good argument though, does it: I don't believe in (god/heaven/hell/whatever) because, well, I don't believe in it! That's not a very good or logical argument.

      What a tricky topic.

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    6. I'm guessing that the most important thing though is that we don't try to force our own beliefs about religion on anyone - including our children. I think it's great that we can sit and talk about it, debate over it, contemplate it, without having to force it down each others throat. I also know that you are a good person, with or without religion, as I know about many other people in this community and in the real world.

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    7. I couldn't agree more about your point that it's about tolerance of all beliefs and not using our beliefs to club someone else over the head. And definately including children.
      And I agree too that I think the concept of religion and spirituality and such is so complex that we could discuss it for years and come up with nothing (and many people have!). And in that vein, I hope I haven't driven your point about religion and narcs off course. In fact, for me, it's actually made me think about narc families even more. And how there are so many parallels between the way a narc family operates and the "fundamentalist" whatever-religions. It's all fear and power and control, not about what's good or righteous. How some of these people have perverted religion in the same way that narcs can pervert the idea of family.

      And although I brought up that "answer" for the "what if I'm wrong" question you brought up, I don't necessarily agree with them. Because I think, too, that if you believe in something only out of fear than you don't really believe. Belief happens when you have nothing to lose, because you choose it...not because you are trying to not choose the opposite (i.e. I'm choosing to not be in hell, so I therefor choose God). I think that is often simplistic of people too.
      Frankly, I just enjoyed having this little discussion with you. I rarely get to use my brain for deep thought anymore ;). I hope you don't mind me playing out a little devil's advocate on you and encouraging a discussion! It's nice to be on the "opposite" side too, as I'm usually arguing against some fundamental Christian and why he thinks he IS right. I rarely argue for the side of the religious.
      Thanks for the discussion, friend!

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    8. Saw this on FB tonight and thought it was apt. I think too many who have altered the meaning of religion and spirituality in general have missed the point:

      Matthew 5:46-47 NLT

      If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else?

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    9. There. Comment published.

      I think I lost it because I publish from my email and when there is more than one, sometimes I archive the email too soon.

      My apologies!

      And for the record, I love discussions like this. Devil's advocate away my friend. :)

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    10. No problem! Sometimes I don't enter the damn robot code correctly and I don't realize it and move on to my new comments too fast ;).
      But I'm glad it was there!

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  5. Also, you mentioned above about people living morally just because it is the right thing to do.
    How I wish that could be the case. But the problem is, most people don't know what being "moral" is. If we had to depend on most of mankind to just do the right thing, we would be in a world of hurt, literally. I know so many people (normal, every day people) who can stretch morality to accommodate their needs. Or can justify something by playing a moral word game. Like, this cancels out that because I did this. NM is a master at this. She actually often thinks that she is being "moral" and righteous when in fact she is justifying.
    And I think for people to subscribe to a moral code, they a have to subscribe to an ideal that is bigger than themselves. They have to believe that putting their own selfish needs aside for the greater good plays a part in the continuation of human kind. They have to believe that living by a "uniform" code of conduct helps maintain a society. But people don't think this way. In fact, it's quite abstract for most people to think this way. And it's hard for them to put aside their needs in the moment and think about the continuity of human kind into the future. So, I think that's why (some) people need religion. They just can't figure this shit out on their own. They can't figure out that maintaining a peaceful and moral society is best for us all. They can not think outside themselves. So, they need rules and regulations and standards. It's not a great system (as we've seen with Bible thumpers who pervert and rearrange the word of God for their own personal agendas) but for some people, that's the only thing that keeps them from running around like loons.

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    1. I do not disagree with anything you have said here. You've made fantastic points, Jessie. I think this is particularly crucial: "And I think for people to subscribe to a moral code, they a have to subscribe to an ideal that is bigger than themselves." I see nothing wrong with a code of rules that teach people how to behave with kindness and consideration for others.

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    2. Ah, but there is the rub. Trying to determine who's "moral code" is best. I know a lot of people's "moral code" is nothing I want to follow!

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    3. I always wonder whether human beings all basically have the same moral code, you know? I think at a very basic level, everyone understands the difference between right and wrong, there are just a lot of people who CHOOSE not to live that code. All through history, we can see a "hero" theme and a "bad guy" theme, so to speak. Like there is some sort of universal code, I guess. I think there are just a lot of hypocrites and mentally disturbed individuals.

      That's probably simplifying things WAY too much though.

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    4. I think it is a bit simplistic. I think for sure that lots of people just choose wrong, or justify away wrong and all that. But I do think some of it (a lot of it) can be sticky. I mean, some moral choices just aren't easy. Nor do I think they are all supposed to be easy. And I don't always think there is an easy line, but shades of gray between right and wrong. And some people think they are doing right or because they are fighting a "right" result, they think the way they go about it then must be righteous too. But it's not always. You can get righteous results by doing unrighteous things.

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    5. Shoot, it looks like one of my comments didn't make it to you.
      I wanted to thank you for this opportunity to have an intelligent discussion about this all. I hesitated saying too much, as I didn't want to hijack your post and take it off course. (And I think the perversion of religion by these zealous is similar to the perversion of family that narcs commit.)
      And really, I'm not a big advocate for religion and choose to not be religious but rather spiritual. But it was fun to discuss the other side of the argument for a change!
      Thanks again for being open and willing to engage in a thoughtful discussion on your blog, my friend!

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    6. Thank you as well, Jessie. I enjoy talking about this topic with you.

      I'm pretty sure I did see the comment you're talking about it my email and I thought I had published it but maybe I archived it accidentally. I had even gone looking for it so I could respond to it. Now I'm curious, I'll go see if it's still there.

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  6. My narcissistic mother thinks SHE is magical. Or she did. She lost faith when all she put the stink eye failed to die, including me.

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  7. I had to memorize this poem as a child and as an adult non-believer it still inspires me.

    Abou Ben Adhem (may his tribe increase!)
    Awoke one night from a deep dream of peace,
    And saw, within the moonlight in his room,
    Making it rich, and like a lily in bloom,
    An angel writing in a book of gold:—
    Exceeding peace had made Ben Adhem bold,
    And to the Presence in the room he said
    "What writest thou?"—The vision raised its head,
    And with a look made of all sweet accord,
    Answered "The names of those who love the Lord."
    "And is mine one?" said Abou. "Nay, not so,"
    Replied the angel. Abou spoke more low,
    But cheerly still, and said "I pray thee, then,
    Write me as one that loves his fellow men."

    The angel wrote, and vanished. The next night
    It came again with a great wakening light,
    And showed the names whom love of God had blessed,
    And lo! Ben Adhem's name led all the rest.

    James Henry Leigh Hunt

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  8. I'm a recovering Catholic, so I can't add much to this discussion other than say my belief system is aligned with the Six Nations People (Mohawk). All peoples have Creation Myths, ways of relating to and explaining the world around them and recognized the inherent human frailties/failings/nastiness that could lead to potentially irrevocable breeches in relationships. Interestingly, waaayyy before Darwin etc. the Creation Teaching says human beings came (evolved) from water. Like any other belief system, the organization of the world and all in it are the bedrock of this way of life. ex: Men are *not* more "important" than women. The society is Matriarchal and there are "checks and balances" to ensure all work together for harmony (ideally, of course), the Greater Good of all our peoples and in concert with our reverence and absolute connection to the earth and all it's beings as well. There is a deeply embedded concern for future generations. It's *not* just about us in the here-and-now at all, but it does provide a framework in which to think beyond our every day stuff and remember we have responsibilities that are far greater than just ourselves. Your "place of worship" is every where especially in the beauty and sometimes, not-so-beautiful-but-necessary world of nature/earth: These are the Cathedrals of the Creator, so to speak. Predation in nature is well understood and human predation for food is acceptable (and necessary) within very clear and respectful restrictions. Killing just to kill whether it's animals or people is simply unacceptable, abusing others in any way will meet with a unified Clan response so social order can be maintained. (ex: The Three Girls teaching.)
    Long before the written word, young people with especially good memories were entrusted with memorizing *word for word* these beliefs. If, as they aged, they lost this facility, they no longer spoke/instructed the youngers: There are no greater responsibilities than caring for both the earth AND the youngers, instructing the young in the ways from a way-back machine that has survived eons despite the intrusions of a world that had beliefs (ex: "Manifest Destiny") that raped/destroyed the land and it's inhabitants. And continues to do so to this day. As a group, these are (and were) self-identified "Christians." Contrary to popular beliefs, Native Peoples are not and never were "Savages" or "Primitives:" If anything, they were too "peaceful" and clearly recognized much more deeply than their oppressors the need to protect resources, the future of every living entity.
    That's not a very clear picture, but it's the best I can do quickly.
    TW

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  9. Seeing as how you don't claim to know for certain there is or isn't a god or some such higher power(s), I'd say you still fall into the agnostic category. There is actually such a thing as agnostic atheism, as opposed the hardcore "absence of evidence is evidence of absence" atheists who are almost as unbearable as the religious zealots.

    I was, thankfully, raised without religion, and I've always viewed organized religion with some suspicion. Not the beliefs so much as the structuring hierarchy. Especially any religion that insists on trying convert people.

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    1. "There is actually such a thing as agnostic atheism" <-- did not know that. I'd say I fit into that category. I've realized that it can be difficult to walk around publicizing it though, because the born-agains and extremists and can-we-have-a-moment-of-your-timers" seem to think that means I'm looking for guidance.

      I'm just gonna put it out there: Being agnostic does not mean undecided.

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    2. And even if you were undecided, that doesn't mean that you want or need their guidance either.

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    3. You learn something new everyday! :) Agnosticism is really just a position you take on knowledge, in this case on deities, but some many people don't know what it means. I'm an agnostic theist, although the extent of my belief is that there is a higher power or powers that are beyond my comprehension and thus not worth worrying about! Since it's not exactly a visible thing, even some of my friends have mistaken me for an atheist since I bitch about things like "In God We Trust" being on our money and I match the liberal stereotype in a lot of ways (almost got a book on hardcore atheism for Christmas apparently, but DH corrected the person).

      If we wanted guidance, we would seek it out! But I am very impressed with my SIL and her husband. They're very Christian, but they don't try to convert DH and me, actually study their faith beyond what the preacher and Bible say (they have a whole library in their house on Christianity), and try to do good things for people less fortunate. Whenever I run into those annoying zealots, I have to remind myself there are also nice, sane ones exist like my SIL.

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  10. My narcs profess to believe in God and be Christians--adamantly defending their chosen sect as "correct"--one of them even planning to become a priest, before his child abuse conviction made that impossible. But they are the most evil and hypocritical "Christians" I've ever known. I've begun to suspect that it was all just a fraud from the beginning to get supply....In fact, I wrote on my blog that they're frauds, right before switching to self-hosted Wordpress and then blocking them from it. I'm quite certain they didn't like that and are ticked that they can't get on my new blog.

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