Conversations With You
I hope everything is going well with you.
You wrote several months ago after I started my new "Questioning" web site .... That has begun quite a new life for me, as I am now openly agnostic. My family has not taken it well at all, but I suppose that is something all ex-christians go through.
I have been enjoying the Christian Forums website where I have been debating Christians. I have been showing that christian doctrine simply is not true. ....
If you wish to link to my site, I think it has a lot of good information that is helpful to those who are leaving the faith. That's up to you.
I was very pleased to hear from you again. I did read the material on your "Questioning" site and found it to be an excellent presentation of the issues. ...
I salute you for making your position known. It is not always an easy thing to do, but it is the only way I believe we can be authentic human beings. I am glad there are folks like yourself that enjoy and are good at debating the issues with believers, et al. I am more focussed on those who have been through the debating (either externally or internally or both) and are struggling with "what just happened?" and "what next?". Hopefully, all of us together will embody a comprehensive human ministry - the only kind that is worth anything.
Joy and Peace
Thanks for the link.
Yes, your site has a very important function in helping deconverts to understand what happened, and to understand that there can be a fullifilling life after leaving Christianity.
READ YOUR STORY AND WE HAVE A LOT IN COMMON--ENJOYED IT -THANKS
Thank you for your kind email. I truly appreciate hearing from those who find my site to be useful in some way.
Joy and peace,
READ THE STORY OF YOUR JOURNEY OUT-IT SEEMS TO BE THE SAME AS MINE. I'VE JOINED PLATO OUTSIDE THE CAVE.
Yes, the air is bracing outside of the cave. What once were merely shadows are now forms before us, but how then shall we describe the forms? When false answers are removed from questions of import, and we leave the cave to gaze not at shadows, but at a strange reality, we find that its shapes are not completely explained, even by other, more authentic answers. We are presented with true Mystery and so we wonder and probe. It is joyful to be free.
Best wishes for your journey.
Though very briefly, I wanted to thank you warmly for your web-site. I converted to Christianity in my late twenties, and deconverted after seventeen years - last year. I have found many xperiences of mine nicely expressed in your materials.
I only wanted to add that my deconversion process started with encountering Earl Doherty's web page http://pages.ca.inter.net/~oblio/home.htm
I think this is really something which would deserve to be on your recommend-to-read list.
I would appreciate your opinion.
With best regards
Thank you for your email, I honestly appreciate hearing from those who find my site and find it helpful in some way.
I took a quick look at the site you mentioned and it looks very interesting. I was not aware of that one in particular, and I'll check it out further and plan to put it on my links list.
Again, thanks for writing and best of wishes on your philosophical journey!
Thank you for your quick response.
> "I took a quick look at the site you mentioned and it looks very interesting.
Maybe it is useful when I add a few words. My deconversion process started in fact by L. Strobel's book The case for Christ which I read in July 2002. I was happy that a journalist converted to Christianity but I got unquiet by many dishonest arguments (for historical Jesus) which I recognized there.
Similarly as you, I always prefered to know the truth (however fearful it can be) than to calm myself by lies and dishonest arguments. So I looked at the Internet and found the excellent refutation of the arguments in Strobel's book by Earl Doherty (which you can also find at the mentioned web-page http://pages.ca.inter.net/~oblio/home.htm ).
And then I naturally proceeded with reading more Doherty's materials. I did not want to "swallow" his arguments carelessly, so I did my own research using http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/
It was time consuming, and for me emotionally very difficult, but then I could confirm his arguments from my own amateur research. (I also saw by myself how misleading the New Testament translations are wrt the Greek text, in particular in sentences with "kata sarka" etc.)
When I now read the epistles in NT (but also, e.g., Clement's epistle to Corinthians), I wonder how I could ever thought that the authors had a Gospel Jesus of Nazareth in mind. If one just allows as a possibility that they did not then one can see that they surely didn't. Also reading Philo of Alexandria and, e.g., Ascension of Isaiah is very telling.
I really found Doherty's site as a place worth of a thorough study. I also found his book reviews very useful.
(It would interesting to read R. Price's book Deconstructing Jesus; R. Price was formerly a Christian apologist! [I found interesting
A most recent very interesting book seems to be THE JESUS THE JEWS NEVER KNEW by Frank R. Zindler, American Atheist Press, 2003, which Doherty reviews currently in his What's New Anyway, there is a lot of very interesting material on Doherty's web page. (I would recommend to start with MAIN ARTICLES: The Jesus Puzzle)
OK, maybe I look as a big fan of Doherty now but I really think that his work is a certain breakthrough.
It is ironic: the Catholic church whose active member I was urges the believers in her II Vatican Council documents to read the Bible - taking into account various literary forms, the context of writing particular books, the intention of the authors, etc. I did this now very honestly and thoroughly, and found out: the epistles of NT were written by authors who took the information about Jesus Christ from Scriptures and/or revelations (they seem to have never heard of any Jesus of Nazareth as described in Gospels), and the Gospel story stems from a single (!) literary source, which seems to be an obvious piece of a "midrash" writing.
And the process of transforming the (invented) story of Jesus executed under Pontius Pilate into history - but only in minds of people in the course of the second century - is so understandable, and so clear from the survived Christian documents that my reason just could not deny the obvious.
OK, good luck in your further life (consisting of a series of extraordinary moments - I feel this similarly) !
Thanks for all the links and for your suggestions on these various sources. I read the "puzzle" essays by Doherty with interest. They are very well presented and it is a fascinating basic observation about the New Testament to understand that the later writers simply don't reference the teacher stories of the gospel(s) at all.
None of this is, of course, surprising to me after all the other things I've read over the last few years, especially about how the content of the New Testament is so obviously derivitive of much older religious traditions, notably Zoroastrianism and Magi-ism from Persia. These traditions are the source of most of the iconic items of the Christian tableau - a messianic "saviour" god who is derived from or subject to a "father" god and who must die and be reborn; the idea of angels or angelic beings or demigods; the idea of an evil or fallen god or angel, ie: Satan; and the very core idea of a "daddy" style God with whom one can have a personal relationship. These are very Persian ideas and were forcibly injected into the Jewish mindset during the times of their national captivity.
These traditions or myths also reach further back into Vedism and the influence of the Aryan peoples who introduced the concept of patriarchal, male-god religion in the first place, overturning or supressing the more shamanic, naturalistic concepts of the Dravidians in the Indian sub-continent.
There are some fascinating books by Freke and Gandy (The Jesus Mysteries) that give an interesting and enlightening insight into the setting of the early Christian churches that shows how they were directly part of the tradition of the Mystery Schools that existed all over that part of the world. The form of Christianity that we have today is but the hollow shell of what was once a vibrant mystical and spritual system that was viciously and thoroughly eradicated by those in power in the centuries following. The original "mysteries" have been lost to us, but vestiges remain in some of the histories of the Knights Templar and others.
I can sympathize with your feelings of emotional difficulty in coming to this kind of research and the conclusions it engenders. I can only say that for myself, there came a moment when I "got it" and simply stepped back from the entire thing and became almost amused at how insignificant it all is. The only thing that really matters is who and what we are right now and what we decide to do right now. For me, that entails searching on into the unknown regions of mind and spirit, determined not to be constrained by any system of belief or structure of interpretation. I am a warrior and will proceed with control and dignity, curiosity and openness, and quite a bit of humor!
There is a new kind of philosophy of living that takes this approach and seems to be practical for me and for others who have come to this mental place in our lives. Sometimes called the Way of the Warrior, it has best been codified so far by Robert L. Spencer in his book, The Craft of the Warrior. I highly recommend it for people who have taken this path out of traditional religion and who find a loss of momentum or who may be tempted into hedonism or depression. I am researching this quit a bit now, and hope to write my own book on the subject.
I appreciate your communication and I hope my thoughts are welcome and interesting to you. Write anytime and let me know how things are going in your search for the underlying truths!
> "Thanks for all the links and for your suggestions on these various sources.
Yes, this was very fascinating for me. Doherty really "opened the Scriptures" to me.
Surely, it is very difficult to guess how all the things went precisely, Doherty can not know this either but it is so crystally clear that it went substantially differently than Christian churches teach. Btw, I found fantastic the Second century Christian apologies to which Doherty also draws our attention. I read them, and understand very well why nowadays Christian apologists carefully avoid this topic. If somebody reads, e.g., the work Octavianus by Minucius Felix and believes after this that the author was basing his religion on some (absolutely unmentioned) Jesus Christ (not to speak about any Jesus of Nazareth), then he (the reader) has really a "big faith" - going against the most basic common sense.
> "There are some fascinating books by Freke and Gandy (The Jesus Mysteries)"
I read the review on Doherty's web page; it is very positive though Doherty has some reservations wrt some aspects - I think that this reflects the fact that sources for origins of Christianity were very manifold, and hardly can anybody describe all aspects precisely.
> "I can sympathize with your feelings of emotional difficulty in coming to
Yes, despite all emotional difficulties, I was also something like "amused" how my "air castles" collapsed so quickly. I was always aware of "difficult pieces" of Christianity, the Bible etc. but my mental image which I had about Jesus of Nazareth kept all this a bit unimportant. Once I realized that this Jesus is only a literature hero, all these "difficult pieces" easily found heir place in the "puzzle", and I just wondered how I could not have seen this before.
> "been codified so far by Robert L. Spencer in his book, The Craft of the Warrior."
Thank you for all your interesting remarks and comments, hopefully I will get also to that book sometimes. I plan to look at your web-page from time to time, looking forward to future materials.
Prior to accepting Christ some 6 years ago, I was an athiest. I was not raised in a Christian household and so converting to Christianity was something exceptional. Over the course of those years, I began feeling insecure, having guilt for any number of "sins" that heretofore were natural. Recently, we began a 6 week bible study, 40 Days of Purpose. The guilt for being successful and actually wanting to spend some of my money on ME, started me thinking-not acting, just a vague sense that something was wrong with this picture.
After reading The Da Vinci Code, I started looking for researched or less known information to tell me if the Bible was truthfully written. I found, among other info, the Nag Hammandi library and a competely different view of Jesus that the Gnostics believed. More investigating and the truth became apparent that the Bible, as we know it, is little better than propoganda by the dominant "Christian" sect at the time. The so called "canonization" of the books only reinforces that it is one sided and is not the inerrant word of God, but only the desired information was included to reinforce their particular belief!
With the Bible no longer a reliable source for baseing my faith, I had an epiphany that what I felt to be true before my conversion was still true. There is no God. What we have here and now is all that we get. Our legacy does live on based on what we do with our lives.
Your site expresses much of what I feel very eloquently. Far more than I am capable of expressing. Thank you!
I still have the quandry that my wife is a devout Christian and was responsible for my initial conversion to Christianity.Also, I am in the middle of bible study with 2 groups for the next 5 weeks. No one else is aware of my deconversion, except select members of my siblings and dad. My wife will be devastated when I tell her my feelings. My children will also have difficulty since they have only known me as a strongly devout Christian. Our home, is so many ways is entwined in the Christian experience. This will be a big shock to all!
Thank you for your beautifully written site. Your thoughtful approach is comforting when some other sites have an angry tone.
Thank you so much for writing. I truly appreciate hearing from those who have found my site to be of some service, and your positive comments mean a lot.
I was fascinated to hear about your "double-back" experience. Many who write to me have been raised in religion their entire lives (like me) and are facing the basic concepts of non-religion for the first time. It seems it may have been an original experience for you, though, to have conducted pro-active research to validate or debunk the authority of the scriptures. It is commendable that you did that and found those answers you sought.
I agree with your assessment, of course, that the Christian Bible represents the biased views of a controlling few. It is, in fact, a political control mechanism and much of the original religion was harshly suppressed. Following in the long established tradition of the Greeks and others, the Mystery Schools of the Christian Gnostics were the deeper, more sophisticated parts of the religion. Those who followed that understanding relied on personal, mystical experiences and that, of course, fell out of the purview and control of those men who were in power. Therefore, all such mystery groups were viciously exterminated, leaving only the shallow shell of literal "beliefs" that left people in a very controllable state.
Your family situation is certainly difficult. I can only say that I believe we should be authentic in our search for our own truths while being sensitive to the beliefs and needs of our family and friends. In being authentic and honest within ourselves and towards them, we can expect and require dignified treatment from them as well. Everyone should have the right and freedom to pursue their own path to truth and life philosophy, and perhaps your own process will be an example for your children to learn to think their own way instead of just following an "inherited" culture of belief. I feel that you and your spouse will have to find a way to respect each other's spirituality or philosophies without condemning one another.
It's my feeling, too, that not everyone needs to know where my philosophy has taken me. Certainly one's spouse and children must know, but there are others in my family for instance, including my mother, who do not know the extent of my deconversion even now that I author my website.
I hope that you can find a way to guide your family into understanding that your shift of philosophy is not a devastation, but rather an honorable and, for you, positive circumstance. This may be difficult, as they will have been trained to consider all such thought as wrong and as leading to no good end. Being a whole person outside of religion requires a kind of integrity and lovingkindess that is far above what many religions espouse.
I wish the very best for you, DR, in your journey through these strange waters. I honor your heart path that has taken you through the rapids of paternalistic religion and back to the broader, sometimes more disturbing and wondrous, waters of a rational assessment of the world. If you wish to, let me know how things go. I am interested and I'll be here if you need to talk about it.
The present moment is not mundane. It is, in essence, extraordinary. -DC
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