Conversations With You
Date: Thu, 28 Mar 2002
Subject: Prophecy Fulfilled
Just last week I read Prophecy Fulfilled....more about this later in this letter.
I was raised in a denomination which believes they are the only ones who believe correctly, everyone else is lost. About five years ago I started visiting with a Jehovah's witness and learned a great deal, all along the way I kept talking to various friends who also had their theories about religion and I concluded that I did not agree with any of them fully on some issues. I started digging into history and was extremely surprised at the history of the making of the Bible, no one seems to be able to even know for sure when they were written. You have most religions contending that Revelations was written after AD 70 so this gives them all the end time predictions and calls to salvation before the END!!!
It became apparent to me that the New Testament was focused on the impending demolition of Jerusalem which was about the happen. Am I right?
Because of the Jehovah Witness study I wanted to know why they refused to celebrate the holidays. I was told because of the pagan origins, and sure enough, you certainly can see how mythologies throughout known civilizations seemed to have similar beliefs about God and his SUN/SON. I backed away from celebrating the holidays because of the implication of SUN worship on the grounds of it really did fall on the changing of the seasons, as if that was a real big no-no. BUT, with further study, I read the Bible more and wondered why there were places in the Bible that corollate with the cosmos, or zodiac, Jesus's life with the trajectory of the SUN, the 12 tribes and 12 apostles maybe relating to the 12 signs of the zodiac and such like. Bulls, Lambs, Fish,Lions, and serpents and such that all relate to the Zodiac. Why Jesus had a Greek name since he was Jewish.
I have found a place on the website called Hiddenmeanings which seems to shed light on a lot of areas. It helps to be able to see perhaps what the actual meanings are instead of literal interpretations.
Anyway, I was surprised to see your name and the title Joy of Disillusionment as I was exploring the Internet, since I had just read Prophecy Fulfilled, what are your thoughts on that writing now?
....I want to thank you so much for taking the time and interest to write to me.
If you have read my book, Prophecy Fulfilled, then you know quite a bit about the preterist interpretation of the Bible, which you allude to in describing what you have been studying and thinking about recently. That interpretation is the only one that made any sense to me when trying to understand the Bible and Christian religion, and I spent many years of my life piecing that view together and consolidating it into a book form. But, as you have found, I have undergone a revolution in thinking about and understanding religion and the true history of mankind.
You said you found the title "Joy of Disillusionment" on the net, and I was curious if you were able to visit my site by that name and read some of what is there? It contains many essays and other resources that present my current point of view and also, I have just added a somewhat detailed account of my own journey from Christian thought to a Rationalist viewpoint. If you are interested, I would encourage you to read my essay, "My Journey", but briefly, I feel that I have "opened up" out of a small box that I now think of as Christian religion. That box is too small to hold me any longer and I have learned far too much to ever go back into it.
The kinds of things I have learned are similar to what you have written about in your letter. The correlations of the holidays with solar and astronomical events, for instance, are important clues to understanding where religious ideas came from and how Christianity has obliterated much of what once was the true religions of mankind. I would encourage you to continue reading and studying new things, and please check out my book list on the Joy of Disillusionment site for some very solid books that will really challenge your thinking in a healthy way. Don't miss Ishmael and The Story of B, by Daniel Quinn.
I took a peek at the site you mentioned, and it seemed to me to be very uncritical of new ideas. Those of us who have come out of one box should be reticent about jumping into another one without some really solid proofs and cross-discipline connections to assure us that the new ideas we are considering have merit and are not just more human fiction!
I, for instance, am currently examining the history and current practices of shamanism (the oldest "religion" of humanity) to see if it is more than superstition. I have reason to believe it is more, and I'm researching it now, but I won't allow myself to fall into the "New Age" fluff trap, if you understand what I mean.
You asked what I think about my book now. That is a good question, and I would have to answer it by saying that I am very proud of that book and all the work that went into it. It represents much of what and who I am now, and set the stage for the kind of positive critical analysis of new ideas I've been speaking of, even if I no longer believe that the content of my book is rational and "real". I have told others who have asserted that I have "lost my faith" that I have not lost it - I have simply put it away in a box in my attic. I know right where it is, and should real, empirical proof come to me that the God of the Jewish/Christian Bible is real, I will open that box and reclaim that faith. I invite that proof. I would very much like for God to show up.
Until that time, I shall remain an "opened up" person who maintains a rationalist view of things as a default position. This is not a negative place - my life is more full of joy, exuberance, rich information, peace, and wonderful creativity than it has ever been before!
Please check out the Joy of Disillusionment site sometime soon, and email me again to let me know what you think, ok? The URL is: http://www.newrational.com/joy
It sounds like from your first statement that you might have been raised in the Church of Christ. If so, we have much in common, as that was my upbringing also. It seems that you have begun to exit that old box for yourself, and that is a wonderful thing. I wish you a good journey and many jarring and exciting discoveries. Just keep your wits about you and don't take anyone's word without a good dose of skepticism!
Date: Tue, 28 May 2002
Been browsing you site. I agree it is difficult to break with old beliefs. I read "what this site is and isn't", and don't think I will be breaking your codes by including an URL to a site that explains the "fear factor" involved in infusing false beliefs. It helped me and I humbly hope you may extract some kernel of insight to help in your work.
If you interpret this action in any fashion other than trying to be helpful, I apologize now.
Keep up the good work, K. [URL for personal essay site given]
....I was happy to read your essay, and I find myself in agreement with much of what you have to say. I think you are quite right to indicate how externally imposed and self-employed authorities or "authority" are equivalent to gods to us. I have come to believe that the highest form of humanity is the person who is healthily self-centered and demands proofs and justifications for any bow he or she is asked to make to any authority, and only agrees when that authority squares up with one's own values. For instance, I accept the citizenship of the U.S. because it matches up (at least well enough for me to work with it) with my own ethical beliefs and expectations and with my practical needs as a human being. I do not accept it just because I was born here.
I think we must take a similar approach with religious ideas, scientific ideas, and anything else.
It sounds like you have a rather abstract definition for "God" -
"Since the force (read authority) that establishes the laws of nature, such as
which I might not completely disagree with, and which seems to fit a broader, older, pagan view of the ultimate authority. My quibble with the established religions, of course, is with the specific Gods presented in the various "holy scriptures" that have lured so many into accepting the "protection racket" of their choice. If any of these particular, personally knowable, gods are real, then I simply ask for any one of them to SHOW UP. Then, as a thinking, healthily skeptical human being, I can make up my mind to follow them or not. However, I will never again take any human's word for the reality of any such being. I've simply read too much and know too much about the history of religions to blindly join anyone's army again.
There are two authors I would recommend to you if you haven't read them. The idea of the Christian/Jewish scriptures being just another of these protection rackets is very well stated in: Power, Politics, and the Making of the Bible - Robert B. Coote & Mary P. Coote. Also, for excellent insights into the tribalism aspects of our cultural nature, be sure to read Daniel Quinn's amazing works, Ishmael, and The Story of B.
Thanks again for writing. I appreciate other people's views and comments on these things.
Date: Mon, 24 Jun 2002
I really appreciated your poetry. I had been an active member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormon) for many years until I read information about the true history of the church.
Dear R, Thank you so much for your kind comments about my poems. I wasn't quite sure if anyone was actually reading them, but I am honored that you have and that you found them meaningful in some way. It is amazing, isn't it, that if we simply study the history of religion, we so naturally come to the understanding that it is all human creation. Best wishes in your journey. David
Date: Sun, 30 Jun 2002
I like your web site, I have been researching sites like yours for years. My hsusband is a christian and addicted to it. It makes me ill, I am stuck in this marriage because of business and preteens. anyway all I can do is carry on and it is not fun.
Hi V, Thank you so much for your email.... I am sympathetic to your situation, and I can only say that we are each our own masters in this life. I hope that you will eventually find a way to express your worldview within your life. It is hard to contain such things inside. Best wishes for you. Regards, David
Date: Fri, 12 Jul 2002
Dear Mr. Crews---
I read through your website and found it very interesting. I hope you won't delete my letter right away. I am a believer, but am fascinated by those who say they are "ex-christians". I find it fascinating because the concept of believeing and then not believing seems impossible to me. I know that I once believed in Santa Claus and then accepted that he was a fairy tale. But what makes it so impossible to "not" believe in God is the answers that have actually come from prayers. 2 of the answers were so clear that when I think of not believing I feel it would be impossible unless I completely blocked those events from my mind and stubbornly refused to acknowledge that they had happened. I've tried not to believe in the past, when I was angry with God for some reason, like a stubborn child says "I don't love you any more!!" to their mother. But they don't really mean it because the love-bond is too great. the same has happened to me. I cannot continue in my quest, because I remember who God is and what he has done for me. I just wanted to share that with you, because you speak of "divorcing" God---but are you sure that God has "divorced" you? Thanks for listening.
Thanks for writing. I never mind having a discussion with people who are interested in reasoning and finding out things. The things you say and your interest in learning about people who have been through the "deconversion" process is indicitave of someone who is willing to consider and listen to differing viewpoints.
One thing I have learned over the years is that no one can gainsay anyone else who claims to have had a personal "mystical" or "miraculous" experience. I was raised in a sect of Christianity that did not acknowledge spiritual gifts or powers in today's world, and I often had to listen to others tell me, "but I saw it," or, "this happened to me and I know it was real" when relating such things as healings or life events that seemed a specific answer to specific prayers. I don't know what your experience was, but regardless, I would never be able to say to you that you should not acknowledge it as real. What I might suggest is that when those of us who were raised in a Christian culture do experience those kinds of things, we immediately and automatically interpret them in the context of the Christian worldview - that is, "Jehovah/Abba Father God, or Jesus, listened to my prayer and answered it in this way." What dawned on me in my reconsideration of religion is that we have no way to justify imposing our Christian view on such mystical events with any more authority than the Hindus or the Zoarastrians, or the curanderos and shamans of Brazil or Siberia have to impose their views. The fact is, we humans do not know who or what or how these things happen, but if I believe in the Christian God, I will naturally and perhaps emphatically interpret it in that way.
For me, aside from personal "mystical" or subjective experiences that cannot be scientifically proven or explained, there is simply no other empirical evidence for the existence of the kind of God portrayed in the Judeo/Christian scriptures. That vision of God is not even self-consistent and much wrangling has been done over the years by many thousands of believers, myself emphatically included, to try to get the biblical God to be consistent and to make religious sense. The only way I could do it was to make God and his dealings with us be completely "spiritual" and not to allow him to have interaction with us in this physical world (thus alleviating the problem of no empirical evidence for his existence). That view can work as a way of interpreting the Bible (and clears up a lot of questions about things like Revelation, btw), but essentially leaves one with nothing to "hang one's hat upon".
The idea of the stubborn child saying "I don't love you!" when he really does, is not the same kind of manifestation of disbelief that occurs for "ex-Christians". It's straining the analogy, perhaps, but it would be like the child suddenly finding out that his Mom and Dad were not actually real people, but were projected holograms and that he was being raised in a constructed world whose makers and operators were completely unknown and at least so far, unknowable. That is more what it was like for me -- God is seen to be a construct planted in my mind by the human society I was raised in and reinforced by "sacred" documents that seemed untouchable in their authority. Now, I realize that that document is not original and not nearly as old as other documents from which it obviously borrowed, and that the view of God presented is only the latest in a long panoply of such gods. Also, many of the fundamental concepts that we consider original to Christianity are simply not.
You asked if I was sure God has really divorced me. The way I addressed that issue in the essay is, of course, an analogy or figure of speech. It only feels like a divorce, because it is as good as one to me, the human being. It is not actually a divorce, of course, because there was never a second party! It is actually more like the schizophrenic who begins to understand that a person he sees and talks to is not a real person, but only someone he has created in his mind. That manifestation, though, has been so powerfully projected, that he cannot distinguish it from a real person. Now, I can make that distinction, and once made, it is no longer possible to take that person (God in this case) seriously as I once did.
Does that mean I discount all possibilities for God or a God or Gods to exist? No, but when one is burned at the stove, one becomes much more cautious. I demand real, empirical proof for such an extraordinary claim. No such proofs have ever, in all the history of humankind, been forthcoming, and I do not intend to hold my breath for one now, but I shall keep an open mind to all new ideas and experiences along the way.
Well, I hope that was not too long an answer to your questions and comments, and I hope you will find it useful in some way. I will never tell or advise anyone to believe or not to believe. My only passion is for what is true, and I will pursue what is true even if it leads me into frightening places (and it has at times). If your passion for what is true outweighs your passion to believe at any cost, you may also find yourself on the path to jarring, upsetting, vastly enlightening, outrageously joyous, and fulfilling knowledge. I wish you well.
Date: Mon, 15 Jul 2002
Thank you for your very friendly response to my query concerning your "deconversion". It appears you have put a lot of thought into your decision, rather than a "knee-jerk" reaction to some negative happening in your life. I have found that many atheists, when the intellectual cover is lowered, really have some anger issue at the bottom of their decision to not believe in God. I don't blame them though, losing someone close to you could cause one to say "There cannot be a God, and even if there was one I would hate him". I have also noticed that many atheists will say they don't believe in God because of some horrible thing that happened to them at the hands of "believers". I can understand this too, but I usually try to point out that you can't call FORD a horrible automoblie just because some Ford sales man turned you off. Believers CAN be horrible people. I lived in a strict "cult-like" group of Christians, filled with legalism and hypocrisy and went through a small Hell on earth due to the experiences there. But once I left that group, I again realized that they didn't represent God--that God was someone entirely different. I had let men "representing" God literally run my life for 4 years. But this did not make me disbelieve, it simply opened up my eyes and made me better realize how God deals with each of us as "individuals", not corporate groups of people under some authoritative structure.
I wanted to mention to you too that the answers to prayers I spoke of were not necessarily miracles that happened in one moment of time, but were answers that came over time. They were things that I had yearned for and had prayed with real sincerity to the point of tears to God. One day I looked back and had what I had prayed for and realized that God had indeed answered my prayers, but not in the time period I had desired at the time. I wanted it "now" and because it didn't happen "now" I thought he had not heard or answered. I believe this happens to many people----they say "God does not answers prayers, it's futile". But that is because they want to be God and answer the prayers themselves, and in their way. I always remember Elijah in the Bible(I'll try not to preach) when he saw God---it says that first there was lightning and thunder and a tornado and massive noise but it was all followed by "a still small voice". I've noticed in my life God works that way--the things that REALLY matter seem to come about very quietly and in a way almost unoticeable. Sometimes I have to look and remember how I had prayed for those things and they had indeed come to pass.
I don't mean to preach David, I guess I'm just expressing what I believe. I truly respect you for being honest and open about your "deconversion" and the last thing I would want to do is to condemn you. I'm glad you said you have left the door open to belief--although I realize you want physical and empirical prrof of existence.
All the best to you and thanks for replying to my E-mail. Sincerely, J
Hi J ,
Thanks for the accurate assessment of my situation as carefully thought out and not an emotional reaction of some kind. I agree that many atheists hold their philosophy from having some level of that kind of "knee-jerk" response you were talking about. I do not even consider myself an "atheist", but rather consider that the rational view of things is the natural default stance, which includes atheist views as well as agnostic ones. Some folks become tribal about their "atheism" as if it were another religion. I would like to believe that most real thinking unbelievers understand that it is a stance, alterable at any time by the introduction of new evidence and proofs for something more.
I do understand your position completely, though, having lived it for most of my life. Now, I just find the connection lacking for proof that the good or asked-for things in life are the result of some outside agency, especially in the face of all I have learned in the last few years concerning the true history of mankind and the history and origins of religion.
Thanks again, J, and write anytime.
Date: Fri, 12 Jul 2002
Subject: Can we talk?
I have just discovered your website today. It is a difficult time in my life right now.
I lived in Israel for a few years and have returned to the states. I have had a less than hero's welcome.
When I was abroad, I felt I really came into who I am. I was so happy. I discovered all kinds of truths while in Jerusalem. However, none of them were favorable to Christianity or the basis of any religion. I saw how paganism is still such a part of christianity.
Whenever I tried to share the things I was learning with friends, (while overseas), I was cursed....my church cut me off and Christian friends disowned me. Needless to say, I do not volunteer what I have learned unless someone wants to know.
I feel so alone in my small town. I have very few friends here now. I have changed...but they have not. Some days I am so very depressed and do not know how to rise above.
I took great sacrifice to live overseas. The experience gave me what the church would not or could not do - give me mature character in not judging others who do not believe as I did and to go beyond the boundaries of man made dogmas and doctrines. The is a wonder big life out there for anyone who takes the courageous step to find it.
SO - that was my homecoming, now what?
How do I live in the US without friends or "beliefs"?
I look forward to your comments.
Thank you for your heartfelt email. I know that the transition out of traditional Christian belief and society can be traumatic for many people, especially if one has been involved in a close "family" church whose members have no intention of changing with you when you decide to grow. I have been fortunate , in that I have removed myself from my former believer groups slowly over many years, even while still a believer. My Christian beliefs became so unconventional that I was ostracized even as a believer, but now, of couse, none of my former group would have any "fellowship" with me. That's ok, since I drifted naturally away from them.
Your situation seems more acute, as the change has come quickly and your believing friends are still there and still involved with your personal culture and emotional life. That's much harder, because it comes at you like an unexpected divorce. I won't belittle the pain of that situation or its impact. I will tell you that there is a better world on the other side of the tunnel. There are many, many who have been down this road as well, and who would welcome your friendship and honor your knowledge and attitudes toward knowledge. You said you are in a small town, and that poses problems for "in-person" friends, but now we have the internet, and I encourage you to continue to explore the amazing resources that are available for ex-believers and non-believers on the web. There are communities of people who have or are going through just what you have, and there are many informational resources, as well. I'll give you a link to begin with below, and be sure to check out my links page for more. The best solution for feeling depressed and alone is to find others with similar experience and outlook and talk to them! You won't be alone for long.
My difficult experience was not in leaving a family of people, but in leaving my beliefs themselves, and that is the focus of most of my web site. It sounds like you found that path to knowledge in Israel and were able to follow it well. I can understand how removing oneself from your religious and social surroundings and moving into a vastly different one like that could be a catalyst to understanding and pursuing truth. I, too, am aware and amazed at the proliferation of pagan elements and concepts in Christianity. The old "mystery schools" were never completely supressed, but, like much else, were taken in and recast in Christian form. Much of what Paul teaches in his letters is actually gnostic in nature, even though he has been "revised" to appear to be anti-gnostic, etc.
There is an old saying, that it "is lonely at the top." In some ways, that applies to those of us who have the courage and interest to pursue truth and find ourselves with fewer and fewer companions on that journey. Most drop away and leave you to your doings. You are correct in saying that those who really want to know are not common. Thanks to the internet, now, though, I think you will find that those of us who have ascended and found ourselves lonely can actually come into contact even though we are not close geographically. This is a powerful thing and has already begun to change the world in many unforseen ways. How do we live without our friends or beliefs? We make new friends and cultivate the power of the search for truth and knowledge. It is not the closing of a book, but the opening of a new, unrevealed library. The exhilaration of new knowledge and understandings and exuberance of life one has when one is really living in the present moment, is a way of living that is priceless. Depression and dissappointment cannot flourish under such joy and power!
I wish you the best in your journey, and feel free to write anytime.
The present moment is not mundane. It is, in essence, extraordinary. -DC
Comments or questions:
Home | Joy of Disillusionment? | Just Like A Divorce | Contemplation of Annihilation
All content, text, and images on this site ©2015 David P. Crews, CrewsCreative, Austin, Texas. All rights reserved.