I know. I’m not posting as much as usual. I just started a new job in a whole new industry, so my mind has been elsewhere lately. I’m sure you can understand.

Distractions happen. Life happens. I’ve been experiencing a bit of that nagging feeling that I should be reading other blogs and paying attention to my Twitter account. I have occasionally wondered how many days it’s been since I checked my email. And it’s a familiar feeling; that cloudiness in my mind when I am focused on something specific but remain aware that other pieces of my life are on hold. That’s the part that nags me. It’s probably also the thing that reminds me to pay my bills on time.

I used to feel that way about god, too. Back then I might have referred to the nagging feeling as the “Holy Spirit.” Of course, unless the almighty is currently concerned about my atheist blog staying up to date, I may have been wrong about what that feeling actually was.

If I were still a believer this would be the moment I got down on my knees and asked god to forgive me for allowing distractions to come between us. I might even suspect the devil had a hand in it. Prayer would be the only way to be sure I was on god’s path. The right path. I would be worried about the pitfalls of giving in to my worldly interests and forgetting that everything I have is not earned, but given through god’s mercy.

I don’t miss that.

My sister-in-law once explained to me why she dressed so conservatively. She was afraid of causing a man to sin by looking at her lustfully. It was a real concern for her. She spent regular time in prayer about it. She also refused to watch movies above a G rating, and once fled Target with her hands over her ears because she found the soundtrack to her shopping experience to be ungodly.

She went on to tell me that I had no idea how much evil was in her heart. And she’s right. I cannot even begin to imagine how many meaningless things cross her mind during the day and cripple her with guilt. But I can imagine how easy it would be to use her faith against her. Or to convince her that something was her fault when it wasn’t. She’s been programmed to accept it too easily.

Christians believe they owe god everything. Christians should never give themselves credit for the good choices they make; that would be prideful. And there is no room for pride in the Christian faith because every good thing comes from god alone. Christians are sinful, guilty souls who are saved by grace.

A Christian can only be held accountable for what they do wrong.

Really think about that, because if you do not see this as an open door to manipulation and control you may need to sit with this concept a while longer. If you are doing it right, shame and self-loathing are dominant forces in the world of Christianity. But why?

God’s unfailing love and mercy allows him to somehow look upon his wretched creations, forgive them for the evil in their hearts, and save them from themselves. But I’m not sure all that is necessary. It sounds like god is just a fan of taking the scenic route. Or maybe he isn’t good. At least, not the way we define good. I know if god were real he could certainly orchestrate a more efficient and humane road to salvation, so why doesn’t he?

Surely we can all see the danger of conforming to this biblical way of thinking. But we have to be broken at god’s feet before we can accept his grace! We must be stripped of all pride and recognize god as the only worthy being. We are nothing compared to him.

Yeah, that sounds like something I once heard at youth group.

In any other example we would know who the real villain is, but between god and us? We are always the bad guys. We deserve what we get from god because we asked for it by our behavior. It’s a formula that works. Religion is designed to remove our individual identities. It injects intense fear of living without god, or to even be caught thinking about leaving. Those who question god are dangerous enemies who cannot be trusted. Sound familiar?

Luckily most Christians I know are “lukewarm” at best. Judged harshly by the most devout evangelicals, your average American Christian isn’t really serving the god of the Bible. God is whatever they want him to be. He conforms to their lifestyle because it’s so easy to make him do that. Even the most committed followers have made excuses for god; replacing scripture with their own opinions wherever god makes them feel uncomfortable. And he isn’t exactly protesting, so over time it gets accepted as truth. It seems silly that these two belief systems could exist side by side, often under the same church roof.

If you can compromise once, you can do it again. And then what meaning does the Bible have? That’s why creationists need to accept a literal Genesis. There is a widespread movement among evangelicals to protect the belief that every word in the Bible is the literal truth and word from god. The ultimate goal being that the next generation of Christians might return to a more faithful submission to god.

We recognize the dangers in that type of thinking when it comes to other religions, but we give local Christians a pass.  God’s lack of intervention has led to a lack of seriousness…. which has led to a culture that is not distracted by god the way the church fathers intended. When the original god concept loses power among its followers it can no longer be used to control the masses. But when religion is taken seriously on a grander scale we are all in danger.

Any religion. Never underestimate a group of people whose cause is far more precious than their lives or the lives of their loved ones. They are focused, and there is no cloudiness about the things they have put on hold. They have let those things go. They have been stripped of their individuality and pride. They are easily influenced and capable of anything.

The only difference between them and the believers next door is how much faith they have in the literal meaning of the message they are receiving. And it can happen to anyone. For better or worse…. we are all more alike than we are different.


3 thoughts on “Distracted by God

  1. Your sister-in-law epitomises everything that’s unhealthy about Christianity IMO. It’s like she’s living her life with a huge millstone around her neck. It’s sad.

  2. “If you are doing it right, shame and self-loathing are dominant forces in the world of Christianity.”
    And I don’t miss that. Still recovering from it. I think almost 2 years out I’m only now realizing how much shame I’ve internalized, and how much of what I hear from Christians is shame based. Shame destroys. They talk about grace, and in the few cases where grace is shown it is indeed a good thing. But the prevailing culture is one of shame, not grace.

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