Thursday, December 27, 2007

Acquisition 1: Left Behind

There was no tragic fall from grace; no crisis tore me from faith. I didn’t turn away from God. As a matter of fact, I chased after God, begging for acceptance and love. But I never found the peace that everyone else sang about. I was left behind.

My mother was an atheist. She didn’t speak against God. She didn’t speak of God at all. She just didn’t believe. She never told me why she didn’t believe. I don’t know if she was brought up without religion and just stayed that way, much as I have, or whether she had some kind of crisis that tore grace from her. I wasn’t brought up to hate God, God just was never there. I was in the 6th grade, I was doing a group project with some of the “it” kids. They were talking about going to church. The question was: “what are you?” There was a catholic, there was a mormon, etc. I dreaded my turn. I didn’t know what I was. “Christian.” I said as quietly as I could. One boy said, “of course you’re a Christian, everyone is a Christian!” This sparked some debate between the other kids, and I was off the hook. I still didn’t know what I was; I just knew I was no longer the focus of the discussion.

Just before my mother and step father divorced, he started attending a church in town. It was one of those born again Christian churches, and he was really into it. I wanted to go, and my mother didn’t have a problem in the world with it. I went for a while, but I never felt like I fit in. It was hard to fit into a church where the people so openly hated an entire group of people (Mormons) because they were different. of the things they used to tell me to do when I told them about the questions I had about my faith, and doubt, was to close my eyes while holding a bible in my hands, pray for guidance and let the book open on its own. With my eyes still closed, point to a place on the open page and read the passage (with open eyes – and heart), and my prayer would be answered and doubts would be eased. There must be something about the way my bible was constructed. Every time I did that little exercise, the book opened to Deuteronomy (it still does even today!). It is impossible to convince a girl who grew up in an abusive home to believe in the God responsible for Deuteronomy. My doubts multiplied, and my faith waned. So, I quit going, and no one missed me.

When I was 19, I went to a seventh day Adventist church with a co-worker. They spoke a lot about revelations and how only a very small percentage of people would be saved. These people also were quick to point out how all of the heathens who went to other churches (especially mormons) would not be saved. The rules of conduct to be included in the saved group were far beyond my capabilities. Once again, I didn’t feel as if I really fit in, and I quit going. No one missed me.

When Megan and Zach were in elementary school, a big bus would drive around town and pick up kids to take to church. It seemed harmless enough, and Megan and Zach seemed to really enjoy it. Then, on Easter, the kids brought home a flyer that said if a parent came to church with the kids on Easter Sunday, they would be given a free ham. The cupboard was bare, and Easter services always seemed hopeful when I had gone to church in the past. The people who came to talk to me were so nice and so friendly, like a family welcoming me into the fold. I decided it would be fun to go. the church, the kids were separated from the parents to go to their special Sunday school classes and the parents were treated to a sermon telling us how reprobate we all were and that we’d best change our ways, or we would be damned to hell. Then, the women hauled me up to the front of the church to pray for me, and they began “speaking in tongues”, chanting and crying and wailing. I have never been more frightened in my whole life. I begged God to let me leave the service alive and with my children in exchange for my promise to never go back myself, and to not let my children go back either. It worked. I kept my promise. I wasn’t missed, but my kids were.

My doubt continued to grow. I started looking at religion and those who follow it in a more inquisitive light. My biggest question was if God isn’t real, then why do so many people believe? I searched for answers in archeological articles, and found reason to believe that God didn’t create man, man created god. But how could that be the definitive answer? How hopeless is that answer? are an interesting lot. Just as in all walks of life and areas of beliefs, some are very good, very kind people. But I have known many who were extremely hypocritical and judgmental. I wondered how someone could believe so completely they were right about something so unprovable. Of course, their belief was strongest when pointing a finger at others than when looking in a mirror at themselves. It made me so angry to see people who preached loving and giving behave with such contempt, especially when they could justify their contempt with a passage in the bible. My anger eventually generalized to religion.

I began to hate religion. I blamed the three Abrahamic religions for all of the problems in this world. Three factions fighting each other, killing, maiming, and torturing innocent people for a subjective belief about an idea that cannot be proven. Three Factions of people who expect the world to fall in line with “their” god – Abraham’s God – a God who told a man to kill his own son. a God in the mind of a schizophrenic man would do such a thing. I decided that if God was really like that, I would prefer to burn in hell for an eternity than spend one day in heaven with Him.

For a while, then, the answer to the question was: “I am an atheist.” I, however, like most humans, could not shake the feeling that I have a soul separate from my body. That dualism led me down another path of spirituality.


  1. A great post, very interesting.

  2. I'll let you in on a little secret, Cheri... Many of us Christians are frustrated and angered by the same hypocrites that you were. As you pointed out, in any large group, there are all kinds of people, good and bad.

    I was raised Christian in a pretty Jewish neighborhood, so that's the way I tend to worship. But, I don't think the Muslims or Buddhists or Hindus, etc. are necessarily wrong. In particular, I like Buddhist thought quite a bit.
    I think God, or whatever you want to call that creative force for good in the universe, is too big and complicated to be contained by a human mind. Especially some of the small ones that seem to think they have it all "figured out".

    I know only one thing for sure. I have come too close to death too many times in too many ways to believe that luck had anything to do with it. In many ways, I've led a charmed life, cancer and all. I can only attribute that to a higher power of some kind that has a plan for me. Naturally, I may be wrong. I often am. The problem is, I won't know until it's too late. ;)

    I look forward to Part 2!

  3. i don't know, if your still checking this blog.
    but it was really interesting.

    for me its very awkward reading your blog at this point cause its Christmas eve here in the Philippines. but i have this mixed emotions within me that i really want to comment but i don't know how.

    all i wanna share now is that we both have some similarities, having this doubt. the only difference is that i grew up studying in Catholic schools mingling with fellow catholics and some non-catholics but still i can feel that im one of them, that i belong.

    anyway, if you want to share some more, you can e-mail me at

    take care.