Update: It's hard to believe my last post on this blog was in 2012. So much has happened since then. First and foremost, I no longer identify as a Christian. Honestly, maybe I never really did. This may best be evidenced by the many people around me who liked to condemn me, call me evil or view me even as demonic. Often these accusations would be attributed to my inquisitive nature. I ask too many questions, challenge too many teachings and to put it simply, I believe that God can do anything, but I don't believe that God does everything others say God has done.
But after a lot of research, time away from indoctrinating organizations and teachings by those who would use God and religion to control others, I have determined that I am not a Christian, and in fact, view much of Christianity as an oppressive force that has dominated, controlled, enslaved and repressed societal groups for thousands of years.
So what am I? I'm not really sure that I even know how to answer that. Do I believe in God? I find that I do. I find that I continue to return to the belief that there is a force greater and outside of the universe.
|Blinded by the Light|
Such as, the universe "had" to be created and couldn't have existed without a creator. Elements must have been created, therefore showing the need for a creator. Yet, religion uses faith to say that God was self-existent, but the universe isn't.
I've been fascinated by cults since I was a young child. I remember seeing some movies on television that
captivated my attention. "Blinded by the Light" was one in
|Time magazine: Cult of Death: Jim Jones|
I also remember being quite young and seeing the cover of Time magazine that profiled the Jim Jones death cult and Guyana Tragedy.
I was about 10 when the Guyana Tragedy took place, and I believe that was my first introduction to cults. I read the entire "Time" article, and learned that there were pastors who weren't good, wonderful people who wanted to help children have good lives. They could be monsters who murdered children.
The revelation startled me into an early alertness and awareness that never left. Every time I entered a church, I was always on "potential cult alert." By that I mean, I would always wonder if a pastor could be a cult leader or become a cult leader. I could never just accept teachings from the pulpit (or any ministry for that matter) without fully examining them as well as myself to ensure that I wouldn't end up like one of these brainwashed victims. Because of this "hard-wired" resistance to being controlled and dominated by people in "ministry," I had a very hard time being accepted in churches.
I have been told I was demon possessed, demonic and "unsubmissive.." to which I say..thank you. As I imagine the people who were "unsubmissive" to Jim Jones, walked out of his California church, (taking their demons with them), refused to hand over their property and finances, and decided not to go to South Africa with the gang.
I have never, ever had any desire to go to a church and let someone control my mind, my finances or my life, and it makes me angry that anyone thinks they have the right to.
So, a little back story here...
I was abandoned as an infant by my mother, stayed in a foster home, then went to live with my Great Grandmother and Great Aunt. I am a very very light-skinned woman with black ancestry that I am very very proud of. My Great Grandmother was from Barbados and I would describe her as a devout Christian woman. She attended St. Mark's Congregational Church in Boston, Massachusetts, as did her daughter, my Great Aunt.
My Grandmother taught me to read and memorize the "Our Father," and the "23rd Psalm" when I was about 5 years old. Every morning she would eat breakfast then read a passage from "Our Daily Bread." She had a Bible and I saw her read it. My Grandmother and Aunt prayed every night before bed and taught me to do so as well. They taught me to say grace before every meal. It was called "saying the blessing." My Aunt also went to church weekly. Church was a very social place and I liked it. I enjoyed going, liked my kids' class, and had no problem with the "church" as I was just a little kid.
When I was 7, my mother went to court and gained custody of me. I abruptly left my home of the past seven years and was thrown into a tumultuous household with step sisters, a half-sister and religious fanatic parents. I was ordered to call my new father "Dad," despite the fact that I had already been taught that I didn't have a father in my life. That "transition" was very psychologically damaging to me. I didn't know who these people were and was trying to keep up with everyone's name and role in my new life.
Needless to say, I became shy, depressed, began wetting the bed, and cried hours upon hours each day. I did not just magically "adjust" to this new living environment. I wanted to go home and get away from these people I didn't know. I remember meeting "sister" after "sister" and it was just such a weird, strange experience.
There really are no words.
Okay, so back to the religious fanaticism...
I was seven-years-old and remember being questioned at the dinner table shortly after I had moved in about whether or not I had a Bible. I remembered that Grandmother had a Bible from which I had read. There was a lot of discussion at the table since I didn't have a Bible. I remember my mother and step-father specifically commenting that I was going to a church that didn't "use the Bible." I do remember receiving a Bible very quickly after moving in.
While I was dealing with the psychological and emotional trauma of having a new home, loss of friends, making new friends, losing the parental figures in my life overnight, replacing them with new parental figures, going from a child who believed she didn't have a father to having a man in my life demand that I call him Dad, and going from an only child who received incredible one on one attention where everyone catered to my well being, phsyical and emotional needs, to being an invisible child lost in a group of five kids, I also had to add to that, "You better become "Saved" and "Born Again" really fast."
I was interrogated about whether or not I had been saved. It didn't take long until I realized that I went to the wrong church with my Aunt, wasn't a real Christian as a I didn't have a Bible or pray every day, and was going to hell because I hadn't been born again.
No one bothered to ask me to recite the Our Father or The 23rd Psalm and I doubt they would have been impressed that I could, like my Aunt and Grandmother had been.
Somewhere when I was 7 I accepted Jesus into my heart, began going to Sunday School weekly, memorized many, many passages of Scripture, and was happy that I was spared from hell and would go to heaven when I died to be with Jesus.
I didn't understand exactly how Jesus was in my heart, but he was my new, best friend and I really needed a friend. Jesus and I were happy.
It wasn't much longer after I moved in with my mother and "Dad" that things took a turn for the worse..by worse..I mean the dreaded Christian term "backsliding." I'm sure from one perspective only my dad had been guilty of backsliding, but I don't see how someone can be a Christian while getting drunk and taking prescription tranquilizers on a daily basis gets off scot free.
Either way, the household had enough dysfunction to prove to even a young kid that Christianity was failing miserably.
Christianity was no longer presented as some great force that makes families perfect (or even better than the household I had left), instead it was presented as the last crutch you turn to when everything around you is failing. There were lots of emergency prayer sessions for my "Dad's" salvation (I think it took over 20 years for him to finally get "saved" again...), and I would soon be introduced to a new religious concept: spiritual warfare.
My mother was a great prayer warrior...all while drinking alcohol and taking her prescription medications. You would think that if the spiritual warfare was going to be effective, it would begin in the Christian's individual life..but that's not how it worked.
You see, the spiritual warfare was directed against and conducted on everyone OUTSIDE of my mother. The children, the step-children, her husband, family members, the neighbors...all of these were the sources of evil, demonic oppression and confusion in the household...while my mother was a helpless saint, left to booze, barbituates and emergency prayer sessions.
It was also around this time that I learned the importance of rebuking the devil. My mother did a lot of rebuking the devil. She anointed the house with oil (as this was said to help make the prayer sessions stronger and more effective)...apparently, demons were everywhere in our house...outside the house...in the car...following us to church...going with us to the grocery store...and even inside one of my step-sisters....particularly inside one of my step-sisters, as we had to gather in a family circle (without my "Dad" knowing, of course) and rebuke satan when my step-sister would come to visit.
I truly believe my mother believes my step-sister was demon possessed...maybe she still is...I'm sure she believes that I am...maybe my other sister is too...certainly my cousin is...you see, in this household..anyone who questions my mother or other religious family members, gets labeled unsaved, unclean and at worst demon possessed.
You couldn't possibly have a legitimate issue with something they have said or done...in this religious delusion, they are the perfect, creatures clothed in the righteouness of Christ and all their sins have been washed in the blood of the Lamb, Jesus Christ.
If you say ANYTHING, ask ANYTHING, or even QUESTION their decisions, choices, actions, behavior or even outright lies, YOU ARE THE GUILTY ONE.
They aren't just "Christians" but are "persecuted martyrs" running and fleeing from demonic oppression and attack from anyone who dares to challenge their holiness.
So, as a child, I internalized these teachings I received.
I learned and actually believed that my mother was a perfect, holy victim oppressed by outside forces that orignated with her evil father.
I believed that my step-sister was demon possessed and even feared her.
I believed that if anything bad happened in life, it was the devil's fault and I could win the battle by clicking my heels three times and saying, "I rebuke you satan in the name of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ."
I learned that women are helpless victims who are incapable of defending themselves, but it's okay, because Jesus is a Mighty Mighty Warrior who has nothing better to do than fighting all of a woman's battles for her, as long as she is saved, washed, and cleansed by the blood of the lamb.
The one thing that I didn't learn in that household, was that Christianity equated unconditional love. In fact, I saw this strange Christianity that meant sister turns against sister, step-mother turns against step-daughter, and later learned just how deep the gossip, betrayal, lies, and backbiting in this "Christian family" actually ran.
Well, during my childhood years (from 7-12) I spent a lot of time in church. I went on Christian retreats, studied my Bible faithfully, prayed dutifully and did my best to be Jesus to my lost and dying friends. I didn't want them to die.
I also came to accept that I was depressed, miserable and homesick because God wanted to teach me lessons in humility. It didn't matter that I wasn't happy or that I missed my Grandmother or Aunt. Everyone who loved Jesus was made to suffer. My mother was the most miserable person I had yet to encounter and look at how much she loved Jesus. Why she spent hours locked in her room crying every day...and would go to church at night..oh..she was so holy and devout. Such a good, wonderful Christian woman, and persecuted by everyone who knew her.
I liked the church we went to. It was Christian Missionary Alliance and I liked the pastor as well as the people there. No one seemed very crazy/fanatical to me...but there did seem to be a lot of sadness. Like everyone was dealing with one problem after another and no one was really very happy...yet everyone had Jesus so that was the most important thing. They may have been miserable, but by golly they were good, faithful Christian soldiers marching onward to glory.
Only trouble is everyone was going to have to die to reach it.
Things began to change in my mind when I saw a video at church. It was called "A Thief in the Night," part of the original "Left Behind" or "Mark of the Beast" series. Suddenly the teachings I had recevied about the "Rapture" and how in a blink of an eye, my young sister and I could magically disappear into the air to see Jesus, while everyone who wasn't born again would stay on earth to face satan's wrath in the form of the anti-christ, began to take new meaning.
The video absolutely terrified me and it plainly depicted the abuse of government authority and that the real Christians would have to be beheaded in order to "be saved, if by some chance they were "left behind."
I was a little angry. I mean, I had already "been saved." I asked Jesus in my heart, went to Sunday School, memorized all my Bible verses, brought my Bible to school to tell other kids about Jesus, invited kids home to the Bible study group my mother was hosting, volunteered at a nursing home where I told people about Jesus and warned my neighbors that the rapture was coming. I even rebuked a kid at school in the name of Jesus when he bullied me.
I mean, I thought I had done a lot. I thought I was saved. Now, Jesus wanted my head. All I could do was pray and pray and pray that the rapture would come before I had to have my head chopped off. I was so scared they were going to cut my head off..was it going to hurt, would it be bloody, would I hae to watch my sister get her head chopped off first...I couldn't get a straight answer either of how Christians would be left behind. I mean, would Jesus just forget to pick up some Christians? If they were Chrsitians in the first place, why would they get their heads chopped off. I had thought that the whole point of the rapture was that the Holy Spirit was leaving and you couldn't be a Christian. If that were true, then why were these people getting their heads chopped off. None of it made any sense and all of it was terrifying.
One time after watching the movie I came home from school and the house was locked. I panicked, I thought for sure the rapture had come and I was left behind...I knew what that meant..they were coming for my head.
I cried so hard. I prayed and repented a million times. I tried to think of all the terrible things I must have done for Jesus to leave me behind. I remember my mother pulled up in her car and mumbled something about me having to get a key.
I did get a key to the house because after that initial incident, there were many more instances of my sister and I coming home from school without her home. I don't know what she was doing or where she was going, but I assumed it was something holy...it had to be...she was such a good Christian martyr.
It was around this time that I started watching religious movies if I could find them on television. I had a hunger to learn just what the truth about this God was that I believed in. If he wanted to cut my head off and that was acceptable, what else was in store?
When I started learning about cults, I became even more terrified. I also was met with the realization that some people are involved in "bad" religion and need to be rescued. I remember after viewing the movie at church our pastor talked about how we needed to be prepared to make that kind of committment for Christ. It was just awful. Really. I mean, I loved Jesus and wanted to die for him, like He died for me, but I was terrifed about getting my head chopped off. I was shocked that there was no other way to avoid the great tribulation then to get raptured, or just die.
My religion suddenly became one that was full of fear and dread. I wanted to either die early to beat tribulation, or make certain I was perfect enough to be raptured. I thought maybe I could kill myself if I was left behind, but found out from a Catholic friend in school that was a certain way to go to hell. I felt trapped, but then thought maybe all the people talking about the rapture were like the cult members in the movie and needed to be deprogrammed.
So..to sum it up...these are a brief introduction to my religious upbrining and childhood fears from approximately the ages of 7-12. With my heavy focus on relgion, witnessing to kids, and continual questioning about whether my peers were saved, you can imagine that I didn't have many friends in school.
Of course there are many things that happen in a child's life at the age of 12, and I had many things going on. There were many factors that led up to my sudden removal from the household, but in retrospect, all I can say is thank God I was told to pack up my belongings in one suitcase, get to the car and driven back to my Grandmother and Aunt. Unfortunatley, there had been a lot of damage done to my psyche. Of course, from other perspectives, I was just a demon-possessed child (like my step-sister) and couldn't handle the wonderful, Christian environment in the home.
When I was brought back to Newton, Mass., I abandoned all the religious indoctrination I had been taught. I didn't follow it, had no desire to pick up a Bible and read it, or go to church.
I wanted to reinvent myself and take advantage of the new start in life I had been given, by returning to my old roots. It just felt so good to be home.
But it wasn't easy. Things were different. I was different. I had been emotionally abused. A teacher in the public school system had sexually abused me, I had dealt with bullying, isolation, depression, and while I was happy to be home, I missed my sisters. I was glad to be home, but at the same time, I didn't even get to say good-bye to my friends or even my sisters. I would find out later they were told I ran away.
I didn't run away.
Though that would come in the future.
I would soon be 13 and I was a mess. There was really no way for me to deal with any of the madness I endured. And, it's rather interesting to see how easily I put God and Jesus out of my mind. I felt that everything I had learned or was taught was a betrayal.
I actually concisously stated that I had given God a try and now I would give satan a chance at being my father. I felt that if everyone could lie so greatly about God, then they were most likely wrong about satan.
As you can imagine, my just writing this statement gives many in my family ample reason to justify their reasoning that I'm demon-possessed. Though I must say, whatever demon I'm possessed with must be the strongest in the world as no pastor, saint, or Christian martyr has been able to cast it out. Oops...looks like it's not a demon..just little old me...
Sorry folks...but looks like this one ain't going...
I was 13 years old and had a sudden, no-holds-barred approach to God, satan, religion, the supernatural. I wanted to learn it all, be exposed to it all and make my own choices.
Living in Newton, Massachusetts, I was exposed to a variety of relgions. I attended a Bat Mitzvah (which I thought was the coolest thing evah); attended CCD classes with friends, and had lenghty religious talks with friends who believed in withcraft, satanism, reincarnation, Catholicism, Judaism, wicca, and I think that's about it.
I had a friend who was heavily into psychics and I thought, "Hey, psychic..that sounds cool..I wonder if I could be psychic." I checked into it, but it didn't seem like something you could just teach yourself how to do...though, I must admit, some strange instances and coincidences have occurred over the years where people have said to me, "Are you psychic?" But to my best assessment, I'm not. But it is interesting that I've heard that enough times to make you take pause.
I practiced yoga religiously when I was 15 years old. I loved yoga. I didn't do much of the meditation, but really loved the breathing exercises, the "getting away from the world and tuning into my own body." I was later informed that my practicing yoga was opening the doorway to demon possession.
It didn't (and still doesn't) make sense to me how someone can stretch their back in a yoga pose and get "possessed" because they went to a yoga studio; or stretch their back in a yoga pose because their doctor told them to do an exercise and be okay. The majority of "exercises" used and recommended by the medical profession are basic yoga poses. Give me a break.
I'm going to do a neck roll and get demon possessed...okay. yeah. right. go ahead. here it i comes...must be that demon talking again, right...
My teen years were difficult. I hadn't assimilted back into my Grandmother and Aunt's house the way I imagined I would, and teen years are just tough to begin with; mine were extra difficult.
Everything that had happened to me was swept under the rug. There was no counseling when I moved in with my mother. No family therapy to help me adjust. It was just the wonderful world of Christianity and Holy Spirit 101 who magically solves all problems and saves from harm. The only problem is it didn't work.
I had issues when I was one and a half years old living with my Aunt after being abandoned! You can only imagine how many issues I had at 12. They didn't just go away.
From 12-15, I spent a lot of time as a run away. I can't even explain it. It wasn't like a conscious decision a child makes saying, "I'm going to run away from home."
The best way to describe it, is like an instinct. If you hit someone, they automatically flinch. It isn't a conscious decision. When a situation would arise that would prompt some sort of emotional response in me, I'd leave. There were times I walked out a door as if I were in a haze, not even aware of what I was doing, but just going because I had to get out of the situation; I had to change the scenery.
These were dangerous times for me. These years were the worst of my life. I hitchhiked across Massachusetts and one can only use his or her imagination to discern what type of situations I found myself in.
I can't even give an explanation for why I did it. Was it a subconscious suicide attempt? I had counselors who tried to "help me figure it out." Really, all I wanted was to be left alone. However; there were situations that occurerd during these years, that made me feel I had a guardian angel looking out for me. There were life and death situations that I'm still not sure how I escaped. There was a kidnapping, sexual assualts (notice the s) and things that seemed not only to me, but to others that I was "miraculously" spared.
I'm sure my mother would take the credit by saying it was "her prayers" that saved me...(people are always finding ways to take credit for anything God supposedly did...); but the experiences were enough to keep some faith in God alive in me.
I didn't completely feel that God was gone...nor do I feel that way now. I don't know what I am, but I'm certainly not an atheist.
But I certainly am not a Christian, either.
Well, that's enough for today. Maybe I'm blogging in a haphazard manner, but you know what, hey..this is my blog and I'll blog it any damn way I feel.
So, I'm going to leave this with my Christian and religious bacground experiences from infancty to the age of 15 when I became pregnant.
I'll blog in a more cohesive manner, maybe one day put up a timeline of my life. Maybe not.
This is what I feel like writing today, and I'm going to leave it here.
I'm also going to leave you with some wonderful (not) videos of cults and Christian propoganda that is especially good at terrororizing little children.