“Deconverting and My Attitude About Women”- The Pagan Pulpit

Happy Sol’s Day!

Announcements:

We don’t pray here – we figure God, the gods, goddesses, or whatever powers that be (if any) either know already, don’t give a fuck, or are busy with more important matters than our petty stuff. We also kind of assume that they expect us to do stuff that we can do for ourselves and that we will do them ourselves and not be lazy. We also believe in being good friends, so we don’t presume on our friendship with the powers that be by asking them all the time for stuff while giving them nothing in return.

We also don’t take an offering here.  We figure the powers that be probably don’t need it.  Let’s be honest, offerings are not given to the divine powers, they are given to an organization to support it.  Just being honest. God, the gods or whatever never sees a dime, farthing or peso of that money; it all goes to the church, mosque or shrine.

Theme Song: Nordic/Viking Music – ‘Víðbláinn’

Meditation:

Image may contain: possible text that says '"WheRever you know or harm, Regard that harm as youR own; and give youR roes no peace." --Odin, Havamal 127.'

Text: 

Sermon:

When I was a Christian minister I always had the dreaded sermons when going through certain books of the Bible where I had to talk about male and female roles, husband and wife roles and the status of women.  It was so patently obvious that the Bible is patriarchal to the extreme it is ridiculous.  Women have a status of somewhere above cattle but below men, Women are clearly seen as male property either of their father or their husband.   The laws regarding rape and adultery in the Bible are much more about protecting a man’s investment and property than the woman’s right to her body and mind.

When I deconverted, one of the things I had to struggle with at first and deal with often was my own attitude about women.  Not that my views as a Christian weren’t fairly liberal, it is that the environment of the church still tends to put women in their place.  Even my last church which was very open, there was an almost unwritten rule that women could not be ushers for the offering. It actually caused some buzzing when one Sunday we had no choice but to use one of the female members of the church council to do this task because most of the men were gone that Sunday.

When I look at this issue now as a pagan atheist. the respect of the individual regardless of sex, sexual orientation or identity becomes paramount. I have no authority that tells me that women are subservient to men nor tells me that men and women have different roles in society.  We tend certain natural directions if left to our own devices, but it is quite possible for women to be mechanics and men to be hairdressers and there is nothing wrong with that.  It also possible for a woman to be the head of her house because she is the best suited to lead it.

I am very much attracted to the female form and feminity in general as a heterosexual masculine male. Our survival as a species has depended on this attraction for millions of years. I have no problem with the LGBTQ+ community but recognize my own attractions and desires that seem natural to myself are what most of society would classify as ‘normal’.  I love women and I love femininity as a masculine male.  I like pin-up girls (of all types and levels of nudity), the female form still lights my sexual fire and I find the wild pagan tattooed rebel girl attractive as fuck.

At the same time, my deconversion thoughts have taught me to respect women as their own individuals that have the right to be in charge of their own destiny.  Their sexuality is their own and they make the decisions about it. If a woman makes love to you by her own choice, it means she chose it as much as you and that is the best type of making love.  But that is also true of any time men and women work together to accomplish a goal or engage an issue.  I want a partnership with women, not ones that are subservient simply because I have a dick.

I find though that my upbringing and former way of life have a way of intruding from time to time with old attitudes. Old ideas of how men and women are different’ spiritually’ come up from time to time. One by one I have to deal with them.  I guess if something comes up where I notice it, I try to meditate on it and change my brain about it. My goal is to let women be what they want to be and enjoy the ride.

Parting Thought:

 

I remain,

The Rabyd Skald – Wandering Soul, Bard, and Philosopher. The Grey Wayfarer.

Skaal!!!

“Revising the Ten Commandments – Part 1 – What Needs to Go” – The Rabyd Skald

Happy Sif’s Day

Well, we are coming to the end of the first year of The Grey Wayfarer and I thought I would do some things that are special for the final few days.  One thing I have been doing in my spare time is looking at videos of people revising the ten commandments from George Carlin to Atheists like Christopher Hitchens.  I have been thinking as my last public hurrah with being critical of Christianity (I am writing a book for publication on this, so from now on when I am a critic of my former faith, I expect to get paid for it), I should do the same. This will be in three parts:

Part 1 – What Needs to Go

Part 2 –  Positive Replacements

Part 3 –  Further Additions and Final Copy

The Ten Commandments are found in several places.  But I like Deuteronomy 5 the best:

# 1 – ‘I am the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. ‘You shall have no other gods before Me.

Well except this would have been a perfect time to abolish slavery in the whole of Israel as a testimony to its evil. It would have been symbolic of deliverance for the whole nation to be entirely free with no slavery at all. That does not happen as later commandments basically reaffirm slavery as legit and God’s people over and over to be slaves and bondslaves.  Bondslavery being condoned as a form of slavery where a person has Stockholm Syndrome so bad they wilfully become a lifelong slave.

In addition, this seems to be god trying to make people worship him instead of showing he is the only god and worthy of respect. It seems egotistical on god’s part and it is. More likely was written by a man who wanted his reign not to be questioned so he basically creates a God that is unassailable then says his reign it divinely appointed.  Yeah. goodbye.

#2 – You shall not make for yourself an idol or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth. You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, and on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing lovingkindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.

  1. This pretty much the most ignored command in all of the ten.  I mean go to any Catholic church.  But it goes much further than that – no creativity is allowed here which pretty much gets rid of creative thinkers.  Great way to keep people dumb and compliant.
  2. God is jealous but later calls jealousy a sin. No contradiction there.  Yeah, right.
  3. How is it just to punish children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren for crimes their parents committed. Talk about being a bully.  No standard of justice that is just would do this.  There is also no reverse promise that if one generation is faithful, then the children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren would be blessed.

Goodbye.

#3 – ‘You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not [j]leave him unpunished who takes His name in vain.

I have literally heard hundreds of interpretations of what this means. and none of them makes sense.  Of the commandments, it is the most nonsensical and controversial as far as meaning. Goodbye.

#4 – ‘Observe the sabbath day to keep it holy, as the Lord your God commanded you. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath of the Lord your God; in it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter or your male servant or your female servant or your ox or your donkey or any of your cattle or your sojourner who stays with you, so that your male servant and your female servant may rest as well as you. You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God brought you out of there by a mighty hand and by an outstretched arm; therefore the Lord your God commanded you to observe the sabbath day.

Sounds good on the surface until you read the whole of all the sabbath laws and realize this is more about draconian totalitarian control than rest. One guy is literally killed for gathering sticks on the Sabbath. How is that eye for an eye? More like a scratch being punished by a stick to the eye. Interestingly enough Jesus does contradict this command and it is the only one the disciples and Jesus break even though he tells everyone that not one jot or tittle will pass from the law. Due to conflicting observation and overkill in punishment – Goodbye

#5 – ‘Honor your father and your mother, as the Lord your God has commanded you, that your days may be prolonged and that it may go well with you on the land which the Lord your God gives you.

You have to ask yourself if the man who wrote this had an ironic tone as the punishment, for being a rebellious kid, was death, and it would be your parents that killed you  ‘Days might be prolonged’ indeed. Talk about training for someone to be an abject slave to their rulers, you don’t get better than this.  The potential for abuse is strong in this one as I have seen it firsthand.

If a parent wants honor they should earn it by being a good parent and quite frankly not demand it because of position but earn it by their character. You chose to have children so you are responsible for them.  You shouldn’t have them simply to have servants.  Goodbye.

#6 – ‘You shall not murder. 

Finally, one we can keep. But every law code has this idea and quite frankly it seems to be what we would call – ‘Duh’. I am glad it doesn’t stop all killing as perhaps someday a just war will be fought and self-defense should have killing allowed.

#7 – ‘You shall not commit adultery.

I am going to say what a lot of other commentators say on this one.  There wasn’t something you could have put here that was a more significant issue?  Like, say you should not have a slave or another bigger issue.

The punishment is pretty severe here too – death.  From painful experience, I can say adultery has its own consequences that are quite sufficient. Another case of “How is this eye for an eye?”  Goodbye.

# 8 – ‘You shall not steal.

Another one that is quite frankly – Duh and no real revelation. Law codes older than this one has this in it.  Plagiarism at its finest.

# 9 – You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

Somewhat ahead of its time but not completely as it seems we have another ‘duh’ command here.  Lying to get an innocent person in trouble seems to be self evidently wrong.  Funny how the three I have kept either don’t require a divine entity to tell you them because it is obvious they are good, or that they seem to be in other law codes before this one already.

#10 – ‘You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, and you shall not desire your neighbor’s house, his field or his male servant or his female servant, his ox or his donkey or anything that belongs to your neighbor.’

What could be more Orwellian and totalitarian than thought crimes?  The second commandment makes you give up creative thought and this one makes you give up thoughts of any kind of desire.  Making you content with your lot in life even though it sucks.

It is also misogynist as fuck.  ‘Wives as possessions’ is so hot in the bible and the Law of Moses in particular. Property, not people – women equal to cattle is implied.  Goodbye.

We have THREE Survivors:

‘You shall not murder.

‘You shall not steal.

‘You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

So the ones with the moral equivalent of ” Duh, No Shit.” made it.

Hmm.  Need to replace seven of these bad boys. In Part Two we will do that.

I remain,

The Rabyd Skald – Wandering Soul, Bard, and Philosopher. The Grey Wayfarer.

Skaal!!!

“Objections to Christianity – The Justice of the Biblical God – An Unbalanced Scale” – Part 4 – (Revised August 2019) – Odin’s Eye – Theological Objections to Christianity

Happy Thor’s Day.  

August 2019 Revision Notes:

It has been almost a year since I wrote these originally starting in November of 2018.  When I got to the rotation in Odin’s Eye the last time where I was going to deal with these objections again, I saw no need for revision but rather simply laid it out there that no one had responded to them to that date and moved on into the rest of the Rotation for Odin’s Eye. 

This time though I feel that I need to spend four weeks of Odin’s Eye doing some revisions that will either clarify my position, add some other thoughts or edit for other issues.  Such edits will be marked by italics.  When archived, they will appear under the original post on this Page: My Four Theological Objections to Christianity

 Mostly though this is a cut and paste with some revisions. As the series goes on there will be more revisions as I can see the need for things to change a bit in the other three objections.

In part four, I felt the need to add a few paragraphs for hopefully a clearer explanation. But also there are some additional arguments that trouble me about the whole afterlife thing with Christianity. I also completely rewrote my conclusions. 

Introduction:

I am wrapping up my four main theological objections to Christianity with the simple but profound fact that the god of the Bible is very suspect in as far as whether or not he is just and acts with justice. I would go so far to say that the god of the Bible does not follow his own clearly stated guidelines for justice – 1) “Eye for eye, tooth for a tooth” and 2) Restitution Included. Namely that the punishment should fit the crime and that restitution when merited should be offered.  This is the standard of justice found in the Torah or Law of Moses. Jesus of Nazareth takes this on in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5-7 pointing out that the principles of justice were still valid and in fact because things should be done for the love of God, they were even more challenging.  God expects Christians to still be just and follow his principles of justice. The issue is: does the god of the Bible follow his own rules.  I would say not.

Faith:

From a standpoint of my own faith, the biblical god’s justice, and in particular the doctrine of Hell, has always been a problem.  My standard answer throughout my days as a pastor to others that asked was that the justice of God was a mystery.  That someday, we would know it all and see that this god was just to send people to hell.  Even if they were people who we loved and who this god claimed to love. But it was more than that as some of the stories of god executing justice were a little lacking justice themselves.

Job’s trial is a good example where God allows the Devil to kill all of Job’s children and servants save a few and does it simply to test Job to see if he will remain faithful.  The Biblical god’s answer of – “I am god, that’s why.” is a little lacking in reasoning for a supreme being for one and the whole situation is lacking in compassion not just for Job but for all the people slain for another.  They all lived and died simply to satisfy a bet between the Devil and the almighty is a little much to reconcile with the idea of God is love.  Stuff like this definitely tests your faith and it should.

Religion:

The thing is most religious responses to the justice of God dilemma is either to cite ‘mystery’ (read – I don’t have a  reasonable answer, so I am going to punt) or our ignorance.  Simply put they both attempt to give a god a different standard of justice than we follow.  How convenient, but also telling that we cannot even use the standard of justice of ‘eye for an eye’ with the biblical god. The very standard that this god gives, he does not follow.

The fact that I used to come up with this double standard for god myself bothered me for years when I realized that is what I was doing.  A standard of justice is only viable if it is evenly applied to all.  It should be logical and consistent enough that it CAN be applied to all without exception. We have learned not to tolerate double standards between those that lead and those that follow, so why here?  Why does this god of the Bible get a free pass for being hypocritical?

Religion does its damnedest to keep us from seeing this, and it does it by trying to make God so high his different standard of justice is justified.  It sounds like a ruling religious class seeking to justify why they can impose rules on others that they don’t have to follow themselves.  After all, they are ‘men of God’ and so as Cardinal Richelieu points out in the Three Musketeers movie in 1993 – “The Cardinal is not subject to the laws of men”.  Easy to justify if you create a different standard of justice for your god and you then say you are subject to that standard, not the standard of men.

Theology:

But the Biblical God fails theologically and it comes out best in the doctrine of Hell and final judgment.  Everything we will do is in a short temporal time of existence but everything about the final judgment of the god of the Bible is eternal.  In short, this god is going to punish us in a way that is eternal and permanent for our behavior in temporal and non-permanent existence.  This includes annihilation and eternal punishment views.  The only thing that might save Christianity here as far as theology is actually the idea of purgatory where the punishment is redemptive and non-permanent.  But even here there is a postulate that punishment can last centuries compared to the shortness of life.

So being burned like the rich man is said to be burned is somehow eye for eye and tooth for a tooth?  In that story, the rich man is burned not because he defied god but because he had a good life and Lazarus was rewarded because he had suffered in life.  Go look at the story (Luke 16) yourself, this is the rationale that is given.  So because a guy had it good he is punished with burning fire?  How is this eye for an eye? Justice would have been to have the two trade places for a second life, not that he is burned for a long time.

There is little justice in this story, just a god who on the one hand in the Old Testament tells people who prosperity is a sign of God’s blessing and then turning around and saying though that if you do become prosperous, the biblical God is going to burn you as punishment for it.  In a full analysis of the biblical account not only are there many accounts where god’s justice is a little suspect but where he violates the very rules he sets forward because he gets jealous or angry. Like the other mythologies, the biblical god is very human and reflects probably more of the attitude of the author of that particular passage than the almighty that actually might exist.

More troubling to me recently in August of 2019 is the fact that no theology of damnation other than purgatory by the Catholics, and even then it only works for Catholics, allows people who gain heaven to appeal for those that they love in Hell for God to be merciful.  I have to ask what kind of compassion anyone has that would allow their loved one to burn for all eternity?  I mean if someone I love like my children or grandparents were in the eternal lake of fire and I knew this, I would have enough compassion on them to be in front of God every single moment of eternity begging for his mercy for them. How can you even say you have a compassionate heart if you believe that your fellow human beings are going to be burned forever and ‘that’s just the way it is.”

But that brings up a question of God’s mercy.  Could you burn one of your children, parents, friends, etc. with fire forever simply because they violated your rules or didn’t believe something you told them?  For me, that is definitely a ‘no’.  My love for them far exceeds my desire for them to be under my control and doing things as I wish or that they absolutely believe me.  If that is true for me, why is God then an unmerciful bastard about this? How is it that he the God that IS Love, has less compassion for some of his children than me? Perhaps because he is a concoction of men who were in power that desired to control through fear? Yeah, I would bet that is it. 

Spirituality:

See the source image

For me personally, I come back to the quote I have used before.  If the god or gods are just then they will judge us based on the virtues we lived by.  If they are not just, then they do not deserve to be served.  If there are no gods then, we should live in such a way as to be fondly remembered. I worry less about an afterlife; because regardless, it is this life I must live either way.  I choose to live based on virtue because, in the end, it is all I really have.  My own personal responsibility for the life I live is mine alone. Cue Robert Heinlein.

See the source image

Conclusion:

I will revisit these objections in the future with other thoughts.  For now, if anything, these objections have gotten stronger and more detailed and still form a bedrock of why I think not only is Christianity a bad Idea, but I am now convinced it is largely a fraud. I would also contend that it has been used, much like Islam and Judaism as well, to deceive, control and manipulate others. 

The most troubling thing to me is I know many Chrisitan friends and former friends have read these and you know what?  Crickets. Silence. My eternal fate is not so important that they would even try to answer.  Perhaps the real truth is that these objections have no answer and the basically constitute the god Yahweh to the rest of mythology and as another concoction of men and his flaws simply are a reflection of their thoughts about him being flawed. Because they had flawed standards of justice and ulterior motives, the God they created’s execution of justice reflects this. 

It also speaks to the real beliefs of Christians.  I know for a fact, that many do not actually believe. I was minister for 20 years and I lost track of the number of people in my churches who when questioned, basically had done one of the following: 1) They had picked and chosen what parts of Chrisitan doctrine or the Bible they liked and discarded the rest.  2) They didn’t really actually believe anything, they just went along with it for the community and to keep family happy. When questioned further, it all came back to one of what I call my four objections in some form as to why they didn’t believe or what they had chosen to discard.  It for all of them had basically become tradition, not real faith or spirituality. 

This to me now is the most damaging thing – why have spirituality in your life that is not genuine?  Why do you have a part of your life basically be a fraud? Would it not be better to be truly honest with yourself about where you are spiritually speaking?  It is my four objections that started me on the path to honest spiritual reflection and being truly who I am.  I am now better for it and a better person in many respects.  Mostly, I have stopped being a liar.  This is the first real step down the path to finding truth.

I remain,

The Rabyd Skald – Wandering Soul, Bard, and Philosopher. The Grey Wayfarer.

Skaal!!!

“Objections to Christianity – Part 3 – The Cross and Empty Tomb – An Imaginary Solution to an Imaginary Problem”(Revised August 2019) – Odin’s Eye

 

Happy Thor’s Day

August 2019 Revision Notes:

It has been almost a year since I wrote these originally starting in November of 2018.  When I got to the rotation in Odin’s Eye the last time where I was going to deal with these objections again, I saw no need for revision but rather simply laid it out there that no one had responded to them to that date and moved on into the rest of the Rotation for Odin’s Eye. 

This time though I feel that I need to spend four weeks of Odin’s Eye doing some revisions that will either clarify my position, add some other thoughts or edit for other issues.  Such edits will be marked by italics.  When archived, they will appear under the original post on this Page: My Four Theological Objections to Christianity

 Mostly though this is a cut and paste with some revisions. As the series goes on there will be more revisions as I can see the need for things to change a bit in the other three objections. In part three, I felt the need to add a few paragraphs for hopefully a clearer explanation. 

Introduction:

I know I will probably get a reaction out of this one and I am not trying to be provocative.  I am simply trying to get people to see the logical problems of Salvation through Christ.  Once you dismiss sin as a made-up concept, you could say that it is really unnecessary to go after ‘God’s’ solution to the problem, but the whole of Christianity revolves around Christ’s work on the cross and the resurrection to save people from sin and from eternal damnation. You might say it is the core doctrine no matter what flavor of Christianity you live by so it deserves some attention.

For the sake of argument, let’s concede sin is real. Then does the solution the Bible presents God has for it make any sense? 

Faith:

Of course, the first thing that can be said is each flavor of Christianity stakes out is how said salvation is achieved with Christ.  The faith versus works controversy starts right away in the first century. James and Paul go at it right in the Bible.  Now I heard multiple explanations from both Protestants and Catholics of why James and Paul are not arguing about the same thing really but they practically quote each other with only one variation.  One says salvation in Christ cannot be of works so no one can boast, and the other one says that without works it is impossible to show faith. No matter how you logically try to get them to be ‘defending the same salvation only from different directions”; it is contradictory.  One is saying that works have nothing to do with salvation, and the other is saying it does.

So what this really shows is that even in the Bible and among early Christians, they had disputes and disagreements about how this works and thus it points to the Bible not being inspired by God, so much as it records those early debates among the faithful about how salvation worked.  That makes the Bible very human and also not the Word of God because if God had actually wanted to tell us how this works; because it seems it would be the most important thing for us to know, he would have made it plain, straightforward and quite frankly non-contradictory.

Religion:

Of course, every flavor of Christianity goes even further with specifics and added on things to the doctrine of salvation in Christ.  The Catholic Church plain out tells you that you can only be saved from death through them and no one else.  Many Protestant denominations will tell you the same.  My former denomination would tell people that they had the whole gospel, not just part of it.  Salvation is complicated by religion because religion seeks to use these ideas to keep people grateful and faithful for telling those people their version of ‘the truth’.

In the end, I would say that each variation of salvation through Christ is presented in a way that helps the group presenting it.  It is done to layout their other doctrinal tenants so their way of thinking about God is central to it all, and thus gives a theological force to everything they believe. Of course, this gives religion the guilt and punishment/reward options it needs to manipulate people. 

Theology:

Religion aside though, my objections are theological – what kind of God do we have, who claims to be merciful and loving, but demands for his followers to be forgiving without condition, but doesn’t do so himself?  It also brings up the question of the ability to forgive in that we are expected to forgive each other without condition because we can, even as sinners. Yet, a holy God can’t simply forgive without sacrificing his only begotten son in one of the cruelest ways ever devised by man.  He must have this sacrifice or he cannot forgive at all, and I must have faith in it and the resurrection or he will not forgive me specifically.  Worse yet if I don’t forgive others as a Christian, he won’t forgive me. He can choose to not forgive others and still be a holy God, but if I don’t forgive, I cannot be saved?  So I, as a ‘sinner’, have not only a greater expectation than my creator; but also I am more capable because I can do this forgiveness without conditions, but he cannot?

This bit of ‘logic’ pales in comparison to the fact that in order to forgive us he must sacrifice himself to himself, to appease himself to save us from himself. See the problem? Well Ed, what if then the whole doctrine of salvation as it currently stands is man-made and that isn’t the real doctrine of salvation God wanted? How then would we ever know the real one? It seems a little too confusing for something so important as eternal life.  My response that the current one is man-made? – exactly, and that is probably true from the start of Christianity to where it actually stands today.   It seems to me that this idea is just as man-made because a supreme being could have come up with the simple plan to just forgive people. As Jesus is praying in the garden “if it is possible, let this cup pass from me” we would see the opening up the heavens and God saying -“You know what, I have a better plan – let’s just forgive people like I expect them to forgive each other.” That would be just, logical and consistent.

There is also another theological side issue – How much of a sacrifice is it really for Jesus if he knows for certain (which he indicates three times in the gospels) that he will rise from the dead?  Honestly, if he knew that and most people who have faith believe he did and the text certainly seems to indicate he did, then it isn’t that big of a sacrifice? He knows he is not going to ultimately be dead in the end; so why not do it, as there is no ultimate risk to him?  In the end, Jesus is risking nothing himself as God, just going through the inconvenience of temporal suffering.  Why? To make a point? What point would that be, when there is nothing actually sacrificed in the end? He lives and knows he is going to live so why the anguish?

Spirituality:

I guess this leaves me with the question from a spiritual point of view as to what salvation is? Or does it?  I mean, if there is no such thing as sin, there is no need to be saved from it. Of course, then I could be left with the question of what the real divine reality might expect from me?  I guess the only thing then is to live a good life regardless of what that divine reality might be. Marcus Aurelius rightly observes, in my opinion, this in his famous quote on the good life.

See the source image

Of course, you are kind of left to things yourself as to define what virtues you will live by to attain that good life. In short, what is defined as a good life is left to you.

Conclusion:

The implications of losing the whole notion of sin and a need for salvation have been very liberating. There is no guilt or shame in my heart or mind at all these days.  I do try every day to be a better man than I was the day before. This, I have found is a far better way to live. 

Better yet, is discarding the notion of a loving God who also sends people he loves to hell.  Because the god of the Bible seems to have some major issues with justice, but that is the subject of the next post.  

I remain,

The Rabyd Skald – Wandering Soul, Bard, and Philosopher. The Grey Wayfarer.

Skaal!!!

“Objections to Christianity – Part 2 – Sin: An Imaginary Man-Made Problem” (Revised August 2019) – Odin’s Eye – Theological Objections to Christianity

Happy Thor’s Day

August 2019 Revision Notes:

It has been almost a year since I wrote these originally starting in November of 2018.  When I got to the rotation in Odin’s Eye the last time where I was going to deal with these objections again, I saw no need for revision but rather simply laid it out there that no one had responded to them to that date and moved on into the rest of the Rotation for Odin’s Eye. 

This time though I feel that I need to spend four weeks of Odin’s Eye doing some revisions that will either clarify my position, add some other thoughts or edit for other issues.  Such edits will be marked by italics.  When archived, they will appear under the original post on this Page: My Four Theological Objections to Christianity

 Mostly though this is a cut and paste with some revisions. As the series goes on there will be more revisions as I can see the need for things to change a bit in the other three objections. In part two, I felt the need to add a few paragraphs for hopefully a clearer explanation. 

Introduction:

My loss of faith really started here.  I can actually go back to a message I was preaching on sin and salvation through Christ and the fact this quote from Dan Barker from Losing Faith in Faith ( a book I still want to read) was rolling around in my head.  I was trying to think of something that would make his assertion wrong.  I got up preached the message and sat down.  I can site this moment as the time my crisis of faith began. I realized he was right.

I realized there is no proof that sin rationally exists.  I only believed that because that was what I was told by a preacher and read it in the Bible.  Unless the Bible was truly inspired, then I had no natural or logical proof that there was this thing called sin, a sinful nature or my actions were righteous or sinful. God Himself had never come down and told me I was a sinner, that was men either in the form of preachers or the men who wrote the Bible.  Over time, I began to realize that sin has the same problem as the inspiration of the Bible – the Bible asserts it but never proves it.

Going back to my pulpit moment, I sat there thinking and my faith started to unravel.  I sat there thinking: “I make a living by telling people they are sinners so they will feel guilty, then they accept the ‘gospel’ and feel better.  Out of gratitude they throw money in the basket and pay me. WTF.”  It was a bad moment for me, and one that led to my eventual downfall over two years later.

Faith:

If you are a believer you take the existence of sin as purely a matter of faith.  Basically, if you believe that sin exists, you do it for the same reasons you believe the Bible is inspired.  You have faith it is true – you hope and believe it is true, but you do not have a proof or a rational argument to say it is true.  The Bible writers assume sin is real and a problem.  They never prove it, and the believer is left to take that sin exists as a reality and that God has solved it.  You believe all that without rational evidence.  It is purely a matter of faith.

Now I want to emphasize that this does not disprove sin’s existence, but it puts on the same plane as believing in a lot of things that we believe exist but have no proof of.  The issue then is should we order our lives on faith in the idea that man is sinful, or go based on our own observations of human nature and conclude that if anything we can have faith in the fact that all human beings are human. 

Religion:

I now think that sin is a man-made concept.  It probably originally. like so many things might have had a good intention.  To keep people from making bad decisions given the cultural context.  I mean sex without birth control and modern medicine can lead to deadly diseases and unwanted pregnancies. So you tell people not to have sex except with people they are committed to and get married to so the child will be legitimate. The practical side of this is the lessened risk of STDs and unwanted pregnancies. It is a wise course of action.

When just showing the wisdom of this to others doesn’t work, you throw in the wrath of God to bring about a more forceful form of persuasion – tell them it’s a sin against God and He will bring down his wrath on the one who sins.  This is where you make up the concept that sexual sin is an affront to God and he will send you to hell if you don’t repent of it and stop doing it.  It is ultimately a fear tactic that uses guilt to prevent certain behaviors.

The dark side of this gets worse though as people genuinely think they’re taking the side of God when the punish sinners.  The real problem with sin is that some people think they have risen above the concept of it.  They feel qualified to judge others using their religious beliefs. It gets worse because the said concept can be held by people in power who wish to impose their views on people to create a ‘righteous society’.  To force others to follow your moral code of some behaviors being sin and thus outlawed. The problem is the difficulty using reason to prove something is a sin.  It’s not self-evident.

Theology:

I don’t believe in sin as a theological concept anymore. I think in large part it is a bad one because all it does is produce guilt and then in a guilt-ridden state people can be manipulated.  I haven’t looked at this fully but I have a theory a large part of religious people have a poor self-concept and that is because they have a large amount of guilt associated with their ‘sins’.  This leads them to think they are bad or even evil people and the cycle of self-destruction begins.  You spend a lot of time putting on masks at that point to protect yourself from the social wrath of being a sinner while at the same time being wracked with guilt because you can’t seem to escape your sin. If it sounds like I have been there – yep.  I would say a lot of my initial causes of depression came from this struggle.  Yes, I am saying that religion, particularly the Christian notion of sin,  may have has a great deal of influence in causing my depressive issues.

My theology about mankind has certainly changed since I discarded man as a sinner.  I don’t think of myself as a sinner but simply a human being. I am not all-powerful, all-knowing or all-present; so I am going to make mistakes and there is really nothing I can do about it. I have needs that are normal.  Wants that are normal.  I have my reason and wisdom to guide me. I am not perfect and I make mistakes and have errors in judgment, but that doesn’t mean I am a sinner, just human. To me, life is no longer about overcoming sin and removing it from my life.  Rather, it is about discovering the virtue in me and causing it to grow. And there is a virtue in who I am as a human being if I look for it and develop it.  It’s about growing into the best human being I can be.

Note: Unlike the atheist, I have not discarded the idea of a spiritual side to mankind at all, but rather I am saying that sin is not something I believe is real about it.  Humanity is more complicated than he is all bad or all good. 

Spirituality:

This is why spiritually speaking I spend more time meditating on the Nine Noble Virtues as a way to learn where I need to grow. I am not trying to get rid of sin out of my life, praying that God is gracious, etc. I have come to see some things as normal and human, not sinful.  My goal now is to build character, not remove sin because I think sin is a made up imaginary concept.  I meditate on the good things, not the bad things.  I grow the good in me, rather than trying to deny my humanity by calling it sinful. I find it makes me much happier and far more at ease in this world.

One good example of this is my changing attitudes about sex and sexual desire. I feel sexual desire is normal in humanity and it is normal to feel a sexual desire toward a lot of different people.  Lust is made up to me unless you are using the term to describe passionate sexual desire which is neither good nor bad. What might be a factor in sexual desires is wisdom and reason saying that not all sexual interaction is beneficial. Some of it could be detrimental.  The real issue is that sex in and of itself is not sinful in any form. Enjoy, but be smart and wise. 

In my case, sexual fidelity is part of my marriage because that is the oath I swore as a Chrisitan that I still honor. If it wasn’t, having sex with another woman would not necessarily be a violation of fidelity as there is no sin to it, but one might challenge my wisdom.  Like it or not people get jealous and envious and that can lead to relationship issues. There are also cultural expectations to consider which do have an effect on how a person is perceived. This is not about sin anymore is the point, but rather what effects it might have on relationships and troth issues may or may not be affected depending on the specific nature of oaths of fidelity. 

Conclusion:

After concluding that the Bible is a human book with no proof of inspiration and the sin is a concept made up by the writers of the Bible.  There are only two things left on my four objections to Christianity.  The first is the other imaginary thing the Bible creates which is the solution to sin being Salvation in Christ and finally, the god of the Bible seems to have very suspect standards of justice.

The Rabyd Skald – Wandering Soul, Bard, and Philosopher. The Grey Wayfarer.

Skaal!!!

“Objections to Christianity – Part 1 – The Bible’s Inspiration by God” (Revised August 2019) – Odin’s Eye – Theological Objections to Christianity.

Happy Thor’s Day

August 2019 Revision Notes:

It has been almost a year since I wrote these originally starting in November of 2018.  When I got to the rotation in Odin’s Eye the last time where I was going to deal with these objections again, I saw no need for revision but rather simply laid it out there that no one had responded to them to that date and moved on into the rest of the Rotation for Odin’s Eye. 

This time though I feel that I need to spend four weeks of Odin’s Eye doing some revisions that will either clarify my position, add some other thoughts or edit for other issues.  Such edits will be marked by italics.  When archived, they will appear under the original post on this Page: My Four Theological Objections to Christianity

 Mostly though this is a cut and paste with some revisions. As the series goes on there will be more revisions as I can see the need for things to change a bit in the other three objections.  In this one, however, the objective remains pretty much the same. 

Introduction:

I want to state upfront, this is a long post. I want to be complete as possible in stating this objection and the ones that follow.  Mostly as I will state later that I for a long time wanted answers; I still do.  It was hard leaving my faith because I wanted so desperately to believe. Reason itself eventually prevailed and I will stand by that decision.   The reason I am putting a lot of words into this is that I still would accept answers: if they could be proven rationally that Christianity is the true religion.

I have written on my crisis of faith a couple of times. Despite some people’s assertion that this was due to personal events, it actually started in 2015 with my second objection which is that I think ‘sin’ is a man-made up concept.  It started when I preached a message about sin and I had heard a quote that week from a critic of Christianity that basically said sin was made up and that because of it Christianity solves a problem of its own making.

I will get into this moment in more detail in my second objection post, but it got me rethinking everything in the light of skepticism and I began to form four theological objections for which I still have no satisfactory answers. While the sin question got my original thinking going, it is this first question involving the Bible and divine inspiration that forms the foundation of the other three.

Now, I want to state for the record that I am no amateur when it comes to the Bible or Theology.  1) I have degrees in both Biblical Studies (BA) and Theological Studies (MA).  2) I am a ‘professional’ theologian and have been since 1996.  3) I was a Christian from the time I was eight and as I approach my 50th birthday that would have been close it forty-two years. 4) I was a pastor (now retired) for twenty years and have spent many years since school studying the Bible and engaging theological questions.  5) I have had several crisis moments in my theology and up until two to three years ago I could answer them all or found ways to explain them.  Not anymore.

I will also say I am not hostile to Christians, I get it.  It took me a long time to face the facts of the objections I will present in this series. I still am open to anything that answers them.  My largest problem when I discuss this is people sometimes get offended because I seem to be very aggressive, but I am not really doing that, just being as honest as I can.  People don’t always like it when you ask questions that are hard about what they believe. Cognitive dissonance is a real thing, so I get.  Understand I am not being hostile to your faith if you have it.  I am just being hostile to mine or what mine used to be. That’s because I take as a central core idea that if the God of the Bible is the real god and the Bible is inspired by him, then it should make sense and have rational proof this is so.

Faith:

Bottom Line, faith is trusting in something that you have no evidence for and that is the problem.  You hope it is true and you believe it is true, but you don’t know it is true. This is particularly true for many church doctrines and one of the most notable is the divine inspiration of scripture.  The reason I can say this is no matter what school of thought you follow in looking at inspiration, there is no evidence that God came down and inspired the Bible.  You simply have to believe the simple statement “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God.”  There is no attempt to prove this, just a statement of fact that the reader must simply accept.

An example is probably in order:

“The Rabyd Skald’s writings are inspired by the god Odin.  Everything he writes comes straight from the mouth of the god Odin.” 

You say ridiculous.  I ask why?  You say because I simply have made an assertion and have offered no proof that what I say is true. I want to tell you the Bible does the exact same thing with the exact same level of proof that God came down and directly inspired the writers of the Bible – none. It’s pure faith, no evidence even from the Bible itself.  The Bible writers simply assert this; they never prove it.

Religion:

Looking at the doctrine of inspiration historically, once again we have no proof of the inspiration of Scripture by God, just the creation of the doctrine of inspiration and various councils of men deciding which books are inspired.  There is no record of God coming down and saying – “these books are my inspired word.” Just groups of men doing that.  That is what you actually see.

It stands to reason that religions do this.  In the end, you need a common core of beliefs and authority and it is far easier to make a group of writings do that because it has a greater chance of standing the test of time.  Especially if you inject a tradition of copying and transcribing these books from one generation to the next. Even in this though, two problems develop. 1) People abuse the authority of said books and can twist their meaning and 2) the transcription of said books can be flawed.

The second brings up an additional inspiration question which is: ‘Is the Bible still inspired even though people have put mistakes into it and changed it from one language to the next where meaning is going to get changed?’  The human factors are definitely present in the Bible.  Does that undermine inspiration or simply point to the fact that the Bible is a wholly human book? Because we don’t really have proof God is involved, are we just making up the whole divine inspiration thing in order to make this human book have more significance?

Theology:

I spent a great deal of time and digital ink pouring over this question of inspiration.  On my blog All Things Rabyd (which is still there although no longer active)  I spent nine posts looking at the various theories of divine inspiration.  You can find the link to all of them here. I eventually settled on Dynamic Inspiration as the best possible explanation to handle the human element of the bible.  That much like the doctrines of Christ state Jesus was 100% God and 100% Man, so was the bible the same way.  It satisfied me for a while but there was a fatal flaw in the whole thing.

The flaw? I still had no proof positive that the 100% divine inspiration part was real.  There is no photograph of God reaching into the head of Paul or Moses inspiring them to write things.  I mean you could say God is the inspiration for the Bible like a person might be inspired to write about nature from being outside. There is however no proof that God took an active hand in telling the authors what to write or how to write it.  That is purely a matter of whether you believe that or not.  It really is blind faith when you consider that particular question.

Spirituality: 

I will probably handle other objections involving scripture at a later date.  My purpose today is to get the main parts of my first objection to Christianity out there.  The question always comes – do I still read the Bible and what value do I place on it?  Well, yes I do.  I value it in that it contains a lot of ‘truth’ small ‘t’.  I just don’t think it’s the Truth with a capital ‘T‘.  Rather a lot of men wrote about their sincere belief in God.  God inspired them in that way and they wrote but in the end, it was human inspiration ABOUT the divine.  It was not God coming down and whispering in their ear what to write, no matter what their claims.

It also, because it is a human book and not divine to me, contains a lot of Bull Shit and spiritual opinion by ancient authors which may or may not be valid.  You still have to use a lot of judgment in looking at the Bible because if some of it is objectively true then the god of the Bible becomes at times both inconsistent and a sadistic tyrant.   

For me, I still draw a lot of inspiration from the Bible.  Some of its stories are great.  It has men wrestling with the question about God.  Some of the teachings of Christ are some of the best on human relationships you will ever see.  That said, it is only one avenue of being inspired, not the only one and it is a very human book.  In short, it has its flaws, and I think some of the morality it promotes could be questioned as to whether it actually does good or not.

Conclusion:

When the doctrine of inspiration goes, then you can look at the Bible objectively.  This caused me to really realize the god of the Bible has a few problems.  1) Sin seems to be made up as a concept and used to control the behavior of people 2) The plan of salvation God comes up with does not speak well of supreme being because it makes God both sadistic and masochistic. 3) God’s justice seems a little suspect especially when you consider final judgment.

The Rabyd Skald – Wandering Soul, Bard, and Philosopher. The Grey Wayfarer.

Skaal!!!

“Year Ago Retrospect (Part 3) – My Marriage – The Rabyd Skald – The Grey and The Wayfarer – Part 18

Happy Wooden’s (Odin) Day.

Warning: To my family and friends, this one is going to be as truthful as the old Rabyd Microphone so be advised.  Mostly I feel the need to write this series for therapeutic reasons.  This also a long post so be prepared to give it some time. 

This is part three of a Year Ago Retrospect. These are going to take the place of my normal journal posts this week in a mini-series:

Click Here for Part 1 

Click Here for Part 2

An additional disclaimer might be necessary here – I am talking very openly about my feelings and struggles I have had and am having with my marriage. Two things: 1) My wife and I are in the process of rebuilding things and, given recent experience, are painfully aware of the weaknesses in our marriage. That said we are working on it but both of us are no longer naive enough to believe that things will always be cool without working on them. 2) I am not going to speak for my wife’s feelings on things currently.  That would be rude and presumptuous on my part to do that, but I am going to be very open about mine.  This is about sorting things out in my head, not looking for excuses or reason to call it quits.  It is more an honest assessment of the situation, so I can move forward.

A little background.  We have been married for 30 years now.  It almost wasn’t 30 years. My wife and I have known each other since we were children, we dated on and off through middle school and high school.  In early 1989, we got back together and in February of that same year, I proposed to her.  We got married that June on the 10th.  From that time on our life has been basically revolving around two things: 1) Our lives as a pastor and his wife and 2) Our children.  We always talked early on about how we wanted a few kids early so later in life we could spend more time enjoying each other but life began and slowly these two things dominated our lives.

Through the years we were pastor and wife through four churches and we raised our kids.  The last one graduated in 2011 and that is when the seeds of our troubles really began.  Mostly, I guess my expectations that we would do more together felt a little short-changed. It was one of those moments when you are done focusing on the kids and you look at this person you have been with and go – who are you again?  I would say to any couple that hits an empty nest stage, even if you think you are in good shape – go get a marriage check-up with a counselor.  There are probably things that have been unsaid while you have been raising the kids that need to be said now as it turns back into the two of you.

For me, things started south at about the same time I started school in 2015.   I know I wasn’t supported in that decision by my wife.  It bothered me because I was facing the reality of the fact that the church was never going to support me so that retirement was an option.  I was basically going to have to stay preaching until they put me in a box and to be honest, that image did not appeal to me.  The thing is my wife and I had drifted by that point because even though the kids had grown up she kept injecting herself into their lives. At the time I felt that if I was a priority on my wife’s list it was down near the bottom and I didn’t feel at all supported as I tried to do something to make a better life for us now that the kids were gone.

Over the next three years, a gap began to develop between us.  It became pretty much church, the kid’s life, and other small talk items. As someone who hates small talk, this began to drive me nuts. As early as 2016 I began to think about divorce because from my perspective it seemed our marriage worked great for her but it sucked for me. Throw in at that point a lost faith and frustration with the Dirty Pig and his control of the church and my mind is pretty much in a very dark place about the whole thing.

As I have said before in this series, my plan was to finish school, get a new job, resign from the church and file for divorce.  I wasn’t going to provide a better life for someone who hadn’t been supportive and didn’t seem to care that from a financial point of view we were in the middle third quarter of our life and down by 35.  Time to get off the bench and put up some financial offense.  My view was if she wasn’t going help with that, I needed to either play on my own or find a new teammate.

My affair with Miss Salty accelerated my departure from the church and it also caused the troubles in our marriage to be brought to the forefront.   My wife and I spent the next three months separated including our 29th anniversary.  We had a couple conversations and the same problem presented itself from my end.  I never fall out of love with a woman completely.  That was true for my wife as well. I just didn’t feel at the time I had the right kind fo love. I felt also that my wife and I’s passive aggression had also hammered most of my love right out of me for her. I just could bring myself to love her the way a husband should love his wife.  Plus all the practical concerns listed above.

I filed for divorce in middle June and given the 60-day waiting period before a hearing, we were slated lat August and that would have been that.  It was an interesting test at times because when the severance was denied my letter written in response said that the main person they had hurt with that decision was not me but my wife who had to shoulder all the bills seeing I was not working. I had also wanted to give her some of the money to help her transition, but that was no longer an option. It demonstrates that I wasn’t out to hurt my wife in any way on this.  I just wanted out of a relationship that at the time wasn’t very good for either of us.

Then Miss Salty left me for the last time and I found myself alone, again. People remarked later how quickly I made the decision to return to my wife.  It was a 10 day or so wait.  I remark back it only took Miss Salty about 3-5 days to get over dumping her fiance and moving on, so what is their point?  My main concern was I knew that Miss Salty was no longer an option for me.  My two choices: 1) go to something new or 2) try to fix things with my wife.

My decision to try to fix things with my wife was predicated on a few factors.  1) I would never be able to trust Miss Salty again with my heart, so that was done. 2) My children had remarked that I hadn’t really tried to fix things with their mother. True. (I want to give a shout out to my daughter if she reads this – a lot of your comments my dear were spot on – take a bow girl, you probably saved your parents’ marriage.) 3) There was that little bit of love for her left.  That said, it was my wife’s reaction that ultimately made it work. For my kids’ sake, I contacted my wife and asked if we could try to work this out.

My wife listened to me and then she talked.  She did something I didn’t expect.  She forgave me.   She also took responsibility for her part in all the crap that went on before.  She didn’t tell me it was all my fault and she listened to my story and believed it.  Long story short, we got back together, I canceled the divorce with like two days to spare and we took a mini-vacation where we spent a lot of time naked in bed talking and doing what married couples do when they’re naked in bed.  We got counseling and moved into our own apartment on our own.  It isn’t perfect, but we are working on it.

There is one element of church nonsense that happened during the whole thing I feel the need to address.  When word got out one member of the church, Miss Salty’s aunt; she tried to contact my wife about what an evil person I was. How I had committed a felony, had a teenage girl problem, etc.  My wife’s friend basically told my wife to tell her to shove off as a busybody and move along with the reconciliation. My wife was kinder than that but the basic advice was followed to tell people to mind their own business.

Later in counseling, our counselor made the simple observation that the affair was a typical one that had nothing to do with Miss Salty’s age, but our marriage being shitty.  When a marriage doesn’t help the people in it, these things happen because you are vulnerable. For my part, I simply fell in love with someone who started to meet the needs I had that my wife was not meeting.  That’s it.  Anything else people want to think is Bull Shit.

If there is any possibility this still might not work, it lays with me and a few issues that are between us because of who we are:

  1. I place a high value on my freedom to act as I see fit. I don’t like a constraint.  I accept the few constraints that our marriage puts on us because it is a marriage, but outside that I want the freedom to do what I want and what is best for me.  That could pull us in different directions.
  2. Part of my problem related to this is that I tend to help others at the expense of myself.  This leads to a building up of a deficit emotionally that eventually will blow up like a bomb.  If someone doesn’t make a point to stop and ask me genuinely how I am, or as an INFJ I will go on my merry way on destruction.  My wife has learned not to take my “I’m OKs” at face value which is good, but I still have to watch myself on this and on occasion do what is emotionally right for me even if it seems selfish to others.
  3. My values are rapidly changing.  My social mores are also changing. This means in our religiously mixed marriage, I a Deist/Pagan don’t see things as evil or sinful anymore.  As a Christian she does and so compromise is definitely the order of the day. I measure things in terms of building virtue and benefit to each other, not avoiding what is wrong or bad. If our values get too far apart, our counselor said it could still be our marriage downfall.
  4. Our compromises have to be genuine give and take.  I call bullshit pretty quick if I don’t feel they are.  Some things are still in tension because of this and it is going to take time to work them out. With our values, she and I have to really watch this because it is pretty significant if a couple values different things from one another. You can still love one another and the marriage can still fail because of this.
  5. My Weaknesses are now pretty apparent.  I miss certain things about another relationship that speaks to these weaknesses.  I either have to go without or find alternatives. In some of these areas, there is no alternative so it becomes a major internal battle.  I concede now that I could very well lose those battles.  I’m am indeed vulnerable to these things.

I am not trying to create doubt here, but state the reality of where I am.  I view marriage as a pagan would.  In particular, the brand of paganism that renews vows every year.  This forces you to be constantly working at it to make it mutually beneficial, rather than just taking it for granted as a lifetime commitment does. It is far more realistic in my opinion and the vows don’t set you up for failure.

That said, our vows are Chrisitan ones, so the basis for me is gone except for my commitment to the Asatru Virtue of Fidelity. I still honor the spirit of those vows for that alone and nothing else. That said, one aspect of Fidelity is loyalty to self.  It is possible given our different faiths/values that loyalty to my marriage and loyalty to self might come into conflict. How I view the virtue of Fidelity is starting to solidify with self at the center and all my other relationships in a circle around it.  If that circle is broken or weak in some spots, it needs to be addressed or changed but the center needs to always be strong.

One part to go and that will be me directly addressing some of the people I mentioned in this series so far. For now, know that my wife and I are good and we are working to be great.

I remain,

The Rabyd Skald – Wandering Soul, Bard, and Philosopher. The Grey Wayfarer.

Skaal!!!

“Year Ago Retrospect (Part 2) – Church Nonsense” – The Rabyd Skald – The Grey and The Wayfarer – Part 17

Happy Moon’s Day

Warning: To my family and friends, this one is going to be as truthful as the old Rabyd Microphone so be advised.  Mostly I feel the need to write this series for therapeutic reasons.  This also a long post so be prepared to give it some time. 

This is part two of a Year Ago Retrospect. These are going to take the place of my normal journal posts this week in a mini-series:

Click Here for Part 1 

In Part 2 of “Year Ago Retrospect,” I am going o deal with my other break up – with my faith and my last church.  The major trouble with the church started the moment I let certain people know I was having an affair with Miss Salty,  Most notably The Dirty Pig.  But I need to do a little background on my relationship with him first so you know why his betrayal was so painful. It is this relationship that is central to the Church Nonsense so bear with me.

When I first came to my last church, the two of us hit it off.  He made the observation that I was going to be myself and that people would just have to deal with that and from then on I considered him a friend.  A lot of people think they know this guy so when I talk about this stuff, they think I am lying about his character and actions.  You need to understand that I knew him a lot longer than any of them.  We were friends, we did the same small group together for over nine years, I did him a lot of favors over the years and while I never asked him for anything he would on occasion give me something or help me out. I know the Dirty Pig from long experience and only after he betrayed me and I looked back did I see the painful truth that I suspected, but could never prove and didn’t want to believe was true.

Our friendship was good; not best friends but solid and he was a part of my circle. Note that for me, an INFJ personality type to say that is significant.  But also I knew the emotions of the man as an empath and sometimes what he felt was troubling.  It was contradictory to what I felt he should be feeling at times.  Amusement when something was pretty tragic. Over time I would say it was like a cat looking at mice as far as his emotions. Given that he had been a cop all most of his career, somewhat understandable although a little uncomfortable. There was always this element of ‘my viewpoint on life is superior and people better respect that’ with him.  He also was highly competitive and I never saw him happy when he came in second in anything.

We got along fine for a long while but our friendship got strained more and more as time went by. I am very accepting of people’s flaws and other viewpoints and he is not. The first real issue I noticed there was a problem here was when I was trying to get a modern worship team started. It was going OK, but he would make comments like ‘that hippie music’ and such.  He said he didn’t mean much by it, but it had a negative effect. I went away for vacation and when I came back he basically tells me that the worship team is no more.  Funny, as the pastor I was constitutionally in charge of ministry – the spiritual head of the church.

I had dealt with powerful influencers in the church before.  If thy are for the most part benevolent then the best course of action is to make them allies if possible. The problem with the Dirty Pig is I would classify him as a traditional obstructionist. That is the preferred a very traditional view of what a church service and function were. If he didn’t like something along these lines, he would pretty much not support it or even actively block it.

His basic tactic was to control the agenda of the church by using his position as the moderator to channel what was talked about and what was not.  I am now firmly convinced in that church, in particular, the moderator is the most powerful position because of this and should have term limits because of it. He also added the fact he maintained a good relationship with enough people to vote both on the council and in the congregation to get what decision he wanted. If the church grew or added people who did not share his view, something would be said by him that would cause them to either backdown or stop attending.  The church could never really grow too big because that gets harder to control and the people in it were his supporters with only a few people that were detractors.

One thing that really bothered me about his attitude, but I could never do much about, is his belief that by being cop he could also be a good pastor.  I would probably tell him now there is no direct correlation and he has no fucking clue what he is doing when it comes to building a church and ministry.  But it is all irrelevant to me now.

In the summer of 2016, I took a sabbatical of one month. I had two issues at the time 1) my faith was starting to crumble, and 2) the church was not going to be able to support me long term unless changes were made and there was no way effective change was going to be made as long as the Dirty Pig kept interfering in everything new I proposed that he didn’t like.  When I got back I wrote a letter to the church board outlining my problems and what needed to be done. A good chunk of it was directed at the Dirty Pig and his church political control, and he knew it.

There were only two responses: 1) One guy who understood I was right said so privately but also didn’t want to fight any more about it.  He stayed on the council long enough to got something for his departed wife done as a memorial and left the church.  2) A second guy who was not on the council challenged the business dealings of the church and was basically silenced through the Dirty Pig’s moderator power. Everyone else stayed in line and stayed quiet.

After that, I basically said to myself:  “This church is going nowhere as long as the Dirty Pig runs it.”  I am just going to come, preach and help people where I can.  I had a couple years of education to do and then I was out. I could do the job and then walk.

Then, of course, Miss Salty came along and kind of upset all that. One day in April of 2018, at a prayer meeting, she bounces in and announces that the Dirty Pig is no longer her favorite person, but I am.  I could see his face.  That “I don’t like to finish in second’ look all over it. I am not saying there was anything romantic in his intentions toward Miss Salty, but like all people who came into his life with problems he always wanted to be the one that ‘fixed’ them, so he could pat himself on the back. The sides were set at that point.

The following events are as best I can reconstruct them in order and true as I know:

  1. Miss Salty and I announced our affair to her aunt and my wife on Sunday evening.  Monday, the Dirty Pig got the news from the aunt and I headed over to his place of business to talk.
  2. I had written my resignation and gave it to him.  He argued four things: 1) That I shouldn’t resign, 2) That I was going to ruin my pastor career, 3) That I was going to not have a future career in anything else. and 4) That I needed to dump is Salty because she was ‘a deranged little girl’ that is never going to amount to much and be an embarrassment to me. My responses: 1) No, I am going to resign. Inside my head, I knew he would use this against me to control me. 2) Didn’t give a shit anymore.  3) Maybe.  But as my one friend would say later, people don’t really care why a pastor leaves the ministry when they switch to something else.  He is right. 4) That’s an interesting opinion of a woman who has a very high opinion of you Mr. Dirty Pig.  I told him I didn’t know where this relationship was going but I knew I loved her and wanted it to be mutual.
  3. One might argue that at this point I should have known the Dirty Pig was dirty, but he told me he would do as I asked and read my resignation and would handle things as my friend. Given all I had done for him over the years pretty much because he was my friend, I was grateful. I trusted him to do the right thing in this regard because of our friendship, and it is what I would have done for him.  I had not seen him be dishonorable in that regard and that was my downfall with him.
  4. On Tuesday, Miss Salty and I broke up the first time.
  5. Wednesday, The Dirty Pig calls me up and asks me to revise my resignation to not have the confession line.  His reasons: not wanting to start gossip in the church and not wanting to drag Miss Salty into this.  I felt the reasons were sound and because I was planning to tell the story myself the next Sunday after, I agreed and told him I would get it to him in the next couple days.
  6. On Friday, I handed him the revised resignation, no confession line in it.
  7. From a conversation I had later in July with Miss Salty, I was made aware that it was also Friday and about the same time that he called her asking her permission to tell the story.
  8. Sunday The Dirty Pig reads my resignation and then tells the story.  This information got back to me as well as the information that the congregation had been whipped into a lynch mob for all practical purposes. I knew then I could not go back and talk to them now as from their perception I was hiding something, which was never my intention.  The Dirty Pig absolute dragged Miss Salty into it and used her, and had every intention of starting gossip in the church to use for his own purposes.
  9. I was also told there was a plan in place to vote for my resignation or to fire me.  They already even had the ballots from one report I got.  That speaks to a lot of intentional planning for a certain result long before the announcement was even made.  Hmmm.
  10. Second Monday, I texted the Dirty Pig as to what was going on?  He never responded and still never has said one thing to me since.
  11. Miss Salty and I began our second dating cycle on Tuesday, In retrospect, my need for someone to talk to given the whole weight of this made me open once again for this relationship.  I was hurting and she was there.

I was fired and then denied any kind fo severance.  They even made it retroactive to May 27th, 2018.  I could probably just walk away from it if it had been fairly treated but I wasn’t.  The deck was stacked against me and I didn’t know it until it was too late.  A person I love was used against me and a congregation I loved turned against me by the Dirty Pig.

Later on August 2nd, as a related in part 1, all this came to the attention of Miss Salty who couldn’t believe The Dirty pig would do that to her..probably.  Through my sources, I learned she called him up when she read my post on August 2nd about this and asked him to refute it.  He wouldn’t talk to her or give her an answer. I guess that was right after she hung up on me for the last time.  After that, she gets high and drunk all the way to the end of the 3rd probably. She found out the hard way what I knew from early June –  I was no longer relevant to the Dirty Pig and now she knew neither was she.

The fact is I now know one thing about him.  If you are no longer of use or you are going to tarnish his precious reputation, he has no problem discarding you. His view of friendship is purely utilitarian.  I would have given him love enough to squash all the rumors and I certainly would have at least have given him time to think about things.  I would have also made sure both sides were represented fairly.  I would take heat for him as a friend too.

There was a ton of rumors at the time and 95% of them were nonsense. Some of them affect my reuniting with my wife so I will deal with them in part three. But I want to set the record straight about my relationship with Miss Salty from May 21st, 2018, to the time of my resignation.

  1. We never had any physical contact beyond holding hands once, hugs and a kiss on the forehead from me to her. There was no sex or sexual conduct.
  2. Our relationship was a lot of ‘I love you’s’ and genuine concern for each other’s happiness and welfare. At least for me, I can’t speak for her.
  3. There were no other women, girls or whatever.  Just Miss Salty.
  4. Miss Salty was a legal and functional adult at the time of this, the entire time. No crime was committed.

The other things that burn me:

  1. That I was never informed at any time of what was happening by any official channel of the church.  I was also fired without once being asked if I could come and defend myself in any way. If it hadn’t been for a few friends, I wouldn’t have known shit.
  2. I currently make more money where I am now and have more benefits than the entire almost decade I served that church.  It seems one mistake costs you a lot of years where I was there for people, held their hands in tragedy and backed and encouraged them. Severance isn’t just about the money.
  3. Very few from the church have come to me to talk to me about this.
  4. They actually sent Miss Salty a voting ballot about my fate. I love the dual accountability. Hammer for me; free pass for her. After all the time they said I was being too soft on her and not treating her like an adult, what they do? Treat her like a child, and actually make her decide something about someone she loved. I applaud her for throwing the thing in the trash.
  5. Because I was fired, I can’t even list anyone from the church a reference because primarily I don’t trust any of them.  But it would be impractical and counterproductive too.
  6. I preached for nine and a half years on grace and forgiveness.  I gave people a lot of grace and we as a church even forgave a couple that actually stole from the church and welcomed them back in. Me – throw me to the wolves.

Some of the rest of the church nonsense comes into play in my marriage discussion, so I will leave it until then.

One last thing, some argue this is the reason for my leaving the faith. Not true, it is more the final crash from a falling faith that started falling back in 2015-2016. My objections to Christianity are theological and philosophical and I will be rewriting them soon in Odin’s Eye for the next month or so.  All this really does is make me thankful I left the world of church politics and hypocritical Christianity behind.  I haven’t been in a church for a service since May 27th, 2018 and I feel so much better for it.  The only justification for a pagan for being hypocritical is making it right or conflict through fire and steel for honor sake.  I will have a message for my church and the Dirty Pig in my last post in this series on Frigg and Freya’s Day.

I remain,

The Rabyd Skald – Wandering Soul, Bard, and Philosopher. The Grey Wayfarer.

Skaal!!!

“The Christian Invasion – Asatru (Part 4)” – The Pagan Pulpit

Happy Sun’s Day

Announcements:

We don’t pray here – we figure God, the gods, goddesses, or whatever powers that be either know already, don’t give a fuck, or are busy with more important matters than our petty stuff. We also kind of assume that they expect us to do stuff that we can do for ourselves and that we will do them ourselves and not be lazy. We also believe in being good friends, so we don’t presume on our friendship with the powers that be by asking them all the time for stuff while giving them nothing in return.

We also don’t take an offering here.  We figure the powers that be probably don’t need it.  Let’s be honest, offerings are not given to the divine powers, they are given to an organization to support it.  Just being honest. God, the gods or whatever never sees a dime, farthing or peso of that money; it all goes to the church, mosque or shrine.

Theme Song:  “Viking War Song – Fehu” – Wardruna 

Meditation:

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There have been a lot of really shitty things that were legal for people to do. Legal is no metric for right and wrong. Truth and Justice are not about what is legal.

Text:

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If you want more details about Asatru, I can’t recommend this book enough.

Sermon:

It is at this point, that I hope that why I am going through the history of the Germanic/Scandinavian religion that it will be clear why the modern movement of Asatru is necessary as a reconstructionist effort. The main cause is that the Christians were very good a wiping out paganism for the most part. It certainly made sure that whatever aspects of paganism that survived had to 1) go underground or 2) hide in the midst of Christian tradition.

As a former Christian pastor, I lived with a couple very terrible bits of historical revelation.  1) That the spread of Christianity was due in large part to missionary efforts that involved bribery, diplomacy and violence more than the truth of the religion as it stands on its own, and 2) That these tactics have continued to the present day.  There is what Jesus taught and what Christianity does to spread the faith, and they are miles apart. Light years really.

Paganism in the middle ages started to face a new invasion from a religion that was relentless in its missionary zeal.  The basic tactic of Christians was to approach a ruler and offer them salvation in the church. The offer was often sweetened by the fact if that ruler was facing an opponent that was difficult or wanted some sort of help in a conflict they were having with a neighbor, conversion to Christianity brought church financial support as well as the support of Chrisitan allies as they went after those ‘unwashed’ heathens.

Inside each new ruler’s country then the process would start of identifying pagan practices, making them illegal and then purging the pagan practices and if necessary the pagans themselves. There are stories that survive of the slaughter of heathens on a grand scale, destruction of pagan sacred sites and the seizing of pagan property which found its way either into the church’s hands or the ruler of the country. There came a tipping point in Europe where it was either join the church or die and many chose to join the church.  A few brave souls chose to die with honor along with their countrymen.

The problem for those who now follow Asatru with all this is that Christianity was very effective in wiping out a lot of the old ways to the point that much has been lost. Asatru is a reconstructionist movement at its heart trying to search out and find things that were lost and then restore them.

It is only recently in the history of the world that some countries have added the Norse/Germanic religions to their list of accepted state religions and thus opening up even the ability to try. For the most part up until then, pagan practices survived by bastardizing their practices by combining them with Christian ones.  See Easter’s bunny and Christmas’ trees and lights.  Or they went underground passed secretly from one generation to the next. Some things survived in ancient writings and mythology. This is why Asatru is necessary as it is trying to put back into place what has long been lost.

For myself, I knew all these things as a Christian for many years about what my faith had done but justified it.  Now, I call it out for what it is – gross hypocrisy.  I would also say that Christianity has acted in greed, malice, and lust but called it manifest destiny, the divine right of kings (government), and missionary zeal. They really should be ashamed of their history, but they go on merrily talking about how loving and humble they are and a force for ‘civilization’. There is nothing very civilized about running a sword through someone simply because they have a different faith than you.

The problem for me is I live with a Chrisitan and my family is mostly Christian.  They are good people and for the most part ignorant of their religion’s history.  That said, I know that their faith has blood on its hands going back quite a bit and in some contexts, they would, because of their faith, do some pretty shitty things to others. For Me, Asatru is about getting back to my spiritual roots before Christianity came into my ancestors’ lives and changed things.  It is about finding that which is lost and restoring it back to my weary soul.

Parting Thought:

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An obvious note in Asatru.  Loyalty is, but not obedience. That belong to the religions that expect blind loyalty and servitude.  We are free people and respect and allegiance are earned.

I remain,

The Rabyd Skald – Wandering Soul, Bard, and Philosopher. The Grey Wayfarer.

Skaal!!!

“Christians vs. Pagans” – Odin’s Eye – Problems with Christianity.

Happy Thor’s Day.    

Discussion:

Now I am not trying to stir anything up, but I know this post probably will.  I find it interesting that Christians decry Islam for some of its more violent and politically aggressive tactics.  It seems to easy to forget that not too long ago, Christians were doing the same shit.  I would say you can still see Christians doing their level best to use at a minimal level the power of government to force their faith and morality on others.

But I have lived long enough to remember Serbia being a place where Christians killed Muslims in the 1990s. I would also say the continued bombing of Middle Eastern countries is certainly construed as (whether this is the case or not is irrelevant) as Christians killing Muslims.  So perhaps Christians should not be too hard judging Islam considering our current actions and a long bloody history of killing. coercing, defrauding and raping those who were not Christians for hundreds of years.

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The practical problem for me is that I also know the history of paganism and Christianity and it is equally as bloody.  I am not going to say the pagans were completely innocent, because they weren’t.  But it could be argued no one need have died at all if it wasn’t for Christina missionaries converting rulers and then convincing those rulers to do the above killing and coercion of those that didn’t follow suit in their realms.  If a ruler did not convert, then those around him that had would suddenly cut off trade and go to war with him.  The church pulling the strings to make it all happen like a puppet master. The church may have split on a lot of things but they still do much the same only they are far more subtle

Why is this a practical problem for me?  Because my return to paganism is much about my returning to the faith of my ancestors as it is anything else.  Christianity to those of us of European descent is an imposition, not something that we started as. We started as pagans deriving our faith by reaching put ith the spirituality we had developed to make sense of things. For me having pagan tendencies is returning to my roots and throwing off the chains of an oppressor.

Time to Look Through the Eye:

“To see the truth, change one eye for another”

Faith:

Faith forced is no faith at all.  Faith is internal and based on personal free spiritual choices.  If you force certain choices, that isn’t faith, it is a religious imposition.

Religion:

I think the conclusion that all the Abrahamic religions are bloody is pretty fair. The fact that they use their faith to justify violence and oppression is well documented. More practically is what I have seen over the years:

  1. Families that split over faith because those that believe won’t associate with those that don’t.
  2. Moral judgment on those outside the faith leading to feelings of superiority (all disguised as humility, of course) for themselves and a viewpoint of looking at others who don’t believe as less than themselves in need of conversion from their ‘sinful ways’.
  3. Political actions that force laws on others that enforce a moral code that others who don’t believe do not accept.  Or else.

Quite frankly, compassion is not the word I would use to describe this – arrogance and pride are better words. I figure most of the wars in the western world might have not taken place if not for Christianity. Now, most of it is because of Christianity and Islam.

Theology:

As a deist for the most part who enjoys the culture of his real ancestral faith, I see how much I was spending time convincing good people to do some pretty questionable things, including myself.  My theology was one of death for those who did not believe one way or the other.  I no longer see how that can be justified as no matter how hard you dance around it, a god who just kills arbitrarily or simply because people didn’t accept his message is a pretty fucked up god. My guess, people whole like to control others, love such a god though. The amount of fear you can impose on someone with such a god is quite high; and in such fear, people are easier to control. I figure the real divine is far more thorough in his judgment of each individual human than that if he or she or whatever is really concerned about justice.

Spirituality:

Oddly enough, despite all this bloody history, I feel the pagan response is genuine tolerance until such time as they seek to impose themselves again. Then resistance is allowed.  As a pagan, I don’t go looking for a fight, but I will gladly fight and finish one to protect my right to freely choose which god myself or others choose to follow if at all. Let the followers of Abrahamic religions once again demonstrate their irrational emotionalism and hatred.  I plan to stand on higher ground than that and defend myself and others.

Conclusion:

I live in a house divided.  I am a pagan, most of my family are Christians with a few notable exceptions.  My response to most of it is tolerance, and so far no one is yelling at me or whatever. But I know the past and I know where I stand.  I stand with my true ancestors.

I remain,

The Rabyd Skald – Wandering Soul, Bard, and Philosopher. The Grey Wayfarer.

Skaal!!!