Do you remember when you were 5 or 6 years old? The sky seemed bluer, the grass was somehow a soft, welcoming green, the dirt smelled great! Christmas truly was magical! School was an adventure in learning The world (at least for me) was a safe, happy place! My parents told me that they would never lie to me and I believed them totally. It didn’t even occur to me to question them. After all, they were my wise protectors who loved me and always wanted the best for me.
But they did lie to me. A lot as it turns out. And they weren’t always out for my best good because they had other priorities that superseded many of my opportunities to grow up into a normal, social, emotionally healthy adult.
Have you ever considered how difficult it would be to remove your blood veins with all their capillaries and still function normally every day? I know! That’s just a little too weird, but I think the analogy between this and trying to get free of the entangling lies, attitudes, and expectations of being raised in a strict fundamentalist preacher’s household runs a pretty close parallel.
I grew up in an alternate reality learning rules that sometimes bridged the two universes, and other ideas that were just blatantly false. I will get specific. . .I was taught that I should believe the following things. . .
- God literally spoke the earth, the moon, sun, and stars into being with all the incredible relationships that science is still discovering. And this creation was documented sequentially in Genesis 1 and 2 exactly as it happened.
- Adam and Eve were historical factual human beings from whom the entire human race sprung forth. They had Cain and Abel, and apparently at least one girl. This means that initially, incest had to have occurred between siblings. Of course, this isn’t preached ever. We do know that Cain killed Abel, and God did not inflict capital punishment on him as we sometimes do to murderers today.
- Satan appeared in the form of a walking, talking serpent. Apparently this was not unusual since Eve, then Adam carried on a conversation with this snake.
- Every human being born after Adam and Eve, is headed for hell by default where they will literally burn forever without dying for not accepting Jesus as their Savior for their sins. (One wonders what happened to all those folks born prior to Jesus’s birth, death, and resurrection, or all the millions who never heard or who were so inundated with their culture, they had no chance whatsoever, but I digress)
- People lived extremely long lives of hundreds of years back in the day.
- There was a literal world wide flood that drowned every human being, all the animals except for 7 humans that lived in a large boat for about a year with pairs of every animal, and in some cases 7 pairs of animals.
- Every human being, every race today originated from those 7 people.
- Every disease, then had to originate from those 7 peeps.
- Hell is literally real.
- Heaven is literally real, with real streets made of gold, and 12 large gates made of real pearls.
- God created some beings that live in heaven that are completely unlike human beings.
John claims to have been ‘taken in the spirit’ up to heaven and he then wrote what he saw while ‘in the spirit.’ (whatever that means – would that be on the same plane as people who supposedly ‘die’ and then describe a shining warm light I wonder?) Historically, John survived being boiled alive, and was exiled to the island of Patmos where he wrote the book of Revelation. I have always wondered if this book was partially a result of mental or emotional illness after his horrible treatment, and perhaps we are really reading his hallucinations? But that’s just me wondering. . .Here’s what he wrote describing his view of heaven in Revelation 4.
“After this I looked, and there before me was a door standing open in heaven. And the voice I had first heard speaking to me like a trumpet said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.” 2 At once I was in the Spirit, and there before me was a throne in heaven with someone sitting on it. 3 And the one who sat there had the appearance of jasper and ruby. A rainbow that shone like an emerald encircled the throne. 4 Surrounding the throne were twenty-four other thrones, and seated on them were twenty-four elders. They were dressed in white and had crowns of gold on their heads. 5 From the throne came flashes of lightning, rumblings and peals of thunder. In front of the throne, seven lamps were blazing. These are the seven spirits[a] of God. 6 Also in front of the throne there was what looked like a sea of glass, clear as crystal.
In the center, around the throne, were four living creatures, and they were covered with eyes, in front and in back. 7 The first living creature was like a lion, the second was like an ox, the third had a face like a man, the fourth was like a flying eagle. 8 Each of the four living creatures had six wings and was covered with eyes all around, even under its wings. Day and night they never stop saying:
“‘Holy, holy, holy
is the Lord God Almighty,’[b]
who was, and is, and is to come.”
9 Whenever the living creatures give glory, honor and thanks to him who sits on the throne and who lives for ever and ever, 10 the twenty-four elders fall down before him who sits on the throne and worship him who lives for ever and ever. They lay their crowns before the throne and say:
11 “You are worthy, our Lord and God,
to receive glory and honor and power,
for you created all things,
and by your will they were created
and have their being.””
I was taught that this was a description of where God actually resided. God is the one and only God, and He loves us, cares for us, and has a plan for each of our lives. Our lot is to trust, obey, love, and worship Him.
There is an old episode of the original Star Trek TV show titled ‘Who Mourns for Adonais’ that has always struck me similar to what the God of the Bible wants from all of us. Just as Apollo had a need to be worshiped in the old TV show, so the God of the Bible apparently has a need to be glorified, worshiped by us, or else.
- I was taught that God loved me personally, was with me every second of every day, protected me, had a plan for my life, heard all my prayers, and answered my prayers.
- God was ‘a mighty fortress, a place of refuge
Until He wasn’t. In my most trying moment of need, God never showed up. In fact, I actually experienced the tangible opposite of what I had prayed for. And with great grief, it slowly dawned upon me that I had been lied to in every fiber of my being, that I had lived my entire life believing lies, living in an alternate universe.
The two people that I trusted in my core being had brought me up in a bubble of lies. And the fundamentalist God that I had lived my life believing in, trusting in, along with the ‘historical facts’ were all lies. Well meaning, but scientifically illiterate folks had weaved a network of lies coursing through me that I really believed was truth.
Darkness descends as I realize that I have missed out on what could have been a wonderfully great life as an engineer, or a scientist (one of my interests), enjoyed relationships with other people like normal people do.
But no. . .no. . .not so much. My social development, my thinking was (and still is somewhat) frozen at a certain level of development. I’d say around 13 or 14 years old. I’m now in my late 50’s, and just now really coming to terms with this.
In fact, I still have a fairly good chunk of guilt and fear in writing this, because what if I’m wrong? What if I have mislead other good hearted souls with my errors? And what if God chooses to punish me? See how deeply this runs? I’m still feeling fear in thinking for myself, something that should have happened in my 20’s. Frozen.
In my soul. Alone in mental anguish of constant self-condemnation, and lost in my space.
I’m already having a hard time considering Father’s Day upcoming in about a week from my writing this.
Thank you for screwing me up Fundamentalism!