My ability to think for myself, to reason for myself, and most importantly to CHOOSE for myself were all buried under ‘Saul’s Armor’ of militant Baptist fundamentalism.
To this day, it is not okay for me to have the freedom to say to my family and friends, “Fundamentalism is based on factual errors, internal inconsistencies, ignorance, and is completely empty! The fundamentalist god is imaginary!”
The other day I posted a couple of pointed memes against Christianity, and I had concerned friends who wrote me saying they would be willing to talk with me, help me find the answers I was looking for. GAAAAHH!!!!
I’m not looking for answers! I was looking for the God that I believed in since childhood to show up, answer my literally begging, crying prayers, but it never happened. The fundamentalist god of the Bible is dead to me. (Not completely, because I am still feeling a very sad, lonely ache inside my heart wishing that God would still, still, still come and fix me, make me believe again.) But just as my wife divorced me after continued failures on my part, so I divorced the imaginary fundamentalist god after being let down, dropped, and hurt too many times. There’s no going back with this imaginary ‘relationship’, nor with believing logical fallacies, errors, and lies.
But it hurts. Still.
Because my entire core identity, my whole world view, my social network, everything was entwined within the fundamentalist theology. It wasn’t just a religious activity that I did weekly, it was an entire encompassing belief system that defined who I was, what I should expect, how I saw and interacted with all the other people on the planet, what my life choices should be.
POOF!!! Gone, like the rug pulled out from under me and looking down, all I see is an inky dark black hole. The walls and roof of my house have completely disappeared, I am naked and alone, floating above the black hole that used to be my floor.
What do I believe has value and why? What moral code should I choose to live by now? How do I value other folks? What is my purpose in life? Do I even want to continue to live?
This article is a good descriptor of what this feels like. . .
As an example of ‘loss of the assumptive world’, losing one’s religion is a special and potentially extreme case. A shattered belief system can be devastating and cause cognitive and affective problems, including an acute sense of betrayal. Many ex-believers have anger about the abuse of growing up in a world of lies. They feel robbed of a normal childhood, honest information, and opportunity to develop and thrive. They have bitterness for being taught they were worthless and in need of salvation, yet never able to be sure they were good enough to make it. They have anger about terrors of hell, the ‘rapture’, demons, apostasy, unforgivable sins, and the evil world. They resent not being able to ever feel good or safe. Many are angry that the same teachings are inflicted on more children continuously. They have rage because they dedicated their lives and gave up everything to serve God. They are angry about losing their families and their friends. They feel enormously betrayed.” Source: https://lutherwasnotbornagaincom.wordpress.com/2015/03/18/the-psychological-trauma-of-leaving-fundamentalistconservative-christianity/
Yeah, I feel betrayed. First by God, who I was taught claimed to love me perfectly, who I was taught listens to me, and is my protector. And I feel used by those who were authorities in my life. Pastors, (some of whom I worked for), Christian school administrators, church leaders, Bible college professors.
And I feel as if I’ve lost every potential opportunity to really life. Now, at 58 years old, what’s really left? I don’t have either the energy, optimism, or looks that someone in their twenties or thirties possesses. I exist in a bubble of angry resentment at the lies I was taught, the rejection I experienced while ‘being a witness and testimony’ for this imaginary God whom I absolutely believed existed, had my best interests at heart, watched over me in real-time, and would come to my aid, give me both wisdom, protection, mental/emotional strength, would bring people into my life to help and guide me as needed.
My brain has been trapped within a bubble of fundamentalism, imprinted with theological falsehoods, false expectations in a way probably not too dissimilar to kids who have been raised and trained to be terrorists believing they will gain great reward in the afterlife when they please Allah by their irrational, terrorists acts. Obviously, I was not taught to kill, nor do I wish to do so, but kids in Baptist fundamentalism and kids in radical Islam are both taught that they will receive great rewards in the life after this one.
I was even taught that I am a stranger to this world, that I was to be ‘a peculiar people’ set apart, chosen by God in a similar way that He chose Israel to be ‘a peculiar people.’ What this really meant was that I was brought up, brain-washed, and mentally blue-printed so much so that I missed out on just experiencing normal things.
Like having a beer or two with my buddies. Going to rock concerts. Going to parties.
And now that I’m done with religion, I’m not even given the freedom to choose for myself by my friends and family. They will usually write something to the effect, ‘You know better than that Kelly Howarth.’ But I note that not once, have any of them been able to logically defend their position on whatever issue I happen to attack. It’s always an ad hominem approach.
And I resent the hell out of that!
It is exceedingly difficult to escape from a lifetime of religious vines that seem to invade every part of my life, and not just drop away easily.
But I’ve got my machete out, because it’s not so much that I have to find myself, nor is it that I’ve lost my faith so much as it is I am freeing myself from the vines and heavy man-made religious armor.
I am not Saul, I am Kelly Howarth and I have an intrinsic right to think and choose freely!