The Mutt’s Nuts

Where religion is about as attractive as a two week holiday in Afghanistan

Posts Tagged ‘resurrection

Resurrected me

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The other day I had a conversation with a work colleague about religion. Or rather, she did most of the talking and I listened, interjecting a comment only occasionally. She felt that another work colleague of ours took her Christian evangelical beliefs much too seriously and had missed the point of religion all together. Religion, she explained, was all about being kind to others and doing good. You could do that without all the conditions that religion placed on faith. Our mutual colleague, she said, was wasting precious time adhering strictly to codes that were restricting her life, rather than enhancing it.

She went on to explain that she, too, was a Christian and had been quite fundamentalist in her views and actions for about 20 years. She had given her all to her church, rising to positions of responsibility that had required a lot of her time, effort and resources. Gradually she began to notice the self-righteousness of her fellow church members, an attitude of being better than others and a strong tendency to form exclusive cliques. She had finally decided that the core of religion was simple goodness and had resigned her onerous responsibilities and opted for a much more basic approach to her faith. She had received no thanks for all her previous hard work and no support from her co-religionists. She now attended a church that preached and practised simple faith and caring for others and felt a lot happier.

I could relate to much of what she was talking about. As a dedicated Mormon, I had been zealous in living my faith. So much so that, looking back, I can see all too clearly the social life that I missed out on, the potential friendships that I forfeited and the unnecessary restrictions that ruled my life and almost completely obliterated the person that I really was inside. Baptism into the church was said to be symbolic of burying the “natural man” and being reborn a new person. It was many years before I realised that my baptism had buried the real me and raised up an artificial stranger in its place.

As a Mormon, my thoughts and actions were dictated by scripture, commandments and church teachings. I had to suppress my natural instincts and impulses and act in accordance with someone else’s script for my life. Of course, in those days I thought that the someone else was God, acting through his earthly representatives. Whereas, before, my attitude had been “live and let live”, following baptism I developed very fixed ideas of who and what was wrong and right (viewed through the lens of Christianity and, more particularly, Mormonism). I began to value conformity above individuality, to look down on people who acted in a “worldly” way (i.e. smoked, drank, went to pubs or clubs and generally enjoyed themselves) and to see any deviation from complete obedience to church teachings and commandments as a sign of weakness and lack of faith.

As my co-worker had noticed in her Christian acquaintances, I too was very self-righteous and judgemental of others during my true-believing Mormon years. I realise now that it was a most offensive and unpleasant attitude to have. Like her, I had noticed the “clique-iness” of my own church congregation, mostly along social and economic lines. I had worked hard for the church, often at the expense of my limited free time, never refusing a call to serve and taking on responsible positions within the local children’s and women’s organisations of the church. When I finally realised that the church was not what I had always believed it to be and decided that I needed to step away from it for a while to get my bearings, I received no thanks for over 20 years of service and virtually no support from church members who I had naively thought were my friends.

Unlike my work colleague, though, I hadn’t turned to another form of religion when I became disillusioned with Mormonism, although at one point I did consider possibly attending a Unitarian church. My journey away from my church turned into a journey away from God and religion in general and it’s been a journey of personal self-discovery and a cause for great rejoicing.

One of the interesting things about our one-sided conversation was that, at any time, I could have recounted my own parallel experiences as a believing Mormon and as an ex-Mormon (although technically I’m still classed as a member of the church). But something held me back from revealing my religious past. I decided that I didn’t want to be known as a former believer, but as the person I am now, someone who has no belief in God or religion, a humanist. It’s as though the “new person” that was raised up through baptism has now been buried and the natural me has been resurrected. I can make my own decisions about how I view things and accept that most people are just trying to get through life in the best (or sometimes the only) way they know how. I can say what I think and do what I want, regardless of whether or not it conforms to someone else’s ideas of what is and isn’t acceptable or “righteous”. I can embrace my natural instincts instead of repressing them and I don’t have to continually measure myself – and others – against some impossible standard. I can swear and drink wine and watch R-rated movies without the least twinge of guilt. I never did those things very much before I joined the LDS church, and I don’t do them a lot now, but that’s my choice. That’s me, not the artificial goody-goody person that I used to be.

To some extent I can identify with the young woman that my colleague was talking about, because I can see my own experience in the way she is choosing to live her life. I wonder if, one day, she’ll feel that she’s missed out on some important things because of the restraints that her faith imposes. I hope, if she does, that it won’t be too late to build an authentic life outside of religion and enjoy the freedom and satisfaction that casting off those shackles has brought to me.

Isla

Written by islaskye

April 13, 2008 at 2:58 pm

Ridiculous argument

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Now I don’t claim to be particularly intelligent and my husband will tell you that I’m certainly not the most logical person in the world, but some of the arguments that Christians put forward for their beliefs, especially in an attempt to rubbish atheism, are just totally ridiculous. Take this one, for instance, made by some woman called Janet M. LaRue:

“As a lawyer, I’ve spent my career studying evidence. I’m quite confident that any objective and open-minded person who seriously considers the case for the empty tomb will be convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that Christ is the Lord of Life as He claimed. Those who criticize the resurrection as the best explanation for the empty tomb call it an argument from silence. But all they offer are irrational arguments from silence—the body could have been exhumed, somebody stole it, He didn’t really die, or everybody went to the wrong tomb. The evidence hasn’t been effectively rebutted in more than two thousand years.”

Please tell me what planet this person is living on. To follow Ms LaRue’s reasoning, we first have to set aside the fact that there is no definite evidence that the person Christians call Christ ever even existed or, supposing he did, that he was the son of a god, or that he was killed, or that he was placed in a tomb, rather than in the communal grave that was the fate of crucified criminals of the day.

But, let’s be charitable and ignore these difficulties, so that we can examine her “convincing” case for the resurrection. And what is it, pray tell? Well, of course it should be obvious to any right-thinking person that the only explanation for an empty tomb is that the occupant magically came back to life after he had been dead for (depending on which gospel account you read) several hours or several days. How irrational of anyone to put forward the notion that the body may have been exhumed, stolen, carried away or – and this, I know, is probably the most unbelievable of all – was never deposited there in the first place. No, Occam’s Razor notwithstanding, the only possible explanation for the empty tomb just has to be resurrection. A feat that has never been heard of before or since – let’s remember that it didn’t just involve coming back to life, but actually coming back with a body that would never be subject to death again – but nevertheless, according to Ms LaRue, without doubt the most reasonable of all explanations.

I presume the “evidence” that “hasn’t effectively been rebutted” is the biblical account, which we all know is totally reliable, was written down at the exact time the events it describes occurred, has never been tampered with or re-translated in any way and accords perfectly with the archaeological and historical record of the day.

Silly atheists, for doubting such a convincing first-hand account of indisputable veracity. Ms LaRue’s clever, lawyerly argument has put us properly on the back foot. How could we have got it so wrong in the face of such overwhelming evidence?

IslaSkye

Written by islaskye

November 4, 2007 at 7:15 am