Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Dancing in the Dark

I was just reminded now of probably the first story I ever read of someone exploring their faith and continuing to explore, even though it looked as though all was going to be lost. It was the story of Sydney Carter, the incredible author and poet, who penned The Lord of the Dance.

I was reminded of it as I read this thread at the forum I used to feel at home in.

Aside from the fact that they confused the Riverdancing one (ah, remember Eurovision that year) with the late great Sydney, it was so sad to read.

Sydney Carter thought of his works as carols, songs to lighten and carry. Lord of the Dance was not just a cheerful ditty, to be sung at school assemblies, it was his way of living the gospel, dancing with the man who was god through the pain and sorrow and hypocrisy of life.

But it's not in Latin and it's not part of the in group, so it must be mocked.

So, so sad.
If I could go back and be a Christian again, I still think I'd be the guitar playing simpleton who they so love to mock rather than the one who does the mocking.
For when you mock, you become a mocker and that cannot be good for the human spirit, whatever that may be. It's certainly not good for the ones who get mocked, who funnily enough, actually are flesh and blood creatures with feelings.
Still, as was said to me, if you can't read it without getting upset, go away.
So I did
And I read
And look what happened

I'm really bitter here tonight- I'm sorry
It's just if I had stayed away, none of this would have happened.
Should have listened and followed their advice.

Still if I were a Christian again, I'd sing this at every possible opportunity (along with Lord of the Dance of course...)
Dressed as a clown
With a big red nose

Lifting and loving you that I am now
Although your body is my bone and blood
I wonder at the maker who can be
Before I am and yet a child in me.

So Come love carolling along in me
Come love carolling along in me
I'll carry you where ever I may be
I'll carry the maker of the world in me.

I lift and I carry you to Bethlehem
I lift and I carry you to Gallilee
But all the while wherever I may be
I carry the maker of the world in me
Sydney Carter

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Hell

Someone's put a cracking link on CF today about hell
Wonderful stuff, full of bits and pieces that I looked up on snopes and that were totally elaborated and made up.
This has to be my favourite bit though:
The great 'pit' [hell] would only need to be about 100 miles or less in diameter to contain, with much room to spare, all the forty billion or so people who have ever lived, assuming their 'spiritual' bodies are the same size as their physical bodies."(Henry M. Morris, The Bible Has the Answer, p. 220)

What kind of mentality sits and works that out?
What kind of mentality can continue to believe in a god who sends 40 billion people to burn for all eternity?
Who tortures people who did their best, mostly, maybe didn't always live up to the highest standards sometimes, but meant no harm and tried to love and cherish those around them?
Just who couldn't believe?

I did a google search and discovered this particular website has numerous clones, with it's inaccurate information repeated as fact solemnly all over the place. Spreading the good news...

A god of love and hell?
Not good news at all.
Contradictory.
So clearly the work of a human mind intent on revenge and punishment, intent on anything except salvation.
Real salvation, that will make people aware of their goodness and their uniqueness and their ability to love and be loved, to enjoy, to experience pleasure, to be happy and rejoice at small things.
Not the salvation that leads to guilt ridden days of agonising over sex, believing one to be cut off from all grace because of a few minutes of a natural human act; doomed to this place of fire for doing something that we are built and programmed to do.
So sad that people can continue to think this way...

Telling grandma

So today I finally plucked up the courage to tell Grandma, hubbie's mother.
She'd been asking awkward questions for a while.
"What time Mass are you going to?" etc.
So today, while talking about the afterlife, I mentioned I no longer believed in it.
Things developed and I dropped in that I wasn't going to church.
Didn't go down well, but that was to be expected.
I am setting a bad example to the boys.
Why can't I just go?
Why couldn't I be like Steve (her nieces hubbie) who is an atheist and goes every week?

I muttered.

And why???

I muttered some more- I'm really no good at this.

But we got through it and we left her relatively settled.
Whether she will tell people, I just don't know, she might be too ashamed of me.
Only time will tell.
But hubbie was great.
He kept interrupting:
"She's the same person"
"She hasn't changed"
"She can still be good, even if she's not a Christian"

He really helped the whole process and I was so thankful he was there.

So, that's it with the telling.
On with life now...

Monday, January 23, 2006

The Gospel according to Job

By Mike Mason
A book I was advised to read.
Now when I was in dire straits as a Christian, Job was the book that finally led me forward.
I had been raging, questioning, yelling and striking out at god for so long.
When finally I understood what it was saying;
It said to me to trust in the Lord;
That all would be well if I were but to hold on;
That however bad things were, however seperate I felt from god;
Reality was different.
I was not.
He was always there.
So I should think not anymore, question not, but trust.

In essence, that is what this book says too...

"If Jesus Christ is our Lord, we must allow Him not only to inform our thinking, but to override it. If we are never prepared to take a step without a clear understanding of where we are going, and if we have no experience of folding the wings of the intellect and of doing things for no other reason than that the voice of God is speaking in our hearts, then as much as we may think we know the Lord, we are still hanging back from what it means to be known by him."

To fold the wings of intellect and rely on faith...
How can I do that now?
I can relate to that so well, it was how I stayed a Christian for 40+ years, but now I cannot unlearn the things that I have learnt, neither can I hear the voice of god speaking to me in my heart.
"By love God can be caught and held, but by thinking, never."
(Cloud of unknowing)

All straw (Thomas Aquinas, towards the end of his life)

All I can see is straw now too, perhaps not as he did though...

I cannot look at the bible that once held truth for me and see anything now other than fables of a people creating a god for themselves.
Or an elaborated preacher, whose life history was embelished with miracles and wonders but whose teachings, though often wise, also contained the horror and cruelty of hell and eternal fire.
I cannot look at the church who once I held with such reverence and not see the corruption and the harm that it did and is doing.
I cannot look at my former brothers and sisters without realising that what they are is no different from those without the faith and no different from me now.
I have lost faith, it is gone, it has been destroyed.
So if I fold the wings of intellect, there is no faith to hold me up anymore.
I will just plummet from the sky into the abyss.

So I need to keep those wings unfolded and learn to use them.
Learn to fly and to sense the wonder of that flight; the mystery and joy and exhilaration.
Yes, there might be hardship, yes, there will be trouble.
But life is here for living, not mourning before death.
For dancing and flying while I can.
And when it comes to the time to go, to leave this life and go into silence.
Then I can look back and I want to see more than just straw left behind...

So no miracle through this book
No reconversion
But maybe it will help me move on
As I realise I cannot hold a faith that is contrary to reason
And finally let go the wish to grasp it back...

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Feeling awful

Told another family member
And yet another person in church knows
"You look after yourself, OK?" was all she said
I saw her at church- I had agreed to play as otherwise they would have no music

I chickened out of telling the priest and my mother in law
Just couldn't find a way to get the words out

I'll have to soon

And my head hurts where I cracked it against the boot of the car yesterday and cut it
Son1 was there and seemed unimpressed as I staggered around, trying not to swear
He was more concerned about the fate of the cake I'd just brought and on looking at my blood stained scalp merely uttered
"Huh! I've had MUCH worse."
I drove home somehow and was ministered to by hubbie

I just wish I could get all this letting people know over so I can work out how to get on with living this new way
I so miss so much already that my religion gave to me in terms of structure and framework of everyday life
I feel quite alone in this world where everyone else believes
I want to talk to some real life people about it all
I want to share the way I feel and find out how they coped and laugh and joke and cry with them

Ho hum
As I say to the kids:
Rule number one:-You can't have anything you want
Feeling awful today but it's up to me to fight it and find away round it
Just wish the guilt and sorrow and pain would get less a bit quicker

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

The Problem with you is...

If I hear that one more time I think I'm going to scream
So far, my friends have been in one voice about the problem with me.
I think too much and too deeply
Just got off the phone to another one...

So I asked hubbie...
And his reply?
Yes, I think too much.
He hastened to add that was why he loved me, my intensity and my deep thinking ways.
But I do, so I am told, tend to go to extremes
My vegan phase, for example, my involvement with religious groups in the past
I should just chill out and let things wash over me
Oh, and just believe and trust

*sigh*
If only it was that easy
How do you change the habits of a lifetime?
Perhaps someone out there could hypnotise me so I could stop thinking...

Story from start to now...

My deconversion, loss of faith, whatever you want to call it is still relatively new, just over a month ago.
I was previously a Catholic Christian for 40+ years and my faith and my god were the focal points of my life. All my family, my friends were centred in the church, my reading, outside activities also church based, my coping style in a difficulty has always been to pray first.
So in losing god I have somehow lost a base in which to stand, which (with British understatement mode on) is a little disconcerting.

So how did I lose god if I was so wrapped up in belief that I was unable to see all the things I see so clearly now?

I was born into a very Catholic family. My mother was a convert to Catholicism, my father “cradle” whose parents were sadly disappointed by his decision NOT to be a priest, as his brother and two uncles were. His sister was also a nun. I went to Catholic school and God “lived” in our house, his presence in our lives as real and matter of fact as anyone else who lived with us. We talked to him and prayed together and Church was our second home.

At the age of 12, I had read my way through the bible from start to finish. I prayed daily, the rosary, and meditated on Christ's life and kept him in the forefront of my mind and heart.Growing up there were difficulties, as in all lives.
My mother had a small stroke when I was about 10, but survived relatively unscathed, after a year where no one was sure whether she would or not. I was vaguely aware that every now and then my father was not happy, but didn’t realise for many years later that like his father and brothers before him, he suffered with recurring depression, that he bore and lived with and accepted as the cross he had to bear.

When I was about 14, a couple of things happened- one I won’t talk about.
The other was the start of my sister’s illness. Her epilepsy began to show itself and culminated in her admission to a hospital 100 miles away, to try and stop her several fits a day.
For the first time, my faith which had held me together all this time was tested.
God is good, God loves us, and God is all powerful.
How could this equate with what I saw, this 11 year old suffering so much?
I found it so hard to understand.
Still, despite it all, I continued to believe and to go regularly to Church and to pray for my sister. At this point, I came into contact with my aunt's order of nuns.
I visited them and became determined that I should join too, at 16.
My family, going through so much with my sister’s illness had no time for my na├»ve and somewhat dramatic pronouncements, and wisely told me in no uncertain terms that I was far too young and immature.
I responded, with typical teenage sulks and gradually, my faith began to be tested, more and more.
My questioning grew stronger and I started to examine the possibility that all I had believed in was false, that there was no God, no plan, just nothing. But that to me was unthinkable and I held on, albeit with difficulty.
The sicker my sister became, the harder it was for me to hold on and I had my first of several depressive dips. It went and I finished school and started off training to be a nurse, something that didn’t last long (I could never get the sheets straight) and went off to study at university instead.

But things got dark again.
My sister was developing a serious mental illness in addition to her epilepsy.
She became deluded, especially about my mother; she hallucinated and at times would attack my parents and threaten me too.
She was admitted several times to a mental hospital and things seemed very bleak. My brothers left home, they could not stand living with her and her unpredictability and my parents struggled alone. I fell once more into depression, but eventually, I crawled out of this deep hole I had fallen in, thanks to several people and ended up meeting and marrying my beloved husband, after a trip to Lourdes. I found many answers to the questions that ran through my mind on that trip, not through any miracle, but by observing and witnessing the way many of those who were suffering seemed to gain strength from their beliefs.
Life seemed so good after we married.
I became pregnant quickly, despite being told this might be difficult for me and son1 was born.
He nearly died and I rejoiced that he didn’t.
Three years later, after much trying and praying his brother arrived and that made up our family, despite our efforts to have a third.
As time went on, I began to see that son1 was different. In fact, it was the Health Visitor that noticed- a day imprinted on my mind.
Gradually, more and more assessments were done, and eventually he was found to have learning difficulties (mild) and an autistic spectrum disorder (also mild) probably arising out of brain damage at birth.
But despite this “mild” label, he couldn’t cope with ordinary school and was placed in a specialist unit, where he thrived.
Life seemed good again.
And then things went wrong again.
My husband’s job went, and with his disabilities, no chance of a new one. I crazily offered to return to work, but had to retrain as I had been so long in part time jobs.
I hated leaving the children and leaving my role as a mother.
I was on call every 5 days, had to study for exams.
Son1’s problems worsened and he developed new ones, hearing and seeing things that weren’t there, deluded and frightened. Tests showed him to have epileptic activity in his brain and he too needed medication to help him function. At the age of 12, he decided he wanted to die, “to give up his life”. He tried to stop breathing once and told me after mournfully that it didn’t work, he was (unhappily for him, he said,) still alive.
Life seemed bleak and God far away.
I alternated between anger and depression, grief and fury. I carried on going to church and however bad I felt, as long as I could hold on by a thread, I kept going, in somewhat of a desperate state.
God for me became someone who seemed cruel, who didn’t listen, and who just put his children through agony for no purpose, but still after raging and screaming at him every day, I would turn to him in prayer and faith. To reject him seemed unthinkable yet again.
Every evening was hard after work. I would spend time reassuring son1 that his arm hadn’t disappeared; that no one was coming to destroy him and the voices in his head weren’t real, just his “imagination playing tricks.” He’d go to sleep and I’d sit here, wondering whether God was far away or just gone.
All joy went from my belief; all that was left was an intellectual assent that he did exist and a necessity to believe that, because without that belief, all son1’s sufferings were for naught. At least with the Christian perspective he would one day get his reward, with “all being well.”
I searched for an answer, high and low, in books, TV (The “God” channel) and ended upon a Christian internet forum where I found distraction and other people struggling.
In the evenings, as I put son1 to bed and after he’d settle, I’d read and post and began to enjoy it there. I gradually began to integrate my ideas about suffering into what seemed a more realistic framework, based on the Book of Job.
My father had always said it was the only way to understand suffering, but I had not seen it that way before. For me, I had to have an answer and I would not be satisfied until I did. But in the Book of Job, I saw God was saying “trust” as an answer to my “Why” and finally, it seemed to satisfy me. As time went on, my anguish about son1 eased, to flare up every now and then, but in a manageable way, turning to God to ease the pain I felt.

After about 18 months on the forum, someone suggested I apply to be a mod. In typical Cat fashion, I decided to put it in god’s hand. I reckoned that seeing as how most of my posts were in fellowship rather than meaty debate, I wouldn’t be accepted, but to my surprise, I was.

I got finally allocated to mod the apologetics forum, where I hadn’t spent much time previously. The ethos there at that time was to mod quite firmly. That meant lots of reports to deal with, lots of posts to read and lots of information to be taken in that wasn’t exactly new, but hadn’t been prominent in my mind.

I didn’t enjoy it, in fact, I hated it. Giving out my first warnings as instructed brought back furious messages that I found hard to deal with, especially if I’d had a difficult day in work or with son1. But the more I dealt with them, the more I began to realise a lot of what I was reading and what was being said to me made far more sense than the things Christians were saying. The basis for my faith was being able to trust God. I had no absolute proof, but many of the pat answers I would give myself to difficult questions were undermined by what I was reading.
That shook me. My whole anchor for life was coming under attack, so I did the only thing a decent Christian woman of faith could do at this point.

I gave up moderating.

But the things that had been awoken in my mind wouldn’t go away.
Hell, this strange god of love who also tormented and tortured suffering, the historical nature of Jesus, and many more arguments all danced around my head to meet with no real answer.
I decided to put my faith to the test, confident that if I did that, God would send me an answer and I would be safe. I also knew that I could only trust if I was secure and at that point, I was anything but secure.

There started 4 months of reading and searching and thinking. The more I looked, the less reason I could find to trust in this God, who gradually was turning more and more into a mythical creature, built of human hands and human emotions, than the all powerful loving god I had also, in fact, created in my head. The historical basis for Jesus, though there in my opinion, was weak compared to what I had always thought, and when I sat down and seriously thought about hell and suffering and justice and all the big questions, nothing made sense any more.
The evidence was not there, all I had was a feeling that I wanted it to be, without any solid back up.
I realised more and more how my previous efforts at keeping and strengthening my faith had more to do with my need for a god than any actual reality.
One day, driving to work, I just looked in the sky, and everything I had thought came together with clarity. I realised I no longer believed in God, that the sky for me was empty.
I fell apart inside.
But I had no other choice, no other option.
I could not make myself believe because I wanted to; belief is not a choice.
I tried so hard, though, to change my mind.
But in vain.
So here I am, just over a month on, still without god but less in pieces than I first thought I would be.
Only time will tell what will happen next.
All I know is I sought the truth and I found it
It's just not what I thought it would be.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

The Rapture?

I WISH WE'D ALL BEEN READY

Life was filled with guns and war
And all of us got trampled on the floor
I wish we'd all been ready
Children died the days grew cold
A piece of bread could buy a bag of gold
I wish we'd all been ready
There's no time to change your mind
The Son has come and you've been left behind

I remember that song well
When I was about twenty, I had a "born again" experience
I was Catholic, attending church, believing, but my evangelical friends persuaded me along to a mission
I went, daily, listened, unmoved.
On the last day the story was that of Jesus and the Woman at the well
"Give me that water always"

At the end, the preacher said for those who wanted to give their lives to Christ- it could be their last chance, maybe they would not get this opportunity again.
To gain Christ in their life, they should look at him and say the prayer of salvation.
And I was overwhelmed
And looked
And prayed

Thus my introduction to evangelical Christianity began
Anti Catholic rhetoric bombarded me at all times
Jack Chick tracts were given in the hope that I would see the errors of my ways

And the Rapture taught to me as what might happen if I continued in this wrong path

What a fine story
God removes the faithful leaving behind those who do not believe
And for them, life becomes hell on earth.

My friends loved that song
They would get their guitars out and sing it, enthusiastically
Thinking of how those who hear would be drawn to believe to avoid the horror they would soon have to face

I disappointed them though, despite being "born again" now in their eyes, I would not stop being a Catholic
Even after reading about Jack Chick's Albert...
And thinking about the Rapture

Today I thought about it again
What if, came the question, what if God was to take them all away
You'd know then, wouldn't you, when you are left behind
And, implicitly, you'd know what you were about to face
Torture, war, starvation, that very hell on earth

And I thought:
Why would this make me turn and worship the god who was doing this to so many of his creation?
Turn in fear, in horror, maybe even in hatred, but in worship?
In love?
And thinking on this some more, Rapture or not, my faith taught me that hell was real
In Fatima, the children saw tortured souls, crying out for mercy
None would come
Eternal anguish

What a strange doctrine I have followed for so many years
How could I have been so blind?
One thing is for sure
I cannot put the blinkers back on
I cannot now see the god of love I once followed
So sad...

Friday, January 13, 2006

Monday January 9th 2006

Monday, January 09, 2006

I was just thinking...
Well, to be more accurate, I was just lying on my bed crying my eyes out (don't you love these hormone filled moments)
I prayed again and again
The boys are home from school and fed and watered (and destressed in the case of son1- probably why I'm so stressed) and we'll soon get into the night time bath battle, so I need to get my act together for the next hurdle.
And I was thinking I don't think I can do this anymore, I'm just so tired
If he's there, why's he hiding?
Why do this?
So he's not there.
QED

Back to work
Back to work this morning
With a bang
But on my way in, I became acutely aware of a difference
My routine was pretty set Before
Got up, did all necessary things then off
And start to pray almost from the word go
The journey in was just over 5 decades long
Every day I would match the mysteries to problems emerging
To clients whose crosses were too heavy for them to bear
To agonies anticipated
And in the matching, would dwell on what I believed, what I knew the Lord could do for me
To help me help them carry their crosses, their agonies
Once parked at work, I'd walk to the unit
Praying still
"Lord Jesus, have mercy"
and ask the Lord to help me carry the difficulties of the day
And with my rosary in my pocket, go on to face them.

This morning I felt in my pocket and my rosary wasn't there

Neither was my Lord here

There I was, all alone, having to face whatever was there
It's a lonely feeling after so many years of walking together
But I shouldn't complain
It is, I understand, my fault
I did not do something right
If I did it right, if I had prayer with an open and loving heart, he would still
be here

I have another explanation, of course
Because I prayed that way
If you could have seen...

It is that he is not there and I am really alone
Why would a good and loving god play hide and seek?
cat and mouse?
And then send you to hell for failing at his elaborate game?

Self pity over, on with the day
Problems to be handled, unexpected events to be examined and discussed
With no one in reserve to call on
No 5 minutes with Jesus, no prayers for guidance
Just me and my knowledge and my quirky ways of working
Alone

Saturday January 7th 2006

Saturday, January 07, 2006
Telling mother
Told my mother
Went about as well and wonderfully as I thought it would, although to be fair to her, she was very upset yet managed to keep from shouting at me.
She did cry though and I hated the fact that I was hurting her
She said she was glad I told her though, it couldn't go unsaid.
In summary she posed a number of questions including
why it happened,
why I couldn't just trust and rely on faith to get me through the dark night of the soul (like so many do)
what was I going to live for now,
what was stopping me going out and doing anything- if she'd not believed in god
she would have done what she wilt, so to speak.
The most difficult moment came when she spoke about son2.
What if what I did caused him to lapse, how would I feel? He follows me strongly,what if I caused him to leave the faith and I was wrong?
I faltered and she pounced- not so sure, hey!!
But it's really a sort of Pascal's wager with a twist- not only would I be in hell in this version, son2 would and it would be all my fault.
Raises the stakes.
My rational thinking ground to a halt at this stage and I muttered about him choosing his own path etc. while my tummy churned.
I must admit why I faltered here is that thought has popped into my head on its own in the last few days, since telling son2.
I guess I'm willing to take the consequences if I'm wrong (though I don't believe I am wrong.)
But causing someone else to go to hell brings about a new series of thoughts.

It's somewhat like a "magical thinking" task I've had in a lecture.
You get someone to write down the name of the person they love most in the world
on a piece of paper. Then you get them to write "will die horribly in a crash in the next ten minutes" next to it.
A large percentage cannot do it and also get very distressed at the prospect of doing it.

So just the thought that I am putting son2 and hell together scares the wits out
of me at the moment, however irrational that may seem, given what I'm saying.
As a result of all this, I'm back not sleeping again and after my chat with my
mother, shaking as well.
She finished by telling me she's going to pray and I will return because god
will not leave her prayers unanswered.
And the reason I look so ill and pale and am not sleeping is because god is
trying to tell me this is the wrong way for me to go.

So if anyone has a hole I can crawl into and hide, I'd be grateful, it's all I
feel like doing today.

Friday January 6th 2006

Friday, January 06, 2006
Saying little prayers
Today is the last day of my week off
Mikey and I went out through the hills to a small town in Mid Wales where there
are hundreds of books for sale
With a large Catholic section in one shop
Son1 hates me going there because I spend so long looking, normally he would
physically remove me from the place
(Literally, there's nothing quite like a determined tall 17 year old with the
mind and intent of one much younger for pushing..)
So nice to go without him- he was in school
On the way up I said some more little prayers, same as yesterday


So I got a couple of books, one a book called "The begining of the Christian
Church" by Hans Lietzmann, a German Professor of Theology who died in 1942
Interesting so far (I'm on Ch 9)
Lots of background stuff, before the DSS and other discoveries but loads of
detailed info on the Jewish situation at the time of Christ and the developement
of the early church

But I still cannot believe and I have no idea how to get back, how to erase my
mind of the things that are in there
And, I have to be honest I'm not sure I want to anymore.
I'm starting to get angry at things and that's not good.
And whatever people say, I cannot believe in a loving god who send people to
hell, I cannot
I have tried to work it so hard, but I think if I stood in front of him and knew
he had a hell there for people, I couldn't love him

There
I've said it
But that's how I feel and think at the moment
I'm so sorry, I cannot love this concept of god anymore
I cannot believe he is worthy to be worshipped
And I'm scared of what I'm saying but if he knows everything, he knows my
thoughts, I couldn't lie to him anyway
And I need to say it
So I have to work out how to live without this god in my life
And what to do for the best for all of us
But I'm still going to Lourdes at Easter and I think hubbie hopes that will help
I'm not so sure but he's refused to let me drop out
And it's midnight and I'm not in the least bit tired and all I want to do is lie
down and wake up and find its all been a dream
So not going to happen...

The day it happened...

5th December 2005
I suppose this was the day it culminated
I had tried so hard over the weekend, reading bits and pieces
I was in pain, unable to sleep and emotionally wrecked
And Monday morning I drove to work, looked in the sky and thought "There's no one there"
I don't even know if I thought it or just realised it or what
But I no longer believed
This is what is hardest to describe
When doubt becomes disbelief
It just did...
I couldn't stop shaking all day
I couldn't eat
I couldn't sleep that night
I told Mike what had happened and he was so upset, for days after
I felt empty, without anywhere left to turn, as if a big hole existed where god once lived
But I couldn't believe that there was anything there but us anymore
It was like the world, which had been fuzzy, had suddenly come back into focus
All the things I had difficulty with were explained so much better by there being no god
Without god there is no hell, no need to explain how a loving god can do this
No gigantic cosmic practical joke where every time something goes right, something else goes wrong
No need to try and interpret his will or understand it
No need to account for "why"
No need to force my brain around so many conflicting theologies and decide which
one is right


But no matter what I wanted to believe, I just couldn't make myself
My mind just keeps telling me it is all untrue
It was the saddest, most difficult day ever
Every bone in my body hurt
And all I wanted was to be back where I was before, believing, trusting, loving him and being loved back
But it was gone forever...
And I had to look for another way to live and keep going

Deconversion- Isn't it fun?

Deconversion: Isn't it fun?
Not.
The last two weeks in November and December were- well like hell on earth.
My thoughts were fuzzy, initially, everything mushed up
Hell
Evil
Infallibility
"Gospel truth"
Myth
Facts fought for attention alongside ideas and faith
I tried so hard to trust, to place it all in his hands, but a little bit of me cried out that it wouldn't work this time, because he wasn't there.
I tried to think outside the box, as if he wasn't there and found I couldn't.
But everything I had held to started to seem like so much straw.
I had been betrayed, misled, misinformed for all those years.
But I would not let go.
I might not at this point regard myself Catholic anymore, but I would not let go of God
He was too precious in my life
Last blog entry, 21st November...

Rhetorical question..

Here's a mad rhetorical question
How
on earth do people cope who deconvert?
Take, for example, a staid, middle aged chunky woman like me.
Supposing I were to conclude that God no longer existed or that I was given proof on a plate
Like that book where the body of Christ was found...My world would just about fall apart
Here am
I, socially, emotionally, spiritually, cognitively tied to a world in which
God is.
He is the begining of all and the end of all that I hold dear.
My day starts with prayer, my night ends with it
Throughout the day, I speak to God, I consult, I follow
Anything that happens, I put down to His influence in some way, as being part of
His will
Everything happens for a reason, everything has a purpose
And my family the same, my hubbie, my in laws,
parents, friends
My spare time consumed with things that are focused on, have their centre in the
Lord
I tried today to even think of things being outside of His influence and it was
not achievable
It is, of course, only a rhetorical question
one hopes...and prays...
Lord I believe
Help
thou my unbelief

November

November
Back from NYC and reading picked up a pace.
Hoping to renew my faith, books on the gospels, the Dead Sea Scrolls, the historic Jesus.
But things weren't turning out as I thought they would.
The historical evidence for Jesus other than the Gospels was sparse-
Josephus, Pliny, Tactitus.
Looked at in context and with the possibility of interference from later Christians wanting to strengthen their case, it was weak, especially when reading all Josephus & Tactitus wrote.
Surely if 500 people had seen a dead man rise, there would be more than this recorded about the events?
If Christianity had spread as quickly as in the Acts?
Was there a bit of exaggeration going on?

And why no documents found amongst the contempory DSS?? The one possibility I put my hopes on- a fragment- was hotly disputed by most scholars. 20 letters, many unclear did not a gospel make.
And the gospel evidence started to weaken.

One of the books I got was OTT, in my opinion, but contained a wealth of information about the gospels and their context in the period. Another on the Essenes was less provocative, but still put early Christianity as just another Jewish sect until the dispersal.
I went back to Geza Vermes and looked at the evidence there that alteration occured to make the prophecies appear correct- the famous one about Matthew and
the ass and the colt sprung to mind.

Suddenly everything came flailing around
The assumption? Infallible??
Infallibility???
The Immaculate Conception???
The basis on which my faith was built, the rock was no longer there.

I still spoke daily with God, prayed, held on to my "relationship" but began to
wonder how much of it was an emotional delusion. And prayers became more and more desperate.
Everything started to become fuzzy, out of focus.

I finished the Karen Armstrong books with a sinking heart
Was my belief a myth too?
Reading the gospels just made things worse- the picture I had of Christ, of God suddenly contrasted with what I was reading.
Love, yes, but punishment and harshness
Weeping and gnashing of teeth
And I prayed to understand but nothing..
Nothing at all.


Entry 15th November:


Loosing my marbles (if found please return asap)

I keep forgetting to take my tablets
I know I have later on in the day when my heart starts pounding
I even wrote the days of the week on the box so I could check I'd taken them
in the morning
Just forgot to look
Think I'm slowly falling apart!
Elsewise, my brain has been too busy trying to sort out problems to think
about philosphical issues, issues of life and death
And too busy trying to get certain sons to do certain art projectsI'll do it
at the weekend is the latest plea
Still if he's as tired as me...Anyhow tomorrow=day off and I shall go out all
day.
I did think of going to York or London, but it's too far given the way I feel,
so I think I'll go to either Hay or Glastonbury
Sit in the Mystical Abbey and dwell on Myths and legends of yore
And ponder how mythological are the things to which we now hold...
(Who did they think they were trying to kid?
The Holy Grail? King Arthur's tomb? Still, brought the revenue in...)
Enough with the cynicism
On with the prayers
As I'm getting no closer and no less fuzzy...
Lord, hear my prayer
I believe
And I want to believe
Help thou my unbelief

October

October
Wrote this in early October:

Martyrdom by pinpricks
Can't remember where I read that
Rumer Godden?
But pinpricks, continual, persistent, can be painful and hard to endure.
How difficult to hold back the words, the retorts, the anger!
Leave me alone! I just want to be alone and live my own life, my way.
But he looks on, smiling at my weaknesses
Look through the forest,
work your way through the maze, ignore the pinpricks,
the dross, the padding
and go to the heart of the matter.
That God is love.
Active, real love.
The love of God will defeat the pinpricks, the dross, the superficial.
It will pull the mighty from their thrones and raise the lowly.
It will fill the starving, send the rich away empty.
If love is not there, He is not either.
Remember!


I was feeling increasingly isolated as my thoughts led me to places where I did not want to go.
A God of love- and hell?
The notion of justice and even the NT sayings- the weeping and gnashing of teeth, the lake of fire
I read Orthodox writings on hell, universalist, but nothing could satisfy my unease about accepting that one day, those I love might face eternal seperation from god and that would be justified because they "chose" it
I thought of those who had no choice, whose lives were hell on earth but for whom salvation did not come
I was trying to bring it to them, in my "secular" way, as one poster put it, but to no avail
And the good news of salvation of a god who is capable of burning his creation for all time was not going to help
What about those with honestly held convicitons?
Ah, invincible ignorance, was the reply
But this was new and to my uneducated eyes, seemed a distinct change, a sop to more liberal times
Bosch and his pictures remined me that those of the past relished in the punishment of the heathens
I read The Divine Mercy and was sadly unmoved
And my reading started going in a new direction, focusing on the historical nature of the gospels
Geza Vermes pointed me to a new possibility, one I had not considered
And in a bookshop, a small book caught my attention, the author one I'd long since heard of
Karen Armstrong
A Short History of Myth
In retrospect, that proved the turning point...

New York
So October ended with a trip to NYC, with two friends
I went to church twice, I saw lots of religious art
But my mind was working overtime
What if? kept coming into my head
What if I'm wrong?
What if God doesn't exist?
Initially I began to think I could carry on, pretend, live as if he did, but then other things started to insinuate their way into my head
Hell, once more, the tool of torment on earth
To make people behave in ways often alien to their nature
And those who strayed had better beware
Gay? Live a life of celibacy and don't even think of being a priest
Inflicted with problems with childbirth- no contraception for you if you wish to stay in the church
The difficulties of those who were drawn to sexual sins, the guilt, the anguish, the self hatred
I thought upon things I had read written by living breathing beings, who could quite easily say that such a type of person would go to hell and praise god's goodness in the same breathe
But not all were like that
And I so wanted to hang on..


Journal 6th November:

Things I need to do...
Awake all night in pain
I must go to the doctors next week!
My friends have all confidently and independently decided it's a gastric ulcer
and it's certainly not all in the mind, so I better go and get it sorted. I
can't cope with the lack of sleep any longer!
Also in one of those awful hanging on by a thread state of minds.
Trying to stay well away from topics that may just tip me over, because I've
been at the end of my tether before but never discovered what happens when the
tether runs out..Do you plunge screaming into the abyss?
Because that's what I forsee and I don't want that at all
Hence the need to avoid certain discourses
But too much is going on in my head (lack of sleep is not good) and the thread
is getting thinner and thinner
And perhaps confronting the problems might put them to bed forever, instead of
snapping the thread

September

It started in September
Not a good month Sept for us
Son1 finds September difficult
He has had 2 of his psychotic episodes then, stressed out by the start of a new
term
His brain damaged at birth, perceiving the world through a haze of static and
left sided epileptic discharges
Producing nasty nasty voices, threatening him, tormenting him
And equally difficult sensations, his right hand vanishing, his arm being erased
as the voices said he would be destroyed
He would lie, quaking in my arms, unsure of how to avoid his demise
And I would weep and stare at my icons and wordlessly pray to God to carry me
through

The medication didn't help
It left him sedated, trembling and drooling
Eventually they changed it and finally some control
So now he has the occasional voice that as long as he felt happy, he could tell
was his mind playing tricks
If he was sad or cross or upset, he couldn't...

So September always came with a worry of repetition of this
And this year, I was already out on a limb
And the limb was starting to break

By the end of September
..things were moving at a pace.
Son1 was difficult and sad
Aware he was different, he wanted to be like son2
Articulate, clever, friendly, popular
Not the way he was
Tears flowed and I could not ease his pain
And in the virtual world, going out on a limb was not easy
Discussions led some to comment on my intent, my stance
"Is not what the church says good enough for you anymore?"
Well, actually, no, it wasn't.
Holes were starting to appear.
My research had started.
I had decided, rightly or wrongly, to look deeply at what I believed, to subject
it to scrutiny, as if I was encountering it for the first time.
Yes, God was with me, I felt and he would protect me and guide me as I searched.
But deep inside, I knew there was a possiblity that I could be undone.I could
find out things that I did not want to know.

But that was a chance I had to take.
Emotionally, I was a wreck and to continue
in my state of mind was unthinkable.
So onward I went, examining and reading, online but more especially off.
I tentatively tried to engage in discussion on the internet, but it was seen as
debating and treated as such. I was told if things upset me, I shouldn't go
there, I should turn away from it...

My fault, perhaps, should have made myself clearer.
I had to go there, no choice.
The answers given were followed up but things became messier.
And the solid facts I sought- on the gospels, the Dead Sea Scrolls all began to
point to having been told some half truths.
What did gospel truth actually mean? Where was the evidence that any of it was
factual?
It started to look more and more elaborated to me and as I tried to intergrate
that with my Catholic views, it wouldn't go.
So stage one emerged- doubts about my Catholicism...

Butterflies

Butterflies
"Love is like a butterfly
As soft and gentle as a sigh
Their multicoloured moods of love
Are like their satin wings

Love makes your heart feel strange inside
It flutters like soft things in flight
Love is like a butterfly
A rare and gentle thing"

I still feel love
I still feel joy
I still experience pleasure
I can still be happy

I can still deal with difficulties as they arise
I can plan, problem solve, rationalise
I can have ambitions
I can work for the greater good and think on what that is

I may not have a god anymore to worship
That I can draw strength and grace and peace from

But I am still here
I can still live as fully as I did before
But on my own now
And that is sad and scary and frightening
But it is a truth I cannot avoid, I cannot get round
It is a truth I have to live with, I have to learn to live with.
I've turned into a butterfly whether I wanted to or not and now I have to learn
to fly...

Cat's journal 2

Now I once had a journal that became a blog
I lost it when I lost god and lost the ability to post in it
Then I started a blog, got highly embarrased by its self pitying carping tones and deleted it
But I LIKE writing a journal, so here I go again.
Only this time, I won't tell anyone where it is
Foolish woman, you!
So expect some self pity, some thoughts on life and the story of how I became an atheist after 40+ years a Christian...
And some stories of the hilarious antics of son1 and son2
And poor old hubbie, who puts up with the witterings of his dim witted but ever loving wife

Now I think I press this big red button...