Saturday, November 24, 2012

#73- Defending God

That's pretty much it.

My uncle was the first person that introduced the concept of a god to me.  He told me that God was the ultimate good.  The very term in Haitian Creole gives this away.  The head deity in Haiti is called "Bon Dye" or "Bon Dieu" which literally means "Good God". 

Thus God's role in this cosmic play was planted in my young mind.  God was the ultimate super hero.  God wanted all that is good for us and was constantly on guard against the bad.  God became masculine, of course, because males made him up.  As time went on, other characters were introduced to me such as Jesus, Mary, and Satan.
The central essence of what God is or did stayed with me for years.  God was not just a synonym for good but was the ultimate good.  So I felt that I had enough understanding of the celestial world from that simple fact.  Whenever people needed help people prayed.  Whenever people needed comfort they prayed as well.  It was all warm and fuzzy.

Then I started to read the Bible in Iraq in 2003.  The God that my uncle introduced me to was the daddy of Jesus.  My uncle was a Catholic.  That god had a name: Yahweh. He turned out to be the deity of an ancient tribe of marauders called the Hebrews.  Yahweh was nothing like I was told or imagined.  He was an asshole, a dictator, and a trickster.  Even after I completed the Jewish and Christian bibles, I still had that preliminary perspective of the god my uncle introduced me to in my psyche.  I never really gave thought to shopping around for other gods or religions because I felt that I already had a relationship with the one benevolent god that really mattered.  One thing that is sure is that my deity was not Yahweh.
Messianic Jew
I cried after watching “Hotel Rwanda”.  I felt ashamed that Black people could murder each other for such trivial things.  I wondered where God was during that horrible time.  By God, I meant the good, benevolent, omnipresent, and all-powerful God that my uncle introduced me to.  He or She was absent.  In fact I don’t know of a public and massive state of need that any god from any region personally attended to and addressed.  With all these terrible things happening people still believed in and defended god.

I eventually came to the conclusion that God was not at fault for the evils of the world and that it was wicked people who had corrupted his good name and deeds.  I looked at all the people who committed atrocities as frauds.  I felt that God was misrepresented in the Bible and I was going to personally do something about this. 

I went on a mission as a self-appointed avenger of God’s image.  I was really upset and motivated in those days.  I had a mocking and surly attitude.  I was hurt that God needed humans to do his public relations work.  I used to pray to God and ask why He couldn't help the helpless victims and starving children who had done nothing wrong.  I don’t remember getting many answers and if I did they were not very satisfying.

Everything changed when I went to a church service at Calvary Chapel in Fort Lauderdale.  This older man who was a “Messianic Jew” was talking to me and I suddenly cut to the chase.  I showed a few unsavory passages about the behavior of Yahweh and the Hebrews and quickly asserted that Yahweh was not God because God was good and Yahweh was evil.  The man looked at me and ask “how do you do know YOUR God is real?”  I was caught flat-footed and unprepared.  My mind responded with a “Because he is good, duh!” but those words never escaped my mouth because I knew that it was a silly and juvenile answer.

My God didn't have a book, a tradition, a cool name, and most importantly NO EVIDENCE of existing.  I was stuck.  My God didn't show up to my rescue when that question was asked.  I couldn't steal answers about the creation of the cosmos because I would have just be pulling stuff out my ass.

It was at that time that I stopped defending God.  If God didn't care about his image and God didn't intervene publicly in matters of great distress like Rwanda and Darfur then what was I going to do?  I was looking like Nehemiah in the Bible, a crazed mad man.  It was all too much for me.  There was no evidence.  I stopped defending God.  I left it up to him if he cared and much more importantly, if he could.

Do you need a savior?

Sunday, October 28, 2012

#72- Safety Concerns

Some people are sensitive.  Some people are very sensitve.  Some people are very sensitive, very religious, and very violent.

Just a few days ago a man gunned down another man at Creflo Dollar's World Changer church in Atlanta, Georgia.  This was done in full view of a host of people from what I understand.  Details are still coming out on the motives but I would not feel comfortable going to that church for a while. Not to mention the religious implecations of a good diety and violence being done so brazenly in his/her sanctuary.

My blog is pretty obscure right now.  But the world and some people are very unstable sometimes.  I've written on topics that are near and dear to my heart and have enjoyed it very much.  But with the internet being so wide open and social media being so prevalent it is a wise thing to take precautions against the "Abrahams" of the world.

I want to make it clear:  I do not endorse violence in general.  I hope the world becomes more peaceful and that people become more rational.  I find religion and religious people interesting but I don't necessarily respect everything they think, say, or do.  I wish we could all be cordial but that's not reality.

For a while I worried about the health of people I've cojoled and inspired to leave religion.  Now I wonder about me.  How safe am I?  Is there anyone who wants to harm me or my friends?  There is no way to know the future but right now all is well.  As I become more famous things may change.

Some of my fans may know of Ayaan Hirsi Ali's story and subsequent living arragements.  I don't envy her life.  Her money would be nice but I want to live a life free of fear.  But how can I say what I think and yet stay safe?

Well, that is a tricky question.  I can use the usual safety methods:  use a pseudonim, use a P.O. Box, grow a nappy beard, and get tattoos all over my body.  But how long will that last?

Tonight I wonder who exactly would my humble blog piss off so much that they'd want to bust a cap in my ass.  Is it a Muslim?  That's an easy alligation to make, isn't it?  All the bad guys seem to be Muslim.  But the Creflo Dollar guy probably was not a "slave of Allah". 

Will it be a Christian?  Odd are it may be just based on the demographic numbers, right?  But as soon as that person makes a threat the other believers will just say "that's not a true Christian".  We've all heard that one before.  It's also convenient for both Christians and Muslims that there are 1000s of different sects and flavors of each.

One morning while jogging I had a vision of mixing it up with some Black Hebrew Israelites.  They are real fun to talk shit with.  They are cocky, loud, and motivated.  But unfortunately I think they are much more serious about their insane love for the Bible than the wanton average hypocrite.  So, I haven't messed with them in a while.  Plus I've matured, too.  I'm not about forcing my thoughts on no one.  We can either discuss things as mature homo sapiens are not.
What about them Jews?  What about them?  Them boys just keep to themselves.  I like that.

#71- Abraham and his Almost-Sacrifice

Today is a holiday for my Muslim friends all over the world.  Therefore let me say the appropriate "Eid Mubarak!" to you all.  For those of you who are unaware, today (28 October 2012) is "Eid al-Adha".

Is this what YOU call a good time?
Admittedly, this post was inspired by another blog:  The authors were kind enough to leave a message here on my humble blog.  I have since returned the favor and have read some of their posts.

Now to the business at hand.  This story is insane and barbaric.  I don't think many people give it much thought.  It is my opinion that the character Abraham, like most of the folk heroes in the dessert tales, was either insane or mental maladjusted.  This is what Muslims are celebrating for this weekend.  Then they wonder why people strap bombs on themselves to do harm.  This story sets a number of bad precedents for believers and people who live in the real world alike.

Does listening to voices give you the right to do things to people?  What was the way that the ancient peoples of the East determined if a person was a sound mind?  Who witnessed this exchange between Abraham and Ismael (Isaac if you know the original)?

Would any Muslim be ok with a fellow Muslim who had ritually slit the throat of their son or daughter?  What if the son or daughter had agreed to be killed on this holiday no less!

Let us assume the same crime, I mean event, happened in 6 different countries the same way.  What would happen to the person who re-enacted Abraham's role believing that some invisible, inaudible, superbeing was going to interveing in his or her place?

The settings are as follow:

1.  Port-au-Prince, Haiti
2.  Southampton, England
6.  Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

Please give a verdict for each city.  Guitly or Not Guilty will suffice.

I would put the person in jail.  I would also have their head examine.  When it is revealed that a religious story is the motivation for the killings I would make sure all the religious leaders who subscribe to this tale tell their constituents that this kind of behavior would not be tolerated.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

#70- Ecclesiastical International Laws

You lost, Patna?

I am currently working in Afghanistan where religion is an integral part of everyday life for the locals.  This is my second deployment in a Muslim country.  These places are quite different from what I am used to even though I discovered that America was quite religious after the election of George W. Bush in 2004.
It is hard not to bring my Haitian-American values into this setting.  The differences are especially present when I try to take advantage of whatever leisure time I get.  I am fortunate to receive a free internet account via wifi where I can communicate with the rest of my friends and family.  That I am very grateful for (actually, I found out that American dollars are paying for the service).  What I don’t like is the blocking of certain sites and services.
The older Haitian women wear things like this
There have been many laws and agreements made with the Afghan government and people in order to honor their sensitivities.  These include bans on sites such as YouTube and Netflix.  Those two sites I happen to frequent a lot.  There are bans against pornographic sites and sites that involve gambling.  I understand the ban on porn-even though it is annoying, and I don’t care for gambling much.  But all these efforts to appease the Muslim palate got me thinking if they ever consider the feelings of Allah when it comes to all things “haram” in other places.
In other words, someone somewhere is enjoying YouTube, porn, gambling, alcohol, immodestly dressed women, and other things that would upset Muslims, Muhammad (PBUH), and Allah (SWT). 
This reminds me of my old church and their rules.  I say their rules even though they derive in out of the Christian Bible popularly known as “The New Testament”.
We had 2 churches in 1 building.  One side was the older, more “Haitian” service.  This comprised of older Haitians who were set in their cultural ways and other Haitians who probably just came to the United States not too long ago.
That more traditional side had rules that included: women should cover their hair with a veil or a hat and women had to wear skirts-no pants.  Women had to dress modestly.  Do you detect a theme here?  It was mostly about women.  Men had rules too but they were much relax or easier to follow.
I attended the younger, more “Americanized” side of the church.  I used to visit the “gran moun” (elders) side just to maintain my Haitian some semblance of my Haitian identity.  It was the most boring display of narcissistic, drab, and pseudo-piety one can imagine.  Everything was rote and flavor-less.  That is exactly how those stiffs liked it.  It was a little bit of home in the strange wilderness that is America.
I wish girls at the church looked like this.
It was about that time that I asked myself if the God of the known universe cared about trivial fashion habits of some Haitians in Miami, Florida.  Were the women who wore skirts and covered their hair more pious, more lucky, more blessed in any way shape or form.
What about the younger women on the English speaking side?  They almost never covered their hair.  Most wore dresses and skirts but you can catch an occasional pair of pants here and there.  The younger women were more flashy and seductive clothes.  The men’s wardrobe was more modern and less formal as well.
The same question loitered in my brain for the English side:  did God/Jesus care about how we dressed?  If so, why was that?  What is the relationship between what you were and the success that came directly from it?
Men in Scotland wore “kilts” as part of their traditional garb.  The manlier men wore the kilts without undergarments (to prove how brave they were?).  I know that there is such a thing as women’s pants.  Furthermore, the men depicted in the bible stories look just as ragged and destitute as the women.  I’m pretty sure there were no pants during that time.  Eventually I read the sexist Bible verses that inspired these Haitians to copy the dead Jews’ clumsy fashion advices.
Underwear is for pussies
Just as in the case of the Muslims I wondered if the Christians thought about the extent of their laws.  Obviously these rules were only for those who cared to obey them.  Women from the West are well advised to obey local Islamic laws if they ever visit a Muslim country.  Rules and values depend upon where you are on the planet and the humans you are around.  There are no gods, ghosts, ghouls, angels, or anything or anyone halfway mystical that enforces these rules.

I always wondered if the gods spent their time perpetually fuming with anger since a large swath of the humans of the globe are either unaware of indifferent for their  rules.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

#69- HIStory: Is it not enough?

It would not be fair to say that everyone who knows the history of Haiti will become an atheist.  However, I don't understand how people who know the history of that nation can look at Christianity in a favorable way.

A few years ago I stumbled upon Bartholomew De Las Casas' book called "A Short Account of the Destruction of the Indies".  It is an awesome read and I highly recommend it.  It described the behavior and the deeds of the Europeans he traveled with to the New World.  But even before that as a child in Haiti, we learned about Christopher Columbus landing in the Caribbean.  The history books acknowledged that he met people and really didn't discover anything but his own ignorance.  Columbus is still lauded as some sort of a hero in the West.

If you think this is disturbing read the Bible.  Example 1 Samuel 15:3
Subsequently, many of the European power nations of the day visited, pillaged, and terrorized many of the local islands.  Wherever they landed the natives suffered via disease, heartache, or destruction.  As the stock of free labor died off from slavery and foreign plagues the squatters decided to look for more people to exploit and subjugated.  Off course back then many of the Europeans did not recognize the Indigenous people as humans and certainly not equals.  They had an even lower opinion of the people from Africa that they took, bought, captured, and enslaved. 

While the motives of slavery and exploration where tauted as having a financial motivation, religion was certainly used as an excuse, a conduit, or a lubricant to the raping of the dignity of the New World.  The religion that most of the colonial powers shared was a very pagan and malleable version of the Jewish myths called Christianity.  The dominant form of which was Roman Catholicism. 

This mental virus was used liberal as a ready excuse to make fodder of men, women, and children.  The Europeans reasoned that the natives were but brutes who were lucky to have contact with them.  They saw them as unwashed savages that monks like De Las Casas could try to convert and thus save from eternal damnation.

The Africans who were brought over to work the fields of Hispaniola are the predecessors of today's Haitians.  They came from various groups with various languages, traditions, and religions.  They all suffered the trauma of harsh treatment and brainwashing.  The effects of these things are still noticeable in the Haitian culture today.  Some Haitians have taken to do their best to mimic Europeans.  Those who look like their former owners tend to do better in Haitian society.  French is still the official language of the nation.  Roman Catholicism is also the premier recognized religion of Haiti.

De Las Casas telling you to "talk to the hand".

I don't think it is too far of a statement to say that the colonizers of Haiti instructed the Haitians to hate themselves and each other.  In regards to religion this is made readily apparent.  The most popular of native spiritual traditions, Vodou, is treated with ire and the most vile contempt.  It has been blamed for everything from the nations poor economic standing to the 2010 earthquake that killed hundreds of thousands of people and left an untold amount maimed for life.  All this while even the enemies of Vodou acknowledge its role in the seminal moment of Haitian independence the meeting at "Bois Ca├»man".

That revolution is still celebrated by Haitians and non-Haitians alike.  Unfortunately it has not surpassed the popularity of Christopher Columbus.  In the same vein, I argue that the evils and treachery of the colonizers that were specifically motivated by their Christian religion has yet to be fully brought to trial.  Vodou  is still framed as villainous while the other religions get a carte blanche.  Even during the 2010 year people where attributing a very natural and understood phenomenon to gods, ghouls, and devils.

It is for this very reason that I felt compelled to shed some light in the insanity.  There is no reason why this should persist.  Many of the other nations of the world have pulled themselves out of the depressive and vacuous world of superstition.  Ironically, the so-called age of "Enlightenment" found fertile ground in the nation that suffered the wrath of the Haitian Revolution, France.  It is my dream and passion to share that narrative with as many people as possible; especially Haitians.

Friday, September 28, 2012

#68- Freemasonry

Logo of Free Masonry
He told me that they were weird and mystical.  Something about them kicking people out of churches to do cloaked rituals during funerals.  They were clandestine.  They are masons of Freemasonry.

This is my first memory of what is know as Freemasonry.  That guy was a acquaintance of mine in high school.  He spoke of his ex-girlfriend's dad who was in this weird thing called the "Masons".  It left a spooky mark on my mind.

I think a lot of people associate mystery and cults with images of men in black robes holding candles and descending into cavernous places to carry out macabre business.  This was my image of what a Mason was based on what the guy had said.

Years later, my aunt and I were watching a daytime talk show and she told me of a woman who had escaped her husband's grasp and came to church to give her testimony.  I remember my aunt saying that the husband later converted from being a Mason to a Christian.  Thus at this point masonry was a decidedly negative thing.

After 9/11, the world changed.  After the dust had settled all manners of conspiracy theories rose.  It was around that time that I started to read David Icke's book called "The Biggest Secret".  Around that time I also became acquainted with "Behold a Pale Horse" by Milton William Cooper.  I was mostly intrigued and enamored with Icke's book.  I had never read such a book in my life.  Freemasons played a huge role in the plot of that book.  I started to see the world in a whole new way.  I was afraid and tried to spread the message of the book.  Most of my rants fell on deaf ears.  But I asked more questions and kept my eyes and ears out for clues that confirmed or denied what the book was saying.

As a young soldier in my Army National Guard unit, I found myself among many Non-Commissioned Officers (NCOs) that were Freemasons.  One of them was my squad leader.  I was intrigued and afraid at the same time.  I wanted to find out what would make a person align themselves with an insidious organization like the Masons when they seem to be such "good" people.

Staff Sergeant Ochoa, my squad leader, and I spent some time together in a fox hole during a training exercise.  I snuck in some sly questions about his organization while trying to seem indifferent and unaware of their evil plot.  He saw right through me.  He told me things that I have never heard before.  Everything he told me seemed guarded and cryptic.  It was just enough information to tease me and pique my interest.

Is this the "mark of the Beast"?
I eventually bought a book called the "Hiram Key" by Christopher Knight and Robert Lomas that was going to give me the inside scoop on the Masonic group.  It was one of the few books that I brought with me when I was stationed in Iraq in 2003.  It was very informative and transparent.   At that time I was very skeptical of whatever Masons said because I felt that they were going to mislead the uninitiated no matter what.  I didn't get a chance to finish the book because I gave it to another soldier as a gift.  I gave it to him because the things I learned were overwhelming and destructive to the things that I was raised to know or believe.  It was during that same time that I met another sergeant from Texas that was a Worshipful Master (leader of his Masonic lodge) and was willing to answer my questions.  I'll never forget his smile as he "threw signs" at me and I didn't know what he was doing.  I decided that the only way that I'd get the full understanding of the fraternity is by joining it.

In 2004 I visited 2 Mason lodges.  The first one had a bunch of geriatric men in the upper middle town of Miami Shores.  I felt like I stepped back in the 1950s.  The leader told me bluntly that I would not fit there and I agreed.  The whole thing must have lasted about 3 minutes.  I didn't let that initial experience deter me.  I found another lodge in the "hood" next to a Nation of Islam mosque of all places.

This is my vision of what weird cults dressed like and do.

Elijah Muhammad of the Nation of Islam
I stepped in and made my inquiries on the process to be a mason.  I was told to come back at another time.  I came back at the instructed time and was asked a bunch of questions.  There was a fee to get in and an initiation process that I had was not ready for.  In one evening I went from a curious skeptic to a Master Mason.  The whole evening was like nothing I have ever been through and it left an impression on me in several ways.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

#67- The Secret

A few years ago, a friend of mine asked me to show a lady friend of his around Miami.  They had come down from Orlando where she was visiting him all the way from Sweden.  She was from a Colombian or Venezuelan background and was very beautiful.  I got her a room in a nice motel overlooking Biscayne Bay.

I spent some time with her and got to know her a little bit.  She loved to travel and had a strong vision for her future.  On the day she was leaving we decided to go to a Barnes and Noble book store.  On our way out she surprised me with a small book called "The Secret".  I remember the book having a beautiful jacket and it was very appealing to the eye.  Eventually we said good bye.

When I went home I flipped through the book to see what it was about.  It was very attractive and glossy but it wasn't dense with content.  So, I put it away after browsing through it.  A few days or weeks later at work I overheard a co-worker of mine talking about the movie "The Secret".  The words caught my ears and I told her about my run-in with the young lady and the book.  My co-worker agreed to make a copy of the movie for me.

A few days later in the evening, I decided to watch the movie.  It was as slick and glossy as the book.  The movie was quite captivating.  It featured a list of authoritative looking people who basically discovered a "secret" of the universe.  Basically, if you really, really, REALLY, wish for something YOU will get it.  Perhaps this is too simple of an explanation but that was what I got out of it.
Swedish Flag

It reminded me of a theme that was featured in one of my favorite books, "The Alchemist" by Paulo Coehlo.  I gave this much thought.  I didn't want to be closed minded about what was presented but I was pretty skeptical; or so I thought.

To my right laid a stack of mail that I had been procrastinating to open.  In those days money started getting tight as the economy was deteriorating all over the nation.  For some reason I decided to go through my mail that evening after watching the movie.  It was then that I discovered a letter claiming that I had won some sort of lottery for a small sum.

I was elated and read the letter over and over again.  I started to feel that the movie may be on to something after all.  I thought of money often in those days.  This may have been the thing I was waiting on.

I read the letter one more time.  OOPS.  There was a deadline to claim the money and it had passed just a few days ago.  I decided to press my luck and cash it just to see what would happen.  My rationale was the following:

1.  If the date had passed they would not honor the check.
2.  If they did honor the check and found the date then I would lose nothing.
3.  If they gave me the money then I would wait a few days before spending it.
4.  If after a few days I heard nothing from no one then I would spend it.

I went ahead and cashed the check.  It was only for a few thousands and at worst they wouldn't cash it or I would give it back.

My sister happen to work for the bank where I do business.  Somehow the conversation came up about my incredible stroke of luck.  As soon as I told her the situation she quickly told me that I had be had.  She knew of these scams from working as a teller etc.  She told me that the people who issued the money would invade my account and then clean me out.  At the time I didn't have too much money in that account but she said this was of the utmost importance and that I needed to close the account.

I already had been the victim of fraudulent activity in my bank account so I took her warning serious.  As soon as I had the time I went to a branch and explained what I did.  Eventually the matter was settled before any harm was done to my money.

There was damage to my ego and pride however.  How did I let myself get sucked in by this movie?  Wasn't I smart enough to see through this?  Wasn't I a critical thinker?

Months or years later I heard a conversation on a Christian radio station about "The Secret".  Apparently it achieved somewhat of a cult status in the eyes of the host.  He was warning Christians not to dabble with it.  He compared it to Harry Potter.  I thought that was ridiculous but some Christians buy into those things.

I also almost got taken by the "The Secret".  I don't know who the book's recommendations worked for but I am not one of them.  There is nothing wrong with dreaming.  Every now and then a person may get lucky.  But I think that work will have to be done in order to achieve success both great and small.

The Secret book and DVD
This story was told in order to demonstrate that critical thinking can and should be used every day in our lives.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

#66- Analogies, Parallels, Precedents, and Understanding

My NIV Bible.  This will be in a museum one day.
It is 100% true that I don't understand 100% of the Bible.  It is 100% true that I am learning everyday.  I get 100% upset to be told by believers that I don't understand their Bible.  My Student New International Version (NIV) Bible was dumb down to a middle-school level.  They practically guided the reader on what to think and how to think about it.  It was amusing on one hand and insulting on the other.

This post is an attempt to show a Bible theist that I do understand their book.  I disagree with a lot of it.  I also acknowledge that there is an almost endless stream of interpretations and apologetics for most of the Bible.  For the purpose of this blog entry I will use a story in 2 Samuel Chapters 11 and 12 to illustrate understanding and context.

1.  Context

Nathan used an allegory to show David the errors of his ways.  He knew exactly what context to use to encite David to react positively to the way he (Nathan) wanted him to.  Had Nathan been blunt with his appraisal of David's behavior he may have been harmed or not well received.  This story is so powerful to me as it is the #1 way that I try to show Bible believers that they share the same ethics as me and that they don't really value the morality of the book.

2.  Analogies

As a poet I use analogies almost without thinking about it.  I think we all tend to use common things that we are familiar with in order to translate fuzzy ideas and concepts into something more familiar. One of the biggest objections and hurdles that I have with Yahweh and the people who worship him is the concept of GENOCIDE.

My notes.  This story was really insightful.
The Holocaust was an attempt at genocide by the regime of Adolf Hitler.  It is one of many mass atrocities that one human group has attempted on another for various reasons.  Rwanda had a horrible episode of heinous barbarism in the mid 1990's as one group tried to wipe the other out.  These two recent cases are fresh in some people's minds and I don't know of anyone who is willing to defend Adolf Hitler's actions toward the Jews and others.  We all seem to instinctively understand that no amount of reworking of the obvious evil of the Germans can right their actions.  This should be painfully obvious to the Jews as they were the ones who suffered the most under Hitler.  At press time I don't know of any Jew who is openly revolting against the idea genocide in the Jewish Bible.  To be fair, Jews are quiet as a group overall.  Their Christian brethren are more boisterous but are reluctant to "call a spade a spade".

3.  Parallels

I was born in Haiti.  A land that once possessed an indigenous people called the Arawaks and Tainos.  They were wiped out by greedy explorers who were, among other things, Christians.  Other colonials came to what became America and slowly to more and more land.  In order to justify this travesty somebody came up with the idea of "MANIFEST DESTINY".  This basically meant that the European invaders felt entitled to the land and their march westward by virtue of their religion.  After reading the Bible I know exactly where they got this ghastly concept from.

The above is a historic fact.  The stories of Genesis and Exodus are said to be historic as well by believers.  In Genesis Abraham hears a voice that eventually promises him a plot of land for his descendants.  The parameters of this real estate is explicitly described.  Eventually, Moses comes a long and before long the natives of the "Promised Land" start dying.  Yahweh ordered a genocide.  The native Canaanite nations didn't even know about a deal between a man who was dead for hundreds of years had struck with an invisible voice. Moses and Joshua saw to it that men, women, children, and animals were killed.  The Jews made sure that they robbed the riches of the Canaanites.  The soldiers were told to save some of the little girls for themselves to pleasure themselves.

I automatically understood that this was a ploy to warrant the slaughter of people to grab land.  I still get an amazing array of excuses about this very simple story.

4.  Precedents

The Nazi officers told the world courts that they were only following orders when they killed the Jews.  This became know as the "NUREMBERG DEFENSE".  When I was in Iraq we had rules of war.  We just couldn't shoot anyone we wanted.  It is against this background that I compared the character of Moses, Joshua, David, and the rest of the Israel soldiers of the Bible.  Simply put I could not see me killing for an invisible being.  If I told my fellow soldiers or superiors that the invisible voice that told me to kill was the same one of the Bible I would be prosecuted faster for being insane as well as violating the rules of engagement.  I knew Yahweh would not come to my rescue then and would not do so now.  Even if my superiors told me to do something illegal or immoral I knew I would be held liable ultimately.  This is how I feel about Yahweh.  I would naturally rebel against evil orders.  This made the Old Testament very crude and barbaric to me.  It was the opposite of what I expected.  Andrea Yates proved that listening to invisible creatures is not going to work in the court of law.

5.  Understanding

I have heard the excuses of the believers on the matters noted above. They not only fail to change my mind but they enrage and sadden me.  If they understand the Holocaust then they understand how I feel.  If they can sympathize with the millions of indigenous peoples that were laid to waste then they can understand how I feel for the Canaanites.

I understand and I disagree.  When all else fails I will try to employ "Nathan's Trick".

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

#65- Sadness and Atheism

My mother once told me that if I searched too much I would go crazy.  Another guy I knew told me that the most learned people in the world either went insane or were seen as such.

Coming from Haiti my mother and family pushed education on me as an absolute premium.  Education or knowledge was precious because it was paid for, it gave the pupil social status, and was essential for survival in Haiti.  My mother paid for tutors to hammer in lessons.  We were instructed through rote memory.  I've received countless beatings in order to finish in the top 3 of the class.

Now in the United States my mom told me learning could make me nuts.  Yahweh denied Adam and Eve access to the Tree of Life after they ate from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.  I remember the exact spot that I stood as I read this ridiculous, sobering, and anti-intellectual opening salvo to what would become the tome that lead to my apostasy not only of Christianity but to religion altogether.

I have been sad in the past as a Christian and I have been sad as an atheist.  People sometimes say that religion gives one hope and that atheists lack this and thus will be surly.  I disagree with this but I think I know why people say these things.  My sadness in regards to religion comes from the frustration of knowing more than my peers.  My sadness comes from the behavior of the religious.  I am indeed melancholy when I recognize the motivation behind the recent anti-homosexual movements in America and the Uganda.

It is upsetting to have people tell me that I didn't try Christianity properly.  I believe I suffered what is essentially a mental breakdown when I succumbed to the realization that people don't care about peace, that people are only concerned about their circumstances, and that gods are indifferent.  I was told to pray to the Holy Spirit.  I did that.  I was asked to read the Qur'an.  I did that.  I was told to speak to innumerable leaders or doctors of different strands for faiths. I did that.

I found the Bible to be ridiculous.  I found the agents of god to be psychopaths.  I found Yahweh to be a murderous zealot.  I found Nehemiah to be a crazy fundamentalist.  I found plenty of racism in the Bible.  I understood genocide because I have read and seen plenty on the Holocaust.  I lived through the era of the massacres of Rwanda and political anarchy in Haiti.  I know from history that the Europeans stole America from the natives and brought slaves from Africa.  I am well aware the Nuremberg Trials excuse of "just following orders" that the Nazi officers used.  All these evil motifs played out as I read the Bible.
I suffered through the stages of grief.  There was a time when I wanted to vindicate god from Yahweh and the Bible from obvious human corruption.  I really, truly wanted (and still want to) avoid Armageddon by telling all peaceful, truth-seeking people of the harm in religion.  All these noble goals drove me to be sad and bitter.  But this dark period was just before I accepted that I was an atheist.  I still get sad now as a non-believer but for very normal and understanding reasons.  I suspect that believers get sad at about the same rate.

I have gone through what my mother had warned me about.  My mother knows significantly less than me in some areas and she gives me signs that she prefers it that way.  She is not alone in this blissful state of ignorance.  Most of the religious people I have met cleave to ignorance.  Those who have some idea of the problems in their religion play word games and mental gymnastics with concepts.

This gives me a bleak outlook for the future of humanity.  In other words, it makes me sad.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

#64- Apologetics

I didn't know what apologetics was at the time but I wanted to defend god from what I was learning. At this time in my life I had been exposed to "Fossilized Customs" and I think I had read the entire New Testament.  I had doubt, reservations, and questions about the religion that I accepted and the Bible.  I had issues with the nature of truth overall.  I may have taken philosophy at school around this time as well.

The time had come to make the decision to take the Great Commission seriously.  I had read the command for myself and if I was going to call myself a follower of Jesus then I would spread the Gospel.  Very few of my peers cared about religion beyond the socially required routines and certainly did not take the Great Commission as far as I knew.

During that time our Sunday School had secured these comic book versions of the New Testament that was the latest attempt to engage and motivate the pupils to learn.  Also at that time there was a call for volunteers for people to talk to strangers around the church about Jesus.  This was my opportunity to practiced the Great Commission.  I did not do it.  I could not do it.  I had what I can only describe as an "allergic" reaction to the thought of me proselytizing.  I remembered the book "Things Fall Apart" and the history of the "New World" and I did not want to tell people about Jesus.

I wondered what I would do if someone I met knew of the evil that is in the Bible.  I already consulted with my pastor and his answers were not satisfactory.  That is when I decided to appoint myself as defender of god by learning as much of what I could about what an objector of the Bible may tell me.  In other words I was entering apologetics unwittingly.

I started with the contradictions in the Bible.  I landed in a Muslim site of all places. I examined every single claim brought forth.  Some of them I knew others I didn't.  Everyone was accurate.  I asked my Sunday School teachers to verify my work and they either did not want to or dismissed the work.  I looked for more problems in the Bible and found more.  I studied and verified as best as I could.  At the end, the Bible was found to be evermore defective then I could ever imagine.

I was distraught.  I was bewildered not because I was a fundamentalist but because I wondered how all these problems could not have been detected and corrected by this time.  I could not be a defender for a guilty party.

Friday, June 29, 2012

#63- Church and State

Religions love to claim the right to legislate morality.  They act like they created righteousness.  Generally speaking, they promote obeying laws especially laws that are from them.  In the U.S., we have the separation of the Church (all places of worship really) and State.  That does not mean that everyone obey these laws.  Church members also break other laws that often benefit them or maintain their safety.

Churches enjoy all types of perks especially when it comes to taxes.  One of the things that they are not allowed to do in return is favor a political candidate.  During my time in my main church I have see this law skirted and broken outright.  At the time I was not aware of the Church/State laws but I found it strange and annoying to have people who did not attend the church regularly suddenly show up and essentially ask for "God's help" in races or just wanted to let us know of some issues that they or their ilk is involved it.

I don't know anyone else that was perturbed by this openly.  Generally speaking, outright criticism is taboo in the church.  This organization is not about freedom of thought or speech but is about obeying power figures.  I think more people were aware or annoyed but I will never know who they are.

There was at least 1 police officer who attended the church in uniform.  I am not sure if he is hired to work overtime or not but his presence was there.  He seemed to mind the traffic and parking issues.  When traffic was settled he would come inside and peek inside and catch a bit of the sermons.  I also was confused about this.  I wasn't sure if he was working or was working and worshiping all at once.  This gives the impression that even this authority figure found the religion important.  I do not know of all laws and statutes of the city of Miami but I suspect that many members were breaking at least some of the laws.  This may have been done unwittingly but I suspect that the officer could have let the transgressor know of the infraction.  This is my personal suspicion but now I will talk about a violation that I am almost 100% sure was ignored and broken.

Public buildings must post capacity signs and display fire drill maps that show the nearest exits in case of emergencies.  I think that we are even supposed to have fire drills just to make sure that the crowds know how to react in a calm and orderly way.  The leaders also should know when they are approaching capacity as well.  I reckon that most of the members of the church are unaware or unconcerned about this.  If they are aware of this they will probably defer to Divine Providence to pull them through.

I remember an exit door being locked in the main sanctuary where we did the youth service.  This was when I wondered if the Fire Marshal actually checks these establishments.  If they did would they levy the fines?  Would the church publicize that they just got a slap on the wrist?  Would they make the necessary changes if it disturbed their business?  I don't think so.  I think that the Fire Marshal will punish a church only reluctantly and would get a major lash back if he or she made this a career.  I gather that these violations are so pervasive that the accountant of the county could make their due just from these violations alone.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

#62- My Church Life 6

During the time that I was going through baptism class I was having relations with an awesome young lady.  By relations I mean mind-blowing, Earth-shattering, CONSISTENT sex.  The day I got dipped in the water of the main side of Emmanuel Haitian Baptist Church I decided that this was a secret vow with Jesus or God (even I confused them sometimes).  What that meant was that I felt super guilty the because I smashed the same day I got "married to the Lord".   I was dejected and upset at myself because I didn't have the will power to ward off that basic instinct.  After some deep inward reflection I slowed down then cancelled our arrangement.

I bring this up only to share the sincerity of my faith or at the very least that I tried to be close to the Creator.  It kinda burns me when some Christians accuse me of "never really believing".  I some times think of telling of all the personal things I did for the Lord but I have always gone by the code of doing good for goodness sake.  I used to think that this was the most sincere way to be.  Even Jesus talked about people fronting just for show.  I don't want no props for being good.  I do it because it is what I want to do.

It has been years since I left the church but here are some highlights that I remember:
Lee Strobel

1.  A girl left the church and was said to have joined a cult.  I was curious and attended one of her new church's home meetings.  It was there that I was given Lew White's "Fossilized Customs".

2.  I decided that I couldn't get a girl from within the church.  Being rejected by a few of them didn't help.

3.  I visited and was wooed by another church called "Tabernacle of Glory".  I visited there after I met a disgruntled former member of New Vision.  The pastor of that church was young, energetic, and well traveled.  I challenged him.  I requested an audience with him and never got my chance.

4.  There were some noted defections from the inner circle.  Scandals were whispered about what happened to them.  There is a glass ceiling over there.  As soon as the kids go to college they usually rarely come back.

5.  I made it my personal mission to visit a mosque, synagogue, and various other churches to do research and to see if there was a place, any place, that had people like me.

6.  I completed the New Testament and wanted to be an unofficial apologist for the church.  I was referred to and read Christian apologetic work by Josh McDowell and Lee Strobel.  I really wanted to see if I could do The Great Commission.

7.  I was told to pray to the Holy Spirit for clarity and I did.  Nothing happened.  More questions and objections flooded my mind.  I found out that Jesus was racist.

8.  I had taken debate and philosophy and my mind became super allergic to BS.  Exposure to those 2 were a violent blow to my faith and religion in generally.  To prove something truth took more work then I expected.

9.  I discovered Wikipedia and read topics that interested me like a crack head.  I swallowed large amounts of information in a short time.  Eventually I declared myself a "Freethinker".  The anti-bible websites and books that I discovered knew of and pointed out more problems in the Bible.

10.  I became an International Freemason.  I left after about 2 years.  It wasn't what I expected.  They weren't interested in discussing the things that were vital to me.

Lew White
11.  I went to Calvary Chapel and challenged a few Christians there.  A Messianic Jew asked me "How do I know that my God was real" when I told the group that Yahweh couldn't be the true god because he was evil.  I gave a baseless answer to that question and that was the last blow to the last piece of religion I had.

12.  After stumbling across some atheist sources I was pointed to the Florida Atheists and Secular Humanists (FLASH) group.  I went to one of their local meeting and heard them out.  I identified with them a lot.  I later went home and decided that I could not in all honesty say that I could prove that God existed.  That evening I put faith aside and accepted the title of "ATHEIST".


These are but snap shots of the whole adventure but this is the gist of my church life journey.  I have not been to New Vision for a few years now.  I do miss some of the people.  I did develop and emotional connection with the people.  At the end I chose to be real to myself.  If God was real AND good then he would applaud me for giving it a try.