pastoral rock

My daylight explorations of Dylan’s home going down the wild, winding, pastoral red rocks flecked Cougar Road.   “Beautiful” by the Smashing Pumpkins perfectly befits the total experience of these breathtaking surroundings which he saw on a daily basis yet was impervious to feel it’s blessings. Still, when you’re there, you cannot help but bask in a kind of presence of Him.  Enjoy :)

I also have an dusk version plus some photos of the area.. I’ll post those next up.

How I became an Atheist

I’d like to tell my story.

I was raised in a very liberal Christian household. Although we didn’t hold any animosity or hostility towards people who disagreed with us, or homosexuals or anything, our parents still took our religious upbringing quite seriously. Church almost every Sunday, lots of family activities with a religious slant etc. (of particular note, family meeting and planning every Sunday with prayer.)

Our brand of Christianity was very much of the “Jesus loves you just the way you are” variety, so our attitude to spirituality was pretty relaxed. I stopped going to church in my teens, and instead joined a youth group with guest pastors, christian rock, youth ministration and the whole shebang. Even then, I rarely paid attention during the talks, mostly I just went for keeping up appearances.

Fast forward to my late teens. I went to a boarding school for a year before I attended university. One day, I decided to actually look up some Atheist content to see what they actually think. I just wanted to understand their reasons. I came upon Dusty Smith’s youtube channel, Cult of Dusty, and watched a few of his videos ranting about religion.

I wanted to check my facts, and during my googling I found a page that does a quick and concise summary of all the OTHER religious figures throughout history that share aspects with Jesus. Other Sons of God, other virgin-births, other martyrs.

That was the first major blow to my faith. I made a teary-eyed, sobbing phone call to Mom where I blurted out that I didn’t believe anymore (in hindsight, it certainly was the start of my road to unbelief). Mom got very concerned, but she also took it very calmly. Dad bought me a book (C. S. Lewis’ ‘The Screwtape Letters’. Never finished it) that he hoped would help.

This moment faded into memory, and I eventually backtracked. Later that same year, when I went to my first actual service in quite a while, I got that feeling of euphoria and elation, and concluded that I simply hadn’t been spending enough time with God. Back home the next year, I started actually reading the Bible for the first time in a while. I had decided that I wanted to make sure I actually knew what I believed in. The Old Testament wasn’t exactly fun to get through, and although Jesus was a lot more agreeable, I still had some objections that wouldn’t let go.

My doubt came back eventually, and once again my parents were totally cool with it. They explained this as a necessary process where my “childhood faith” needed to evolve into a proper, mature understanding of what it meant to be Christian.

So I started asking questions. My dad possessed a degree in theology, so he was good at answering me, but he couldn’t quite settle my doubts, and the more I thought about it, the more it all started to fall apart. I also got a small job, serving as a translator in my church, since there happened to be a few members of the congregation who didn’t speak Norwegian (my nationality). Being an English student, it was very valuable experience to get the chance to actively apply myself, but of course, I also got the full content of the pastor’s speeches in ways I hadn’t since childhood, and having to translate it as accurately as possible forced me to think about the implications of what I was saying.

So there was this one service, where the preacher was talking about what it meant to serve God. The way he described it was essentially as process where serving God made your “true self” come to the light. When you followed God in all things, the story went, your “earthly self” would diminish, and your “true self” would be revealed in Christ.

To me, this sounded like one thing, and one thing only: Brainwashing. I mean, seriously, it’s a raw deal you’re getting as a Christian, “there’s something wrong with you, and only I can fix it. You need me, you’re worthless without me, I’ll punish you if you reject me.”

So I had just translated for the preacher, and as the music kicked in and the congregation praised god with song, I sat down on my knees, and wept by myself in the corner room I sat in.

If I couldn’t believe in God wholeheartedly, I was going to Hell… but what if Hell didn’t exist? What if there was no God?

I renounced my faith essentially right then and there. I told my family about it later that same evening. I’m extremely fortunate to have a family who doesn’t let the fact that I’m an Atheist stop them from being my family. I’m still their son and older brother, and they still love me.

I am now against religion, because it has the nerve to suggest that you should be ashamed of your humanity, and it reduces us to mere pawns in a cosmic game – whether that be the battle between Good and Evil, or the Wheel of Life or anything else – where our interests and desires are never served or honestly considered.

  • youth group member: pastor steve, why does god -
  • cool but exhausted youth pastor: listen.
  • cool but exhausted youth pastor: i love teaching you kids about god and i love god but right now i am tired of answering questions about god. all day with the god questions.
  • cool but exhausted youth pastor: right now i just want us to have some fun rock climbing.
  • cool but exhausted youth pastor: the rock climbing can be for god, if you want it to be. sure. why not.
  • youth group member: pastor steve?
  • cool but exhausted youth pastor: yes?
  • youth group member: could god make a rock climb so difficult they couldn't climb it?
  • cool but exhausted youth pastor: yes. no. whatever makes you happy. let's please just climb the rocks.