Where I Cram My Ideas

Wednesday, July 25, 2007


One advantage a person has in being a religious person and then becoming an atheist is that I have a very important set of memories. I understand what it feels like to be religious. For a while after rejecting my religious beliefs I was rather defensive and prickly about the matter. I was impatient with people who didn't see things the way I did. I was the one, after all, whose eyes had been opened.

Then I realized that any criticisms I leveled about the basic intelligence of the religious was a criticism I had to apply to myself. That's how I know you religious people are smart and all very handsome and well-mannered :)

It has been nearly a year, at the time that I'm writing this, since I have called myself a Christian. My memories of my faith-based life, thus, are still vivid. I was cleaning out a few possessions and came across an old page-binder in which were some folded-up pieces of paper with poems I had written.

I don't know the limits of copyright law on the internet and such, so if these poems reflected what I considered to be excellent pieces of work, I'd be more anxious in ensuring that I maintain the rights than I am. However, I have no qualms with using them to illustrate my thoughts.
"The winter came sudden, like the Norsemen of old,
With unstoppable force and unbearable cold.
It brought layers of snow that topped off the charts,
And it froze 'til the cars would not even start.

Is it true that the winter is dead?
Is it through?
Will the sun reascend?
Winter's fled, at its end?

The winter then stopped, it was brought to a halt,
But the snow was still thick and the roads needed salt.
The clouds of the storm swept out of the skies
So the comforting sun, unchallenged, could rise.

It is true that the winter is dead!
It has fled!
It is through!
Winter's fair end lets the sun reascend!

The sun reaches its zenith, not a cloud stands to fight,
And the warm, shining rays cast a life-giving light.
See the temperature rise as, to no one's surprise,
The snow starts to melt as the long winter dies.

Yet is it true that the winter's quite through?
Is it thoroughly dead?
In defeat has it fled?
Has it come to an end or will the sun now descend?

For the winter still lurks, it is not far away,
And the gathering clouds dissipate the sun's ray.
Until shadow and cold once again mist our breath
And the sun choked by clouds and by winter's cold death.

But the sun will have victory, though it seems he's not here
The winter months are waning and the spring's drawing near.
What had once been frozen, hopeless and bleak
Can be saved by the sun in less than a week.

Now winter and death have come to an end
And freeing the world, the Sun will ascend
The winter will flee and we'll all become free
The coldness is through, now at last that is true."
I wrote that when I was fifteen or sixteen years old - in my defense, I had only just started writing poetry. Yet the allegorical nature of this poem is blatant even without replacing the word 'sun' with 'Son.' This sort of imagery allowed me to place strong emotional contexts to my faith. I have never liked the winter (except for the opportunities it affords me to go snowboarding... wrapped up warmly). It may not be something that happens to all of the faithful, but I had personal emotional attachments to my religious beliefs, some of which were quite subconscious. Other people may equate their faith with the faith of a loved one, even someone who has died. To criticize that person's faith, then, is subconsciously like criticizing the faith of the loved one.

I think the second poem helps demonstrate the emotional aspects which controlled my outlook on my faith:
"Isn't it great to read a tale of epic struggle against the bad?
When good is threatened; about to fail, but summons strength few knew it had?
When the battle's lost and all have fled and evil's finally won,
A spark of good stands up to fight when all the rest have run.
Good faces evil, a David and Giant, small but grim and still defiant,
And evil sways in fear and doubt of this strange combat that's just begun,
And locked in battle this underdog knows that he can overcome.

It seems it's just in stories that these happy tales occur,
But far beyond our consciousness a spirit battle stirs.
For we have an evil tyrant, and we have a fallen race,
We have a hero who rose again from dying in our place.

The battle still is raging - we'll be drawn to it 'ere long,
So let's just put our armor on so God will make us strong.
And when the battle's lost and all have fled, and evil seems to win,
Our Lord will come, absolve our sins, and save our worthless skin."

There's nothing more honest than my attitude about that story was when I wrote it. With all sincerity, that's how I viewed my faith - in a nutshell. An epic struggle against the bad. A hero who died and rose again. A noble God who takes our side, even when we don't deserve it.

It's impossible to overstate the importance of emotion in our mental persuasions. I urge everybody who reads this to consider how your outlook on life looks to someone who does not share your emotional attachment to it. Does it still look the same?


Dan Marvin said...

What fruit will grow in a True Christians life:

1. Repentance - A 180 degree turn away from sinful behavior and towards Godly behavior.

2. Thankfulness - A thankful heart that is grateful for what God has done... and shows itself in a cheerful disposition.

3. Good Works - A life that becomes others centered (helping the aged, feeding the poor, teaching children, etc.) Not self centered (all free time consumed in personal hobbies and interests)

4. Fruit of the Spirit - An ever-growing capacity of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness and self control in the life of the believer.

5. Fruit of Righteousness - Doing the right thing according to the way God defines it in his word. Not according to the way man defines it in his own mind.

We are here to get fruit bearing Christians not decisions for Christ to fill pews.

If we understand the parable in Mark 4:3-13 then it unlocks the secret to all parables: Foolish virgin=false convert Wise virgin=Genuine conversions. The good fish, the bad fish. The man who built his house on rock and the man who built his house on sand. The one who built his house on sand is the one who hears the word of Jesus but doesn't keep them. False Convert.

6 characteristics of a False Convert:

1. Mark 4:5 - Lack depth of understanding. Immediate results impressive changes occur quickly then false convert will fall away from their faith over time and the results and changes disappear.

2. Luke 8:6 - False convert lack moisture in other words they lack the life-giving and life-sustaining power of God's word. To a false convert the Bible is dry and uninteresting and struggles with daily devotions.

3. Matthew 13:6 - False convert have no roots like a plant that dries up when the heat comes because it's roots aren't deep enough to reach water to sustain it. So is the false convert who's faith dries up where persecution comes his roots of faith don't run deep enough to reach the life sustaining water of God's word and Holy Spirit.

Mark 4:16 - False Converts receive the word with gladness. Hears the gospel message with gladness and really seems to latch on to it. He may express, for example, with tear filled eyes of joy. How this is the answer he's been looking for. When any test or trials comes his way, excuses become his trademark he falls away from following Jesus.

5. Matthew 13:20 - Repeats that same point false convert receive the word with joy (at first)

6. Luke 8:13 - Because they do believe for a season this is the one that fools the most people because they do believe, for a short time, the Gospel message. These false converts walk and talk a very good game. They often sincerely believe the Vital truths. That Jesus was born of a virgin, lived a sinless life, died a sacrificial death and rose from the earth and that he was fully man and fully God. they believe those things in their mind. When it comes time to deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Jesus into test and self sacrifice the false convert displays, slowly but surely, the truth that they never believed in their hearts. Never made that commitment to Christ and eventually becomes distracted by the worries and opportunities of life and lives for himself not Christ.

G-man said...

Ah, the Gospel According to Dan. I wonder how many people have ever matched those criteria.

Dan Marvin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dan Marvin said...

Narrow is the Path