My seventh reply to Eva

From [email protected] Thu Apr 15 00:15:45 1999
Date: Wed, 14 Apr 1999 20:34:41 -0400 (EDT)
From: Reverend Jan
To: eva
Subject: Re: your mail

On Mon, 1 Mar 1999, eva wrote:

Let me begin, though, by telling you that I find you to be a sensitive person, and I was quite impressed by the tender tribute you paid your grandfather. He was obviously the light of your life, and you honored him in a most loving fashion. Jan, you mentioned previously that your parents were raised in a "religious" home, and since you grandfather was a man of God, you can be assured that he is experiencing overwhelming peace and joy in heaven. I know you do not believe this, but it is so, and he lives on, not just in your heart. You will see him again.

It would be nice if I could believe that, but as I am hellbound and he would not have been, that is unlikely. (Of course, my mother and uncle had other conversations with him before he died that suggested my grandmother was the more religious of the two of them, and he may have become at least an agnostic before his death, so who knows.)

I now have a clearer picture as why you forfeited your new-found faith and "returned" to atheism. Apparently, you had doubts regarding the validity of the Bible, and possibly questioned several theological points as well. As a "new believer" this is common, if not expected. With time and research, your doubts/confusion could have been laid to rest.

The more I research now, the more certain I am that the bible is just another confused human document, valuable as a cultural reference, but no more Truth than any of humanity's other mythologies. I was beginning to come to that conclusion even as I attended Church and bible study, and spoke with those who knew far more than I about matters of faith and Christianity, even as I decried myself for not having enough faith that the inconsistencies and evils I found were merely misinterpretations on my part. I wanted so badly to be able to turn off the rational part of my brain, and just accept everything the way my friends and elders had... but even with the most ardent prayers, that would never be the case.

I do not believe that this was the core issue as to why you returned to atheism, though. When you became a Christian and realized your belief assured your eternal destination, you obviously became spiritually "burdened" for your parents. You realized that because they were atheists, they could not enjoy eternity as you would. Perhaps you even felt a bit guilty, and most certainly, hopeless to help them. As you expressed in your previous e-mail, you questioned a God who would "condemn" your parents, who were honorable and good people. You stated you refused to worship a God who would make such a rule. This is very sad indeed, as you made God responsible for the choice your parents have made. In fact, you forfeited your faith for your parents.

Although my horror at the fates of my family members was a part of my deconversion, it was small compared to the biblical problems I encountered. Indeed, I did feel that eventually, the Holy Spirit would prevail in aiding me in their salvation; I didn't forfeit my faith for them, though that's a nice try at psychoanalysis :)

Jan, I would like to make a point here. If you read the Bible, you are aware of one central theme Jesus stated over and over, and that is that he loves us and desires no one to be lost. You can find this in the parable of the lost sheep, the prodigal son, the woman's lost coin plus many other examples. He ate and drank and lived amongst society's outcasts to demonstrate this love.

...according to the bible, which, as I have repeatedly stated, is not a credible document to me, just as the Koran or Ba'havad Gita (sp.?) are not.

The fact is, the only requirement for getting into heaven is accepting him. Merely "being good" is pointless without belief. The reason why a person who out and out rejects God/Jesus cannot get into heaven on "good deeds" is because they are actions of pride in and of themselves. In other words, I didn't need God to get here, I achieved salvation through my own actions. Literally, a person who denies God makes himself the center of the universe. What makes you think a person who wants nothing to do with God in life will want to serve him in the afterlife? Is that even fair?

So in essence, two people could (theoretically) live exactly the same life, making the same moral decisions, and the believer of the two would go to heaven, while the other -- whose life had been just as exemplary as the other's -- would suffer for eternity in hell. You see, that seems so unfair to me that I would not even consider worshipping its originator. A mass murderer who has converted is more deserving of heaven than a secular Mother Theresa? That isn't right by *anyone's* moral standards (expect God's, apparently). *That* isn't fair. You know, Hitler believed he was doing God's work, cleansing the earth of the people who he believed had killed Christ. I'm sure he had faith in Christ; he certainly wasn't an atheist! So Hitler is in heaven, while the "heathen" Gandhi is in hell? That sounds ludicrous, but it follows completely from salvation by faith. It's not right in human terms, and it's not right in Infinite terms, either.

I want you to consider this, Jan, as you are contemplating becoming a mother in the near future. You will give your child life, raise him/her with tender devotion and give the child all the best in your power, including unconditional love. When that child becomes an adult, you hope and pray he will have a close relationship with you. It may be he moves far away, or decides he wants nothing to do with you at all. (This does happen). You can wish, plead and do all in your power to persuade your child to maintain the relationship, but if he refuses, what can you do? Nothing. Your love is not enough. He will have to desire that relationship. This is how God feels about those who do not want to know/believe in him. He is powerless, in a sense, against their own free will. A person who rejects God has chosen their own eternal destiny.

The difference being, once again, I can send letters and email and call my kids, and do so actively, so that they *know* without a doubt in their heads that I love and care for them... while god sits back and hopes that his holy book and a few followers can try their best to convey his feelings, which are presumably similarly infinite. If I sent couriers and other people's testimonials to my wayward child, I would never feel that I was doing enough to convince hir that I loved hir; it would take a personal appeal for me to feel that I had truly done what I could. I am merely mortal, a finite being with finite resources, yet I can still see what would be necessary to get my message across. Why does god chose not to do this?

Jan, you are planning on becoming a mother. Can you fathom the incredible responsibility that you are undertaking? I want you to consider very seriously the implications of allowing your child to be raised devoid of a relationship with God. Do you want the child to undergo the same spiritual turmoil you, yourself have undergone? You are fooling yourself if you believe that in waffling on spirituality, "letting your child choose" is going to be loving and beneficial. It will be total confusion. A child deserves more than that. I am a mother of four teenagers, and I am speaking from experience Jan.

While my spiritual turmoil was traumatic, it was also an incredible learning experience -- I gained so much knowledge of myself, my friends, my family, the culture I have been raised in, religions as a whole... the list goes on and on. So while I'm sure it would pain me to see my children in a similar situation, I would do my best to let them know that I still love them and would continue to love them no matter what, and that they could always feel free to talk to me about their beliefs and feelings. Yes, they will be confused, and yes, they will get hurt, but that is part of EVERYONE'S existence, and is, I believe, a necessary part of growing up and maturing intellectually. And I firmly believe that it is their right to experiment with existence; brainwashing them in any fashion would deprive them of that right.

One final point, Jan. If you had remained firm in your faith, it is very possible that you may have been able to help your parents through several avenues, such as by example, prayers and your own testimony. As it stands now, no one will be benefit. I will pray for you and your family Jan. I care about you and them. I know there is still hope:) Your pal, EVA

We all still benefit; I have been able to show them other facets of their family and their own beliefs (they had to study as I have to counter my arguments :), and we have grown together as a family as a result of our struggles. I believe they have also become more accepting of different beliefs as a result; I know I have, though I will never stop questioning those who are willing to question.

Peace,
Jan

***************** http://members.xoom.com/Rev_Jan/ *******************
* Rev. Jan A.N. * Better a bleeding heart than none at all.*      
* aka [email protected] *   Religious freedom means ANY religion.  *
****** Proud Atheist since 1974 *** Dare to think for yourself! ******

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