Here's another churchless guest "sermon" from someone who regularly emails me descriptions of his now religious-less life, after belonging to a fairly fundamentalist Christian denomination.
Enjoy. He's a good writer with an appealingly honest style.
Hey Brian, how are you? I’m ok. I’m just getting over a short bout of the flu.
I almost said, thank God it was a short bout. I am thankful for that fact, but it’s funny how the God stuff still hangs around. We’ve talked about this before, but it’s interesting to me what still slips into my mind from my religious past. Sometimes it’s just a thought that shows up, other times, something else triggers it.
I think this recent thing was triggered by a preacher that my wife was listening to. It was about finding your purpose or calling.
As soon as I started thinking about that, I got tense and crabby. Interesting. Finding God’s purpose was a BIG deal in the particular flavor of Christianity that I came out of. Some things that helped me get back to reality were that I did some reading from notes I had taken over the last few years.
Also, I looked at some blogs that have helped me, including yours. If I do a search on your site for “purpose”, there are some great posts that come up. These help me greatly to just calm down.
Back to the flu thing real quick.
The religious group that I came from believed that God wanted us happy, healthy, and rich. So we would try to use our faith to not get sick. But when we did get sick, we would pray and use our faith to get healed. Which seems funny to me now, because if my faith didn’t keep me from getting sick, how was it going to help me get well any faster?
Anyway… so when I used to get sick, I would spend much time praying and reading scriptures and confessing and believing for my healing.
Looking back, I can’t say that I ever really noticed a difference in the time I got well vs. when I didn’t used to pray for healing. And it kind of added a level of stress to the whole thing. Like, it was up to me and my faith to get well faster.
Now, I can just be sick. And not do anything else!
I was in bed pretty much all day and night for the last two days. I slept a lot. And when I wasn’t sleeping, I read, listened to podcasts or Youtube videos, meditated, or just laid there moaning. LOL Lots of body aches with this one. But there is no pressure on me to get better.
I know that my body is fighting whatever I had, the way nature intended, and I should be fine in a few days. Sure, I can do things to facilitate that process. I drank lots of fluids, got plenty of sleep, ate chicken noodle soup, etc. So I’m working with what my body is naturally doing and not against it. But there was no “magic” involved.
I was telling someone recently that everyone that I’ve ever known that had an incurable, untreatable, fatal disease has died of that disease, or something related to it.
My wife and I would pray fervently for, and often with, these people. And most of the time, when they would die, we would just not discuss our “prayer failure”. We would simply grieve and move along. You would think after 5, 6, 7, 8 times, with zero effect, we would step back and say, whoa! Something isn’t working here.
And when we would pray for sick people who weren’t battling a fatal disease, they would get better and we’d be like, thank God! Our prayers are working!
We never really stopped to think that they would have recovered, anyway. Or that they were getting medical treatment that would have worked, anyway. Logic and reason were not terribly abundant in the circles that I used to run in.
When I look back, my prayer success rate was probably about 50%.
Today, I can relate to George Carlin and how he talked about prayer. You probably have heard him talk about it. Carlin joked that he gave up on praying to God to fix everything and decided he'd pray to the tough-guy actor Joe Pesci — because Joe Pesci, especially Joe Pesci with a baseball bat, looked like a guy who could “get things done.”
After a while, Carlin said, he noticed something: after all the prayers he made to Joe Pesci, about half of them worked out the way he wanted them to, and about half of them didn't — about the same luck he had praying to God. Yep. Me too.
Another common thing we would hear is that the devil is attacking someone. Like, pray for brother so and so. The devil has attacked him with diabetes!
The fact that brother so and so is 425 lbs and eats something fried every day would have nothing to do with that. Oh, and diabetes runs in his family.
And I’m not judging anyone for their weight. I’m as heavy as I’ve been in my life. I’m 5’11” and about 240 lbs. I’ve recently developed high blood pressure. I can’t say the devil attacked me with that. I need to push the plate away and walk more.
I’m pretty sure, miraculously, my blood pressure will come down to where it should be if I drop 30-40 pounds.
I don’t know why I’m so wound up today? LOL Sometimes I just get like that. When I left church, and eventually, my religious beliefs, it wasn’t because I was angry. There was a little hurt when I realized I had lost almost all my friends, but I wasn’t really angry.
Now, I go through periods where I’m just angry at religion. I’ll flip churches off as I drive by them. Childish, I know. But it feels good at the time. I’m sure there are several reasons for these feelings, but I’ll save that for later.
Something that is going on that is pretty cool is that my wife is meditating with me, now.
Not long ago, she thought it was a waste of time and kind of crazy. She may have even thought that it was a way that the devil could infiltrate your mind? But after a while, she started to see how my meditation practice was affecting my day to day life. Now we sit together several times a week and she loves it. Pretty cool.
I hope you and yours are well. Talk to you again soon.