The Cons of Life Without Jesus

Religion is not all bad, and perhaps is mostly good.  The biggest thing that bothers me about religions are their claims to be true.  If religions were simply promoted as systems of useful metaphors, I’d probably have not complaint against them.

There are a few things that have creeped into my godless life that were not present in my godful one, and that go against what I think is right.  My current belief system seems to lack the motivational impetus to control these behaviors.  But now that I’m sitting down to write about them, I seem to have forgotten what they are… well, I remember one, maybe there only was one:

  1. Anger- Without Jesus, I find that I am prone to express my anger in ways that I later regret.  It’s not physical, as I have never hit, nor do I believe I’ve even threatened to hit, my wife or children.  It’s more an inner feeling that I didn’t use to deal with.  I used to believe that God commanded me to be happy, and so I was.  Or rather, I behaved happily (not all christians find it that easy, but as I’ve mentioned in other posts I seem to have something of a disconnect to my emotions).  Now that I no longer hold that belief, I find that I’m more easily agitated.  For example, if my boy is hitting my girl, I might grab his arm and yank him behind me as I pick her up.  I’m sure it’s scary for him, because that’s the emotion that radiates out from me.  It says, “I didn’t hurt you, but I really wanted to.”  For the above reason, I find that I have to apoligize to my family more frequently than before.

If I think of anything else I lack without Jesus, I’ll add comments to this post.

16 thoughts on “The Cons of Life Without Jesus

  1. I thought it might be appropriate to send you the concluding lines of “Sunday Morning,” by Wallace Stevens.

    The (handy) notes in the Norton Edition quote him: “The poem is simply an expression of paganism, although, of course, I did not think that I was expressing paganism when I wrote it.”

    He was just writing a poem! He was a big executive of the Hartford Accident and Insurance Company. Many of his colleagues never found out that he was a poet.

    Maybe you already have the whole poem, or this will inspire you to look it up, but here goes (Stevens explained that the “she” of the poem could be you, or me, as well of the pagan protagonist; given that Stevens’ subject was often poetry itself, “she” could also be his Muse, or just some floozy he picked up):

    She hears, upon that water without sound,
    A voice that cries, “The tomb in Palestine
    Is not the porch of spirits lingering.
    It is the grave of Jesus, where he lay.”
    We live in an old chaos of the sun,
    Or old dependency of day and night,
    Or island solitude, unsponsored, free,
    Of that wide water, inescapable.
    Deer walk upon our mountains, and the quail
    Whistle about us their spontaneous cries;
    Sweet berries ripen in the wilderness;
    And, in the isolation of the sky,
    At evening, casual flocks of pigeons make
    Ambiguous undulations as they sink,
    Downward to darkness, on extended wings.

    Sorry to be doing English 101. I wish I’d never studied this poem in class, because the lines have a kind of desolate grandeur that’s somehow slightly spoiled by associated with school….

    It was what you said about metaphor, that made the connection for me. Because Stevens, as a poet, and as a pagan (I assume he was, at least), was one for whom religion was keenly that, but no more. But what else is there, for a poet? Or anyone else?

    There probably IS something else, we just can’t know it –

    Besides, it’s Sunday morning. Really!

  2. By the way, you might get a kick out of reading Jonathan Swift’s “Argument Against the Abolition of Christianity,” or some such thing. (This stuff is from another life, and I can barely remember the title anymore, being just barely alive in THIS life, I’m afraid.

    I’m too lazy to read it again myself, but I think the argument works by suckering the reader into reading a lot of reasons for “not abolishing” the Anglican church, as opposed to Christianity.

    One of his reasons for NOT abolishing it, is that there needed to be at least one man in every parish who could read. In most cases, this was the preacher….

    Churches were also useful for keeping time, etc….

    I think most readers realize with a little shock that Swift isn’t talking about Christianity (or Jesus) at all, but that we buy his arguments as much as we do, because we’re all at best only nominal Christians….

    However, the argument seems to go, nominalism is better than nothing, which is precisely what we’d have without it….

    I’m not doing justice to Swift’s tract, which is at once funny and disturbing, both an attack on hypocrisy, and a weird sort of justification of it….

    I think it’s because Swift was an intensely ambivalent man, who felt the paradox of a set of beliefs based to a large extent on ancient texts, whose original meanings were always sought, but unobtainable except through the very forces (language, institutions, etc.) that corrupted them….

    The metaphor of the coats in A Tale of A Tub (people who (think they) know say it’s the greatest satire in English) is the best illustration we have of the crisis of fundamentalism. It tries to get back to something lost in time, through the very things that have brought them down to us. At its worst, it hates what’s bad far more than it loves what’s good…

    Back to Swift’s rhetoric. One more con is not washing the car Saturday night and getting up early Sunday morning to get your little brood together in time for Chapel.

    In fact this is something you could still do (with or) without Jesus. This is something you could NOT do (or at least it would be pretty pointless) without CHURCH….

    Who know, maybe CHURCH even made you less ANGRY….

    Maybe (God help you, Noah, speaking metaphorically, of course), it even made you HAPPY….

    So, I think Swift’s point would be, stop even thinking about Jesus. You haven’t got there yet. Nobody has….

  3. My last semester in school I took a creative writing class in poetry.  It  made me appreciate more the work of published poets, but it seems to have all but annihilated my own desire to write poetry.  I’m a Hallmark poet, and I appreciate Hallmark poetry, but I internalized the message from the class that Hallmark sentiments aren’t worth the paper they are written on (or the memory they occupy on one’s laptop).  I’m fairly certain I don’t get the poem, but it seems a nice collection of syllables   If you say it’s related to religion as a metaphor, then I’ll believe you.

    I appreciate the readings you recommend, hopefully one day I’ll get around to reading them.  I intend for my next reading project (which I probably won’t begin for several weeks or months) to be the Quran.  I keep on hearing conservative spin doctors say that the text actually suggest killing non Muslims, and then I hear Muslim spin doctors say that the text suggests tolerance and peace.  I’m interested in going to the source and finding out what’s true.  You can certainly find justification in the Old Testament for eliminating groups that don’t believe the way you do.

    Also, I realized in my post that I said my anger wasn’t physical, and then I described something physical.  Generally my anger does not manifest itself physcially at all, the event I related would be an exception to the norm, but what I was really trying to say is that it is not physically abusive.  I believe there is a difference between grabbing your kids arm and slapping or hitting him, or threatening to do so.

  4. Maybe what you’re really missing is the meditative aspect of things. As I understand it, previously you’d read (Bible/BoM/whatever) and then ponder/meditate on what you read. Maybe you should try setting aside X minutes each day for reflective meditation.

    Or you could just focus strictly on meditation for the sake of meditation. The type where you try to empty your mind and focus on lights/waves/whatever passing through you. Personally I find this type boring, which is why I suggest reflective meditation, but to each their own.

    The point is, maybe the time spent sitting and just relaxing/thinking is what you really need to calm yourself and make it so you are less easily agitated. I personally try and spend some time each day thinking about my goals while deep breathing. I find it to be a very relaxing and positive experience.

  5. I generally agree with these thoughts.  I don’t have any sort of ritual to gear me up for a good day and prepare to overcome my weaknesses, I just get started.  I also agree that emptying the mind of everything is boring, and I’m not even sure of it’s usefulness, so I’d be doing reflective meditation.

    Your post also reminds me that I’ve been EXTREMELY busy of late.  I work 5 days/40 hours a week for T-mobile, substitute teach for 2 days each week, and I’m trying to start a business.  Being that busy probably makes me more irratable as well.  I don’t get as much leisure time as I’d like, and I definitely haven’t been using that time meditatively.  Hopefully something will take off here soon so that I’ll consider myself in a better position for fun and self improvement.

  6. Noah… have you forgotten about AUTHORITY? A lot of churches say “This is the only true church!” but who gave them the authority to say that? Surely God himself doesn’t have many churches just to contradict themselves. Where did Catholics, Baptists, Mormons, etc get their authority? The common belief being spread “it doesn’t matter which church, as long as they talk of God & Jesus” is just another simple tool of Satan to take people down a path that does not lead to salvation.

  7. @ previous poster. . .

    So, what exactly is the path that leads to salvation? Also, and this is important, why do you believe that:
    A) there is an evil powerful entity known as satan who tries to screw people up
    B) Your set of beliefs will lead you to salvation while people with similar beliefs get the shaft. (what is salvation anyhow?)
    C) There is some good benevolent being called God who is looking out for us.

    Your comment was absolutely devoid of any form of proof, be it of a rational or empirical nature. You were also rather vague as to what your esteemed almighty belief system was. Perhaps you know Noah and have already communicated all this to him but from my perspective I just see another know it all thumping their chest and proclaiming that they’ve got it all figured out.

  8. If I know wickedsky, I do not know it ;) Perhaps an old mission acquaintance?  At the very least I presume they are LDS, since to my knowledge they are the only group that lies heavily on the authority question. 

    The Oversoul appeared to me last night.  She grabbed my love handles and told me that henceforth I had her authority to do whatever I felt inspired.  She even gave me a piece of paper stating that whatever I feel inspired to do or say is her will, and that anyone whose love handles I grab will be endowed with the same power.  She even gave me a CD, which contains a Microsoft Word template so that I could give others documentation of their new power.  She also told me that she will be unavailable to personally resolve any disputes regarding the origin of my authority, because she was busy redecorating Arcturus.  But the Oversoul assured me that she would give good feelings to anyone who would ask in faith if I really had her authority.  She also said that the faithless would receive no such confirmation, because she would have to punish them if they received confirmation and then did not act accordingly, and she loved them too much to do that.  Her illustriousness also said that while I should not use my new found power for personal gain, that I should take 20% of the income from anyone to whom I give her authority for the purpose of building elaborate meeting places in which to worship her, throwing parties for those in the know, and traveling the world as I spread her gospel as it is revealed to me on the fly.  Also, anyone who refuses to give me said money is to have her authority stripped.  The Wise One warned that people without my authority, who do not recognize her as the supreme being of the universe, will yet often be able to do miraculous things in the name of their false gods.  But my followers should know that it is by her power that these things are done, and she does them because she loves all humans.  Lastly, she told me that anyone so bold as to ask me for a miraculous sign of my authority would see no immediate consequence, but would be thrown outside the universe, which is a place of considerable misery, a greater description of which I was told I would receive some other day.

    Now, I know that some of you will find it difficult to believe that the creator of the universe uses Microsoft products, but I KNOW WITH EVERY FIBER OF BEING THAT SHE DOES.  Repent, let me grope you, and give me your money!

  9. WickedSky,
       Sorry it took me a few days to approve your comment.  Ethan will speak for himself, of course.  I do have a response of my own however.  I don’t have any conclusive evidence that God does not exist- what would such evidence look like?  What evidence do you have that I am not the anointed messenger of the Oversoul?  However, I do have what I believe to be compelling evidence of 2 things:  1) If God exists he does not care what humans think about him and  2) If God exists he does not love humans.
       Regarding 1, we can suspect the motives of other humans, but in general we know what they have said and done.  When Jimmy Carter said President Bush was a disaster, he was apparently misunderstood.  Because Jimmy Carter cares about how people perceive his words, he issued clarifying statements himself.  We can debate the sincerity of these statements, but we can’t debate their origin.  People who admire Jimmy Carter, while they may not know what he actually thinks, can be very certain about what he wants them to think he thinks… they think he thinks
       Regarding 2, I can go and hug anyone else who claims to love me, and I can ask them to tell it to me again, and I could have them tell my doubting friends that they love me.  People make themselves available on a personal level to those they love.  While soldiers and business travelers may not be immediately available for hugs, they are available by phone or letter, and I could still get a personal confirmation of their love that I could indisputably share with others if I desired.  Again, you could doubt the sincerity of the communication, but not its origin and intent.
       I don’t mind continuing this debate, but please don’t say the Bible is a clarification of God’s will.  How can thousands of contradictory doctrines thrive off such a clear document?  Also, please don’t tell me the air I breathe and the sun that shines is proof of God’s love for me.  Those things are proof that the Oversoul loves all people, and if you make me angry enough I will turn off the sun to show you her might!

  10. Sub response to #1… If God did not exist, nothing would exist. Did we all come from a “big bang” that happened by chance? And just by chance enough matter collected to make a big ball, and by chance water formed, and by chance weather patterns formed, and by chance amoeba formed, and by chance living things formed from them, then monkeys formed, and we are just some how intelligent monkeys? Just by chance we have 10 fingers, opposable thumbs to aid in grabbing, teeth, a nose to smell, a tongue to taste, kidneys, liver, lungs, etc… all those things we just happened to get all by chance? Then as monkeys we all started talking? Even if I’d never been taught about a god, I would wonder how all these things came to be… as “chance” just isn’t realistic.

    Sub response to #2… Some people choose not to feel love (for various reasons), shutting the door in it’s face. To them it seems easier to be numb than to feel love and pain. I’ve been there… then I realized how silly it is to walk through life in denial (but hey… that’s just how I felt). One chooses to remove them self from unconditional / free love.

  11. I enjoy intelligent debate, including with Christians and others whose views differ from my own.  But it appears I may not enjoy debate with you.  Had you read what I wrote, you would have realized that I was not arguing that God did not exist, nor was I arguing that I knew the origins of the universe.  I limited my arguments to 2 Christian doctrines about the nature of God that I don’t believe.  Your responses provide no evidence that God, if he exists, cares about what humans think about him.  Nor does it provide any evidence that God loves humans.  Instead you say, “God must exist, because the only alternative I can conceive of is chance, which sounds stupid to me.  And you just don’t want to feel love.  I have been there, and since I am now here, it must be better than there.”

    Got it.

  12. Please excuse the harshness of my last comment. I was under the impression that you didn’t know if God existed anymore. Anyway, just a thought I had about “God’s love.” You are a father now, right? Are you just going to throw your baby into the world and say “see ya around… don’t expect much from me” ? Hopefully not. So why would God do that to us?

  13. I recognize that Judeo-Christian theologies have many answers to the previously posed question. 1) It is not God who has abandoned us but we who have abandoned God (the fall, etc.). 2) Every breath we take, the rising of the sun, the glory of a colorful leaf in the fall, etc. are all evidences of God’s love for us. 3) God wants us to be able to choose, but his presence is so compelling that, were we in it, we would all be good and evil would not be a temptation.  4) God’s presence is so powerful that mortal bodies cannot abide it.  Therefore, if God allowed himself more intimate contact with man, we’d all be consumed. 

    The preceding explanations do not satisfy me, and hence I don’t believe them nor the doctrine they are designed to support.  Certainly there are many other explanations as to why God’s love and very existence is not so plain as the fact that you and I are having this conversation.  And many of these explanations are held as core doctrines by people who are more intelligent and more full of goodness than I.  I have no beef with people who accept these beliefs as true based upon their own logic or the authority of a book, parent, or preacher.  I reiterate that it does not bother me that people are religious.  What bothers me is when a religious person insists that his beliefs are superior to the beliefs others, despite whatever logical inconsistencies he is not easily able to explain away.

  14. This is interesting debate…6 years later. Here’s a fun thought, Satan is a god also. Just like the Hebrew God but with a different role. He would be similar to Loki of Norse mythology. Read the story of Job. God and Satan are hanging out and messing with the mortals. God may or may not exist, but if he does… he’s an a**hole. There are other parts of the Bible to support that statement.

    If one considers our composition and that of everything in the solar system and universe, “chance” is a plausible explanation. We are made of the same things everything else is made of. Ra maybe a suitable god since we are made of star particles. We can be considered star children in a sense. Parts of our DNA are shared with animals and plants while other parts are inactive.

    The Universe has existed for more time than we can possibly know. The Big Bang is just a theory to understand how this all came to be. It’s the leading explanation and not 100% accepted by the scientific community as they are exploring other theories. Maybe God caused the Big Bang or maybe it was something else, no one knows. Intelligent design could have taken place. I think the problem is the argument for intelligent design is strictly biblical and not open for a God that could have done it in ways outside of the bible text. The 6 day creation story was written for bronze aged former slaves. I don’t think they had very much education considering they were nomads after they were slaves. Moses was well educated since he had the sweet life as an Egyptian. If you were shown a creation event, how would you explain it to unlearned people. Probably how its written in Genesis.
    If you venture outside the bible and consider other avenues of thought, you can still incorporate intelligent design if you like.
    Also, evolution doesn’t suggest we are intelligent monkeys… we are primates. Since monkeys still exist, it isn’t possible that we came from them. Don’t hate on the monkeys either. They have feelings too.
    I think we all wonder how all this happened(Life, the Universe, and Everything ;-P). Some people choose to ask questions and formulate hypotheses while others accept religion. Does it matter in the end? I guess we will see in another life or just cease to exist in our current forms.

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