Ahhhh....Sunday. The day of the week when I feel the most like a liar and a charlatan. Before church, but after rehearsal, I was sitting in the back, talking to a few of the ladies and the conversation went something like this.
Lady #1: Have you seen War Room?
(I am familiar with this film because of my mother. It sounds and looks terrible. I wouldn't pay a dog to go see it.)
Lady #2: No. But I really really want to. I was going to go on Friday, but the kids...blah blah blah.
Lady #1: What about you, would you like to see it?
Me: Not really. My mom said it was really good, but I'm not very interested. It's not my kind of movie.
Lady #2: Is it because it is a Christian film? Some of them are pretty terrible I know.
(Yes, an out that could be considered acceptable.)
Me: Yeah. I mean, most of them aren't done well and they remind me of bad sitcoms with cheesy writing and problems that get solved easily and quickly.
Lady #1: Some of them are really good though. God's Not Dead and Heaven is for Real were great.
(unable to hide my disgust of either film, I make a face.)
Lady #1: What's wrong with God's not dead?
(still trying to be charitable and PC)
Me: Look, I went to an extremely liberal college. Extremely. The joke was that our school was left of the left of the left. I took philosophy class. No Philosopher would be worth his weight in water if he walked into a class and demanded that all the students just admit that God is dead. Second, the movie was full of horrible logical fallacies. And last, the man admits in the end that the reason he says such things is because he is angry with God. This makes him an anti-theist, but not an atheist because he is admitting that he does believe in God, but he is too angry with him to worship him. It stinks of Christian manipulation and moreover it is misleading about who and what atheists are. Either that or the makers really believe that atheists are people who just hate God, but secretly believe.
(surprisingly, this little tirade was treated well. As if I had said something rather learned even if it isn't mainstream Christian thought)
Lady #2: I have a problem with Heaven Is for Real.
Lady #1: What why?
Lady #2: We did a Bible study of it during small group a few years back. I haven't seen the movie, but the book really bothered me. Not only did I find the kid and his family rather annoying, but I am not convinced that he wasn't influenced by his family.
Lady #1: Well, his parents said that they were just as shocked by his revelations as anyone else and didn't believe it at first.
(Finally going to jump in because I think 'Heaven is for Real' is complete and total bullshit)
Me: That's the trouble right there though. They said. They have made a lot of money off of this and it is completely reliant on the word of the parents. They said they were shocked. They said he told them these things. They claim they never talked about God or his grandfather around the kid, yet the man was a pastor of a church and I don't believe for a second that this kids grandparent was never mentioned in the home. I mean, kids really soak things up. Even if he did have this dream, it could very well have been created from the snippets of life he heard around him.
(A fourth lady has now joined us who is nodding her head in agreement. She chimes in once or twice with, yeah and I wondered that too)
Lady #1: But these kinds of things happen. My son saw a ghost. (insert shortish story about three-year-old seeing a ghost) My other son has trouble sleeping because of spirits. (insert another shortish story about eight-year-old needing to pray every night because he is afraid. I mean, you guys have seen spirits before right?
Lady #2: Well, sure. I mean, I know there is stuff like that out there. I just don't know if I trust this book.
Lady #1: What about you Lady #4?
Lady #4: Seen a spirit? Like with my eyes? No. But I have felt demons and evil forces in my life and have prayed against them. So how did we get on this topic, out of curiosity.
Me: Oh we were talking about Christians movies. They want to see War Room.
Lady #4: Yuck. Don't bother. It's sooo cheesy. Christian cheesy you know.
Lady #1: What? Why?
Lady #4: You know, like they pray and their prayers are answered rather quickly and in the exact way they pray them, which is completely unrealistic. It had that Hollywood cheese factor, but lacked in any real depth.
Lady #1: I think I'll go see it anyway.
Now, my thought process during this exchange is, "don't reveal how much you loathe these piece of shit films that are made with the sole intent of pleasing the Christian masses and their brand of morality." They are usually written terribly and are made for Lady #1 who believes that demons come to visit on a regular basis and need to be prayed away. However, I am a bit too opinionated for my own good and if I see an opening where I won't be given too much side eye, I may give my opinion although in a more subdued fashion. The result is usually like this. Now, I was still a Christian when Heaven for Real came out and I absolutely believe his parents are two big fat stinking liars. Oh, but they are Christian? And? That doesn't make them any less liars. I believe that their son probably had a dream while he was being operated on. It was probably something vaguely heavenlike based on his parents telling him things about heaven or it being a general topic of discussion in the home. From there, they began to embellish the story and then wrote a book about it. It has been over a decade now and I absolutely believe this kid believes it. But he doesn't remember it. None of it. It has become a story that has been told to him so many times over and over again that he knows all the details, yet doesn't have an actual memory of it. I have a few of those "memories". I think I remember my third birthday party, but most of those "memories" are in direct correlation to photographs I have seen and stories told. I don't actually know if I am remembering the story or not.
All that said, I think the more worrisome part is where these people actually believe and are telling people that there are demons and ghosts out there, prowling around. Now, I am still a little unsure about the whole ghost thing because I myself have experienced an incident that cannot easily be explained away. It is the reason why I cannot fully devote myself to an atheist philosophy. I also don't immediately attach this moment to a demon out to get me. But I remember my mother teaching me this stuff and me believing it too. And it embarrasses me.
When I was a teenager, I was babysitting my brothers and we kept hearing sounds in the attic. Now, since I had never been taught actual rational thought, I immediately guessed that it was a demon in the attic fighting an angel to get into our house. I sat in the hallway with my four brothers and cried and cried as the sounds continued and we prayed for more angels to come down and fight this demon who was trying to get in. At no point did it occur to any of us that this could have been an animal in the attic. None. We knew what it was because my mother told us this stuff all the time. That next Christmas, when we opened up the Christmas ornament box, we discovered a family of squirrels had been living in our attic. They had used some of our stuffed Christmas ornaments as filler for their nests and had eaten all the playdough ornaments we had made. More than likely they were in the attic that night, playing or some-such, as we say in the hallway terrified out of our minds and assured in our knowledge of demons.
If this is the kind of bullshit you are teaching your children, and reitterating my believing every little bullshit thing they convince you of, then that my friends is straight of brainwashing. The other stuff, teaching your children scripture verses and songs, reading the Bible with them, and taking them to church are what any sane person would do if they believed a certain religion. Convincing your children that demons are real and are capable of coming into your house and possessing you is a whole different level of crazy.
Finally, as I walked away from this conversation, I had to tell myself...You are not one of them anymore. This is no longer your barrel of monkeys. If they believe this, let them. You aren't going to change their minds. And frankly, pretending like are one of them is wrong.
This is a personal, but secret, blog archiving my deconversion from a Christian to a non-believer.