17 votes

My heart has been breaking for years over the incredible generosity of the Biblical scholars at r/AskBibleScholars

I am the founder of r/AskBibleScholars and I am incredibly humbled by what has been happening there.

These are scholars from all over the world, having such a wide spectrum of personal beliefs, that have volunteered their time and expertise for lay folk such as my self.

There have been many weekly/monthly requests to be included in the panel there and I don’t believe that this is going to discontinue soon.

I am, also, very excited that Deimos has been working with me and others to bring these people here.

Why is my heart breaking?

Many family, friends, and online acquaintances encouraged me to write about my early upbringing here. I never thought that it would come to this. I know that sounds cliché and when I was younger I thought that people just didn’t give a shit.

I’ve been proven wrong.

Humanity has expressed itself more thoughtful and empathetic than I’d previously judged it to be.

11 comments

  1. [3]
    kfwyre
    Link
    I'm happy you're here, suspended. Also, I know how difficult it can be to give one's honest testimony -- especially when it involves revealing and uncomfortable truths. Thank you for trusting us...

    I'm happy you're here, suspended.

    Also, I know how difficult it can be to give one's honest testimony -- especially when it involves revealing and uncomfortable truths.

    Thank you for trusting us with your truths.

    9 votes
    1. [2]
      suspended
      Link Parent
      I'm not sure that I understand what it is that you are thanking me for. Would you mind clarifying, please?

      Thank you for trusting us with your truths.

      I'm not sure that I understand what it is that you are thanking me for. Would you mind clarifying, please?

      2 votes
      1. kfwyre
        Link Parent
        In the blog post that you shared you open up about a lot of very personal experiences: abusive parents, suicidal ideation, religious experiences, etc. These are your truths, and they're the kind...

        In the blog post that you shared you open up about a lot of very personal experiences: abusive parents, suicidal ideation, religious experiences, etc. These are your truths, and they're the kind that most people don't just share with anyone, especially because some people could respond to them poorly or try to use them against you. I see you opening up about those parts of yourself to us here as indicating a level of trust in the community that we will handle them with care and respect.

        7 votes
  2. [8]
    WMWMWMWMWMWMWMWMWMWM
    Link
    Religion and Christianity specifically gets a lot of contempt from a large majority of techies. In my travels throughout the U.S., it is the group which has stood out in being helpful, kind and...

    Religion and Christianity specifically gets a lot of contempt from a large majority of techies.

    In my travels throughout the U.S., it is the group which has stood out in being helpful, kind and inclusive to all. Most people are nice, but I don't know if most will put their neck out for a stranger. Here and there there are secular groups, like Family in the Woodstock area, which sprouted after the Festival. But secular groups are rare. Most secular groups who help people do it as special events like Food Not Bombs.

    But if you look at groups who are feeding people day in, day out, collecting, sorting, distributing used clothes, day in, day out, helping someone fill out paperwork to get a pair of glasses, it's nearly always church groups.

    On one hand, I heard that Christian numbers are dwindling, which is alarming when looked at from this perspective.

    But on the other hand, it doesn't take many, especially if you believe that omnipotent, omniscient, all-powerful supreme being has got your back, can help you with sky magic as long as you have good intentions and choose actions are a net positive on the world, if you believe in that, which I do, then it is encouraging and inspiring, isn't it.

    Through Christians I have truly felt that Christ spirit, saying, personifying the message, "I'm here for you, I will help you, you are not alone, your struggle has meaning..."

    6 votes
    1. [6]
      mat
      Link Parent
      On that point I don't think you need to worry. Secular countries manage to have charities and people doing good deeds just fine. Anecdotally, nobody I know who volunteers for things like soup...

      On one hand, I heard that Christian numbers are dwindling, which is alarming when looked at from this perspective.

      On that point I don't think you need to worry. Secular countries manage to have charities and people doing good deeds just fine. Anecdotally, nobody I know who volunteers for things like soup kitchens or works for charities is religious. Well, apart from one dude, but he's a Buddhist.

      Nice people are everywhere, doing nice things regardless of promises of.. to be honest I've never been clear on what Christian heaven is supposed to be like but.. infinite milk and honey, something about figs? I don't know. To be honest I don't think that particular carrot, or the associated stick of eternal torture for non-compliance, is really why most nice Christians do nice things. I think they're just nice people who want to help make the world a little better.

      8 votes
      1. [3]
        Thra11
        Link Parent
        I like to think of religion as a bit like a bundle deal. Typically companies like BT / Sky / <whatever telecoms companies you have in your country> will try to be your sole supplier for a number...
        • Exemplary

        I like to think of religion as a bit like a bundle deal. Typically companies like BT / Sky / <whatever telecoms companies you have in your country> will try to be your sole supplier for a number of different services, such as:

        • Telephone landline rental
        • Broadband internet
        • Satellite television

        In a similar way, religions provide a number of services:

        • A belief system
        • A philosophy or set of morals to live by
        • A community
        • A set of traditions and a sense of identity

        Like the telecoms giants, some religions often like to give the impression that the services are inextricably linked. For example, that you can't subscribe to some of their philosophy or have morals without also believing in their God, or that kindness and forgiveness are "Christian morals", and not simply morals that Christianity is supposed to encourage.

        However, just as you don't actually need a landline to have broadband, and you don't need to get your TV service from the same provider as your broadband (if you even get TV these days), you don't need to get your beliefs, philosophy, traditions and community from the same place, and you can do perfectly well without some of them.

        The problem, as I see it, is that in the same way that the big telecoms companies have squeezed out much of the competition, centuries of the church (or equivalent) being the main place to get your beliefs, philosophy, community and traditions has stifled the creation of other, non-religious, providers.

        If you're a Christian, and you move to a new town, you can find the local church, introduce yourself and join the community. For an atheist, there isn't usually anything quite the same. You can join a sports club if you like a sport, or a group that does crafts if that's your thing, or if you like drinking, you can go to the pub. But there's no general community.

        If you are a religious person, but you stop believing, then while you only really want to drop the belief system, you effectively eject yourself from the community too. You may love the familiarity of your childhood traditions, but there's a hollow feeling now that you don't believe in the reason behind many of them. I know quite a lot of people who don't really believe any more, but cling to religion because they would miss the rest of the bundle. Similarly, I know people who weren't really looking for God, but have joined a church because the community welcomed them.

        13 votes
        1. mat
          Link Parent
          One of the three Christians I know is quite heavily into it - he goes on monastic retreats and so on - but he also describes himself as a Buddhist. Because he thinks the Buddhists have some good...

          you don't need to get your beliefs, philosophy, traditions and community from the same place, and you can do perfectly well without some of them.

          One of the three Christians I know is quite heavily into it - he goes on monastic retreats and so on - but he also describes himself as a Buddhist. Because he thinks the Buddhists have some good stuff going on philosophically and morally, and he prefers meditation to prayer (although they are both sort of the same thing anyway). His opinion is that God won't mind, and while I don't believe myself, if I did that's the sort of God I'd be into.

          One of the others has an awful time when he moves because many churches and Christian groups won't accept him and his husband as members because of The Gay. And he's C of E - which is barely a religion at all, it's more a nice cup of tea and a singalong. It's a good job he's not Catholic.

          7 votes
        2. WMWMWMWMWMWMWMWMWMWM
          Link Parent
          It may have been this way in the past, when religion was often forced from above in the power pyramid, but it is no longer true. Each spiritual or religious or meditational practice which survives...

          It may have been this way in the past, when religion was often forced from above in the power pyramid, but it is no longer true.

          Each spiritual or religious or meditational practice which survives to this day has outlived countless others which didn't make it. That means there's probably something valuable to it, it is not just about being good at propagating.

          So if you listen carefully, you will find value.

          4 votes
      2. [2]
        WMWMWMWMWMWMWMWMWMWM
        (edited )
        Link Parent
        I said as much myself. However, I'm not talking about people who are just nice. I'm talking about individuals who do charity work on a consistent, persistent schedule, voluntarily, and often...

        Nice people are everywhere, doing nice things regardless of promises of..

        I said as much myself. However, I'm not talking about people who are just nice. I'm talking about individuals who do charity work on a consistent, persistent schedule, voluntarily, and often giving of their own resources too.

        to be honest I've never been clear on what Christian heaven is supposed to be like but.. infinite milk and honey, something about figs? I don't know. To be honest I don't think that particular carrot, or the associated stick of eternal torture for non-compliance, is really why most nice Christians do nice things. I think they're just nice people who want to help make the world a little better.

        I imagine it like this: Your spirit, aka your point of awareness, gains access to new dimensions, and loses access to some it had access to previously. One of these dimensions is time, meaning you can review all your life choices at your leasure, rewind and replay from any angle and perspective. You get to see your net effect on the world, altogether and in detail. Every time you killed or harmed or made yourself suffer unnecessarily when you could have been rejoicing, were otherwise a net negative on Sum Goodness, you see precious life being extinguished. This is the hell, which you cannot help know and observe for "all eternity", probably until the time loop closes or something like that. Every time you did something to help another, you see good being created out of thin air, right in front of you. And watching this is heaven, something you can experience for just as long. That's the basic message of Jesus. That our entire Universe is tuned at its very essense to favor goodness, and if you steer towards net good, it will empower you in ways you can only begin to understand as a simple jelly-brained being.

        2 votes
        1. mat
          Link Parent
          Yeah, so was I. My point was that people doing what Christians call charity is a thing which happens perfectly well in secular societies too. Religion doesn't create good people, good people exist...

          individuals who do charity work on a consistent, persistent schedule, voluntarily, and often giving of their own resources too.

          Yeah, so was I. My point was that people doing what Christians call charity is a thing which happens perfectly well in secular societies too. Religion doesn't create good people, good people exist regardless of it. Sometimes religion helps organise those people but in the absence of religion people get on with it by themselves just fine.

          One of these dimensions is time, meaning you can review all your life choices at your leisure, rewind and replay from any angle and perspective.

          That sounds indescribably dreadful. Far worse than any concept of hell I'd considered. And you say that's the good place? I think I'd rather have my liver pecked out daily for the rest of time. And I don't just mean awful because I do not wish to relive the series of embarrassing mistakes that is being a teenager but it sounds like such a agonisingly narcissistic activity even if I was a literal saint my entire earthly existence. Can't I just contemplate the wonder of nature for the rest of time instead? Or be reincarnated as a rock?

          5 votes
    2. viridian
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      I used to be a pretty edgy, reddit style atheist when I was younger. I came to realize that while growing up I was dealing with mostly cult-ish pentecostals, but they don't represent everyone....

      I used to be a pretty edgy, reddit style atheist when I was younger. I came to realize that while growing up I was dealing with mostly cult-ish pentecostals, but they don't represent everyone. Most religious folks are just about the most helpful and moral people out there, and while I don't think they've remotely made their case for the existence of god, and we fundamentally disagree on the why of morality, I don't really let that bother me any more. The massive contributions of time, labor, and capital that religious charities and nonprofits make to the world can't be ignored, my anecdotal experience is that the vast majority of non-profit founders and volunteers both, are religious to some extent, even for explicitly non-religious causes.

      4 votes