Broken Daughters

Picking up the shattered glass of fundamentalism


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Me and the great punisher

I don’t remember when I wrote my last post on believing in God and Jesus. It must have been over a year now. This post has been on my mind for so long, but somehow I never found the words. I feel some sort of inner pressure to write this, yet I don’t know how. I’m not the kind of person who doesn’t find words to say things. That should say something.

You know, I really want to be an atheist. Sometimes I believe that’s what I am. There are days when I have that summery, beachy way of freedom. Those days where you think that your entire life is in your hands. That you’re not just some sort of marionette in the hands of an all-knowing, universal punisher. Those days can be so reassuring that you’re on the right track, that your life is going well and that your decisions really matter.

Other days I find myself deeply wanting to pray. And on some of these days, I do. It’s not very often anymore. Most of the time I will delay myself somehow. Do some house work, go somewhere, read some blogs, whatever. I will pray before I fall asleep, I tell myself to calm my mind. God won’t strike me dead if I pray an hour later. These are the days where I usually fall asleep just before I remember praying. But on those other days, those on which I pray, I pray fervently. Please God, please forgive me, please forgive me for being blasphemic, for saying those terrible things about you. I was angry, you know that. Please look into my heart. Please do something, please change me so I can be good and right. Please forgive me forgive me forgive me I will do anything but please forgive, tell me what to do. I am so alone without you. And then I feel better for a while. I’m thinking it’s a bit like an alcoholic drinking his first beer in months. Desired, fulfilling, but somehow it feels wrong.

There’s one thing I never say, though I’d said it so many times before: “I surrender my life to you.” It’s the one thing I don’t want to say. I don’t want to “surrender” my life. It’s my life. It’s mine and I will not let anybody decide what I do with it. I think that’s what makes me feel so bad on the days I pray. My prayers are useless because I am selfish and despicable. I don’t trust God anymore. Nothing can fix that. It’s what will send me straight to hell.

Other days again I am angry. No, I am furious. I don’t know if you can understand just how furious I get. I hate God with all my being. I know he’s there, and I hate him, and I want to spit in his face for all the terrible things he does. He is not good, he is not just, he is an evil, evil and mean little child who steps on ants and burns them just for fun. I feel for satan – I wouldn’t want to deal with the evil big guy either. Maybe satan is actually trying to save us from God’s wicked ways. Maybe he’s the only one who understood everything that was wrong with the big punisher all along. I want to scream and yell at God that I’d rather spend eternity in hell than with him, because hell can’t be worse than an eternity at the feet of such a gruesome, evil being. I get so angry that I want to hurt everyone who believes in God. I want to tell them that hating people for being gay is awful and disgusting and terrible. I want to tell them that treating women as doormats is stupid and gross. I want to tell them that all they believe is a joke. So an extraterrestrial being snapped us all into existence? And you want to tell me that evolution doesn’t make sense? Please!

And then, I am sad. Because there is no God to save us, and nobody will be there when we’re dead. And I hope that the evil punisher is real, even if that means burning in hell for me. But I hate him and I want him gone, and I want him to be there so badly. Sometimes I hear those one minute ads by the catholic church on the radio. They make me want to be part of it. Somehow I always feel better when I heard them. A few days ago there was one on christians living normal lives. A girl talked about how she can go out at night, be a bartender, even drink. That’s not against her religion. Catholic doesn’t mean boring. Catholic is young, cool and hip. I can see behind the marketing here, but I still wish this was true. I wish I wouldn’t have to throw everything away to be religious. For me, there is no middle ground, no grey area. Faith in God still means complete and utter self-denial. I thought this might change at some point, but I’m losing hope. I want to be a part of christianity, but I don’t want to join the choir of hate speech and judgement that I see everywhere.

So yes, that is my update on my faith. I don’t think anything has changed.

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Oh God, where art thou?

I’ve been a bit depressed lately. I know we can’t find out truth about God in this life. I’ve given up upon this a while ago. But it would help me to know that there is a God or at least something.

I really admire the way atheists can deal with life. Life is a journey, there is no judgement, enjoy it while you can cause once the light is out, it’s really out. Nothingness. Darkness. The end. And the audience gets up, wipes the last pieces of popcorn off their clothes and leaves. That was a nice movie, they’ll say. What was it about? Forgotten before we reach home. Who cares, there’s many other movies to watch.

If that is true then I have wasted my life. Or at least parts of it. There is nobody who wants my best, who makes sure I do all the things I need to do before I die. I might get hit by a bus tomorrow and that’s that.

Time is worthless if there is eternity. If time is an endless resource, like in the world of fundamentalism, then you needn’t worry about what you’re doing with it. Sure, there’s only one lifetime so you’re doing something you like and make sure you’re not going to hell, but at the end of it you’ll go to super paradise-heaven land where Jesus plays football with the boys and goes shopping with the girls all day long, at the same time. He’s just cool like that.

What if that’s not true? What if my time is limited? Here’s an easy market law: If a good is limited, price will increase. And suddenly, my time is worth something. I can waste it, or I can put it to use and do something I find my time worth spending on. Whenever I think of this I feel like my parents owe me. Big time. Why’d they waste my time when I would’ve prefered spending it on something else?

I might seem like a calm person but I’m constantly afraid. Where’d I put my time? It’s running through my fingers like water, dripping on thirsty ground. There’s nothing I can do to get it back. Sometimes I want to scream, at my family, my friends, at my readers, at random people on the street: “DO SOMETHING! Time is short! Do something with it! You’re wasting!”

I look back at the time spent and I have nothing left. My time wasn’t put to a good purpose. I have nothing. I didn’t make money, I didn’t learn anything useful, I didn’t make friends for life, nothing. All that I have is a bunch of memories in my brain, and once my time is over they’ll rot away with the rest. Forgotten for eternity. Who will remember me?

My aunt has an old family album. Some photos in it are as old  as 100, 110 years. I look at them, I look at strangers, looking into their blank stare. Who are these people, I ask. That’s your great-grandmother and her sister. That’s an uncle of your great-grandfather. That’s another person you’re related to. I stare at them and I know they’re part of my past, part of my life. Because of them, I exist. And that shames me deeply – I don’t know them. They are forgotten, shadows in the past, and if it wasn’t for that one picture they took (and probably spent a lot of money on), nobody would even know they existed.

Vanishing as if they’d never been there. That is my fate, and yours too, if there is no God.

I know it doesn’t make much sense to believe in something supernatural. But it’s the only thing that calms my mind. And the question of what I should do with this box of life, broken open already, becomes less torturing.

The one thing I cling to in such moments is something I read a long time ago:

Animals in the deep-sea have no eyes because there is no light to see. If we lived in utter and complete dark, if there was no light at all in the universe, we wouldn’t have eyes either. Would we know about light and dark? Certainly not. The ability to even imagine the possibility of light and darkness is based upon the fact that we have eyes. If we can wonder if there is a God or not, doesn’t that mean that there must be something at least remotely similar?


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This is going to be a long winter

I struggle with faith a lot. Some days, I don’t want there to be a God. On others I wish for nothing more than a heavenly father who protects me. I wish so badly to KNOW the truth but I guess nobody does. I sometimes even wish I had a near-death experience like some people do so I can see if it just goes black or if it actually continues. Yes I know about the theories with the chemicals and vivid dreams, but then I’d feel safe – for myself.

Today I’m having a day pondering God a lot. This morning I walked past the elementary school while I was running some errands and I heard a choir of small kids sing: Great God, you hold me in your hands, I can not fall deeper than that, your love brightens my day, something along those lines (note: Public schools offer classes on each religion, if you don’t want your kids to go to any sort of religion class you can simply send them to philosophy and life classes). I looked around and saw fall. The leaves are already turning brown and red, the trees are already losing them.

I’m not a summer person, I love fall and winter. Too many people associate these seasons with destruction, death and cold in my opinion. Fall and winter are beautiful signs of life to me.

Fall removes the old, the used, the problems and burdens of the year. The trees rid themselves of what they don’t need anymore, what will be restored in spring. The flowers grow dry and tired and recede into the ground, preparing for the cold weather. I always thought this was a great picture of what Jesus does to people: He makes them rid themselves of the burdens and unnecessary of the past seasons and prepares them to be renewed.

As fall grows colder and colder, more and more things in the world go back to the basics. The leaves are gone, leaving the tree with nothing but a vital stem to survive on. The flowers are hidden in the ground as nothing but a seed or a root. Life is stripped to the basic, to the only things it really needs to survive.

And then, winter comes. And winter isn’t the harsh time of testing and death. It’s a time for sleeping, resting, waiting. Yes, sometimes it means death to some, trees, plants, people, but it kills gently, putting them into a deep slumber at first, then covers the deathbeds with its white linen sheets and simply doesn’t let them wake up again. Winter isn’t the time of painful death but the time of gentle home-calling. And the others sit and wait to be renewed.

Isn’t that just how faith should be? We get rid of what we don’t need, are reduced to the basics in order to be renewed when it’s time.

Snow is so soothing for me, it’s always been like that. As a child I couldn’t wait for snow to fall. When the first flakes of that glimmering white fluff appeared in the sky I ran outside or ran to open a window to listen to the joyous sound. I think many people consider me crazy because they can’t hear it. But I know many others can but don’t want to admit to it. When snow falls, it’s the most beautiful sound I can imagine.

Close your eyes and listen to it. There’s going to be a muted feeling, a muted sound. A sound as if you were standing somewhere in a castle like in the fairy tales and from far away in the castle, from some huge ballroom you can hear it: The soft muttering of excited, elegant masses, the sounds of flowing long satin dresses, delicate fabrics rubbing on each other, a quiet footstep here and there. It’s a huge ball and the couples are preparing to start dancing. Can you see all the dancers dressed in beautiful white gowns, smiling at each other and waiting for the musicians to play?

Many people declared me crazy when I told them about this. But it’s true. And I used to believe that God intended just this picture when he made snow.

And as the snow covers the world it’s like God covering the world with his soft white blanket, tucking us in like children.

You may find it weird that I’m already talking about now in September, I really don’t know myself why I just wrote what I did but I felt the need to explain where my thoughts today came from.

I feel like when I left the movement, my personal fall came, stripping me of everything I didn’t need, things that went wrong, things that weren’t good for me. And then, winter came. I’m waiting for something. I don’t know when it will come, or what will come my way. I don’t even know if it will come my way. I’m like a root. Maybe I’m on my deathbed, maybe I’m not. I’m hoping I’ll see spring and summer, though.


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Cowboys and my attempts to think about them.

I had never met a gay person in the movement (or maybe I did, but I didn’t know about it). I had only heard terrible stories of the horrible things they do. That they are all drug-addicted, disease-infested, family hating Antichrists. That they can be changed, “repaired” and led back into the flock, but most of them are so ignorant that they don’t even want the precious gift of salvation Jesus offers them. They were spitting in his face. I thought if I ever saw a gay person, I’d be able to tell he or she is gay right away. The men would look feminized and the women like guys, and that they’d probably have scars from the drugs and violence and an empty look in their eyes. Other than that, I have never really bothered thinking about gay people because they didn’t exist in my world.

One of my friends (a female one I want to add) has been trying to convince me to watch Brokeback Mountain for a few weeks now, as she considers it one of the most important and one of the best movies of the last few years. I refused, partially because I didn’t feel like it would interest me at all, partially because I simply didn’t want to see it. There had been a large discussion about how this movie is against marriage and promotes adultery and destroys our morals and values within the christian community and I felt like I didn’t want to watch that type of thing at this point. Either way, she managed to convince me to “give it a try” with the option to turn it off any time.

And what can I say, I watched the entire thing… and I liked it a lot. Technically, it’s amazing, great images, great pace of story-telling, great actors.

But I also didn’t see where the criticism comes from. I mean, yes, it argues against marriage: It argues that both men shouldn’t have gotten married to a woman in the first place. They obviously struggled with themselves and didn’t know who they were – the fact that these marriages would end in a disaster was clear from the beginning. They entered marriage not only with lies, but also as a person they simply weren’t. You can’t keep up a lie for life, I know that from personal experience. They married because it was expected of them. If this social expectation weren’t there in the first place, there wouldn’t have been a problem. Plus, they obviously denied there attractions in front of themselves as well. That calls for an inner fight nobody can get out of undamaged.

It has been argued that the depiction of both wives is pale and negative. I find that not to be true. Especially Ennis’ wife, who finds out rather soon, was beautifully scripted. She is a woman who tries to ignore the obvious problem in order to save the marriage to a man she clearly loves deeply. The incredible hurt she feels can be felt throughout the movie. Especially later, after they broke up, her anger and hurt are expressed really well. On the other hand, she handles with grace. She doesn’t run off and tell everybody. She keeps it a secret, though you can argue whether she does that in order to protect herself or her love. Jack’s wife on the other hand seems very pragmatic. Though she loved him at the beginning, she quickly realizes that she’s nothing but an act for him. She realizes he had only married her because she was the first best chance, and she feels that as soon as Jack could find a way, he would leave her. Out of self-protection, she cuts her emotional connection with Jack and busies herself with work. She too never loses a word or makes Jack feel bad. She does everything to keep the act up for one, and to protect her family as well.

In the end I can say that there is a lot of pain and hurt in the movie, on all sides of the story. The movie doesn’t take a stand on what’s right, what’s wrong, it simply tells a story and leaves it to the viewers to decide. I never really thought about the struggles people with homosexual attractions have to face. After seeing this, you know, I can’t say whether I think it’s right or wrong, but I can definitely say that I can’t imagine Jesus being ok with discriminating people for how they live. He didn’t hate the prostitutes or the adulteress. He loved them and made them feel that they have dignity and a value. If Jesus sees how some people, many people, are treated today because of sex, nationality, gender preference, job, and so on… I think he’s really angry about that and if he ever should come back, he’ll certainly do more than just throw over some tables. I’m just saying that because I know I would.


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Eric and Leslie vs the mess of the world

I really have to get this rant off my chest. Please note that I’m not attempting to judge the Ludys for who and what they really are, I don’t know them so I can’t say; but I do judge them for the picture they show to the community.

The Ludys. The perfect couple within the home school/courtship movement. While they teach fundamentalist values and views, they still seem so “normal”, so “perfect”, so… everything a girl could ever want.

I grew up with the Ludy’s books. I used to be a HUGE fan of them, all of them, especially Leslie’s books on beauty and femininity.

While most people consider Eric the bold one with the harsh sermons, I tend to disagree. Eric might be just as crazy as Leslie, but Leslie is the one with the most dangerous message.

Her “hobby” of sorts is to pick on other women, specifically women with children, who don’t do as awesome as she does. In pretty much every book I remember reading, she comes up with a story of how she met a married woman who ‘was shattering her childhood dreams of the perfect marriage and family’ (not an exact quote). For example a woman who looked very ‘messy’. We do not learn what “messy” means by Leslie’s standards. On all the pictures we see of Leslie, she is perfectly styled. Perfect hair, perfect make up (yes girls, sorry to shatter your dreams now, Leslie ALWAYS wears make up), perfect dress and style. Maybe she has a good sense for it, maybe she has a stylist. Either way, not everyone is that lucky to have one of those two, or even both. We learn about that messy woman that she looks tired, her hair looks tangled, and her clothes look kind of… well, messy. That might just be that this woman has a different type of hair that’s hard to control, that she doesn’t like make up and that she hasn’t as good of a sense for clothes as Leslie does. But rigid old Leslie’s comment stands there, on its little throne, judging every woman who can’t be the way she is for whatever reason. And of course, that’s one of Leslie’s secrets for the perfect marriage. Be like Leslie, and your husband will treat you like the queen you are. If you want to convince yourself, I beg you to read an article in the July/August 2011 issue of her online magazine (the newest one with the red cover). The article starts on page 86, it’s called “Mothering with dignity”. You can find her magazine at setapartgirl dot com. I refuse to link directly to her.

Another thing that she loves to pick on (see aforementioned article) is the houses of people. Leslie seems to be a very clean woman, because so far I haven’t read a word of praise in her books or magazines about other people’s houses. Nothing seems to meet her standard. She picks on the messiness of the house, the interior, the furniture, everything. And she doesn’t stop there – she seems to never get enough of telling people just how great she’s at decorating and how much better her family runs when everything is tidy, clean and beautifully decorated. Again, she shows that she simply has an eye for style, but that’s not what I’m criticizing. It’s the fact that she actually has the money to do as she pleases with her house. She has the space, the money to buy beautiful things, the style. Not everyone has that. But by her judgement, these people aren’t to be accepting, they are just a negative example for a christian family. They don’t live what christianity means. She never fails to put people down when they don’t meet her standard of living.

Growing up as a girl, I wanted to be like Leslie. Well styled in my pretty white picket fence home with my awesome “warrior-poet”. She seemed like everything she did was because of Christ, because that’s where her energy came from. And growing up in a house with 14 people, I also knew that something was wrong with us. We didn’t have the money to decorate much, or paint walls, or buy pretty beddings. My mom didn’t wear beautiful clothes and perfect make up. Home school wasn’t heaven on earth with peaceful children. Much of the opposite is true. I wondered why we weren’t like the Ludys. And I’m glad to tell everybody that I now know why we never were like them: Because the Ludys, especially Leslie, is so obsessed with the picture she’ll see of herself in the christian community. She obsesses over details nobody would blame her for. She has a natural gift for style and beauty, and that’s fine, but she uses it against people who don’t have it. She puts everyone down who doesn’t reach her standard for a “christian” wife and mother.

Leslie’s standards are far beyond what is possible for a family with 6 plus kids. I’m sorry to be so harsh, but Leslie has only four kids. I have raised more than that before I was 18. If I had only four, my house might never be messy as well. I might have the time to style myself as well. But not everyone is made for that and I firmly believe there are people who are pushed to their limits by one or two kids. That’s fine too, until the Leslies of this world come along and judge everything you thought was ok in your life into oblivion.

At the end of the day, Leslie is nothing but a overperfectionist woman, something that reminds me of a OCD, with which she tortures everyone who can’t be like her. And I despise her for telling growing girls that they have to be just what she is up to a point where girl entirely lose themselves in the process. Where nothing but a mechanical shell is left, trying to achieve a standard set by her highness and goddess Leslie, and not by Jesus. Legalist anybody?


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Being thankful: God’s plan, Glass bowls.

Life has been busy and a lot of good things have happened over the last few days. I’m thinking of sharing some of them, but that will be a different post.

A few days ago I have received a comment asking me about my I met a socialist post. The question was why I believe that being thankful for the smallest things in life is wrong. I thought about this for the last few days. It kind of bugged me that it really could come across like I would believe being thankful was a silly thing, so instead of answering the comment I decided to make a whole post about it. No offense to the poster of the comment, I generally agree with you, I reread my own post and realize I didn’t explain well enough.

I posted the following statement:

Fundies are obsessed with the idea that God will provide for all their needs. They don’t mind not having enough, they just pray harder. They interpret every single good deal as God’s gift to them – “Oh my geese! I just found a notebook for $1!! GOD IS SO GOOD!” Are you kidding me…?

 

Now, that wasn’t directed at people who are thankful when good things happen to them. I’m thankful for the smallest, silliest things too! Even when it’s only the last clean tissue in my purse when I got a runny nose. The point is that a lot of fundamentalists are caught in an almost magical thinking that God will provide them everything they ever need as long as they pray for it long enough. That goes as far as rejecting help when it’s offered.

I don’t understand why people reject help when it’s about paying a medical bill, arguing that God doesn’t want that. On the other hand, they praise God for a note-book. They say that God has a plan for us, but we don’t know the plan. That everything happens for a reason and we have to accept his perfect will. If you do believe that, you can not pray for things. You can only give thanks, but not pray for God to interfere, simply because God has a premade plan and doesn’t need your opinion on it. He will not fulfill things you want, only things that are good for you. And yet, many fundamentalists still pray for things to happen and only loosely cover it up in being thankful. Such as “I want you to do the best and I fully trust you. I’d really like it if you could do XY but I’ll be thankful either way. But XY would be really great!”

To be honest, I don’t believe in an interfering God anymore. I think God is there, and he made us, and he has a plan, but we have to get there alone.

And that’s why I find it hard to understand why people believe that God sets up all things for them. That praying will be enough and things will fly at you. We have to take actions to get where we’re supposed to be. The “sit and pray” mentality, which was very important in my family, is not something that I believe God wants us to do.

It’s really just the sit and pray mindset that upsets me. And it’s not about notebooks really, but praying for them, or just praying for “signs”. I really can’t tell you why I think it’s weird to believe in signs or gifts from God, I just can’t believe that at this point in my life. I don’t judge anyone who’s thankful.

But then there are days like today – I broke a small kitchen bowl that I really liked a while ago and have been missing it here – I went grocery shopping this morning and can you guess what was on sale for just $2? Almost the same glass bowl I broke, for half the price I bought it back then. I bought two of them.


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When good things happen to bad people – wait, what?

Here’s just an assembly of today’s thoughts on God. Very random, not many answers.

God, that’s that big teacher up in the sky, living outside of time, in heavenly Jerusalem, from where he will judge the good and the bad.

But before he judges, he makes sure to be all loving and caring, making us learn. He’s basically the boss teacher. And I have to admit, his style of teaching is unconventional, to say the least.

I have been taught all my life by my dad. My dad’s voice was God’s way of speaking to me. God speaks through dads.

My dad said that bad things happen to bad people. Like tsunamis, or earth quakes, or something like that. And when those things hit, they swipe away only the bad ones. The good ones are taking away into safety by God himself before hand. This always made sense to me.

But then why do bad things happen to good people? And likewise, why do good things happen to bad people?

Imagine there was a really evil man. Let’s go with a pedophile. He meets a woman whom he marries. She’s godly in every way, inward and outward. She possesses all qualities of a P31 woman and she cares for him every day of her life. They have a hand full of kids, all just as godly as the wife, being obedient, cheerful and just overall good kids. A family, who’s just as godly as our first family, lives in the house right next to them. Now one day, the pedophile dad loses his discipline to ignore his sexual preference and goes abusing the godly neighbor’s little boy. What’s up with that? What went wrong? Why are two families being punished when really nobody did anything ungodly?

Imagine being a wife for 5, 10 or even 50 years and you find out you have been lied to all of your life by the person you trust the most. That’s a straight punishment. Imagine one of your kids being hurt or abused by somebody evil. That’s a punishment too. Why does God punish good people?

No worries, we have an answer for that too! It’s because God teaches us. I said before that his methods are a bit unusual. God teaches us by doing bad things to us. He tests us and our faith.

Why does God have to test us when everything, all events of time, are just the way he designed it. If he could foresee everything we’d be, do and have, where’s the need to test?

Why does God make us so we need teaching? I thought creation was good, creation was perfect. After all God is perfect. Why did he make us defect beings who need teaching like a pack of naughty kids? There’s only one answer I can give: God is a mean boy.

He likes watching us suffer, he likes us as defect beings, because that’s the only way we can humour him with our sad attempts to get through life. God used to show that a lot more back in the day, when he ran around punishing people for wearing the wrong pair of shoes, screaming and yelling at them because they weren’t worth a second of his precious time. He would come down and ‘spank’ the humans, because remember? Spanking = love.

That’s really all I’m getting from the God I have been taught to believe in.

It reminds me a bit of ants. Remember playing in the garden, watching an ant colony, deciding to kill one and let the other escape? You would catch some and put them some place else to see where they would do, if they’d make their way back. You kill some random ones to see the reaction of the others. I sometimes feel like God is just a mean boy, enjoying the power he has over a bunch of ants. Would the boy be sad if all ants died? Certainly not.

But then there’s Jesus. He’s so different, no wonder that bunch of spanked kids loved him, viewed him as the Messiah. He is loving, caring, not judging, not punishing. Sometimes I feel like God and Jesus are from two separate religions.

Jesus is really the only reason why I haven’t abandoned religion all together yet.