Openly Atheist

This has been an eventful week.  This past Sunday I called my dad and finally told him outright that I don’t believe in the religion he raised me in.  I told him I don’t believe in God or any of it any more.  He basically told me that he was sorry to hear it, but that he still loves me.  Gotta love him!
A few days ago Ryan Bell over at Life After God asked people to post messages on their social media using #IWantBelieversToKnow.  So I did. I posted #‎IWantBelieversToKnow‬ that the more I studied and prayed about god, and the more I asked him to reveal himself to me, the more questions I had that religious folks couldn’t answer. I seriously tried… For years.”  Now I’m knee deep in a FB conversation between a whole lot of people on both sides of the fence.  It’s very interesting, and no one is being rude.

So yeah.  I’m completely out now.  I am an open atheist.  Hopefully my openness will make it easier for someone else to be open about their lack of belief.

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I Outed Myself at Work Today

Today was our first day back after Christmas break.  We had faculty meetings scheduled for the entire day.  Sadly, over the break, one of our students was tragically killed in a home invasion.

To start the faculty meeting, our principal spoke to the tragedy and said that she knows prayer makes a difference.  She asked everyone to join hands and asked one of the teachers to pray.

I stayed in my seat.  I also noticed that a couple of our staff members who are Jehovah’s Witnesses stayed seated as well.  A couple of teachers around me offered me a hand to hold, but I politely declined.  They all moved over away from me toward the circle of hand holding.  One of the teachers turned around and motioned with her head for me to join the circle, and I smiled and shook my head.

After more than 15 minutes of preaching, several prayers, and some possible tongue talking, they all made their ways back to their seats.

At the first break the teacher who motioned me to join the group came over and asked why I didn’t join the prayer: “Don’t you believe in god?”  I smiled and answered that I didn’t.  A couple of other teachers nearby overheard and said they thought I went to (my former) church.  I said that I used to, but not anymore.  They seemed like they thought I was joking with them.  But I reassured them that no, I do not believe in god.  There was a little more discussion about why, but I only had a few minutes before the meeting started back up, so I couldn’t really get into it.  I did say that after studying the scripture more closely I realized what a horrible god the god of the Bible is.  I told them that for him to be worthy of my worship he would have to be as good as I am.  And since I’ve never killed, ordered genocide, or ordered the rape of little girls that I must be better than god.  “It’s in the Bible”, I told them.  Hopefully it will pique their interest and they’ll get in a little study time.

Word was spread to one or two others who informed me that they would be praying for me.  Thanks?  Is that supposed to make me feel better?

Either way, there were a few funny looks and a bit of denial, but nothing bad happened as a result.  Hopefully it will all stay well in the future.

Update

Hey folks,  It’s been a while since I’ve posted.  I’ve been dealing with some personal issues.  A lot has been happening, but I’ve been having trouble with motivation.  That probably has to do with the fact that I have been diagnosed with major depressive disorder.  I think it’s got a lot to do with my religious upbringing, among other things.  I have been on medication for the last month and it seems to be helping.  I finally get to meet with my therapist for the first time tomorrow.  Hopefully she will help me start working on some of my issues.  This is a big step for me.

Among other things going on…

I got to go to the launch party for Ryan Bell’s new initiative, Life After God.  I took my wife (who is still a christian) and she did the most amazing thing.  When Ryan asked for people to give their opinions on what the movement should focus on, she got up in front of a bunch of atheists and said that she thinks there needs to be more support for people coming out of religion who are still married to religious spouses.  That blew me away!  I was really having doubts about our relationship until that moment.  Sure, there are still things we need to work through, but that’s coming along.

Neil Carter of Godless in Dixie was there and he took a few moments to speak with me and my wife.  He is such an amazing person for caring enough to take the time to give us some advice and try to help us out.  I cannot say enough how thankful I am.  He recommended we read the book In Faith and In Doubt together.  We have started reading it and making notes.  Amazing stuff!  I really think this is going to start some conversations that will improve our relationship and help us for the long run.

There were several other people I met who made a tremendous impact on me.  Cass Midgley of the podcast Everyone’s Agnostic spent some time talking with us.  What a great guy.  He offered to have us on the podcast, but I haven’t contacted him as of yet.  I may do that as soon as I am finished writing this post.

We also met one of the guests that Cass had on his show, Hugh Mann.  He has a great story to tell that shows just how difficult it is to be a nonbeliever in the general area I live in.  What a great guy!

Another great thing that happened just this Saturday was a conversation with my little sister.  She is the one who is no longer a oneness pentecostal, but she is still very christian and very conservative.  Recently she asked me how church was and I told her that I hadn’t been going.  Well, this last Saturday while talking to her she asked whether I was an atheist or an agnostic or what.  I came out and told her point blank that I was both.  To my surprise she said she loves me anyway and she doesn’t want this to mess up our relationship.  She also made a comment that makes me think that my dad will be OK with my non-belief as well, but that is another conversation I will have to have later.

The last thing I’d like to mention is that I received David Silverman’s new book, Fighting God: An Atheist Manifesto for a Religious World.  I read it in about two days (in my free time) and I can now say, “I get it!”  I understand why he seems so confrontational.  It’s all about equality.  If you are a closeted atheist, or any stripe of nonbeliever, you should seriously consider reading this book.  He talks about the reasons American Atheists do what they do and how it helps all of us who are nonreligious.  As a result of reading this book, I joined American Atheists, and I have some advocacy plans (tentative) for the Freethinkers Meet-Up group I fellowship with.  I haven’t discussed it with them yet, but I think they will be on board.

That’s what’s been going on with me.  Sorry for taking so long to post.  I think I’m back on the uphill.

Leaving the Fold, Exercise 5.1

I started reading Leaving the Fold: A Guide for Former Fundamentalists and Others Leaving Their Religion by Dr. Marlene Winell.  I had seen it referenced by several others, but recently I’ve been stressing about some of the feelings I’ve been having as a result of moving on from christianity.  Being one to look for answers, I came across this book again, so I decided to give it a go.

Throughout the book are exercises that the reader can complete in order to clarify his/her thinking on a number of issues that are discussed in the book.  Following is my response to Exercise 5.1.

Take some time to review your own reasons for deciding to leave your religion…

Reason 1: Early on it was cognitive dissonance.  When I left home to join the Army, I realized that many the things my church preached against were not all that bad.  I had my first drink of alcohol and the world didn’t fall apart around me.  I had relationships with women, some sexual, most not, and the world didn’t fall apart around me.  There are other things that continued to give me cognitive dissonance throughout my adult life.  Whenever the church said something and the facts didn’t match up with what they were saying, I kept the faith, but eventually these distinct items piled up so high that I left my original church in a rather heated way.  In the book, Winell related the story of a man who was asking questions of his pastor, and the pastor had no logical response.  The pastor finally told him to face the fact that his asking these sorts of questions were nothing more than sin, effectively cutting him off from further questioning.  This is very similar to how I left my original church.  I started asking questions about the specifics of the oneness pentecostal doctrine that set it apart from the rest of christianity.  I sent a letter to the pastor asking him to clarify or justify some of these specifics according to the bible.  After a series of email exchanges, he finally said the following at the close of his last email:

I will say again: you are making a huge carnal-minded human-will motivated mistake. No Child of God, truly submitted to the will of God, would have taken the steps away from Truth that you have taken. You’ve made decisions that, in time, your family will regret; they could even lose confidence in and respect for you.

Again, cognitive dissonance: My family seems to have more respect and confidence in me than ever before.

Reason 2: Facts and information.  After leaving that church I started trying to find the right version of christianity; you know, the one that is completely in line with the bible, as close to the original church as is modernly possible, and has a direct connection to the original church.  What I discovered was that there are way too many versions of christianity, and all of them differ in meaningful ways, and most of them reject the others because they aren’t teaching the truth.  As this search continued, I found books about the problems with the transmission and writing of the bible, the historicity of the biblical accounts, and the archaeological finds that disprove biblical accounts. These books lead to other books about the problems with christianity itself.  I realized that christianity doesn’t hold up when examined point by point.  After learning all this new information there was no way I could continue to call myself a christian or believe in any of its tenets.  I think it is important to point out that I wouldn’t have gone down this road if it weren’t for my incessant need to be “right”.  All I wanted to do was find the truth.  My main goal was to find the right church so I could be right in god’s eyes.  Now from the other side of this experience, I see the real irony in it all; I was trying to find god, and in the process I lost him.  It’s not that I really believe that I lost him.  The truth is, I don’t see any evidence for the existence of a supernatural being of any type, and especially not the one portrayed in the christian bible.

Reason 3: Christian love.  The more I think about it, the more I realize how truly unhappy I was with the relationships I had with fellow christians.  They were all very flat; they were surface-level relationships with no real substance.  After church, shaking hands with people I remember all the hugs and “I love you, brother”s, but when it came down to it, none of them were really interested in me as a person or my thoughts or feelings.  All they cared about was what I could do for the church.  After leaving both churches, only a small handful of people even checked in on me in a meaningful way.  And the causes they supported weren’t really doing anything good in the world: “Let’s send missionaries to Africa to starving, homeless people, not so we can feed and clothe them, but to convert them to our religion, because their eternal soul is more important than their physical suffering…” Total BS!

There are other things I could write about that caused me to leave, but I think these were the big three.  The cognitive dissonance lead me to try to learn as much as I could, which was the straw that broke the camel’s back.  And all of this was underpinned by a need for deeper, more meaningful relationships with other people, not the flat relationships I had in the church.  It’s a lot easier to see these things looking back.  At the time, I was mostly feeling a great mental and psychological stress and even went into a serious depression for a while.  To this day I still deal with the lingering effects of that depression.  Hopefully reading this book will help me work though these issues and get me on track to get on with life.

That is all.

Talking to Dad about (the problems with) Christianity

My Dad came to visit for a few days this week on one of his whirlwind trips across the country.  It was nice to be able spend some time with him, considering all that he’s been through these last few years.  While he was here, I knew I wanted to discuss all of these things I’ve learned about the problems with Christianity and maybe even get to the real point and “come out” as an atheist to him.

You have to know a little about my dad.  He was my pastor from about the time I was 14 until I left to join the Army at 18.  He is on the board of the oneness pentecostal denomination (small though it is) that I grew up in.  Whenever you ask how he is, his response is usually, “I’m blessed in the Lord.”  EVERYTHING about his worldview is based on his “relationship” with Jesus.  But at the same time, he is very resilient when it comes to any kind of personal or religious issue, and he is very accepting of others in a way I’ve almost never seen of any other person, let alone a oneness pentecostal minister.  As an example, years ago when it was revealed that my brother’s fiancé was pregnant, all my dad did was hug him and tell him how much he loved him.  Another example of my dad’s acceptingness of others’ differences is the interfaith minister’s group my dad attends in his hometown.  He is good friends with baptist and catholic ministers, etc., and even calls them his “brothers in Christ”; not a common traits for the closed-minded, “we’re the only ones with the truth” oneness pentecostals.

So dad came in on Monday, and I wasn’t sure how he would react to “the news”, so I decided to wait.  On Tuesday we worked on a project together, which took nearly all day.  That night, my wife asked if I had talked with him about “important things.”  She was worried about the reaction when she and the kids left for church on Wednesday night and I didn’t go with them.

So on Wednesday, Dad and I went out to breakfast.  I started the conversation with a line of reasoning from John W. Loftus’ OTF.  I started with the Religious Diversity Thesis in my own words.  “I read that there are about 40,000 Christian denominations in the world.  Many of them are mutually exclusive of one another, meaning that one group would send the other group to hell for their beliefs and vice versa-  Since they can’t all be right, how do you know which one is the right one?”

His response was something about the basics of christianity and knowing in your heart that you had a relationship with god.  So I set a little groundwork and explained that the reason I left the UPC church was that I realized it wasn’t biblically right (he agreed with me) and that I had been looking for the “right” church for the last six or so years through much study and research, so I could know which was the right way to worship god.  After all, if god is a “jealous god” and Paul said to not fall for those who taught “other gospels” then there must be only one “right way” to worship god.  And with 40,000 extant ways, many mutually exclusive, there are a lot of people who have it wrong.  He said it had to do with “working out your own salvation with fear and trembling.”  So I restated that it’s basically up to your own interpretation.  He sort of agreed with me.

Then I shifted into John W. Loftus’ Religious Dependency Thesis.  “You know that most people stick with the religion they were born into?  If you were born in India, you’re probably going to be Hindu, and if you were born in Japan, you’re probably going to be Buddhist, and if you were born in Saudi Arabia, you’re probably going to be a Muslim- and if you were born here, you’re probably a Christian of some sort.  Most people don’t really look at the religion they were born into to see if it’s right or not.”  He responded that his grandfather was a Methodist preacher until he saw the “light of Jesus’ name”  (BTW, that’s oneness pentecostal code for “we reject the trinity concept and as a result, when we baptize people, we say ‘in Jesus’ name’ instead of ‘father, son, and holy spirit'”).  I told him that I didn’t think that was a good analogy, since the pentecostals originated in the methodists, and they’re very similar anyway, not to mention that was a common thing at that time since that’s how the pentecostals came about.  Then I told him that there are some people who do switch religions, but the majority stick with their culturally inherited one.

Then I asked, “If your version of Christianity is culturally inherited, and there is no right version because its a matter of personal interpretation, how is one ever going to figure out which is the right one?  THAT doesn’t seem to make any sense at all.”

I brought up the differences in opinion of the early church that are extant in the new testament.  I showed him Romans 3:28 and the surrounding verses and James 2:24 and surrounding verses where Paul said that “a man is justified by faith apart from works”, and “James” said that “a man is justified by works and not faith alone.”  He said he’s have to look at his commentary to see what the original language said.  So I pulled up the verses on the Blue Letter Bible website where you can get to the Greek dictionary.  Sure enough, they use the exact same Greek words to express opposite versions of how one is justified.  My next question was “if the men who wrote the Bible can’t even agree on how one is justified, how are we to know how to be justified?”  He responded that he never had a problem with this.  He said that either way, he felt that he was justified. He went on to talk about how they were really saying the same thing, and that works will follow your salvation regardless.  I gave him the analogy that if Hitler was on his deathbed and “believed” with all his heart then died that Paul would say he was saved, but “James” wold not, since “faith without works is dead.”  He saw my point, but didn’t necessarily agree with me.

We spoke on and off most of the afternoon.  I brought in textual criticism, archaeology, and a bit of science.  I could see his wheels turning with frustration, but all he could answer was that none of this had ever bothered him because he was sure in his salvation.  Finally I replied with, “Well, it does bother me.”  I told him that I had spoken with my (former) pastor and he couldn’t provide any answers other that to recommend a book that brought up more questions and didn’t make Christianity look very good since it used untruths to make its points.  I also told him that I had been corresponding with my cousin (a pastor) who couldn’t answer any of my questions, but only define the religio-philosophical problem that I was giving examples of.  I told him that I had important questions that needed to be answered, and no one seemed to be able to answer them.

Then my wife came in and asked if he was going to go to church with her and the kids.  He decided to stay with me.  I think that’s when it hit home.  He said, “Well, I can see you’ve lost faith in the church.”

I said “Yes.  And Christianity too.”

He asked if I still had faith in god.  I said, “I’m still holding out for god.”

What I didn’t tell him is that I do not, in fact, believe that the god of the Christian faith exists as claimed by Christians, but I would like there to be a god, because that’s where my comfort zone is.  I’ve always believed there’s a god, and that’s a hard thing to let go of.  But considering the evidence, I can’t believe.  It’s one of those things that you really can’t unsee.

I think this conversation will continue, but I don’t really think he will be the one to bring it up.

Cul-De-Sac Memories

When I was four, my family moved from Arkansas to California.  For a few months we stayed at my grandparents’ house.  I don’t recall much from that time except that I had a little green bicycle that I think someone pulled out of the dump and spray painted so that I would have a bike.  I remember years later, my mom said that while we were living there, I took a pair of scissors and clipped all of the folds in my grandmother’s drapes.  I was only four at the time, so I don’t remember it, but it sounds like something I would do.  I’m pretty sure it embarrassed my mom, and may be one of the reasons she didn’t especially connect with my dad’s parents.  I don’t know… Speculation on my part.  But looking at others I know who have stayed with people in a transition situation, things that the kids do makes parents crazy and strains relationships, especially among the women.

My dad eventually found a little house on a cul-de-sac a couple of miles from my grandparents’ house.  The house couldn’t have been more than 1000 square feet.  It was probably more like 800 or 900.  There was a small eat-in kitchen in the front, a small living room that had a door directly into the master bedroom, and a short hallway off the back of the living room that led to the two smaller bedrooms.  My brother and I shared the bedroom directly behind the kitchen, and the girls got the one in the middle of the house. The bathroom was between these two bedrooms.  We stayed in that house from the time I was in kindergarten to about the time I was in fourth or fifth grade.

In the winter, the house was really cold.  In fact, I remember getting up for school some mornings and it being so cold in the house that my mom had all of the burners on the stove going to help heat the place.  I would go in the bathroom and rum my hands under the hot water to warm them up.  The heater was an old gold-colored gas thing.  It was in the wall between the living room and the hallway in front of my sisters’ bedroom, so it was pretty much central in the house, but it didn’t heat very well.  But on those cold mornings, it was the best heat we could get, so we would run to the kitchen, get a bowl of cereal, and then argue over who got to sit with our feet directly under the heater- one in the hall, and one in the living room.

One of my favorite memories from the house was the day we got the carpet changed.  When we moved in, the carpet was really old and nasty.  Apparently it was that green 70s shag, but it had a lot of dog stains.  When my parents saved enough, they went and got new carpet.  It was a brown high/low, with the little lines running through it.  I remember all of the furniture being out on the lawn.  That was strange to me as a kid.    I also remember the incredibly large amount of dirt on the floor after they pulled the carpet up.  They installed the carpet, and I was fascinated by the process.

Behind the house was an unattached garage.  When we moved in, the siding was some kind of wooden slats.  Somewhere along the way, my dad decided to replace the siding on the garage.  To remove the old siding, which was dry rotted, my dad, mom, and one of my uncles were using a sledge hammer to bust it up, then a claw hammer to pull out the nails.  I got to bust some of the siding off, and I thought that was the coolest thing ever.  They replaced the siding with plywood, which they painted yellow.  Strange choice, but… Hey, if you knew my family, you’d understand.

In the back corner of the yard was an apricot tree that we spent many hours climbing.  Somewhere along the way, my parents put up a tire swing, and we wore a hole in the ground underneath it.  It wasn’t just a tire hung from the tree, it was an actual swing made from an old tire.  If you cut around the bead, then across the tread, so that you remove about 75% of the sidewall and tread, but leave the rings of bead on both sides, you can turn it inside out, tie a rope from the bead to the tree, then you have a swing.  When you spin it up as much as you can, you spin for what seems like forever.  You spin one way, then back, then back again.  When you get off, you can’t walk straight, and sometimes you even throw up a little.  Best feeling ever!

There were some train tracks about a block from our house.  Sometimes we would go over there against our parents’ permission and do things like put coins on the tracks and let the trains squish them.  Once there was a train carrying some sort of ore; I guess that’s what it was.  It was a silvery, grey, shiny rock.  Some of it fell off the train and we got pieces of it.  I still have mine somewhere.  I thought that was the coolest thing ever.  I guess that’s why I held on to it.

There were two kids who lived next door to us.  Their dad owned a small car lot and and detailing shop, so he always had cool cars.  The oldest one was a couple of years older than my older sister.  The younger one was either the same age or a year older than her.  We hung out with them quite a bit.  For a while, I think when I was in second grade, there were two girls that lived across the street.  I tried to impress them one day with my fishing pole.  I tied a weight to the end of the line and tried casting toward them.  Their dad got upset with me.  They also had chickens.  We got in their chicken cage one day and tried to catch one of them.  I don’t remember if we were successful, but it was interesting.

There were some kids down the street at the house on the corner.  They were a rough bunch.  The one that was close to our age was named J.D., I think.  They were always dirty, and they cussed.  There was a tree house in their yard.  One day the younger kid from next door and me and one of the dirty kids climbed up in their tree house and looked at a playboy or some other girlie magazine.  I was only in second or third grade, so I wasn’t sure what to make of it.  I vaguely remember a naked woman with paint all over her body.

My neighbor also introduced me to the word “stoned”.  We were riding our bikes and we skidded on some dirt, which cause a minor dust cloud.  He said something to the effect of, “we could do that over and over, then get in the middle of the ‘smoke’ so we can get stoned.”  Near the same time, we were playing one day and somehow ended up in my front yard.  As best I can remember, we were paying like we were going through a typical day… or something.  Anyway, we “came home” to my front yard.  That’s where the “house” was in whatever it was that we were playing.  And he said, “OK, now we have to hump.”  He lies on the grass, face down, and begins doing semi pushups with his pelvis.  I followed suit.  I had no idea what we were doing, but looking back on it as an adult, I can imagine that he had been exposed to something on TV… or whatever that he had an inking of an idea what “humping” was.

It was while we were living at that house that we discovered what an eclipse was.  One day the kids next door asked our mom if we could come over and watch the eclipse that night.  She asked what channel it was on.  That’s still one of my funniest memories.  It says a lot about my upbringing in one sense as well.  That night, both of our families stood in the back yards and watched the moon slowly black out, then slowly reappear.

Some time later, one night my dad got all of us out of bed and took us to the back yard so we could watch the space shuttle fly over.  I remember that it was cold, and we were staring at the sky, then finally, a fairly bright- what looked like a star- somewhat quickly made its way across the sky.  I’ve done the same thing to my kids; stay up late so we could watch some astronomical event.  Kids hate it, but one day, they’ll look back with fond memories.

There are lots of other memories I have of that house.  I’ll have to post them later.  We had a garden, there were olive trees, and this one summer rain storm I’ll never forget.  But those are for another time.

No More Mr. Nice Guy and Hank Hanegraaff

So I met with the psychologist and discussed setting up an ongoing counseling regimen.  I was supposed to call back on Friday to set up the initial counseling appointment, but after a few rounds of phone tag, I started wondering what I was doing.  I realized I was tired go being depressed and I started questioning why I had let myself get that way.  I went back and reviewed No More Mr. Nice Guy, with made me realize that I was falling back into my toxic shame.  That’s what this was all about.  I had forgotten to follow the rules that Dr. Glover specifies in the book.  I was slipping back into the old mindset.  So I went back to rule #4- I am the only one on this planet who is responsible for my desires, wants, and happiness- and started repeating it to myself.  This little mantra seems to be working.  I suppose it takes a while to internalize a healthy mindset once you’ve been coddling an unhealthy one for so long.  I still have a long way to go, but I’m back on the mack Truck, baby!  Get the hell out of the way!

In other news, I finished the Hank Hanegraaff book The Apocalypse Code.  He does a fantastic job of explaining why the dispensational views of the “end time” are not particularly good for christians to adhere to.  First of all, John Nelson Darby, the father of modern dispensationalism, didn’t introduce the idea to the world until the 1800s.  No one in the church taught dispensationalism until Darby came along, then when the Scofield Reference Bible became popular, it disseminated the dispensationalist teachings throughout the English-speaking world.  All of the fundamentalist christian groups, such as pentecostals and baptists bought in to it, and the rest is history.  If you really look at the Bible, as shown in Hanegraaff’s book and on the Raptureless.com website, you will see the truth about the “end of the age”.  The end of the age was the end of the old covenant and the mosaic law.  The “tribulation”, as the dispensationalists call it, already happened in 70 AD.  Which explains why Jesus said in Matthew 24 that some of them standing with him would not die until all of the things he mentioned would happen at the end of the age would transpire.  It also explains why Daniel’s “70 weeks” don’t have an unexplained 2000 year gap between the 69th and 70th weeks.  It also explains why we have no business, as christians, going back and trying to follow old testament laws: they’ve all been fulfilled by the “completed work” that Jesus did on the cross.

On a side note, it also solidly puts the nail in the coffin of the oneness pentecostals and their dress codes and other teachings.  I had a conversation with my brother about this very thing.  I made the observation that when you’re in oneness pentecostalism, they talk about how they have true freedom because they are following their silly rules.  They always say that “as soon as someone backslides, the first thing to go is their ‘holiness’ (dress code).  But we know that by following the holiness standards, we are pleasing to the Lord and that’s how we have true freedom.”  But It’s not… It’s a prison.  Their dress code has nothing to do with holiness, and by relying on it, they are reverting back to the old law and not accepting Jesus’ sacrifice to be the fulfillment of the law.  They are trusting in what THEY do to make them holy, and not what God did so they could be holy.  Ironic, isn’t it!

Hanegraaff’s book also does a good job of explaining the injustice and outright evilness of christian support for the zionist movement based on God’s promises to Moses.  He notes the conditional aspect of the promise; if you do what I command, then you can have the land.  He goes on to show how most Jews are not following God’s command, and how historically they haven’t.    He also shows where those promises were already fulfilled under the rule of Solomon.  He also shows how God’s intention is for us to love everyone, as shown in several places in scripture, and how persecuting and killing non-Jewish palestinians to get their land and homes isn’t a very christian, or even moral, thing to do.

Overall, I think it’s a well-written, clear presentation of the case.  This book, the book on Raptureless.com, and several other writings available on the web have convinced me that I’ve had it wrong all along.  I’m so glad the truth is out there.  I just with it wouldn’t have taken me so long to discover it.  Maybe, though, it will be more valuable to me now that I’ve had to work so hard to get it.  Wasn’t it solomon that said to “buy the truth and sell it not”?  Someone said it, and I kind of feel like that’s what I’ve been doing; buying the truth.

I started reading another book, So You Thought You Knew by Josh Tongol that looks to be right in line with where I have come to.  Mind you, I’ve only read chapter 1, so I can’t speak for the rest of the book, but what I have read seems to be some of the most enlightened thought I have come across in a while.  It seems to bring everything I have been learning in the last few years down to the “now what does it all mean” level.  I’m hoping that when I get to the end, I’ll have abetter answer than I do now.  It may take a while, though.  I have a lot of school work to get through in the next few weeks, and seemingly little time to get through it.