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NOTE: For a complete list of articles related to this chapter... Visit the Main Index FOR this section.
Why Many of Us Will Never Be Christian (No Matter How Hard We Try)
Article ID: 13459
Age Group: Adult
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Author: D.G. Cleveland
Posted: November 8th. 2009
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I met a girl. Really I guess it always starts with a girl. Secondary conversion is one of the primary tools used by Revealed Religions to bring in new members. To quote Wikipedia (the bastard child of the internet in many ways) : “In the sociology of religion, secondary conversion is the religious conversion of an individual that results from a pre-existing relationship with another convert, rather than any particular aspect of the new religion (1) .”
That was certainly the case for me, and in most cases I suspect that’s the case for many who convert from “alternative religions” to “mainstream religions.” It had nothing to do with an interest in that religion. I was mildly interested, yes, but what I was interested in was the new “love of my life” (and I will use that term loosely) and without the blinding light of that delusion I never would have overlooked the things I did for quite so long.
Love is indeed “the triumph of imagination over intelligence (Henry L. Mencken)
But back to the beginning. I’ve spent more than a decade as a “balls to the wall” (pardon the phrase) occultist and pagan. Most of those years have been dedicated to the study of Anglo Hermetic traditions (Golden Dawn, OTO, Gardnerian Wicca, Freemasonry) and generic Western Occult (Qabalah, Goetia, Witchcraft) with large amounts of Celtic Shamanism; but religiously I am an Ancestor Worshiper in the tradition of the Celtic Druids I count myself among. So falling for a Christian girl was a bit of a shock for me. More than that, she wasn’t just a Christian; she was a Mormon (sorry: LDS [many of them don’t actually like being called Mormon]) .
Now I won’t suppose how much my reader knows or doesn’t know about LDS folks, but in many ways they are better than average Christian when it comes to preaching but worse when it comes to conversion. The church sends out about 51, 000-56, 000 missionaries worldwide (2) whose only job is to “spread the gospel” and bring new members into the church, and beyond that the church charges its members to be missionaries in their daily life.
While individual members are technically tolerant of members of other faiths, the line begins to be drawn at dating. Why? LDS members believe that they will be with their families in heaven but only if they get married in a Mormon temple, a ritual reserved for “members in good standing (a status that can be revoked for many reasons) .” They view not getting married in the temple as a one-way ticket to an eternity without their families (or their likewise damned spouse) .
So I agreed to look into the church, for her. I will say this: never look into a religion because your brand new girlfriend/boyfriend wants you to. It is the definition of ulterior motives. Your common sense and reasoning abilities will be severely impeded when you know that the minute you don’t convert the “love of your life” is gone. But I did.
For several months I whole-heartedly “investigated the church (Mormon lingo for potential convert) , ” going to church every Sunday (LDS services are three hours long, btw) , activities twice a week, and study sessions with the missionaries two or three times a week. The latter is where problems arose.
If anyone ever asks you why you aren’t Christian, your answer will likely be much the same as mine: I ask too many questions. I asked everything from “why would God curse us with Original Sin” to “but what makes Jesus any different than Osiris or Mithra” along with liberal amounts of verse comparison and inquiries about contradiction.
I wanted to know. I had every reason in the world to believe and I wanted to believe. I saw this girl as a “blessing” and as “God’s” way of showing me I hadn’t given Him a good enough chance. So I asked with a real willingness to learn and I submerged myself in Christian mythology and church doctrine.
But the missionaries couldn’t answer my questions. They weren’t hard questions. “Why is the Sabbath now Sunday instead of the Jewish Friday?” “How can the church celebrate Christmas when historians know its roots are Pagan?” “If the Gospels were written decades after Jesus died then how do we know they’re accurate?”
Simple questions, I thought. Questions that I would assume any Christian worth his salt would have run into, searched for himself, and found the answer.
But they didn’t know.
Not to fret, The Bishop will know. So they set me up with a meeting with the Bishop (Mormon version of a chapel pastor) . A nice man indeed, but time and again he could not answer my questions.
This bothered me. I wanted to believe that these folks weren’t just brainwashed and that Christianity did have some truth to offer otherwise it wouldn’t be the number one religion in the world. And my new girlfriend saw that I was struggling.
We talked about what would happen if I didn’t end up finding the answers and she couldn’t figure out why I couldn’t just believe. Who cares about the minor details because God himself gave us the Gospels so they have to have the truth, I just couldn’t see it yet.
This really put me off. I guess I am with Galileo because “I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use.”
So she found me a man to answer my questions. I church teacher and seminary instructor. This was the man to ask, this was the man who had converted Catholic Priests to Mormonism and who was a wellspring of historical and anthropological knowledge. He had sat on interfaith councils, represented the church in many venues, and earned a degree sufficient enough to be entrusted with the instruction of Bishops, Missionaries, teachers, and the like.
So of course, my “simple” questions rapidly became harder questions. I felt that this was the man to hit with all the walls that were stopping me because there is no way a scholar of his caliber could be met with a stumping question. So I pulled out all the stops. “Why do the gospels not agree about the divinity of Jesus?” “Why does the bible talk about Satyrs (3) , Unicorns (4) , and Cockatrices (5) ?” “And why did Christ himself say he’d be back before his Apostles were dead? (6) ”
But I learned that education does not mean a man is above specious arguments and round logic. Problems were passed off as “mistranslations” but a request for a comparison in Greek turned up a “Well, I don’t read Greek.”
Many issues were said to be “minor, and not really important to our salvation.” And then, in the most deal breaking moment of my whole search, he told me, “Until you believe that the Bible is the word of God and until you have faith, you will not find your answers.”
Why do I need faith to find answers to simple historical questions? I’m not asking about God’s plan or the meaning of life. I’m asking about Unicorns and the Sabbath.
Christianity prizes faith above reason and intellect. But, "the most formidable weapon against errors of every kind is reason. I have never used any other and I trust I never shall. (Thomas Paine)
How can faith supplant simple logic? How can historical inaccuracies and flat out contradictions be ignored by just reassuring oneself that God knows more than we do? Did our creator make a mistake when he gave us the basic faculties of reason and logic?
In the end I decided to go away from the church (or rather, not join) . Many Christians have said that I didn’t want to believe. That I was “stubborn” and didn’t want to take the plunge. But I can definitely say, I had every reason to believe and to lose my faith.
I just plain couldn’t.
Since then my relationship with the young lady has ended. The tolerance of the church stops dead in its track on one issue: Pagans. They believe all other faiths can be worked with but they are not allowed to “sympathize” with pagans (which includes dating) and can even lose the ability to enter the temple for doing so.
But that’s okay. I’m with a good pagan girl now ;)
The missionaries have contacted me a few times to let me know they harbor no ill feelings. If you have a chance to talk to Mormon missionaries, do not pass it up. They are honest young men who truly love their church and really do care about the folks they are talking with. They still follow up to see how I’m doing.
So how am I doing? This experience did change my faith. It didn’t convert me to Christianity or any of its neighbors. Instead, it forced me to reexamine my previous practice. And I can say for certain that the Western Occult tradition, in the guise of Thelema, Wicca, Druidry, and the like, stands the test, which the Church cannot.
Occultists and Pagans refuse to let faith interrupt reason. We are constantly examining tradition and asking if it works (and in many cases it does) . We work magic (k) , we read fortunes, we bless, we curse, we sacrifice; and time and time again we look at these acts of faith and say “do they stand up to reason and do they work, ” and a pagan whose readings do not come true stops divining, an occultist who gets no results from Goetia looks into other avenues, and any magician who cannot conjure turns in his pointed hat and retires.
Why will many of us never be Christian?
Because "the way to see by faith is to shut the eye of reason, (Ben Franklin) …and we refuse to do so.
(1) "Secondary conversion." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. 4 Jul 2009, 05:17 UTC. 26 Jul 2009 .
(2) "Mormon Missionaries." Dear Elder. 2009. 26 Jul 2009 .
(3) Isaiah 13:21 - "But wild beasts of the desert shall lie there; and their houses shall be full of doleful creatures; and owls shall dwell there, and satyrs shall dance there."
(4) Isaiah 34:7 - "And the unicorns shall come down with them, and the bullocks with the bulls, and their land shall be soaked with blood, and their dust made fat with fatness."
(5) Jeremiah 8:17 - "For, behold, I will send serpents, cockatrices, among you, which will not be charmed, and they shall bite you, saith the Lord.
(6) Luke 21:27-32 - “And then they will see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to take place, look up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near... Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away till all has taken place."
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