Suffocation

There is no escape.  They’re everywhere I go.  A state of psychological panic slowly infringes my mind, when everywhere I turn there is someone ready to distort what I know is true. What I can see clearly is denied by those who project upon me the hopes, fears, and twisted delusions they need to entertain. Here, in my own personal zombie apocalypse, they come at me with outstretched arms. Clutched in their hands is the Kool Aid that they implore me to consume. But they are not walking corpses, they are the believers. Where in the world can I seek refuge when the vast majority accepts the belief in–or delusion of–god?

You could say I am a recovering zombie. Like most of the world, I once believed as they did.  So imagine the horror of snapping out of it.  Like taking the red pill. At first it’s liberating to see the truth for what it really is, and not having to pretend anymore. But the next realization is that I’m stuck in a world full of god believers where I don’t belong.

They’re programmed to do everything in their power to pull me back into the herd. They call it ministering. Some are forceful and others kind, telling me my realization was just a bad dream. That I just need to have faith.

“Here, drink this,” one of them says, taking my arm.

I shout back at them, “No, no, I won’t! It isn’t true!” I break from their grip and push them back. “Stop telling me that crap is true. I know what’s true! You’re trying to suck me into the whirlpool of your comfortably confused mind! You’re sick, so stay away from me!”

I can outrun them in the short term, but day after day like this brings a kind of emotional suffocation. I am a proud discerning analyst, who has been on a long road of answering existential questions. An ardent seeker of truth. Through lessons of history, science, logic, and psychology I’ve learned enough to see the truth from the lies. And I understand why people believe what they believe. Why then, do they affect me so much? Why not just ignore them?

Well let’s say there is this giant chalkboard, where everyone can come and write down their ideas about things. There are many people writing, but I find a nice large spot of my own. It gets more crowded as I write out my precious insights, and before long there is barely any elbow room. Then the people around me start erasing my words, writing in their own. I have to fight them off, but they’re encroaching on all sides. Writing over my space. Even worse, they aren’t even writing intelligible prose.  Most of them are repeating the same phrases over and over, just filling up the board with it. If I step back for one moment, my thoughts disappear, replaced by insipid zombie scrawl. I can elbow in and fight to keep my words on the board, but the moment I step back, all is overwritten again. I can’t ignore that, you see. It’s maddening.

And it’s one thing to ignore the passing stranger, or even masses of them. But they are just the background setting for the main characters: Zealous family members, that would psychologically torment me if I didn’t believe what they believed. Their methods are so subtle, and seemingly kind. Their pretense is of counsel and wisdom. Their touch so soft like the caress of a boa constrictor that holds you in its warm and reassuring grip as you drift off into sleep. If you wake again, it will be as a changed person.  They’ll administer their Kool Aid over your sleeping lips. Smiling and telling  you everything will be so grand now that you’re able to see God’s truth.

                The only way I can breathe is to speak out against what is suffocating me.

Why would I alienate the world around me by calling them zombies? It’s intended as a slap in the face that says, “SNAP OUT OF IT!”. And what else would you call otherwise intelligent people caught in a spell of deception that traps them in emotional bondage? A global case of “group think” that results in so many destructive decisions. There should be an insightful blog that brings them step by step through thought processes that are like weapons against bullshit, beguilement and quackery. Thoughts that are easy to understand.

I have evolved through many different belief systems throughout my life, in search of the truth.  That actual truth, not the religious one.  As a child, my family attended a quiet Lutheran church now and then. It was more a group of friends and neighbors than anything else. Throughout childhood and into my teens, I had a general belief in god but didn’t really like going to church or talking about it with anyone. I was half agnostic, not at all attracted to any organized religion. I would pray now and then when things got tough, in whatever way I liked.

As I approached my mid twenties, I wanted to belong to a supportive community. I wanted to experience the supernatural. I wanted to cash in on the promises given to me by aforementioned family church elders, and accept all the great things God had in store for my life.  I decided to commit to Christianity with all my heart. I read the bible cover to cover. I got involved in church social groups. Within a few years I was an unabashed Jesus freak.

It took about seven years for me to see through the pretenses, and become discouraged from all the promises that proved to be hollow. In the end I felt completely duped by it all. Frustrated that my life was fruitless from living in that paradigm.  That’s when I started regurgitating gallons of Kool Aid. One thought of the stuff will send me into dry heaves.

I left the church and immediately threw myself into paganism and Wicca.  Or at least I read a few books about it, burned a lot of incense, and cast a few spells. But I soon decided that those people were all nuts too.

I studied Buddhism a bit by listening to Sogyal Rinpoche’s Tibetan book of Living and Dying on cassette (an audio book). I continued to the natural progression of reading the Tao Te Ching. That one really struck a chord in me, by the way. Soon after, I would proclaim that I was a “Neo-Pagan Taoist” if anyone were to enquire about my religious orientation. As you can imagine, I got some strange looks.

As I learned more and more about science, and quantum physics in particular, I embraced what I now call “quantum spirituality”. It’s the idea that mind creates matter, and consciousness itself affects the constituents of the physical world. If you’ve heard of the movie “What the bleep do we know”, I was into that kind of stuff. I progressed past it, knowing that the fascinating conclusions that are drawn in that paradigm are as fictitious as any religion, even if it were inspired by science.

But now, I think I’m a nihilist. Because nothing is true. Because everything is true. Because you decide whatever you like about things during your life, and either way you die at some point and that’s that. I don’t feel better by pretending certain things are true or not because I’m so aware of the pretending. It’s counterfeit, what’s the point? I get my confidence in the certainty of what is actually true despite our wishes. I cling to science and intellectualism. I feel better holding the cold hard facts close to me.

So I thought of myself as a “chameleon of paradigms” for those years I explored different belief systems. I did gain many insights along the way that will never be forgotten. In fact they’ll be peppered throughout ensuing posts of this blog. One poignant observation, something that all these belief system have in common, is that people always fill in the blanks of the unknown with their imagination and continue on as if it were all true. I know that is folly, because rarely does your imagination render anything realistic. Humans are experts at misleading themselves.  So I say, one must work hard to stick to the facts, which is to fight human nature and becoming mislead by one’s imagination.

But aside from insights and alternate paths, Christianity affected me the most emotionally. I became so very broken hearted from having previously been so deeply in love.  I was actually trying to believe more completely, by using my analytical nature. What I found wasn’t at all what I was after. Above all, what I thought I was doing, was seeking personal fulfillment that can only come from connecting with something beyond our mundane world.  So many times I went to a home group or bible study and asked the group to pray that god would reach out and show himself to me.  I prayed for it myself all the time:

“Please god, come to me.  Reveal yourself and touch my soul.  I want to feel you.  I want to be here with you, and to know that you’re with me.”

I miss singing in the spirit, as we called it. Back in the day, I would prefer to sit without friends in the afterglow worship session, but with others close by. My friends usually wouldn’t sing much or open up so they would be a distraction.  It was the hardcore worshippers that would stay for the afterglow. The lights were low, the music was sensitive and sincere, and I would sing my heart out. I would sing so well. So well. I would sing my love to god, pour out my adoration, my praises, my longing. It felt so good. There’s really nothing like it. Unfortunately it was a one sided relationship. It could go anywhere I wanted to take it, but nowhere I didn’t.

The church that had that legendary afterglow worship was the same one where I snapped out of it while the pastor was giving a sermon. He said that it was not the faith itself that was important–but what the faith is in. His message had an adverse affect on me, and I realized that of course it was the faith itself and only the faith. A thought like this would seem so insignificant to another person, but for me a giant lightbulb struck me in the forehead and knocked me to the ground. Yes! That’s why it all didn’t add up! It completely explained all the broken promises about how god would work in my life. It completely explained why god didn’t answer my calls. It completely explained why I needed to find another path for myself. I wasn’t willing to make my imagination as real as the faith needed to be. And then I was done. I broke up with god, my imaginary friend, and walked hard.

Now, I can’t blame zombies for doing what zombies do. I can only remember, as a cautionary tale, that I let myself believe them. I will be sure not to become mislead by their rhetoric in the future, no matter how enticing. Instead, only cling to what I know is true. Cling to Science and education of all sorts.  And above all, I will speak out hard against what is suffocating me, and breath.

 

 

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