My mind is racing more than usual, and with good reason…Four months ago, I stumbled upon an essay that I found very interesting and just down-right pure and honest, something you don’t see a lot of in our world today. The essay I’m speaking of is that written by Aiden lead singer/creative genius behind William Control, William Francis. In the piece, he was referring to something that he had posted on one of his social networking sites and the reaction he received because of said post…Basically, he was setting the story straight, as any good person would, explaining where he came from and how he became the person he is today, beliefs and all. I found this very interesting because while I couldn’t relate to how he grew up, per say, we do share similar beliefs. I know some of you are thinking that I only agree with Mr. Francis because I’m a fan of Aiden and William Control, but even if he didn’t front such awesome works, I would still feel the same way about his views. So please, don’t assume. It never makes anyone more knowledgeable, believe me. More on assuming later, it strangely fits in with the questions at hand.
Sometime last summer, I wrote a piece about how I questioned religion at a young age, how my questions weren’t being answered and all that jazz, but I never really cared to mention what caused me to deny an existence in God. The answer isn’t rocket science, it’s actually really simple. Probably not worth explaining because I will more than likely only be shot down by someone who thinks they know what’s good for me, but that’s the thing…No one knows what’s good for me…Only I know what’s good for me. Granted, my mother and father’s judgement does matter of course, but I’m an adult and only I can make decisions and know/choose what I want to believe in.
Before I go on any further, I would like to apologize for offending anyone because I know right off the bat, that I will. It’s not something that I do intentionally, but it always seems to be what happens. People sometimes cannot handle their convictions being challenged and while it isn’t something that should be blown out of proportion, almost 100% of the time it is. I don’t mean to change anyone’s way of thinking because I down-right loathe when the same thing is done to me. It seriously isn’t something I agree with, but that’s beside the point. Back to what really matters…
I had been questioning religion and everything it stood for for a very short time, but I always thought that there was a God. I was completely, 100% sure that there was some all-powerful being that would sooner or later decide my fate upon dying. It was something I did believe in. Honestly, it was something I was raised on. Pure and simple. I was raised Catholic. There’s no two ways around it, that’s just how I raised. I was raised Catholic and believed that there truly was a God, until I started questioning such claims of course. I believed in it until it started not working for me. As I grew up, I started to turn away from the whole church-going-thing, on account of the fact I wasn’t attending a Catholic school anymore. Blame it on the public school system or the fact that I was just becoming a teenager, but I found myself not going to church anymore. I found myself changing, as any normal person would during their teenage years, and it seemed like instead of going to church, I was preoccupied with school and its never-ending array of horrors and new experiences…I was raised Catholic and that is that.
Over time, I started to find better things to do with my time. From doing homework and staying out late on some school nights to catch an underground show, to spending time with people who I hardly talk to now. Hardly is actually an understatement. Never would be more like, but then again this isn’t a how-much-we’ve-all-changed post. Not today. Honestly, I wasn’t going to church anymore, and sometimes forgot that there was a such thing as God. Well, not really forgot, but it wasn’t something I thought about on a daily basis, not like before when it was an essential part of my days. I wasn’t thinking about God as my friends and I were being verbally abused day in, day out or before and after my head was smashed into a locker. The thought of such a thing didn’t cross my mind anymore.
Instead of learning about religion, right/wrong and such, I was learning about how incredibly cruel people are, how heartless. Yes, I said it. People can be cruel, wicked, down-right horrible. I dealt with things that I normally hadn’t dealt with before. I was learning about real life. Sure, being at two Catholic schools did somewhat have their fair share of pressures, struggles, I suppose, but I don’t think I learned anything that would help me in the real world. I mean, I did learn that you were supposed to treat others the way you wanted to be treated, something I try to live by, despite the fact that people won’t always return the favor. I have to say that that’s the only thing I learned that I still put my convictions in. It’s really just something I believe in. There is some amount of good in the world, you just have to know where to find it, I guess. While I learned that smoking lead to blackened lungs and lung cancer, getting good grades were the main objective if you wanted a bright, shining future, and that God was the Lord and his son Jesus was our Savior, dying for our sins, it didn’t really seem to help me anymore…It was like I was in a whole other place entirely because, quite frankly, I was. It wasn’t the same guarded structure I was familiar with. Now, it seemed like you were all on your own, with maybe a couple tight-knit friends to help you fight your way through…I believed in all of that until those things started to not be all rainbows and Care Bears. I believed in all of it until those things stopped working for me. Until they started to slowly unravel and not be as true as they seemed. (Granted, tarred lungs and the cancer that comes with it is definitely not rainbows and Care Bears, but you get the idea.)
From a completely personal standpoint, the individuals I knew who smoked practically their entire lives, and then decided to quit to better their health or what have you, have developed lung cancer and died from said cancer. I honestly believe that if they hadn’t quit the habit, they would still be alive. It sounds outrageously idiotic and stubborn, but somehow makes sense. There is always the dreaded possibility that the cancer would develop later in their lives, or that they could expire from something completely unrelated to the fact that they smoked all those years. It’s more ironic to die by something that’s never harmed you your whole life, as oppose to expiring by something that you’ve built up a tolerance to. Whether it really makes sense or not, is completely up to the way you look at it. As for the whole good grades agenda, it is true. Hard work and good grades could get you into a good college and on your way to a bright future, but in the same breath, could swamp you up to your knees in school loans and debt and it isn’t always certain that you will find a job in the field you majored in. I’ve ranted about this fact more than once, and quite frankly, it’s really annoying. This isn’t some college-ranting post, and I’m not making it into one. Not today. God being the Almighty and powerful Father and his son Jesus Christ, our Savior, the one who died for our sins…I’m happy you stayed around here for the so-called clincher.
The event that made me believe that there was no way there could be a God was my friend’s suicide in the late summer of 2008. Yes, it’s probably not a good enough excuse for denying the existence of said deity, but way back some 3 years ago it seemed like the best reason. I had already seen many loved ones expire, all of them far older than me, riddled with some kind of cancer, and all that time I’d still had faith. I was a foolish child. I didn’t know any better. I think it’s when something is unexpected and at the same time incredibly shocking, you tend to question your faith. In this particular circumstance, it seemed like just another question on my never-ending list.
It was one of those times where you remember everything that happened, and I remember exactly what I was doing the day I got the phone call I almost didn’t answer. I was just randomly browsing Hot Topic’s website, something to past the time, when I heard my phone ring. I almost wasn’t going to get up and answer it. I was being lazy. Plain and simple. I didn’t want to get up and pick up the phone. I only answered it because it happened to be one of my best friends calling. She was wondering what our one friend’s sister’s name was. I, of course, had absolutely no idea and asked why she wanted to know. She said she saw something in the obituaries in the paper and wanted to be sure about something. I said that I didn’t know, but I would check it out because now I was a little curious. At first, I honestly didn’t believe it. After I went online and typed in obituaries, I saw what she was talking about. The obituary in question appeared to be that of our friend. I immediately knew this couldn’t be the same person, that’s not how his last name was spelled, it’s not him at all. It just didn’t seem possible. Of course, that was exactly how his last name was spelled, the obituary was indeed his. I immediately thought that he’d expired by being hit by a car, riding his bike. Horrible thing to think, I know, but it was something that could have been a possibility, despite the fact that he loved cars. How ironic, right? It only gets worse. The idea of him expiring by being hit by something that he loved was indeed ironic, but the truth was that of an even more chilling caliber.
I called my one friend and while she wasn’t really friends with him (just acquaintances), I was curious to see what she knew about the whole situation, if she did indeed know anything. She did. She told me that it was suicide. He strung up himself a noose and hung himself. He committed suicide in a nearby park. The park that just happened to be less than 5 minutes from my house. I didn’t want to believe it. The person I’d known since the 6th grade was dead. I also didn’t want to believe that I was one of the last people to know. He was dead for four days or so and I find out that he died the day of the wake. We weren’t outrageously close, but we quickly bonded and became friends when I first arrived at my new school. We had hung out outside of school and shared common interests. We had a friendship. He was (at least he seemed like) the happiest person I knew. His Myspace screen name was Mr. Wonderful for fuck’s sake.
Rumors started to surface about why he went to such extremes. Strict home life, possible depression, murder…The idea that one of his best friends might have murdered him first started to circulate, but then died rather quickly. I don’t really believe the whole murder thing. I met his friend a couple of weeks before at the library and while he was quiet, he seemed like a pretty nice guy and they seemed like genuine friends by the way they talked to each other. I didn’t want to believe the whole suicide thing either, although it seemed like everything I knew about him was shattered, like nothing about him was real anymore. Everything was just some big facade, a cunning charade. His whole life was one big neatly sown together lie, stitched, holding back everything he knew no one would want to see. I racked my brain for weeks, a couple of months even, trying to understand why such thing happened, what drove him to the so-called edge. After a while, I stopped searching for answers to why he committed suicide. He had his reasons, whatever they might have been, and he is now gone from this world. To where you’re probably wondering? No one knows. Yes, Christians would say that he is burning in Hell for all eternity because suicide is considered a sin, the self-desecrating act of taking your own life, but I know better.
While I lost my faith upon learning first hand the reality and aftershock of suicide, there was evidence that my said faith had an even better reason to be questioned. Earlier that same year, my sophomore year, I learned about the Theory of Evolution in my Biology class and honestly, it changed the way I looked at the world and religion. This theory has absolutely nothing to do with suicide and whether you burn in Hell or not, but it is probably the best evidence to support the fact that the world didn’t start out with Adam & Eve. It is also just one of those things that I still remember to this day and find plausible. I’m not saying my memory sucks, but sometimes I surprise even myself with the things I can remember. I also distinctly remember that some girl in my class was gone for the semester or so that we learned about the subject because it went against her religion. All I could think of was that it goes against almost everyone’s religion. Honestly, the Theory of Evolution just seemed to make sense to me. As I stated before, it isn’t something I’ve forgotten to this day, but then again, I’m not saying God is something I’ve forgotten either. I remember almost everything I learned in my years at those Catholic schools just as well as I remember the basic concept of Darwin’s theory. I’m not saying I remember one thing just because it happens to make more sense than the latter. I recall both school lessons and I know where I came from and know what I believe in now.
The world didn’t start out with Adam & Eve. How could it be written that Adam & Eve were the only two people on Earth, if there was indeed just that? How could something like that be recorded if there was no one around to record it? I distinctly remember that was one of the questions that crossed by mind in the beginning, and one that I still ask today. I’m totally serious when I ask this question. How could it be documented that Adam & Eve were the only two people created on Earth when there was just the two of them? The same question applies to the story of Noah’s ark and the great flood. How could something like that be recorded if there was no one there to record it? Sure there were people alive, but that was before the flood. There was indeed Noah and his family if I remember correctly, but it was never stated that he was recording the events that were happening. This question also comes to mind: How could someone who created all mankind and everything under the sun, be so cruel as to send a massive flood to destroy his precious creations only because they weren’t acting as such? Does that mean someone could destroy his home and family because they weren’t acting how he wanted them to? God destroyed his creations once, why isn’t it alright for man to do the same?
I was watching this show called American Occult a while ago, coincidentally two of the stories took place in my birth state of Ohio. In the show, it explained the story of, if I remember correctly, a teenager killing two people in the name of the Devil and everything that happened after said acts. Now, I don’t mean to sound stereotypical, but it seems like you hear that a lot. People killing in the name of Satan and honestly, that doesn’t sit very well with me. Before you start pointing fingers and judging, no I’m not a ‘devil worshiper or Satanist, but in that particular belief system, what they practice makes sense. Coincidentally the same year I learned about the Theory of Evolution, there was this 2 hour-long show on the History Channel about Hell and how such a place came to be. Somewhat towards the end, the Church of Satan was mentioned, explaining how it became to be and what it stood for.
The things that I found actually very interesting during the program is Satanism’s take on dealing with frustrations and individualism. Instead of keeping all your frustrations bottled up inside, waiting to explode, you go into a room and yell. Scream out your frustrations and once you do that, everything obviously isn’t guaranteed to be better, but you feel relieved, far less frustrated. I mean, seriously, that makes a lot of sense. I think that if everyone in the world yelled out their frustrations in a room somewhere every once in a while, this world would be different. Not completely changed mind you, but maybe a lot less chaotic. The other concept that I agree with is that of individualism. Being an individual is always something I continually strive for. I hated going with the crowd and what not. I tried it once, and it didn’t work for me. I was surrounding by people who I shared no common interests with, people I actually talked to and such. Now that I think of it, I’m not entirely sure as to why I interacted with those individuals in the first place. I was probably trying to be nice or something. I’m not sure the same thing can be said now. There isn’t that much individuality left in the world, but it always makes sense to be yourself and know who you are. Let’s face it, if you don’t know who you are as a person, it’s far too easy for other people to take advantage of you and what not. It’s really just common sense. I’m not saying I would make Satanism my religion, I’m not saying I wouldn’t. I’m honestly not too sure if I would claim any religion as ‘my religion’. Bottom line, the basic fundamentals and beliefs of Satanism do make sense. Embrace the person you are and be an individual. Know what you stand for. Pretty simple.
While the first episode in the hour of American Occult told of murder in the name of Satan, the second episode caught me by surprise. The second episode began to tell the tale of a man in Ohio who formed a congregation of sorts, and ended in the murder of an entire family…You’re probably thinking that it was like the story that was told before, but that is not the case. The conclusion is a little more shocking…The man killed in the name of God. Yes, you read correctly. The whole ‘killing in the name of the Devil’ assumption is stereotypical, and now that I know more about the religion that most people wouldn’t dare to look into, I find that very assumption offensive. It’s a rarity to hear that someone kills in the name of God or so it’s thought to be a rarity. People have been killing in the name of God and/or religion for centuries. When it all comes down to it, that’s usually what disagreements stem from. Religion or differences between individuals. Murder isn’t a good thing to do in any religion and isn’t good period. It doesn’t matter what religion or congregation you’re a part of. It’s just pure common sense that something like murder is wrong.
Why do people feel the need to have the promise of Heaven or the fear of a Hell to determine how they live their lives? Such beliefs shouldn’t indicate how you live your life. Again, its common sense that such acts are bad. It isn’t rocket science. It really isn’t. As I watched the episode, I honestly couldn’t believe it. If something like that doesn’t make you question your religion, then I don’t know what will. Furthermore, I couldn’t believe how incredibly ignorant the man’s followers were. I mean, seriously? Someone crosses you on the street and says that they’ve spoken to God or they’re the son of God, and you don’t even think twice? Are some people who devoted and brainwashed in a sense, that they cannot distinguish a truth from a lie? Seriously? I’m not saying religion is bad, or that I’m against people who are religious. Definitely not. Religion is something you believe in, one of a person’s many convictions, and I don’t look down on someone because of their religion. I respect people for who they are and what they have to say, regardless of whether or not I agree with them. That’s just the type of person I am. I don’t try to act like I’m better than anyone else because I’m not. While religion is something you believe in, it is not necessarily a freedom. A freedom is something that is well, free, a luxury of sorts one might say. A freedom should be something that is without criticism or bias and religion, in that respect to what a freedom should be, surely isn’t a freedom when a different religion or rather lack there of, is chastised so to speak for being so.
I know that there are some individuals that would say I’m crazy for questioning and denying the existence of a God, that I’m only going to burn for all eternity in Hell because I’m a non-believer. That what I think is wrong and I need to be ‘saved’ now while there’s still some kind of hope left. How would those said individuals know that I’m going to burn when they don’t know what is on the other side of the great divider known as death? No one knows what is on the other side, so to speak. No one knows what happens when you die. Sure, people have been saying for centuries that there is indeed a Kingdom of Heaven for those who follow God’s path, and an eternity in Hell for those who do not, but there’s no real evidence supporting those ideas. I remember a month or so after my friend’s demise, (he decided to leave the week before our Junior year started) my English class was reading Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God by Jonathan Edwards. If you aren’t familiar, it is a sermon written to persuade churchgoers to stay on the path to the Lord. It spoke of fire, flames and the Devil. Basically, what will happen to you if you didn’t stay on the said path or aren’t currently on it at all. When all is said and done, how in the world did he know such things? How did he know of this place called Hell? Sure, he probably knew most of what he knew from the Bible, but there’s isn’t actual evidence supporting the Hell he spoke of. He had never been to such place. Therefore, he couldn’t really know what the fiery place known as Hell even looked like or held in store for the ones that would inhabit it…
I’m going a little off subject here, and I do apologize, but recently I’ve learned that you don’t really know how something is until you’ve actually experienced been through it yourself first hand. You don’t know how someone else’s life is just because they tell you. You haven’t truly lived it. You don’t know how an addiction, any addiction, is until you’ve actually lived through it. Just because you see how something is on TV or the Internet, that doesn’t mean that you automatically know how said scenario is. As I just stated, you don’t know how something is until you’ve experienced it.
The same way of thinking goes for the belief of an afterlife. It’s been said that when you’re dying or close to death, you see this great white light and you are supposed to be taken into the loving arms of God. How could someone know this if they’ve never been dying or close to death? Yes, there are exceptions because people have been in near-death experiences before, but everyone is different. It isn’t destined that everyone in a near-death experience will see their lives flash before their eyes and a white light. With all honesty accounted for, I was close to death on September 16, 2008 (and a couple of weeks after that), after suffering from the worst asthma attack I’ve ever had and being in the hospital for almost a month. Now, I don’t like to talk about it because I hate to seem like a sympathy hound and it’s the last thing I want, but honestly, I didn’t see any white light…The only things I had seen were the product of a horrible trip, thanks to whatever medicine I was given to keep me under…No act of God saved me. Sure, there were people praying for me, but it wasn’t God or their prayers that saved me. Modern medicine did. Just like how I’m in better health now. God didn’t just magically tell my intestines to stop hurting for a while. It was the new medicine I’ve been taking for the last two months.
…If you haven’t truly been in the same position as another individual, then you have no reason to assume how it is for them or put your two cents in. Sure, opinions and such are perfectly fine, but seriously? Don’t assume you know someone just by the way they talk or the things they believe in. Assuming doesn’t benefit anyone. Really, it doesn’t. The person who assumes just looks like an idiot for going on pure assumption alone, when finding out about said situation would’ve made a lot more sense.
When it comes to the concept of religion, it seem like more times than not, people assume without hearing the other side. Going back to Satanism, people would automatically assume that just because there’s ‘Satan’ in the title, it’s something blasphemous and horrible. If they took the time out of their day to do a little research, they would know that they’re gravely mistaken. Another thing that is often assumed to be a downfall according to religious folk, is what people do behind closed doors. Recently, my eyes have been really opened to this fact and like the assumptions with Satanism, I find it very offensive. The fact I’m talking about is the sexual orientation of individuals and how it supposedly plays a huge part in where they’ll reside when they die.
I remember a couple of months ago, there was a story about some church in my home state that claimed it could ‘pray the gay away’, ultimately converting a homosexual individual into a heterosexual. I guess a little prayer and hopes of changing someone is something that actually works, right? Wrong. You can’t just change someone like that, or shouldn’t change someone at all for that matter. Just because an individual’s lifestyle is the complete opposite of your own, doesn’t give you the right you condemn them. Just because an individual is in love with the same-sex, doesn’t give you the right to try to change them because you’re most certain they’re going to Hell. How do you know that you’re not going to burn in your own manufactured version of Hell for condemning another to such a place?
While I don’t believe in much, I do believe in Karma. Yes, condemn all you want, but it’s the truth. What you do indeed does have a way of catching up with you, and hitting you tens times as hard, depending on how much of an asshole you were. I’ll be honest, I have absolutely nothing against homosexuals, just the people who think it’s okay to badmouth them. It really bothers me when they’re judged for their sexual orientation and their sexual orientation alone. It’s like those individuals are automatically judged and not given the light of day by some for the simple fact that they’re different. Some people just judge people without the giving the slightest amount of thought to how it will affect the ones they’re criticizing. I myself know people who are gay, and they’re the nicest people in the world. Who are you to say that homosexuals are ‘damned and unclean’ when you’re just basing your statements on assumptions? Seriously? Just leave people alone, and let them live their lives. No one tells you how to live your lives, don’t tell others how they should live theirs.
Like I said early on, I’m not trying to offend or change anyone’s view. Just merely explaining myself because I felt that it was time to. I decided to write about religion because I’d written a previous post without explaining first what lead me to believe so, and because it was fitting to the article I’d read by Mr. Francis. Pure and simple. While I don’t believe what the Bible says anymore, there are good morals in the stories. Be kind to thy neighbor, do not steal, basic things that children are taught early on, but you shouldn’t need stories written some 2,000 odd years ago to reinforce the fact that you should be a good person. You shouldn’t need the promise of Heaven or fear of Hell to help you determine your actions in life. It’s just pure common sense, what’s right is right and what’s wrong is wrong.
As I’ve said, I’m not trying to change anyone’s views, just let people know where I’m coming from as a person. I don’t need to have a belief in God to be a good person. I believe that there are good people in the world, whether they’re easy to find or not. I don’t need to believe in God. All I need to believe in is myself and the things around me, despite the fact that it’s not always the easiest thing to do. I don’t care if I’m categorized as an atheist because technically that’s what I am. I don’t need to believe in something higher in myself. We’re all just people living in this world, filled with swirling vortexes of change and excitement, just trying to survive. Everyone’s just surviving the best they can. I’m surviving the best I can.
Don’t say how someone should survive when you’re barely holding on.