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I am not an Atheist!


The other day a friend posted a picture of a beautiful tattoo on the back of an exquisite woman. The tattoo was an exploration of a lily vine, I think, in fantastic color. The colors and artistry used were melded together combinbg with the models natural beauty; the way her spine made the shadows dance over her skin, created an image surreal; almost a waking dream.
My friend was talking about having the work reproduced on her. My brain exploded with the thought. Her inner beauty would only enhance the brilliance of the work making the whole even more stunning than the sum of already splendid parts.
I had to go and bring up religion and how in some parts of the bible it is considered blasphemy to tattoo or cut the body. There is one passage in particular, in Leviticus, that says something like, “Don't cut or tattoo the body... Blah, blah...” At the end of my post, I did say that it would look good on her. I wonder if her eyes got that far though.
My friend, I hope I can still call her that, has had a few trials in her past and is struggling to find her way even now. She has this great big companion that barks and scratches. They are doing well. However before she found her way to her place of happiness she, like so many others including me, had some demons to vanquish.
I do not know the path my friend used to shake her demons, we all have to find our own way. Suffice it to say she found God in her process to a better way of life.
At any rate, she replied to my post saying that she would not go into a discussion of religious matters due to my atheism. She has stuck to her guns, even when I tried to explain my beliefs. 

So maybe I’ll spend a minute trying to explain my beliefs here and now. What do ya’ll think of that?

I was brought up as a preachers kid. I have a different take on religion than many other people have. My father let me decide whether I wanted to go to church after I passed the 6th grade. I decided to stay with it, some of my fondest childhood memories are of walking home after church with him. Also, I would get the key to the youth center and take my junior high girl friends down there to experiment and stuff.
My spiritual thinking has been shaped by the writings of Richard Bach, in general and Jonathan Livingston Seagull in particular and his search for perfection. In short, perfection, or Heaven can never be attained, it is merely an unachievable goal. The path we have to follow is trying to achieve perfection. 
Also Frank Herbert’s Dune series taught me a little about the hypocrisy of organized religion, at least as portrayed in his books.
Some one once said that Religion is The Opiate of the Masses. Carl Marx went on down the thought trail in a different direction than I do. His writing about religion in the proposed work, (never published) A Contribution to the Critique of Hegel's Philosophy of Right, went on about stuff that has nothing to do with my take of the phrase, though his thinking and mine may coincide at some levels.
Religion is The Opiate of the Masses. What an interesting phrase for recovering addict to latch on to. I was thinking about taking the whole phrase apart word by word, but that may be a project for another post. This time I’ll take the whole of it and say that I think organized religion has been perverted onto a way to manipulate the masses, a way to control an unruly mass into conformity. 

My Father taught me love and understanding. I also learned patience. While I waited for him to finish his duties at the church, I would wonder around talking with people, or just sitting and waiting for him. When he was done, we would walk home together. The truth is I cannot even remember what we talked about, yet I remember those walks together.
I read JLS, by Richard Bach so many years ago that I may have forgotten some of the details, however the strength of the story surrounding the journey Jon Seagull took after his physical body succumbs to what we call death is profound. It is his journey to heaven or the perfect speed of flight. He learns over the course of many life times that heaven is not a place or thing or a goal achieved, but the act of striving for the goal. There is so much more to his learning in that tiny book, yet the most important lesson I gathered was to never quit, never give up, even if Life got too difficult to handle. There have been times when I have diverted my energies away for a goal I started, yet I learned another way to achieve the goal.
If any book can alter the life an of a teenager more than the book by Frank Herbert, Dune, I do not know what it would be. The scope of the battle between the government and the conniving sisterhood and the way each side used and colluded with the other opened the eyes of a jaded teenager to paranoid and delusional ideas which still influence my thinking. The way all the governing bodies used faith to manipulate the masses as well as each other is almost prescient to our world today. To this day, the name Jessica has pseudo-erotic and intellectual ramifications in my daily life.
I think I heard the paraphrase by Carl Marx: Religion is The Opiate of the Masses when I was beginning my downward spiral to substance abuse. So of course I took it the wrong way. However I have spent many a night alone since then and, believe it or not, some of it was contemplating that very statement.
The echo that mostly goes through my head goes something like this: both religion and our political leaders need to control the masses. Maybe they think we need to be lead around like sheep so we do not realize we, the masses, can rise up and over throw them, so they use religious doctrine to lead us down a path of subjugation and servitude...I do not know.
I have seen the religious fervor that some get when in the “groove,” or rapture. Having seen this religious devotion one can see how an opportunist might take advantage of the vulnerable for their own advantage, by doping their followers with the opiate of religion. This is a way of using the weakness of doubt and vulnerability of the people to gain power and control of the masses for the elite.
So what am I, You ask with incredulity?
In a word: Confused, or two: Seeking.

Perhaps, the great bard, Mr. Wagglestaff, said it best, “To thine own self be true.”
 What more could a God want from his people?


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