life as a pizza box

Since coming out of religion, specifically fundamentalist Christianity, I’ve been constantly surprised by the changes in the way I view life, death, purpose, other people, and myself.

I used to struggle mightily with a poor self image. My parents never understood this. To them I had every reason in the world to be confident. I was raised in a loving home with generous family who spoke goodness into my life. I wasn’t bad looking, was a good student, had a nice personality, a few talents (or “gifts”), etc.

But for some reason I was still painfully shy, felt unattractive, didn’t date, and never thought I was smart enough to really accomplish anything important. Every compliment I received was rebuffed with a “Thanks, but….”

Through all of my adult years I have tried to overcome this. I had the help of a therapist. I had prayer and took antidepressants. I have an amazing husband who has always told me I was wonderful and capable of anything. But despite all of that, deep down I still had a nagging sense of shame, of being unworthy, of being a fraud.

Today I saw a video that triggered all sorts of emotions. A video that reminded me of the hundreds or thousands of messages I received as a child and teen and adult from within the Christian community that could be responsible for why I felt I was worth so little.

Jentezen Franklin makes an incredible comparison about how you are the pizza box and God is the pizza. We can choose to allow God to work in us if we remain clean and empty like a vessel.

Metaphors for the relationship between God and man abound the Christian faith, especially the tradition where I lived. He is the vine, I am a branch. He is the shepherd, I am a stupid sheep. He is the potter, I am the helpless clay. He is the savior, I am a wretch.

But “God is the goozy melting pizza, I am a throwaway 39 cent cardboard box”?

This is a new one. But probably an accurate picture of what I was taught. Without God, I am worthless. Apart from him, I am no one. The only way to be someone, to be valuable and valued, is to empty myself of everything that makes me unique and be filled with him. Anything else is prideful and sinful and an abomination that puts me in league with the devil.

Yes, god made me unique, but I’m made in his image so I need to disavow my unique nature and take on his. Yes, I matter to the god of the universe, but only so much as I surrender my will to his.  Yes, I was created as a good thing, but those original people screwed it up so I am mostly made up of a sin nature (especially as a woman) and it would be best for me to comply with what I’m told and stop asking these pestering questions. Oh and if all that wasn’t enough, I better keep myself clean or no matter what I do, god isn’t going to come in me otherwise. (Nope, not going there….)

That never sat well with me. Now I reject it completely and am finally able to accept myself as I am, good and bad. I have inherent value and worth.I don’t need to get it from anyone else, especially not some invisible entity defined by people thousands of years ago. I have a responsibility to use my talents and time, not to judge people but to help them.

But watching the video, something else occurred to me, a sort of Douglas Adams cum Monty Python view of the universe that opens up a whole new bunch of questions and made me laugh out loud:

If god is a hot and cheesy disc of Italian goodness and I am the box that keeps that fatty gooey goodness clean and warm….

…who the hell is that cosmic delivery guy?!  He must have one hella transportation….

 

now a music video about masturbation?

I know, what’s with the masturbation posts?!  I guess it’s synchronicity at work. This article from the Glamour magazine website popped up on my FB feed this morning and I couldn’t resist sharing it.

Masturbation—particularly female masturbation—may be taboo in some circles, but Shanthony Exum a.k.a. Miss Eaves created a whole song and music video about it. It’s titled “Hump Day,” and the pun is absolutely intended.

“Songs are better when you write about what you know, and as a person who is always single, I absolutely know about masturbation,” Exum told us. In the video, she wanted to show what women really look like in the throes of sexual pleasure, not what we see in porn and other places where women are trying to be sexy. “I really want to offer a counterpoint to the popular notion that women have to look or behave a certain way to feel sexually empowered,” she said.

 

Redefining prayer

I’m not sure why it’s been eight months since I posted on this blog, with the exception of last weeks post on pornography and masturbation. Such savory topics, those. But undeniably human and relevant.

As to the reason for my absence, the only thing I can come up with is that I was busy shifting paradigms. Moving from a staunch genuine faith-based existence to questioning the very basis of those beliefs require some heavy lifting. Especially when it’s a move you never intended to make, but one that sort of happened to you.

The heaviest thing I have dealt with – and am dealing with – is the concept of prayer. Also undeniably human and relevant. At least to the majority of the population. Continue reading

teenage dream

Addendum: This post makes it sound like I’m a big proponent of pornography. I’m not. I have a general disgust with most of the pornographic world, and an unyielding anger at how it fuels human trafficking, pedophilia, abuse of women and children, etc. This post is about how my own developing sexuality was delayed and warped by misguided religious beliefs, and how I used to soft porn to learn about my body (which I should have learned in healthier ways). When it comes to human sexuality, my stance is definitely anti-religious but that doesn’t mean there are no boundaries. Selling and buying human beings – with or without their consent – is never ok.

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In my teen years, I didn’t date much. Not because I didn’t want to. I wanted to date like a normal teenager. I was attractive. I was popular. But I was also a bit of a prude, a bit stuck up, and a bit afraid of guys because I was told they only wanted one thing – sex. I came from a very conservative religious community that frowned on casual dating and absolutely forbid premarital sex.

I had a crush on one guy in particular who also had a crush on me. But when he asked me out, my lack of self-esteem wouldn’t let me think he was serious. I thought he was joking and turned him down, at least at first.

This means I spent a lot of my teenage weekends babysitting. This is when I was introduced to the big P – pornography. Continue reading

Beliefs I do not miss: Thanking the god of parking spots, plumbing and hygiene products

One of my constant struggles right now is deciding whether or not to admit to my friends and family that I no longer believe like I used to, or like they still do.

While it has been a difficult journey, there are certain beliefs that I always had a problem with and am glad I no longer have to justify or contend with.

One of these is God as Provider. I never understood why God concentrated his provisions on a certain demographic (i.e., middle-upper strata families in North American) when it seemed he really should be attending to the more pressing needs of the rest of the globe.

parking starving

And by “provisions” I mean First World “essentials”, things like parking spaces, 75% off sales at Macy’s, and tampons.

Yes, apparently God even provides tampons. Let me ‘splain. Continue reading

American Jesus: The “Real” Story of the Halloween Pumpkin

Two posts in one week? Apocalypse must be upon us!

Actually, it’s just Halloween, a holiday I enjoyed as a kid (even as a Christian kid), then loathed as a stick-up-my-butt Christian parent (thankfully a brief period), and now enjoy again. And because it’s Halloween, I’m seeing all sorts of ridiculous stuff online that I think is too funny not to, you know, make fun of.

One of the things that always embarrassed me as a Christian were attempts by people to hijack secular culture and redefined it for American Jesus as a way of justifying their children’s participation in something “pagan”.

Of course, Halloween is the toughest one to justify depending on your theology, but also one of the most fun! So how do they do it?

One way is by appropriating the poor pumpkin and using it as a Christian Metaphor Continue reading