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Nominal Christian Upbringing to Serious Christian to Dissatisfaction with Christianity to Deism


I was born in late 1950 in upstate New York, where I spent most of my early childhood. My later childhood and adolescence were spent in suburban Chicago, where I went to later grade school, junior high school, high school, and my first two years of college. I came of age during the turbulent period of the late 1960's and early 1970's. I have lived all my adult life in California, mostly in San Diego, where I moved with my parents from the Midwest in 1970, transferring from a small college in Illinois to San Diego State University. I am now living in a medium-sized town in the Central Coast area of California, roughly midway between Los Angeles and San Francisco.

My parents were nominally Christian, and made me go to Sunday School and church, which I resented when I was an older child. I resented them making me go to Sunday school as well as regular school. My parents believed in God but were not explicitly religious. They thought it was important for me to be exposed to church and Christianity. I went to a confirmation class at the Lutheran church I had been going to when I was in 7th and 8th grades. Actually in the later grades I came to like some of my experiences with church and Sunday school and made some friends from church.

Overall I had a very difficult and unhappy childhood and adolescence, which was further aggravated by the turmoil going on in the late 1960's. I graduated from high school in the Chicago suburb where I was living in 1968, which was a particularly turbulent year. I began to consider the possibility that perhaps God ought to be taken seriously, particularly if all that I heard and learned in Sunday school and church just might be true.

First Serious About Christianity: Norman Vincent Peale, Garner Ted Armstrong, Fundamentalist Christianity, and Campus Crusade for Christ

I first read books by the Christian minister and self-help writer Norman Vincent Peale, best known for his book The Power of Positive Thinking as well as numerous other books. Some things he said were helpful to me, others were not so much. As I now realize Norman Vincent Peale in his books and writings cherry-picked a lot of passages from the Bible that were supposed to be inspiring, uplifting, comforting, or perhaps challenging.

Then I listened to some preachers on the radio who were almost invariably fundamentalist. One of the most notable of these was Garner Ted Armstrong, whose 30 minute program The World Tomorrow was almost ubiquitous on AM radio in the 1960's and early 1970's. (One of my pastimes as a teenager was finding and listening to distant AM radio stations, especially at night. That was a lot more fun and interesting back then than it is now.)

I was first attracted to Garner Ted Armstrong as somebody who seemed to be addressing the serious issues in our society from a point of view which took God seriously, and who did not have a "religious" or "churchy" sound. I sent in for his Plain Truth magazine and some of his literature. Though as it turned out Armstrong was an outlier among Christian preachers, both "mainstream" and fundamentalist; his theological beliefs were very distinctly and very radically different from those of just about all other Christians. Armstrong's particular sect was called the Worldwide Church of God, and was founded by his father, Herbert W. Armstrong, who was also sometimes on the radio (and who was much more "churchy" and "religious" sounding than Garner Ted). His particular church/sect/cult, for instance, believed, no make that INSISTED, that Christians in general were all wrong for observing Sunday rather than the Old Testament 7th day Sabbath, and for observing "pagan" holidays like Christmas and Easter, rather than the "holy days" and festivals prescribed in the Old Testament.

Taking the Armstrongs seriously, as I naively did as a very young man at the time, I became very upset when I first read in their literature that observing the 7th day Sabbath and eschewing "pagan" holidays like Christmas and Easter were some things that they (claiming to speak for God) insisted that God requires. It is very cruel to lay such requirements on somebody who starts to take seriously the ideas of God and truth and morality and wanting to do the right thing. Armstrong's organization was rightly regarded as a dangerous and harmful cult by "mainstream" Christians.

Armstrong's big selling point was about a "wonderful world tomorrow" which would be ushered in, and that very soon, when Jesus returns and in which all the ills of the present age are mostly gone. However this came with mostly gloom and doom about present conditions in the world here and now (and how things were going to get a lot worse before this "world tomorrow" was to be ushered in), along with how with great difficulty (i.e. by following all of the many rules that Armstrong insisted were God's rules) one can become "right with God". (Though if one would really become "right with God" one would rule with Christ in the "world tomorrow".) My mother was very concerned about my becoming depressed and unhappy after reading some of his literature.

Actually another selling point for Armstrong was that he, unlike other fundamentalist Christian preachers, did not believe in an eternity of torment in hell; rather he believed in "annihilation". Also he believed that those who are not converted in this present life (to Armstrong's version of Christianity) will usually have a chance in a future existence. (However those who hear and understand Armstrong's message but reject it will not get another chance.) It seemed as if in exchange for their more strict and arbitrary rules that Armstrong insisted were God's, they did not believe in the eternity in hell that "mainstream" fundamentalists believe in, and they believed that those who haven't heard in this life will get a chance in a later life. (Incidentally I find it interesting that the Seventh-Day Adventists also believe in "annihilation" rather than an eternity of torment in hell. Armstrong's sect was something distinct and different even from Seventh-Day Adventism.)

Garner Ted Armstrong reminded me a lot of the character Professor Harold Hill in The Music Man, as played by Robert Preston.

I briefly became involved with the fundamentalist Christian organization Campus Crusade for Christ (since renamed Cru) at San Diego State University the first year I was in San Diego, and while I was adjusting to being at a big school in a new place. They at first glance seemed like a clean-cut, wholesome, and happy bunch of people who had found something important, and this during the time of unrest in the early 1970's. They seemed like good people to become involved with. And of course there was the thought that because they were about Christianity and Jesus Christ they had to be good people.

However I soon found that I had some very serious problems with Campus Crusade for Christ, and with certain things they believed, preached, taught, and advocated doing, and that I had problems with fundamentalist Christianity in general. For instance I could never accept the duty and obligation, preached and advocated by Campus Crusade, to approach other people and share with them Campus Crusade's Four Spiritual Laws, to lead them to Jesus Christ. This duty was motivated by the belief that people are "lost" without Christ, and will go to hell for all eternity if they happen to die without having "accepted Christ".

This idea of hell especially worried me and bothered me a lot. Of course there was the fear and worry about going to hell myself. However I was also especially bothered by the idea of OTHERS supposedly going to hell if they happen to die without having "accepted Christ", and the resulting duty and obligation to "witness" to others with that thought in the back of my mind and motivated by that concern. I could never accept and be happy with such a terrible duty, which is also a cruel demand. Christianity was supposed to be about having joy in one's life as a result of one's relationship with God and with Jesus Christ. I don't see how anybody can get any joy or enjoyment out of life, or relate to other people in a normal and healthy way, if one is burdened by the awful thought that any person is either "saved" or "unsaved", and is headed to hell if the person happens to die "unsaved". At times I even had the thought that Armstrong's belief system, even with all the rules that he insisted were God's rules, was much preferable to that of Campus Crusade for Christ or other fundamentalist Christians (this was while I was stuck in the thought that of course the Bible was the infallible and inerrant "Word of God", and that those two belief systems were the only serious alternatives, which of course they are not, even among Christians; not all Christians are fundamentalists).

I could not accept that those who happen to GUESS WRONG by adhering to a religion other than Christianity (e.g, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, etc.) are "unsaved" and headed for hell because they have not "accepted Christ". For instance this would include people who happen to be born in a place where a religion other than Christianity is the predominant religion, and would include good people like Gandhi who were not Christians.

And I especially was bothered by the logical conclusion of fundamentalist Christian teaching, which would seem to be that an "unsaved" murder victim goes to hell, while if the murderer later "repents" and "accepts Jesus Christ" (which chance the victim is denied) the murderer is let into heaven.

If the above things are true then God is simply an evil and arbitrary and despicable tyrant like Hitler or Stalin, and "salvation" is just the arbitrary favor of a despicable tyrant. This is definitely NOT a God I can love or joyfully serve, or want to worship or sing praises to! And CERTAINLY NOT a God I want to tell others about or evangelize on behalf of!

And it was through Campus Crusade for Christ that I was introduced to Hal Lindsey and The Late Great Planet Earth, and this business about the supposed "Rapture". The idea of the "rapture" has always seemed to me very juvenile and adolescent and sophomoric in its appeal, and certainly not appealing at all to anything noble or ennobling. Have God's plan all figured out. Be one of those "in the know" about God's plan regarding the "End Times" (which we are supposedly living in). And be one of a special, elite group of people who are going to be "raptured" away, while the rest of the "unsaved" world goes through the "Great Tribulation".

Of course there are those such as the Zionist Christians who are not content to just simply believe in an "End Times" scenario and wait for God to work out his plan and let things happen as they will. They actually want to facilitate the "End Times", for instance by giving their support to Israel and to wars on behalf of Israel, which they believe is key to the "End Times" scenario working itself out. They want to facilitate the coming of the "End Times", and THEIR BEING RAPTURED (as they think), and the resulting "Great Tribulation". Actually Jesus had some words which are very fitting for those who want to facilitate bringing about the "End Times" and especially the "Great Tribulation": "It must needs be that trials and tribulations will come, but woe to those by whom they come. It would be better for such to have a millstone wrung around their neck and be thrown into the sea ..." (Luke 17:1-2) (Yes it is fun to apply Bible passages and sayings of Jesus against Christians who are particularly obnoxious and reprehensible. The Zionist Christians are among the most obnoxious and reprehensible of Christians. To be fair it should be added that Zionist Christians do not represent or speak for all Christians.)

It is sometimes interesting and amusing, and often disturbing and scary, to note all the bizarre notions that "revealed" religionists and especially fundamentalists think that they have figured out are God's truths -- OR that they peddle, and hoodwink and bamboozle people into thinking as being God's truths.

"Mainstream" Christianity and C. S. Lewis

In any case I came to reject fundamentalist Christianity and became a "mainstream", or "middle of the road" Christian from about age 22 to about age 36. I went to Presbyterian, Lutheran, and Methodist churches at different times. It was my understanding that the whole point of the Christian faith was that Jesus was supposed to have risen from the dead, and is supposed to be alive now, and that one is supposed to be able to have a "personal relationship with Jesus Christ", and that such a relationship is supposed to make the all-important and transforming difference in a person's life -- and in this present life as well as in a next life. I took that seriously and wanted to believe it was true, even if I could not accept a fundamentalist understanding of Christianity, and even if I did not accept that those who happen to die without having "accepted Jesus Christ" in this present life (for whatever reason) are thereby condemned to hell for all eternity.

One of my favorite authors during that time was the noted apologist C. S. Lewis, and this included his books Mere Christianity (for a complete Deistic rebuttal to Lewis' Mere Christianity read An Answer to C. S. Lewis' Mere Christianity) and Miracles as well as other books and writings by Lewis (including his fantasy works such as his delightful Narnia chronicles and his space trilogy). I especially liked, and still like, Lewis' arguments that our reasoning ability and our moral sense, our sense of right and wrong, point to the reality of some Intelligence higher and greater than our own, and that this Higher Intelligence is also the Creator. He particularly makes what I think is a very good argument, and what I consider to be a Deistic argument, for that in the first six chapters of his book Miracles. [1] While I still like and still accept Lewis' arguments regarding the reality of an Intelligence higher and greater than our own (i.e. God), I now no longer accept Lewis' arguments regarding the person of Christ or tenets of the Christian faith.

I met and got to know many good people from churches and from various Christian fellowship groups, support groups, and social groups. My social life when I was in my 20's and most of my 30's was mostly through church and various church related and Christian groups (but since then has been elsewhere!)

Unhappiness with Christianity

Even during the time I considered myself to be a Christian, and took Christianity and Jesus Christ seriously, I had a lot of personal problems and issues and was far from being happy and at peace with myself and with life. I eventually came to realize, in my later 30's, after having considered myself to be a Christian for a little over 15 years, that my being a Christian, and my supposedly having a "personal relationship with Jesus Christ", had not ever been of help to me in enabling me to deal with any painful or or distressing situation or circumstance in my life, or with anything or any issue that was a source of personal pain, frustration, or unhappiness for me.

One time I was in a Christian fellowship group with people who were mostly fundamentalist or conservative evangelical Christians, and in which one or two of the members of that group were supposedly "speaking in tongues". I was supposed to be impressed that this was a manifestation of the "Holy Spirit". At that same time I had a major crisis at the job where I was working at the time, in which I had badly screwed up; I had not done something that I was supposed to do. I was not able to handle the matter, and being chewed out by my boss, in a manner in which I was able to keep my dignity and self-respect. This was one of those very painful and distressing situations mentioned in the above paragraph. And Christianity, and the supposed "Holy Spirit", were of absolutely no help to me in enabling me to deal with this crisis at my job, or (as I later came to realize) with anything else. So much for this "Holy Spirit" manifesting itself in somebody babbling or speaking gibberish, aka "speaking in tongues".

Even if some people in various Christian fellowship groups I have been in were personally supportive of me, I never felt, after leaving any Christian fellowship group meeting or church service, that I had ever had a sense of receiving anything that helped me in some specific way to deal with anything in the real world (which I was sometimes told was a "cruel world").

I came to feel and realize that Christianity, in whatever flavor, had imposed "should's", "supposed to's", "ought to's", duties, and obligations but had never been of help to me in enabling me to deal with any of my real world problems and issues. (And I do not have any reason to think that it would have been any different for me with any other of the "revealed" religions.)

My Father

The single biggest thing which precipitated the realization that Christianity was not helpful to me was the very difficult and frustrating relationship I had with my father. My relationship with my dad was one of my biggest problems and biggest frustrations when I was growing up, and well into my adulthood. My dad did many very good things and many very nice things for me and his children, and was an excellent provider (in the physical and material sense) for his family. I had many good and pleasant times with him. And he often helped me with school assignments that I was having difficulty with. He was definitely far from being the worst father anybody ever had. However my dad was a very difficult and very dominating and overpowering person, and was extremely judgmental and very easily offended, and often very quick to pass judgment, and was one to judge "by the letter" of the law. And my dad sometimes bordered on being abusive, especially verbally and emotionally and psychologically (though I did receive my share of spankings from him when I was a kid). (Actually my dad was not really horrible but he very definitely had his little ways of being mean.)

My dad often decided in Godlike fashion that I (or one of my siblings) needed to be treated or talked to like I had committed a crime or a heinous sin, or like he was personally affronted, if I had made an honest mistake, had honestly forgotten something, or if something was not quite up to his standards. And he would always say that whatever he said or did was said or done out of "love", and "for my own good", and that his motives were always good. And he was very often especially poor at understanding, or even trying to understand, from my point of view, something of a very sensitive personal nature that I was struggling with or was upset about. He was very often the last person I wanted to confide in; sometimes I was not able to avoid having to do so.

My dad had the attitude (though he would deny it) that because he was the head of the house, or because he worked as hard as he did, or because of all the good things and nice things he did, or because he was helping me out (which help I often needed even as an adult, because I had had problems at some of my jobs, and had been unemployed a few times), that he had certain arbitrary privileges, and that nothing he said or did could be wrong.

And it never did any good to try to talk something out with my dad that I was angry or upset with him about. He was always very positive that he was right, and that it was a problem or something wrong with me whenever I was angry or upset with him about something. One of his favorite things that he sometimes said, only half-jokingly, was "I may not always be right, but I am never wrong". In practice he really seemed to think that he was on a level where he could never be wrong. Talking something out with my dad almost always led to his talking me into going along with and accepting what he said or did, even when I felt what he said or did was wrong. It was a major frustration and disappointment for me that I was not able to effectively stand up to him or to hold my ground with him. In fact that I was not able to do so has been one of the biggest disappointments of my life.

My dad died of leukemia in late 1985, shortly before my 35th birthday. I came to realize in early 1987, a little over a year after he died and after the grief and sadness which usually accompanies the death of someone close had worn off, that I was still very angry at him. I came to realize that much of his behavior toward me actually had been abusive, or borderline so, at times (again, not really horrible but he very definitely had his little ways of being mean). I.e. it was not just something wrong, or "sinful", with me that I had had my problems with him and often resented or was angry at him or things he said or did, which anger and resentment often spilled out to other people and other areas of my life. For instance I had problems at some of my early jobs (i.e. with authority figures!), and I sometimes resented things people did that I felt that they weren't "supposed to" do or "shouldn't" do (I picked up a judgmental attitude from my dad), and I had a temper, like my dad. I often acted out my temper in ways that were inappropriate or harmful to myself or somebody else or to property. And my dad had a "do as I say, not as I do" attitude about my anger and temper. (Actually my dad did not do damage to property or to physical things, like I very often did. My dad would be very smug and self-righteous about moralizing to me that it is wrong to damage property, and that it is stupid to take out my anger on and do damage to physical and mechanical things. And my dad would often deny he was angry while he would raise his voice or yell at me about something.)

Along with this realization about my dad came the realization that my being a Christian, and my supposedly having a "personal relationship with Jesus Christ", had been of absolutely no help to me in enabling me to deal with my dad when he was difficult, or unfairly or arbitrarily judgmental, or obnoxious. And that was not just simply unfortunate. Christianity had aggravated my problems with my dad with (among other things) the commandment, one of the "Ten Commandments", to "honor your father and mother", which in the biblical text is unconditional and makes no exceptions if one's parents are abusive or otherwise do not deserve to be honored. And with a passage in Hebrews 12:5-11 which basically says to gladly accept the chastening of the Lord, like that of a "good" father, i.e. much like my father. And with the epistle of I Peter whose message is basically to gladly accept undeserved suffering (abuse or mistreatment, or any indignity), and let the Lord work things out. And of course always to forgive!! Forgive after the fact. Forgive and forget. In other words pretend something really unacceptable did not happen (or was not really that bad, or that we might have deserved it). Forgive "seventy times seven", or in other words give permission for whatever another person might do. (So much for the idea that we should regard whatever Jesus said as being absolute truth! And regarding forgiveness, according to traditional Christian teaching God does not forgive those who, for whatever reason, do not come to "accept Jesus Christ" in this present lifetime.)

My dad sometimes said that his saying or doing something that he said or did (which I was angry or upset about) was because maybe he "loved me too much". (He certainly liked to flatter himself or reassure himself that his motives were always good and noble.) C. S. Lewis, at one place in his fantasy book The Great Divorce, makes the excellent point that there is no such thing as "excess of love"; rather there is defect. [2] I know that that is absolutely true from my own experience of being on the receiving end of my dad's supposed "excess of love". To put it crudely, talk of "loving me too much", or an "excess of love", is absolute BS. My dad had a very possessive attitude about his children (though he would deny it), and often did not respect the personal boundaries of his children. And he was very vain about what a great and good and wonderful father he was, as he liked to think, and how much he loved his children, and how lucky his children were to have him. Those attitudes are NOT LOVE!! (To be fair to my dad, he did do many very good things and many very nice things which were genuinely loving. Even so the point about defect of love definitely applies my dad.) Good on C. S. Lewis for making his point about so-called "excess of love"; however C. S. Lewis and Christianity were of absolutely no help to me in enabling me to deal with being on the receiving end of this supposed "excess of love" from my dad.

And one alleged promise attributed to Jesus Christ which I did not at all find to be true: namely not to worry beforehand about what to say if one is brought before authorities; what one needs to say will be given by the "Holy Spirit" (Matthew 10:19-20 and Luke 12:11-12). I would often be sitting across from my father and he would be lecturing me in that way of his, and I would be inwardly seething at him and resenting him (and my dad would be very smug that it was entirely a problem or something wrong with me that I resented him), but I would be very frustrated at having no clue what to say to him or how to respond to him or answer him.

I was in a lot of therapy (secular therapy, of course) for a number of years to deal with my anger toward my dad, and with my being upset about not having been able to deal with him while he was alive, and with my other issues.

Leaving Christianity and On to Deism

It was a slow process for me to come to part company with the Christian faith. I stopped going to church almost immediately when I came to realize, in early 1987, that Christianity did not help me to deal with my dad. However it took a number of years before I was able to say that I was definitely not a Christian any more, and to say so publicly. A big reason for having a hard time letting go was I did not want to be an atheist, and I had a very hard time accepting the possibility that there might be no life after this present life, and no justice in a future life. (More of my thoughts on possible life after this present life in Appendix 2).

I discovered web sites about Deism I would say in late 2005, including your web site and those of other Deist organizations. I saw that a deist understanding was very much in alignment with the way I thought, certainly more so than anything else I had ever come across. I was unhappy with Christianity, and I did not see myself being happy with any other of the "revealed" religions like Judaism or Islam, or with Hinduism or Buddhism for that matter. Nor was I ever particularly attracted to any "New Age" religion or spirituality. I also had problems with atheism. I think I arrived at Deism by a process of elimination as much as anything. And I am happy about now being a Deist.

And I am happy about not being a Christian any more. I am as certain as I am of anything that it was the right and healthy thing for me to part company with the Christian faith. In particular I am happy about having absolved myself of any and all duties and obligations specifically imposed by the Christian faith (as opposed to those incumbent on any good or moral person). These duties include going to church, reading the Bible, and praying (it is an open question for me as to whether prayer, in and of itself, is ever efficacious). Also included is the duty to honor my father because the alleged commandment from God says that that is what I am supposed to do. I will decide for myself whether I want to honor my father at all, and if so, exactly in what manner, and to what degree. (More about the commandment to "honor your father and mother" in Appendix 1).

I want to be fair to my father (as I would to anybody else), and appreciate and give him credit for the many good things and nice things he did and the many times he helped me out. However I basically feel about my dad like I would if he had been a very difficult and overbearing boss, albeit one who definitely had his good side and was many times nice and many times helpful, but still a boss more than anything else, and one I am glad not to have to report to any more. I do not want to give my dad any special honor that I would not give to a difficult boss or former boss. For instance I have not wanted to contribute to the leukemia society in honor or in memory of my dad (and it is my understanding that leukemia is not hereditary).

A brief note about my mother: My real problems have been with my father and not with my mother, and I have not had any problem with honoring her. I had a good and mutually respectful relationship with my mother for many years. I have politely declined to talk about my dad with my mother, and she did not press the matter. My mother just very recently passed on.

While it has been a major disappointment for me that I was not able to deal with my dad the way I would have wanted to while he was alive, I find it satisfying to share things I have come to learn and realize from the relationship I had with my dad, such as I have on various discussion boards at different times. Regarding Deism, I particularly like being able to share how the problems I had with my dad have informed my thoughts, feelings, and attitudes about religion and about God (of course religion and God being two different things), and particularly about the much vaunted "Ten Commandments" allegedly given by God to Moses on Mt. Sinai. I can always hope that what I share might be of help to somebody else.

I would say that I am at 3 on Richard Dawkins' scale of belief, where 1 = strong theist and 7 = strong atheist. I definitely lean toward believing in some higher power and higher intelligence that might be called God, but accept lack of complete certainty. And the same is true for me regarding the matter of life after this present life. Admittedly I feel the need to be cautious about claiming certainty after my disappointment with Christianity and being a Christian. And in all honesty I do not think I could say to a hard-nosed atheist or materialist that I am certain or almost certain about the reality of God or a higher intelligence, or to tell the atheist that I think or know that he or she is wrong. One nice thing about being a Deist and using reason is that I am free to accept and live with uncertainty. And another nice thing is that I don't have to worry or overly concern myself with what other people think or believe.

Actually I do find convincing the evidence from the DNA codes that would seem to very strongly indicate having been designed by some intelligence, which Bob Johnson has pointed out in his books, and which Anthony Flew came to accept as being evidence of God.

One thing that I would want to say is that if God in the commonly understood sense of the word, and as believed in by Christians and other theists, is really real (important qualifier: IF), then our reasoning ability and our critical facilities are gifts given to us by God. (Our critical facilities include our feelings and emotions, and our awareness of these, and our sense of right and wrong and of justice, as well as our ability to reason and think logically.) And if that is the case then using and exercising these gifts is much more honoring of God than is cringing servile fear of God as of a cosmic tyrant, or uncritical or unquestioning acceptance of any alleged revelation from God, such as the Bible or the Koran, or of anything said by any preacher or pope or alleged prophet or alleged spokesperson for God, as absolute truth.

Incidentally I have always liked and been good with numbers and mathematics since I was a kid, and was known as a math brain when I was in school. I sometimes liked to fancy that I might become another Einstein (or somebody else might suggest that). Of course that did not happen and did not come close to happening -- and that is perfectly OK. One thing that I remember with some embarrassment was giving a speech in my college freshman Speech 101 class about the Theory of Relativity, which pretty much bombed. In any case I want to say that as a Deist I am proud to be in good company with Albert Einstein, as well as with the astronauts Neil Armstrong and Eugene Cernan, and as well as with many of the founders of our country. I was very delighted at seeing your recent article that Neil Armstrong was a Deist. I was taking a couple of summer school classes at college when Neil Armstrong made his moon landing. I have the Deist t-shirts with Thomas Paine and with Albert Einstein, and I now have the t-shirt with Neil Armstrong, and I have been wearing them, for instance when I am in coffee shops or eating places.

Appendix 1: "Honor Your Father and Mother", Childhood Mistreatment and Trauma, and Alice Miller

Mike Henderson Appendix 1
Download PDF • 138KB

Appendix 2: My Thoughts on the Matter of Life After this Present Life

Mike Henderson Appendix 2
Download PDF • 103KB

__________ End Notes

[1] C. S. Lewis' book Miracles, as one might expect from a book by Lewis with that title, is Christian apologetic, and is about miracles in the sense in which people usually think of regarding the word. The first six chapters actually make a Deistic argument that our reasoning ability and our moral sense definitely point to a higher and greater Intelligence than our own, from which we derive our reason and our moral sense.

The rest of Miracles is Christian apologetic proper. He argues as to why it is not unreasonable or absurd to think that miracles might sometimes occur, and why one can believe the Christian miracles, which include the "grand miracle", i.e. the supposed Incarnation, as well as the miracles attributed to Jesus in the gospel accounts. I now no longer accept Lewis' or any arguments regarding the person of Christ or tenets of the Christian faith.

[2] C. S. Lewis' book The Great Divorce is one of his fantasies; it is a fantasy story about heaven and hell. Some residents of hell take a bus trip to heaven, and are met by residents of heaven that they have known on earth who invite them and try to convince them to stay in heaven. All of the residents of hell, with one exception, have their reasons for not wanting to stay in heaven and choose to return to hell. Lewis' point in the book is that hell is a choice, and that some people insist on keeping something even if that means being or staying in hell or being miserable. His book is very moralistic, but it does have some good points.

The point about "excess of love" was made regarding a mother who was a resident of hell and who had taken the bus to heaven, and who was extremely possessive and demanding regarding her son who had died in infancy, and who was very disappointed to be met by her brother rather than by her son. The desire to meet her son was her all-consuming passion, to the point that she did not think of or care about anything or anybody else, even her own mother. She was in a state where it would not have been good for her to meet her son. The point of this case was to challenge the notion that "mother love" is always, in and of itself, a good thing, and that there is such a thing as "excess of love".

Disclaimer: Again, I no longer subscribe to the Christian worldview as espoused by C. S. Lewis. I share my thoughts regarding "heaven" and "hell" (loosely speaking), and about possible justice in a future life, in Appendix 2. In any case Lewis, in many of his books and writings, does sometimes make some very good points and observations about human nature and human behavior.

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In my appendix about "honor your father and mother" there is one section about what one author has said which gives some clarity regarding the matter of forgiveness. Basically there are two aspects of forgiveness, namely giving up the need for revenge, and absolving the guilty party of responsibility. The first is healthy, while the second is not. More in the appendix.

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Bob, thank you for putting up my two appendices. I share some things which are important to me and which expand on what I have in this main article, (1) about the commandment to "honor your father and mother" (and why I think it is wrong), and some psychology (particularly Alice Miller), and more about my dealing with my father, and (2) about the matter of life after this present life (my thoughts about the matter, and possible evidence).

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