So, I think I’ve talked on here.. certainly I’ve discussed with various of my friends.. how the best defense against a resentment is gratitude. And certainly I have a lot of resentment towards certain aspects of my childhood exposure to religion.

However, there is undoubtedly a appropriate grattitude here. Several, in fact. First, I’m not required to be any religion. The country I live in enforces no state religion, and the majority of the people in my life will be friends with me, and treat me well, regardless of what religion I am or am not.

Second, I don’t have to believe the bible. My mind is not so damaged that I can’t see the parts of it that are clearly sick and disturbing (things like the story of Job) as anything other than some very afraid people making up some very disturbing stories.

Third, I have a number of reasons to think that my final resting place does not in any way hinge on whether or not I believe the bible. My experiences with the spiritual universe have repeatedly suggested to me that I am not going to hell unless I choose to go to hell, and that the bible is out to lunch, and I get repeated reinforcement of this idea.

Fourth, the effect of some of the most poisonous beliefs of the bible is fading with time. I don’t have ‘brain bleach’ exactly, but I do have rational thought trained with over half a million lines of code written in languages that are strictly rational. Against that type of rational thought, the more broken and poisonous ideas in the religion can not stand, while the good and worthwhile ideas (and there are some, especially in the words of Jesus) stand even stronger. Rational thought turns out to be quite a powerful tool for combatting irrational fear.

So, I’m grateful both for the freedom to not believe that there’s anything wrong with the many things the Bible suggests you should kill people over, the freedom to live in a world where even fundamentalists are not allowed to stone gay people and witches, and the freedom to live in a world which contains the tools to fight the more disturbing aspects of the religion I had (at least somewhat) crammed down my throat. I also think I live in a world where increasingly we would not strongly pressure children to get confirmed even if they didn’t completely agree with or understand the religion they were supposed to be getting confirmed in. I think increasingly we don’t see children as property, but rather as fellow travellers. I even see signs that increasingly we don’t see pets as property, but as fellow travellers. And that’s all to the good.

I’m grateful for the growth and positive change I see. While I’m at it, I’m grateful that I am not required to own or even know how to use any weapons, that I’m not required to serve in our military, that I’m not required to be in favor of the state’s beliefs about money, or power – that I in fact can apparently openly criticize the state (I’ve done so many times in many forums) and no punishment results. I’m grateful for my freedom to disagree with our government, and with our societal constructs, which I do indeed seem to have. Repeated tests have suggested that at l east within the context of my web site, I do have freedom of speech.

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