RE: RELI: My secret is out

From: altamira (
Date: Mon Jul 24 2000 - 07:06:53 MDT

> -----Original Message-----
> From:
> []On Behalf Of

> Let me throw in my two cents here, I am glad for you that you no
> longer have
> to live a lie. That must have been hellish.

And my $.02 as well--I'd be interested to know, Eliezer, if you find that
your intellectual work comes more easily to you now that you've freed
yourself from the burden of satisfying your family.

Like you, Eliezer, I began to question religion at around the age of 5. My
father was not religious, but my mother was, and insisted on taking my
brother and me to Christian churches. There we were told, among other
things, that non-Christians were destined to spend eternity in Hell. The
self-righteous attitudes of the church people had always made me
uncomfortable, but before the age of 5, I'd thought there was something
wrong with ME rather than with the church people. When I was 5 years old my
family moved to a new neighborhood where I became "best friends" with a
Jewish girl of my own age. That was a turning point for me, because I spent
quite a lot of time with this girl and her family and came to see that they
were good people--as good as or better than my own family. The idea that my
friend was destined to spend eternity in Hell simply because she'd been born
into a Jewish family was so preposterous that it shifted my whole outlook on
life. From my new viewpoint, I could easily reject all the teachings of the
Christian church. I consider myself very lucky to have gone through this
turning point at such an early age, because it forced me to formulate my own
code of ethics.

I'd be interested to compare notes with others who found it necessary to
create a philosophical base from which to operate as children. I can
remember as a teenager feeling isolated from my peers, and I think one of
the reasons for this was that I was operating from a self-formulated code of
ethics while most of them were using the same ready-made one.

> As a matter of fact.. now that I think of it: Most of my friends who are
> Jewish are not at all religious, and most flat out call
> themselves atheist,
> and very 'out of the closet" about it. When they say they are Jewish they
> mean the ethnicity, not the spiritual practice.

Same thing with my Jewish friends, most of whom cherish their Jewish
heritage while rejecting the religious element.

> Like being African American or Native American. Is this a strange
> phenomenon?

I don't think it's strange. People have a need to belong to a group. Maybe
this is at the root of racism. I remember once when I was a white kid in
1960's Texas. The racist atmosphere at that time was was bad. As I
mentioned above, I'd come up with my own code of ethics and had seen no
reason to classify people according to skin color, so I was oblivious to
that distinction (this seems odd, looking back from a wider perspective, but
it was so. I can recall once going into a "colored" restaurant--yes, they
had segregated restaurants back then--and not noticing. The friend I was
with said, "Um, Barbara [my name given at birth], I'm not very hungry."
"What do you mean you're not hungry? I thought you said you were starving."
at which point she took my arm and dragged me out). The day I first became
aware of belonging to groups came when I was 15 or 16. My white friend and I
were visiting a small town around 60 miles from Houston, and we met a couple
of girls who were listening to James Brown on the radio, and dancing. We
got into a discussion of various blues musicians, and the girls were showing
us a new dance, and it got late. I offered the girls a ride home, which
they accepted. There were 2 white boys in a pickup truck nearby, and one of
them yelled to me, "Hey! Don't give them damn niggers a ride." At that
moment, I felt as though I belonged with these girls, and I had a sudden
glimpse of what it would feel like to be part of a tight group of people.
Having glimpsed it, I always felt a sort of lack in my own life after that
> Personally, I'm in favor of letting go of things that shackle
> you, whatever
> they are.

Sometimes the hardest part is identifying those things which shackle you.
It seems that so many of those shackles clicked shut way back in childhood.
I've been lucky enough to work with a highly skilled and empathetic
therapist (we used to barter legal services in exchange for therapy) who
helped me to use age-regression techniques to ferret out some of the
childhood trash that was still hanging on. Unfortunately, therapists of this
quality seem to be one in a million.


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