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Do You Believe In Life After God?
Do you believe in life after God?
Is there life after God?
Does anyone say yes?
GODLESS GODLESS GODLESS GODLESS GODLESS
I was walking home when it happened. I was listening to Flyleaf's song Cassie when it hit me: there is no God. I stopped walking abruptly, my earphones continuing to play, unnoticed by my shocked self. That wasn't right. It couldn't be right. There had to be a God of some sort. There just had to be.
There was a God, there had to beThere was a God, there had to beThere was a God, there had to beThere was a God, there had to beThere was a God, there had to beThere was a God, there had to beThere was a God, there had to beThere was a God, there had to beThere was a God, there had to beThere was a God, there had to beThere was a God, there had to beThere was a God, there had to beThere was a God, there had to beThere was a God, there had to be.
I thought this over and over, muttering it under my breath, screaming it in my head. Maybe if I thought it hard enough, long enough, good enough, I could believe it. If I repeated that thought, it would turn out to be right.
Trouble is, it didn't.
HERETIC HERETIC HERETIC HERETIC HERETIC
The doors to the lobby of a small church were violently flung open as the young blonde girl raced inside, gasping and panting with her hair stuck to her cold-sweat-soaked forehead. Terror flooded her nervous system, reducing the intelligent freshman into a bundle of broken nerves. She fled into a bathroom stall, tears pouring down her face as she realized the most undeniable truth: there is no God.
Gulping sobs of terror and uncertainy and betrayal echoed in the damp, derelict stall. She sat on the toilet, whacking her head backwards against the wall (maybe if I hit it hard enough I'll forget), weeping for lost years and lies repeated by everyone.
She knew the truth. And it hurt.
INFIDEL INFIDEL INFIDEL INFIDEL INFIDEL
As she re-did her makeup, blotted her tears and snot away, cleaned herself up and left the church, she began to lose the initial horrified shock. Alright, there was no God. Now what was she going to do? She decided to first of all check out if she was the only one who didn't believe. Being a monster was easier with other monsters.
She headed over to the library. They would have books by somebody, right?
SINNER SINNER SINNER SINNER SINNER
I admit it was very disarming to realize the truth in such a way. As I revisit the months and years of wasted time before my epiphany, I discover something going on beneath the surface. I never remembered at the time, but I had been having dreams of a future me, a future me that didn't embellish herself with crosses and didn't have crucifixes on her doors and didn't go to church and wasn't a good little pew-girl.
A me that was free, in other words.
And another thing- I was always never very moved by church and hymns. Oh, I looked just as holy and loving as everyone else, but I was faking everything. The songs were boring, the pastors a bit comical, the book droning and monotonous. The only thing that I really believed and felt was the licks of eternal hellfire. Hell was real for me. It was a real place with real dangers and I knew in the shadowy bottom of my mind that I was going there no matter what.
I was terrified beyond measure at the thought of going to hell. I am no longer. I had nightmares and would wake up, gasping, soaked in sweat, the cackles of Satan and his evil minions ringing in my ears alongside the agonized screams of the damned. I would tumble out of bed and pray, hands clasped together, head bent, tear-stained face solemnly remorseful, and pray to God to save me from that fate.
I would be scared for everyone else too. If my mother accidentally let out a 'damn' I would whisper Hail Mary and cross myself and be sure to include her in my nearest prayers (morning and night- lots and lots of night). I would clutch the Bible fervently like some would clutch candy. I was scared into submission by the church, by my family, by my whole town. I was too scared to even understand what any of this meant other than something dangerous and certain.
The whole thought of God not being real, not existing, was at first horrible and then very quickly comforting. If there was no God, there was no Hell, no sadistic demons and tortured sinners. I was curious about everything else, though, after the moment of truth.
If everyone was wrong about God, what else were they wrong about?
UNBELIEVER UNBELIEVER UNBELIEVER UNBELIEVER UNBELIEVER
The girl looked over her shoulder, checking too see if anyone was watching her. Nobody. Good. She turned back to the online library catalogue and typed in 'godless', then almost crossed herself, stopping at the last moment. God is a lie, she reminded herself. It's useless.
She clicked on the first result, a book called Godless by Pete Hautman. Fiction, paperback edition, F HAU. She carefully deleted the web brower, got up, and went and found it. She sat down on a library couch and began reading.
HEATHEN HEATHEN HEATHEN HEATHEN HEATHEN
Godless by Pete Hautman is an incredible book. I recommend it to anyone who believes in talking snakes and old bearded guys up in the sky.
I was initially amused, then fascinated, then empathetic. I snickered at Just Al, smiled at Chutengodianism, stared in awe at Henry, and cried at the ending. The last page is how envious of everyone religious Jason is- jealous of his Catholic father, jealous of Shin, his obsessional best friend, jealous of the boring ordinary boy who thinks Jason is a "dangerous heretic", jealous even of Magda and Henry, who believe in each other. Jason has religion and no faith, which is what I have.
I believed that now was the time to find others in the same predicament. I typed in 'famous atheists' in Google, and clicked.
KAFIR KAFIR KAFIR KAFIR KAFIR
The first link was a YouTube video. I disregarded that one. I scrolled down and clicked on a Amazon link to a book by some guy named Richard Dawkins. I clicked on it.
The GOD Delusion, read the title. Just the title stole my breath away. A delusion? How utterly perfect, how totally shocking! I clicked 'add to shopping cart'. I then searched for it in the library database, trembling as I went to retrieve F DAW.
APOSTATE APOSTATE APOSTATE APOSTATE APOSTATE
Shaking, trembling, unable to breathe or blink, she turned each page with a jerking hand, jolting jets of utter terror coursing through her veins like hemlock through a wise philosopher's. This was forbidden, this was wrong, this was everything everyone had warned her against. And yet, she continued to read, her breath shaky and shallow. She was afraid of this book, but there was no reason to be afraid. There was nothing in it that could harm her- just truth. Though the truth might hurt, it would be like putting disinfectant in a wound; it'd hurt and heal. Leave the wound open and it would infect and devour you.
She forced herself to turn the pages, to read the words, to think and absorb. Though her old self, the Catholic self, screamed at her to stop, her new self, the atheist self, softly yet convincingly contended her to continue. She chose the new one over the old and kept reading.
The second chapter's opening words were a shock to read, a terrifying statement that was undeniably, obviously true. She continued to shake violently.
And at the final, trembling end, she took in a deep breath, wrapped her fingers around the crucifix hung on her neck, and pulled. A loud snapping noise rung through the air, slapping her in the face with the force of a wrathful beast. She sat there, at her own house, in her own room, utterly alone, gripping the crucifix with fear, disgust, faith, betrayal, fury, hatred, shock. She stared at it, the emotions churning within her, balling up and swelling explosively. She stood up, walked over to the fireplace, took off the rubber fire-guard, and hurled the idol into the flames. She collapsed with the force of grief, and watched as the metal-plated wood burned into thick ashes. Hours passed. She took the ashes out, gathered them into a box, and rushed to her room to find everything Catholic. She tore down her Jesus posters, grabbed her Bibles, ripped up her Pope pictures, and tossed all the crosses and rosaries and statues into a box. She took the box and headed out the front door.
Outside, it was raining, spurting water endlessly. Thunder boomed overhead. She walked, determindley, volcanic rage heating her up as she strode through the sheets of vicious, vengeance-exacting water, all the way to a forest. Within the forest, she found a ditch overflowing with dirty water. She dumped the box down, sending torrets of muddy water all over her. She didn't care. The box was soon covered by filth and dirt, courtesy of the young college student. She turned on her heel and slid her hands in her pocket, heading home. She left the crucifix and others in the mud, where they belonged.