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Michael

About 3 years ago I dropped into a black hole – four months of absolute terror. I wanted to end my life, but somehow [Holy Spirit], I reached out to a friend who took me to hospital. I had three visits [hospital] in four months – I actually thought I was in hell. I imagine I was going through some sort of metamorphosis [mental, physical & spiritual]. I had been seeing a therapist [1994] on a regular basis, up until this point in time. I actually thought I would be locked away – but the hospital staff was very supportive [I had no control over my process]. I was released from hospital 16th September 1994, but my fear, pain & shame had only subsided a little. I remember this particular morning waking up [home] & my process would start up again [fear, pain, & shame]. No one could help me, not even my therapist [I was terrified]. I asked Jesus Christ to have mercy on me & forgive me my sins. Slowly, all my fear has dissipated & I believe Jesus delivered me from my “psychological prison.” I am a practicing Catholic & the Holy Spirit is my friend & strength; every day since then has been a joy & blessing. I deserve to go to hell for the life I have led, but Jesus through His sacrifice on the cross, delivered me from my inequities. John 3: 8, John 15: 26, are verses I can relate to, organically. He’s a real person who is with me all the time. I have so much joy & peace in my life, today, after a childhood spent in orphanages [England & Australia]. Fear, pain, & shame, are no longer my constant companions. I just wanted to share my experience with you [Luke 8: 16 – 17].

Peace Be With You
Michael

Buck Fuddy

Dear Michael,

I've been through some similar experiences. I was suicidal all the way through grad school. I also tried praying and asking Jesus Christ to be the lord of my life. Do you want to know what happened? Nothing happened. Absolutely nothing. Outside of my own head, nobody was listening.

Does this mean Jesus thinks you're worth saving while I'm not? Can a god just arbitrarily decide to save some people but let others rot? That sounds like a pretty sucky kind of a god to me. I'm actually kind of glad I don't have any sort of relationship with a god like that.

In case you're interested in hearing how I survived my ordeal, it's actually kind of interesting.

One day I got a small glass vial from a chemistry storeroom and filled it with potassium cyanide. I intended to use it at some point over the weekend, just as soon I a got my grades turned in. I didn't want anyone to be inconvenienced by my passing.

When it came time to take my poison, however, I did what I normally do when confronted with momentous decisions: I procrastinated. "Maybe things will get better tomorrow," I thought.

Well, things never really got a lot better, but they didn't get a lot worse either, but as long as I had my little chemical escape pod in my pocket, I knew I had a way out if the pain ever got totally unbearable.

It probably saved my life.

If I hadn't had that little vial in my pocket I probably would have jumped off a bridge at some point, as many a Cornell student has done over the years, whenever the necessary motive and opportunity presented itself. But since I had my own means of escape always at the ready, I never felt the need to avail myself of that opportunity.

I still have it, packed away somewhere. I don't know if I'm keeping it for the sense of security it gives me or out of a kind of gratitude I feel for the strength it gave me during those terrible dark times.

So now you probably think I'm crazy, and that's okay. Now you know how I feel about what believe. We all have our crutches, but at least I know that mine is real.

Alana

Thanks for writing all this, Greta, sharing your preception and personal experience. You've given me a great deal to consider and share with others.

My grand parents are Mormon. I still remember learning the "Book of Mormon Stories" on the piano when I was four. I was baptized in the Episcopal church when I was ten. Ash cross on the forehead. I remember that as a child I enjoyed church for the parade of candles, the stained glass, the shiny gold crosses, the singing and communion. I loved the little wafer Father Babb placed on my tongue and then the sip of red wine I got from a shiny gold cup in his hand. It was all very . . . pretty. So, aesthetically, religion pleased me as a girl. Weird, huh?

When I was a kid, I asked a religious man where God came from, and he told me, "You can't ask that." There I was, a kid,(not to mention a girl being told by a disapproving man) that wanting to understand something as significant as God wasn't an option. For a lot of American children, religion isn't a choice. It's set in stone. No choice. The Bible has the final say. I feel sad about this. I don't believe any child should be told life is black and white . . . or that a quest for knowledge and enlightenment isn't possible.

Let each person decide for him or herself.

By the way, have you seen a documentary called "Jesus Camp?" Scared the crap out of me.

Peace,
A

Zach A

Atheism, politics, sex – it's good to find a kindred spirit :-D

I was expecting "just" a touching personal story, but then you give us those points as a bonus! "the question of religion or the lack thereof is not merely a personal issue of faith and opinion, but a political issue of enormous importance for this country and for the world" -- yes, yes!

Also, interesting you have a picture of a Quaker protester illustrating the "good-natured religious folk" point, as there is a small (but influential) movement of Quaker atheists (see nontheistfriends.org)...

Bill Brent

Hi, Greta --

Your story moved me deeply -- at least as much for its clarity of thought as for its emotional depth.

In hindsight, my parents made some fairly heinous errors of judgment in raising us kids, but one of their most abiding gifts (for which I am exceedingly grateful) was the decision to raise us without compulsory religious faith. Compelling children to adhere to a particular dogma of any sort strikes me as a tremendous disservice to any young person.

If it were so obvious that God (construed as an external force to swear obeisance to) is real, and that spiritual indoctrination into any particular faith forms the cornerstone to a successful life, then why are there so many humans leading successful and fulfilling lives without having endured any of that baggage?

I happen to find great comfort in the knowledge that one day, each person's pain and suffering will end. In my opinion, it's being left behind that's much more fearsome. Why is this so hard to understand?

--Bill

Rebecca

I don't remember ever being afraid of my own death (except for a few seconds on a thrill ride on top of the Stratosphere Hotel). I fear the deaths of people I love,