Sent in by Ian
"…It's too bad that you're going to Hell…"
"…Hope you enjoy your special place in HELL…"
"…Hope you have an asbestos suit, cause you're going to HELL…"
It's 2:40 in the morning on June 16th, 2006. I'm sitting in front of my computer, my eyes weary, my legs sweaty, and my heart and mind heavy with anger.
What a lousy way to end your first day of being twenty years old.
Why am I here? It's because of this cancer that I have, buried deep within me. It's not cancer in a medical sense. You cannot see it with a microscope, you cannot cut it away with a laser. Yet it's there, buried deep within me.
It's the cancer of fear.
Only now, two years after leaving Christianity for good, do its effects finally start appearing. It's ironic in a way. Fear was the first thing that brought me into Christianity, and it's the last thing that clings to me after I left it. It was the threat of hell that brought me into it, and it's the threat of hell that hangs over my head.
Two years. In two years one would think that I'd have this licked by now. I've read and researched. I've learned about how Christianity is just another religion that borrows elements from other religions such as the dying and resurrecting Godman, the concept of hell from some religion from the east (is it Zaoitrism?). I've read hundreds of near death experiences and hundreds of accounts of a loving God who loves us all unconditionally, who doesn't judge us and who just loves us.
Yet…that damn cancer is still here. It's still festering within me. No matter what I do, no matter how hard I try, I just can't get rid of it. If I had a knife I'd cut it out of me. Slice open the skin and dig this little fucker out of me. Take it and crush it in my hand. Watch as it writhes in pain, watch as it's blood seeps through my fingers and drips onto the ground. Watch as this little sonofabitch dies a painful death.
I'd make it feel the fear, the worry, the depression, the horrible feelings I got from it. How it snaked out after me to try and scare me. How it's kept me awake at night worrying, how it's followed me through the day. God how I hate it. I hate this cancer. I'd exchange a physical cancer if it meant that this horrible cancer of fear was gone forever, never to return.
But I can't do that. And even now, as I type these words in the darkness of the morning, I can still feel it within me. The doubt, the worry, all of it just simmering below the surface.
Why is it that fear is used so much these days? Why is it that Christianity, a religion that is supposed to be about love and peace, instead uses fear? Why is it that Christians oftentimes feel the need to say things like…
"You have chosen to be blind to the TRUTH!"
"You have obviously been deceived by the devil."
"It's too bad that you're going to Hell."
"Hope you enjoy your special place in HELL."
"Hope you have an asbestos suit, cause you're going to HELL."
Hey, lay off with the threats already. Your stupid little beliefs that turn God into a monster are a mockery of whoever God is. I've been there. Threats are not the way to go with people.
Oh yes, I've heard your tricks before. You claim that you're our friends, trying to save us. I've heard your victims say that "if a friend were driving to a foreign country, wouldn't you want to give him a map?" Save it. I've heard it all before. You manifest yourself in many ways, some nice looking, some evil looking.
Take chick publications. A little comic book company that happens to make little comics that spell out how you're a doomed sinner who's going to hell unless you accept the lord Jesus into your heart. Let me tell you something you horrible thing: Chick publications is evil. Their little comic books are evil. Within these pages fear drips and oozes on every page, dripping down onto you. And when these drops of fear meet with bare skin, they dig down. They burrow. They head deep and stay deep, eagerly planting themselves with no intention of moving.
Some see these comics of people being judged by a faceless God to be amusing and funny. Some see them as hysterical even.
How many of these people are ex-christians? I'm one, and I don’t see them to be funny at all. When I even get a tiny glimpse of them, the fear that long ago buried itself within me springs forth and goes into action. No matter how my rational mind works, no matter how much I know, Christianity and its fear appeal to the emotions of a person. It appeals to fear, to uncertainty, to doubt.
No matter how strong I may be, no matter how much I know, the emotions of this cancer can easily overwhelm me.
"…It's too bad that you're going to Hell…"
No matter how hard I try, no matter how often my friends encourage me, no matter what happens…
I can't beat it. This cancer within me is strong and bides it's time. It often vanishes, up to months at a time. Yet at the slightest opportunity it springs forth and leaps with joy at the opportunity to seize me within its talons.
I just can't get rid of it.
The scars are too deep. The cancer is buried too deep. I just can't get rid of it.
I can't, can't you see?
No matter how hard I try, no matter how much I learn or know, no matter what I do, this fear, this horrible cancer remains inside me. It may be cut and it may be gashed, and it may even be grievously injured, but a part of it always survives. A part of it always retreats to regroup and prepare to come forth again.
"…Hope you enjoy your special place in HELL…"
God how I hate it. God how I hate this horrible cancer that has been unleashed upon this earth. The fear of hell has no doubt been a powerful motivator for people for centuries. I'm just another one of its victims. Just one out of millions through the years.
The others, they don't really understand. They can say that I'm being too serious, they can say that I refuse to let go, they can say not to look at the stuff, they can say whatever they want to say. But they just don't understand it.
This is cancer. It takes its roots early and digs deep. To my young mind, it found a fertile ground with rich soil. To someone who was worried and scared, evil and harmful doctrines found a home.
It became a part of me. For four long years. And I didn't even realize what was going on.
IT threatened me. IT continues to threaten me today. And I am fucking sick of IT. I am so fucking tired of IT.
I try to get away from IT.
I try. But then a book comes along. And my near fatal flaw of curiosity gets the better of me and I start reading. It only takes a paragraph to trigger it. Sometimes, just a sentence. No matter. The damage is done.
Worry begins to creep into my mind once more. I might be going to hell because I haven't accepted Jesus. God might judge me one day and throw me into hell because I wasn't a Christian. I might burn forever in a lake of fire…
A year ago, when I was fresh out of my old faith, such things would have me worried, would have me begging God to help me.
But now, it's different. When the fear comes, so does something else. Rage. Anger. Hatred.
I hate to see IT manifest itself in so many ways. The arrogance, the pride, the self-inflated egos of those who say "I'm saved and you're not." I hate to see IT spreading. Whenever I see Billy Graham, I cringe. I see an angry man preaching a fear based message to people who need help. In his messages I find threats and absolutes. I am so fucking sick of seeing "The bible says…"
Mr. Graham is an agent of IT. I wonder if he knows that?
Whenever I see someone saying, "The bible says that…" I clench my fingers and squeeze hard. The bible is an agent of IT. It contains hate, fear, threats and warnings. Even though there are messages of hope and love and all that is actually good in this world, the threats and warnings are just as numerous.
For christ's sake, can't I just go through my life trying to be nice to other people? Can't I just go through life without being warned and threatened that I'm going to hell because I'm not a Christian?
I want to stop IT. I want to see IT lying on the ground, bleeding and dying a painful death for all the misery it has caused. IT deserves nothing less. If there is a hell, then IT should be the only permanent resident. Fear has no place in heaven.
"…Hope you have an asbestos suit, cause you're going to HELL…"
SHUT UP! FOR GOD'S SAKE, SHUT UP!
I grab IT by the neck and I squeeze. I squeeze hard. IT gasps and grabs at IT's throat, IT's copy of the bible falling into the mud.
I squeeze, pushing IT towards the mud.
"DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA WHAT YOU'VE DONE?!" I roar. "DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA HOW MUCH I HATE YOU?!"
IT changes form. IT's face shifts rapidly. A fundamentalist, hell fire and brimstone preacher, who's kind rants and raves about the torments of hell upon the unbelievers.
I squeeze harder.
IT's face shifts again. It becomes one of my friends, who is a Christian. Then it shifts into his mother. She struggles against my grasp, wheezing for air. Yet I do not let up. She was under the control of IT. She told me, mockingly, that because I was damned to hell anyway for not accepting Jesus, I could go ahead and save all the babies I wanted from death (she believed that God chooses when babies die and we have no right to save them).
Her face is turning purple. She mocked me. She told me how I was damned, and how she was saved and looking forward to death so she could be with God.
Do you know how you made me feel with your pompous ass egotistical statements? Do you know how miserable and depressed you made me feel?
Before I can finish, IT shifts again. It becomes one of the scouts from my Boy Scout troop, a young man who I'm good friends with. He once told me, sadly, that our deeds mean nothing to God because no imperfections can be allowed in heaven, and because we make mistakes and are not perfect, we cannot enter heaven without accepting Jesus.
And then IT shifts again…to an assistant scoutmaster from my troop. I rode with him once to camp. Little did I know that he was an evangelical Christian. The talk we had drained me so quickly of enthusiasm and happiness that it was as if he was an emotional vampire.
I glare into his eyes and ram him into the ground. "Do you know how depressed and upset you made me?" I hiss into his face. "Do you know how you shattered everything I believed in?! DO YOU?!?!?!" He tries to answer, but my grip is now like a vice. Slow, uncompromising and absolute.
He had countered everything I said with a quote from the bible. He dashed off all the historical evidence that was in favor of Christianity. He poked fun at my belief that Love is the way, the truth, and the life, saying that he could easily say that baseball is the way, the truth and the life, but that doesn't make it true.
I commented that according to his beliefs, I was damned. He had paused for a moment, then said yes, I was.
God, how can people believe this?
Before I can finish the squeeze, IT's form shifts again. This time, it's Billy Graham.
"Mr. Graham." I hiss. "I've been wanting to do this for a very long time." I pick him off the ground and hurl him into a wall. His bible falls from his shirt pocket. I grab it and rip it to shreds. "Where's your precious bible quotes now Mr. Graham?!" I shout, grabbing him by the collar and slamming him back into the wall.
"Tell me Mr. Graham." I hiss to his face. "How do you feel telling well-meaning people that they are doomed to hellfire because they haven't accepted Jesus? How often do you stand up on that dinky little podium of yours and tell the audience that we're all sinners? How often do you tell people that they're damned, damnit?! You my friend, spread fear. You spread the caner. I hope you like that!"
Grabbing his throat, my fingers digging into his skin, I hurl him over my head and face first into a wall. He falls, neck broken. But it's not finished.
Above me, the cloudy sky pours rain as I walk over to Mr. Graham's lifeless corpse. Then IT changes again, this time to the authors of all the fear based bible books and material I've ever seen. IT stands up and looks at me, glaring.
"…It's too bad that you're going to Hell…"
I scream and jump on IT, sending us both into the mud. I grab IT and punch, claw and tear at the faces, the ones who told me that they were my friend, trying to save me. The ones who say that Jesus is the only savior, the ones who frightened me with their work.
I scream and tear at them all, ripping their faces to bloody shreds. All the anger, all the hatred has boiled to the surface, and there is no stopping it. All the mental anguish and all the fear will be dealt with.
With a final slash I send the broken, bashed in face of Greg Laurie sliding through the mud into a rock. I stand, and I stare at the ruined, bloody face of IT. And I turn, facing away. All the pain, all the hatred at these people who threaten me, even if they aren't aware of it. I hate them all. I hate them.
But IT is a cancer. And it does not die easily, for I hear it getting off the ground and coming up behind me.
With a yell I spin, grab IT and jump on top of IT, pinning it into the mud. I raise my fist, ready to bash IT's face in again…
…and I stare into the face of Jesus Christ.
I pause. My clenched fist, so eager to pulverize, hesitates. From the mud, Jesus looks up at me, his face unreadable. No anger, no hate, no love, nothing. He just looks at me, as if letting me know that I can bash his face in if I want.
I look at him.
"Why?" I ask, tears coming from my eyes. "Why?"
He looks at me.
"Do you have any idea, any idea at all, about all the pain your sayings would cause? Do you have any idea at all how much I hate what you say? Do you have any idea whatsoever how much I hate the religion that follows you? Do you have any idea how much I hate its doctrines, its exclusiveness, its fear?! Do you?! DO YOU?!"
He doesn't answer.
"WHY?!" I scream. "WHY, WHY, WHY?!?!?!" Over and over and over I keep screaming it, screaming at a man who supposedly said he was the son of God, at the man that millions adore and worship.
And yet…he does not answer me.
"I HATE YOU!" I scream. "I HATE YOU!"
And then IT changes one more time. The face and body of Jesus vanish, replaced with an unexpected form.
I stare at myself, standing there. My own face is angry. My own face is full of rage. IT glares back at me with the same anger I have.
My God…why? I'm becoming just like IT.
Maybe it's not the people I hate. It’s the fear that they spread that I hate. It's the darkness that they spread that I despise, that I detest. It's the ideas that drive people apart, that cripple people's lives, that plunges them into the depths of despair and fear.
That's what I hate. I don't hate these people. I hate the darkness within them…and me.
For fear is like cancer. It takes hold and it doesn't let go.
Before I wrote this, I spent the better part of half an hour lying in my bed, trying to sleep but unable to. I lay there, my mind racing over those horrible little comics that I had stupidly read earlier. The horrible, evil messages of a judgmental God, of the infallibility of the bible and how Jesus is the only way…
God I hate those cartoons. I want to take them all and burn them. I want to destroy the company so that no one has to go through what I'm going through. These horrible little comics are evil. And the thought that these might find their way into the hands of kids…
One thought I've had is a horrible one. What if they are right? What if this Christian afterlife description turns out to be true? What if Mr. Graham, Mr. Laurie, the evangelical assistant scoutmaster, the mocking mother and all those others who give messages of fear go to heaven, and those non-christians like myself who try to be good go to hell?
Oh God I want to destroy those things. I hate them so fucking much.
I prayed to God while I was in bed. No, more like, pleaded and cried. I ranted at God how I hated Christianity, how I hate its doctrines, its exclusiveness, and how it uses fear. I ranted at God at how much I hated it, how I thought it was a cancer upon the earth that needed to be wiped out.
There's a stuffed alligator in my bed, along with a stuffed toy shark. I held them tightly and squeezed them. They didn't judge me. They didn't demand that I worship them. They simply went along with what happened. Granted, they are only stuffed fabric shaped and colored like animals, but it felt good squeezing them.
Sometimes, when things just get too overwhelming, it feels good to hug and squeeze things. Why can't it be that way all the time? Why can't we just stop with the fucking threats of hell and just hug each other? Why for God's sake do we threaten each other with hell?
I am a victim of emotional cancer. For all my knowing and wisdom, I suffer from a lack of confidence and an emotional weakness to fear. If I'm exposed to it, I break down and fall apart.
This cancer is a leftover of my experience with threats of hell. Like all diseases, it takes time to cure it. I may never cure it. It may be with me for the rest of my life. Or it could go away within a few years, never to return.
I've never talked about myself this much before, about what I feel about fear. I've never talked about how I sometimes want to strangle the people who make me afraid, who scare me. I've never talked about how much I hate them at times, and how much I hate what I'm carrying with me.
Who are you? I don't know. You, as an observer, may say "get over it" or "Why don't you just walk away". You may mean well, but you just don't know. This cancer rooted itself deeply within me six years ago. It was only in the last two that I was aware it existed. Six years to take root and hang on tight. Dislodging such a thing takes time.
Thank you. Thank you, whoever you are. Writing this over the past two hours has been an incredibly therapeutic experience. I feel…drained, but in a good, healing way. I've never written such violent material before with regards to religion…yet it felt good. It's as if these horrible thoughts and things I've kept stored away for a long time have finally come out and left me.
Thank you for reading. I don't care if you're a Christian or an atheist, Buddhist or agnostic. Just thank you for reading it, for listening. I may know you, or I may never meet you, but knowing that at least someone out there read this thing that I've typed out during a long, sleepless night somehow makes me feel better.
One day I hope I can walk around with no fear in regards to spirituality, to religion, to Christianity or to faith. It is my great hope that one day I will be able to look at fear based tracts, comics, or books, and make them quiver under my gaze. It's not easy, healing this pain and fear that has clung to me. Earlier I wrote that it was still with me. Now it's not. It's gone.
It may be regrouping, or it may be packing up and leaving. I don't know. I don't know what the future holds for me, for this cancer, for this horrible cycle that I've gone through over and over again (Curiosity, doubt, worry, fear, then terror, then anger and rage, then quiet, then all over again) is one that I feel lost in. It's been repeating itself for two years now, ever since I left Christianity.
Hopefully, one day it will stop and cease to be. And then the cancer will be no more.
I look forward to that day.