Image by ladybugbkt via FlickrThink of the brain as a giant swimming pool. On one end it is deep, the other, shallow. The shallow end has a wading pond for those who cannot swim and detached, but nearby, is the hot bubbling sauna.
When a person is introduced to Christianity, they are encouraged to dip their feet in the warm waters of the wading pool. Slowly, they put their legs in a little further until they get used to the temperature of the water. Eventually they immerse themselves in the warm water and become baptized. They are considered "children" in the eyes of god and are encouraged not to drift from the shallows.
As they become more confident they may wish to learn more, but the shallows are only warm so they venture out of the pool of thought and into the hot sauna of religious fervor. They are confronted by many others who enjoy the heat of condemnation, the swirling waters of proselytism and the air bubbles of irrational thought. For a time they feel energized and alive with the spirit of the hot sauna.
Eventually the body can no longer take the heat and becomes uncomfortable. It becomes difficult to breath all the hot air. They see the skin wrinkling from overexposure to the irrational desire for that warm feeling. They see the clear cool water as a reprieve. But those waters are deep, filled with self doubt and fear of the unknown. They were warned about the slippery slope of doubt which leads to deeper water.
They soon realize they must leave the sauna for it is too hot for the mind to comprehend. There is a time limit in the sauna and if one stays in too long, one may never escape. The death of logic and reason are sure to follow. They know the warm waters of the wading pool lead nowhere but back to the heat of the infernal god sauna.
They look at the deep end of the pool and see others swimming freely in the cool waters of reason. They wish to join them but when they dip their foot in, it is cold, they do not understand. Their first inclination is to go back to the warm waters of the wading pool but they eventually find out this is only circular reasoning and leads back to the hot sauna of irrational thought.
They are then confronted by a decision. They wish to swim freely with the others but are afraid they will drown in the deep. They feel cold and alone as they touch the depths of reality. They run back to the comfort of the wading pool but discover that the warm feeling they get in the shallow end is temporary and eventually feels cool and chilly. The desire for freedom keeps them from enjoying this temporary pleasure.
They soon realize that the only path to freedom is to chuck their fears, close their eyes and dive head first into those uncharted waters of reason.
At first they are cold and shivering, they feel alone and doubt their ability to swim. They scream out loudly not knowing if they made the correct decision. But they soon notice others smiling, happy and frolicking in the joy of self worth and honesty.
After a while the water seems to no longer be cold. They realize that although the water has not changed temperature, they feel more comfortable and eventually discover the water was not cold at all.
It only appeared to be cold next to the artificially heated shallow end.
They miss their sauna friends but prefer the pleasures of variety in the deep.
When their sauna friends realize what has happened, they throw out a lifesaver. When the lifesaver is refused, they take out a long pole and prod them with it to see if they are still alive. When they realize that their friend is alive and well, they know the only way to retain that friendship is to jump in and join them. So, they touch those cold and foreign waters but realize freedom is not for them. They soon return to the hot sauna, leaving their former friend behind to suffer his fate.
The free thinking swimmer would like to have his friends join him but eventually realizes logic and reason are choices one makes and can't be forced upon them. Pushing them in the deep end seems logical and might be fun but will only cause them to further fear what they truly desire. So they let them walk back to their hot tub of false security.
They feel bad for their old friends but prefer to frolic in the cool and refreshing waters of life. They meet many new friends all with their own identity and reason for being. Life becomes a daily adventure and they wonder how they could have been duped into thinking there is eternal death at the end of self realization.
I have been skinny dipping in these waters for fifteen years now and it is a great feeling. Free at last. I wish others would join me, but I know only those who have the desire to see beyond the waves of religious hypocrisy will have the courage to be free.
I just wish that lifeguard would stop prodding me with the pole!