Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Decon: 6 - Heaven is not what they think

There are a handful of major anchors that establish the TRUTH to a christians faith. In these deconversion routines, we look at many of them. Today, I want to look at a really big one. Heaven.

Before I go into heaven, it is important to understand that heaven is not about what you might think. It is about security. It is about having a safe, secure, comfortable home. Surrounded by people like them, like other people they know and love. It is a place that they can wrap around themselves like a nice warm snuggly blanket with the words LOVE printed all around it. Love, warmth, security, friendship, a secure home after you die, a place to rest.
They really feel the get a lot, but they also realize there is a price for this. The price is believing (faith) or doing some good deeds (acts) or some combination of those. And there is an additional cost after they die, there is one more cost that is to continue to worship and sing praises.
I think if you talk with most christians this should cover a majority of it. Each religion puts its own spin, a little more of this, a little less of that, your forgot to mention this. But this is still the essence.

Let me restate the concepts of deconversion again for new readers.

1. People did not get their religion by argument, you are not going to deconvert them by arguing with them either.
2. One of the most powerful words in the English language is the word AND.
3. You listen to what they have to say
4. You agree with them by saying "AND"
5. Then you mess with their mind. (see my other posts for more ideas)

KEY PHRASE
*Also, one critical part to this process is to understand an old saying
"If I say it, it might be true, BUT if they say it, it MUST be true"

======Let's look at heaven and what it means to a christian
I want to remind readers, this is not supposed to be a scholarly debate. We are not looking to be experts and citing facts, presenting tons of evidence and trying to convince them to see things our way. Show them that we are right and they are wrong.

We have one mission here deconversion. Deconversion is a process that takes a while to achieve. We are planting seeds, or putting cracks in the solid foundations of their minds, which ever metaphor you like.

The key to the heaven deconversion routine is to first understand and build an image in your own mind of what they are likely thinking or feeling heaven is. Many people don't have a clear vision of heaven, just a feeling of what it will be like. Most people have not spent much time on biblical scholarship, or if they did, it was likely tailored, filtered and spun into the local propaganda of their faith.

=====
Let's start with helping you the reader create an image of what the person likely thinks heaven is like. I am going to put a little more into this description, because I have a feeling the folks you talk with will only have a subset of this. And many may only have a feeling, so this image may help you see/feel what they feel.

Physical Description (this is what they may think, not from the bible. Bible later)
* Their is a single heaven
* "heavens" is a location, not a quantity
* it is "up there" somewhere (i.e. not on earth)
* maybe angels on clouds, pearly gates
* Gold, silver, jewels and other fancy decorations
* lots of white
* beautiful music in the air
* beautiful smells, warm air with gentle breezes

Some folks they might meet
* parents, grandparents, cousins, uncles, etc
* friends from school and old neighborhood
* friends from church
* a bunch of other people just like above,
but belonging to other christians.
* St Peter, Jesus, Mary, Joseph, other saints
* Other people they read about in the bible
* great religious and social leaders
* and some others that don't exactly fit those categories

What is their experience going to be like when they get there
* see all above people and the place described above
* they will live in that place
* when they die they get to be with their spouse again
* pets did not come here, but probably went someplace nice like here
* the aches and pains of their bodies will be gone
* They will look and feel young and vibrant
* All the racism, inequality, oppression, classes, segregation will be gone
* everyone will be happy
* everyone will get together and sing and praise
* they might be able to come back to earth as an angel and visit their kids/grandkids
* they will be in a place filled with pure love
* their will be pure, perfect love, forgiveness
* their will be much rejoicing and dancing

Heck, I bet we would all love someplace like that. But, that is not the case at all. That is a fiction by Hollywood, writers, poets, gospel singers and so forth. No we need to get the facts.

These Christians, when they die, they have to realize that they would be going to heaven that is in the bible, not the hollywood version. Hollywood did not exist back then. No the bible is the source of truth, of fact. So let's help them discover the facts (he he he) (man are they in for rude awakening)

====
Now that you have a picture in your mind, somewhat similar to theirs. We have a place to begin.

Here we go....

I bet you believe in heaven?
Which ones do you believe are real and which ones aren't in the bible?
Do you believe they are all real?

* When god destroys the old heavens and the new heaven is exactly 1500 miles wide and high, where do you want to live?
* When you die and you are no longer allowed to be with your wife or family any more and heaven goes to war, are you going to be in the mounted army or unmounted army?
* Do you think god could have given you armor for you military uniform instead of linen?
* Considering 80% of the criminals in the US prison system are christians and will be joining you in heaven, How do you think they should be treated when one steals from you or kills one of the others in heaven?
* What kind of punishment is given to someone who sins in heaven? They have already been judged, they don't get judged again. No double jeopardy.
* since heaven is so often under violence and for so long, why do you think it was not better fortified?
* do you think singing praise is good way to keep peoples minds off all the violence?
* Since you know it is possible to sin in heaven, documented many times
* Do you think all the christians will find joy in having to move from heaven to heaven to heaven, never being able to settle down
* Why do you think god could not provide his people a safe home to live in a wonderful joyful eternity?
* what kind of joyful songs do you think the people who live in many heavens that been built, destroyed in violence, rebuilt, and destroyed again and again sing?
* Do you thing it is easy to feel loved and connected when the bible says you are like the angels and no longer with your wife and loved ones?
* Do you think your family was taken away from you in heaven so you would not be distracted from your singing praises.
* In Matthew, when Jesus clearly gave his mission statement to not be coming to create peace, but to tear families apart, do you think that was to prepare people for the way heaven would be when they got there?

(alright we have hammered the security/insecurity enough. there is so much more of this in the bible, but we have other parts to bring out)

***Singing Zombies (I love this part)*****
* It is stated over and over and over again in the bible that when the resurrection happens people will be in their physical body.
* since you are not on earth and their is not trees or farm animals what kind of alien food do you think your dead body will eat?
* You dead body has a spirit jammed into it, but it is still dead. A lot of people think, they get an overhaul to get that "new car smell" of when they were younger, but it is still that same old body, just prettier.
* Do you think they take your body away and give you a clone to make it look younger, or do they do actual bodywork and try to roll back the odometer?
* With the younger looking dead body you are wearing around up there, do you think it comes with a warranty? Of course that model comes with out pain installed, but what about if you get hit by a 16 year old skateboarder and he knocks off your arm.
* The bible still gives you a human body, not a cartoon body, or a superman body.
* What do they do with the dead bodies of people in heaven that die in heavenly battles?
* if you are immortal in heaven and can't die, what kind of wars are you having. Are you just messing with each other, breaking each others stuff.

*** something just is not right here

* you get to heaven, and it is not the hollywood image you thought.
* all the singing zombies, constantly having to move, the sinning, the annoying neighbors, the prisoners living next door, your wife making friends and ignoring you.
* It all starts getting to you, who do you complain to?
* If you are not singing and PERFECTLY happy with the status quo, you are an outsider and heretic here.
* and now you want to stir up trouble?
* Your wife and that good looking, fit angel look cute together. I don't think that late dinner they had together means anything. After all, she is not with you, remember.
* I know you talked to some of the saints. Yeah, they have access to one of the gods here.
* Oh yeah, remember, when your here in heaven, if one god is busy, you might be able to book an appointment with one of the other gods here. Christianity has quite a few gods in the bible. That is good to remember for cases like this.
* You might have to bribe some folks to get a meeting with one of the gods.
* It is clearly stated that in heaven you have personal possessions and some folks have a lot and are rich here, and some are poor here.
* If you have some good business skills, you should do ok for yourself
* Now all that singing and praising going on in the background, you are going to have to drown that out so you can have a conversation, how do you think you can drown that out?
* The praising and singing that is going on. Do you think that god is singing along those tunes when he is killing babies, shooting fire, killing all those people every year, inventing new diseases and so on.
* Do you think the gods shush people down and tell them to be quiet when he has to do his daily killing and vengeance and wrath.

***
I could go on and on here. There is so much in the bible.
Let's come back to the purpose here. We are not trying to run a lecture and teach them stuff. We are not trying to convince them stuff that we know. We are not trying to give them exact quotes and give them accurate scholarship.

We started this for the purpose of helping them with their deconversion. The "heaven" talk is a hugely powerful part of their foundation. Based on what we covered here, I think the topic was hit about 50%. I think they will still be fairly strong on the heaven topic when this is done, but I will hit this again later, to give it the solid strike it needs. This may be solid enough coverage for some, I will leave that for you to decide.

I just want you to remember, our objective here is to get them curious and thinking about topics in the bible. We don't want to give them answers, we want to give them questions. We want to give them doubts.

We also would like for them to want to come back to us and have a further discussion about their beliefs. We on the other hand, want to change the subject when they come back and start on a new topic. They don't and can't get the satisfaction of us helping them with their beliefs. It is important that you give them a homework assignment from the bible that they have to prove something to you. Only one heaven, not many or how many times is heaven destroyed, what is the most violent thing to happen in heaven, whatever.

We want them investigating that heaven is not like their Hollywood fantasy. The more they look up, the more controversies, the more contradictions they will find. They start to trust some stuff but become skeptical of other stuff. That is what deconversion is all about.

Hope everyone has fun with this ....

--Jack

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