Be selective of your f****

Be selective of your fucks.

Seriously, apparently a woman is born with only a certain number of eggs. Well, I swear we are all born with only a certain amount of fucks, and when we waste it on dumb shit, we are wasting our fucks. So, be selective. Don’t give a fuck about everything that comes across your Facebook news feed. Lady at the drive-thru forget to give you a fork with your salad? Drive your happy ass back around and ask for it nicely, don’t get all pissed off! Or, you could go park and get your lazy ass out of your seat and go in and get one. Who knows? You may run into a future job opportunity by holding a door open for someone on your way into the restaurant.

Religion gives too many fucks.

Capture_Jeffress_Notallroads

Take the book above, for an example. This book, from renowned Fox News, Trump doting Southern Baptist Convention “Pastor” of First Baptist Dallas in Dallas, Texas. In this book, Robert recounts an interview he did with Bill O’Reilly where O’Reilly was asking him about how we should treat Muslims. Jeffress goes on to suggest that “Well, you have to tell the truth…And the truth is that Islam is a false religion, built on a false book, written by a false prophet…”. Nearly every religion, especially the three major religions make this same deceleration about the other ones,”There’s only this way to get to heaven, and all other ideas are false”. Religious beliefs require you to believe what a person should do in the privacy of their homes, how they pray, in what direction they pray, what type of clothes they wear, whether they should have positions of authority based on gender, who they should love, how we should treat other species, and how we should treat others. In everyone of those religious text that I have read there are both positive and abhorrently negative things suggested about how we should treat our neighbors. Typically the more progressive, liberal people of those religions love to lean on those verses to suggest that those of us who read those nasty verses are either taking it out of context, or we are not understanding that times have changed and the meaning behind various religious scriptures can change with those times. Now, fundamentalist will scream at the top of their lungs that this is heretical, and that they are leading them astray. Quite frankly, scripture itself will declare this same thing. “For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions,” (2Ti 4:3 ESV), this verse in 2 Timothy in the New Testament of the Christian Bible suggest that as times change, beliefs will change, but scripture never will. Read it in it’s entirety, not just the sunshine verses. Tell me that you do not come to the same conclusion. You literally have to have blinders on to avoid those extremely judgmental, too many fucks given verses. I applaud those who choose to put blinders on, or intentionally ignore those scriptures. They are, after all, primitive beliefs. I give a fuck about this because others continue to use their religion to give too many fucks about how other people live and love. I believe that is a worthy thing to give a fuck about.

Society gives too many fucks.

The secular world is not immune to this epidemic of giving too many fucks. Society also gives way too many fucks about what everyone else is doing. To some extent I certainly understand the need to give a fuck about others, especially when their decision can personally effect your own life. Simple example of this would be people driving on the correct side of the road, and driving responsibly. A choice for them to drive irresponsibly could end up drastically changing your life, or someone you care about. So, I get it. However, we all need to step back every now and then and take an honest introspective approach and ask ourselves whether or not what we spend our time on is worth our fucks. Maybe it’s a draining relationship that you have been allowing to act like a cancer on your emotions and sanity. Maybe it’s a job that has been draining every ounce of you, and that you absolutely hate. Jobs are a difficult task because every job will have something you hate. Yet, if you haven’t even attempted to change your job by putting some resumes out there then you cannot really complain about where you are at. You are NOT a tree, move if you want to.

In conclusion, stop giving so many fucks. I have spent the majority of the past three years giving too many fucks. It causes a TON of anxiety and depression. DO NOT DO IT! Stop giving a fuck, and get your ass up and get moving! If scripture had one thing right, it is that we have gotten to, and really always have been a people that preferred to hear a good lie, over a horrible truth. We generally always need the horrible truth over the beautiful lie. You didn’t like that approach? Well, guess what? I do not give a fuck.

The godless Pastor,

Billy J. Crocker

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My hope for you for 2018

The year in review: The good

2017 has been an amazing, joyful, liberating, hurtful, divisive, difficult year. I started this year with an amazing gift from K9s for Warriors, receiving my service dog, Dozer. I was on a waiting list for her for almost two years, and you can read more about what she has meant to me in my blog post, My pill bottle wears a vest. I was thrilled to see the progress she helped me make with so many symptoms of PTSD, anxiety, OCD, and depression. I ended 2016 not sure how much longer I would be able to hang on, and now I feel like I cannot see far enough into the future. I became a lot more active on my blog writing, which is something I have wanted to do for a very long time. We hit over 1,000 visitors (THANK YOU ALL!), increased our views to over 3,000, and over 29 countries viewed this website, including very freethinking oppressed countries. Our top 5 countries were USA, Australia, Canada, United Kingdom, and Malaysia (in ranking order). We have over 300 followers between subscriptions to the blog, follows on Twitter, and likes on Facebook. It has been a great year for this blog. We moved to North Carolina during this time, which provides a lot of inspiration for writing, it is a beautiful state.

Over 29 countries viewed this website, including very freethinking oppressed countries.

What I learned

In looking back, we should only seek to learn lessons, not dwell or wallow in self-pity. On that note, in 2017 I learned what I believe for me. That has been a tremendously good thing. I introduced myself to people like Julia Sweeney, by watching her monologue; Letting go of God.  I watched a documentary on “The Amazing Randi”, about a magician James Randi, who staked his reputation on debunking magic tricks, psychics, and even an evangelical “Preacher”. I learned who George Carlin is, and found out subsequently that he unfortunately passed away. I have now watched the majority of his stand-up work, and it brings me joy to watch the way in which he articulated what so many of my thoughts were about religion. I have reconnected with my brother who has been out of my life for over 20 years, which has been phenomenal, and I am looking forward to that relationship continuing to grow. I read, and I read some more. I have always loved to read, but I would filter my reading based on my preconceived notions of what was “worth” reading, and what was not. You want to know what was not worth reading? Anything that questioned the idea of god. In case you didn’t know, that is a lot of f****** (for my PG readers) material. Let me give you an example; at the beginning of the year I started to read The God delusion from Richard Dawkins, and only about two chapters in I put it down, and immediately sought out Christian approved responses to this book. Only wanting to hear what was wrong with the book, and why I could safely dismiss it as garbage did little to satisfy my longing for the truth. The way in which I worked my way back in was actually through somewhat middle-ground material. I guess what I mean by that is moderate believers. A good example would be Rob Bell. I admire Rob Bell for being willing to step out of the box, and consider an alternative way to believing in god. I read his book What is the Bible?, which created a lot of controversy and judgment from the mainstream Christian crowd. I read Karen Armstrong’s A History of God: The 4,000 year old quest of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. The most convincing book that caused me to walk away from my beliefs, which I held for 21 years of my life, was the actual Bible (The Holy Bible in ESV, CSB, HCSB, NIV, NASB, and yes even KJV). It was once I started to consider the inconsistencies in scripture, and the major implication differences between denominations that my beliefs really began to unravel. That was the moment I became The godless Pastor. I was at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary when the light went on for me. That was scary. Trying to hold back from coming out completely, I just started asking questions, and pressing myself to look beyond my labels which I had, and society had placed on myself. Once it became clear that simply moving outside of my initial comfort zone, and clearly the comfort zone of my circle of influence, it seemed inconsequential to go ahead and declare my atheism, which I did in the blog Dear Friends and Family,. During this time I also stumbled upon one of, if not the game-changer book, godless by Dan Barker. Reading his story, and his background, I immediately connected with his history. I then re-read the entire book The God delusion by Richard Dawkins, and my mind was blown. From there, I continued to read, and I was, and am continuing to read everything. Like a bird that has been in a cage its entire life being released into the air, I am spreading my wings into territories which I never even considered. Unfortunately, this decision to be open about my beliefs has not been as inconsequential as I have hoped. I have lost a lot of people in this process, and had very hurtful things said directly towards me. I hate that this decision to be open about my beliefs, and to call into question others beliefs has caused so much divide. However, mixed in with that I have had so many people reach out to me personally and thank me for doing this. I have had many people, even current Christians, confide in me their appreciation for my blogs, and my boldness about what I am learning. While I have lost some people, I have gained so many others that I would have never met if it hadn’t been for my blog. All in all it has been a wonderful, amazing year.

2018 reading list

I honestly do not know how you could enjoy writing, and not enjoy reading, but for me it is my escape. I love to read. I want to share with you what my reading goals are for this new year, and encourage some of these books to you.

1) The Seven Decisions, by Andy Andrews

2) The Mind of God, by Dr. Jay Lombard

3) The New Jim Crow, by Michelle Alexander

4) Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, by Yuval Noah Harari

5) The Lynching, by Laurence Leamer

6) Cosmos, by Carl Sagan

7) Parenting beyond Belief, by Doug McGowan

8) The Selfish Gene, by Richard Dawkins

  9) The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck, by Mark Manson

  10) Science in the Soul, by Richard Dawkins

11) Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow, by Yuval Noah Harari

12) The Holy Bible, by multiple human authors

Check these books out, and let me know in the comments if you plan on reading any of these with me during this new year.

2018, a hope

My hope for all of you in this new year is that you are able to think critically, and without walls. May you always be willing to look outside of the black and white box the world tries to put us in, and look in the gray area. That is where the best of everything is. READ, I cannot overstate this enough, read, and read some more. This includes religious material. Read magazines, books, newspapers, etc. I have found I need the tactile feeling of actual pages to turn, and so e-books are not my friends. However, whatever floats your boat, have at it. I just want you to think. If this means you become stronger in your religious convictions, great! If this means you walk away from all of your religious convictions, great! As long as you do it for YOU! My last hope for all of us, including me, would be that we would figure out a way to realize that we are one of 7.6 billion people (even more co-species), and empathy needs to happen. We need to start caring, and caring more about the other living, human beings, and other species then we do our religious convictions. It is in your hands, my hands. We are individually responsible for how this next year will pan out. So, let us get a spark in our ass, and start doing. Let’s do this!

The godless Pastor,

Billy J. Crocker

How no god saved me from PTSD

” Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses every thought, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” (Phi 4:6-7 CSB)

Heart pounding, palms sweating, blacking out. All experiences that I have had in dealing with PTSD. My first panic attack that I can remember happened back in 2013. I had just got out of the military and there was a lot of external stress going on in our life. I was married, we had one child, and I had no job. I was a Christian at the time, and so my thoughts were that “God” was calling me to preaching ministry full time. I had already been preaching for the past 11 years prior to that decision of getting out of the military. The military provided me ample amount of opportunities to preach. I was able to preach to Iraqis, Nigerians, Kenyans, British, Irish, Europeans, and of course a lot of Americans. That message that I was preaching was the Christian bible message. I was passionate about it, and I believed every word of it. There had been cracks in my faith over the years, but instead of searching those doubts out I could not bear to lose everything that I had around me if the answers I found led me away from something I held so dear. I remember one of the Iraqis that I had shared Jesus with testing my willingness to defend our base when I put a barrel to his chest when he chose to break the rules of our base, and after multiple warnings, continued to press forward in his own will. The day prior, we had lost three men, who gave the ultimate sacrifice while relaxing after a long day of protecting the homeland, when these cowards lobbed multiple mortar rounds into our compound. That day that I put the barrel of my M4 into that mans chest I remember the look of terror in his face; immediately I questioned whether I would be able to continue sharing Jesus with him after that exchange. The day that we had been attacked I had direct interaction with the man who was partly responsible for at least the coordination of those attacks. I was giving that man the benefit of the doubt, and he got away from me, even though my gut was telling me he was there to do harm. After that experience, I swore I would never let one of them get the best of me again. Over time that experience broke me down.

Four years later I sat outside the military, no longer in uniform, and after multiple opportunities for ministry being turned down because I had been divorced at one time, I was lost. I was beyond stressed about my entire situation. I could no longer understand what I was supposed to be doing, and I felt like my life was crumbling. I became withdrawn, I became isolated from the world. I did not want to leave the house, I did not want to even open the fucking blinds. My home church, which we had been attending since we had returned from the military, picked up on these changes. However, instead of reaching out, they chose to judge, and distance themselves from me. Instead of helping, they hurt. All I could think was that I was being punished for letting those motherfuckers get away with killing my brothers in arms. I could have prevented those attacks, and I screwed up. No one else thought that, but I did, and I could not get that thought out of my head. Do you know what I was doing during this time? Praying, reading my bible, screaming out to god to get these demons out of my head. I wanted so badly to stop the nightmares, the panic attacks, the anxiety, but it was not stopping. I was living in hell. There was nothing I could do to change what had happened, and I wanted nothing more than to be able to continue on with life as normal. There was nothing more that I wanted then to be able to understand, to get through, to live again. Instead I continued to feel crushed, defeated, lost. The only thing that I knew how to do was preach, and that was even being taken away from me because I was divorced. It was at this time that I started to break away from fundamentalist viewpoints, and realized that the denomination that I had been brought up in was maybe not lined up with my views (we seem to often do this when our life does not line up with our circles beliefs, we change our beliefs).

Over the course of the next three years I went through some of my lowest points of my entire life, and god was nowhere. I continued to read, to pray, to try and understand. We went to church, we sang songs, I even played Christian songs on my guitar, and cried my heart out in song to god. Nine times out of ten the message that I got from Christians and the bible was that I was not trusting in god. That these were demons in my head, and I needed to pray harder, read the bible more, and plead to god. God was seemingly the answer to every pain I had experienced, yet he was not answering my pleas. I went through counseling, both biblical counseling, and secular counseling. During this time my faith was being rocked even more. Then in January of 2017 I would say I was more on the side of unbelief then belief in god. I would not have considered myself an atheist, but I was not a strong Christian. As I started to really take in all of the secular counseling, and reading on the subject of anxiety, depression, and PTSD I started to break free from the chains. The more I let go of god, the more freedom I felt. The further away from god I got the better my anxieties were. Then when I declared, and finally said the phrase, “I do not believe in god”, I felt like a huge weight had been lifted off of my shoulder. Three years of pain, and suffering, and letting go of god truly began a process for me of letting go of my anxieties.

The National Institute of Mental health states that “one in five Americans experience chronic stress”. This results in a litany of other problems such as anxiety, hypertension, gastrointestinal problems, and of course depression, along with a lot of other issues. This is not a problem that is specific to Christians, and so I am not trying to suggest that believing in god is why I had anxiety. I am simply explaining that in the circle that I was in, the answer was always god to every problem and fear you felt. I genuinely believe that through my experience I was able to determine that god was not the answer for my anxieties. The reason that people who are strong Christians are able to claim that god helped them through their anxieties, I believe rest in the persons mind, and potential medical intervention. A lot of Christians who claim god as the reason for their freedom from their anxieties are on medication. I realize that the way that most Christians connect those dots is suggesting that it is god that gave the tools to the pharmaceutical companies to create the medications that lead to helping us through these things. I just hope that Christians realize that this is not based on scripture. God, and god alone should be the source of our peace, and scripture was of course written long before a time of medications for mental illnesses. As a matter of fact there are even Christians who suggest that it is medication that is from the “devil” and that prayer is the only answer to our anxieties (demons). This is not only wrong, but it is dangerous. You see, god was never going to be able to rescue me from my demons, only I was. Our demons, just like our gods, are created in our minds. Mind over matter is certainly something that rings true in the realm of mental illness. Then their are instances where there are actual biological issues that can, and will only be treated with medication. Especially in instances like bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia. Not everyone will be able to just get over it. Some people will need medication no matter what we think. It is critical that we realize as a society that their are legitimate secular approaches to these issues, and let go of the idea that god is going to rescue us out of these illnesses. Another thought to consider is that in several studies, meditation (not religious based) was extremely helpful to individuals with severe anxieties. Prayer is a form of meditation, and so there is certainly benefits to putting yourself into a meditative state. That is what is helpful, meditation, not specifically the prayer aspect of it.

You can break free from anxieties, and depression. I strongly encourage secular therapy, and medication, if needed. This is what will help you get through these “demons”. Those two things, and other people. One of the most helpful things for me was getting outside of my house, no matter how bad I did not want to, and go talk to real people. Facebook friends are not going to get you through this. Go meet some people, go have real face to face conversations with actual people. You can make it through this, do not give up, do not give in. If I can do it without god, so can you. Reach out for help, but reach out for help in things that are real.

The godless Pastor,

Billy J. Crocker

 

References

National Institute of Mental Health: http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/prevalence/any-anxiety-disorder-among-adults.shtml

Hello, There!

Hello Fellow Blog Readers!

My name is Mollie and I am Billy’s wife. He has invited me to write on his blog occasionally and I just wanted to take a minute to introduce myself. I am 27 years old, a wife, momma of three rambunctious little ones, daughter, sister, friend, wine connoisseur, coffee lover, YLEO (Young Living Essential Oil) enthusiast, healthy living advocate, proud military and veteran supporter and lover of all things FALL!

In the coming weeks I will be writing on various topics that apply to Billy’s blog that I am super passionate about and sharing more of our personal stories and experiences with you. I hope you will enjoy reading my upcoming posts. Stay tuned!

-Mollie

The winter is already, and has always been

“Winter is coming”. –Game of Thrones–

In the popular HBO series Game of Thrones there is a common thread in the first season of the fear of winter coming. Apparently, they have been in a thousand year long summer, and now winter is on its way. While there is a literal winter that is coming in this series, there is also a metaphorical winter that is constantly going on around them. While the characters in this show constantly worry about what winter might bring they fail to recognize the corruption, and crime that is going on right underneath their noses.

This really is no different to our own lives. We constantly have a metaphorical winter of corruption, crime, pain, losses, and more going on around us every day. In the book of Genesis we see the very starting of creation marred with the entrance of a tempter that causes the fall of man. Whether you accept God or not, the reality is that evil does exist, and I think that is something we can all agree on. For someone with intense anxiety I think the thought of the amount of wrongs that can happen to you causes it to get a little overwhelming. Just tonight I was walking up the stairs while carrying a cup of water and I took a big gulp and something causes me to swallow the whole gulp down the wrong pipe straight into my lungs. Immediately I started panicking, getting angry at myself, then at God, and then at whoever was nearby. I wanted to control the situation, I wanted to stop the winter. The reality though is that I cannot stop death tonight, or at any moment. Winter comes for us all, how we respond is what matters. I cannot remain burdened by the fear of “winter” for my entire life. As long as I still have breath in my lungs it is summer, and I cannot allow it to slip me by.

I pray tonight that I am able to accept that winter is all around us, constantly, no matter the literal weather season. Winter will come, but the question that we must ask is what will we do about our lives while we still have the summer.

Blessings,

Billy Crocker