I was never in a cult, technically speaking. Yet I identify with people who grew up in cults and then left and found sanity. My story is different, yet oddly similar. I grew up with a mentally ill father in a deeply religious family. We didn’t know he was mentally ill at the time. But he was incredibly abusive to myself and my brother. If parents were governments, then I grew up in an absolute dictatorship. My father reigned supreme.
The abuse drove me away from my family. Complicating the situation for me was the inability of anyone else in the family to recognize the abuse, let alone do something about it.
This led to my lifelong struggle with mental illness.
My family is Polish on both sides. The Catholic Church was the institution of our lives. My grandparents were immigrants. I loved the church as I grew up. I wanted to be a hero to my faith. I wanted to be the person who could prove beyond any shadow of doubt that Jesus was real. But two things happened to me. The first is that I began to see God as an abstraction of Truth. And over time my allegiance to God transformed into an allegiance to the concept of truth. The second development for me was an intense desire to be rational. I wanted to live, as an adult, in a more rational world. It had to do with language. By a fairly young age I could see that some people made sense, while other people spoke with ignorance. I wanted to be someone who made sense.
During my sophomore year of high school, a Sunday sermon set the course for my life. The priest was speaking about the Catholic Church and science. The message was that the teachings of the church and the teachings of science are both true. Science, because it is based on evidence. Whereas the Church is blessed with divine authority. When I heard this, I could see a problem with what the priest had claimed. There was a contradiction between the preachings of the church and the teachings of science.
Life is filled with contradictions. But during the previous year, I had learned in my math class that contradictions were not possible. We were studying geometry and proofs. And during my sophomore year I was studying biology, where I learned and accepted that evolution was true. Evolution made sense to me. In the moment of that sermon, everything clicked. And I could see a way to prove that Jesus did not die for our sins. I didn’t even know what to make of it. Because, up until that moment, I not only believed, but I wanted to believe, what the church had been teaching.
I left the church because of the logical contradictions inherent in Christian belief. But I never stopped studying the church. I couldn’t let go of the fact that my faith was false. I didn’t know how to because I was leaning on my faith to help me endure my father.
Something interesting happened some years later in the throws of mental illness. I was reacting badly from the ways I had been treated within my family. I had ended my relationship with my father. My relationship to the rest of my family suffered too. I withdrew from them. And I had this reaction to the church that was not merely ideological. So much nonsense in my life had been justified through church teachings. I wanted to tear it all down.
Several decades have passed. My rage has mellowed.
These past few years I have been trying to write a book that takes on the theology of the church.. But I have reached a point where I need to stop isolation myself to work on this, and integrate my self instead with others by sharing what I have discovered. So, I am going to unravel it here on this blog. The Christian faith is a false faith. Evidence and proofs forthcoming.