The recent success of an interview (28,000 views) I did with Tim Mills, the Harmonic Atheist, has brought me increased attention from Evangelical Christians.
The same happened with the Vice News interview (1.8 million views) I did two years ago.
Media interviews I do always bring out knives, pitchforks, and pyres, but it seems, at least to me, Evangelical hostility levels have dramatically increased, so much so that I have had thoughts of throwing in the towel. So much vitriol toward an insignificant atheist. What gives? Judging by their attacks, you would think I had kidnapped their firstborn or slept with their spouse. One man, whom I have banned and blocked numerous times, is trying to get at me through family, friends, and acquaintances. Yesterday, he went after my youngest son’s transgender roommate. That didn’t go very well for this Evangelical man. He happened to run into a young man who is more than capable of handling themselves. In fact, I suspect they enjoyed eviscerating this man. Earlier this week, my youngest daughter received a cryptic email from an Evangelical man, saying that he was trying to get a hold of me. Of course, he wasn’t trying to contact me. I am one of the most accessible people on the Internet. I am but a click or two away. No, this man wanted to let me know that he could get at me and my family. Why else did he list all the publicly available email addresses for me, including several email addresses I haven’t used in twenty years?
The fact that I have a lot of serious health problems has made it easy for Evangelicals to say that these maladies are God’s judgment or God trying to get my attention. The unrelenting pain that is literally choking the life out of me is “God” trying to get my attention. Someday, hopefully not today, tomorrow, or next week, I will die. I know that I am on the short side of life; that either disease, accident, or the damn cat will one day put an end to me. I can only imagine what Independent Fundamentalist Baptists (IFB) zealots will say on their blogs and what preachers say in their sermons upon hearing reports of my demise. “Bruce knows the truth now!” “Atheist Bruce Gerencser now knows that God exists and Hell is real!” These followers of Jesus will feign sadness as they speak of my death, but they will silently say to themselves, “that God-hating, Devil-loving motherfreaker got exactly what he deserved. No one mocks my God and gets by with it. ” (Motherfreaker is a Baptist swearword. An Evangelical recently got upset with me because I used a swear word in one of my posts. I am sure you can imagine my response to him. Please see Evangelical Swear Words.) 🙂
Let me circle back around to this idea that God gave me fibromyalgia, gastroparesis, and degenerative spine disease because he is trying to get my attention; that every night I writhe in pain in bed, unable to sleep, my suffering is a message of love from the Christian deity.
What’s with God “trying” to do anything? Is he weak and powerless, unable to do what he wants? If God is not willing that any should perish, how is possible that Bruce Gerencser, a frail, broken-down biped, can thwart God’s will? Surely God can easily and effortlessly reach me at any time. “Nothing is too hard for God” and “with God all things are possible,” the Bible says. Yet, it seems that saving me is too hard for God and that it is impossible for the Big Kahuna to reach me.
If my suffering is God trying to get my attention, does this mean that if I repent and put my faith and trust in Jesus, my chronic pain and illnesses will immediately and magically disappear? Crickets are all I hear from Evangelicals. They know there is no connection between my health problems and God. None. Shit happens, and this is my shit.
I have a three-year-old redheaded grandson named Silas. He’s a handful. Silas has no fear of anything. He must be watched at all times. Our living room is small, 16’x20′. We have three lamps in the room, along with an overhead light. I HATE the overhead light. My grandkids know not to turn the light on when I am in the room. Not Silas. He will run over to the wall switch, give me a look — you know, THAT look — turn on the light, and run off. No matter what I say or do, Silas keeps flipping the switch. Mischief is his middle name, some sort of karmic payback for my own childhood mischief. If my mom were alive, she would be smiling.
Imagine if I determined to teach Silas a lesson about the overhead light. I decided that the next time Silas turned the light on I would break his arm. Boy, that would get his attention, right? This is EXACTLY what Evangelicals are saying when they say that God has afflicted me to get my attention or to teach me a lesson. What, exactly, did I ever do to God to deserve such punishment? Or is God okay with Bruce, the Evangelical-preacher-turned-atheist, and that it is Evangelicals who want to see me suffer? Sadly, many Evangelicals are sadists. Unbelievers have what they can’t have, so they rail against them, uttering threats of suffering, death, and Hell.
If I broke Silas’ arm because he kept turning on the light, I would deserve to be arrested and locked up for my crime. So it is for the Evangelical deity who inflicts suffering on finite beings. If such a deity exists, he is unworthy of our worship.
Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.
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I had a dear friend who died just a few months ago. I can’t think of a more religious woman. She studied the bible every day and neighbors would often see her through the window sitting at her table reading over the bible. She reserved all of Sunday to worship & we weren’t to disturb her with phone calls till nighttime. She said she loved Jesus more than she loved her own family and often shared her beliefs with the rest of us. She also had severe pain, COPD for years where she had to use an oxygen generator, she also had Lymphedema and apparently a heart condition & mental illness in her last years. So if God inflicts people with illness to get their attention why was she inflicted with so much illness and suffering because God already had her attention? Evangelicals need to rethink what they are claiming.
Ange, your comment could not have been more perfect. I fear it will fall on deaf ears, for evangelicals do not listen to reason, but it is perfect.
The idea that pain is God’s way of getting our attention is the key point of C. S. Lewis’s book, The Problem of Pain. He is famous for saying, “We can ignore even pleasure. But pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” But then, years later, when he went through the agony of his wife’s pointless suffering with cancer, he could not bring himself to believe that this was good. His philosophy simply did not work.
John Beverluis writes about Lewis, “Later books such as The Four Loves, Reflections on the Psalms, Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer, and The World’s Last Night and Other Essays bear witness to the remarkable change that had come over Lewis and provide a much needed corrective to his earlier image. The ambitious scope and extrovert manner of the old days is replaced by a smaller-scaled, piecemeal approach, and a noticeable absence of the old triumphalistic tone. The buoyant confidence had gradually given way—first to a subdued and cautious tentativeness and, toward the end, agonized and exploratory groping. By his twilight years, the transformation was so complete that he is all but unrecognizable—hardly the sort of writer to be lionized as ‘the Apostle to the Skeptics.’ ” (https://secularhumanism.org/2022/04/beyond-the-double-bolted-door/)
If God wants you back, it seems to me, it would be far more effective to just talk to you. “Hey Bruce. it’s me God. You turned away, but I really want you to come back.” Or, if he’s mad at you he could yell. “Bruce! You moron! It’s time to stop this foolishness! Here I am!” Why use ambiguous pain and suffering when clear and direct communication works so much better?
Yeah, yeah, I know the answer. It’s because human hearts are hard and we wouldn’t listen. That’s what I was told from the pulpit. Strange then that God used that very method to reach out to so many biblical characters: Abraham, Jacob, Moses, Gideon, most of the prophets, the 12 apostles, Paul,…. It seems like it’s actually a pretty effective strategy for communication.
Hurting someone until they do what you want isn’t love, it’s coercion and duress.
Ange, what you said is spot on. My grandparents are like your friend. Bith were fully engaged in Christian life, and were highly involved in church. They also helped people in the wider community (Christian or not, it didn’t matter). Yet my grandfather suffered painful cancer, and my grandmother suffered from dementia. Their later years were rough. I don’t know what kind of attention their deity needed, but whatever it was surely was cruel.
It’s amazing how unkind these types of Christians are. They are positively hateful. Oh, and re: their references to you going to Hell etc. They are positively gleeful when they tell you that you are going to burn forever. Their religion is devoid of love or compassion.
Why do they consider it meaningful advice but it is considered absurd if I said, “Loki is trying to get your attention!”? Of course I consider both to be equally absurd, but the prevailing religion does seem to get a pass when it shouldn’t.
Aw Jeez, I wouldn’t mind going along with the charade of belief if it could just be sweet Jesus talking from the Mount but its the damned package I detest, the allowance of Satan too and all the sin-sin stew. Its too hard for me as a non-believer to think so little of humankind in evolution and accept all the black-and-white poppycock of the spiritual war between Good and Evil. When I witness all the denial-laddering that is the investment called ‘faith’, I just can’t bear to lose even a Sunday morning to it.
The idea that some deity is trying to get your attention by torturing you, really upsets me. What does that say about the deity? Nothing good at all. But Fundagelicals will argue that their god is “good”, and us heathens simply don’t understand that the definition we use of “good” can’t encompass their unknowable deity. Sorry, Fundagelicals, but English words have definitions, and you lot don’t get to redefine them to make your god look better.
That’s so true, Karen! And along those same lines it is disturbing how most of my Christian friends gleefully insist Revelations is nearing and the end of the world. But I can only think what kind of god would kill an earth full of innocent new babies along with countless “good” people who aren’t Christian, along with all the animals and plants of earth just to spite some evil people? Why doesn’t he/she/they just remove only the evil people whenever one starts causing problems? Most of my friends are hoping for “the end”. Yet I have read where people have been insisting since the year 400A.D. that revelations was about to occur. There is a long list of sects and groups have been preaching doomsday was coming usually every other decade.
Enjoyed the podcast. Smiled at the swear word “motherfreaker.” One of the trainers at my job, when training hospital staff, sometimes swears by saying, “You mother-father!”