Tag Archive: Thankfulness

Don’t Thank God, Thank Me

tnt good behaviorMy wife and I have thoroughly enjoyed watching the TNT show, Good Behavior, starring Michelle Dockery as Letty Raines and Juan Diego Botto as Javier Pereira. It took us awhile to get used to Dockery’s drug-using, booze-swilling, criminal character. Dockery played the prim and proper Lady Mary Crawley on Downton Abbey, so playing Letty Raines was a huge departure from her previous role. As far as Botto is concerned, Polly would like to run off with him to the Bahamas.

During one of the recent Good Behavior episodes, Letty helps a recently separated woman break into her estranged husband’s home so she could reclaim her belongings. Letty used her criminal lock-picking skills to easily gain access to the home. The woman, amazed by Letty’s “skills,” thanked God for the opened door. Letty replied, Don’t thank God, thank me!

Tens of millions of Americans go through life thanking the Christian God for the good that comes their way. In their minds, goodness flows from God’s hands, not man’s, and all the praise, honor, and glory belong to him. Have you ever spent significant time helping someone, only to have them dismiss your labor with a big THANK YOU, GOD? As a Christian, I knew that I mustn’t ever take credit for my good works. Doing so was prideful. According to the Bible, I was a loathsome, vile, worthless human being, and without God in my life, I lacked meaning, purpose, and direction. The Bible also told me that even after I was saved/born-again/redeemed, the only reason for the good in my life was Jesus. If it wasn’t for the precious, awesome blood of Jesus, my life would have no value. Jesus was my go-between, standing between an angry, vengeful God and the saved sinner Bruce Gerencser. If Jesus ever stood aside, his Father would crush me and throw my sorry ass in hell.

praise god good weatherSunday after Sunday, Evangelicals gather together to prostrate themselves before a narcissistic God and thank him for his awesomeness (in many ways, this God is like Donald Trump). Worship songs are sung in masturbatory fashion, repeatedly praising God for his goodness. Testimonies, given by Christians, praise and thank Jesus for every good thing that has happened in their lives, right down to them f-i-n-a-l-l-y having a bowel movement. Think I am kidding? You need to spend time listening to praise and testimony time at the local Baptist church. The minutest details of goodness are ascribed to God. Never mind that you drank two glasses of fiber drink and swallowed four Dulcolax tablets. It was God, not the drink and tablets that caused your BM. Silly? Sure, but this illustrates the absurdity of the notion that every good thing comes from the Christian God.

Former Christians often were brought to unbelief by daring to question whether God really was materially involved in their lives. I know for me personally, one of the reasons for my deconversion was the fact that almost all the answered prayers I attributed to God were explainable by purely human means. And the handful of events that couldn’t be explained this way? These were not enough to keep me believing. As I scanned the history of my life, I concluded that virtually every event and circumstance — good, bad, and indifferent — could be traced back to myself or some other human.

Christians often thank God when their health problems are made better. Praise Jesus! God healed me, countless Evangelicals have said, never considering whether such claims are true. Most of the physical healing in the world today comes not from the hands of God. It is doctors, nurses, medical technicians, medications, and life-saving procedures which should be thanked. Think about your last surgery. Is there any reason to give God credit for its success? What did God do to warrant such praise?

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I am a big believer in giving credit to whom credit is due. That’s the point Letty Raines was making when she said, Don’t thank God, thank me! While it is certainly proper for all of us to have humility, there’s nothing wrong with us expecting to be thanked when we help others. Polly loves to cook. She will spend hours preparing scrumptious family meals. Imagine if no one ever thanked her for her labors. Imagine if we thanked Jesus for the meal instead of Polly. Why, I suspect that the next Thanksgiving meal will feature Banquet turkey dinners and no pie.

Think, for a moment, about all the good that has come your way this past week. Was it God who did these things for you? Of course not. It was your spouse, children, friends, or other human beings. Everything that happens in our lives can be traced back to hands that can be easily seen.  There’s no need for any of us to say, Thank you, God. Instead, thank those who did well by you. Be grateful for the labor and kindness. As we traverse the plain of life, let’s give credit to whom credit is due. Thank you to everyone who helped this week to make my life better. And God, if you are reading this post, please know if you ever really do something good, something that alone can be attributed to you, you can bet your last dollar that I will say, to you, THANKS!

About Bruce Gerencser

Bruce Gerencser, 60, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 39 years. He and his wife have six grown children and eleven 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. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.

Bruce is a local photography business owner, operating Defiance County Photo out of his home. If you live in Northwest Ohio and would like to hire Bruce, please email him.

Thank you for reading this post. Please share your thoughts in the comment section. If you are a first-time commenter, please read the commenting policy before wowing readers with your words. All first-time comments are moderated. If you would like to contact Bruce directly, please use the contact form to do so.

Donations are always appreciated. Donations on a monthly basis can be made through Patreon. One-time donations can be made through PayPal.

Blessed, Thankful, and Grateful: Three Words I Refuse to Surrender to Christians

god is my strengthEvangelicals use all sorts of words to describe various aspects of their religion; words such as saved, faith, salvation, grace, redemption, and spirit, to name a few. When unbelievers use these words in other than Evangelical ways, Christians object, saying that these words are theirs; that they have specific meanings and no other meanings are permitted. Never mind what the dictionary says. These words must always be defined according to Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance.

Blessed, thankful, and grateful are three words that Evangelicals think belong only to them. However, I refuse to surrender these words to Fundamentalists. Every day, I am blessed, thankful, and grateful to be alive. I am blessed to be married to Polly, and I am double-blessed to have six wonderful children and eleven grandchildren. I am grateful my car started today, despite below-zero temperatures. I am thankful that I can still coherently and thoughtfully write for this blog. Every day I am above ground, I have much to be thankful for, all without the need of mentioning the name of the Christian God.

Therein lies the problem for Evangelicals. They cannot conceive a life of thankfulness and gratefulness without God. Why does the use of these words require a deity? Unlike the Alabama and Georgia football players last night who repeatedly gave God credit for their wins, I choose to express thankfulness and gratefulness to the people who actually do the work. When I sat down today to each a lunch of pork chops, roasted red potatoes, and Brussel sprouts, I didn’t bow my head and thank Jesus for the food. I thanked Polly, the person who labored in the kitchen to prepare this scrumptious meal. The car Polly takes to work wouldn’t start today, resulting in me doing a fair bit of cussing and complaining. Once I got that out of my system, Polly contacted our mechanic son and asked if he could get a battery and install it for us. He gladly said yes, even though at that moment he had four cars up on lifts at the shop and had been installing new batteries all day long. After working ten hours, our son came to our house and by flashlight installed a new battery. I am grateful that he had the skill and time to do it. Who did I thank for our son’s labor? The Christian God? Of course not. He’s never fixed a car for me — ever. I thanked Jaime for taking care of the old folks. He did the work and he alone deserves the praise.

When I use the word blessed, I don’t mean it the same way Evangelicals do. Christians wrongly think that all blessing comes from God. Countless Evangelicals grew up singing The Doxology:

Praise God, from whom all blessings flow; Praise Him, all creatures here below; Praise Him above, ye heavenly host; Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Amen.

Told over and over that all blessings come from the God who supposedly has the whole world and itty, bitty babies in his hands, Evangelicals become confused when atheists such as myself tell them to have a blessed day or a blessed New Year. They often ask me blessed by whom. I reply that I used the word “blessed” to mean good or happy and that goodness and happiness do not require a God. Billions of good people walk the face of this earth who don’t know or worship the Evangelical God. Billions more live lives filled with love, joy, peace, and happiness, all without giving a tip of the cap to God.

Of course, Evangelicals turn to the Bible for proof that everything we have in life comes from the hands of the Christian God. Verse after verse tells them that it is God who gives the strength and ability to do what they do in life, and that without God they can do n-o-t-h-i-n-g. Of course, when a snarky atheist such as myself says, fine and asks does this mean that God is also responsible for all the bad that happens in the world? Evangelicals are quick to say, oh no, it is we humans who are totally responsible for bad behaviors — thus showing the inconsistency of their worldview.

We humans are responsible for most of what happens on planet earth. Good things and bad things alike flow from our minds and hands. Sure, there’s not much we can do about the weather, but outside of that we (or other humans) are pretty much in control of what happens in our lives. There’s no need for any of us to invoke the name of God. Give credit to whom credit is due, and do the same with blame. My children will tell you that one of the things I drilled into their heads was personal responsibility. YOU are responsible for your behavior. It is YOU who are in control of your actions.  My grandchildren are now “blessed” to get this same instruction from their grandfather. When one of them says, I can’t find my shoe/sock/coat/barrette/toy, they know I am going to say, who had it last? 

I hope you have been blessed by what I have written in this post. If you have, please express gratitude or thankfulness to whomever wrote it. If you think God typed this post, by all means, thank him. If, however, you are a person of reason and common sense, feel to thank the author and finisher of this awesome piece of prose — yours trulythe Pope of Ney, Ohio.

I hope each of you have a blessed day. Thank you for taking the time to read this post. I am grateful for your continued support. And just think, I wrote those three sentences sans God. I can’t think of one thing I have done today that required God. Blasphemy? Yep! My New Year’s resolution? Blaspheme more, giving all praise, honor, and glory to the gods of skepticism and reason.

About Bruce Gerencser

Bruce Gerencser, 60, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 39 years. He and his wife have six grown children and eleven 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. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.

Bruce is a local photography business owner, operating Defiance County Photo out of his home. If you live in Northwest Ohio and would like to hire Bruce, please email him.

Thank you for reading this post. Please share your thoughts in the comment section. If you are a first-time commenter, please read the commenting policy before wowing readers with your words. All first-time comments are moderated. If you would like to contact Bruce directly, please use the contact form to do so.

Donations are always appreciated. Donations on a monthly basis can be made through Patreon. One-time donations can be made through PayPal.

Thanksgiving: Giving Credit to Whom Credit is Due

atheist-thanksgiving

Comic by SMBC

This is the time of year when Evangelicals spend significant amounts of time fawning and prostrating themselves before their God, thanking him for all that is good in their life. They go to great lengths to make themselves feel insignificant — little more than worms. I am nothing, you are everything, weeping Evangelicals say to their God. It’s all about you Jesus! For Evangelicals, life is all about God. He alone is worthy of praise, honor, and glory. Every bit of good that comes their way is due to Jesus. After all, the Bible says that without God Evangelicals can do nothing. The Bible also says that God gives Evangelicals the very breath they breathe and the ability to walk. Simply put, God is EVERYTHING!

The sum of Evangelical existence is to worship, praise, adore, and serve God. If they do so, their God promises to give them an eternal home in the sweet by and by after death. And what will they do in heaven for ten billion years? Why, they will worship, praise, adore, and serve their God. In other words, a narcissistic deity demands absolute fealty if Evangelicals hope to escape eternal torture in the flames of the Lake of Fire. Worship me or burn seems to be what the Evangelical God is saying. Is it any wonder that the majority of the human race rejects this God, and that the fastest growing American religious demographic is that of those who are atheists, agnostics, secularists, and those who are indifferent to organized religion. Who would want to serve a God who demands his servants give every waking moment to him. I know I don’t.

No one will argue the fact that Christians in general and Evangelicals in particular do many good things. The problem is that they are not allowed to accept praise from their fellow humans. How often have you thanked an Evangelical for doing good, only to have them say to you, give all the praise to Jesus! He is the only reason I can do anything good. Those of us raised in Evangelicalism know the drill. Someone says something nice to you, perhaps thanking you for helping them or giving something to them. Godly humility requires you to bow your head downward, staring at the floor while you tell them that it is Jesus they ought to be thanking, for he alone is the one doing good works through them. Is it any wonder that many Evangelicals have low self-esteem? How could it be otherwise. It should surprise no one that spending a lifetime being told that your life is nothing without Jesus and that — in and of yourself, you have no power to do good things — leads to Evangelicals thinking poorly of themselves. Sunday after Sunday, their pastors remind them that they should make much of Jesus, that life is all about him; that history is HIS-story. Remember the J-O-Y acronym? Jesus first, others second, yourself last. In many churches, the acronym goes something like this: Jesus first, others second, and you don’t matter.

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Rarely do Evangelicals ponder the question of whether their thankfulness is misplaced. The Bible explicitly teaches that all praise and honor belong to God. As with many things the Bible says, Evangelicals accept this claim without further investigation. Why should anyone give praise and honor to the Evangelical God? What has he done for me, for you, for anyone? The fact is, if Evangelicals are willing to carefully examine their lives they will find out that their God hasn’t done jack-shit for them.

Several years ago, I decided to carefully examine all the prayers that I said God answered for me when I was an Evangelical pastor. I found that almost every answered prayer could be attributed to human intervention. I was left with a handful of “answered” prayers for which I could find no human connection. Now, this does not mean that God answered these prayers, it just means that I was unable to find who was behind answering my petition. I can think of several instances where I received money anonymously in the mail. Does this mean that God pulled some greenbacks out of his wallet, put them in an envelope, affixed a stamp, and mailed it to my home address? Of course not. A kind human did this, not God.

Look at all the hurt and heartache in the world today. Countless prayers are uttered to God by people starving, homeless, sick, or dying. Their prayers, for the most part, go unanswered. Sometimes their prayers are answered, not by God, but by kind, compassionate human beings. As our planet heaves and groans under the weight of an increasing population, global climate change, war, disease, and political unrest, where is God? Evangelicals are taught to never asked this question. God is on duty 24/7, Evangelical pastors tell congregants. He will never leave you nor forsake you. Yet, by any rational, reasonable estimation, God has indeed done just that. David said in Psalm 37:25: I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread. Is this statement true? Of course not. Everywhere one looks, they see Evangelicals and unbelievers alike forsaken and begging for food. Should we not in Waldo-like fashion ask, where is God?

I am a firm believer in giving credit to whom credit is due. I don’t give credit to a deity because I see no evidence for a God of any sort being involved in our day-to-day lives. On Thursday most of us will celebrate Thanksgiving. Duty-bound Evangelicals will spend time going around the table thanking God for all that he is done. And when everyone is done giving Jesus all the praise, honor, and glory, everyone will bow their heads in prayer as someone thanks God for the food. No one will bother to consider exactly what God did to provide the food they are about to eat. It will be assumed that God did everything.

On Thursday, we will open up our home to twenty-three people — our children, grandchildren, and their significant others. While some of them are religious, none of them is Evangelical. So when it comes time to say thanks, the grateful utterances will go to those who prepared and cooked our meal. Most of that praise will go to my wife Polly. Tomorrow, she and our daughters and daughters-in-law will spend the day making pies. Our daughter Laura will devote Wednesday evening to making dinner rolls. Several of our sons will do the only baking they know how to do — writing a check to help pay for the meal. Polly will get up early on Thursday and put the turkey, ham, and pork roast in the oven. She will have, the night before, brined the turkey, thus making it moist and tender. As our sons arrive, several of them will be asked to get out the folding tables and chairs and put them in the kitchen. One of them will lengthen the dining room table so as many people as possible can sit there. Older grandchildren will wonder if this will be the year they get to sit at the big table. Someone will place the burgundy tablecloth on the table, and then set it with Mamaw Shope’s china. Wineglasses will be removed from the hutch and placed near each plate, as will silverware and linen napkins. Polly will go to the bedroom closet and retrieve several candleholders and candles and place them on the table. She will then light the candles. Now it is time for the meat to be cut and put on serving plates. Polly will likely ask one of our sons to do this. While the meat is being cut, several bottles of wine will be uncorked and taken to the table. Once the meat is carved, the mashed potatoes, Brussels sprouts, corn, sweet potatoes, and rolls will be put in serving bowls and placed on the table. Salt and pepper shakers will be put on each end of the table, along with butter and gravy. And then, finally, the words everyone wants to hear will be said, time to eat!

From start to finish the work that went into Thanksgiving dinner was provided, not by an invisible deity, but by real flesh-and-blood human beings. If I am going to praise anyone for the wonderful meal I will eat on Thanksgiving day, it will be my wife and those who helped her cook the food and desserts. If I wanted to extend my thankfulness further, I would thank my wife’s employer for giving her a job and thank the undocumented workers for harvesting much of the food that we will consume. Everywhere I look, I see, not the hand or foot prints of God, but the hands of a woman who loves to cook and enjoys blessing her children and grandchildren with her culinary skills.

Evangelical readers of this post will likely remind me that none of this would’ve been possible without God. They make such a statement based on the presupposition that their version of God is the one who gives us all things. They assume, without evidence, that God is behind everything. As a nonbeliever, I make no such assumption. I believe what I can see with my own eyes, and what I will see on Thanksgiving Day is a wonderful family pulling together to make the day memorable. It is to them and them alone that I say thanks. And most of all, it is to Polly that I will say thanks.  For without her we would all be eating Thanksgiving dinner at the Golden Corral.

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