THE THINGS WE USED TO BELIEVE – Herman Carstens

Like childhood photographs, the things we used to believe remind us of who we are and how we got here. I asked some friends to join me in listing a few things that we don’t believe anymore.

That chewing gum is made from black peoples’ snot

Being myself is having a dark side

Work is a curse

Your religion / faith is a lifestyle choice, like which sports team you support

That heaven is somewhere above the clouds, and hell under the earth

I used to thinking that loving someone means never having to confront them about their failings. It turned out love is also confrontational.

That God is mad at everyone

Manliness involves watching sport / drinking beer / swearing / staring at women / having big muscles

That certain sins are beneath me

That black people are dumber than white people

God chose one specific man for me, and that he’s out there, and I must find him

In art, the darker the better

Married people are unhappy

That we are to change other peoples’ behaviour

You could literally move mountains if only you had enough faith

That if God didn’t listen to your prayers, it is because you didn’t ratchet up enough faith

Desire is evil

Finding your calling means being happy or feeling fulfilled in that calling all the time

I used to believe that the bible had to be infallible in order for it to have been inspired by God, which turned out to be the same thing as believing that people had to be perfect before God could use them.

War is cool

Being righteous or even perfect is the same as loving God.

That hell is forever, which is to say I used to believe that God’s redemption was somehow always doomed to be incomplete. I used to think God’s wrath outlasted his love.

Christian books are all like Joyce Meyer’s

That women are crazy

That the Old Testament is irrelevant, and that you only need to read the New Testament

That women can understand men, but men can’t understand women

I used to believe that my commitment to others would be enough to determine or even control their commitments to me.

You can listen to angry music and it won’t affect you

That if you didn’t say “in Jesus’ name” and the end of a prayer, it wouldn’t be granted

Carpe Diem would lead to happiness

That I control my own destiny

I could be a better person if only I tried harder

Jesus never joked

That holy people make you feel inferior

That Paul’s letters are successive editions of a book entitled “what I basically think about God, Jesus and the gospel” (with apology, N.T. Wright)

I used to think that terrible things wouldn’t happen to those who were faithful to God.

Or that illness and death only happened to other people / families

That there are two gods in the Bible: The OT God, and the NT God

That if you use certain words, God will listen to you

Dinosaurs were made by Satan when God gave him the earth for a period of time to “play” with

That the Bible condones slavery

Humility means to think less of yourself

You could only talk to God once you sorted your life out

That you would lose your faith if you read too much theology / philosophy

That the Bible condones polygamy

God created the world, and has now left it alone to run its course

That finding “the meaning of life” is a joke

I used to believe that happiness was the most important thing to strive for in life.

I used to believe that my self-worth was determined by my dedication to my work.

One day, all my dreams would come true

That cynicism is wisdom, optimism is naive, and that happiness is therefore temporary, and should make one melancholic

That Jesus is a softie and allowed people to walk over him

That to be a Christian is to be boring (or that life loses its enchantment)

If you think of certain sins committed in the past, you remind God of them, and have to ask for forgiveness all over again

That university is the best years of your life

The Bible tells men to rule over women

That people in the Old Testament were primitive

Schadenfreude is funny

That there’s more for me overseas

That I could get up tomorrow and do everything right

You could only worship God when you are happy

That you still have to make sacrifices / punish yourself for doing things wrong

That I understood perfectly what the Bible is about

Heavy drinking was a phase that some of my friends would outgrow

People with university degrees are smarter than others

I used think it was wrong to doubt.

I used to believe that I am in absolute control of what I think.

That the point of believing in Jesus was going to heaven

If I could get what I want, I would be happy

That I would only have to learn certain lessons once

That “test all and hold on to what is good” meant that you could do things you knew were wrong

You can’t know what certain Bible verses mean

The rapture

Men don’t belong in the kitchen

That you could cut a deal with Jesus: that if I gave up chocolate, God would make my high-school crush my boyfriend

An earring in your left ear means you’re gay

You’ll meet your wife at University and marry soon after

God is dissatisfied with me

Only missionaries and pastors are doing God’s will

Everyone believes in evolution

AIDS is only a problem in black cultures

Altruism doesn’t exist

That a Christian’s art should always be squeaky clean

If you leave the Bible open, Jesus will literally speak to you

If you close your eyes and rub them, or blur them out of focus, the spots you see are angels / the spiritual realm

Horror movies do no damage / commercials do no damage

Once you give your heart to Jesus, he loses interest in you

Christian music always expresses truth

Herman blogs at standard-deviations.com

[My dad told me that] Whiskey is the stuff they used to wash galley slaves’ feet, until someone started drinking it