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
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