Throwback Thursday: You are Going to Hell for that.

Every Thursday, I dig out an old diary and share an entry sans editing (in hopes we’ll all see my grammar and apostrophe use improve) with a short commentary. If you like laughing with/at Young Ashley, feel free to use the handy search bar to the right and simply type “Throwback Thursday” and you’ll find the whole archive. Thanks for reading!

Good news, guys! We’re onto my third journal! And it’s not a Pooh journal! I’m not really sure how I got a hold of this one, but it’s actually not terrible looking. If have to take this to public places, I won’t feel the need to explain to everyone notices it.

Don't be so optimistic, journal. You're still terrible.

Don’t be so optimistic, journal. I’m sure your insides are still terrible.

There’s also this on the first page. Not really sure what I was going for, but whatever. Nice drawing, 12-year old Ashley.

Bald? Gorilla arms? Massive eyes? Must be Zooey Deschanel in a twisted universe.

Bald? Gorilla arms? Massive eyes? What the hell is this supposed to be? 

Anyway, I decided to call this one Libby. I don’t journal too much these days, and I think it’s because I have a close friend to talk to about things. Also, I fancied myself a bit of a young, alive version of Anne Frank. 

Thursday April 20, 2000

Dear Libby, 

My gosh I wanna cry. I saw Godspell with Kali, and it was so heart softening. It’s about how it would be it God had walked the earth today instead of 2000 years ago. I don’t want to tell you about the begining, it’s too long. But the end, omigosh, it was so sad. The guy who plays Jesus (Ben, he’s the pastor’s son, but sort of a QT) prayed to his father in heaven when everyone else fell asleep. And when one of his friends came rushing in with men to get him and tie him to a 3’x4″ board of wood, there was a sense of urgency. With Ben crying in fake pain, Kali and I sat there, tears in our eyes, we watched as the men dragged him to the stage to be put on a real cross. He acted so well, all while people pretended to put fake nails in his wrists. Then he sang out in his soothing voice, “God, I am dying…” Then, “God, I am dead…” And he hung his head, which gave the illusion the life was gone from his body. The people took his body and held it high and walked out thru the audience to the doors. After about two minutes of watching the people mourn over his death, (oh yeah, b4 he was wearing a superman t-shirt.) he walked up to the stage in a clean white suit, giving everybody the reassurance that God’s always with you. Ben was singing, “Prepare ye the way of the Lord…” And oh the words still murmer in my  mind. 

It’s strange, over the period of 3 weeks, I’ve been exposed to the story of Jesus’s death twice, and both, my eyes got all watery. I think it’s a sign to something, but what? 

I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say it’s a sign that you saw a theatrical production that was a bit heavy on the pathos.

Wut.

Wut.

I think it’s dangerous to introduce religious concepts to children before they develop critical thinking skills. When you’re an impressionable child, you don’t understand rhetorical techniques. You don’t understand how sounds, colors, lights, words, melodies, and key changes can combine to manipulate your emotions to sway you. It’s clear that even though I knew the things in front of me weren’t real, I was still moved by the production. In that sense, you could say it was a great play.

And I would be okay if it stopped there, but it doesn’t. It pulls you further to feel that guilt. It’s YOUR sins that are piercing his wrists. It’s YOUR sins that are driving that crown of thorns on his head. It’s YOUR sins that have lashed his back. YOU crucified him by being exactly what he created you to be: a human who is foolish and selfish. If you’re like the majority of the population, you haven’t done anything so terribly offensive to warrant this sort of punishment. It stands to reason that if Jesus hadn’t died, we’d have to endure hell, right?

One of the Sunday school lessons that has been fused into memory was one that illustrated the severity of sins. We were asked which was worse: “Killing another person or lying? Taking the lord’s name in vain or disobeying your parents? Being envious of your friend’s toy or not resting on Sunday?” Because we were children and were faced with a dichotomy, we picked one or the other. Some of them seemed arbitrary, but I remember working with my group to come up with an answer. When we were done, we presented our answers and PSYCH! No matter what we answered, we were wrong.

“Each sin is the same in God’s eyes. Whether you lie or say his name in vain, whether you kill someone or are jealous, a sin is a sin,” the teacher told us. “But the good news is that Jesus died for all of your sins because he loved you. All you have to do is accept it.”

Give that message to a child too early, and she’ll spend a great deal of time anxiously determining how terrible she is. I had been jealous of my friends’ toys and sometimes I lied to my mother about cleaning my room. And since I never knew if I had truly accepted Jesus into my heart (I accepted him roughly 23 times between the ages of seven and 18), I was constantly in fear of burning forever because I didn’t know if I was doing it right.

I’m sure there’s a argument with twelve talking points about how mistaken I am, and that my real issue is that I just don’t know Jesus. If I knew him, I would understand these things. And maybe this will make some of my family sad: I once had that faith, and now I don’t. What happened to me? 

 That is the definition of faith – acceptance of that which we imagine to be true, that we cannot prove.   – Dan Brown

I don’t have faith in God anymore. I’m just no longer willing to accept something for which I’m unable to find compelling evidence. While it’s nice to think of someone who will guide me to what I need to do, but I’m more willing to to believe in my own ability to change my circumstances and figure it out from there. If I’m unhappy with some aspect of my life, I’m the one who has to make the changes. Praying is not going to give me a promotion or raise: working hard and being innovative will. Praying is not going to cure my occasional bouts of depression: fresh air, good books, and quality time with friends will. Why credit this guy with changing my life when I’m the one who put in the legwork?

This isn’t my usual Throwback Thursday. It took a quick and hard turn to the serious, but that’s how these things go. I don’t have much of a message for Young Ashley this week. Just keep your chin up and don’t be so melodramatic. Also, QT? B4? You’re writing English, not Bingo coordinates.