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Personal Paths To Humanism

by Gladman C. Humbles

Following is the third essay of a series on how various persons have grown toward unbelief. Submissions are welcome. The preferred length is 750-1200 words. Essays may be sent to: Editor, AAH EXAMINER, P.O. Box 664, Buffalo, New York, 14226-0664.

I am a freethinker capable of capturing and controlling my own thoughts. My mind is open to change based on a theory that is logical, rational, reasonable or proven.

I am not a crusader, cause champion or crowd pleaser. While I have personally placed religion outside the realm of my life, I am not a Christian castigator. People should have the right to believe in whatever they choose, or to not believe at all. Why does one have to believe in a divine power rather than believe in the power of the person?

The decision to publish my experiences and thoughts was delayed out of fear - fear that the Christian community would ostracize, pressure or proselytize. A bible-believing Black Christian is the most acceptable and comforting Afro-American to the American majority.

Thinking it out for yourself makes you "different." My decision to be different is based on my strong personality. I am not unselfish, obedient, unworthy or meek, and I have one hell of an ego! I am compassionate and willing to extend my hand to help humanity within my capabilities.

I want to convince cliffhangers to capture the courage to come down to earth and live a full, productive life in harmony with this planet. My complete concern is the direction of life and the survival of humankind on this planet.

The paranormal has always prodded me to ponder and probe phenomena that seemed incomprehensible. Curiosity, inquisitiveness and rebelliousness have always been dominant in my personality. Santa's ability to traverse the universe and crawl through the chimneys of the world in one night was a bit much for my young mind to handle. My parents were probed and pressured into sacking Santa and satisfying me with sane, sensible answers.

My move from the religious realm was motivated by experiencing personal tragedy and thought-provoking mental battles within my mind. There were three major problems:

  1. Coerced church attendance as a child and young adult while living with a relative. There was no choice. Forcing me to conform always stirred my rebellious spirit.
  2. A mother who died at 44 who was hooked on prayer and "faith-healing" rather than proven medical methods.
  3. A son who fell under the spell of a charlatan charmer. The charmer lived a kingly earthly life while his flock floundered in poverty, awaiting their "kingdom" in heaven.

My mental battles were won after a study of history, personal experiences and observations. Following were some of my thoughts:

  1. Slavery was scripturally justified. Why slaves adopted the religion of savage slavemasters who treated animals better than their slaves is beyond comprehension.
  2. Caucasian Christians collectively have never accepted Afro-Americans as equals - and never will.
  3. How much wealth would Afro-Americans own if church contributions had been placed in General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler stock?
  4. A caring Christian father would never let one of his children go hungry at a table of plenty. Our all-good, all-caring and all-powerful heavenly father allows millions of the world's children to go hungry every night. Thousands of African children die daily after slow, steadfast, sorrowful suffering. Their only sin was being born. What is the rationale? Are poverty-stricken children his children, or did God go to sleep?
  5. Job suffered severely as a test of faith according to the bible. Job is often quoted as a measure of how strong and lasting one's faith is. An all-knowing God allows those he knows are going to be faithful and remain loyal to the end to suffer the same fate as agnostics and atheists. It would seem logical to take the faithful to heaven before the suffering starts. "God knows best" is the answer I have always been given when there is no logical explanation.
  6. Why would God entrust his message to Matthew, Mark, Luke and John? These were obscure men who wrote the gospels of Jesus Christ many years after his death. They have no recorded history or biography. The people are asked to "take it on the trust" of four men who say they were divinely inspired. If you take my message meaningfully, you should demand proof of my statements of fact, question my convictions with logic and make up your own mind which direction you desire to travel.
  7. My mind belongs to me. Whatever decisions I make, good or bad, my decisions are my own. I am not about to give credit to some unseen spirit for motivating my mind. I will take credit for the good decisions and full responsibility for bad ones. Sooner or later, church-going Christians are going to leave their minds at home. If God told the preacher what to tell you, you must accept it completely, reject it, reject part of it and/or read your bible for yourself. If you comprehend differently, you must stay in your church in a frustrated state, find a new church or start one.
  8. The childlike mentality of being told when to sit, stand, sing and raise hands to answer simple questions is reminiscent of kindergarten. What logic is there in a ritual that reduces an adult's mentality to childlike thinking, except to limit and restrict one's ability to think for oneself and to make one obey without question?
  9. Why are Christians commanded to go out and compel people to come to Christ? After nearly 2000 years of mass indoctrination it seems rational that the people would be banging on doors of overcrowded churches asking God to let them in.
  10. The bible has been used by some to promote brotherhood and by others to promote bigotry. How can two such diametrically opposed ideas be interpreted to such extremes from a book that is supposed to tell us clearly how to live?

In conclusion, challenging changes and conditions on earth are at times frustrating, exciting, painful, pleasurable, ravaging, rapturous. I would not have it any other way. I do not want to be happy all of the time, nor do I desire to be loved by everyone. For me, living as some blissful spirit for eternity would be a duller existence than being in the other place.

And why should one be concerned with how it all began? I do not know how it all began and I don't care. I am here, you are here. Why can't we learn to think differently, look differently, live differently and live in harmony with humankind and nature, making the best of it on this planet?

Gladman Humbles was the first Black firefighter in Paducah, Kentucky, and the first Black president of the international firefighter's union. He has received two awards for outstanding leadership as the president of the Paducah NAACP. He has performed as a magician and has written several newspaper articles.

[*] AAH Examiner Selected Articles


This page was last updated 02/13/2004

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