to the nontheists:
i, personally, don't say god bless you as a habit.
only god can bless, and i do not pretend to know what god is, or what he does to whom, for whom, or why.
sometimes, i will respond in kind when someone "blesses" me.
but, like i say, after 50 years as a nontheist (i started following jesus about 2 years ago) it is not a natural instinct.
i know exactly how Jacob and castle feel.
i used to feel exactly the same way.
i understand. i get it.
i was that person.
still am on occasion.
i have cursed my creator and dared him to smite me.
i am ashamed to admit the ungrateful things i have said to and about god.
a large percentage of the 50 songs my band recorded and released were attacks on organized religion.
i was devoted for decades to decadence, detachment, death, and destruction. i was somehow convinced that i was in a position to judge and criticize my creator, his creation, and his creatures (including me).
i denied god and whenever i was forced to acknowledge his existence, i was angry at him.
i despised people who were all smug and righteous about their relationship with the creator.
i was jealous that they were able to deceive themselves into such a state of certainty and contentment.
i saw them as simple minded fools who were willing and able to believe in fairy tales.
i called religion a placebo, not a crutch,
because i considered a crutch a concrete, necessary and useful tool.
placebos were dangerous, because they kept people from real cures.
i didn't need god to be happy, i was happy.
that was my placebo.
i clung to my nontheism with a passion, and began to read the bible so i could find the flaws and continue my attack by using scripture against believers.
boy... did that backfire.
i am a seeker of secrets, and a student of life.
i have read sutras, vedas, unpanishads, ramayana, the qur'an, the bhagavad gita, guru granth sahib, enuma elish, The Secret Teachings of All Ages, Meditations on First Philosophy, mein kampf, das kapital, the wealth of nations, morals and dogma, isis unveiled, egyptian book of the dead, the satanic bible, dianetics, the book of lies, magick in theory and practice, the necronomicon, etc.
i still have all those books, and many more, in my own personal library.
i studied eckankar, theosophy, thelema, baha'i, etc.
i did lsd, pcp, and dmt ritually.
i spent 6 months in the jungles of southeast asia, smoking opium and learning to meditate.
i entered the hermetic order of the golden dawn.
not bragging, but i have spent my entire life searching for proof of absolute truth and fixed morals,
or else proof of error and nonexistence.
i had come to conclude that truth and love did not exist.
human concepts of good and evil, wright and rong were relative as time and space.
they were illusions and therefore irrelevant.
the human experience was meaningless and futile, without purpose.
NO RULES. NO MORAL ABSOLUTES.
everything was grey.
it took too much faith to maintain a firm unwavering opinion that the universe was not the result of intelligent design,
so i gravitated toward thinking that the creator, if any, was cruel and sadistic or uncaring and indifferent.
not worthy of worship or gratitude or simply impossible to contact. i called it antitheism.
anyway, my experience with the bible has been a complete transformation.
just from absorbing the wisdom in that book,
i have improved my mental and emotional and spiritual health so completely and continuously,
people who have known me all my life do not recognize me.
i am happy. i love people. i love myself.
that all happened without my desire, knowledge, permission or cooperation.
when i realized how much better i was getting,
then i began to give god permission.
the transformation continued, it increased, it accelerated.
after 2 solid years, i am beginning to think this new personality might be real and permanent.
it feels real.
it is better than any drug or ritual i have tried.
it is better than the pleasures of sex.
it is better than "getting my own way".
it is better than "getting what i want".
spirituality is a subjective science.
if i get specific results from exact procedures (rituals),
and those results are the same every time i repeat the experiment... that is good enough "empirical evidence" for me.
these are my own personal experiences and opinions.
each individual must come to their own conclusion independently or it has no value whatsoever.
each individual must make their own decisions independently for the same reason.
each person must build their faith on firm foundation.
would you build a house on someone else's foundation without first confirming the integrity of it's construction?
i learned in the occult that magick is the art of bending the universe of matter to your own free will.
i also learned that there is a law of spiritual non-interference.
if you use your free will to dominate or manipulate others, especially without their consent or knowledge,
you are practicing "black" magic. it is forbidden.
any damage done to the subject will come back on the dealer, compounded with interest.
even they know you cannot change people spiritually, and meddling only produces negative results.
you can control the mind, the body, but never the soul.
i could not convert anyone, even if i tried.
we all know it doesn't work that way.
so all you nontheists have nothing to fear from me.
i can't change you, even if i tried.
to all theists:
Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.
Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca, (contempt)’ is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.
But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also.
But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.
“Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”
He also told them this parable: “Can the blind lead the blind? Will they not both fall into a pit?
The student is not above the teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like their teacher.
“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?
How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.
and last but not least...
“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.
Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord.
there you have it...
should you choose to accept it.
all i have to do now is accomplish it.