My imaginary friend

mrbeanteddy.jpgHi. I’d like to tell you about my imaginary friend. He’s very nice, very caring and very loving. When I feel lonely or scared I talk to him and I can feel him warming my insides and hugging me. When I feel small and weak he gives me strength. Sometimes I do things he doesn’t really like, but when I’m sorry he just says it’s all better and not to worry. What a lovely friend I have. He especially likes it when I sing songs to him. My imaginary friend is so nice that I just want everyone else to know him the way I do.

I learnt all about my imaginary friend from this very old book I read. Some of the bits in this book are not very nice and don’t sound like my friend at all, so I just skip over those bits. But the nice bits really are very, very nice. All that love! Love here, love there, love everywhere! Lovely!

Some people get angry because they don’t know my imaginary friend the way I do. Some of them even say he’s just a “transference of my ideal” whatever that silly term might mean. Of course the real reason is their hearts are hard and unbelieving. But never mind, I’ll ask my imaginary friend to help them so that one day they will be happy and loving like me.

Some people say that the very old book I read says that my imaginary friend will do some very nasty things to people that don’t love him like I do, but my imaginary friend is just too big for my little mind to understand, so I’m sure he will sort it all out. When I talk to others about my imaginary friend, I don’t really mention the nasty side of my friend too much – no point in scaring people needlessly I say.

Amazingly, I know other people who have an imaginary friend very similar to mine, so we meet together and “collectively reinforce our model”. Not sure what that means, but I’m sure it’s good. When we meet, we all make sure that we have the same ideas about our imaginary friend. It just upsets everyone if someone starts talking about something different so we really discourage that sort of thing. Cloneliness is next to godliness.

Oh how I love my imaginary friend. He’s everything I could ever wish or dream for!

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  1. October 24, 2007 at 11:36 pm | #1

    I hate being made fun of……

  2. October 25, 2007 at 12:28 am | #2

    Perspective is everything, isn’t it?

  3. October 25, 2007 at 12:54 am | #3

    It’s actually the broad brush stroke that is used that is most frustrating. There’s just enough of my belief in Jon’s statement that makes it about me, but it also misrepresents me in so many ways as well.

    Very patronizing, and juvenile actually. I fear the day when my kids come home from elementary school talking about the bully on the playground.

  4. October 25, 2007 at 5:01 am | #4

    Wow! I wasn’t bothered by this.

    I really liked this sentence: Cloneliness is next to godliness.

  5. October 25, 2007 at 6:22 am | #5

    Have you ever considered that your *experience* of your imaginary friend may be real but the story you built around him may be imaginary?

  6. October 25, 2007 at 7:31 am | #6

    Doug,
    I regret that you have taken this post personally. This was not my intention, as this post is an idea I have been thinking over for quite a while now and was not written in reaction to you in particular. However, I will agree that it’s tone is patroninizing and juvenile. This is intentional as the view of God that it expresses is also patroninizing and juvenile.
    When I compare the God I read about in the bible (all of the bible) with, for example, the God I used to sing about every Sunday morning, I can only come to the conclusion that one of the two has to be imaginary, because they sure aren’t the same! All the songs sing about this wonderful loving God, yet in the Bible I read about a God who strikes people dead and murders countless thousands through floods, earthquakes, plagues and the like. How come none of the songs ever mention this God? I can only conclude that the current form of Christianity that I have experienced is little more than a fabrication of wishful thinking loosly based on some of the things Jesus may have said. I’m not happy with that.
    Jon

  7. October 25, 2007 at 7:32 am | #7

    Secret SImon,
    “Have you ever considered that your *experience* of your imaginary friend may be real but the story you built around him may be imaginary?”

    In that case, how could I ever tell the difference? :-)

    Jon

  8. October 25, 2007 at 11:28 am | #8

    Your right Jon. I’m wrong. From now on I’m in complete control of everything I do. I don’t need a faith in anything other than myself, because I’m smarter than that. I believe only what I understand and what I can explain. No need for anything else. I’ll base the things I do and say on what feels good and loving at the time.

    You’re right. I am happier………

  9. October 25, 2007 at 4:29 pm | #9

    Cool, very funny and witty representation. In fact, it’s pretty accurate albeit one that could be misunderstood. :) way to go Jon.

  10. Dan
    October 27, 2007 at 12:51 am | #10

    Jon,

    In all of your writings you separate “The God of the Bible” from “your experience with Christianity.” That is where I don’t understand your logic. How does your experience with Christianity and other Christians make God more or less real?

    I have been reading you’re blog for a few weeks now and I have to ask you: Why have you allowed other people to change your faith? It seems that other people and their actions have put you on this “post Christian journey” rather than your faith and your belief in God. I am truly sorry to hear the hurt and pain that you experienced. And I can see how that would cause bitterness, anger, resentment, and all of the emotions you went through. But in your 40 years of being a christian, were there no experiences w/ God that were your own? Did God not reveal himself to you in a very real and personal way so that you had developed your own solid personal faith? In your study of the bible, were there no biblical truths that became the cornerstone of your faith?

    I find it hard to believe that someone of your intellect could have his entire faith and relationship with God shattered and destroyed by the actions of men.

    Jon – I have to challenge you – where is YOUR responsibility in this? What are the the truths about Christianity that brought you there in the first place? Did those truths change?

    There are absolutes in this world. One of them is that there are consequences for our actions. If my child touches a hot stove, she will feel pain. In the adult world, there are consequences as well. We may not like them or even want to acknowledge them, but it doesn’t make them any less real.

    Another absolute is that God so loved the world that he sent His son. Another is that Jesus did live in this world and he did die. And for you to now refer to him as an “imaginary friend” is not only blasphemus, but a complete mockery of the very faith that you claim to have had for 40 years.

    One thing that I have had to learn on my own journey, is that man will disappoint. Other people will always disappoint us: our spouses, our children, our friends, and, unfortunately, christians. But that is why our faith does not lie in the goodness of man.

    One last point. There is a subtle implication in your (and other people who respond to your posts) writings that if one is smart enough, and one reads enough books, eventually one will grow (intellectually) out of their christianity, as you have. And it is us silly, mindless people who still hold on to those immature, naive, elementary beliefs, and still believe in God. I’m wondering how you can explain how some of the Christian thinkers and intellectuals such as C.S. Lewis, Charles Spurgeon, Francis Shaffer, (and others) managed to maintain their faith in God throughout their lives?

  11. preechaman7
    October 27, 2007 at 4:03 am | #11

    Jon,
    This was at first funny then it was a bit disturbing. I guess when I refect on my past “relationship” with Jesus, I become saddened. It now seems that somewhere in the last few years there has been an end of the innocence.
    Why can’t I still believe in Santa Claus or the Tooth Fairy, dammit?!

  12. October 27, 2007 at 10:20 am | #12

    Hi Preech,
    Yes – this post is bittersweet. If people want to believe in Santa or the Tooth Fairy that’s fine. What is not fine is when those same people start saying that unless you believe in their Santa then you don’t have the real Santa, or worse still that if you don’t believe in their Santa you will be eternally punished.
    Jon

  13. preechaman7
    October 29, 2007 at 2:02 am | #13

    Very true!

  14. October 29, 2007 at 10:20 pm | #14

    Dan,

    In all of your writings you separate “The God of the Bible” from “your experience with Christianity.” That is where I don’t understand your logic. How does your experience with Christianity and other Christians make God more or less real?

    >> My experience(s) of God have been numerous and remain very real to me. There are things God has spoken to me years ago that continue to resonate in my thoughts. What I am challenging is who this God who is speaking to me really is. The God of the Hebrew Sciptures? Allah? My own-subconscious? Jesus? The Holy Spirit? Some Hindu God? Zeus? Who? I don’t know. I thought I knew but in fact I don’t. I have no idea at all.

    I have been reading you’re blog for a few weeks now and I have to ask you: Why have you allowed other people to change your faith? It seems that other people and their actions have put you on this “post Christian journey” rather than your faith and your belief in God. I am truly sorry to hear the hurt and pain that you experienced. And I can see how that would cause bitterness, anger, resentment, and all of the emotions you went through. But in your 40 years of being a christian, were there no experiences w/ God that were your own? Did God not reveal himself to you in a very real and personal way so that you had developed your own solid personal faith? In your study of the bible, were there no biblical truths that became the cornerstone of your faith?

    I find it hard to believe that someone of your intellect could have his entire faith and relationship with God shattered and destroyed by the actions of men.

    >> You need to read my page “Why?” I have not left the faith just because I have been bent out of shape by a few christians who have let me down. If that was the case, I would have given up on christianity many many years ago. Read the points in my “Why” page to get an idea of my various gripes.

    Jon – I have to challenge you – where is YOUR responsibility in this? What are the the truths about Christianity that brought you there in the first place? Did those truths change?

    >> My responsibility is to work out my model of reality with integrity and honesty. I cannot and will not pretend to be anything that I am not, or “try” and believe something because that’s what my cultural context dictates.

    There are absolutes in this world. One of them is that there are consequences for our actions. If my child touches a hot stove, she will feel pain. In the adult world, there are consequences as well. We may not like them or even want to acknowledge them, but it doesn’t make them any less real.

    >> Of course.

    Another absolute is that God so loved the world that he sent His son. Another is that Jesus did live in this world and he did die. And for you to now refer to him as an “imaginary friend” is not only blasphemus, but a complete mockery of the very faith that you claim to have had for 40 years.

    >> This is completely subjective, and where we will just have to agree to part company. I have heard this many thousands of times over the years and have always believed it to be true. This is no longer the case. Did a man called Jesus live in Roman-occupied Israle sometime around 0-30AD. Probably – although “he” may have been the conglomeration of several individuals of that time. Was he God’s Son and did He die for my sins? No. Again, for the greater part of my life I believed that the essense of the gospel was that God loves me but sin seperated me from Him, but the good news is that Jesus dies on the cross so I could be forgiven. This is nothing more than a theory called penal substitution, and is a relatively new theory at that, gaining prominence after the reformation. It is vulgar and distasteful. God the Father was so angry with the vileness of the creatures He had suppossedly created in His image that He had his own son murdered to appease his anger. This same god will use his disobedient and unbelieving kids to fuel an eternal bonfire too. Yeah right! This is pure bullshit of the highest order and I refuse to have anything more to do with such idiotic fear-mongering tales.

    One thing that I have had to learn on my own journey, is that man will disappoint. Other people will always disappoint us: our spouses, our children, our friends, and, unfortunately, christians. But that is why our faith does not lie in the goodness of man.

    >> OK, so you admit christians won’t live up to their ideal. Yep – I’ve noticed that too. But if their just like the rest of us, then don’t you dare tell me that they are still so fundamentally different that they will go to heaven and the rest to hell. So what does our faith lie in then … the goodness of God? Er … do you mean that god who drowned the entire planet, had his own son murdered, and who will throw heaps of his kids onto a fire to burn alive. Um .. no thanks. That sounds more like the devil to me. Scare tactics.

    One last point. There is a subtle implication in your (and other people who respond to your posts) writings that if one is smart enough, and one reads enough books, eventually one will grow (intellectually) out of their christianity, as you have. And it is us silly, mindless people who still hold on to those immature, naive, elementary beliefs, and still believe in God. I’m wondering how you can explain how some of the Christian thinkers and intellectuals such as C.S. Lewis, Charles Spurgeon, Francis Shaffer, (and others) managed to maintain their faith in God throughout their lives?

    >> Dan, are you serious? There are very intelligent men and women who are athiests, agnostics, Muslim, Hindus, Christian, you name it. The bible presumptuously labels all people who do not believe in God as fools. I wonder how many other religions dare to do that? The other point you need to face up to is that over the years there has been a considerable range of opinions amongst these “Christian thinkers and intellectuals” over what the key teachings and practices of the christian religion should actually be! I have read enough church history to know this!

  15. Mike
    November 3, 2007 at 7:10 pm | #15

    Hi Jon,
    I got rid of my imaginary Jesus cause he just made me depressed most of the time with with scattered highs. I grew tired of that. I recognized i was stressed from convincing myself of things that i didn’t really believe. After that i left Christianity i believed in Jesus, oddly enough. He doesn’t speak in my imagination like the old one but that doesn’t bother me.

    Great blog!

    -mike

  16. November 5, 2007 at 9:52 am | #16

    Hi Mike,
    Yes, it is odd how our attitude towards Jesus changes once we leave church. I think this is because there is such a pressure to conform while in the church system where “non-standard” thinking is so serverly discouraged. Once “out of the closet”, our minds are free to range wherever and, IMHO, become far more open to really hearing what God is saying to us.
    Jon

  17. Mike
    November 5, 2007 at 2:58 pm | #17

    Jon,
    I think you’re absolutely right. The best thing is to clear our minds of all the stuff we think we learned from church and realize we didn’t really know anything. When we’re free to think clearly and be ourselves is when God can speak to us.

    After my mind was clear enough to think for myself I believed in Jesus for the first time, even though I was a full-fledged bible believing Christian before. It made me treat the people in my life better.

    I can’t relate to Christians now because to me Jesus being the Saviour isn’t a ‘given’ anymore. To me it’s wonderful and amazing, and because of that I don’t fit in. They think it’s a ‘given’ but to me that shows they don’t really believe it. Just like hell, if they really believed almost everyone was going to be punished in eternal hell they’d be going out of their minds.

    -mike

  18. November 6, 2007 at 4:19 pm | #18
  19. November 6, 2007 at 4:47 pm | #19

    Hi Paul,
    Yes, I have read this – lol. I read de-conversion every day! (Everybody else should too) :-)

  20. LeoPardus
    November 7, 2007 at 3:40 am | #20

    I like this. Somewhere I have a story I was writing about about a dad who acts in the same “fatherly” manner as God. Sort of makes the same point as you made here.

    I especially like the picture of Mr Bean and his teddy. :)

  21. November 7, 2007 at 9:36 am | #21

    I love this post. In my younger years, i was a devout christian but education soon changed that. Afterwards, i felt compelled to tell people the truth about christianity — such things as the contradictory nature of the bible, the facts on how the canon was put together, the fact that a great many people even question whether jesus ever lived or not, evolution proof, etc. and you know what? not a shred of what i have said to christians (particularly members of my own family) has had any effect. i wondered for a long time why until i stumbled upon that cartoon with kid saying to a grown-up “aren’t you a little old to be having an imaginary friend?” and them it hit me: the reason the new atheists are just preaching to the choir is that they probably don’t understand the “personal relationship” aspect of modern christianity. so, here is the real question: how does one tackle the “personal jesus” angle to deconvert believers? i think whatever this tactic is, it will be much more effective in deconverting christians than any book on science or facts (i just mean christians don’t listen to facts and science so any talk thereof falls on deaf ears).

  22. November 7, 2007 at 10:29 am | #22

    Hi Q,
    Your comment got tagged as spam fro some reason! I am surprised that you are even interested in deconverting believers – why not just let them be? I agree with you that arguments that appeal to reason and facts are pretty pointless on all sides precisely because we are dealing with things people want to believe to be true, not things that have been demonstrated and proven to be true (this observation is true for christian and non-christian alike). I suspect that in reality each of us simply believe what we want to be true and that’s that. Thanks for your comment.
    Jon

  23. November 7, 2007 at 1:56 pm | #23

    actually, this is a serious question I have for anyone out there. The reason I’m interested in deconverting believers is because believers support a world view which is totally at odds with reality. that would normally be okay but, as I think all can see, belief in God doesn’t just stop at homes and in churches and is left there. no. Religion extends its long fingers throughout the world and causes an inordinate amount of pain and misery. take Iraq, for instance. while terrorist rhetoric is bandied about, it could reasonably be argued, and I think quite effectively, that some aspects of the Iraq war smack of a holy war on the part of Christians. I think a lot of people might find it easier to accept the killing of infidels than they would of Christians (yes, I know that history is littered with Christian on Christian warfare, but nonetheless it is possible that Christian on Islam warfare is an easier bite to swallow). it is hard not to see the obvious religious overtones hanging gloomily over the Iraq war. Nonetheless, people are dying in the name of religion, and have been doing so for millennia, and this simply is not cool. So I would like to have as few people as possible believe in God so that religion can not be used as a rationale to wage war. Furthermore, it would no longer be used as a rationale to subjugate peoples, both physically and mentally (as an example, the black churches of America a focus a great deal on the bee attitudes which suggest that people should not worry about their lot in life now for they will inherit the kingdom of heaven; this is antithetical to self-determination). yes, people will find other ways than religion to cause each other misery, though history shows that religion has often, very often, then at least one factor in human misery. naturally, I could wax on and on about the harmful effects of religion but I won’t; suffice it to say that the consequences of believing in God extend much further than one’s personal belief of whether he or she will go to heaven or not in the afterlife. so, I say again, if anyone knows an effective way, other than science and facts(as crazy as this may sound), to dissuade people from believing in the not only intellectually unsound premises on which religions are based (there is something to be said for having a basic understanding of the world in which we live), but to also steer them away from the natural exclusionary principles of religion (the “us” versus “them” syndrome) which allow people to justify extremely bad behavior. there is much more at stake here than just a question of whether someone believes in an afterlife or not.

  24. November 7, 2007 at 2:00 pm | #24

    I should say this as well: I found this site because I did a search for “Jesus imaginary friend” looking for some kind of understanding of the true nature of the personal relationship with Jesus and hoping that someone might have offered up some valuable information.

  25. November 7, 2007 at 2:48 pm | #25

    Hi Q,
    Wow, that’s quite a mouthful! This site is probably not quite what you are after, as it is really just a vent for me to bleat on a bit about stuff. I would recommend you have a good look at http://www.de-conversion.com. It is a mine of information about every aspect of deconversion that you could possibly think of.
    Just take care that in fighting the dragon you do not become the dragon.
    Jon

  26. November 10, 2007 at 5:38 pm | #26

    ok, sorry, i didnt realize about this site. i will go there. but if you dont mind, i just stumbled on this as proof of the holy war angle i was taking. http://www.commondreams.org/archive/2007/11/08/5093/
    hasta la vista!

  27. the divine inspiration
    January 24, 2008 at 1:40 pm | #27

    I love how the Christians were offended with no actual mention of their religion. I mean, I know it’s pretty obvious, but anyone who actually believes this stuff should be unaffected should they not? By their beliefs you are going to burn in Hell, so your words really dont count for them do they?
    As for disconverting Christians, I don’t think this is necessary. I support the challenging of Christian beliefs simply for the sake of the children out there. As the youth pastor of my childhood church (I was raised in a Christian family) said when accepting the job, “[he looks] forward to shaping the minds of our children”. If he were “shaping the minds” of the children for critical and logical thinking, that would be fine. However, he sought to imprint on them the notion of absolute certainty in the teachings of Christianity. Being raised in such a way myself, left me narrow-minded and intolerant.
    Now, I am much more open-minded. I am certainly more agnostic, not athiest. I am open to the possibility of a ‘higher-being’, but would need to see much more concrete prooff than an old text and the ‘just believe me” attitude of the church. I respect the beliefs of my Christian friends, so long as they do not try to force them upon others without challenging their beliefs.

  28. Lizz
    July 9, 2008 at 7:33 am | #28

    Hello God, it’s me Margaret.
    The day I realized I may be talking to myself was a hard day indeed.

  29. July 10, 2008 at 10:03 pm | #29

    Hi Lizz,
    LOL. There is an interesting irony with this line of thought. For decons that head off into athiesm, they conclude they were talking to themselves, but for New-Agers (like me) they also conclude that they were talking to themselves, but not because God was not out there, but because us and God are the same thing, all part of All There Is.
    Jon

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