Crack House Church

Today the ‘Good News’ of Christianity operates with much the same logic. It is sold to us as that which can fulfill our desire rather than as that which evokes a transformation in the very way that we desire. Like every other product that promises us fulfillment, Christ becomes yet another object in the world that is offered to us as a way of gaining insight and ultimate satisfaction.
Peter Rollins, The Idolatry of God, 2

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  1. Joshua February 19, 2013

    Religion was just an addiction. When I got hooked on church I lost my friends, my vision, my life, even my self. Then just like the crack house, when they couldn’t use me anymore they through me out. 8 years in the church, becoming a leader and on to be a pastor, the second I came out of the closet, they threw me out. Coming off of drugs is easier. Should have spent the 8 years on heroin. At least they have recovery centers for drug addicts.

    • Chuck February 19, 2013

      Stay the course.

      • Joshua February 19, 2013

        Will do. In the clearing of letting go, and not resisting so much, I’m open to a world of possibility, a new realm of creation for my life. I had done some mindfulness work, and found that a lot of my beliefs in the church, and in God, we’re just feeble attempts to fit in. That I created a version of me that was inauthentic, just so I could be apart of the group. As I started to notice my mask, and the unreality I was living in, I finally took it off, to explore a new world. At first it was scary, and here there is no definition of who I am, or who God is, or howim suppose to serve God. And in this, I get to explore reality for once. I find this devotional to help, ecause I see myself making the same mistakes I did in turning to religion, and creating a faith from nothing is what I want. Creating a faith to fix past hurts, is still about me trying to get acceptance, and fit in. Giving it up. God who are you in reality?

  2. Chuck February 19, 2013

    If one wants to experience what is being described here with evidence to its efficacy than I suggest Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. It has provided for me the healing that cultural tastes (e.g. singer/songwriters, church, etc . . .) can’t. There is no objective distinction between a singer/songwriter performance and a church service. Both are aesthetic in their substance and deal in emotional experience. They don’t offer a behavior change consonant with one’s thinking to provide a new understanding of one’s experience. The apposite to church offered in this video is simply mega-church programming, religion still without the theology. Post-modern religious thinking shirks the hard psychological work available for people who have been injured. CBT, do it, you will discover that appeals to god are simply a cognitive distortion covering past hurt.

    • Angelo February 19, 2013

      Your perspective is really interesting, here.
      Could you say more about what you mean as “cognitive distortion covering past hurt”?


      • Chuck February 19, 2013


        A cognitive distortion is a conclusion drawn from subjective experience that is unsupported by objective evidence. I was abused as a child so I walk around with the core belief that I am defective and in need of rescue. This supported the cognitive distortion that salvation through propitiation was a pre-requisite for my worth.

        • Angelo February 19, 2013


          So you, having given up god, have adopted, or valued, different possible meaning of this ‘salvation’ things? Or just given up all? (I read about your comment in the previous post and was curious about it. Always if you don’t mind answering).

  3. Angelo February 19, 2013

    Something about aesthetic that has been said reminded me of Nietzsche’s hope for a (I would call it) Dionysian Renaissance – Dionysus as the movement against the principium individuationis.

    It’s funny (maybe a little odd) that the contemporary Church is more akin to this than ever.
    It’s funnier that Nietzsche foresaw this musical movement in Luther, even before than Wagner.

    And still, we can see a little of a Nietzsche narrative in the work of Rollins, in a positive way, I think.

    I won’t get to any point here.
    Just sharing my thoughts – not very clear, though.

    What I think is that, even if both in a concert and in a church service we can “dissolve” ourselves,
    there is a way of doing this that don’t dissolve our own identity – that by encountering other’s sufferings we may know ours.
    Knowing also that we are not alone in the sufferings.

    And by “not alone” I don’t mean that “everything is OK”, but that I’m not the only one experiencing suffering and pain.
    I’m a part of humanity. And humanity, as it is, experiences suffering and pain.
    Being conscious of that is a sort of Hegelian (or Marxist class’) auto-conscience.
    Being conscious with that should mean that we all can work out this things together.

    The metaphor that pops out of my mind is that of marriage.
    Reversing Ephesians, a church should be like a marriage where two becomes one but being still themselves.

    • Chuck February 19, 2013

      I have come to see systems that seek god predicated on a series of herditary cognitive distortions. They are, in that regard, unhealthy and often unconsiously evil because they perpetuate the abuse that they pretend to be anodyne towards.

    • Chuck February 19, 2013

      Salvation is a myth that distorts a mature ethic rooted in conscious consideration of one’s intrinsic purpose.

      • Angelo February 19, 2013

        Thank you.

  4. Rev February 19, 2013

    I think aside from the psychological/theological dimension of church. It’s an avenue for social interaction, friendship, and service projects which are pretty great too. Once we understand the crack house church mentality, I think it’s nice to attend if you can find others who’ve come to the same understanding as well.

  5. john bateman February 19, 2013

    I was addicted to religion for 18 years, it’s like a drug. And it makes you feel like you are worthless, but you need your God fix. It’s worse than most drugs but with the right help you can get free from it.

    • Chuck February 19, 2013

      John you summed up my feelings and experience and why I will do my best to raise my children as atheists. The Christian Religion is predicated on an agreement that we are born defective and must accept culpability for a human sacrifice. It is not good.

      • NateW February 21, 2013

        Chuck and John – Our core problem is not addiction to god, but to our ideal of self fulfillment and satisfaction. If you don’t come to understand this the addiction will follow you everywhere you go. No matter where you are, the answer isn’t in leaving for somewhere else, but, paradoxically, in killing your need to be satisfied and stepping into active love for those who remain oppressed by their own addiction. This is what Christ is about. Grace comes to us in releasing others, joy in mourning with others, peace in stepping between others and those who would war against them. Give up church if you must, but know that you didn’t leave Christ there.

        • Chuck February 21, 2013

          Christ and God are subjective to each individual and therefore are more probably psychological projections of a person’s idealized self and fit into your self-worship problem more so then if one chooses to reject the belief they have special standing in humanity through an imagined relationship with supernatural agents. Sorry, Christ is an invention of Paul’s Hellenized Judaism and probably has more to do with his apocalyptic superstitions than it does with history.

          Besides I don’t find the Jesus character represented in the Gospel moral. Any religious leader endorsing in-group morality driven by fealty with the pain of eternal torture as motivation is not admirable.

  6. john bateman February 19, 2013

    Yes Chuck, fortuntatley my daughter is very much turned off religion, she says church is boring so I’m happy that she will not grow up thinking that she is sinful and worthless.

    • Chuck February 20, 2013

      The inculcated shame necessary for the Abrahamic religions to operate make them immoral.

  7. […] this video that is posted for today’s Atheism for Lent reflection, Peter Rollins analogously relates […]

  8. Anna Spencer February 19, 2013

    I am haunted by the duty of the poet/singer/songwriter because you have to face your shit. The poets I love do not mince words, they do not run from feelings, doubts, etc. They have mastered the art of proclaiming their humanity (shit and all) something I am too quick to hide. Great poems make peace with the darkness, showcasing raw reality. As I write poetry, I become more and more aware of my hangups with embracing me (thoughts, feelings, pains, doubts, longings). And God apart from the projections of the church.

    • Jim February 19, 2013

      Well said Anna. Perhaps this is one of the reasons I know I should read and write more poetry but never do. The pathological optimist in me wants to avoid the shit at all costs.

      I might add a “poetry for Lent” addition to my own “atheism for Lent” practice. Anyone have any poets they would recommend? Where should I begin? (Or if someone would just email me a poem every morning, that’d be swell.)

      • Anon February 19, 2013

        How about John Donne’s Holy Sonnets? There are 20 of them, so you could read and dwell on one a day, and go through them twice over lent.

      • Lucas Marvel February 19, 2013

        Hey Jim, there is an Australian Poet, Luke Davies, who recently wrote a volume of poetry titled ‘Interferon Psalms – 33 psalms on the 99 names of God.’

        “I would write nothing, from the perfect center of a monstrous place. O Holy One of Being. Nothing at all: that was my plan. I had to gather the forces of my memory and I had to trust my memory. But first I had to allow sheer bewilderment to flow through me.”

        These Psalms to me seem like the musings of a man that’s been running from God for his whole life, to receive the call in his very abstinence. This man spent the first half of his life in an attempt to find an alternative fullness to Heroin. There obviously is no substitute, because their is no fulfilment. God being not the answer to the question of life but the question of life itself, opening the possibility of the midst being the more.

        • Jim February 20, 2013

          “There obviously is no substitute, because their is no fulfillment.”

          Well said. And thanks for the recommendation. Googling him now!

      • Chuck February 20, 2013

        Why does the numinous be given absolute agency (i;e “God”) why can’t it just be part of our natural cognitive equipment?

        • Gio Andollo February 23, 2013

          Because we wish the numinous to also be personal.

          • Chuck February 23, 2013

            Wish seems to be the operative word in that sentence. Sorry, your wish does not lay any claim on reality.

  9. john bateman February 20, 2013

    not very christian saying swear words Anna.

    • Abe February 20, 2013

      are you serious?

      • Will February 20, 2013

        We’re all Atheist’s for Lent. LOL

  10. Sue February 20, 2013

    Religion & God are NOT the same thing. If you want to know about a really cool way of thinking, look into The Church of Religious Science in Lakewood, CO. This church is all inclusive of all ways of living and thinking. I have found an awesome way of life with them and so have so many others. We do not believe we came into this world flawed because God is not flawed, He lives in all of us as perfection, in his own image, so we can not be any different than God’s own image. Check it out. Dr. Roger Teal & Reverand Cynthia James are so awesome as are all the ministers. They have their own site where you can listen to Sunday service & get an idea of what they are all about. I hope you are amazed. If not, good luck to you.

    • Chuck February 20, 2013

      The trope that religion and god are not the same is simply equivocation. The evidence you provide is the endorsement of a religion. It is silly to see how people who need supernatural confirmation for their existence engage in special pleading when they promote their preferred religion and god.

  11. Tim C. February 20, 2013

    Anyone else who is doing this exercise in the fashion where they cease praying, and for this lenten window choosing to disbelieve in God for this window (as much as one can) finding themselves depressed? I’ve been seeing symptoms of mild depression that might be coincidental but do feel like they might be reactions to the first week of this effort….

  12. Tim C. February 20, 2013

    One other note: i think the idea of mourning as healing and the singer-songwriter metaphor… I remember seeing blues music for the first time… specifically the first concert with B.B. King. In the audience after the first 15 minutes of just incredible blues music — much of it literally “singing the blues” I remember an audience member shouting from the back: “B.B. You Heal Me!” And I think all of us in the audience felt it.

  13. Nigel February 20, 2013

    To me church is not so much the big Sunday thing, but a group of people with a common faith in Jesus, doing life together. This is not a narcotic, but a space where I can be real and we can encourage and challenge each other through life.

    • Miriam February 22, 2013

      So you tried the faith IN jesus, now how about trying the faith OF jesus? He spoke to anyone, accepting all as having equal value whatever tribe they came from. He was heretical in many ways – left his home and family and took “as family” people who were not his kin, he challenged jewish practices and institutional hierarchies that he saw as denyong the humanity of all or some. In what ways do you do this now? In your life? Seems to me, this website is challenging god believers to reject the institutions of christendom – in word deed and thought.

      • Chuck February 22, 2013

        The Faith of Jesus invented the Doctrine of Hell that empowered men like Calvin to formulate his impossible to prove theology of the elect. Jesus was a garden variety apocalyptic preacher invoking the Book of Daniel. There is nothing exceptional or unique about his morals and his fascination with the end of the world is ghastly.

        • Miriam February 22, 2013

          There is little evidence that jesus himself was apocalyptic as few of the words attribted to him can be proven to have been said by him. However, he does seem to have been adopted by or associated with a group of apocalyptic sects – gnostics – who expressed sch things. I am willing to accept that there is a version of Jesus who expressed the universalism I refer to. Calvinism seems to be abot The Book, while the version of jess I am proposing is about faith rather than belief, practice rather than doctrine. What we do together and hao we treat each other seems more important than what we say we believe, which seems to be a big fat lie most of the time anyway….

          • Chuck February 22, 2013


            What source do you derive your Jesus from?

          • Miriam February 22, 2013

            I’ve read Bart Ehrman – misquoting Jesus, Geza Vermes – Jesus the Jew, David Boulton- who on earth was Jesus, Gospel of Mark. Had conversations and other stuff. (I’m no scholar – more of a worker who thinks). Most Christians seem to view Jesus as a Christian, but he was a Jew – a tribal man of his time. Christianity hadn’t been invented yet. He seems to have been an anti establishment figure in a similar vein to many emergent christians seems to be today – against christendom and for a faith that enables people to relate to each other without the statist superstructure of organised religious institutions mediating our relationships and telling us what our experiences mean. We can make and remake our own meanings, but it seems to require a letting go of certainty and labels, and a more fluid understanding that the words we use are inadequate metaphors for experiences we cannot easily or fully express. thats not to say they are therefore supernatral or mystical experiences, but some might feel them to be that. I’m not convinced of that. I am more inclined to think we hmans are individual expressions of a collective organism – like a flock of starlings, we thrum (vibrate)to a common rhythm

          • Chuck February 23, 2013

            I love Bart Ehrman. His writing helped me during the time I was losing my faith. I agree with you that too many Christians today fail to see the context in which the faith was founded (and the competing interpretations of the faith – I wonder what life would be like if the Marcionites had won).

  14. Jas Gray February 21, 2013

    My addiction has been to the identity brought through religion. It has always been there to tell me who I am and what I should do. I’m in the process of breaking the addiction via cold turkey; cutting all remaining ties to the organisation that has defined me thus far. And it sucks.

    What I find encouraging about this video and what makes me anxious about defensive responses to it is that these questions are needed within the church. Surely the question is neutral in nature and can only bring about positive change, even if particular individuals within the church aren’t destructively addicted. Seems atheism is the only real way for a committed Christian.

  15. Miriam February 22, 2013

    I hadn’t spent any time thinking about being atheist until I got involved with quakers some years ago. Then it seemed only right to explore this, an act of respect if nothing else. Why was I drawn to quakerism? After quite a lot of exploration it seemed to me that god doesn’t matter as much as what we do together as humans. As to why I am atheistic, well, I don’t seem to have had anything happen to me that is anything like the godliness that others say they experience. As an insecre person, I’m constantly having to resist the temptations of certainty, being the big sister in the family hasn’t helped! But embracing doubt and living more critically has been/is a more interesting route to follow, though I meet a lot of hostility for challen ging the institutional view of what is a Quaker.

    • Chuck February 22, 2013

      If I felt the need to be part of a faith community then I’d be a Quaker. I like them.

      • Miriam February 22, 2013

        I’m not very happy with Quakers at the moment. The Liberal Quakers have an arrogant and dishonest sense of themselves as children of the light. They are unable to collectively look at the long shadows they cast with their power and privilege both historically and now. Having said that, there are very many Quakers who I admire respect and who nurture a Quakerism that has great integrity. I see many “refugees” from orthodox Christianity find it difficult to embrace a non creedal faith without belief and it is often these Quakers who are most challenged by the prescence of nontheist and non Christian Quakers who are a large prescence within the Liberal Quaker tradition. Also, there are some atheist/nontheist Qakers who are addicted to rationalism and “scientific method” always demanding evidence, which is pretty pig headed (in the manner of Dawkins) which in my view is contrary to the Quaker way.

        • Chuck February 23, 2013

          I think many people who want to assert the absolute truth of their faith interpretation contra to Biblical fundamentalists while holding onto the supernatural bona-fides of the Christian title are, “. . . unable to collectively look at the long shadows they cast . . .”

          I hold to the “pig headed” epistemology however, because I see it as a humble method when claiming objective truths. It is frustrating to those who believe the whole of reality is a subjective exercise. I don’t think you are one of those people.

  16. Ben February 24, 2013

    I understand the premise here and tend to agree that church has become something of an addiction for some. With that said, his vision of the ideal church appears to be overly individualistic. The church, in its ideal state is the body of Christ. A community of people devoted to following the teaching of Jesus Christ together – not simply a place where people can understand their brokenness. In my mind, Rollins devalues the central tennant of the church…community. Thoughts?

    • summers-lad February 27, 2013

      Maybe, but I’m not sure. I think he is speaking from the perpective of a broken and hurting individual – whether himself or someone else – and what the church can and should do for such a person. His ideal church sems to me to be a body which can gently and lovingly draw such a person into community. In Jesus’ parable the down-and-outs at the wedding feast didn’t come because they had a sense of belonging together or to God but because they were invited and they were hungry. “Community” in churches often means a gathering of people who enjoy each others’ company as long as they play the game – witness Joshua at the top of this chain – and that could describe any social club.

      Throughout the video though the model of church does seem to be based on a dualistic structure of up-front and in the pews – ministering and receiving – rather than fellowship/exploring/struggling/growing together. I have no doubt that some people in any church are more able to give and others are more in need of receiving – and where any one of us is in this will change over time – but the traditional service/presentation based model does encourage a consumer mentality, unless there is strong teaching and practice to the contrary.

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  21. JWow March 4, 2014

    What was the video? The link got removed.

  22. Troll-abator March 8, 2014


    Trolling for Lent, eh?

    Nothing feeds atheism like a good romp in the midst of others who are genuinely asking questions. Then you can assert all the cool things you have read in books and “help” others. Your Lent should be giving up trolling religious forums and sitting alone with your beliefs. Don’t talk with Dawkins, Hitchins, Ehrman, Funk and the like. Why don’t you see how much power your faith has when you have to face yourself, and not a bunch of people who are trying to genuinely trying to post their thoughts on these reflections. Thanks.

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