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Letting go fo God

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On September 10th, the morning of my 7th birthday, I came downstairs to the kitchen where my mother was washing the dishes and my father was reading the paper or something, and I sort presented myself to them in the doorway, and they said, "Hey, Happy birthday!" And I said, I'm 7. And my father, smiled and said, "Well, you know what that means don't you?" And I said, "Yea, but I am I going to have a party in a cave and get a lot of presents?" And my dad said, "Well, yes, but more importantly, being 7, means you've reached the age of reason and you are now capable of committing any and all sins against God and man." Now, I didn't hear of this phrase 'Age of Reason' before, sister Mary Kevin had been banding it about my second grade class at school. But when she said it, the phrase seemed all caught up in the excitement of preparations for our first communion about the white dress and the white veil anyway, I haven't paid all that much attention to that phrase 'Age of Reason', so I said "Yea, yea, 'Age of Reason', what does that mean again?" And my dad said "Well, we believe in the Catholic church, that God knows that little kids don't know the difference between right and wrong, but when you're 7, you're old enough to know better so you've grown up, you've reached the 'Age of Reason'." And now God will start keeping notes on you, and begin your permanent record. and I said "Oh..." Wait a minute, you mean, all that time up till today, all that time I was so good, God didn't notice it? And my mom said, well, I noticed it. And I thought, how could I not have known this before how would it have not have sunk in when they've been telling me that all being good and getting no real credit for it and worst of all, how could I not have realized that it's very important information that the very day that it was basically useless for me so I said well, mom and dad, what about Santa Clause? I mean Santa Clause knows if you're naughty or nice right? And my dad said, yea, but honey, I think that's technically just between Thanksgiving and Christmas and my mother said, bob, just stop it lets tell her, I mean, she's 7. Julie, there is no Santa Clause! Now, this was actually not that upsetting to me. My parents had this whole elaborate story about Santa Clause how they had talked to Santa Clause himself and agreed that instead of Santa delivering our presents over the night of Christmas eve like he did for every other family, who go to open their surprises first thing Christmas morning Our family would give Santa more time Santa would come to our house while we were at 9 o'clock, high mass on Christmas morning, but only if all of us kids did not make a fuss. Which made me very suspicious it was pretty obvious that it was our parents giving us presents I mean my dad very distinctive style and my mother's handwriting was so close to Santa's Plus why would Santa save time by having to loop back to our house after going to everybody elses'? There is only one obvious conclusion to reach from this mountain of evidence Our family was too strange and weird for Santa Clause to even visit. And my poor parents were trying to protect us from the embarrassment, humiliation of rejection by Santa, who is jolly, but lets face it, but he was also very judgmental So to find out that there is no Santa Clause at all was actually sort of a relief, I left the kitchen not really in shock with Santa, rather I was dumbfounded about how I could have missed this whole 'Age of Reason' it was too late for me, maybe I could help someone else, someone who could use the information, they had to fit two criteria, they had to be old enough to understand the whole concept of the 'Age of Reason' and not yet 7. The answer was clear, my brother bill he was 6, well I finally found bill about a block away from our house at this public school playground it was Saturday and he was all by himself just kicking a ball against the side of the wall, I ran up and said, Bill, I just realized that the 'Age of Reason' starts when you turn 7 and then you are capable of committing any and all sins against God and man and Bill said so? And I said so, you're 6, you have a whole year to do anything you want to and God won't notice it And he said, so? And I said, so??? So everything. And I turned to run, I was so angry with him, but when I got to the top of the steps I turned around dramatically and said, oh by the way bill there is no Santa Clause. Now, I didn't know it at the time, but I really wasn't turning 7 at September 10th. For my 13th birthday, I planned a slumber party with all my girlfriends but a couple of weeks beforehand my mother took me aside and said I need to speak to you privately September 10th is not your birthday, it's October 10th and I said what? and she said, listen, the cut off date to start kindergarten was September 15th so, I told them your birthday was September 10 and that I wasn't sure that you weren't just going to go blabbing it all over the place so I started to tell you your birthday was September 10th But Julie you were so ready to start school honey you were so ready I thought about it, when I was 4 I was already the oldest of 4 children and my mother even had another child to come what I think she understandingly mean was that she was so ready then she said, don't worry Julie every year in October 10th when it was your birthday, but you didn't realize it, I made sure you ate a piece of cake that day which was comforting, but troubling my mother had been celebrating my birthday with me without me what was so upsetting about this new piece of information was not that I was going to have to change the date of my slumber party with all of my girlfriends, what was most upsetting was that this meant that I was not a virgo I had a huge virgo poster in my bedroom and I read my horoscope every single day and it was so totally me and this meant that I was a Libra? So I took the bus down town to get the new Libra poster, the virgo poster was a picture of a beautiful woman with long hair sort of lounging by some water, but the Libra poster was just a huge scale. This was around the time that I started filling out physically and I was filling out a lot more than the other girls and frankly, the whole idea that my astrological sign was a scale just seemed ominous and depressing but I got the new Libra poster and I started to read my new Libra horoscope and I was astonished to find that it was also totally me it wasn't until years later looking back on this whole 'Age of Reason' change of birthday thing, that it dawned on me, I wasn't turning 7, when I thought I turned 7 I had a whole other month to do anything that I wanted to before God started keeping tabs on me Oh life could be so cruel One day, two more missionaries came to my door, now I just live off of Thoroughfare in Los Angeles and my block, well it's a natural beginning for people who are peddling things from door to door sometimes I get little old ladies from the seventh day of Mentis Church, showing me these cartoon pictures of heaven and sometimes I get teenagers that promise me that they won't join a gang a just start robbing people and only buy magazine subscriptions from them so normally, I just ignore the door bell, but on this day, I answered and there stood two boys, each about 19 in white starch short sleeve shirts and they have little name tags that identified them as official representatives of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and they said they had a message for me, from God I said, message for me? From God? And they said, yes. Now I was raised in the pacific northwest around a lot of Church of Latter Day Saints people and I've worked with them and even dated them, but I never really knew the doctrine or what they said to people when they were out on a mission and I guess I was sort of curious so I said, please come in and the looked really happy because I don't think this happens to them all that often and I sat them down and I got them glasses of water ***knocks off mic*** I got them glasses of water, don't touch my hair, that's the thing You can't put a video of myself in front of me and expect me not to fix my hair Ok, ***laughs*** So I sat them down and got them glasses of water a [can't make what she said here] do you believe that God loves you with all his heart and I thought, well, of course I believe in God but, you know, I don't like that word heart because it anthropomorphizes God and I don't like the word his either because that sexualizes God, but I didn't want to argue semantics with these boys so after very long uncomfortable pause I said yes, I do, I feel very loved and they looked at each other and smiled like that was the right answer and they said do you believe that we're all brothers and sisters on this planet? yes I do, yes I do and I was so relieve that was a question that I could answer so quickly and they said, well, then we have a story to tell you and they told me the story all about this guy named Li Hai, who lived in Jerusalem in 600 BC. Now apparently, in Jerusalem in 600 BC, everyone was completely bad and evil, every single one of them, man, woman, child, infant, fetus and God came to Li Hai and put your family on a boat and I will lead you out of here and God did lead them he lead them to America. I said, America? From Jerusalem to America? By boat in 600 BC? And they said yes, then they told me how Li Hai and their descendants reproduced and reproduced and over the course of 600 years, there were two great races of them the Ni Fites and the Laymenites And the Ni Fites were totally totally good, each and every single one of them and the Laymenites were totally bad and evil, every single one of them just bad to the bone Then after Jesus died on the cross for our sins, on his way up to heaven he stopped by America and visited the Ni Fites And he told them that if they all remained totally totally good, each and every single one of them they would would win the war against the evil Laymenites but apparently somebody blew it because the Laymenites were able to kill all the Ni Fites all but one guy, this guy named morman, who managed to survive by hiding in the woods and he made sure that this whole story was written down and reformed the Egyptian hieroglyphics, chizzled onto gold plates which he then buried near Palmyra, New York. Well, I was just on the edge of my seat I said, what happened to the Laymenites? And they said, well they became our Native Americans here in the U.S and I said so you believe that the Native Americans are descendant of people who are totally evil? And they said, yes, then they told me how this guy name Joseph Smith found those very gold plates, right in his back yard and he also found this magic stone back there that he put in his hat and buried his face into and this allowed him to translate the gold plates from the reform Egyptian into English, well at this point I just wanted to give these boys some advice about their pitch I wanted to say, ok don't start with this story I mean, even the scientologists know to start with a personality test before they start tell people all about Xenu the evil galactic overlord well, then they said, do you believe that God speaks to us through his righteous prophets? and I said, no, I don't. Because I was sort of upset about the Laymenite story and the crazy gold plate story, but the truth was, I hadn't thought this through, so I back pedaled a little and I said, well, what exactly do you mean by righteous? and what do you mean by prophets? Could the prophets be women? and they said, no. And I said, why? And they said, well, it's because God gave women a gift that is so spectacular, that is so wonderful, that the only gift that he had left over to give men was the gift of prophecy. What is this wonderful gift God gave women, I wondered. Maybe their greater ability to cooperate and adapt? Women's longer lifespan, the fact that women tend to be much less violent than men. But no, it wasn't any of these gifts, they said, well, it's your ability to bear children I said, oh, come on, even if women tried to have a baby, every single year from the time they were 15 to the time they were 45 assuming they didn't die from exhaustion, is still seems like some women would have some time left over to hear the word God and they said, nope well, then they didn't look so fresh faced and cute to me anymore but they had more to say, they said we also believe that if you are a mormon and if you are at a good standing with the Church, when you die, you get to go to heaven and be with your family for all eternity and I said ugh that wouldn't be a good incentive for me and they said oh, hey we also believe that when you go to heaven you get your body restored to you a best an original state like if you lost a leg, you get it back or if you've gone blind, you could see I said oh, now I don't have a uterus because I had cancer a few years ago, so does this mean that if I go to heaven I would get my old uterus back? And they said sure, and I said, I don't want it back, I'm happy without it what if you had a nose job and you liked it? Would God force you to get your old nose back? Well then they gave me this book of Mormon and they told me to read this chapter and that chapter and they said that they'd come back some day and check in on me and I think I said something like, please don't hurry or maybe it was like please don't and they were gone. Ok, so I initially felt really superior to these boys and smug in my more conventional faith, but the more I thought about it, the more I had to be honest with myself if someone came to my door and I was hearing Catholic theology and dogma for the very first time and they said we believe that God impregnated a very young girl without the use of intercourse and the fact that she was a virgin is [something] important to us and she had a baby and that's the son of God I mean that would mean that is equally as ridiculous, I'm so used to that story so I couldn't let myself feel condescending towards these boys but the question they asked me when I first arrived, really stuck in my head did I believe that God loved me with all his heart? because I wasn't exactly sure how I felt about that question now if they had asked me do you feel that God loves you with all his heart well, that would have been much different and I think I would have instantly answered yes, yes I feel it all the time, I feel God's love, when I'm hurt and confused and I feel consoled and care for I take shelter in God's love when I don't understand why tragedy hits and I feel God's love when I look with gratitude with all the beauty that I see but since they asked me that question with the word believe in it, somehow it was all different because I wasn't exactly all sure if I believe what I so clearly felt

Video Details

Duration: 17 minutes and 17 seconds
Country: Spain
Language: English
Genre: None
Views: 133
Posted by: vixi on Feb 7, 2010

First 15 minutes of Julia Sweenys show "Letting go of God" on TED talks.

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