“I thirst.” [John 19:28]

If Lent is a dry season, Atheism For Lent is a drought in the midst of an already dry world. For some it is like holding your breath, for others is it removing a crutch, or perhaps it is simply a walk through the desert, discovering the God-mirage that we (and our religious systems) project, perpetuate, and protect.

As we begin to see the ongoing darkness at the end of our tunnel, we find ourselves thirsty, aware of the ways in which we have quenched our thirst (or at least attempted to) in the past, learning from where and what we’ve been as we make our way forward, trodding through the dry ground but realizing we do not walk alone.

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  1. Abigail March 26, 2013

    1) Fellowship with people I feel safe with.

    2) I have one friend I can confide in honestly about where I am, but he lives far away and travels often. Everyone else, I’m afraid I’ll lose them, or at least unleash a torrent of sermons, unsolicited gifts of books in the mail to try to change my mind, pitying glances, or “I’ll pray for you”s. I don’t think most of them could understand.
    I just spoke with my brother on the phone tonight, and in the course of our conversation, I confessed that I am probably going to leave formal Christianity eventually, and then spent 2 hours trying to explain why. He agreed with me on most of my reasoning, yet he’s still concerned that I’m being deceived by the devil, and I’m in danger of going to hell, starting or joining a cult, or, very best scenario, I’ll have “no foundation” for my life. He thinks its sad that my “once-strong faith” that was a beacon for many is now “wavering.” Wavering? Nevermind that, overall, I feel happier than I have in years, that my logic is as sound as possible, that I feel more able to connect with and love other people than I ever have. Why is surrendering to the limitations of what is “knowable” considered “wavering?” I haven’t lost faith; I’m just repositioning it to a better location. Anyway, the conversation went in circles, and I hung up feeling pretty sad. This is painful, to be so misunderstood, to know that the connections with people I love dearly will be severely tested. My brother is a smart guy, young, fairly open-minded. His response will probably be the gentlest of all in my family, except my mother. I had to cry a bit.
    But, it’s late at night, and my tiredness probably impacts my mood negatively… Should feel better tomorrow.

    3) While married to an abusive husband, I slowly realized that the God I had clung to had either intentionally wounded me, or didn’t exist. I’m still open to transcendence, but much more aware of the potential of “mirage,” whether self-created, or culturally-created. And I try to use reason to sort out impressions I get in that department.

    • Ronald W Alliston March 26, 2013

      Hope you find an outlet for this stuff, I don’t have one either here in Texas but I’m starting one up, we are gunna have our first service in a week. You’d be surprised how many people hate this kind of honesty but at the same time there are way more that feel just like us but haven’t got to explore it. Us midwest and southern folks are kind of at odds with the fundamentalism reigning king.

      • Abigail March 26, 2013

        Yeah, thanks. I imagine it’s worse in the Bible Belt! I’ve thought of starting some kind of group, but I’m not quite in the right place to do so yet (practically speaking, as well as emotionally and mentally speaking. Don’t even know what I would “advertise” the group as, what the rallying point would be. You don’t want to create a group based on “what we aren’t.”
        And in a small town like where I currently live, I don’t even know if I’d get ANY responses anyway! Eventually I’ll move to a bigger city; should be easier there.

    • Paul March 26, 2013

      Thanks for sharing. No doubt, navigating family territory surrounding faith/doubt can be infinitely difficult. The burden of being the “other” is allowing, if not, opening to the very real possibility that our lives will act as the boulders those we love crash up against. We will be wounded, but the crashing breaks them and us open too.

      Seems like a deal breaker for so many is the idea that doubt is to faith as yin is to yang. Too often, doubt, the very seed for maturation is repressed, compartmentalized, and all manner of compensatory responses ensue.

      From what I’ve read on this site, you would make an awesome group facilitator; thoughtful, compassionate, patient, perspicacious. I’d join!

      • Abigail March 26, 2013

        Oh, thanks so much for the encouragement! I’ve been feeling so raw since my conversation yesterday. I haven’t “come out” yet, but it’s probably going to be soon. And I cringe to think of the responses I will get. Wish I could just avoid that phase… I don’t want to hurt people, I don’t want to expose myself to being hurt. “Take this cup from me!” :)
        All my life I’ve longed to be in a leadership role that is life-enriching, not merely instructive, so leading a group of people willing to be vulnerable does sound appealing to me. I really appreciate the vote of confidence!

    • Karen March 27, 2013

      I’m sorry you are having to face such hurdles with your family. It’s hard to be misunderstood by those closest to us, and it can be so emotionally draining. But if you are feeling happier than you’ve felt in ages and are better able to love others, that’s something to hold onto.

  2. Ronald W Alliston March 26, 2013

    I’m thirsty for an honest and loving group.

    These aren’t empty words but most Christians my age I’ve met. There’s so many of us just wandering around and aren’t, and haven’t been happy, with our religion. On a real close level I’ve had my best friend to go through this with and I don’t know how I would be “drudging through the molasses of this dark, dreary, dismal world” without him. We kind of are lost together.

    This is kind of a tough one but I can tell what kind of “another fucking mirage” I’ve made God into. Guess that’s the question. Don’t think I’d still be addressing God as God if I thought he wasn’t real anymore. RAMBLING-
    I keep making a mirage of God as perks or rewards or “the blessed life” where everything will be just fine. I’ve found out we need to embrace our pain and anxiety, embrace the darkness of our lives. There’s a real beauty in that. It’s where I’ve discovered I can feel God’s presence more because there is genuine love and compassion pouring out of me…sometimes.

    • Barrett March 26, 2013

      You are bringing quite a few “amen!”s from this corner. I think you’re looking for exactly what you should be.

      You also made me think of a number of great quotes (I’m a quote junkie), but I’ll just say that you are not alone in looking for this kind of group—there are many of us even in Texas doing this very thing.

      Blessings on your journey, Ronald.

    • Paul March 26, 2013

      Amen brother!

      In the words of Bobby D, “keep on keeping on”.

  3. Paul March 26, 2013

    I’m thirsty for a greater capacity to experience my life, the abundance and paucity, the apophatic and cataphatic. Also, thirsty for sociocultural awakening, although to what exactly I dare not perscribe. Also, a good backpacking trip in Yosemite!

    I’ve been blessed with many walking alongside me, although they are scattered throughout the country now.

    From the perspective of Cartesian anxiety, everything about god is a mirage because truth and knowledge are synonymous with objectivity and certainty. Thus, there is not other choice to abandon this god to the truths of science. But this is not the only game in town. From the perspective of Radical Orthodoxy, god is part of a beautiful narrative written by and for creatures that evolved the capacity for, and cannot live without, stories. The atrocities occur when we literalize the story. In this story, grace emerges through the human drama.

    To borrow from some Flannery O’Connor– we have grace through nature, grace through violence, and grace through human messiness, where grace is not a blanket of white snow covering a “fallen” world, but the rock that ruptures the hard shell of pain that encloses our love and understanding. In this sense, most of us reject grace because it is too painful. I know I have. Even while god as objective divine being is a mirage for me, that doesn’t mean I can’t draw on the story, like a Tolkien novel, to orient myself in the world.

    • Karen March 27, 2013

      “Even while god as objective divine being is a mirage for me, that doesn’t mean I can’t draw on the story, like a Tolkien novel, to orient myself in the world.” I can definitely relate to they way you speak of god as part of a narrative and our need for stories.

      • Paul March 28, 2013

        Yeah, I think that’s why I like liturgy…it provides me the chance to take a role in a story as old as time, woven out of multiple traditions, myths, and cultures. It’s as if the story itself is an anthropological artifact.

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