Wholly Weak

Five weeks of reading various atheistic critiques of and responses to religion can leave one feeling empty.

As we begin the final week of Atheism For Lent it would be no surprise if you find yourself feeling wholly weak on this holy week. For the entrance into Jerusalem, welcomed by the triumphant waving of palm fronds, quickly moves towards thirst, forgiveness, forsaken, and finished. And so it is with Atheism For Lent.

We are thirsty for something that will quench us, something more than the salt water of religion. We offer forgiveness to those whom we have hurt along the way, out pursuit of intellectualism misused as a power over and against. We find ourselves not only forsaken by God but necessarily forsaking in the process. And we find our task finished, or more aptly put, accomplished. For the task is not ended, but it continues through this week and beyond.

Before we enter this holy week full tilt, take a moment to reflect on where this journey has led you.

Žižek << Previous  | |  Next >> Thirst

35 Comments

  1. Chuck March 25, 2013

    I feel wholly weak when I read the premise that dedicated reading to atheist thought would necessarily leave one wholly weak.

    It met my expectations in some of the chosen writings. It would have been nice to have the dour proclamations balanced with thinkers who articulated the joy of reason in the face of religion like Ingersoll or Paine.

    I am hoping that this final week will be a celebration of many religious coming out of the closet as atheists.

  2. Adam Howie March 25, 2013

    – I feel weak as the process has been a challenge both intellectually as I consider what each days means in regard to my own personal view of my faith/belief (call it what you will), but it has drained me, in a positive way, as I have struggled many days to condense each days thinking and meaning into a singular piece, a visual representation of my own thinking and the challenge provided.

    – It has been what I expected on some levels, a challenge to see how the thinking of such critics impact faith, although I would guess not for all as we are each at different stages, and perhaps on different paths. Not sure where it has left me wanting, perhaps ironically at times more depth, more exploration would have been desired, but such depth is gained not in this forum but in personal reflection and study.

    – Nothing more than a continuation of the journey, along some paths less well trodden by some, either way I am sure it will be intriguing :)

  3. Abigail March 25, 2013

    1) I’m not feeling weak; I’m feeling inspired. I actually wrote a song based on how this “course” impacted–no, that’s not the right word–fertilized my thoughts and emotions. I’m working on recording it; I’ll share it with y’all hopefully soon…
    I didn’t agree with a lot of the authors’ points, but I did agree with some. And I find myself, nonetheless, in alliance with the intentions behind their points.
    Maybe I’m not feeling weak because I didn’t engage with the course in the intended spirit. I was skeptically removed throughout most of the process. I tried not to involve my core emotions, though I have to say, sometimes they got involved anyway when certain topics pushed some personal buttons. Full disclosure.

    2) I didn’t really know what to expect. I was initially attracted to the course mainly because the title was clever and provocative, and also, I’ve been toying with the idea of becoming an atheist/agnostic the past couple years, and wanted to see what some great minds have had to say on the topic. I’ve found that setting up expectations tends to lead to disappointment, so whenever possible I try not to erect them (though they often happen at the unconscious level despite my efforts, so… there’s that…)

    3) I don’t consider this week holy. It was decided upon centuries ago to be the week that Christians celebrate the resurrection, as a distinctly anti-Semitic play. There’s nothing intrinsically special about this week over other weeks (except that, hopefully, it will stop snowing here in Kansas…) However, as the final week in Atheism for Lent, I’m hoping for more meaningful, intellectual conversations, and I’m hoping for continued challenging, intriguing connections with a group of similarly-minded people, (you all have been truly lovely!) and perhaps some longer-lasting e-friendships after the course is done. I could always enjoy more smart friends! :)

    • Chuck March 25, 2013

      Abigail, meeting you has been one of the real joys about doing this practice.

      I hope we remain friends. I am in Illinois, not far from your locale.

      • Abigail March 26, 2013

        I’m on FaceBook and G+. My Gravatar SHOULD link there. Let me know if it doesn’t.

    • Abigail April 2, 2013

      Finished the song!
      Here is is: http://musicbyava.com/zero.html

  4. Abigail March 25, 2013

    “We find ourselves not only forsaken by God but necessarily forsaking in the process.”

    This reminds me of a couple things. One, the scene in “The Silver Chair” where Jill is talking with Aslan. He says that he called her and Eustace from their world into his to complete a task, and she says, “But we were the ones who asked to go there.” And he says, “You would not have called to me unless I had been calling to you.” (This is sort of the inverse sentiment of the above, but it reminds me of it anyway.)

    Also, it reminds me of a principle I use in dream interpretation. When someone does does something to the dreamer in a dream, it’s always, actually the dreamer doing it to him/herself. So if someone in the dream is rejecting you, it’s actually an indication that at some level, you are rejecting yourself. Etc.

    The universe seems to be kind of like a maze of mirrors that way.

  5. Tim C. March 25, 2013

    This was easier for me in some ways, and more difficult in others. See I’ve always viewed faith as more like a wager than say a belief in gravity existing. So it wasn’t very hard for me this 5 weeks to simply choose to bet on “no-God.” Now I’m assuming that come Easter, I’ll choose to move my chips back onto the “yes-God” wager, and the whole exercise was done as an act of faith… But no guarantees. And maybe it’s easier to go from a “yes-God” bet to a “no-God bet.” It may be harder to believe than not to.

    My first and biggest revelation was how very needy, and insecure and beggy my faith was. You don’t see that till it’s not there. Maybe it was timing that my work and life has taken a swerve into very stressful window, but I suspect not. I suspect for me God functioned like a very Big OtherWorldly Security Blanket. And much of this atheistic lent was about separation anxiety.

    Marx’s view of religion as opium rang far truer to me during this Lent then it ever did before. A bit disturbingly so. And the Freudian observation that what we “use” God for is just an Anxiety-buffer, a Cosmic Illusion almost custom-made to answer our deepest anxieties, which Freud seemed to say all branched off of the ultimate anxiety of death and non-existence.

    I was unaware how much I did that — how i used faith in that way — until I chose this Lent to believe that there was no God there to hear prayers, chose to believe that the world was pure random, chose to believe that we were all really on our own for a little while and then it is really all just over.

    So it was a stark Lent. More so than just giving up chocolates.

    But to the “security blanket” comparison: my younger brother had an actual security blanket. One that he had as an infant and kept until it was literally in tatters and he was maybe 5 or 6…. And I hate to admit how much of my faith now feels more analogous to his tattered scrap of a “blankie” than I thought it did 5 weeks ago.

    • Chuck March 25, 2013

      Thanks for the honesty and I wish you good luck on your journey.

    • Abigail March 25, 2013

      Thank you, Tim, for your touching transparency. Hope things start to get better for you soon.

      Here’s my perspective on the “security blanket” phenomenon, from an Attachment Theory perspective: We offer our children “lovies”, or pacifiers, or special stuffed animals, “blankies,” etc., because we cannot always be physically present to help them when they feel vulnerable and weak. These devices become replacements for what children really need –a human connection. In our fragmented and disconnected society, we, unfortunately, find it normal to separate children from their parents, and from each other, and when they react with horror, we replace those connections with inanimate objects. We think it’s important to teach young children to “self-soothe.” What we really end up doing, though, is teaching them to numb their feelings, their desire for company, and their ability to attach. In fact, truly effective self-soothing will develop naturally, once a child has formed deeply secure attachments to the family. The way our society is set up, though, it’s difficult to avoid these times of detachment. (For millenia, human societies were organized around agriculture, and families spent their entire days together, living with the rhythms of the earth. These days, parents have to go to work, be on a strict schedule, etc.) Not trying to judge anyone’s parenting techniques, because I’m the first one to understand how incredibly difficult it is, and sometimes you just have to do what you have to do to get through. (And sometimes, even children who are securely attached end up fixating on an object to be their “lovie,” just because of their unique personalities. So, I’m not trying to make a universal truth about the role of security blankets… but perhaps a fairly general truth…)

      Well, this isn’t meant to be a thesis on parenting, sorry… What I’m aiming at is, it’s interesting to see that there are possible ramifications for the subject of this website, and what you said, Tim, about faith being a security blanket. Which page was it that said “when did we stop being enough for each other?” (Or was that phrase even on this site? I can’t remember where I read it! ha ha) Maybe, for some people, “God” becomes a security blanket, because there is a poverty of genuine, securely attached, meaningful human relationship in their lives. And usually, this is not due to the lack of actual people around one, but one’s inability to form intimacy with those people, based on the conditioning of society, traumas, defense mechanisms, etc. in one’s own mind.
      It’s also a systemic problem, as much as it is an individual problem, because if everyone in the group is incapable of forming meaningful intimacy, then only one person being capable wouldn’t be very helpful.

      • Paul March 25, 2013

        Abigail, given your interests in attachment theory, you may like Anna Maria Rizzuto’s Birth of the Living God.

  6. Paul March 25, 2013

    AFL has met my expectations in that it has provided a forum for me to think out loud and hear other experiences and thoughts. Thank you all. Having read many of the authors previously, I wouldn’t say “wholly weak” describes the outcome. If anything I feel somewhat renewed; clearer, braver, and as if life has a little more crispness.

    I have very much enjoyed the questions and dialogue. If anything, this process has affirmed that their are “atheisms”, just as there are theisms. I’ve realized that I belong within the boundaries of a loosely defined atheism that embraces the truths of a materialist religion. Wonder, awe, and reverence for existence are sedimented into my bones.

    The last post on paradox and dialectic really struck me because of how pervasive those two ideas have been throughout my quest from theism, to deism, to agnosticism, and atheism/panentheism (I suppose Gaia may be my god these days). Often, the challenge of holding two paradoxical ideas in tension is what faciliates the emergence of a new synthesis out of thesis–anti-thesis. If I had to sharpen the dialectic tension in which I currently find myself, it would be involve the question of how to live in light of my belief that there is no God. More specifically, do I live for some greater good, fellow feeling, commonwealth (which imply some of the those ideals associated with religion, such as altruism, kenosis, compassion) or do I secumb to hyper-individualism, enlightened self-interest, and a life of competition for increasingly sparse resources. I think the tension between those two capture god for me as much as god will ever continue to have any meaning in my life. In this sense, the “spiritual” evolution of the soul, psyche, or consciousness seems like some of the more pressing evolutionary tasks today. Still evangelizing even after all those years away from the evangelical church!

    I feel closest to being “wholly weak” when I think of my vocation. I about to finish a Ph.D in Pastoral Counseling at a Jesuit University. And, I don’t believe in god. A large portion of my work involves teaching and counseling students grappling with crisis of faith. My training involves “taking care” to those unable to experience it in their faith/church communities anymore. Often, they report being unable to find a home for their questiions, which drives many of them from the church. At the risk of sounding pompous, I’ve always liked how Tillich put it, “I come to bring faith to the doubting and doubt to the faithful”. I aspire to Tillich’s sentiment, hopefully without prosyltizing or pushing my non-beliefs on the student AND while leaving room for a touch of subversiveness.

    Lastly, as a point of pure irony, I agreed to act as Christ for the passion reading at our Episcopal church (the hazards of long hair and a beard). During this time, it occurred to me that despite my rejection of Christ being literally God, I still need Christ. Not as an idol or security blanket or metaphysical safety hatch to sneak out the backdoor of life, but as an example of radical acceptance (for a still too active super-ego) and compassion for a pluralistic society constantly faced with xenophobia and inequality. I’m thinking of his embrace of lepers, rich, poor, Gentiles, and prostitutes here.

    • Abigail March 26, 2013

      Wow! What a very tight position you’re in, career-wise! Does it feel uncomfortable to you, at some level, the tension between ministering in a Christian environment and your personal position on faith? From what you write, it seems like you are able to reconcile it as a point of empathy with those you serve, but perhaps there are moments where it’s not easy.

      So funny about playing Jesus. :)

      • Paul March 26, 2013

        Thank you, as always, for the poignant questions.

        I wonder if there are quite a lot of atheistic/agnostic religious persons in the world, even Priests? I wonder if being religious/spiritual and atheistic are necessarily incommensurable? Our program of study was ecumenical, largely agnostic towards metaphysical questions, and focused on the functional aspects of how religiousness/spirituality may be lived in ways both detrimental and benefical to psychological health. It followed in the wake of William James; pragmatic, but open to the “more” of what we don’t understand.

        I suppose it’s sort of an honor, or “calling” from within, not so much as beyond, to work alongside students with questions of faith. I don’t steer them toward an outcome so much as encourage them to “live the questions”. I have no discomfort with this process as a pastoral psychotherapist, but as a professor it gets a bit more complicated. Today, we lectured on the psychospiritual dynamics of homosexuality. We picked on Augustine’s phobia of sexuality for a bit, did some hermeneutics around “sin” and “obey” and “life abudant” and considered personal experiences. Not one student denied being told or thinking homosexuality was a sin at some point in their life. The opportunity to open a discussion on this topic with inquiring 18-22 year old minds is immensely life-giving, rather than reminiscent of feeling wholly weak. Maybe some of these kids will become atheists some day, but that’s their decision. What’s important is having a space with people who don’t tell you what to think, or corner you through presuppositional arguments, but help one speak their ambivalence out into the clarifying light of consciousness.

        In the final week of AFL, I’m hoping for more life-giving thoughts and ruminations. I realize this is not a personal blog, but I’m always interested in hearing about the emotional underside of the narrative. I would assert that the more informed and well integrated our decisions are regarding theism, agnosticism, and atheism, the more the respective camp will come to represent a true home for that longing to belong to something in this world

        • Abigail March 26, 2013

          Here’s an interesting article on atheism among clergy. http://newsweek.washingtonpost.com/onfaith/Non-Believing-Clergy.pdf It’s, obviously, really really hard to get statistics on this, because people in such positions want to keep their struggle secret, for fear of losing their livelihood.

          Speaking of secret… You said, “I realize this is not a personal blog, but I’m always interested in hearing about the emotional underside of the narrative.” And I think the author of this blog is dramatizing the point of the blog precisely by being secretive. Who made this blog? Where did it come from? Why is it here? Should we worship him? (Wait, is it a him or a her? How patriarchal to assume it’s a him! Surely the author has both masculine and feminine features, so that ALL students can identify and relate to her/him.) Sometimes when I go to this blog, I am struck with such a sense of wonder and awe, I think, “Surely, there MUST be an author.” Does not my sense of wonder prove the existence of an author? And yet, why does s/he not reveal her/himself more clearly??
          Tee hee…

          • Paul March 26, 2013

            LOL…!!!

            Great point, these questions simply show up every couple days from some unknown source. Yet, we, as the body of questioners have created a culture of mostly safe, open, respectful listening and response. We are all authors now.

            We are drawn out by what withdraws, grasped by the ungraspable, known by the unknowable, comprehended by what we cannot comprehend, okay, you get the point.

            Thanks for the link, I’ll check it out.

  7. Ronald W Alliston March 26, 2013

    I really wish there were dumber folks on here, everyone’s vocabulary and eloquence was the most challenging part for me.

    anyway-

    I’m feeling wholly weak because my biggest problem was I was making up this imaginary God and now I feel “reset” but something’s not healed. Not like this was supposed to do the work for me, I just haven’t figured that out yet.

    My expectations were definitely met for the most part, I knew this was gunna shake things up for me. I feel wanting more with not sure of how to continue this. I’ve actually came across challenging ideas because I’ve been looking for them now, so I guess that’s fine.

    I’m hoping for some sort of crescendo this final week.

    (heh, my posts are so mundane and safe compared to everyone else’s. Thanks for all the others like Abigail and Chuck, you were a big help!)

    • Abigail March 26, 2013

      Oh Ronald, don’t sell yourself short. Iron sharpens iron, and all that… I had to consult the dictionary a few times the past few weeks, myself. :)
      Keep shaking

    • Paul March 26, 2013

      Ronald makes a great point here. If answering these sorts of complex faith issues requires the perseverance–never-mind the time, education, and interest–to wade through writers like Zizek and Milbank, we’re all in a lot of trouble, and “dumb” by comparison!

      The last thing we need is an elitist atheism.

  8. Mahq March 27, 2013

    I agree with Ronald. The philosophical depth of the message board discussions has put me off posting for fear of looking thick, although most people who have posted seem to be agnostic/atheist/ a/theist which, to me, seems to go against the idea of AfL being part of Pete Rollins’ ‘pyro-theology’ for believers who want to challenge false ideas they have of God. That is not to say that AfL should be exclusive, it’s been interesting reading people’s responses. It’s just that they have bolstered my intention of making AfL more of a personal journey by writing in private. Even though no one on here knows me, I still wouldn’t have felt comfortable posting a lot of my work. It would not have been relevant or even on-topic half the time!

    So, to the questions:

    In what ways are you feeling wholly weak?

    I wouldn’t say I feel ‘wholly weak’ in any way but AfL has really challenged my heart and mind. As a relative newcomer to philosophy (I was generally aware of Freud, Neitszche, Marx and Zizek and pretty much understood The Architect at the end of The Matrix Reloaded!) and someone who considers himself ‘intellectual’, I found it tough engaging with most posts – which, I know, is really the point.

    I was weak disciplinarily, since I often did not do the AfL posts on the days they were actually uploaded – evidence of my ongoing struggle with discipline.

    I also struggled emotionally, for example, the Week 4 post, ‘The Disintegration Of God’ – particularly the music – took me to a really wierd place and the atheist concepts throughout AfL have shaken my concept of God, which, tellingly, stirred my anxiety as a believer. At times I felt like I was doing AfL as a piece of university coursework, to be handed in and marked. I imagined it being judged as crap, that I’m lazy and/or stupid. I imagined Christian friends criticizing me for doing AfL, like it was an insult to God, wasting time when I should be out there doing more constructive things, like preaching the gospel. No-one did criticize me for it, though. I wondered if using AfL as a distraction and an escape from action; a form of mental masturbation, a waste of time and giving in to worldly wisdom, since, as it says in 1 Corinthians (the same New Testament letter Zizek apparently takes as his starting point), ‘God has made the wisdom of this world look foolish!’ (1:20) and ‘As God in his wisdom ordained, the world failed to find him in its wisdom…’ (1:20) That’s not to say God’s existence cannot be argued using worldly reason but he is beyond that. It can only take us so far. In that sense, we are all weak.

    How has Atheism For Lent met your expectations? Where has it left you wanting?

    As a fan of pyro-theology and generally being in a place of reassessing my beliefs, I came to AfL hoping it would help me set fire to my beliefs in the way that Rollins describes, leaving me with that ‘holy seed’ of truth, having burned away all the taught and false notions and ideas of God and Jesus. I wanted AfL to be a decluttering of the soul and it has certainly been a very good start. It has left me with more questions than answers but then, uncertainty is the point, right? Certainly, my brain and soul have had a really good workout and I am not half as intellectual as I thought!

    Where has it left me wanting? Well, the spelling could have been a bit better! Apart from this some posts seemed rather lazy in that some were only a (admittedly challenging or helpful) couple of clips or quotes, with one or two questions based off those. It seemed a little slapdash at times. I should bear in mind that Rollins is a busy man and his AfL is in its early stages, albeit inspired by Katherine Sarah Moody (see Week 1’s Invention Of Lying post). I would have liked more Christians to use the course, too, not just agnostics, atheists, etc whatever those labels mean, now.

    What are you hoping for in this final and holy week?

    For some comfort and answers! Some hope. No, I hope to go into Easter weekend with a better idea, at least, of my beliefs and how I will go forward in them. I hope for some direction, at least…

    • Chuck March 27, 2013

      Good luck to you Mahq. And apologies to you (and all) for my misunderstanding of this program (now understood). I didn’t realize that there was something known as pyro-theology and didn’t understand that AFL was simply just an idiosyncratic Christian hermeneutic.

      I hope I didn’t waste people’s time too much.

      • Paul March 27, 2013

        Chuck,

        I’ve appreciated your comments throughout AFL. You helped me clarify the difference between modern and postmodern atheism and better locate my biases on that note. Oddly enough, the chasm between modernism and postmodernism seems wider between those of theism/atheism, at times.

        I’d be curious to hear who of some of the most influential modernist thinkers you have read. I teach Research Methodology for psychology so I value deduction/induction quite a lot, but I can never get around the fact (at least for the social realities of psych, rather than nuero-bio-physiological realities) that how we study phenomena is in itself a tradition of a priori assumptions, that preload our “truths” with theory, our facts with values, and our explanations with interpretation. I appreciate the biological aspects (FMRI) because they act as submoments of critical distance between explanation and interpretation. I realize this is modern science from a postmodern perspective.

        thank you

        • Chuck March 28, 2013

          There is only one that I wholly identify with Paul and that is John Dewey. His application of pragmatism to humanism enables the scientific method to serve something greater than itself. It includes awe without demanding an ontology of spiritualism. His use of the Hegel dialectic makes sense to my experience but he doesn’t get caught up in Hegel’s idealism (which seems too teleologic for my tastes). His articulation of Democracy and activism for public education also are in line with my ethics. Have you considered deeper reading into his functional psychology as you wrestle with the methodological questions you are considering? It allows for a non-linear understanding of the stimulus response mechanism without losing a methodological rigor, nor abandonment of naturalism.

          One other note, it is said that Dewey inspired Paul Kurtz to champion the Center for Inquiry and I love the CFI.

          • Paul March 28, 2013

            Much more familiar with the functionalism of James than Dewey (our program takes a funtionalist approach to the social scientific study of religion and spirituality). From what I recall, Dewey’s “natural piety” resonated; perhaps that is the wonder, awe, humility you speak of, without advertising one teleological vision for all, but still leaving room for a naturalist gestalt. However, isn’t there an implicit normative teleology even in the functional approach to stimulus–mediated by context–response. I guess I’m simply asserting that a thoroughly naturalistic science is built on a priori principles as well, which makes it a tradition, as with Dewey’s other central interest, democracy. And, that traditions ascend best when the implicit assumptions in which they are embedded are made explicit so as to clarify, critique, and deepen our apprehension of science and its use.

            I think Dewey, James, and Emerson might be a good balance to postmodern hermenuetics overall.

      • Abigail March 28, 2013

        Chuck, you didn’t waste ANYONE’S time! The authors were not always the clearest on their intentions, audience, and focus, but it seemed that the main intention was to start conversations. And converse we all did; none of it was a waste.

      • Mahq March 28, 2013

        Thanks Chuck but there is no apology necessary. I was in no way trying to suggest you were wasting anyone’s time and I should apologise if you were offended by what I wrote. Whilst, in my view, AfL seems to be an offshoot of pyrotheology, it is its own beast and open to a wide range of viewpoints. You have been one of the most regular and popular commenters on these boards, so fair play to you and I hope you enjoy what’s left of Atheism For Lent.

        • Chuck March 28, 2013

          Thanks Mahq. You by no means insinuated I was wasting anyone’s time. I just wanted to be considerate. I realized after your comment that I was not as aware of the AFL intention as I might have been during the process.

    • Paul March 27, 2013

      Mahq-I appreciate hearing your thoughts. I know the anxiety you speak of when you alluded to the idea of decluttering. Reminds me of Eckhart’s “I pray God to rid me of God”.

      As a balance, you might find some Radical Orthodoxy interesting, particularly Jamie Smith’s Whose Afraid of Postmodernity as a starter. Where Pete does really well with deconstructing, or apophatic theology, it seems capable of only going so far, namely because it continues to play by the same rule Descartes laid down at the beginning of the enlightenment–that all truth must be certain all knowledge must be objective. That’s a modern epistemology borrowed by postmodern thinking, used to dismantle modernism, but then what? Smith, in contrast, posits a more constructive postmodernity, capable of speaking to the cataphatic sense of how do we then live as people in community. I find that Rollins and Smith are a good balance to one another, but for me, I’ve picked up with Smith after Rollins and Caputo/Derrida (especially) helped me deconstruct thoroughly.

      Anyhow, here’s a link if your interested…

      If, this all seems irrelevant or out of place regarding your process…please just disregard. I know we all have our own journey.

      Peace to you.

    • Abigail March 27, 2013

      I bet 99% of intellectual people who are willing to face their inner realities and be honest would admit to “the fear of looking stupid” as one of their primary motivators. At least, I know that’s the case for me. Smart people inspire me, magnetize me, and intimidate me, all at the same time, and I feel such a desire to be at least accepted by, if not on par with, brilliant minds. At some level I don’t feel worthy to contribute to their conversations, but when I have the opportunity I try do so with bravado, with my motivation at least partly being: hoping nobody will notice that I don’t have as much education, skill, or expertise as everyone else. I think your response of withdrawal, and mine of charging forward, may both be based in similar fears of inadequacy. But when people tell me I’m smart, and describe similar reactions to my words, it makes me think that most of us might be in the same boat.
      Mahq, you haven’t shown any signs of being thick. Your answers have been cogent, literate, and insightful.

      • Mahq March 28, 2013

        Thanks, Abigail, that’s very revealing and comforting. It looks like you and I are more on the same level than I thought, although we have certainly come to AfL from very different perspectives.

  9. Abigail March 27, 2013

    I bet 99% of intellectual people who are willing to face their inner realities and be honest would admit to “the fear of looking stupid” as one of their primary motivators. At least, I know that’s the case for me. Smart people inspire me, magnetize me, and intimidate me, all at the same time, and I feel such a desire to be at least accepted by, if not on par with, brilliant minds. At some level I don’t feel worthy to contribute to their conversations, but when I have the opportunity I try do so with bravado, with my motivation at least partly being: hoping nobody will notice that I don’t have as much education, skill, or expertise as everyone else. I think your response of withdrawal, and mine of charging forward, may both be based in similar fears of inadequacy. But when people tell me I’m smart, and describe similar reactions to my words, it makes me think that most of us might be in the same boat.
    Mahq, you haven’t shown any signs of being thick. Your answers have been cogent, literate, and insightful.

  10. Abigail March 27, 2013

    By the way, everyone keeps making the assumption that Peter Rollins is the one authoring this course. On the “About” page, though, it says:

    “This iteration of Atheism for Lent was created and curated by ikonNYC, specifically Jim Kast-Keat, Bo Eberle, Nelson Costa, and Andy Meisenheimer with contributions from Tad DeLay. They leaned on the work and writing of Peter Rollins, Katharine Moody, Merold Westphal, and William Lloyd Newell.”

    • Mahq March 28, 2013

      Right you are, Abigail, I didn’t even look on the “About” page :s

      Poor Pete’s taken a bashing for Atheism For Lent when he didn’t even write it! Check out this article by Micah Bales on AfL http://lambswar.blogspot.co.uk/2013/02/should-we-give-up-god-for-lent.html

      • Abigail March 29, 2013

        Well, in doing a bit of further research, it seems he did come up with the ideas. Maybe he’s too busy to “run the show” this year? Or maybe the text on the “About” page is a clerical error? We’ve been interpreting it wrong all this time, and if we go back to the original documents we discover… (Ha ha ha)
        I left a comment on the page you linked to…

        • Abigail March 29, 2013

          “He” in my above paragraph, referring to Peter Rollins, not Micah Bales, just to be clear…

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