Sent in by Jamie
Since de-converting, the question of "what is spiritual" comes up a lot. I am learning to just let it flow and enjoy it, whatever "it" is and even if "it" is simply my imagination.
The other day, a man I know shared about how agitated he was and how he realized that he was trying to control everything. "When I remember that it is God's will, not mine," he said, "then things are okay and I am at peace". I had to think about this a lot. From this new perspective of mine, it seemed meaningless. He said he was giving control back to God (or "letting go and letting God" in the cultural parlance). It occurred to me that what he thinks of as "God's Will" is simply the way things are. He is at peace when he accepts the world around him as it is.
...As it is... If we personified "The world as it is"--if the world could speak in the first person--would it say, "I Am"? Isn't that God's name?
The poet in me plays with this stuff. And whatever I call "spirituality" flows like this. I can no longer believe in the Christian God as He was presented to me. In fact, I am unsure if I can believe in any God at all. But I can believe that the world "is", that we "are", that I "am". And when I accept that, when I take a deep breath and breathe in the air that "is" and feel the keyboard under my fingers, and wonder at the world around me and the way I can experience it in the present...the way I'm 'designed' to and the only way I can...I am at peace.
Already I can anticipate the "yeah, buts" going on in people's heads...whether or not they actually are. Peace is elusive as long as I worry about what other people think of my spirituality. But when I think of all the people who now consider me lost, who think of my de-conversion as a pan frying me into human bacon, it hurts. I don't want people to have to think that.
After it hurts, it makes me angry. It makes me angry that I've been part of a system that perpetuates this divide (all the while insisting it's about unity). It makes me angry that it is still being perpetuated on all too willing souls. It makes me angry that the only way to bridge the chasm, it seems, is for me to reconvert and believe what I'm supposed to (which, at this point, means pretending to believe what I am supposed to).
Sometimes I have to remember that I take my beliefs personally, and so do most others. It's a fine line between "I'm right" and "you're wrong", yet it's the line on which I have to balance. When it comes to spirituality, nothing is provable. It's one of the few areas that I can say "I think I am right" without meaning "I think you are wrong". Because the truth is, that I simply don't know the unknowable. And so I remember that I have to let the anger go.
It helps that I have some friends who are willing to listen. Some of these are Christian friends. Some of them believe I'll come around even if I don't see how. One of these friends is agnostic and has been able to share with me some of the loneliness that comes along with losing faith. She assures me that things will be okay once the shock wears off.
And in the mean time I practice accepting what is and discover moments where I realize that there is wonder enough in what is to give me a lifetime of awe. And if there turns out to be magic in it, that would be okay too.
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Online Reading List
- An Outline of Intellectual Rubbish by Bertrand Russell (1943)
- Bible Teaching and Religious Practice by Mark Twain
- God is Imaginary
- Is there an Artificial God? by Douglas Adams (1998)
- Skeptics Annotated Bible
- The Age of Reason by Thomas Paine (1795)
- Which Way? by Robert Ingersoll (1884).
- Why I Am Not A Christian by Bertrand Russell (1927)