atheism for lent, interlude 2: a/theist
I shared these thoughts with the AfL group and thought it might be useful to record them here and expand them slightly.
At this point in my life, I consider myself an a/theist living “in the slash” between the two. I believe and I don’t believe. I hold both attitudes/orientations/mindsets gently and loosely, so I can turn them to the light like turning a diamond, examining as many of the beautiful facets as I can.
I picture most of my spiritual journey as crossing a river via stepping stones. All my life, I’ve hopped from one stone to the next: from “I believe because that’s what I was taught” to “I am examining my own reasons for belief, not other people’s reasons” to “I can’t in good conscience participate in this style of worship anymore” to “this is not a healthy manner of gathering with other believers” to “I cannot effing do this anymore” to “yay, I believe fully again! I just can’t commit to this group” etc, etc, etc. To delineate the specifics of every “stone” I’ve found myself on would take an entire book.
All the while, as I’m jumping from one stone to the next because that seems best to me, I’m thinking, “I *must* make it across that river!”
But several years ago, I thought to myself, “Why?! What’s wrong with the river? Are you scared of the water?”
So I stepped off the most recent stone (organic house church; the group I was with fell apart 5 years ago) and splashed down into the water. That’s where I live now. The water is the a/theist “slash.”
It’s not that I’m not progressing — I’m just moving ahead in a different way, experiencing the water and all its mysteries I used to be too scared to look at too closely.
I’m not “safe” anymore. And I love it.
As an addendum, here’s a repost of some of my thoughts from AfL2020:
What is the belief you’re trying to get beyond? To get beyond it, you have to go deeper into it. You have to dig so deep that you freeze. You have to claw through the ice. You have to rip yourself to shreds until you arrive at the molten core of your belief — and when you get there, it’s going to burn you to ash.
Sorry, hon. That’s just how it is on this wild ride. To get out, you have to go through.
Most “religious” people? They’ll scratch around on the surface. They might even move from one surface to another: that’s called “conversion.”
You can convert from a fabulously fundamentalist Christianity to an atheism that blisters every deity-based faith in your path, but if you’re not going deep into what you’re leaving behind…
…if you’re abandoning the search for wholeness in God…
…and instead seeking fulfillment in other things…
…such as money, sex, fame, fitness, health, drugs, relationships, literature, hobbies, various -isms, or science…all of which fill that gap between who you are and who you wish you were…
…then, sweetness, you are still just as religious as the person filling that gap with God.
You wanna be an atheist? Or an a/theist?
Stop converting from one -ism to another. Stop filling the gap. Stay in the gap, the uncomfortable excruciating torturous make-you-wanna-rip-out-your-esophagus-with-frustration gap. Stay in it until it burns you to ash.
You wanna come out on the other side?
Convert from your need for conversion.