I gave up God a few months ago. This was not a frivolous decision. It was definitely not a choice. I became a committed, active believer in a fluid, but fundamental, maleable but malevolent strand of Christianity at the age of 13. Within months of my commitment, I began to find things that I questioned. I began to find things that made no sense to me. I tried to ignore them but couldn’t. God is mysterious. God is mysterious. God is mysterious. He saw in more dimensions and from more angles than I could comprehend. Like a spider with eight eyes. He may have been part spider. He was said to be terrifying so that would make sense. I understood how evolution worked from the time I was six and discovered that dinosaurs were the most badass, respectable things that had ever been. (At no time did my strain of Christianity ever mutate into the kind that claims that dinosaurs never existed. If it had my heart would have been torn in two. I have a passionate respect for dinosaurs. You should too.) I was told that evolution was a big “False,” and believed that for a few months, because I was believing anything I was told, finally I found a mutation of Christianity that allowed me to understand that God had created everything, Genesis was a poetic explanation, but not a scientific one. My intellectual white blood cells had begun attacking the disease. I felt a little better. There would be so much more battling though. My mind would become exhausted from the mental gymnastics I was about to put it through. If my mind was a ball of playdough I was about to shove it into that weird spaghetti-maker tool.
It is now almost 20 years later. I can describe some of that time and the valiant fight my intellectual immune system waged against the invading nonsense, and the emotional, mental, financial, psycho-sexual toll it all took on me. I will do so here and there as I write. Suffice to say that within the last six months, Jesus Christ, living within me took a deep breath, exhaled, and was no more. My velveteen rabbit religion hopped merrily into the woods to find some other poor boy to fuck with for twenty years.
(Very negative, angry language. I have a feeling I’ll wander back and forth between whistful remembrance and vitriol, both in my writing and in my mind for years.)
Now I’m starting to learn what life is like, alone in the universe. Earth, full of it’s legions of latch-key kids, most thinking Daddy will still be coming home from the gas station with the carton of cigs and the “Yoohoos for everybody!” that he’d promised so long ago. But wait. It’s FUN to be left alone. When the teacher would leave the classroom- just for a moment- and order all heads down on the desks for a quick, short nap. That was the BEST time. That’s when you could do what you want. When mom and dad went out for the night and left you 30 bucks for pizza. Those were the BEST times… if you did them right. Some of you recovering from your religion ain’t doing it right. (I humbly suggest.)
And I get it. To an extent, I was and am still dealing with it. So much time wasted. Hell, I MAJORED in ministry. I studied the Bible. It’s a book of psychotic fairy tales. I recently was informed that there are god-monsters called Nephalim that are giants, descended of angels and humans. This is scientific fact, according to nearly half the U.S. population. And now the phrase “newly atheist” really wrecks my pastoral resume. So many friends and family I can’t talk to. Can’t tell. Everyone has a story about it. Who doesn’t ask “What now?” But that question isn’t rhetorical, and it has many good answers.
Life can be good. It can be amazing. We live on the planet that grew dinosaurs, afterall. It’s a beautiful planet with lots to offer. It’s very, very ruined in many places, but not, at least, for the majority who will read this. For the majority of us, there is a national park within an hour drive. There are museums with insanely awesome science, history, and sometimes outright strangeness. There are arenas and ballparks where people have dedicated their lives to honing their athletic ability and are, day after day, doing insanely athletic things, and waiting for you to stop in and see them. Anything and everything that was awesome for you back when God made it, is still awesome now that it’s just here. Usually it’s more awesome.
There are people around you way more interesting and mature than God ever was. Non-imaginary people. You may have seen the title of this post, and the Calvin and Hobbes cartoon and assumed that Hobbes was the imaginary friend. Maybe not. Maybe Hobbes is real. Maybe you have tons of good people in your life you’ve been giving all the respect of a stuffed toy because of your love affair with an egocentric, angry god. Maybe you’re married to one of those people. Maybe if you take them outside and play with them, you’ll discover they’re real.
I know. It’s sappy. Whatever. I liked it.