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Don’t touch my God Shaped Hole

Before you can sell the solution, you’ve got to sell the problem. Infomercial formula: Black and white reenactments of ham-fisted actors bumbling around trying desperately to do some difficult household chore like cut a tomato or eat a grape.  Then, WHAMO!, the product of your dreams appears in Technicolor through the magic of television.  Those days of frustration you felt for not having sleeves in your blanket are as outdated as a Dobie Gillis episode.

In order for you to buy a cure, you need to be convinced you’re sick.  Beauty products aren’t beauty products anymore, they’ve been renamed health products.  More urgent that way, and their advertisements reflect it. –Open with wide shot of our avatar sitting on the patio of a cafe, sunlight reflecting off the glassware.  Opposite gendered person approaches in modern but professional apparrel.  Camera zooms in close to reveal startling health concern.  Everyone is so embarrassed!–  These things usually involve a woman on a blind date with someone who looks like David Beckham if he tried harder and worked out some more.   How did she get to this crucial moment in her life and not realize she has thinnish eyelashes, a skin blemish, and/or an intractable case of “not looking exactly like Sofia Vergara”.  Then, she realizes, she can either become agoraphobic and ring church bells for the rest of her life or….

For me the first time I realized how marketing worked was teeth whitening.  As a kid, I had no idea teeth were supposed to look as white as an 81/2 by 11.  (Full disclosure, I’m male.  I know I’ve got it easy when it comes to the media vs. body image thing.)  But for me, as a coffee addict, the white teeth sales pitch got me.  Don’t get me wrong, I’ve plenty of other hang ups, but I wasn’t around the genesis of those.  I got to see people go from archaic sepia-tones to sand-blasted porcelain in just a matter of a few years.  It’s like carbon dating.  You can tell how old a movie is by examining actor teeth.  I remember thinking to myself, I’m being sold a disease and no amount of conscious effort can forestall it infecting my brain.

Enough preamble.  The God-shaped hole is one of the laziest arguments you’ll ever encounter. So lazy you’ll swear Pascal must have thought it up.  Oh wait.  He did. (along with Augustine and CS Lewis).  It states that we have a desire to experience greater things and to have order in the world, THEREFORE, there must be a greater experience than this one.  Because we want more, there must be more.  The proof is in the problem.

1.  It’s not biblical.  The evidence to support this claim is weak with regard to the holy book.  Acts 22:27 is basically the one go to verse.  It’s Paul’s pitch to the Greeks who have a statue to “an unknown god”.  Guess what?  That unknown god is God!  He made you humans look all around for him (and then presumably give up and just call him unknown for a few thousand years).  That’s promising.  But wait… Romans 3:11 states that “no one is righteous, no one seeks god“.  Oops.  In using the sales pitch of sin, Paul screwed up his sales pitch of God searching.

2.  It’s lazy as hell.  Imagine a commercial that said you had a cheese pizza shaped hole in your life.  You could try and fill it with hamburgers and tacos, but you will never be satisfied.  That’s as subtle and well thought out as a Robin Williams punchline.  BUY PIZZA, WHY?  BECAUSE YOU WERE MADE TO EAT PIZZA!  Na-Nu Na-Nu.

3.  It’s condescending.  Christians are whole.  I’ve got a hole.  They have joy, I’ve got to settle for being happy.  Basically, christians have the Renee Zellweger of God to complete them.  All I’ve got to settle for is “Kwan”.

4.  It’s ineffectual.  Christians don’t stop buying things.  In fact, they LOVE shit.  They can’t get enough of it.  Bigger churches, houses, cars, everything.  Step one in “planting” a new church is hiring a minister with designer jeans and an Ipad to stand up in front of an IMAX screen while rock music shakes the coffee in the cup holders.  How am I the one who is desperately trying to fill my God shaped hole with what the material world has to offer?  (Feel free to counter with Christians are imperfect or those are bad Christians.  Or that they are using those tactics only to lure in non-believers.  Sacrifice = For christians so love the world that they eat a free donut for you.)

5. CS Lewis (I like his writing) wrote one embarrassingly bad thing with this: “If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.”  Seriously. He used the word PROBABLE.  Hey CS, those Occam’s Razors aren’t disposable.

6.  (Anecdotal, I know) I’m happier now than when I was a christian.

7.  It’s quite vague.  People say that materialism and the fact that lots of cultures have established gods are proof of a god shaped hole.  These seem really different to me.  Which do you find more convincing?  Then it’s that one.

8. Teeth whitening wouldn’t have worked if there wasn’t some truth to it.  Social shame, a desire to be young, and sexual attractiveness are real things and when they are associated with bleach trays, it moves bleach trays.  I’m not arguing that.  But it’s backwards.  Sexual attraction isn’t proof that bleach trays exist.  As my blogmate John quoted, that fact that I desire something isn’t proof that it exists. I almost don’t have a problem with them using the fact that humans have problems and frustrations to sell god (if there was a god and he could demonstrate a decent percentage rate of fixing those problems).  But showing me a problem and then using that problem as proof of the existence of a solution is naive and not very realistic.  Just think.  How did all those people live for thousands of years without Crest Whitening Toothpaste?  Surely, their yellow teeth was a sign that gel exists with which to cure it!

All that said, sometimes I think people do have God shaped holes.  And only christians fill them. We all have two of them, and they led to our eardrums.  (I kid!)

Prove me wrong.  Leave a comment!


About jesuschristpooperstar

Just a couple of bros.

17 responses »

  1. that first juicer sucks balls

  2. daniellehammon

    I enjoyed this one. The god-shaped hole was definitely one of my last hold outs. C.S. Lewis endorsed it (and he used to be an atheist! OMG!). I felt it was one of the more “sophisticated” point of views regarding apologetics. Selling the problem works because it keeps you sick. As long as you are sick, you’ll always need a remedy, unless someone tells you… you’re not actually sick. Once you establish that you can’t establish an absolute truth, it makes it hard to establish that you absolutely need something. And I absolutely agree with number 6.

    • Thanks Danielle. I’m so glad you agree with #6. I scrolled up to check which point that was, and I was totally excited for it to be that one. I’m not sure about you, but I genuinely feel much more at peace. All the little cognitive dissonance issues (and with regard to religion they are more numerous than the stars) are completely gone.

      Also, I agree it is a tricky one for sure. It can mean a lot of different things to different people. I too felt and still feel a bit too much reverence for the Protestant saints of Chesterton and Lewis. In my job with Starbucks we did icebreaker type questions in our intro class, and I can’t tell you how many seminary students wanted to “have a cup of coffee” with CS Lewis if they could do so with anyone in the world, past or present (which is funny). That’s probably a blog post right there. Protestant Saints. Let me know if you think of anymore.

      • Larry Ferguson

        I’m glad you are happier now. So that would suggest 2 things to me. The first being that you were never a Christian. You were just jesuschristpooperstar (retarded name by the way) going to a church and seeing all the “rules” that the Bible lays out and trying (maybe) to live like the preacher says to and being frustrated and constantly guilty. Secondly, if you’re happier now it makes total sense. Who would want to try to live up to the example Jesus is without accepting the grace he’s provided? You can be a self-serving humanist and cruise around with a false sense of humility without any guilt. Win-win-win. Since you’ve generalized Christians, I’ll generalize atheists since I run into them regularly. Atheists are the most arrogant bastards you’ll ever meet. Every one I’ve tried to converse with acts like they have a corner on the truth of the universe and they are heads and tails above anyone with a differing view. Atheists like to make sure others know they are not concerned with material possessions and chastise those who do. I’d wager atheists are just as concerned with bigger houses, cars, etc as those who claim to be Christians but do not live like it. I agree with you that there are a lot of people in churches calling themselves Christians who are no more Christians than a 1969 Mustang Mach 1.

        Blogs are great.

        Also, relevant though crappy quality:

      • “I’m glad that you’re happier now. So that would suggest 2 things to me. The first being that you were never a Christian.

        How could Jon not have been a Christian? The Bible says “seek and you will find, knock and the door will be answered.” For years, literally years, Jon (and myself, and my wife, and millions of former believers.) sought, and knocked. We somehow didn’t find. The Bible says that we would. We did not. Forget how we rationalize that… How do YOU rationalize that? We weren’t rebels who angrily turned away from God. My last effort as a christian was a 9-month or so struggle to once and for all SOLIDIFY my faith. The killing blow to my religion was an effort to seek. How can that be true in light of your Bible?

        I’m interested to know what you’d say. I mean, if God said to you, “Try the queso, it’s delicious.” And you tried the queso and it was objectively NOT delicious, how do you make sense of that? Is God tricking you? Was he tricking me when he told me to seek? Is he being ironic? “Yeah, SEEK me and you’ll DEFINITELY find me! (snicker, guffaw.) Hey… angels… hey… look at this goofy dude, trying to find me… ha! If he knocks I’m TOTALLY not gonna answer!” No, I doubt you’d say that. What then? Was I not REALLY seeking him? Really? For nearly 20 years? Crying in prayer? Faithfully attending church? Going to Bible college and studying the word? Trying daily to draw nearer to him? That wasn’t getting it done? Hell, Jon learned Greek. GREEK FOR CRYING OUT LOUD. THE HUMANITY…

        He’s omnipotent. And I tried. So what fell apart? How can you honestly suggest that we weren’t REALLY christians? How can you honestly make that argument? I know what I think. And I’ll say what I think. And I have a lot more to say as well, but honestly? I want to stop there and see how you’d respond to that. Tell me how that makes sense to you.

        (Aside: I give you permission to abandon this argument and get another one. Or lean on the other ones you made so I can have a go at them. I won’t ridicule you for it. Seriously. You don’t have to die on this bastille. If you’d like to respond and say, “you know what? That didn’t make sense. You guys were christians, clearly.” I offer amnesty for that. Up to you.)

        -John with an H.

  3. I would argue, in response to your statement that Christians are known for liking material possessions, that many of those people are not truly Christians. Matthew 6:24 says, “No one can serve two masters… you cannot serve both God and money.” I hope my own family and church are some examples of this. My church is very small and has an extremely simple, plain building. Our tithe goes to support church plants and missionaries around the world. Shelby and I could have had the opportunity to pursue worldly wealth, since his job does pay exceedingly well, but we chose to adopt an orphan with that money. I’m not trying to be self-righteous and boast about it- we just knew it was what God was leading us to do. There are so many ways God spoke directly to me to lead us to that decision (including a phone call from a stranger the day I was sending our first check in to the adoption agency- who urged us to consider another agency. If we hadn’t done that, we would never have been matched with Eli, who we can’t imagine living without). This life isn’t about money, and money clearly never satisfies anyone. But I’m sure you know examples of people (monks and nuns being the obvious ones) who have pursued Christ above worldly wealth.

    But we know we can’t just rely on others’ experience as an adequate reflection of how true believers should act. As you said, no one is perfect, and we all make mistakes sometimes. When Paul says, “no one is righteous; no one seeks God,” he doesn’t mean no one is looking for God, as far as I can tell. I always had the impression that he meant no one could find Him on their own. We need God to draw us to Himself. Your claim that Christians are “complete” is absolutely true- though I don’t find it condescending to say. I certainly wouldn’t feel morally superior to someone who is drowning in a lake, just because I happened to stumble upon the shore and reach it first (or a more appropriate example- just because someone threw me a raft first). Christians are simply more aware of their need for God, and our own shortcomings, which should inspire humility in us, not pride. To me, it’s not a hole that needed to be filled- it is the very essence of who I am now. My heart was dead; now it is alive.

    I believe that reason and logic alone will not lead you to the gospel. It isn’t meant to. There will always be an element of faith- otherwise, our free will would be squashed. I know the topic of predestination and free will is a sensitive one; extremely hard to figure out. But why shouldn’t it be? God’s knowledge is higher than ours. If it wasn’t, we could compare ourselves to Him and He wouldn’t be God. It is His wisdom and omnipotence that make Him God. I personally believe predestination and free will work hand in hand, in a way we can’t fathom while on this earth. In my limited understanding, I see it this way: God doesn’t have a linear view of time like we do. He can see everything happening at once- and that is how He knows who will accept Him and who will not. He is drawing everyone to Himself, though not everyone will use their free will to accept. However, I have many Christian friends who believe strongly in predestination alone, and that is okay. We get along, even if we don’t always see eye to eye.

    But I got off topic. I’m sure this is all over the place, since I have two little boys running around at my feet. I apologize if this is disjointed and doesn’t make sense. I meant to say that logic alone will not lead you to faith. We can’t trust our reason, alone. Assuming that science and human reasoning are king and working back from that point, without first assuming doubt, is no better than the Christian starting from our own worldview. We either presume the Bible or science to be true- both are “religions” in a sense- and the problem is that science is not a base-level belief. It is resting on other beliefs that can only be true if the Bible is true. To get to science as you define it, you must be positive that human reason is not flawed, the senses are trustworthy, etc. While Christianity can’t be scientifically proven, neither can much of history. We have historical documents that provide legal and historical evidence- they aren’t determined scientifically (an example of this would be that Abraham Lincoln was president- we can’t prove that scientifically, only through historical evidence). Christianity is not rooted in science, it is rooted in historical facts.

    Here is a quote I found compelling: “…only the Christian worldview provides the necessary preconditions for the intelligibility of human experience.That is, only the Christian view of God, creation, providence, revelation, and human nature can make sense of the world in which we live. So, for example, only the Christian worldview can make sense out of morality since it alone provides the necessary presuppositions for making ethical evaluations, namely, an absolute and personal Law Giver who reveals His moral will to mankind. It does not make sense, however, for the atheist/materialist to denounce any action as wrong since, according to his worldview, all that exists is matter in motion. And matter in motion is inherently non-moral. That is, since the world according to the materialist is totally explicable in terms of physical processes, and since physical processes are categorically non-moral, moral considerations have no place in his worldview. Thus for the materialist to say that stealing is morally wrong makes as much sense as saying that the secretion of insulin from the pancreas is morally wrong. [This is not to say, however, that atheists never act morally. Atheists feed their children, give money to charity and often make good neighbors. But atheists cannot give a justification for their actions. In the words of Cornelius Van Til, they are living on “borrowed capital” from the Christian worldview. Thus they profess one thing, but their actions belie this profession].- Michael Butler

    While of course I’m brokenhearted that you have decided to leave the faith, I am thankful that you are so open to talking about the gospel. Most atheists aren’t- many of the ones I have met have been extremely defensive and arrogant in their opinions, refusing to listen to what Christians have to say. I’m glad the dialogue is open. I know you are an extremely intelligent guy and I certainly don’t claim to be smarter than you, or to have figured it all out. Just wanted to share my own experience.

    • First off, thank you so much for this kind and incredibly sincere reply to my silly amalgam of pop culture references and for a lack of a better term “jokes”. I love the dialogue too! Confirmation Bias is a powerful thing, so you taking the time to read something you know you will disagree with is something I respect. It’s like James Carville waking up and turning on FoxNews.

      Anyway, let me quickly respond to some aspects of what you said to continue the dialogue. First I love your outlook on the world. You and your adoption story seems like what your god intended things to look like. I’m not kidding. However, you took me up on the “those aren’t christians argument” and I thank you. The church needs to probably look into that. It’s kind of a big deal to say that believing in Jesus isn’t enough to save you. Despite that Jesus says, it’s nearly impossible for rich people to go to heaven. But don’t worry, christians have found a loophole big enough to get their camels through. Trust me, “those christians” (vague enough not to include anyone) believe in Jesus. I’ve met them and prayed with them and gone to their superchurch. So have you! They are nice people right? They are going to hell? Let me ask this question: Why do you suppose that people who accept Jesus as their Savior and are baptized do not feel similarly convicted? Isn’t it true that god said he would inhabit them with the holy spirit? Wasn’t it jesus’ last prayer to (himself?) in the garden of the sleepy apostles “so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me? Is it any wonder why I don’t know that he (male pronoun god) sent him (male god)? Can a perfect god pray something to himself and not hear it? That’s some tree falling in the forest stuff right there.

      I am similarly convicted of the fact that there is more to life than money. But that’s our generation, the world is full of people giving up good jobs to help others or follow their dreams. Most don’t need god to share in that truth. That’s life. We get the things we need (plus an Ipad or two) and we do the things we want. Your’s is raising a family and helping others. Mine right now is raising money for schools and furthering my education.

      Two more: There are plenty of reasons for morality to still be in play post-godpocalypse. Look at it from my perspective for argument’s sake. From my perspective you are convincing yourself there is a god and doing nice and good things because you sincerely want to do nice things. You don’t want to hurt anyone for loads of other reasons besides just “God said not to”. From my perspective you are a good person despite there not being a god! It is false to say atheists can’t provide a foundation for ethics. We nearly all follow the cultural norms for morality. I sincerely want to be the change I see in the world, Ghandi-style. My justification for my actions is that we are social creatures living in cultures and I love and benefit much more greatly from working together than working apart. The fact that there are atoms has no bearing on ethics. You don’t need to tie morality with the Saturn’s rings. I’m not JUST atoms. It is important to not hurt animals because they can suffer, feel pain, and experience life. It is not the same when you hurt a coffee mug. That seems like a good enough “reason” to not do it. I don’t need to keep going to find any more necessary preconditions. I have a perfectly sound practical one that makes sense already.

      I hate that on some level you are right that we can never see eye to eye. Faith is like saying, “you know the part where I have no evidence and logic and reason cease to work? Yeah that’s the foundation of everything”. If someone were to use faith on you to sell you any other thing, you’d say no thanks. And you do, regularly. That said, I hope we can continue the chat! It’s awesome! Hope you and your family are well. (Mark Wahlberg voice) Say hello to your mother for me.

    • Yeah, thanks, Amanda, it’s humbling that you would take the time out of your day and put in the effort that you obviously did to respond to our thoughts. The only thing that truly hurts about leaving the faith behind is that it hurts other people that I care about. You and your family mean the world to me, and there are many others who I know will be hurt when they find out I’ve left the faith. Jon, too. But of course, I can’t take the blame for that, I’m just being honest with myself. And I don’t blame those who are hurt obviously, they believe what they believe. All I can do is talk about what I believe, try to bring us all to a mutual understanding if that’s possible.

      And I understand the argument that without a god you have no basis for a morality. I made that argument when Jon was out and I was still in. And I’ve struggled a little with it since. It’d be a good one to dedicate a blog to. I think though that now that I’m dedicated to making choices with the best evidence, I have to make choices of morality based on best evidence as well. What I know is that I feel remorse when I do something to someone else that I’d rather not have done to me. I empathize with others in that way. You might suggest that’s God’s morality on my heart. I believe it is the influence of a history of evolution within a co-operative species.

      Well then, there’s no morality to it, you’d say. I’d agree. There’s no inherent goodness or badness to our species, our culture, or our planet. But I only have two choices. Both require about the same effort, one involves building up the world around me, feeling good about it, and having a community. It’s not completely hedonistic– it’s to the benefit of those around me as well. But it largely benefits me to be a good, honest, trustworthy person.

      When told that as an atheist, there’s nothing to stop him from just murdering anyone he wants to, the famous magician and atheist, Penn Jillette said, “I have murdered everyone I’ve ever wanted to.” (Which of course is no one.)

      Thanks again,

      -John with an H.

  4. Sorry I accidentally deleted my original response to Larry. Basically I said that while our website name is indeed silly and juvenile, posting a clip of nacho libre does not exactly give someone the moral comedy high ground. Also that the correct christian answer to me being happier after christianity is that jesus never promised happiness. He promised to bring the sword as it were. Which by happy chance helps to prove I really was a Christian after all!


    • And we’re happy to be juvenile. You should be too. Christian or not. Jokes and silliness is the spoonful of sugar that helps the medicine go down. But it’s also an easy target, that lazy shooters can easily hit.

  5. I’d like to respond to Larry. It’s easy and lazy to say “You weren’t actually a christian.” I’ll forgive it because I’ve entertained the same thoughts as a christian to explain those that “fall away.” There aren’t many other explanations that work aside from abandoning the faith yourself. I no longer believe in the christian god, but I can assure you I was all in when I was a christian. I had a relationship with god. I prayed to him daily. I studied him. All of my decisions in life were based on these truths. My self worth rested in Christ. I wasn’t in it for the eternal life. I was in it because I thought it was the truth. I did everything I could to draw closer to god and strengthen that relationship. The decision to abandon that was not an easy one. I didn’t do it because it was more convenient to justify immoral decisions. My happiness does not come from a laissez faire lifestyle that I have now without a god to police me. If anything I have greater sense of morality. My decisions are based on my worldview that we are all connected. THIS life is important, not the next one. I don’t see a random collection of atoms. I see a beautiful organization of those atoms into life that continues to persist and evolve into something greater and we are all active participants in it. I don’t treat others the way I want to be treated because maybe karma will be nice to me. I love my neighbor as myself because I see them as a part of me. When I make a poor decision in my own self interest, I no longer have the option to repent and accept grace and move on. It’s on me. I need to do everything within my power to make it right. Most of the time it’s pretty crystal clear what the right thing is. I don’t need a higher being or book to tell me now. I know because I’m a living thing and we all have that. I don’t think that’s been borrowed from christianity, and I don’t think you can argue that point without inserting any other religion in place of the word christianity.

    Also, no one’s ever called me an arrogant bastard to my face (are people talking about me behind my back guys?) Name calling really undermine’s an argument you want to be taken seriously.

    I agree with John that my faith fell apart when I began seeking outside of the linear path that the church would have me follow for defending my faith. I got to a point where If I was really going to be totally committed and be able to defend my faith to others, it had to be sound on every level and stand up to every criticism, and well, it didn’t. What I found was the an unchanging god changed every few years dependent upon what the “holy spirit” had imparted to the most trendy ministerial personality in that my local church followed. And that’s just within the brand of christianity that I was in. Look at the short history of christianity and you find that the unchanging god really has multiple personality disorder. Whatever shape your “god-shaped” hole is, you can create an appropriate shaped god to fill it.

  6. I don’t think you should be offended by the statement that you may have never truly known Christ. It’s easy to pray to Him and read about Him without really knowing Him. I was reading a verse earlier today that talked about how we can’t have real wisdom unless we have the Holy Spirit to teach us. When Jon asked, “Why do you suppose that people who accept Jesus as their Savior and are baptized do not feel similarly convicted? Isn’t it true that God said He would inhabit them with the Holy Spirit?” I disagree with his premise… these people must not have understood the gospel or truly accepted Christ, and baptism means nothing without the belief, therefore it makes sense that they wouldn’t be convicted by His Spirit. I know you claim to be sincere in your attempts to find Jesus- and if you truly are, He won’t remain silent forever. Most of the time, we’re just not listening. Or it could be that we’re trusting in our own logic more than believing by faith.

    I love the Nacho Libre clip- I agree, we should enjoy being juvenile. But I do take issue with your blog title. The difference is- one is blasphemous to my Savior, the other is not. I can’t imagine creating a similar title making fun of Buddha, for instance- it’s just provoking people to anger and comes across as pretty intolerant, to be honest.

    Jon is right about how the correct answer is that Jesus never promised happiness. Many Christians tend to forget that. A book that goes more in depth with that topic is Radical by David Platt. It examines what it truly means to live the Christian life the way Christ intended- by denying ourselves and giving to others. But I think Larry meant an alternate definition of the word “happy.” He probably means the deep peace that only comes from knowing Christ. Once again- this is not a boastful claim to make- it just means we desperately want others to have that same peace and assurance that this life isn’t everything. If I believed this pain-filled existence was it, I would truly despair. If I hadn’t had hope that I would see my best friend again in heaven, I’m not sure how I would have responded after I heard about the car crash that took her life.

    Anyway, glad the dialogue is still open. I don’t think anything I could ever say would change your mind… but there’s always the chance that it could. And I couldn’t, in good conscience, not take that chance, because I care too much for all three of you- Jon, John, and Danielle included.

    • Amanda,
      I’m not offended by the idea that Jon, or Danielle, or myself, or millions of other former christians were actually never christians… I just think it’s ludicrous. Follow me here. The Bible says seek and you will find, knock and the door will be answered. We, your friends, sought. We knocked. We tried. For over 20 years apiece. We weren’t joking, we weren’t kidding. We weren’t secretly not doing it. We prayed. We hoped. We cried out for God. Now, either God opened the door, and answered us, or he didn’t. If he didn’t, does it bother you that people you care about are going to be apart from you for ETERNITY, and are going to experience eternal torment because he didn’t answer? No, that can’t be it. By the Bible, that can’t be the case. So the door was definitely opened then. God definitely answered then. If he did, then how were we NOT really christians all that time? We sought, he answered, boom… we’re in a relationship with him. We prayed, he heard. We gave our hearts, we were baptized. What other possibility is there?

      And again, the “deep peace that only comes from knowing christ?” I’m at the greatest peace of my life right now, Jon is as well. My wife is at greater peace than ever before. I think of the line from the worship song “I’m free, really free, my friend.” Freed from the blood of the lamb. From the shame and guilt associated with me by my very humanity. Free from being contractually obligated to feel an inner judgment on certain people for who they are. Free from thinking of this world as a “pain-filled existence,” which to me is such a heartbreaking worldview. Free to see this world as a beautiful place, where every day is a new gift, and free to give myself credit when I succeed, and to hold myself accountable when I fail.

      On the title of the blog. I know that’s difficult. I struggle with it. I’ve been called out a couple of times by those saying it’s disrespectful. And it is. Here’s the problem. We LOVE you. I love you, your family, your brother, I love you guys with my whole heart. I respect all of you. I don’t respect or love you any less because of what you believe. But it’s not that I’m apathetic towards god, or towards religion… I dislike it. I have disdain for it. I think it’s generally a bad thing. And so I desire to be disrespectful to god, and to religion. The problem is, it’s YOUR god, and you believe you have a personal relationship with him. I know that. And you likely think “How can I disrespect him, without disrespecting you?” I know that. The quote under the title of our blog is a quote from a christian friend of a friend who was very unhappy with the title. I’d be interested to know Jon’s thoughts about this as well, but all I can say is I’m stuck, because like I said, I LOVE you and many other christians. I don’t want to disrespect you. But I also can’t let god off the hook and leave religion alone. I think it’s a bad thing and want to be able to make that argument and I think to handle god with kid gloves is something I can’t do.

      So all I can say is I don’t mean any disrespect, and at the same time, I know that that’s not a perfect response. I’d urge you to focus on the discussion and we’ll make every effort to hold you and other christians in the same respect with which we’re treated.

      -John with an H.

      • I thought about what you said, and I can’t agree more that the best explanation is that I never had a god living in me. I also agree it seems obvious that millions of christians dont have god living in them. Just like jesus’ prayer said, their disunity is evidence that a unifying force doesnt connect them. (You know catholics used to say the same thing about protestants…that they dont know god…) I just go a step farther and say that no one has a living god in them. I mean I dont have the luxury of writing off my experience as not trying or not being all in. I had dozens of people in my life tell me they recognized “the spirit” in me. I confronted my dad’s interest in eastern philosophy (funny) and was instrumental in converting him. He is now one of the most committed christians I know. Slice that gordian knot…

      • Thank you for being so open and honest with me. I’d much rather have someone tell me how they really think and feel, rather than being hypocritical/dishonest or bottling it up inside. Since we both disagree on the most fundamental points of Christianity (and life in general), there isn’t much left to say. No argument would change anything. I will pray for you. I know that won’t bother you, since you don’t believe the God I pray to exists. I will be praying that He reveals Himself to you in a way that is undeniable and unmistakable. I have no doubt that He will, if He hasn’t already.

        I do think this life can be pain-filled at times. People who claim otherwise haven’t experienced true pain or suffering, in my opinion… or are just wearing rose-colored glasses. I have seen people dying. I have lost my best friend. I have cried with my friends who miscarried and struggle with infertility… an anguish I’ve never had to endure personally. Life can be painful. But to me, it’s not depressing, because I know that what I’m hoping for- heaven- will be more glorious and happy than we can possibly imagine during this lifetime. Thankfully, I’ve only gone through a tiny fraction of what many people experience during their lives- I have the happiest marriage of anyone I’ve ever met, I have three sons who make me smile every day, and we have never had to worry about where our next meal will come from or whether or not we have a roof over our heads. We also have a church family who support us daily; who are quick to help out and share whatever they have. We are truly blessed. But I could never for a second imagine that this life is it. Everything in me- my head and my heart- tell me there is something more. We were made for eternity.

        I’m okay with leaving the discussion this way. I don’t mind discussing it further, if you want, but I am satisfied that we all know the places we are on this journey. Only faith can truly change someone’s heart- no scientific evidence would ever suffice. Thank you again for opening up and sharing your heart. I truly hope the best for all of you and your families. If I didn’t care so much, I wouldn’t even try. You guys are awesome and I’m grateful for our friendship.

  7. I am confused by your last statement. Are only those wishing to prove you wrong solicited to comment? I only ask because I truly agree with you and wish to comment accordingly. Ah hell with it! I agree, truly.

    • Haha! I love your boldness! I shouldn’t have been so confrontational on the closing there…didn’t stop to think people might actually agree with me!
      Seriously though, thanks. It’s always great to hear people reaching the same conclusions, especially from similar circumstances.


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