A short but passionate love affair

I was going through a really dark time.

My health was failing me, I hated my job, and my social life was slipping away.

Money was slipping through my hands, and I moved back in with my parents, who always seem to have a dark cloud hanging over them.

Life sucked hard. And it’s in times like these that people reach out for something that might give them hope, that might inspire, that might open the doors for healing and restoration.

I linked through to a website by the name of Evolutionary Christianity. A series of podcasts was about to begin with a large number of science and religious figures who all had interest in the odd crossroad between the two domains.

The series gave me something to think about, something to ponder. And I was drawn back to the one figure who had inspired my original faith crisis, Brian McLaren, author and popular figure holding a niche market in evangelical Christianity. The more I read and listened, the more I figured that I might just find love, joy, and healing within the realms of Christian faith again.

And hence began my short but passionate love affair with Jesus. I became a fervent church goer, Bible-reader, home-group attendee, and infrequent pray-er. My collection of faith related books began to expand, while I pushed aside all the secular books that did not aid the affair.

In the end it was really a one-side affair. The people who claimed to be followers of Jesus and speak so highly of his love weren’t overly accommodating to a sick and desperate soul. I didn’t find the elusive community I had been seeking. Instead I simply found disparate individuals celebrating the same delusion.

There was no mountaintop experience. The promise of faith was fool’s gold, all shiny on the outside and rough on the inside. I spoke to leaders and counsellors within the church who offered me very little.

One counsellor though actually made a big difference. She led to my finding the path out of depression and into actions that would lead to employment and a life with more joy. Her techniques were largely borrowed not from her faith but from her psychology degree, and as soon as I focused on the things that would actually make a difference, I no longer required the fantasy of Jesus.

As a staunch believer I would have defended Jesus as very real, God as supreme, and non-belief as delusional. Yet I now understand faith as merely a frame of reference, a way of seeing and relating to the world, which really is the basis for all mythology and belief systems. In the end I simply found faith to be pointless, futile, and generally immature.

I fell well into faith because I have always been rather naïve and immature for my age. Faith was a way that I could maintain my childish ways of thinking. Accepting the world as it is, and working with the world as it is, is both mature and liberating.

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4 responses to “A short but passionate love affair

  • C Woods

    According to “Atheists: A Groundbreaking Study” by Hunsberger & Altemeyer no matter what one’s state of belief or disbelief is, almost everyone strays occasionally. Those brought up in religious homes have periods of doubt. Those brought up in non-religious homes become curious about religion and may decide to attend church. Some end up embracing their new way of thinking and others (most) return to what they grew up with or something similar.

    Usually the reason for the return is that individuals seek help and advice from family or church members who, of course, will attempt to steer them back to their former belief system. But some read, study, and seek advice elsewhere, and those are the ones that may move on to something else.

    I have one friend who grew up Protestant. When she married a Catholic she converted (as was required in the “good old days.”) When she divorced, she continued as a Catholic for a while, then went back to a Protestant church although she married an atheist. Soon she was into pyramids and crystals and believed in the healing powers of Reiki. Then she joined a non-denominational community. The last time we spoke, she was involved in Evolutionary Christianity. (I don’t quite understand the concept —will have to read more about it to develop an opinion.)

    I often wonder if those who jump from religion to religion are seeking something outside of themselves that they need to find within themselves. It sounds like the psychologist you worked with helped you to do that.

  • Saint and Sinner

    Great commenting. I’ve got links on the side there from the Evolutionary Christianity blog which give a little idea what they’re about. I don’t follow the line any longer as I don’t see any need. What they do offer is a good bridge out of the standard christian belief system into something founded on facts and evidence. They try to change the whole thing from being belief in supernatural entities to a movement of inspiration and personal development. The guy behind it is a Landmark advocate so if you know anything about them you might get a sense of his unique fervour.

    I am developing a theory that many people who have a strong faith also share certain personality traits that have a common genetic blueprint. It is odd to think that evolution can predispose certain people to faith, yet when you consider human history, the pieces do fit together. Consciousness has spawned all manner of maladaptive functions, much like the history of evolutionary biological development, probably because at a certain point those functions were actually useful.

    In any case, I have become fond of evolutionary theory. It has given me so much more to live for, so much more passion, so much wonder, awe, and curiosity.

  • C Woods

    You might find this video interesting —it is a lecture by Andy Thompson on why we believe in gods. It is an hour long and, I think, most people would have to view it more than once to get it all, but it is well worth watching.

    Thompson thinks that most humans have a need for god stories and beliefs. One audience member (of an atheist group) asked him to explain why certain people, like those group members, seemed to be the exception. I watched this in September and if I remember correctly, he didn’t give a satisfactory answer to that question.

    http://tirelesswing.blogspot.com/2011/09/why-we-believe-in-gods.html

    In my experience, most of the non-religious people I know are rather independent types. They don’t have the need for belong, acceptance, or the comfort of an afterlife. I have no statistics to prove that. It just comes from my observations. One other observation, most of them had cats —so their pets are independent types, too.

  • What is Easter? « Beyond Black and White

    […] follow-on from reading Alain de Botton’s Religion for Atheists.  I was mistaken.  My brief love affair with Christianity after a break and the subsequent falling-out has left me unalterably jaded. […]

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