Some ‘splainin’ to do.

Author’s Note – This post went out incomplete at first publication. . . the result of accidentally hitting the “Publish” button instead of the “Preview” button. If you saw this post in an obviously incompletely form, my apologies.

Another Author’s Note – This one is for you, Pete.

Yeah. This post. I’ve been putting this post off for some time – weeks, maybe months. I have to explain why Brandi and I disappeared, and in the process halted the progress of a blog that was, possibly, on its way to growing from a very-modest-blog to a slightly-less-modest-blog. I’m not writing this post because I want to – rather, I’m writing it because, well, sometimes there’s nothing left to do but put on some Third Eye Blind, sit down at the computer, and make shit happen.

There have been times, in the past few months, where I have felt like the. Shittiest. Christian. Ever.

Except not LITERALLY, cuz. . . you know. . . these guys.

Except not LITERALLY, cuz. . . you know. . . these guys.

I feel this way because my faith has become bipolar. It’s been about a year and a half since I conducted the Great Faith Experiment that lead me to Jesus Christ. And ever since I moved from Duluth, MN (home of Hillside Church, which was my church) to Minneapolis, it feels like I’ve lost all of the momentum that was sustaining my faith. What had once been easy (praying, thinking about theology, reading the Bible) became arduously difficult. As I’m sure you noticed, this extended to blogging – it’s not that I didn’t want to write. But every time I tried, the weight of what I was trying to say seemed so overwhelmingly heavy that it was impossible to start typing. In addition, I completely dropped out of the Christian faith community. I tried attending a couple of churches, but real life circumstances made it hard to continue going there. The first church, River Heights Vineyard, was supposed to be the church I would attend after the move. In fact, RHV is one of the reasons I moved in the first place – I knew I’d have a church to attend when I got here. And I did go – once. Then my money situation imploded, and I could no longer afford the gas for the (very, very long) drive from my home to the Church. The next church I tried was a liturgical Lutheran church. This church was much closer to my house, and I enjoyed many things about it – the way that liturgy humbled me, the kindness of the pastoral staff, the neatness of the homemade liturgies (this church changes them every month, hiring local bands to write and perform them). And yet, I never really connected with the church or the people. So, after a couple of visits, I stopped going.

Meanwhile, as time did what time does and carried me further and further from the emootional revelations that brought me to church in the first place, faith had to contend with the “real” world – the world of empirical data, of science and fact and the Discovery Channel and the supremacy of Homo Rationalus. I thought about entropy, and time, and started to think that the tremendous, frightful grandness of physical resurrection made the idea absurd. Where would we all live, I wondered. What would we eat? Would the world be big enough? What would we do, we who had been resurrected on this one rock in one corner of space, when entropy finally brought the universe to stop? The more I thought about it, the more ridiculous it seemed to believe in the predictions made by we tiny, religiously inclined humans – predictions about an end that would, if it were to pass, affect far more than just our planet. There were a few times when I was tempted to just give up on faith entirely. I almost wanted to fall back into the comforting, noodly arms of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, the mascot of atheism.

Oh, for the comfort of his sticky, starchy, imaginary embrace. . .

Oh, for the comfort of his sticky, starchy, imaginary embrace. . .

But I couldn’t.

I couldn’t give up my faith entirely, because that didn’t seem to be a step toward embracing the truth. As I’ve said before, I tend toward skepticism – not because I love arguing with people, but because the search for truth is very important to me. For me to become an atheist, I would have to come to the conclusion that any experience I have ever had that implied any truth that contradicted the known laws of physics was, at best, a mistake. No matter how emotionally powerful an experience I had (the popsicle story comes to mind) I would be forced to immediately decide that it was of no value to me in my determination to learn some truth about existence. Furthermore, it would require that I take steps toward another type of faith. I would have to embrace the faith of coincidence – to believe that, at the times when it seems like two events could not possibly have occurred with the intervention of a mysterious intelligence, those two events were completely unrelated. When my mother-in-law needed a ride from Tucson to Texas to attend a family funeral, it looked like there was no way for it to happen. Despite the seeming impossibility of the situation, Brandi and she prayed together over the phone for God to find her a way. A few minutes after that prayer, during that same phone call, my sister-in-law called Brandi’s mom. She said, and I (kinda) quote, “I don’t know why, but God is telling me to tell you that I will drive you to Texas.” To be an atheist, I must believe that this was a coincidence and nothing else.

Even in my state of weakened faith in the Christian worldview, I saw that this wasn’t going to work for me. I was exhausted, my belief running by fumes and the memories of easier times. . . adopting a faith in coincidence didn’t seem to be an easier option.

So, where am I today, you ask?

Today, I’m letting you know. If you came to this blog because you’re a Christian, I’m sure you’ve been through this sort of situation before. And if you’ve come to this blog because you’re an atheist, well. . . I admire your faith in coincidence, because I don’t have the strength to follow in your footsteps. And maybe you came to this blog because you’re like me – a faith baby, someone who had their understanding of the universe shaken so much that they have to embrace the insanity of believing in something that seems impossible. If that’s the case, I hope you’ll learn one thing from this confession – expect shit like this to happen. It probably will. And when it does, don’t sit on it – find a community. Find a friend. Talk to someone who has been there. And don’t give up, because (believe me) you won’t find any answers sitting on your ass.

Thanks for your patience, folks.




About Daniel Mitchell

50% of "What the Faith?!?!", a blog about two skeptics who turned to God for no apparent reason. View all posts by Daniel Mitchell

17 responses to “Some ‘splainin’ to do.

  • melissa sutton

    Wow, Dan. I have been struggling hardcore with my faith lately. The story about your m-i-l and s-i-l is incredible. I love that kind of stuff. Thanks for typing today. You brought me something. 🙂

    • Daniel Mitchell

      Knowing that makes this post worthwhile. 🙂

      • Jennwith2ns

        This post is TOTALLY worthwhile. And I’m sorry you’re going through this crap, but I’m glad you recognise it for what it is: crap–and also, normal and to be expected. Definitely been there.

        I went through about 3 years of desert and reverse-culture-shock after London, during which I was really angry at God about a few things (mostly just two, actually), and yet I’d get home from a shift at Starbucks, realise I had spent the whole thing “witnessing” to my atheist friends there, and think, “Why do I want these people to believe this stuff? *I* don’t even want to believe this stuff! But I can’t NOT believe it.” It was like it had ceased to be a choice, almost. And . . . good news . . . I got through it.

        Also–where are you in relation to St Louis Park? You might try my bro’s church(plant). It is, as I’m sure he’d tell you, far from perfect, but . . . heck, you never know.

      • Daniel Mitchell

        I feel you, Jenn. It almost seems like it’s no longer a choice for me, either. . . which is weird, since I DID clearly choose Christian over atheism when I began this experience.

      • Jennwith2ns

        Yeah–it’s definitely weird. I’m still trying figure all that out . . . though I’m not sure why, because I’m fairly convinced it’s impossible!

  • Ryan Bauers

    All of us, at different times in our spiritual journey, find ourselves where you seem to be. Faith is not certainty. Yet, it is the Transcendent becoming us to Itself, beyond rationality and, at times, even beyond experience!

    I bid you along, my friend. For this is only one step along the way. And, I consider it a privilege to be a fellow traveler along side you!

    • Daniel Mitchell

      It’s good to know that this whatever-you-call-it that I’ve been experiencing is normal. Not pleasant, by any means, but normal. At least I’m pretty confident I’m not going to become an atheist – if I haven’t yet, I’m not going to. So there’s that to say for this experience.

      And I’m glad you’re okay with me travelling along with you – I intend to stick it out in the Ocean for a long time!

  • peter benedict

    I love you Dan. If gas is the only obstacle, say so & we’ll disappear that sucker. If gas plus 35 miles is the obstacle… we’ll figure something out, God will move, goodness will follow 🙂

  • Darren Beem

    Hey Dan, Thanks for pouring out your heart here. I get you, brother. When you feel like that, it’s easy to feel alone, but please know you’re not alone.

    Maybe this blog is a place where you can share and process all the vulnerability, doubts and fears. Maybe, you need to take a longer break from writing to sort things out. Wherever you stand, I pray blessing over you and Brandi.

    • Daniel Mitchell

      Thanks, Darren. One of the things I’m most thankful for, regarding my blogging experience, is the genuine friends I’ve met as a result of writing What the Faith. Your prayers are very appreciated.

  • Rebekah Grace

    Not only do I appreciate the raw honesty in the post, but the gracious comments in response. It’s a breath of fresh air. And hope.

    • Daniel Mitchell

      Well, thank you. I must say, I was very worried about writing this post, because I DID basically abandon ship for a few months. People could have given me a lot of crap for that. Instead, the support I’ve gotten has been huge, and I am extremely grateful!

      • Rebekah Grace

        Daniel, sometimes the hardest thing to do is exactly what we should do; with trepidation and grace we step up and out of the boat and tell our story. You, my friend, are full of chutzpah and I even wrote a status about this on facebook. So, thank you, my good friend. Thank you!

      • Daniel Mitchell

        OH dang, I somehow missed this comment until now. I feel like a jerk. Thanks for saying I have chutzpah (I try to use yiddish words whenever possible in life) and for the Facebooking!

  • melissa sutton

    Aww Thanks, Dan! Hugs! Look at the outpouring of support here. And thank you and blessings to Jenn and Ryan- what you commented lifted me up.

    • Daniel Mitchell

      By the way, cousin, when are you going to school in the Cities? Also, you may not know that I call you “cousin” when talking about you with Brandi, because “Sutton” is my grandma’s name! SO. . . maybe I should have explained that BEFORE calling you “cousin”, but what’s done is done.

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