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.
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.
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.