conversation- not debate

I had lightbulb realization this morning. When talking with believers about my questions and doubts, I have a very specific list of things I want and don’t want in the conversation.

  1. I do not want you to try to save my soul. I do not want you to try and convince me of your viewpoint. Please stop. It sounds desperate, and irritating.
  2. I do want to hear why you believe what you believe. I am interested. I would not have asked otherwise. 
  3. I want to know specifics about why you think what you think, and how you came to draw these conclusions. Give me something tangible, measurable, concrete.
  4. I do not want to hear catchphrases and churchy platitudes. They are not well thought out. They are not real. They are not your words. Use your words.
  5. I want you to listen when it’s my turn to talk. I don’t want to debate you. I am not Christopher Hitchens. I want to have a nice conversation where we share our ideas and remain friendly and courteous.
  6. I do not want to convince you that you are wrong. Really. I don’t. 
  7. I do want you to acknowledge the times when faith does not make sense. I want you to honestly examine your faith and see the holes in it that I see. That doesn’t have to change your opinion, maybe you are still capable of faith at that point. But I am not. Can you just acknowledge that faith isn’t easy to have, it isn’t reasonable, and not believing is not a flaw in me? 

That doesn’t seem like an unreasonable list.

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wishy washy

I am frustrated. I feel like I should know my own mind better. This faith questioning gig is hard. I need to prioritize my mind space. Finish school, then doubt God’s existence. Also, why do I feel compelled to make an all out, one time only, no going back decision? I need to give myself permission to not know things, and to change my mind. That might help.

just me?

I desperately wish I knew more. I am learning everything I can about physics and evolution and natural selection, and I love it. It’s fascinating when I have time to plow through it. But philosophy? Gag me with spoon. It is quite a conundrum to be exploring my questions about gods and faiths and the universe, and I am avoiding philosophical arguments like the freaking plague. I just really don’t like philosophy. I never have. 

Also- side note, could some please organize the internet better. I am having trouble finding the good information.

prayer

prayer

Prayer. The power of prayer. It is an odd thing. An untouchable topic. And HIGHLY personal. So blog? Right?

First of all, when I have prayed, I certainly did not look like the beautiful, serene, women in the picture that I found on google. My favorite prayer spot for years, decades almost, has been in the shower whilst having a good cry. Not really a photo-op kind of situation.

I can remember a few distinct times when I would be overwhelmed by life, or depression, or whatever and find myself in that place. Either sobbing or inert. And prayer was something I did- not naturally, but in hopes that it would help; in hopes that I would begin to feel something again; in hopes that it would give me clarity; in hopes that it would just make me less sad and awful.

These sessions ended, inevitably, with me leaving the shower, exhausted, and empty of everything. Then, I would sleep, usually. So… was that the divine calm I was hoping for? Or was I just tired from the sheer exhaustion of the thing. Was I just drained from the depression itself.

I have not had one of those crying/praying/struggling moments in a LONG time. And since I began this journey of questioning and seeking answers, I have been more aware of my lack of a prayer life. But yesterday, I watched my son hop on a skateboard for the first time, and I thought to myself, “oh God, please don’t let him get badly hurt.” Whaaaa??? It would seem that for all my self-aware introspection, I still have a knee jerk reaction to appeal to the divine when something spins out of my control.

Not big things, because there are elements of my life that are wildly out of my control, and I just wait, hope, and anticipate the day when they reach resolution. But there was something about my baby on a skateboard that elicited a tiny prayer to the God I am not sure I believe in… It would seem I have a great deal of questioning ahead of me.

science vs. faith from “Storm” by Tim Minchin

This quote (and the whole poem if I’m honest) has been occupying my mind a lot lately. I have been listening to it almost every day. I just can’t seem to wrap my head around how I feel about this simple breakdown of the difference between those two things, science and faith.

I agree with the semantics of what he says here. I think they are both accurate and well crafted descriptions of how faith and science approach the world. But when it is applied to me personally I balk at this definition of faith.

I grew up hearing (and saying) that “faith is the belief in things that cannot be proved.” Now that sounds nice! It sounds lovely, like having a nap on a Saturday morning followed by a leisurely cup of coffee while I check facebook. It sounds like something that one could consider a positive trait or attribute.

The idea that I might have been closing my eyes to the evidence that the world is presenting me is discouraging. It makes me feel bad. Like, sleeping in on a Wednesday and missing a meeting I was supposed to lead- on purpose. It’s as though practicing the faith I had been brought up in was a character flaw, or a failing. Ouch Tim.

But even with all that… just because something is uncomfortable doesn’t mean it isn’t true. And if I agree that the statement is accurate, then I am only disapproving of it because it would apply to me… and that’s just lying to myself, that’s just fake. And hypocrisy. So… do I agree with Tim Minchin? Am I ready to admit that I was, for a time, blind; and more than that, choosing blindness?

Private thoughts must mean I should start a blog

I would like to share, or at least document, the experience of questioning my religion and my faith. It occurred to me that this is something a lot of people have probably gone through. And it kinda sucks. Sure, I feel like I am finding out something important about myself, but… That “something important” could be life changing… and by life changing, I mean social life changing in particular.

What will happen to all my friends if I turn away from our shared religion? What about my very religious family? What about my spouse? What about my kids? Maybe it would be better if I kept it all a secret, no matter what I decide, and just never tell anyone what I really think. So obviously- I started a blog. I mean, please. Who, in the technologically equipped world we live in, keeps any thoughts private? Okay, lots of people do. But, I don’t think I will.

I think that my questioning and answer seeking is not a unique experience. I think it is relatable, scary, intimidating, and frighteningly big in scope. I also would very much like to feel like I am not alone in this. I would like some assurance that I am not the only person who finds themselves in their mid-thirties going- holy shit… what if I have been lying to myself my whole life? What if there is no God? What if my faith is based on the circumstances of how and where I was raised? What if there is a God and I get the lightening bolt treatment (and not in the awesome Harry Potter way)?? So- blog.

 

Since I am still asking questions and seeking answers I cannot say that I would take kindly to people trying to “turn me” to one opinion or another, so please don’t try. And I don’t want to be insulting, but I will always be honest, and I may curse a little. Will you read on with me? Or will you be offended by my search for answers?

I am always open to the questions and thoughtful comments and remarks anyone would want to share below, but please play nicely.