“Life After Faith”
Putting it back together when reality goes topsy-turvy
I’m claiming a twitter hash tag thingy.
I know, I know, how PROGRESSIVE of me.
It’s because I get these moments every day (literally, every day) where I think, ‘Far out, I’m so happy I’m not a Christian anymore.’
Like this morning when I called my Granny. My Grandad recently passed away and she’s been lonely. We had a 20 minute conversation during which she kept asking me if I liked being a Police Officer and I kept reminding her that it’s my sister who’s a Police Officer and I’m actually… well, sort of nothing right now. Which is probably why she continues to think I’m a Police Officer.
When I hung up from that phone call, I remembered that my Dad’s Dad, my Grandpa, was also alone and lonely for two whole years after my Grandma passed away.
I managed to call him once. Once in the whole two years.
Because I was too busy being a Pastor instead.
While that memory made me sad, it also reminded how wonderful it is that I’m out. Just another small moment of gratefulness in my day…
So I am claiming a twitter hashtag to start cataloguing these moments that remind me that I’m so happy for the new freedom that I now live in. Humanism, atheism, rationalism, just-living-ism, whatever you want to call it just doesn’t get celebrated enough I think. The most popular tweet I’ve ever tweeted is below:
Positivity. More of that peoples. Put it out there.
The hashtag is #withoutgod.
I chose it because there’s a lot of Christians using that phrase to perpetuate that life #withoutgod is awful through such ridiculous statements like those below:
Of course life without God works. We’re not all breaking down out here. And plenty of people are ‘successful’ without God having anything to do with it.
When I used to think of those backsliders, those who were blinded, who fell away, I used to think of them as sad. As people who were lost and searching for something. Even if they were successful, they were searching for something. I used to think my life would be awful and a mess without God.
I didn’t realise I would feel like I do now. Free. Expanded. Whole.
So I want to take it back. I want to make the conversation about life without God about what Life Is Really Like Without God, not just what Christians think it’d be like.
If you’re enjoying life #withoutgod then let the twitter-sphere know by hash tagging your happiness would you?
“How to pursue the art of living has become the great quandary of our age… The future of the art of living can be found by gazing into the past.”
As a Christian, the answer to how to live life was clear; dedicate it to God’s mission aka: make other people Christians. Live your life according to His principals as closely as you could. If you got those two things right, you could *’tick!*’ say that you lived a successful life.
What makes a good or a bad life when it turns out there’s no big super-being with a mission just for you? Is there even such a thing as a ‘good’ or a ‘bad’ life? There are so many different versions of ‘success’ – Mother Theresa, Richard Branson, Elizabeth Gilbert, The Guy Who Is An Awesome Dad, The Surfer Who Loves Every Second Of Life…
Roman Kznaric just released a new book drawing on three thousand years of philosophy in attempt to answer this question. I’ll post a review after reading it but wanted to share some of my own thoughts on this question after a year or so pondering it on the shores of Europe.Read More
Well I guess it had to happen eventually.
A Pastor who handles snakes during church services as part of God’s anointing coming over him, Jamie Coots got bitten by one for the second time. This time he died.
The first time he was bitten, his finger fell off. Literally fell off because he refuses to seek medical attention.
He’s not the first religious guy to die from a snake bite. This stuff happened when I was a Pentacostal. I would read about this crazy sort of stuff mid-week and then head to church on the weekend to speak gobbeldy-gook during prayer meetings when we were binding the devil and roll around on the floor when we were filled with the Holy Spirit. You know what I thought about people like Ps Jamie Coots and his band of merry snake-handlers?
Which is so ironic it almost hurts.
The funny thing is, all my Pentacostal friends are annoyed at how badly the Crazy Snake People are representing Pentacostalism. All my ex-Pentacostal but still religious friends are annoyed at how badly the Crazy Pentacostal People are representing Christianity. And I’m annoyed at how experience, tradition and perception can override what we instinctively know to be ridiculous.
Deep down we know it’s strange. Deep down we know that people fall over when prayed for because they were pushed or cos it’s what everyone else does. Deep down we know tongues is just something we make ourselves do. Deep down we know that prophecies are just people saying nice, generic stuff with ‘God says’ before it. Deep down we know there’s a lot of faking going on.
When we look at Ps Mark walking past in the prayer meeting literally saying ‘da da da da da da da da da’ while high-fiving his mates and smiling at everyone, and the first thought is, ‘He could put a bit more effort into his tongues.’, we know…
When we watch Ps Phil going through the lines touching people on the head and when we’re lying on the floor after our turn and battling between the thoughts of, ‘Oh this is nice, the Holy Spirit making me lie down and giving me so much PEACE…‘ and ‘I don’t feel any different, what on earth am I doing lying on the floor?‘ we know…
When we sit in an event planning meeting and decide whether to ban people from speaking tongues on stage at an Evangelical rally because it’s not ‘seeker sensitive’, everyone in the room is acknowledging that deep down we know…
We know that what we do on a week to week basis is just. plain. strange. It’s kooky.
We can dress it up in funky outfits or drown it out in drum beats. We can justify it with three verses from the new testament (that’s at least two more than the snake guy!) and years of religious tradition. We can remind ourselves that ‘no-one can argue with experience’ by waxing on about how amazing it feels but we still wouldn’t be any better than the kooks who handle snakes…
“It’s such a happiness and a joy. You can just feel the joy in your soul that you just don’t feel all the time every day.”
– Wife of kooky snake handling Pastor, explaining why she likes to handle snakes when the anointing comes on her to do so
“It was as much a commandment of God, when he said they shall take up serpents, as it was when he said, thou shalt not commit adultery.”
– Ps Jamie himself using a bible reference to back up his handling of snakes during church services.
If you’re a Pentacostal, have you said any or more of the below?
“When God comes in the room and the anointing falls, I just feel such peace. God fills me with joy.”
“On the Day of Pentacost, everyone was speaking in tongues. All the early church believers did it…”
So strange how we can think other people are religious, crazy nuts but never apply that same logic to ourselves.
It’s always crazy when it’s somebody else.Read More
God is not afraid of your brain.
I write this because I used to think he was. I would never have phrased it that way, of course, but that’s the reality of it.
When I was a Pastor, I picked up a little book in the library called ‘How To Know God Exists.’ About the size of a napkin, it had a cartoon on every page and no more than one sentence under the cartoon, aimed at the 5-8 year old market. It shocked me that a book of such clearly Christian persuasion would be in a Public Library and I wanted to find out how they managed to do that.
Turns out, they managed to do that because it wasn’t actually arguing for God’s existence. Quite the opposite actually. It’d be more aptly titled, ‘How To Know God Doesn’t Exist’. The book ended up in the boot of my car for a few weeks as the return reminders piled up. One afternoon, one of my staff members – a mum with 2 kids – saw it when we were collecting some items from my car and picked it up.Read More
It’s not books that change your life, it’s thinking. It’s coming face to face with something that is different to you. It’s working with thought as you would clay.
So are five sets of other people’s thoughts that have made me a better person this year. What are yours?Read More
It’s not often we get to experience that feeling of ‘finishing’. The sense that the chapter is closing, making way for the next one to open. The exhilaration of standing at the Summit – a mountain climbed beneath you, a challenge finally overcome, accomplishment mixed with relief as the last bead of sweat inches its way down the side of your cheek… a new perspective now yours to tuck away as a completed item… an experience that ‘was’.
I was lucky recently. I got this feeling twice in one day, about a metaphysical mountain and a very real, very high, physical one called Everest. Not the point of Everest, just the base, but let’s just all focus on that word ‘Everest’ for a second and think that I’m awesome.
Now sitting at Newark International Airport with 15 minutes until boarding time, relaxed on a long overdue glass of Sauvignon, I’m about to board a flight home to Australia for the first time in 18 months.
A part of me looks back and asks, ‘What exactly did I do with myself the past year and a half…?’ (*cue large sip of wine*)
The other part of me remembers two moments.Read More
Warning: Some Spoiler Alerts But Not The Most Important Stuff
For the first few hours of reading, I hated Paul Beaumont’s book, A Brief Eternity, so much I wanted to throw it out the window. When I was greeted in the first few paragraphs with a Korean speaking broken english to direct the traffic of new entrants through Heaven’s change rooms after they just finished floating through the sky, the fact that I was reading it on my iPhone at the beach was the only thing that stopped me from doing just that. Sometimes a book will make you squirm at every sentence because it’s bad. Other times, it will make you squirm at every sentence because it’s touching points of contention you didn’t even know you had.Read More
Andy flew back to Munich early Sunday morning after a three day visit, leaving me with a week of packing up my life here in Spain before flying out to London Friday morning. A goodbye dinner with some friends is scheduled in for Thursday night but bar that, nothing. Malaga is one of those cities where most people come for just 6-12 months. As a local for nearly 10 now it means I’ve been through an entire cycle of making new friends and saying goodbye to them and with leaving soon I can’t be bothered to make any more. The remaining crew have actual jobs and I have a lot to do before I leave. I’ll use the time of being alone, in my house, with my work, until Thursday night to be super productive.
I head to my favourite cafe where I sit all day. They don’t mind, they know me. People buzzing around is nice but the house is cold and quiet when I get back. I grab my second pizza of the year because the fridge is empty and curl up on the couch. It’s been a long time since I watched an episode of Californication…
Californication is seriously such a good show. I watch it while ‘eating lunch’ and then again after making a big dinner. I’ve emailed a couple of people today, done some serious work on an event I’m managing and now, maybe, will head to bed to do some reading…
I say all this to myself. Out loud. In the kitchen as I dump saucepans and plates into the sink. Before looking around my empty apartment to see if anyone heard me.
Crazy, tick.Read More
I am so fucking sick of inspiration.
Here is a list of things that have had all the inspiration they once contained mined out of them:
– Thomas Edison and his 5 million attempts at the light bulb,
– Einstein’s theories on 1% knowledge, 99% perspiration. Or maybe Newton said this. Some scientist with a huge brain anyway, doesn’t really matter who right?
– Hellen Keller feeling things with her heart
– Audrey Hepburn’s advice on how to be beautiful inside and out (why couldn’t she just write, ‘Be flukily BORN that way bitch.’ and be done with it?)
– Michael Jordan forgetting how many basketball shots he’s missed in his lifetime
– George Eliot’s thought that it’s never too late to be what you might have been. Some ideas on things it’s too late to be already: Gold medallist triathlete. Ballerina. Youngest person to ever cross the atlantic on a yacht. Just off the top of my head.
– How to be innovative like Steve Jobs
– Robert Frost’s road less travelled. There are a HUNDRED MILLION PEOPLE on the road less travelled right now and they’ve all started a blog / webinar / speaking tour to help more people travel the road less travelled with them. The road less travelled is now, officially, travelled.
– COMPLETELY UNHELPFUL LESS-THAN-10 WORD STATEMENTS ON PRETTY BACKGROUNDS:
When I was a Pastor in a pentacostal churchRead More
Gah! That moment when you lose your keys! Or think you’ve left your wallet somewhere… or throw your iPhone into a rubbish bin. *cough cough*
Maybe you’ve never had that last one happen to you but I’m sure you know the feeling of searching. The feeling of not having something that you need and there’s no immediate way to grasp it. Keys are just the beginning. Jobs. Boyfriends. Answers.
After years of searching, first for approval, then love, then answers, I thought I was all done! Until I realised I still had searching for myself, meaning of life and purpose to go!! So by now searching and its tensions are pretty familiar to me. I think we’re always Searching for Something on some level. And you know, actually, I’ve learned to appreciate it.
There’s something about The Search, the openness, vulnerability and instability of it that makes me feel alive. It reminds me that there’s something more for me in the future than what I have at present. The Search Is Hope.
Still, it’s uncomfortable. And it can jiggle your world in sometimes unsustainable ways. When the uncomfortableness of a Search gets too much, we tend to grasp at anything. A job we don’t really want. A person who’s not quite right. An answer, a group or a meaning that just bandaids the yawning questions.
Here is how I’ve learned to release the tension of searching, just for a while, so my heart can relax for a moment. Use a combination of these things to give your heart a break from the tension of searching, so you can muster the courage to continue all the way to the end… all the way to the place you were really looking for.Read More