I think I might be an atheist.
That’s the first time I’ve (typed) that out loud, and it scares the hell out of me because belief in the divine is all I’ve ever known.
The funny thing is that I really love the idea of God.
I love the idea of an eternal creator-being (or something that is “being itself,” like Paul Tillich puts it) that is full of grace and mercy and justice and love and that is actually perfect.
I love the narrative arc of the Bible. I love this really messed up, frustrating story of the evolving consciousness of humanity and the way they see God and the way they interact with God and the way they write about God. I love it in all of it’s painful, confusing, contradictory ways. I think the fact that this ancient book is still so fascinating, life-giving, and angering two millenia later is exciting.
I love the story of a God taking on human form in Jesus and showing what real humanity looks like.
I love praying. Even if I don’t know if my prayers are going any farther than the wall in front of me, it’s a cathartic experience that gets me in tune with myself and what’s really going on inside. (In my opinion, prayer is more for us than it is for any sort of god.)
I love being a part of a community of people who are open about their faults and frustrations and struggles and want to truly support each other, all while being focused outwardly on seeing true justice and mercy conveyed to their surrounding community (and the world). The church, when done right, is a marvel. It’s breathtaking.
I love playing music that can somehow facilitate someone having a true, real experience with whatever God looks like to them.
And, of course, there are a bunch of jerks out there who are kind of ruining it for the rest of us.
But as you can see from everything I just wrote: I love being a Christian. It just feels right to me. But right now, the idea of God doesn’t.
I don’t feel anything anymore.
I don’t see anything anymore.
I don’t hear anything anymore.
And, obviously, I don’t know anything anymore.
But I’m starting to find that there’s a real place — this place somewhere in between belief and disbelief, between theology and practice, between frustration and joy — where it’s okay to live a life of working these things out, where it’s not believing in something or someone that’s important and where it’s not an obligation to do something to earn some sort of merit. It’s a place that’s about taking part in something, and that taking part in the mission of the God of the Bible (even if I might not believe that God exists right now) involves being full of justice, mercy, faith, hope and the greatest of these: love.
And believe me, I understand that a lot of this might come across as weird, “lukewarm” Christianity, that I’m tossed to and fro by the waves. And if that’s the case, so be it. I’m past the point of caring what other people think about the merits of my faith. Or lack thereof.
Like I said, godlessness scares me, because to me, it represents the unknown. I’ve lived my entire life with the assumption that there’s some sort of creator being in our midst. And, to be honest with you, most popular atheist rhetoric doesn’t sit well with me (even though I totally understand where much of it comes from and agree with it). I definitely affirm the emotions and ideas that have led to many peoples’ rejection of the divine. I’ve just never been that ready to let go.
I hope with all my heart that God is real and that some day all things will be made right — that the hells we experience every day would be done away with. But right now I’m having a real intellectual problem with the idea of God. Tomorrow might be different, but today I think I might be an atheist. An atheist who still loves being a Christian.
And that’s alright with me.