Telling the family
I stumbled upon the email I'd sent to my family in 2009, my 'press release' to inform them I'd crossed to the dark side. (Most were living overseas at the time.) It may or may not be of interest. Names have been converted into Star Wars characters to protect the innocent. But mostly the guilty. Here 'tis.
A little piece of Han Solo's brain.
Okay pour yourself a coffee or a tea and sit yourselves down. I'm not sure how to write this but it's something that needs to be said.
As you all know I tend to think a lot. I enjoy throwing ideas around and my brain is rarely in the same place twice. I have always worked particularly hard at having an authentic faith, one that is distinct from the trendy christian culture. Cue: lots of books, reading and more thinking.
Over the past few years I have gone through a process of deconstructing my faith to find the central nugget (or nuggets) of truth. What is it that I really believe? When we casually (or reverently) refer to God, what/who are we actually referring to?
I went through a phase where I understood Jesus a whole lot better than God, which was a nice change because I'd traditionally struggled more with Jesus. Oddly, Jesus makes the most sense to me now, and God doesn't.
In fact, I have deconstructed God pretty much to the point where I am no longer convinced he actually exists. I'm not talking about backsliding or 'seeking and not finding'. I'm talking about a cold blooded, rational conclusion that God probably doesn't exist. I stop short of saying definitively 'there is no God'. I'm saying that I'm more sure there is no God than I am that there is a God. The sliding scale has slid across the threshold. I crossed this particular bridge about a year ago and didn't tell anyone. It was quite a scary and lonely place to find myself.
So my worldview has quietly but traumatically been tipped on its head. A year later I'm feeling more comfortable with it, but now the hard part starts because Princess Leia (and I) have realised it's not just a phase. There's a new equation that we have to grapple with, which used to be:
(Me + Leia + God)
and is now:
Me + (Leia + God).
At least, that's how it feels for us, which is taking some getting used to.
I haven't gone around talking about this a lot because I didn't want to redefine myself prematurely. I'm not entirely sure how to categorise my position. I don't feel 'lost'. I don't feel like a 'heathen'. The word 'atheist' has just as many negative connotations as 'christian' these days but I suppose on paper 'atheist' is the best definition, except that I don't much like it. I suggested to Chewbacca that I might be an atheist in a christian's body, which is like trying to have my cake and eat it too I suppose. I'm certainly an undercover atheist at church. I think mostly I feel like an ex-Christian. It's very strange.
You may have some questions at this point, please ask away. My friend Obi-Wan has been asking me lots of questions and I enjoy it because it keeps me on my toes and doesn't allow me to assume my mind is made up forever. I'm quite happy about the journey.
To be honest I have been putting off telling you all this, especially Mum and Dad. For a while it felt like it would have been easier to announce I was gay. (I'm not.) I also suspect that the tumbling and wrestling issues of faith have had a lot to do with my mood and outlook on life for the past four years. Hence one or two little prescriptions that I'm still using. It also makes me wonder if there's a chicken/egg thing: does depression lead me to think God isn't real, or does having doubts about God lead to depression?
It will be a nice relief for Leia that I have 'come out', she is a little bit alone in this too at the moment. What a hero, being married to me through all the adventures I take her on!
The other thing is that you should not (and probably can't anyway) stop talking to me about your own faiths and hopes and everything in between. I'm not in a bitter place, or a denial place, I'm just in a different corner. Maybe for the moment, maybe for longer, time will tell.
Righto, that's about it I suppose.
A man's got to believe in something. I believe I'll have another drink. W.C.Fields