There was a time when I renounced god, I renounced all the stories that kept me bound to traditions and beliefs that were based on ancient desert tribes trying to make sense of their experiences.
The process of renunciation was tough; I thought some power would smite me dead, I would lose all sense of proportion about what was good and evil, that I would lose my support community, that life would have no meaning or purpose and I would wallow, alone, in a hostile world.
Quite the contrary, life has become full and full of meaning. I have all my sense that make it possible for me to see, hear, smell, taste, feel with my tissue and feel with my heart and gut, without any restrictions or presuppositions. My mind functions fine, even as my memory gets a little foggy at times and my body enables me to participate in life, even as my joints get a little rusty and I don’t have the stamina I once had. After all, I am 76, quickly approaching 77, and brain and mind do just fine, thank you very much.
Performing daily tasks presents pleasure because I don’t have to do anything I don’t want to do. So the windows get dirty and the floors have spots, in 50 years, who will notice?
Observing my grandchildren and great-grandchildren grow brings me so much happiness and I can play with them in ways I wasn’t able to with my children. They all have wonderful manners, treat me as a valued elder, and seeing the world through their young eyes presents even greater joy than seeing with my own eyes. They know how to solve problems and resolve conflicts. They all communicate their needs, wants, and desires, even as they listen to each other and to their elders.
Living with care and compassion provides such superior results than obedience and self-sacrifice. Oh what headaches I had trying to obey and sacrifice myself for others. Stress is gone and I can rest in the knowledge my family members have all the skills they need, or are learning skills, to get along in the world without resorting to violence.
Watching birds in my garden trying to convert a bat house into a bird house gives me great comedic pleasures, the mice near the compost pile bring in all the cats in the neighborhood and even though I feel sad when a cat catches a mouse or a bird, I am in touch with the processes of nature.
Human beings have all we need to be in touch with wonder and miracles of life and living. Living authenticity as a fully human evolved from some green slime eons ago fills me with appreciation for the processes of nature over which I have little control. I am created to participate by living fully and ceasing to exist as a body with consciousness and then transcending into elements of the earth in the form of atoms. I shall become stardust.
I shall be immortal through the memories I leave behind, good or bad. Future generations will know me by the stories others tell of me or from the words surviving after my death.
My personal power comes as a result of knowing I exist, fully human, descended from a long line of evolving life forms, with characteristics no better than other living forms, just different. Recognizing the value of diversity, I cannot say I am better than other forms, nor can I say I am inferior. I exist. I work. I belong to a community. I think. I transcend into that which all living forms evolve.
When god died I was born.
Beautifully written. You are definitely evolving and doing it very well.
Yes! We have been through a lot together, haven't we.
A beautiful text, Joan, and one that speaks to my past too.
I want to add: When god died LIFE was born! Once I had escaped I re-attached with everything xtians despise so heartily: all those bodily sensations I was taught to be scared of, and I learned to live comfortably in my body; plants and animals I was taught to see as inferior and I recognized them as my family; atheist people they hated so desperately, and those became my friends. Like you, I never stopped celebrating freedom.
Chris, I think the time for my rage has passed and I can now concentrate on celebration. It is nice to have a fellow celebrant to share and explore ideas.
I received a rather lengthy response that stated all the usual cliches. This is my response:
The argument that god=love is a familiar one and essentially the things I told myself as a born-again christian. However, I discovered as I faced life's challenges, discussed them with my religious community, all their answers kept me bound and helpless. Headaches, stress, fear, confusion, unresolved conflict were the "fruits" of my beliefs.
One day I said, "god and jesus, go to hell! I am out of here." My life began to get better, less stress, less cognitive dissonance, more experience of love and compassion. So I looked around, talked to others and found why religion kept me as bound to traditional values as those tragic women of China whose feet had been bound because of their belief that women with feet small enough to fit into the mouth of a man who wanted sexual pleasure, were deliberately crippled by their mothers to prepare them for good marriages. This went on for a thousand years in China. Traditional values of a christian have gone on since the days of Abraham.
You and others talk about god=love. What about your hatred of women? Or the terrible things you believe of homosexuals? Or the notion that some god gave Israel the right to a patch of Earth? Or that slavery was sanctioned by god? I could go on, but I think I have said enough.
God = Delusions + denial + domination; these values maintain and perpetuate the status quo and we will not be free of such crippling beliefs until and unless we think. That is all it takes: to think.
This is exquisite -you have read *my* mind! Perhaps I'm not reading the right things, but I rarely see meditations on the pleasure of living without belief. When you no longer have to worry about a mysterious, inscrutable judge, life expands. Sounds like when you "lost" your faith, you gained so much. Just lovely!
Thank you Liz; the process has taken a very long time, and I find meaning and purpose and value in just being and doing and belonging and thinking and celebrate being part of this magnificent universe. Nice to join you, Liz, in the experience.
Really nicely written. Thank you!
Sentient Biped, you have walked with me on this path of discovery, I felt your support and encouragement all along the way. Thanks for being such a steadfast friend.
I liked it when you said, "That is all it takes--to think." That is what I always want to say to theists. Just think about it without emotion, "without faith," without others' opinions, without the bible, without any outside influence. IT MAKES NO SENSE.
Lillie, I like your statement, "Just think about it without emotion, "without faith," without others' opinions, without the bible, without any outside influence. IT MAKES NO SENSE."
Joan, when you boil it all down, the god of the christers wants SLAVES. For all the talk about free will and choosing to follow their savior and all of that bilge, what Yahweh really wants are those who want to promote his agenda at the expense of their own. I base that assertion on one simple line from the infamous prayer the carpenter-turned-rabbi dictated to his disciples:
Thy kingdom come; thy will be done... [emphasis mine]
I discovered this in reading Robert Heinlein's Job: A Comedy of Justice, and discussed it here some time back. You might want to give it a look.