Posts filed under ‘life’
This American Life is a wonderful program on National Public Radio featuring essays and interviews about people’s lives. Describing the show on their website they say, “There’s a theme to each episode, and a variety of stories on that theme. It’s mostly true stories of everyday people, though not always. There’s lots more to the show, but, like we said, it’s sort of hard to describe.” I have listened to maybe a half-dozen episodes and have found each one impressive, often moving. Podcasts of the episodes are available free, I think each one is an hour.
I recently listened to this episode, a fascinating and haunting story in its own right, which also provides insight into the way people hold beliefs. I will not include too many details to avoid spoiling the story for anyone who might want to listen.
The episode is introduced on their website as follows:
In 1912 a four year-old boy named Bobby Dunbar went missing in a swamp in Louisiana. Eight months later, he was found in the hands of a wandering handyman in Mississippi. In 2004, his granddaughter discovered a secret beneath the legend of her grandfather’s kidnapping, a secret whose revelation would divide her own family, bring redemption to another, and become the answer to a third family’s century-old prayer.
People can experience a very real sense of trauma when long and deeply held beliefs and convictions are challenged, which can create both internal and external conflict. The granddaughter conducting the research in this story experiences both. At one point a character in the story tells her, “Nobody wants to know,” about her research. Meaning that the granddaughter should stop prying into the past, even though it is her own personal family history she is investigating. But learning about the truth is more important to the granddaughter than remaining comfortable or making people happy. Sometimes the truth hurts.
Perhaps the person’s complaint, “Nobody wants to know,” does contain a grain of truth. Some or many people in the story likely will not deal with the turmoil well. Living in denial might maintain a degree of comfort, but is it best for him? What will really bring him peace? Will the truth set him free? Sometimes the answers to questions like those are not as clear as we might think.
But peace and happiness can be found in searching for truth even when it hurts, as this story beautifully demonstrates. Introspection into human nature, a mystery, truth, history, redemption… What more can one ask for in a story? Please let me know your thoughts if you find the time to listen (so there may be spoilers in the comments section). Warning before you get sucked in, the episode is an hour long and is devoted to this one story. Got some time on your commute? Need to turn the TV off for a bit? Enjoy!
2009 was a tough year in a lot of ways. I was out of work in the beginning, but working again before the end of January. Plenty of changes for us, new job, new church, lots of new friends. And writing a blog. A unique and challenging year, that is for sure.
We are celebrating the evening with my extended family at my parents house in the big wintery woods of Pennsylvania (Penn’s woods). So just a little “Happy New Year!” to you all out there. Hope you are enjoying the time and are looking forward to the new year as much as I am. Thanks for stopping by!
To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven…a time to rend, and a time to sew… Ecclesiastes 3:7
I would like to introduce a new visitor to this site, she will go by atimetosew, at least for now. She is a lovely individual, a committed Christian, a mother of four beautiful children, and my long-suffering wife of over 13 years. I have been sending her individual posts for a while, but she has recently started reading here directly. Which has, to say the least, been an adventure for both of us!
If you have read anything of the angst of deconversion here, you can be assured she has suffered through as much or more than I have this past year. And we’re still in this thing together somehow. Now I get to see how much my own thoughts I write about here line up with reality… ;^)
Following is her first guest post.
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Guest post written by atimetosew (my wife).
To all of you who are faithful (or sporadic) readers of my husband’s blog, I write this post to thank you and to introduce myself. Thank you for your comments, your listening “ears”, and your support of my husband through what we would both consider a “messed up year.” ATTR was up and running some three or four months before I knew about it. Even then, my husband was reticent to share his posts with me. Ouch! That was hard for a wife to take. I remember saying, “I thought we were friends.” Yet, some things were too hard to work through at the time. Thanks for being there for him when I couldn’t.
As for blogging, Mr. ATTR has been after me for several months. I’ve been a journaler all my life, but exceedingly private about it. The thought of a worldwide community of anonymous readers is extremely intimidating. I’ll give this a try, but make no promises. I don’t think or write as well as Mr. ATTR. If you wish to follow our marital journey through this mess, my blog will be located at atimetosew.wordpress.com. I’ll warn you, though, that I’m much more of a “rambler” than Mr. ATTR. I imagine that my posts will be a bit more practical…but perhaps more whimsical as well. Time will tell.
As for me…who I am…where I belong…that is harder. Even with all we’ve been through, I still am, or would like to be, a follower of Christ. I’m on a journey to seek out what that means. It’s a journey I’ve been on for 23 years or so now. Sometimes the more I travel, the less I know. Nevertheless, I’m very seriously seeking.
I guess the good part about suffering through relational crises as my beliefs have changed is that they have overshadowed any existential crisis I might have experienced during the past year. Gotta look on the bright side. I wonder if those will come to the surface at some point.
Here’s another piece of my jrnl.txt file last year. Again, things are not so hard now, October 2008 seems like a long time ago, mercifully. I am still unclear where my life is heading relationally, what moving on from relationships in the church means. I’m quite a social person, not too happy drifting through a solitary life. The solitary period has been helpful in allowing a needed measure of introspection and re-evaluation. But at the same time my thinking gets pretty convoluted and confused working through things on my own.
Loneliness has probably been my biggest struggle since deconverting. I am sure losing trust in a divine and omnipresent friend has something to do with that, but I really don’t think that is the case much. Because I haven’t really had that trust for a long time, I don’t know how much I ever did, and never felt lonely in the way I do now.
The sudden and recent loss has been in regard to human friendships. My friendships have turned from mutual care and respect to helping me. And not just helping me, but helping to *fix* me, to return me to someone who I am not. That has been a real loss to me.
Why does that affect me so much during the day, when I wouldn’t see or talk to friends anyway? Maybe in feelings about friendships, anticipating getting together, or remembering recent times together. That’s a surprise to me, that friends not present have such an impact on my emotional well being. Not their physical presence, but thoughts about them. I have a lot of work to do, either getting comfortable being alone (not my preference), or rebuilding friendships if possible. Making new ones of course too, but that prospect never heartens me, such a hard thing to do. I want to get a weblog going some time soon.
Sat on my back porch this evening and smoked a briar pipe full of black cherry tobacco (Paladin, “It only tastes expensive”), watching the cloudy sky turn to dusk. Gentle breeze, nicely cool, perfect. Partly the nicotine at work, I haven’t felt so happy in months, probably the whole messed up year gone by. Don’t remember feeling really happy period. Topped it off with a small glass of fine whiskey.
I looked up at the sky and tried to imagine I believed in God, let go of the caution I feel regarding belief, realized I wasn’t worried a bit. I could imagine feeling God over all, but I could imagine just as easily the sense of awe at the beauty and power of it all, with no God there. All the arguments for and against the God of the bible melted away — as long as my mind wasn’t engaged it made no difference and I really couldn’t care. What I care about is what is real, and damn if those trees and that sky weren’t real, nobody’s arguments were going to change that. The sky was beautiful, the thunder rolled in the distance, and I was at peace.
The pros and cons of theism, the arguments of the bible, of the philosophers, all that does matter. Matters because people talk in those terms, relate to one another in those terms, and unfortunately, feel others must hold to the same beliefs in the same terms they themselves do. And if you don’t care about the arguments, people will try to walk all over you, or over others you care about, take advantage of the world you live in. But I don’t see how one’s eternal destiny can hinge on all the debate. The world is as it is, I’m not going to change the heavens and the earth.
Psalm 19, sans theism:
Day to day pours forth speech,
And night to night reveals knowledge.
There is no speech, nor are there words;
Their voice is not heard.
Their line has gone out through all the earth,
And their utterances to the end of the world…
My 10 year old asked me tonight about how the earth was formed. My next oldest enthusiastically bounded into the room with, “God made it with a big bang!” I thought that was a reasonable syntheses of beliefs for our household. Probably most of their young friends are taught some form of “6,000 years ago” anyway, so a theistic form of 4.5 billion years ago doesn’t sound so bad to me for now.
I googled up a kid’s intranets site on the formation of the earth. A few minutes later I was being asked about what the site meant about evolution. I said, “I think that’s pretty much what happened.” “But Dad, the bible didn’t say Adam and Eve were monkeys.” I explained the bible didn’t necessarily say anything about evolution, maybe Adam and Eve were the first humans, but they evolved that way (I want to take that one back, going to push for a symbolic interpretation to that story). “But Dad, you don’t know that is what happened.” “That’s true son, but…”
Anyway, my point. In conservative Christian circles it is hard for Christians to come out of the closet and say they believe in an old earth. Why? To a large extent, Answers in Genesis (AIG) and their like have been successful in painting their opponents as atheistic, God-hating scientists. Now as a conservative Christian, who are you going to side with, a bunch of god-hating atheists, even if they seem to be speaking good science, or a bunch of maybe pseudo-scientists, but who “love the Lord”? And look, a lot of Christians believed the atheist scientists and fell away from the (conservative) faith…
Picking the lesser of two evils, many at best hedge their bets and say, “Well, we can’t really know what happened. Those are just theories out there. Or they just feel compelled or coerced to believe those godly people who are studying the issues.
I know this is what happens, because I was thinking about this after talking with my kids, and then my wife asked me about what we had been talking about. I told her and, even though she mostly believes in an “old earth”, she proceeded to tell me, “We can’t know who is right, you shouldn’t say you know that.” Funny, that sounded familiar…
I talked a bit about scientists, and statistics in their fields, and peer-reviewed publications, and… and predictably I was politely cut off a few minutes later for making the conversation too intense. “But you brought it up!” Yeah, that didn’t get me anywhere. :^)
Good times! While we won’t have the big and comprehensive conversations I may want, each one is an opportunity to lay a little bit of information out there. Like fitting together puzzle pieces, the picture doesn’t look like much in the beginning, but over time it begins to take shape and starts to look like…something. And there should be a compelling picture over time. We’ll see.