Gee, my last couple of posts on here have been dull have they not? New glasses! Whoop-de-do.
On to bigger things, I feel. And right way way back into where this blog started. God stuff. Rarely gets a mention these days, mainly because it rarely gets much of a thought. But lately it’s been there again. Wondering what I believe, and why.
I bumped into a friend just a couple of days ago, a guy from church who I once met with regularly to pray with and discuss life and spirituality. We’ve not met like that for ages, and a random encounter (thanks, Tesco) led to a coffee. Now, we didn’t chat God stuff at all, or at least not in relation to me, but that encounter somehow got me thinking. What if he had asked? ‘How are things with your faith these days, Trevor?’ What would I have said? How about the real basics? ‘Do you believe in God?’
Well, he didn’t ask that. And later I found myself imagining he had. And I’d struggle to say yes. But the thing is, I’d struggle to say no, too. The best I could come up with was in my imagined conversation was, “I’m not sure I understand the question any more.”
Just a couple of months ago I remember saying to someone that I felt “closer to God” than I have for a number of years, but that I simultaneously had no idea what that meant. Well, I’m still there for sure. Except I now have no idea what God means. Very recently I came across an article by David Hayward, a former church pastor whose blog, Naked Pastor, I have followed for quite a while now. (He was still an active pastor when I started reading.)
In “How God let me go,” he describes his changing understanding of God over the years, from the jealous God of one literal scriptural interpretation, though a more open, understanding God, a gracious God, a releasing God, and finally to a God who is not God at all. And it really resonated with me. I’ve not followed the same path, but I felt very at home with his description of where he’s at now
Here’s a short extract:
When I awoke from this dream I suddenly knew that the All really is All. “God” was gone. There was only Reality. Reality rules because that’s all there is. I saw that we are all one, connected at a deep level, unified and not separate. Separation and division is only an illusion that impresses our eyes and minds. I suddenly realized that the only thing that seems to separate us is language. Thoughts. Words. Ideas. Beliefs. That’s all. We all feel the rain as it falls on us, but we all have different experiences of this rain, thoughts about it, words for it. Same with reality, the universe, the mystery, or God. It’s just words. Believer or atheist or anyone else. We are the same. God as Not-God or as All. It is the same. I saw this as clearly as anything I’ve ever seen, although it is the hardest thing I’ve ever tried to articulate. But this has given me a peace that passes understanding. And it has lasted for years now.
(© David Hayward 2015)
It’s well worth a read to see the steps he describes going through before reaching this point (if nothing else, to read the dream he had that triggered this final realisation. And, if you’re someone who’s ever wondered what’s happening with my faith, I think that David’s article may come closest to explaining where I am. I’m somewhere similar. The full article is here: How God Let Me Go.
One of my brothers would probably dismiss this as simply being half a step away from atheism. Atheist, but not daring to name it because of all my church background. We’ve had a similar discussion once before. He may be right. In fact, if you look at the “religious views” section on my Facebook profile, you’ll see it’s said this for years:
So, yes. I embrace the title atheist. Sometimes. A Christian Atheist. Not sure that’s possible, but it’ll do for now.
Funny thing is, having just been thinking about this over the last week or so, I was at a school PTA function on Friday, helping out behind the bar (yes, we have a bar at school functions) and another school dad asked me, pretty much out of nowhere, “are you religious”. (Well, it is a C of E school.)
I had to think about that. Couldn’t really give straight answer, so told him my whole story.