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I suspect there are others like me, maybe many.  Who have had tortured experience with god.

I was brought up would could be described in coloquial and abbreviated form, a zealous, devout, fundamentalist, immersive, and most importantly, relational mode of interacting with god.  (Evangelical American Christianity, to the extent the brand is important).  There is a verse in Acts that says, "For in him we live and move and have our being."    It might've added as the book did later, "...and against such things there is no law."  As in, what does anyone have to offer or put up against that?  A savior for all time and all things, with hope for eternity and now.  I'm hard on myself, but sometimes perhaps I should acknowledge that for anyone to get over this kind of ensconced indoctrination even enough to function, is a miracle itself.  It's no less than the removal of the thing that gave one hope, desie, motivation, inspiration, and power.  And I'm angry about this.

As many times over the years as I have written about the changing relationship with my faith, lack thereof, sometimes antipathy to it, certain things have remained constant.  No matter how much I often want to compartmentalize, relegate, suppress and sometimes no-doubt repress it, the indefatigable fact remains that the question is important.  I wanted it to become unimportant, to just be able to set it down, let it go, release myself from the emotional reliance on it, like it seems others are able to do.

But it won't do.  Not for me.  The best I've come to are metaphors like what @Sophy once suggested that perhaps there is an adult me for whom I may well be able to let fall away the immediate importance and need for such a god, but and also a child me that will always need god.  Beyond that, I have traveled across many stages and types of positions about god, from devout belief in him as the animating force and measure of all things--the very meaning of life itself, a militant atheism, agnosticism, slightly less agitated deism, quasi-universalism, scientism (a pet philosophy of mine is that the convergence of quantum reality and information 'theory' as the most fundamental stuff in the universe ultimately themselves form the god person I posit we're all looking and longing for), and others.

A kind, gentle friend, with all power, all knowledge, all presence, and most importantly, all love, who is able and willing to ultimately redeem all the mess and horror of life.  That is what I can't let go of.  If it exists, then at least by beautiful if still temporally tragic logic, all things matter.  I and everything I do are imbued with meaning, purpose, agency, motive worth getting up again for.  If not, and there is no permanence, no unconditional love, no redemption of all things, then by cold logic, all devolves into absurdity.

A wise pastor I was having lunch with recently reminded me that ultimately all logic and reason is circular.  It is.  The question in this respect is which way and which faith one relies on in their initial leap off the cliff into the potential absurd.  

I equate all this with the degree to which I am an imposter.  A hypocrite.  And thus living in the on-going commission of evil.  If I deny these first principles despite that somewhere, even if deep down, I believe them, then I am a knave.  Yes, a bad person.  Then, everything else I do flows out from this first deceit, out of what, cowardice, fear, selfishness, pride?  It's all pretty ugly.  If I pretend to believe, but really don't (as I often thought I was pantomiming in my later years as a believer), I'm still a hypocrite, albeit one that seems imminently more forgivable in the sense that it could be forgiven to maintain a benign fiction in service of comfort, salving an untenable fear and wound, believing in this god presence as a way not only to have hope for eternity, but to get through the day.

And so recently, I have found myself again in a kind of nether-region, constructing a god in an image that I wish and hope for, founded first fully on unconditional love and universality, and then power, and presence, and knowledge and personhood, etc.  Probably, inevitably, I fashion it in my own image except magnified a trillion fold, and of course without the flaws I know and don't know I have.

I suppose, at bottom, it is a manifestation of awareness that I need saving.  Well, sobeit.  It's hardly controversial to me.  But it can be disempowering, when I live under a perpetual doubt that I know or can ever understand or come to real resolution on this ultimately all-important issue.  I try to move off of it.  I try to imagine there is a god with the good things I was taught and believed, somehow without the caustically negative ones -- as if I could really alter those beliefs by desire that have since birth so permeated my conscious and subconscious experience of the world and myself.  And this, I guess, is the remaining source of despair.

The point of all of it I suppose is to wonder if there are things I can do differently - thoughts, actions, beliefs, hopes, mindfulnesses, acts of love and kindness.  Humanism.  A wink, a reflection of transcendence.  And hope.

Yah, the central binary, manichean belief remains:  if a god exists then all can be saved; if not, then this striving for survival in life disintegrates into so much sound and fury signifying nothing.  And it quickly devolves--for me--into pure, uncut nihilism.  A wish to die.

 

On a much more mundane and prosaic level, I'm struggling with this lately because my finances are on very shaky ground, my relationship with my wife, continues to be strained and unpleasant, and while being sick most of the last several weeks (I hope that's the reason), I have slipped in my productiveness and discipline at work, which is a concern.  I've accomplished a lot still, moving in to a new place, getting 3 kids initially settled in school, after school, and daycare, and a number of other things.  Still, the chaos the balls being juggled in the air are a few too many for me, and I've grown fatigued.  I've had periods--days in a row--where I felt and saw it all come crashing down again.  washing out.  Wilting under the pressure.  So far, I've been able to pick myself back up after a time, and I tell myself this is the change, and remind myself this also is depression.  But confound it, I'm tired of it all.  I want to be good.  To succeed.  To practice law well enough and operate a business well enough to grow in income, wealth and power - and all I mean is stability to support a family, someday take a legitimate vacation, save so I don't live paycheck to paycheck or less every week and month.
I realize this has become a screed.  So I put the pen down for now, and get back to work.

Edited by gandolfication

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@gandolfication I've struggled with very similar theistic questions for as long as I can remember. I'm flashing back to a time when the middle school me was sitting in a church pew next to my great-grandmother while the mainstream protestant service droned on. I looked around at all of the people crowded into the church and wondered if I was the only one who had doubts. Everyone else seemed fully immersed. They all rose and sang in unison, then sat down again when the pastor bid them to do so. I had the guilty feeling of being conned in  a way. I just couldn't "feel God" as the rest of the parishioners seemed to be doing.  Nothing has changed in the 50 years since that experience I guess...though I'm no longer a full-on atheist as I was in my 20s and 30s. Long story there of course, but I'll spare everyone...that, and I'm so tired I can barely keep my eyes open.

Fascinating stuff.

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You are not alone. There are many people who struggle to come to a healthier view of God after being raised in a more restrictive church environment. I know a lot of them at one of the churches I go to. People who were raised in conservative churches and chose to leave when the view of God they were being sold no longer made sense to them - or they were rejected by those churches because of who they were and how they chose to live. It is really difficult and I grieve that you are having to deal with this pain. 

I find it interesting that you being up the verse in Acts that says, "In God we live and Move and have our being." That was a verse that floated around my church community a lot in the past two years. The pastor was convinced that that verse was very important and that it offered the potential to flip our entire view of God on it's head. So many conservative evangeligal churches say that God will live in us if we invite him in and follow his rules. But if we accept the above verse, we can envision ourselves living within a God who is there all the time and loves us all the time - even when we are not perfect, when we sin - and even when we chose not to acknowledge God's presence. 

Doubt is a part of belief - not anti-thetical to it. Anyone who tells you that they have never doubted the doctrines they are taught is lying to you. You have chosen to explore that doubt - and through that journey, you may find a path to a more fulfilling view of God than the one you left behind. 

I would encourage you to check out a few of the following authors, if what I have said above connects with you - and even if it doesn't - they can talk about this stuff in a more profound way that I can: Brian McLaren, Rob Bell (don't be scared - he's not the devil 😉). Doug Pagitt, NT Wright. Or find your own path to God - there are many wonderful podcasts out there that may be able to offer you some solace. 

 

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20 hours ago, JD4010 said:

@gandolfication I've struggled with very similar theistic questions for as long as I can remember. I'm flashing back to a time when the middle school me was sitting in a church pew next to my great-grandmother while the mainstream protestant service droned on. I looked around at all of the people crowded into the church and wondered if I was the only one who had doubts. Everyone else seemed fully immersed. They all rose and sang in unison, then sat down again when the pastor bid them to do so. I had the guilty feeling of being conned in  a way. I just couldn't "feel God" as the rest of the parishioners seemed to be doing.  Nothing has changed in the 50 years since that experience I guess...though I'm no longer a full-on atheist as I was in my 20s and 30s. Long story there of course, but I'll spare everyone...that, and I'm so tired I can barely keep my eyes open.

Fascinating stuff.

Yah, you'll note that I did not spare anyone, and just droned on.

But your experience is so vivid and poignant.  I've been on both sides of that.  Presumably at some young age you did more or less implicitly accept the precepts of the faith, and I imagine (?) think or sense you also felt something of the presence and peace of god?

I am always still truck by people like yourself who came to these cross roads and asked these questions at what to me seems like such a young age.  I mean, I was asking question...I guess it was just that I was taught when young to learn rather than doubt, and then to take those doubts to the lord (duh), and even as I got older and had real, profound doubts, questions, and emptiness of feeling (this is to me where the action is mostly at on this topic), all the tools and knowledge I had told me that the problem about this was me.  I had sin in my life, or I wasn't doing something enough or right, or I wasn't accepting that none of it depended on me (ok great, what and how does that help me when I feel empty and sui cidal while I'm supposed to be full of the joy of the lord even in my struggles, etc.).  I turned on myself and starting from original sin, assumed not only that I was fallen (which I think we all are in the sense that we can't save ourselves mortally and perhaps even morally), and I couldn't even access the one potential grace that was supposed to be able to save me...and perchance ?make life bearable? at least.

Anyhow, I sense you know exactly what I'm talking about.  I have never really stopped longing and needing some kind of operative belief and stasis about this...never quite recovered it.

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16 hours ago, JessiesMom said:

You are not alone. There are many people who struggle to come to a healthier view of God after being raised in a more restrictive church environment. I know a lot of them at one of the churches I go to. People who were raised in conservative churches and chose to leave when the view of God they were being sold no longer made sense to them - or they were rejected by those churches because of who they were and how they chose to live. It is really difficult and I grieve that you are having to deal with this pain. 

I find it interesting that you being up the verse in Acts that says, "In God we live and Move and have our being." That was a verse that floated around my church community a lot in the past two years. The pastor was convinced that that verse was very important and that it offered the potential to flip our entire view of God on it's head. So many conservative evangeligal churches say that God will live in us if we invite him in and follow his rules. But if we accept the above verse, we can envision ourselves living within a God who is there all the time and loves us all the time - even when we are not perfect, when we sin - and even when we chose not to acknowledge God's presence. 

Doubt is a part of belief - not anti-thetical to it. Anyone who tells you that they have never doubted the doctrines they are taught is lying to you. You have chosen to explore that doubt - and through that journey, you may find a path to a more fulfilling view of God than the one you left behind. 

I would encourage you to check out a few of the following authors, if what I have said above connects with you - and even if it doesn't - they can talk about this stuff in a more profound way that I can: Brian McLaren, Rob Bell (don't be scared - he's not the devil 😉). Doug Pagitt, NT Wright. Or find your own path to God - there are many wonderful podcasts out there that may be able to offer you some solace. 

 

Thank you @JessiesMom,

Agree with your statement on doubt.  I always pledged to myself from as early as I can remember that, If this (faith) is really true as I then believed it, it need give no quarter, pull no punches, and not ever be afraid to confront and explore ANY seeming contradictions.  Nothing is off limits.  So I did permit myself to question and push and probe the depths of what I saw, observed, experienced and learned. 

And I studied the 'arguments'  for and against.  For a while the evidentiary arguments seemed to convince me it was a legend, a made-up morality play to help give us meaning when we might otherwise run outside screaming "this is absurd, we're all dying and no one will ever know we were here...what's the point!...." or something like that.

I considered myself a very analytical person, genuinely seeking to objectively discern truth...and hopefully I was.

But we know how powerfly we all as humans often come to conclusions first emotionally and then seek rational reasons to support our preconceptions.  (On a side note, I do believe this is how people form worldviews - by starting with an unverifiable presupposition - we must; else we have nothing to stand behind why we should even rely on logic, reason, rationality itself - everyone starts with a presupposition and our reasoning is ultimately circular.  Some of this comes from some gifted theologians in the family and one particular Great Debate from the mid-seventies).

But ultimately, I came face to face with the bracing truth of my own experience.  Set aside the evidence for and against an unconditionally loving god--and there is plenty of both.  I was struggling then, and still am now, out of raw, unmitigated emotional trauma.  It is personal.  I tell myself it is righteous indignation on behalf of other sufferers int he world too and especially.  But it is personal.  I have never been able to reconcile how this god whose quintessential characteristic is proactive, passionate, unconditional love for me his 'son' could--no would--allow (cause?) me to go through so much horror of pain, fear, guilt, shame, sui cidality, emotional and relational wreckage, squandering of true talent and potential -- which I was working night and day to dedicate to him and the cause I believed he'd called me to.  And then just the emptiness, the lack of any experience, never sensing so much as a figment again of the peace that passes understanding, no matter what I do or how much.

All of which does in a weird way I only partially understand consciously, bring me back to the point you have articulated above - and I'll paraphrase - that we can, I can, discover a god that is better.  Re-learn, remake, trust in something new, larger, better.  That's as far as I am.

Thank you for writing and listening.

Edited by gandolfication

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6 minutes ago, gandolfication said:

I have never been able to reconcile how this god whose quintessential characteristic is proactive, passionate, unconditional love for me his 'son' could--no would--allow (cause?) me to go through so much horror of pain, fear, guilt, shame, sui cidality, emotional and relational wreckage, squandering of true talent and potential -- which I was working night and day to dedicate to him and the cause I believed he'd called me to.  And then just the emptiness, the lack of any experience, never sensing so much as a figment again of the peace that passes understanding, no matter what I do or how much.

 

Oh my do I feel you pain. The only way that I have been able to reconcile the pain in the world with a just and loving God is to decide that the reason God "allows" pain and suffering in the world is the same reason he "allows" us to determine the path of our own lives. Free will - it comes with the ability to be loving and caring for others in our lives - and it also allows us to be sons of bitches. I have never been able to believe that in some way God causes suffering. I think that our pain causes God great distress - just the way I feel great distress when my children are in pain. 

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6 hours ago, JessiesMom said:

Oh my do I feel you pain. The only way that I have been able to reconcile the pain in the world with a just and loving God is to decide that the reason God "allows" pain and suffering in the world is the same reason he "allows" us to determine the path of our own lives. Free will - it comes with the ability to be loving and caring for others in our lives - and it also allows us to be sons of bitches. I have never been able to believe that in some way God causes suffering. I think that our pain causes God great distress - just the way I feel great distress when my children are in pain. 

Yah.   And I genuinely don't want to be the fly in the ointment here.  So let me first say I think that's beautiful that you can hold on to that, like so many others I know and envy.  Also, the cold logic of it does make sense.  A maximally great being necessarily had to create (if anything) the greatest of all universes, and thus it had to include love and therefore free will (otherwise love isn't' love if there isn't a choice).  With these, god had to allow for at least the possibility that we would choose evil, thus enter sin and pain and death.  (I've adopted a friend of mine's theory that if there's a god, he allows a zone of control/sovereignty, and then an axis of free agency and choice as well, like in quantum mechanics; this helps me a little).

It works as a syllogism.  If god is a psychopath.  (Please take this as impersonal venting of angst with maybe a little sarcasm - He can handle it).

I have long believed that what kind of small and limited god "had" to create this chain of events.  It is not that difficult for me to imagine a different universe where love can exist even with free will, but where in fact people just didn't choose to do evil, or even if they did, it didn't snowball into the wanton horror we see on an unthinkable scale.

I wonder, can people in 2019 still believe that famine, hurricanes, volcanoes, natural disasters, cancer are results of Adam and Eve or original sin or anything that people could ever cause?  This seems to me like the way that people used to believe thunder was god stopping his feet and rain was god crying.   (Sincerely, these are meant as illustrative examples; I am not debating or mocking).  I guess my feeling is that using a word 'sin' is an easy, cheap, three-letter word that acts as a cop out, inoculating the creator of the universe from all the hell and havoc he has wreaked on the world.  And I think to say he has merely 'allowed' it also makes something of a mockery of a god who by definition is all powerful (doesn't it?).  These words either mean what they say or they do not.

You mention how distressed  you feel when your children are in pain.  As do I.  Father-child is the metaphor used throughout the Bible (and some other religions) for God and his children.  And on my absolute worst day ever, never would I dream of 'allowing' such horrendously evil things to happen to ANYONE in this world--not even serial killers, etc., let alone my own beloved children, as the things that do.  Child abuse, trafficking...I won't expound, I know I don't need to, but really, I cannot reconcile that even figuratively or symbolically, much less literally.

I grew up with a very strong does of being taught that it wasn't all about us, it was all about god.  We weren't promised ease and comfort or even freedom from harm.  Joy, comfort in the midst of the storm, hope, love, knowing the still small voice, the presence and the peace that passes all understanding, all things ultimately working together for good - these things and more we were promised, particularly for those who loved god and were called according to his purpose (as I so deeply was).  But we do not see this.  And it seems shallow and empty to answer, wellbut in the next life you see, that's where you'll receive all this.  It's one heck of a wish fulfillment and opiate.  

Ah, I hope you don mind me going off like this.  I think psychologically, it seems obvious to me that the fact that I rail against something like this, presupposes I believe in it, even if I think it is unreliable, untrustworthy, impotent or unwilling to really help - and thus a monstrous evil itself.  But still I must be believing.

cheers.

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No worries - it is always interesting to get a chance to see from someone else's viewpoint. I actually don't think that the next life is the point. I think that the point is how we treat each other when we are here. The next life will be what it will be. I may be a bit of an optomist - but my goal is to never make anyone's day worse for having encountered me. I try to do what good I can. I journeyed from catholicism to wicca and then to progressive protantism looking to encounter the divine. And the one place I found it was in those moments of connection with my fellow human beings. I hope you can encounter the divine in your own time and in your own way ((hugs))

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On 2/12/2019 at 11:57 PM, JessiesMom said:

No worries - it is always interesting to get a chance to see from someone else's viewpoint. I actually don't think that the next life is the point. I think that the point is how we treat each other when we are here. The next life will be what it will be. I may be a bit of an optomist - but my goal is to never make anyone's day worse for having encountered me. I try to do what good I can. I journeyed from catholicism to wicca and then to progressive protantism looking to encounter the divine. And the one place I found it was in those moments of connection with my fellow human beings. I hope you can encounter the divine in your own time and in your own way ((hugs))

Yes, this!!

First couple lines - that's a mature approach.  Love it.

Doing all the good we can, for all the people we can, in all the ways we can, as long as we can.  That's pretty much what you're saying I think, and it's beautiful, intuitive, elegant and workable.  (I got that line from Hillary Clinton btw, who got it from her ?methodist, presbyterian? church).

Your journey sounds as whiplash as my own, and fascinating.  I had to look up protantism, and didn't find much....Reason and Value:Themes from the Moral Philosophy of Joseph Raz?  Sometime could you give me a 10,000 foot nutshell intro. I like the themes in that title.

Your encounter with the divine and especially in connection with our fellow humans is exactly how I've come to think of and try to 'practice' spirituality myself.  Mixed with a little quantum mysticism and metaphysics.  Ultimately it's like what you said...trying to make something better for someone today.

I do sometimes encounter the divine...with loving, engaging people I know, in art, beauty, crisp winter air, a transcendent movie. the pure love and truth of my children.  A great workout with a little sativa to help.  That kind of stuff.  : )

Best to you.  Glad to have met you here.

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On 2/12/2019 at 11:57 PM, JessiesMom said:

No worries - it is always interesting to get a chance to see from someone else's viewpoint. I actually don't think that the next life is the point. I think that the point is how we treat each other when we are here. The next life will be what it will be. I may be a bit of an optomist - but my goal is to never make anyone's day worse for having encountered me. I try to do what good I can. I journeyed from catholicism to wicca and then to progressive protantism looking to encounter the divine. And the one place I found it was in those moments of connection with my fellow human beings. I hope you can encounter the divine in your own time and in your own way ((hugs))

Aprops of this, I'm doing legal research tonight, and in one case, I came across this quote by Ralph Waldo Emmerson (who I love, but had never heard the quote):

[E]very man is entitled to be valued by his best moment.

 

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3 minutes ago, gandolfication said:

Aprops of this, I'm doing legal research tonight, and in one case, I came across this quote by Ralph Waldo Emmerson (who I love, but had never heard the quote):

[E]very man is entitled to be valued by his best moment.

 

Oh my God - I love this!

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As you know, I was never raised to believe in God, so can't really understand the experience of having an essential part of my life "go missing" that way.

I can related to it from PTSD/ trauma stuff tho... When trauma happens, so much stuff goes missing... basic safety, basic trust that things will be okay, your sense of self, etc.

I guess from an atheist perspective, if I was raising a child, I'd be concerned about God playing a huge role. From an atheist perspective, God is basically the same as Santa Claus. A fictional entity that we humans use to represent and symbolise things like love and generosity and caring and trust.

Now, life without Santa Claus is eminently livable. And we consciously realise that children's belief in Santa has a finite "use by" date... We know our children will lose their naive belief in Santa and we know they won't be troubled or scarred by the loss of that belief.

I wonder whether in your upbringing, your parents *actively placed* a lot of super important stuff in/ on/ within the symbol of "God".

I wonder whether you were taught that love is God. And trust is God. And purpose is God.

If so, maybe that's just a very weird/ kinda detrimental way for your parents to have raised you and to have explained the world to you.

So that when your belief in God waned, you felt like you were losing things like love, trust and purpose to boot.

Really, the loss of religious faith, can be a lot like just "outgrowing" Santa.

Many people don't experience it as being a traumatic experience.

But for you, it's obviously the core trauma of your life, which is totally valid.

I can definitely understand that it can be deeply traumatic and a core trauma.

As I said, I suspect that your parents placing a big over-emphasis on God is probably what set this up to be "all the more traumatic" and for "the fall to be all the greater" when it happened.

And yeah, this is written from an atheist perspective. Not because I think a spiritual perspective is wrong.

(I don't even think those two perspectives are mutually exclusive).

I'm writing it from an atheist perspective to remind you that there are wholly liveable, acceptable other perspectives than the spiritual one.

I think it's totally okay for you to find your way back to spirituality on your terms. On more adult, reflected, subtle terms.

And I also think it's okay for your inner kid to have your inner kid's version of God. Totally, totally okay.

I know you're struggling with "circumstances" right now (job, moving, finances, relationship, etc) and that those kind of struggles always throw us back to our core traumas and make them resonate intensely.

I hope circumstances ease up a bit so this stuff is easier to deal with.

I think you're a really wonderful person, regardless of whether a God made you or not.

((((hug))))

Edited by Sophy

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If you have a moment and have the headspace Rob, I thought you might find this talk/ meditation helpful.

Can't post links here, so google "Tara Brach on Spiritual Reparenting" on youtube.

((hug))

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On 2/17/2019 at 6:16 AM, Sophy said:

 

I'm going to try to respond to this in-line, because

As you know, I was never raised to believe in God, so can't really understand the experience of having an essential part of my life "go missing" that way.

I can related to it from PTSD/ trauma stuff tho... When trauma happens, so much stuff goes missing... basic safety, basic trust that things will be okay, your sense of self, etc.

Yes, I think this must be very similar, and I have often analogized this traumatic loss to PTSD-like experience, especially the way you describe it here.

I guess from an atheist perspective, if I was raising a child, I'd be concerned about God playing a huge role. From an atheist perspective, God is basically the same as Santa Claus. A fictional entity that we humans use to represent and symbolise things like love and generosity and caring and trust.

Now, life without Santa Claus is eminently livable. And we consciously realise that children's belief in Santa has a finite "use by" date... We know our children will lose their naive belief in Santa and we know they won't be troubled or scarred by the loss of that belief.

Yes, the analogy to Santa holds much explanatory power.  From an a-theist perspective, it is a closely tailored.  Where the analogy breaks down--as of course all analogies must at some point by their nature--is that the question and issue of God, a maximally great, and perfectly loving and powerful being invested in your and my and everyone's personal wellbeing now and through eternity...well, that is the difference.  And that, without needing to evaluate them, there are extant forms of evidence for god.  All rational adults know with metaphysical certainty that Santa is 100% purely man-made fiction.  Not quite so with our longing and wonder about the divine. 

Both Santa and God, though do speak similarly to what seems to be a longing written on the hearts of all mankind, to have someone, something, all powerful, all benevolent, to comfort us and say, it is enough my cherished son or daughter, that I love you unconditionally, and this love will outstrip anything...your flaws,  your necessarily incomplete understandings, your fears, your pain, even your death itself.  I do not believe this is ONLY the winsome longings of a child...although I do not deny it is also that....and I mostly revel in the fact that we are all still always children.

I wonder whether in your upbringing, your parents *actively placed* a lot of super important stuff in/ on/ within the symbol of "God".

Um, yah, my mom did and my sphere of influence did.  My dad didn't, but so what he nearly was a god-figure despite it.  Still is.

I wonder whether you were taught that love is God. And trust is God. And purpose is God.

There are only 2 things, to my knowledge in the Bible and in Christian theology that are stated as equivalents of God:  Love and light.  So yes.
A contemporary of St. Anselm's famous metaphysical proof of god, would posit that (and I necessarily oversimplify), that the fact that we can imagine a universe with a perfectly loving non-contingent being, ultimately necessitates that there is one.  If it is possible that there could be such, in a few short steps you get to then their must be.  I know it sounds circular (but all reasoning is in short order), but when broken down in formal logic (the closest metaphysics gets to mathematical reality), it is a seductively difficult syllogism to dislodge, and I digress.

If so, maybe that's just a very weird/ kinda detrimental way for your parents to have raised you and to have explained the world to you.

Yes, in the past decade, I have come to view it mostly as an indoctrinated crutch that has not been helpful to me...especially as I have variously rejected and/or lost it - and perhaps it was inevitable that the adult part of me would've had to.

So that when your belief in God waned, you felt like you were losing things like love, trust and purpose to boot.

Trust and purpose, and yes love from god, and security, and meaning and hope and reason to get up, etc.

Really, the loss of religious faith, can be a lot like just "outgrowing" Santa.

Many people don't experience it as being a traumatic experience.

But for you, it's obviously the core trauma of your life, which is totally valid.

I can definitely understand that it can be deeply traumatic and a core trauma.

As I said, I suspect that your parents placing a big over-emphasis on God is probably what set this up to be "all the more traumatic" and for "the fall to be all the greater" when it happened.

And yeah, this is written from an atheist perspective. Not because I think a spiritual perspective is wrong.

(I don't even think those two perspectives are mutually exclusive).

I don't either.  And I have had to accept dialectics like this even when they don't make sense to me.

I'm writing it from an atheist perspective to remind you that there are wholly liveable, acceptable other perspectives than the spiritual one.

I think it's totally okay for you to find your way back to spirituality on your terms. On more adult, reflected, subtle terms.

And I also think it's okay for your inner kid to have your inner kid's version of God. Totally, totally okay.

I guess this is what i've been trying to realize / believe / take comfort in recently.  It's difficult, elusive, ethereal, feint, and often feels like the same chasing after the wind as always.  But sometimes, I get close again to a divine spark, when I know that I know there is love, meaning, purpose.

I know you're struggling with "circumstances" right now (job, moving, finances, relationship, etc) and that those kind of struggles always throw us back to our core traumas and make them resonate intensely.

I hope circumstances ease up a bit so this stuff is easier to deal with.

I think you're a really wonderful person, regardless of whether a God made you or not.

((((hug))))

Thank you, back at ya.

I'm tagging the below back in here, because it all relates.

 

 

 

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12 hours ago, Sophy said:

If you have a moment and have the headspace Rob, I thought you might find this talk/ meditation helpful.

Can't post links here, so google "Tara Brach on Spiritual Reparenting" on youtube.

((hug))

I'll check it out and add it to my meditations list.  I've occasionally listened to Tara Brach.

I can use some spiritual reparenting.  And good bourbon too.

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2 hours ago, gandolfication said:

I'll check it out and add it to my meditations list.  I've occasionally listened to Tara Brach.

I can use some spiritual reparenting.  And good bourbon too.

I reckon Tara would approve 😄

She tells some dirty jokes in that podcast, which should go well with the bourbon 🙂

((hug))

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I wish I had something really wise or meaningful to add to this profound discussion, but sadly I am at a loss.   It is very interesting and enlightening to read what you all have written though.  Everyone who has written something in this thread has some deep insights.  So thanks!   - epictetus

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