This is the final piece of my blog that I have called “Falling out of love with God”. It’s an attempt to map out where I am now. I value religious language. I think the “big” words like Life,Death, Salvation, Redemption, Forgiveness etc are hugely important. They express one attempt at giving meaning to our lives. I simply now don’t see them as connected to God. This makes my life both easier and more complicated. In my early days, if someone seemed to need to be “Saved” the answer was simple. “Receive Christ as your personal Saviour”. Simple. Deal done. Another soul in the Kingdom But as time went on, I began to look much more at the small print. Sure, the free gift of God is eternal salvation through Christ. But there where an awful lot of disclaimers. Penalty clauses. Variable interest rates. Conditions under which the contract could be terminated or rendered invalid. Suddenly this free gift became very troublesome. One was in a constant anxiety state. Like winning a few million on the lottery. Initially one’s reaction is “Hooray. All my troubles are now over.” Then come people who want some of my winnings. Do I want to give it to them? Do they deserve it? Then comes the question of what to do with this money. Should i spend it on “the holiday of a lifetime”? Should I invest it? Where? What about my tax code? Not to mention the assumption that I can now afford to buy every round at the pub! In some ways I might have been happier not winning. But how can I walk away from a few million pounds in the bank?
Eventually my “salvation” left like this mythical lottery win. As an ordinary unsaved sinner, I could live as I wished. If I was feeling grumpy, I could swear at my wife .If I wanted to lie in on a Sunday morning, I could. I wasn’t expected at church. My dark thoughts were my business. If I was annoyed by someone I had no obligation to confess my sins to them. But now, I was under all manner of constraints. Do this! Don’t do that! Think this but not that! My super ego had a field day whilst my id cowered miserably under the blankets, terrified to come out.
These days I translate religious language into psychological terms. Salvation speaks of a wish to be whole .Forgiveness of a wish to forgive and be forgiven. Redemption as a chance to make reparation. I go to my local Quaker meeting on a Sunday morning .Not every Sunday but quite often. I am an Attender, not a Member. I looked at Membership but panicked. I didn’t want to have to be identified as belonging to yet another religious group. I don’t want to be classified as a miserable sinner since, mostly, I’m neither! It might be that Quakerism is the spiritual equivalent of the Cheshire cat’s smile. Eventually even that will fade. I don’t know. For now it suits me.
So, life after God? I look back at the good times of which there were many. Fun, laughter, pleasure and enjoyment. But also bullying, control, dishonesty, fear and anxiety. Eventually the negatives outweighed the positives. We still see each occasionally and will exchange pleasantries. But then we go our separate ways. And that suits me very well.