As I write this I am on an airplane several thousand feet in the air. The saying goes that there is no such thing as an atheist in foxholes. I suppose the same could be said of airplanes. Particularly any plane that is experiencing turbulence.
Although this particular plane is not experiencing any difficulties or even any turbulence - I must admit there is a certain amount of trepidation involved in my writing this particular blog post so far above the sacred earth upon which I belong. Why is that so? I'm just going to have to chalk it up to the same kind of nerves that drive most folks to religion in the first place.
When we fear no mortal doom, we generally don't feel a pressing need to be considerate of any theology, I think. In a certain way, that basic supposition is exactly the reason for this blog post and for this blog in general.
I won't go too far to explain the reason for the blog or the meaning behind its moniker - that much I'll leave to the assumption that folks are generally able to infer most of what they need to. Suffice it to say that a study of human motives for participating in religious activities is at the heart of both.
About Skipping Church:
Now to the meat of this first post in the voice of the Exiled Believer, I suppose.
I loved church. Let me say so with some conviction as the plane I am on currently begins to shake with turbulence. I am one of the lucky ones on this planet for whom early experience inside of organized religion was generally very positive. Sure I balked at having to go when I was young - but mainly just because channel 59 decided to air the Transformers cartoon smack dab in the middle of it. Mind you - this is before we had a VCR, let alone Tivo - when something aired on TV, there was a finality to the stream having passed and not much comfort in the odds of catching reruns at convenient times. In general, though, I had wonderful friends at church who were not also a part of my school, so seeing them once a week was a nice break.
So why is it not a part of my life right now? Why have I found myself inside this journey - exiled from the beliefs that have played so large a role in the forming of my foundations?
A just question not easily answered in one blog post. In fact, I'm not sure I will ever successfully answer that question, and in a certain way feel as though I am not able to do so alone. So much so that I have been compelled to raise my voice in this new media age to talk about my struggle to answer that question in a public way and to engage others in an exploration of that very question - hence the Exiled Believer blog.
One major reason I feel confident starting with such a gregarious title as "I skip church and you can too" is that I know there are others out there. Others. There are other perspectives. Even among those that attempt to be a part of a larger community that claims to offer a unified front of unanimous ideological conformity (the biggest lie of all I think sometimes.)
There are those for whom early experiences with church were not positive. There are those for whom no experience with church has been positive. There are those who have no experience with church and feel marginalized by that lack of experience. For every individual there is a perspective - and not all individuals feel comfort in expressing that perspective. Not all individuals feel comfortable EXPERIENCING their perspectives, particularly in light of the way church - or organized religion of any form - tends to approach that very individuality of experience.
This blog is dedicated to those individuals that need to experience the solidarity of difference in experience.
Don't be confused - this is not a personal forum for me to cry out against God or those that believe in any god or system of belief. I'm sure that the comments of this blog will from time to time find trolls who are only interested in starting fights and making others feel hated. I'm not sure how I'm going to deal with that, but I have come to the realization that I can no longer be silent about my exile - I can no longer withhold the salve of solidarity from those for whom it might be useful.
I skip church. That much is a fact. I'm still working on the why and still unsure (as my plane shakes) about the consequences of that choice for me and my family. That does not mean I don't believe or find other ways to practice my beliefs.
You can too. That is also a fact - you are free to do so, I make no promises about the consequences for you either. I can, however, share my experiences and help you share yours as you learn to believe (in whatever you choose to) and practice your beliefs.
My friend Pete (with whom I'm sure I would have a healthy debate regarding the spiritual integrity of my decisions and words) perhaps unknowingly summed up best for me my entry into the world of the "Exiled Believer." He said (in a paraphrased tweet) "I find so much more comfort in the experience of God than in any words on a page - who wants a book when you can have a hug?" My answer to him is - but what happens when your experience of God differs from your neighbor's interpretation of the words on the page? The answer is why I am an Exiled Believer.