If you are like me you will remember when you were a teen and first felt that pull toward what I refer to as "the dark side." What, someone else used that phrase already? Anyway, what I mean is that aspect of life that says "Hey - there aren't any rules here - that was just a lie your parents held over you to keep you under control." That's the dark side, and it's not all dark. Personal freedom must be developed and understood to fully immerse one's self in what exists to compliment the dark side - what some would call Grace. Notice I didn't say "opposite." In truth, I believe that sense of personal freedom to be the seed of both our potential downfall and salvation, therefore it has no opposites per se, but rather exists on a spectrum of possibility (and in some cases probability, but I find that more problematic in a spiritual sense.)
Let me get back to the point - this pull to behave without being policed by any other person place or thing, that is the pull one first feels as a young one. It pulls one away from one's family naturally. The dynamics of it are tied very closely to what we refer to as desire. Often we talk about it as a rebellious phase. Without it we would likely live with our parents forever. It causes our first sexual explorations, makes us want to try new drugs, experience new emotions, eat forbidden fruit; it is with us in ebb and flow even into our elder years. Without it, we lose our humanity. Leaving it to grow unchecked, we lose our humanity.
It is this pull, one would assume, that is at the origin of my choice to leave religion (or as I call it for myself "leaving church".) This will be a tough point to argue and explain, I know, but that is not true. It is not - often even to my disappointment - about recklessly abandoning all moral rules and social morays. I am human, so I feel the same pull to life without rules or policing as anyone, but the reality is that, as an adult, my conscience is in tact and, though there are moments I secretly wish I could have a torrid affair, or go on a cross country crime spree or wild drug binge, I could never let myself do those things, religion or no religion.
That's where the second half of the "tag line" for this blog comes from. "Leaving Church" but also "Having Faith." Now, if you are like me, you may be thinking things like "you can be as moral as you like but that is not the key to the salvation of your soul" or "without God (and somehow therefore religion) there would be no right and wrong." These thoughts and many like them continue to pulse through my brain - as would be expected of any brain so steeped in any religious tradition's rhetoric.
How I deal with those thoughts goes a long way toward defining who I am at this point in my life. Mostly I do that by recognizing those thoughts for what they are - steeped in rhetoric that makes the choir feel great, but is functionally useless for those who need it most. It is not an easy process at all - which is exactly why I am blogging about it. Certainly there must be others who are interested in issues of faith and reason who also feel the need to hold religion accountable for it's inadequacies by refusing to participate. For me - it is a kind of conscientious objection, an active protest.
I hope that by blogging or charting my journey away from religion or "leaving the church" can find those who are of like mind and need support to do the same. It is a difficult thing for me to do and even more difficult to talk about - but is not gold refined by fire?