Sunday, December 30, 2012

2012. . . and Santa Claus

Though it unfolded slowly and naturally, 2012 will go down in our history as a more-than-usually momentous year.  It was a year full of new adventures. We celebrated our 10th anniversary (several months late) in Hawaii. We took the kids to the Pacific coast. I tried to choose a college major. Becky discovered gymnastics. Christen discovered karate. Benjie started public school. Missy got braces.

But the most significant changes are the things we are leaving behind in 2012. We replaced the framed guardian angel print with a wolf. Stacks of books and Christian kids' movies went in the give-away box; I even culled my hymnal collection. By Easter morning, we were ready to end the life support, the last illusions of faith. Christen and I helped with the kids’ crafts at the Methodist church, then listened to the choir and the amazing pipe organ, knowing it was our last church service and we no longer expected a resurrection.

The process began long ago, but we finally let go of God in 2012. We explained this transition to our kids, then watched them thrive in the free atmosphere of science plus imagination. We met other skeptics, atheists, agnostics. We discovered depth and heart in art and entertainment we would once have dismissed as offensive. We laughed ourselves breathless at comedy that wasn't funny for us before. We learned more about our universe and caught our breath in fresh awe and wonder. And the friendships that weathered this period are dearer to us than ever.

Two years ago I hung a scripture plaque in the dining room—partly because I found it on a clearance table, partly because I love its shade of blue that matches my wallpaper, and also because my confidence in Christianity felt shaky at the time. Now I keep it there as a reminder of what “living by faith” was like. 

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for
and certain of what we do not see.
Hebrews 11:1

In the end, religion is really a lot like Santa Claus. It is easy to have “faith as a child”, to follow adults you love and trust, to participate in common rituals, to learn the ways your community interprets evidence to bolster belief. As in so many holiday movies, one hopes while trying to stifle doubts. But outside the movies, eventually curiosity may lead to exploration and research. And the more tightly faith was held, the deeper the disillusionment.

I held my faith rather tightly for decades.  Letting go of the God concept has been a kind of rebirth—a peaceful, liberating, joyous experience in spite of disorienting moments of adjustment. I am excited to leave so much baggage behind in 2012 and move forward more lightly in the years to come.