“I don’t know if I know him anymore, you know?”
I was admitting to my friend, L, between taking bookings at work, that I’ve lost my connection with God.
L works with me on reception and is one of those incredibly honest, open people who enable you to say what you’re thinking without filter. “It feels like I woke up and I just don’t recognise the person I thought I knew as God anymore. Have you ever seen that thing when one of your friends suddenly changes and you wonder if you ever knew them in the first place?” (We both knew people like that.)
It was Thursday, the day before Brexit and almost three weeks since the shootings at the gay club in Orlando. For the first time in my life I could see Christianity the way that I imagine many agnostics do — as a giant, mutually agreed upon delusion. Much like the way the public would feel in an episode of Dr Who when the Daleks are explained away as hallucinations caused by a national gas leak. Have we all agreed from the top down to believe in God because it’s easier than facing the fear that he might not exist? Big and small evidences of God from my own life suddenly felt like coincidences, Bible verses felt like flat meme proverbs (you know the Facebook ones that say, “Sunshine is the ray of life, so love yourself like the sun does.“), and the love I feel from and to God felt similar to the love I feel from and to my pot plant Henry. Like, I projected it and I got it back from my own projection.
I felt like the elegant bag of belief that I usually carry around with me was empty and dry, and more importantly, for the first time, I couldn’t be bothered to theologize it full again. (“Is the glass half empty of half full?“, “That’s not a glass it’s a drawing of one.“)
Given time and energy you can explain or explain away anything — ask any theologian whether it was okay for God to kill all the firstborn of Egypt and they’ll whip up a wide variety of formulas that ensure their God is squeaky clean. Would it be okay to date someone you knew was involved in mass genocide? And yet, here we are engaged to Christ, veils at the ready, lamps lit.
I explained it to another of my friends like this: “We’re taking a break at the moment, God and I, but we still care about each other. It’s like when you run into an ex that you’re still in love with at a party, and there’s a sense that you both really want to talk or be near each other, but you’re also worried that if you agree to another dance, one of you will get even more hurt.”
On Saturday morning, we all woke up to Brexit. (Well, I woke up to a Facebook message that said, “F**k.“, and responded with, “Nooooo…“, because I knew what that meant). It was the first time I’ve encountered a national, or personal, crisis without my best friend, closest companion and (imaginary?) councillor by my side.
It didn’t feel right to pray about it, in the same way it felt so wrong for people publicly opposed to LGBT People in life to pray with them in death (#PrayForOrlando), I felt it inappropriate to turn immediately to JC in crisis today, when we’d only gone on a break days before.
We held hands for a bit though, while I walked into work, but in silence.
As my social networks exploded with people surprised by, commenting on, angry at, shocked amongst, the Brexit story — I found myself pondering my own Chexit (or gradual exit from organised Church). As Britain prepares to divorce itself from the EU, I’m wondering what will happen with my own separation from the image I’d created of God. Will we figure it out, will we not? Will I find he’s unchanged and I’ve changed, or will I change and find him again? Is the wholeness of God willing to be contained by doctrine, or is there a space for the mystery of expanse?
I spent yesterday with some of my dearest Christian friends, in Sheffield. One told me, “When you’re trying to find your way, it can be like in Mario Kart — first you swerve too far into organised religion, then you swerve too far out of it into universalism, then you swerve back towards the symbols you know, then you swerve out again, but over time you find you are more balanced and able to stay on the track towards the goal without crashing as much.”
I saw a post on Twitter on Friday, one of the first I encountered in Post Brexit Britain, “I’m off out to sit on a rock that’s been there for millenia and watch a river that has flowed for millenia,” said an artist and Methodist minister, “to ground myself and wait for hope.”
I’m off out to sit on a rock that’s been there for millenia and watch a river that has flowed for millenia to ground myself & wait for hope
— Ric Stott (@RicStott) June 24, 2016
Even in the midst of Brexit and my own personal Chexit THIS felt like wisdom and I admitted to the Creator (who, nameless and formless as s/he may be just for the moment, I still find myself believing in), “Let’s wait a while. And see.”
Keep connected, get in touch, send love to @mattdrapps on Twitter.
*Disclaimer: My blog is my brain in a glass box, the thoughts I have today may not be the thoughts I have tomorrow or last year and are not intended as definitive statements.
Image of telephone from here: http://www.datacentremanagement.org/wp-content/plugins/RSSPoster_PRO/cache/d2687_office-ip-phone-shst.jpg
Image of Doctor Who’s Donna and Rose from here: http://tvmedia.ign.com/tv/image/article/895/895508/turn-left-20080731054120134.jpg
Image of hands from: http://pshomegazette.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/couple-holding-hands-photographic-p.jpg
Image of Mario Kart from: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/e/e2/Mario_Kart_Wii_screenshot.jpg