Abandoning God


On March 7, 2010 I stopped believing in God. Actually, that’s not exactly true. I’d been working on abandoning my faith in God for weeks and months and years before that. It’s just that on that particular morning it became abundantly, undeniably, irrevocably clear. The moment my wife’s life ended there was simply no room left in my world for God. More to the point, the whole idea of God stopped making sense to me.

But perhaps I should explain myself before the credentialing committee of my Church decides to revoke my ministerial standing. The “God” I no longer believe in is the one I grew up with (as did many other folks I know)–the one who can be quantified and defined, understood and comprehended, named and controlled, captured and kept in a box. All too often, at least in my case, to claim that I “believe in God” implies that I have some sort of comprehensive grasp of what I mean by the name “God.” And clearly I do not. How could I possibly make such a claim? What I have come to recognize is that God (by whatever name you might choose to express that reality) is ever so much more vast and incomprehensible than I will ever be able to even begin to imagine. And letting go of my tight-fisted grip on my tiny little “God” has been such a sweet relief. My horizons have expanded and my soul has room to breathe. I don’t have to “know” anything. I can now begin to experience what has always been true – that I am swimming in a vast ocean of Sacred presence – always have been – always will be – no matter what! This life I’m living, this world around me, the people with whom I share the planet, even my wife’s incomprehensible death, all of it is Holy, all of it is a part of the Sacred Source. It is Mystery with a capital “M.” None of us will ever be able to do more than scratch the surface in one tiny corner of understanding. But all of us, individually and collectively, can experience the fullness of it. We just have to let go of the notion that we are somehow in control, that we can somehow “make sense” of it.

I will continue to try to put the experience into words. That’s what I do. I suspect that is a part of what it means to be human. We are “meaning-making” creatures. But I will try very hard to be clear that whatever I say must be understood as a whisper of a hint of a fleeting and ephemeral glimpse of the great Mystery in which we all swim. And I will try very hard to always listen honestly, respectfully and expectantly to the stories of my fellow travellers on this journey, no matter how strange and foreign they might seem to me. We are all swimming in the same ocean and their perspective may help shine light on my experience. Will you join me on this wondrous adventure of letting go into the heart of Mystery?

By Roger Lynn

Roger Lynn has been an ordained Disciples of Christ pastor since 1981. He has served congregations in Arkansas, Washington, Idaho and Montana. Currently he is the Transitional Pastor at Country Homes Christian Church in Spokane, Washington. He has long been active in inter-faith dialogue and recently began participating in Dances of Universal Peace with a wonderful group of Sufi friends. In March of this year Roger’s world turned upside down when his wife died from complications related to Stage Four Breast Cancer. Since then he has sought to process his grief with openness, honesty and integrity. This has been possible because of a strong network of supportive family and friends.

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6 thoughts on “Abandoning God

  1. Thank you Roger. You are not alone. The past few months I’ve been reading some atheist blogs. Ironically, they make for great inter-faith partners. They often appreciate mystery instead of trying to put it in a box.

    There is a buddhist expression that deals with mistaking religious words/texts for reality. They say religion is like a finger pointing to the moon. The purpose is to let the finger guide your attention to the moon, but all too often religious people lose site of the moon and dedicate their lives to focusing on the finger.

    Also, the Taoists say any Tao that can be defined is not the true Tao.

    I know these are not Christian. I don’t care. Smart is smart. I say that any god that can be defined is not the true God.

    Thank you for your courage in posting this. It means a lot to me.

  2. Beautifully put, and thanks for sharing it. My belief in that unknowable, Mysterious God kept me out of Christianity for a lot of years. I didn’t know the answers, didn’t even know what questions to ask, and was generally okay with my doubts. But it seemed to me that that wasn’t exactly welcomed in modern American Christianity. After a while, I got courageous and took my crazy, self-styled universalist panenthesim back into to a church and let my freak flag fly.

    One of my favorite quotes about God has always been one of the ones that Brian posted: The Tao that can be defined is not the true Tao.

  3. Roger — that was a beautifully written post. It is courageous of you to openly process your grief, and to share honestly with your friends and with all of us who read this blog.

    How great that you can dance with Sufi friends. I don’t know any Sufis, but once when I was really down in the dumps, I was sort of “reborn” after reading a poem by a Sufi poet. One year that was very tough for me, I used a daily Celtic devotional guide and I grew a lot as a result of the reflections and suggested practices. I have been in Pentecostal services where I was broken down to my essentials, and it was good. In a Friday evening Jewish service, I felt as enfolded by God’s love and care as I ever have been in my life. I also experience moments of ecstacy as well as enlightenment in the worship services of my own church. I think that these happen when the God that is within me breaks through and I am so very grateful when it happens, wherever and however it happens.

    Theologically, right now, in some ways I might be more at home with the Unitarians or some type of progressive Quakers, but I love being a Disciple, and I am staying. I sense that many of you clergy types have either given up on or seriously doubt that the bulk of your congregants are open to “emergence”. I could be wrong, but I think that some of them will be, and that with a small group of people you can begin to really transform a church.

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