A is for atheism. It is also for agnostic, but maybe that is another entry. In case anyone missed it. I declared (finally having found the right word) that I am an atheist on monday. Here are some places to find some definitions.
noun: atheist; plural noun: atheists
a person who disbelieves or lacks belief in the existence of God or gods.
“he is a committed atheist”
synonyms: nonbeliever, disbeliever, unbeliever, skeptic, doubter, doubting Thomas, agnostic; nihilist
“why is it often assumed that a man of science is probably an atheist?”
This is Encyclopedia Bledsoe after all, and I am Bledsoe, so I have decided to copy my post here. After that, there will be more to follow. It is worth noting that I intended everyone to see this at once, and the people who I needed to see it most, I did not realize they were out of signal range…basically all week. Best laid plans and all that.
Monday, July 9, 2017. 1730
This has needed to be said for a little while now, but I am leaving the church, and religion altogether.
I will let that sink in for a moment. You did not read it wrong, and this is not a joke. I know I often post jokes after the tag line, but further reading will not relieve you of what you see above.
I figure, as always, a story is best. When I was around 20, right before getting married and deploying to Iraq, I was baptized into the Church of Christ. It was done by my father-in-law, in the pool of a man named John McClaine, which is still kind of awesome. Now we are ten years down the road. When my in-laws met me, I was an atheist, and they got me to join a faith. I have spent the last decade in that faith, with my wife and children.
There were bumps in the road. I was a bit busy in Iraq. One guy asked me to talk bible with him, and I did. Panic can do that. We had some other small things, like a CSM who I wanted to drown, but we read bible together. I read the Bible a lot due to the whole unknown, but then, busy. When I came back, I was…well I was confused and irritable. I let my wife go to church on her own for a while, and then towards the end of my time with the military I started to feel better, so I figured it was time to try again. We started a home church together because she was pregnant, and we had had bad experiences with the ones around Fort Campbell. We were later convinced to try them again, and were MEH at best, but certainly better than they had been. We moved to Massachusetts and found an amazing church and family there. I thought for sure I had made it that time. This time all the pieces fit! I was having a good time, I was singing, leading singing, teaching a bible class, letting my kids go to bible class, and I even got to serve as a deacon, with a little preaching on the side. I thought for sure I had done it. I had gone all the way through. I was brother Bledsoe.
What is missing from this story is all the things that were in my head. The doubts, the old naggings, and the words “that’s ridiculous” popping up way too many times. Years of this. The first times I told myself that I had not really tried. So I tried more, and more. Like I said, after Natick, no one can say I did not try. However, there they were. I am not going to dive head first into all the details and arguments, I do not think it would help, but there are a lot of them. I ignored them, I reasoned them out, I…you get the idea. Then the truth started to come in. You can only ignore thoughts like “you do not believe that, you like these people and their company.” I will not go into inconsistencies here either, but basically the same thing.
I will go ahead and address school, because I know that it will come up, and in some cases, be blamed. College is not a place you send people to kill religion, there is no evil conspiracy. However, education should not be shunned because the two do not reconcile, and I certainly would not see the two try to reconcile. I have said myself that college was a brainwashing program, but a man is allowed to change, that’s why you are sitting here…reading this. That is not what goes on at school, really I received more information that confirmed what I had been thinking, and it just made it a lot harder to ignore. I started to become bitter and again irritable that I was showing a personality that was not in line with what I thought or believed.
Finally, I wrote it all down and promptly slammed that journal closed, forgetting what had happened. That’s what I thought I was doing anyhow. Next my mind began to consider how to tell my wife. I did not decide that I was going to. I simply concluded that was the next logical step, while still not acknowledging how final and firm that kind of thought was. I rocked on. I made sure that I volunteered to preach, while failing to notice my sermons were mostly about that one church and the people in it, who I really do love and am glad I was able to open up some. All of them really did teach me a good bit about people, and I was not disappointed.
After writing it down, everything got faster after that. It was not a matter of if I had something to tell my wife, but when. Later I mentioned it offhand to a friend, testing the waters, and without stopping the game we were playing he said something like “I though you already had a foot out the door.” So that told me something. I had to confront a lot of things. I didn’t invite people to church, besides the guy from before, because I do not want to be invited. I did not pray because it just put a pause in between me getting up and making something happen, I had told myself it did not do anything and accepted that as a fundamental truth. I had another friend who I knew I could and do confide in. He is the best because, despite being an atheist himself, he just listened, he did not try to deconvert me. He was supportive like he was when I told him years before I wanted to get myself and my wife back into the church together. He knows who he is, and why I love him.
It got a notebook all it’s own at that point, the atheism did, and I started writing what I was feeling and thinking and working out. I also told my wife. It was more than one conversation, and there are more to go, but she and I know where the other stands.
This could get even longer so lets get to the point. I do not hate any of you. I really do not. I love my in-laws, my family from them, I love the people I learned to love at Natick, one of whom I am counting the rest of you to show this to. He does not have Facebook, and I could print it and mail it, but you guys can save me a stamp. I look up to my in laws, and I love them, just as I love my family that I grew up with. I did not want to disappoint you guys, but I feel that may be unavoidable, and crunch time is here, so we decided I would tell everyone all at once. Do not feel attacked or hated, just the opposite, I really want everything to keep going. Seriously, I am exactly the same person, I just will not be going to church or pretending that I have an intention to anymore. I will probably be more open with things I know or believe now. But, this has been going on a while, it just took me a long time to digest, and it was hard to accept. It really was tough, but I’m good now, but I’m also the same guy. If you liked talking with me before, you will now, maybe with less topics, if you enjoyed games with me, you still will. Just as I will with you. If you liked what we did before, you still can, I will, I just will not be pretending I don’t love my Bad Religion albums, or that I don’t know what they really mean.
Now for the awkward part. Katie and I are still a family with our kids. We know there will be things that have to be addressed, but we are doing that together. There is no safe space here and never will be. She can take the boys to church and I don’t get to have an attitude about it when Liam chooses to go and enjoys himself and shows me what he made. At the same time, I can tell them my beliefs and specifically what I do not believe, and Katie does not show them disappointment to them when he chooses not to go. I watch how I explain things so that I do not imply to my children that I think religious people, like their mother who I love just as much as ever, are idiots or anything. I can tell them my thoughts without bringing anyone down. That does not mean faith, any faith, will be accorded a special sidewalk from me, and we will not tolerate our family being undermined. I would appreciate no one telling my kids that I am going to hell or something, or trying to convince my wife she has to run.
Now, there’s more there. If you are keeping the kids and go to church, take them like you normally would. I cannot ask for a sidewalk I do not accord you when I am not there. If you pray, pray. If you believe, go ahead. You may even see me come to church should I even pass through Natick, there are people there we love, and I just happen to know where to find them each week. A note about Natick. I did nothing wrong when teaching those teens, I taught them what I believed at the time, what I preached to you guys, what the Bible said, and while I do not stand by it any more, I gave them no sign of my doubt, or anything like that. Those are awesome kids and I really loved working with them. Also if you tell them about this, say teens, not kids.
The last bit. I do not plan on a lot of discussion or debate at this moment, and am not sure I will. I feel like I just went through a pretty epic debate, and I am at a point in my life where I should be called rebellious are hard headed. I am making a mature and very informed decision and my family is standing with me, if not necessarily agreeing with me. I am not an angst ridden teenager. I have the information, and we have had the debate whether you know it or not, the debate is over, and I found faith wanting. This is the end of it for me. If you wish to cut out, there will be no hard feelings. You can unfriend me, really, and I am saying now, my posts after this will reflect my beliefs and information. I’m being upfront and if that’s what you need to do, maybe just unfollow me and I will find a way for you to get the pictures of the kids still. We are adults and we can work it out. You do not have to pretend to like what I am to see the boys. Like I said, my atheism is not up for a debate, and I do not intend to recount the details or information right this minute. Maybe later. Maybe read the first two chapters of Godless by Dan Barker, as that is something I relate to. If you are interested, I recommend most of Richard Dawkins’s work. Seriously though, fore warning, atheist posts are coming. I mean it, you can unfriend if you need, unfollow if you want. If you unfollow me, let me know first so I can make a list of people who still need pictures of the kids and Ill make it happen. I could create a chat group message that is just for the photos or a group like “people who come here for the pictures because atheism,”. I will make it happen. Comment as you will, I prefer letters, but that’s a lot of time. My last sermon was called “I am better for having known you,” and thats what made it true, it was about the people who I learned from. I still love you all.