Wednesday, 1 June 2011
Dead Of Night, Light Of Day
Have you ever lain awake at night worrying about something? Strange how it get's magnified, how we can find ourselves gripped by an anxiety that can make our hearts race and our bodies sweat. Come the morning matters rarely feel quite so bad; with the light of day comes a perspective and a balance that seems to desert us during the dead of night. But what when the morning brings no relief from these powerful emotions? Or worse, what if things seem harder? This is probably a good indicator that you're going through a genuinely tough period, in which case you have my warmth and best wishes. As I look back on the toughest times in my life the surprising thing is who sticks around to help us through. It often isn't those we expect, is it? As I reflect now, I had to get myself through a lot; this despite having no shortage of family or friends. Many of them simply did not understand, or couldn't face asking themselves the questions I was asking myself. This theme was a constant amidst my nearest and dearest, a reflection of the grip that religious belief can exert on an individual. You see, I was extricating myself from the tangled bank of unreason and contradictions otherwise known as Christianity. When you pose a tough question on this issue, one typically receives a bad answer, or worse, you hear the intoxicatingly banal phrase, "I have to hold that in tension." That's shorthand for saying I don't know, I don't want to know, or I'm unable to face the implications of obtaining an answer that will destroy my worldview. I recognize I am being a bit direct here, but after a while the excuses begin to grate. Another comment I have heard is that "I'd prefer to live in Narnia", which amounts to a willful vow to deny the nature of reality. It basically acknowledges that the faith held is possibly nonsense, yet asserts that despite this the believer will continue to live as if there is some truth in the proposition. This to me is a ghastly notion, a refusal to accept the way the world is. Now I still love these people, but what am I to do when I hear such a thing? I tend to stare back blankly, nod weakly, all the time marveling at the mental gymnastics required to live out such a contradiction. You see, I can't do it. Such self deception is, to my ear, a wretched way to live out one's life. It's an abdication of courage, of truth seeking, and of personal honesty. I recognize that I'm alienating a whole swathe of people who've already put up with a lot from me, but plain speaking is a part of who I am. I'm not blind to your beautiful qualities; your kindness and your warmth and your tolerance, but am I really required to ignore the proverbial elephant in the room?