Sunday, August 05, 2012
I don't think it will... go back to normal, that is. I think a bigger shift happened on August 1st than any of us realize.
A few months back, I was having breakfast with an LDS friend of mine, and he started asking me about what had lead me away from a life of faith. I told him about questions and concerns with which I had wrestled. I told him about things I learned. But there was one story that stood out. As I heard myself telling the story, I realized how pivotal it was. Before the notion solidified in my mind, my friend said "All those other things mattered, but it was that event that tipped the balance, wasn't it?"
He was right, it was that day that my world shifted. It was the day my faith and my community embarrassed me. It was the day I became ashamed of my faith.
I continued to go through the motions of religion for a while, but it was over. All the words, all the practices, all the people with their faithful confessions ... it was hollow now.
On August 2nd, I read a blog by Rachel Held Evans that reminded me of that event. Rachel is an author and speaker of some renown in the Christian community and one whom I respect. August 1st affected her. She said:
"Is this what following Jesus is supposed to be about? ...Is this what mobilizes the people of God?
Suddenly, my religion is alien to me—small, petty, reactive. My faith has lost its bearings. I don’t feel like praying anymore, not even for the mom who begged me to pray for her gay son who vowed yesterday never to return to church again.
Can I blame him? Perhaps it is better if he stays away."
I recognize these sentiments. When you realize that your friends outside the faith are probably going to be healthier and happier if they stay that way.... you are entering the first stages of your faith shutting down.
On August 1st, scores of Christians poured in to Chick-fil-A to give their collective middle finger to all the liberals and homosexuals who irk them so. They could have taken the path of Jesus... but it felt sooo much better to stick it to the opposition.
In doing so, they embarrassed many of their brothers and sisters in the Faith. Fellow believers watched the television, read the tweets, followed the news feeds... and they were ashamed.
It may be a few years before we start to see the real toll of August 1st, but I suspect it will be large. People will return to their churches tomorrow, but for many it won't be the same. Sermons on the "Love of God" won't stir them like it did before. The songs won't seem so sacred. The faithful confessions of fellow congregants will sound vapid.
No more will they invite friends into their faith; instead they will want to protect them from it.
I believe in the years to come, many atheists and agnostics will look back and realize August 1, 2012 was a tipping point. It was then that their life began its shift out of faith.
Posted by Andrew at 2:10 AM