On 8/15/10 I went to my former pastor's 70th birthday party. It was good to see all of the smiling faces of my former church members. I haven't seen them in YEARS. However, after sitting there and listening to many people say good things about him and relate his nature and success to the hand of god i got a little down. Many of them know what I believe today. Clearly it was and is upsetting to them.To be honest its upsetting to me as well. To be in a room full(banquet hall) of bible believing people can be very unsettling. Especially when they were once authority figures that I looked up to. To hear them going on about god and his goodness....I felt like I was the only sane one in the room. I love them all dearly and wish that I was closer as I miss many of their warm and loving smiles.
I'm currently finishing my degree in psychology and I realize that religion is not only about belief in a or THE higher power, its about community and culture. That is what I miss so much. It took a lot for me to finally come out of the proverbial closet because I didn't want to lose friends or family. I was a minister who was doing big things in my community and walked away from it all. Not because of scandal but because of integrity. I couldn't open the bible and preach from that ridiculous book anymore. My last 3 or 4 sermons were so tough it was a shame. My wife at least gives me credit for having the guts to walk away and not be a hypocrite. That's probably the only thing she appreciates about me leaving 'god'.
The problem is that when one walks away from religion they leave the culture of holidays and other festivities behind as well. This has been so tough and I miss them dearly. I just felt a little down after seeing them and needed to share. Thanks for listening (reading) and any words of encouragement are greatly appreciated.