Dear Russell and Friends,
I’m sitting at the same table we leaned on last night. The table above is just a depiction, but evokes the memory and stirs my hope just the same. At the table we were seven with a little Pascal darting in and out on spare occasions. It was a better table than the taco booth. It was hard dark wood and smithed cold metal with warm lines of approach. It was not plastic, cramped, or formica. Our nucleus was complete with our brides J and Mrs. Pascal there. The valences of friends were three and strong. Yes – – I just spent 15 minutes with a fantastic high school chemistry powerpoint deck on the periodic table. Thank you anonymous chemistry teacher and internet Alexandria. By the way – – you’re a noble gas and I’m an alkali metal, best kept dry.
In person we gained what is so difficult in writing. We had synchrony. What writing wins in posterity it loses in the ability to speed, slow, watch, listen, and sub-cognitively interpret what is said and heard, implied and felt. Smile, posture, tone of voice and stuttering silence were all apparent to me. I felt at times like an extracorporeal observer. I suppose for all except myself, I was. This from a man who claims to love writing in fact to see the world through a writer’s lens. In person was better. But here I am at that table. The sun rose quickly, the grass is greening and birds sing the elegy of night’s retreat.
I asked our readers, some of whom are becoming friends, where to go with this blog after I finished telling the first part of my story. J was the strongest voice asking for a back and forth about your 42 reasons. She wants to be convinced and I honestly think you do too. I just can’t do it. We will live and die with different ways of seeing the world, different criteria for being convinced, different emphases on the subjective and objective vicissitudes of life. Madalyn expressed my views well. Can we respect each other and try to understand each other? Can we find room in the middle for a rustic table? That is more where my heart, mind, and soul lie. I invited a different couple to Détente last night. They are the age of my older brother, mature, kind, generous, engaged, faithful to work and each other. She is an agnostic who likes Karen Armstrong’s last book. He an atheist who likes her first. They are an amazing couple who love each other and care deeply about other people. I wanted you and J to see a healthy couple who do not follow Christ but do model his care for humanity. They care about the homosexual community, racially discounted, urban poor, and those without access to strong education. I liked this couple when I met them – – just like I liked you and J.
This isn’t only your journey. As I explained last night, I was raised with inherent biases against gay people, or worse – – Democrats. These biases are hard to deconstruct. I was also raised with an abiding love for Christ and the Bible. The latter has inspired me to leave the former biases. Just as you and I have come to very different conclusions about the usefulness of scripture, I feel as if my conclusions about people and politics are isolating in the evangelical strands of Christianity that I know best.
The only thing that really bothers me about the journey you and J are on? You’re leading a double life, expending enormous energy by maintaining a lie. You’re having to remember who knows what when. Just tell the truth to real people in person. “We want to believe, but we don’t right now.” I can promise one thing and hold myself accountable to any who read here. You can leave Christ and not leave me. I will not isolate my circle to an echo chamber reinforcing my own views. My circle includes you, at the rustic table, in person and here.
This post may feel like a pivot. Probably because it is a pivot. I am a strong believer in failure as a teacher and I felt as if I failed you and myself over the past two weeks. Your posts were not the problem. I’m glad that you’ve outlined a cogent reason for your non-belief that can allow others to be more authentic. I will indeed reply to several points that you raised about the Bible. How can I reconcile the concept that one error causes the whole house of cards to collapse? Do I think God is bad? And that’s about where I’ll stop. Books have been written for and against, and that’s not the book I intend to write. What about Victoria’s comment post on Miracles? That deeply affected me and deserves a reply. What would I like to see from you? More positive assertions. You are a positive and gentle person who loves his wife and daughters. Could you please tell our friends about your curiosity alarm?