I want to zero in on title of Jocelyn Zichterman’s book, I Fired God. She develops a healthy respect for reason which is countered by the fact her husband is in the ministry. Her children joke that she is now Mrs Liberal and he is Mr. Conservative. There is no doubt that when you are faced with a situation like religious abuse, one of the first questions is whether to turn away from the religion altogether. If that religious lifestyle is central to your financial security, conflict is inevitable.
If you cannot adapt and compromise you might just explode. This happens in I Fired God. Jocelyn has a complete anger fest and puts both Job and the Book of Lamentations to shame in one simple paragraph:
It felt good. I tried to string together the worst sentence I could think up and aimed it straight to God. “You cocksuckin’ piece of shit! Fckin’ lunatic monster, motherfcker, bitch, cuunt!” Out of all my new words, “fuck” was my new favorite. I screamed it all out, glaring at my ceiling.”
Jocelyn 13:212, I Fired God.
“Fundamentalists don’t really question God.” A friend of mine from the early days of Fundamentalist Anonymous once reflected, “They don’t truly ask ‘why?‘ Not like Job and some of the Old Testament writers did.”
Well, Jocelyn sure did! Jocelyn is counseled by one of the pastors from Willow Creek, the mega church of mellow, that the God she cursed was not real. She should fire that God! It was made up! Invented by man! Now that all the angry emotions have been released, she starts from scratch and begins a new bible study via a modern translation called The Message.
Jocelyn doesn’t really fire God. She just gives him a pink slip and let’s him off with a warning. Regardless of how a fundamentalist, Atheist, or someone in between might interpret Jocelyn’s actions, I think this is something all of us need to do whenever you are in the midst of a trauma or tragedy. Understand that you are in a vulnerable position and might not be making all the wise decisions. Plan a time period for both anger/mourning and counting your blessings.
Make sure all the kids are in school. The spouse/significant other is away. Remove all the sharp objects and firearms from the house. Lock up the liquor. And just go nuts! Let it out. Don’t worry about right or wrong. Bitch about the first thing that pops up in your head! And don’t stop! Keep going. And when the time is up, take a deep breath and just chill. Then, in a calm and reasoned manner, go over each item which unveiled itself during ‘the bitching’ (some might call it prayer) and ask yourself, ‘rational thought or not?’ ‘valid concern or paranoia?’, that sort of thing. In lieu of prayer, ‘the bitching’, with its subsequent ‘cool down’, pretty much serves the same purpose.
Why did God allow this to happen? This is a question most likely to come up, and the most difficult question to answer. Especially, when someone actually means it! I usually don’t take that question at face value since I think most people are letting off steam. However, there was one time when that question was put to me and I realized this person literally meant it. He was searching for reasons why God actually allowed a person to do something totally irrational!
An evangelical might respond, “We don’t know why God allowed this person to do something very irrational and harmful. But God has His reasons!”
My response is, “It’s called ’cause and effect’. You keep encouraging someone in their insanity and don’t be surprised when they take it to the next level!” That is not a response you find in most Hallmark cards and not the polite response. Reason strikes the magical thinker as rude.
This is probably the difference embedded in the beliefs, and perhaps thought patterns, of a Creationist versus an Evolutionist. Or to narrow it down more: a magical thinker versus a rational thinker. Those who believe in a Created Life versus those who believe their life is always evolving.
Someone who believes they were created for a specific purpose might spend hours of gut wrenching meditation trying to figure out why God created them in the first place! They may already know where their talents lie, but their preachers, teachers, and parents tell them their desires are rebellion against God. So, they look everywhere for their alleged ‘purpose in life’ through seminars, endless church goings, and anywhere except themselves since they believe that in God’s eyes, their desires are ‘of the flesh’ and ‘all flesh is grass’.
Someone who enjoys the Evolving Life will basically embrace two rules: adapt and evolve. It is within you to adapt and evolve through any situation. That is how species have survived through all these millions of years. When you find yourself in an untenable situation, your first thought should not be, “Why did God allow this to happen?” Instead, try, “How can I adapt, find peace, and ‘move on’ (evolve)?”
The ability to adapt and evolve through any circumstance is one of the unexpected ‘gifts’ of evolution. It’s not just for walking fish! Recognize your weakness. Plan your moments of ‘the bitching’. Take stock of your surroundings. The good and the bad. Find out what you can do to secure a moment of peace in the middle of tragedy. That’s the ‘adapt’ part.
It’s not an ideal situation! Nobody in America wants to adapt. That’s for immigrants! We all want to be the cooks in the kitchen. We all want to be the gurus. And nobody, but nobody, wants to compromise. It’s a bad word in our culture! Adaptation is still a part of life and it’s the one thing that keeps us sane. Once we’ve learned to adapt to a bad situation, the next step is to find a way to evolve to something better: finding work in a non religious environment, spending time with people who aren’t constantly asking you to justify every little decision with scripture, getting out of the house and meeting successful people who have made their money without passing the plate. You get the idea!
You have the ability to adapt and evolve. It’s innate inside every one of us. You won’t find that ability to adapt and evolve if you sincerely believe everything you want and desire is evil. Who taught you that anyway? Most likely, the abusive preacher who put you in the position you are now in! Abused. Defeated. Obedient. Subservient. An abused generation is an obedient generation.
Hmm, kinda makes you think there’s more to Evolution vs Creationism than just fossils and carbon 14 dating techniques, doesn’t it?