Sunday, 21 January 2007

The Road I Could Have Travelled.

I don't know why i am doing this to myself, but I have been trawling (not trolling) another blog written by a guy who was a very dear friend back in my Xian days. The interesting thing about reading his blog is to see a possible path I could have taken. We were very similar and on very similar paths at one stage. We were both Pentecostals with stars in our eyes. By that I mean we were both 'on the road to ministry' and both held not so well hidden secret ambitions to be 'big name preachers'.

I don't say this to patronise him as I am not saying this was necessarily a good thing, but I was always one step ahead of him in waking up to the bullshit of the last Xian fad and hitching my wagon to the next one. Maybe it was because I was a little older or maybe it was because I was existing in the Mecca of our AOG culture while he was usually holding jobs and stuff. Either way, it seemed that he would come to similar conclusions to me and we would eventually be able to talk together and rip the shit out of the Pentecostal illusion around us.

And then one day, my marriage broke down and so did our friendship.

It seemed that he couldn't deal with the fact that I had walked out on my (then) wife. In our church circles, marriage was a sacrament, although we would never have used that word. Quite simply, divorce was never an option, ever! One simply did not divorce. As a matter of fact, I don't know if I even knew anyone who had divorced and remained in the Pentecostal scene. I guess most people knew instinctively that to divorce means you really must leave the AOG, even though this is not a written rule of course. I had left the AOG years before I separated from my ex-wife, but my friend was still in the AOG.

He has long since left the AOG of course and is working for Christian charity, runs his own faith community (i.e. house church) and has his wagon hitched to the postmodern emerging church fad. In fact, one of his mentors now was my mentor back in the day. (That was my last stop before taking the plunge and leaving church and eventually the faith.) Anyway, to his benefit, I am sure he could well handle my divorce were it to happen now.

But reading his blog, getting a feel for where he's at now, I cannot help but see what might have been for me had things gone differently. He is teaching part-time at a local Bible College, working for a charity, speaking at conferences, etc...doing all the things that I would have given my right arm to do at one stage in my life. He has 'arrived' although I am sure he wouldn't see it that way. He is still reading all the latest books, quoting the latest postmodern Xian dude, hanging around the right 'mentors', taking a devotional slant on the things going on around him. As I read his blog I felt a twinge of...I dunno how to define it. I guess this stuff was such a part of my identity for so long, to see someone living it, doing it, stirred old emotions in me.

Does this mean I am jealous for his life? No, of course not. But I sometimes think it must be nice to still believe it all. You know, like that guy in The Matrix who wants to go back into the illusion to escape the hardships of reality? I have said it before and I will say it again, I miss the sense of purpose, the sense of meaning that being a religious zealot gave me. I know it was a false sense of meaning, but it seemed oh so real to me then. But I could never go back even if I wanted to. I simply don't believe it anymore.

I see a lot of what my old friend does as misspent energy (not the charity work of course). All that he does is hinged on a faith in a first century Jew and his band of merry men. For sure, this isn't the only motivation for all he does, but without the Jesus myth his whole world, all he has built and lived for, would come crashing down...as mine did. You know, having gone through it, I wouldn't wish that kind of pain on anyone.

I know my friend would say that he took the better road and I obviously think I did. Our lives are very different now, so perhaps we weren't so similar after all.

5 comments:

vjack said...

The Matrix really is an apt analogy here. I was just thinking the other day about whether it would even be possible to go back, knowing everything I now know. Like you, it didn't take me long to realize that this would be impossible even if I wanted it (and I do not). I think this says something about the importance of indoctrination preventing certain types of information from being considered.

Robert said...

Even if you had taken that road... Even if you could go back... to use the analogy of the matrix, there would always be that tug, that feeling that something was'nt right.. And even the most dedicated and religous person (in my opinion) has that same little voice of doubt in their head... they just would never admit it, or if they did they would claim it the temtation of the devil. I personally find it more rewarding by taking responsibility for my own life rather than leaving it in the hands of the subconcious voice in my head and claiming it the will of god :)

Anonymous said...

Funnily enough, he doesn't really write much on it anymore?

泉州的外国人 said...

Huh?

AJ said...

To ourselves be true ... always xo