4:57 AM. I’m sitting in the dark next to the BBQ pit of the restaurant across from the room Genie and I are living in while we’re at Wild Goose. Yesterday was a long day of driving, the second since leaving the Boston area to come here. We arrived in time for a 2 hour filming session with Brian McLaren who was interviewing me for a Wild Goose video. Then I interviewed him. We were talking about being survivors of evangelical backgrounds, trying to articulate why in spite of everything we are still clinging to faith– faith past doubt.
I always get up early to write. So this morning I made coffee in the bathroom while Genie slept, showered then sneaked out to find internet service outdoors behind the BBQ joint. The smell of the smoke clings as I write by the light of a street light. I’m a mile from the Appalachia Trail where it crosses the road in the lovely mountains here.
I saw old friends last night and had every author’s dream come true: I came across people reading my new book, I mean literally holding it and reading as if Genie had paid them off to stroke my ego: “Here, hold this book and say you love it! My husband will be so pleased!” But they really had the book, actually already well worn. And someone else held up her Kindle and showed me which page she was on.
Other than meeting people reading my new book what Wild Goose is for me is a refugee camp. We are the survivors of dashed hopes and certainties. We are not alone. We are in America but not of it. We love to love God but do not always hear his her or its voice. We are like dream walkers on the edge of waking up in a new place we do not know.
Once you ask certain questions, step out of the safe place there is no return. As I say in Chapter 17 of my book WHY I AM AN ATHEIST WHO BELIEVES IN GOD: How to give love, create beauty and find peace :
Some of my friends don’t get why I “still” go to church. When they say, “Frank, God’s only in your head!” my answer is, “Yeah, whatever. What isn’t?”
Or as the poet Yehuda Amichai writes in Gods Come and Go, Prayers Remain Forever:
I say with perfect faiththat prayers precede God.
Prayers created God.
God created man,
And man creates prayers
that create God who creates man.
My question isn’t, “Did I create God who creates me?” but, “Do I need God, however he, she or it came to be?” My question isn’t “Can I find a church, mosque, synagogue, a gathering of atheists or some other temple that’s perfect to stroke me?” but “Where can I find spiritual beauty that feeds my soul?”
One answer for me is that I find that soul-feeding place at the Wild Goose Festival. For a day or two I see community and love. Sadly it is temporary, but then again, what isn’t?
The passage above has been an excerpt from Chapter 17 of my new book please buy it and then walk around holding the book until I can see you doing it so my life will seem to have a point!
TO READ MORE OF THIS BOOK PLEASE GO TO AMAZON AND ORDER THE PAPERBACK OR THE E-BOOK (ONLY $3.99)
“The new book, ‘Why I Am an Atheist Who Believes in God,’ is [a] distillation of wisdom.” Washington Post (June 12, 2014)
Available now on Amazon