Editor’s Note: Knowing that “RJ Twain” left the clergy before his doubt became disbelief, I thought it might not be taxing to write about his secular life without referring negatively to his previous life in the clergy. To my surprise, he told me that given his current circumstances, it would be hard to approach the task honestly. So I asked him to speak from the heart, and he did.
By R.J. Twain
Assignment: “Stop talking endlessly about us [Christians] for a month and tell us about your joyful secular lives in detail.”
Gather round, gather round, and hear again the refrain of every self-satisfied member of a powerful majority.
Native Americans. Blacks. Women. Gays. Immigrants. People with disabilities. Atheists. The list is long, and the refrain never changes.
Don’t talk about the pain, or the loss, or the continual, inescapable consequences of not quite fitting the status quo. Don’t start any groups that heal the hurt. Don’t start any movements that push for change. Sit down, shut up, and take it. And most of all?
“Smile, baby. You look so pretty when you smile.”
You know when I live a joyful secular life? Any time I’m safe from the influence and attention of people like you, John Mark Reynolds. Every day that space gets a little larger:
- As piece-by-piece I rebuild my life,
- As inch-by-inch science overcomes superstition,
- As fight-by-fight we win dignity and opportunity for every human being.
- Free to think my own thoughts.
- Free to explore the wide and beautiful world with good friends at my side.
- Free to contribute to the continuing story of mankind’s progress.
Outside of those moments, I don’t live a joyful secular life. I live a frustrating, stressful life as trying to claw my way back from the edge of complete bankruptcy and isolation. I see my kids six days a month, and I’m not allowed to take them to one of my joyful secular celebrations on Sunday, per terms of the divorce agreement, thanks to a highly religious ex-wife and a highly religious judge. I bite my tongue every day, because I know speaking honestly can cost me still more than it already has.
I will stop talking about you the very instant you stop making my life more difficult. Until then, plug your ears or open your mind. I’m done being silent.
Bio: RJ Twain – Occasionally funny, sometimes even on purpose. Raised in an evangelical home, RJ moved slowly to the theological left during his time in ministry, until he moved so far left he fell off the edge. He left a conservative Christian denomination to enter a very liberal one, which he left while he still believed in God, but had major doubts. Today, he’s a humanist, a rationalist-in-training, and a member of the Clergy Project.
>>>> Photo credits: By Teichnor Bros., Boston – eBayfrontback, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=30153808