In his book Testimony: Inside the Evangelical Movement that Failed a Generation, journalist and Christian Jon Ward writes about how he never felt completely at home in his conservative Christian environment. He writes,
Continue reading “On Being a Border-Stalker” →
All my life I have been a mearcstapa, or a border-stalker. Mearcstapa is an Old English word used in Beowulf. Painter and author Makoto Fujimura used this term, and his modern translation of border-stalker, to describe those who “are uncomfortable in homogenous groups” and yet are still present in them, and thus they live “on the edge of their groups, going in and out of them.
Last week’s article The Nontheistic Experience of God provoked some good discussion within my community about meditation, spiritual experiences, and the use of the word “god”.
Continue reading “Religious Language For Nonbelievers” →
For as long as I’ve been a nontheist and someone who does not believe in the supernatural, I’ve been hesitant to retire the word “God” from my vocabulary.
Continue reading “The Nontheistic Experience of God” →
Last week’s article “Mysticism Is Like Sex” argued that self-transcendent experiences are comparable to sex in that they are both hardwired into the human body. They don’t necessarily need to be attached to religious beliefs to be enjoyed and experienced.
As I explored in the article, my fascination with altered states of consciousness started when I was young. I was raised in a Charismatic Christian family that regularly spoke in tongues, and this revealed to me that interesting states of mind were always just around the corner. This provoked a lot of feedback from my audience on my discord server, and a number of people shared their own experiences with speaking in tongues.
Continue reading “Mysticism, Kink, and the Terror of Transcendence” →
Mysticism is like sex. Let me explain.
I don’t believe in god or gods. I have no belief in an afterlife or supernatural beings. I’m not saying that they don’t exist. I’m open to being wrong. I just have an absence of belief in them. I’m what could be described as a “soft atheist”.
And yet, I also have a lifelong fascination with altered states of consciousness and the experience and practice of mystical self-transcendence. This fascination started when I was a child growing up in a charismatic family.
Continue reading “Mysticism Is Like Sex” →
I recently listened to a fascinating conversation between the Catholic writer Arthur Brooks and the atheist Sam Harris about the role of spirituality and religion in a healthy life. You will need to get a subscription to either the Waking Up app or to Harris’s private feed to listen to the section in question. I leave your support of Harris up to your own discretion.
For the time being, let’s set aside the political and ideological differences I have with both these men. I’d like to focus on a fascinating difference between Brooks and Harris.
Continue reading “The Bound and the Unbound: Religion and Transcendence” →
Some time ago, a person asked me, “what is it with young men being obsessed with Jordan Peterson?”
Well, I thought, I’m a young man, and I’ve historically been obsessed with Jordan Peterson. Allow me to share my personal experience.
Continue reading “The Center of the Cathedral: The Allure of Jordan Peterson” →
Theists often struggle to understand how I can maintain a deep sense of sacred awe without believing in the supernatural. They seem to assume that a life without God is a dry, artless, wonderless existence. As I discussed with Matt Langston in a recent episode of Sacred Tension, my personal experience is much the opposite. I feel like nontheism has ripped away the veil between me and the fundamental mysteries of reality. The utter inexplicability of being, without a God to rely on as an answer, is the most sacred and mysterious thing I have ever experienced.
Continue reading “Sacredness in a Godless World” →
Several months ago, I had a meditation experience the likes of which I’d never had before. The instructor advised me to take note of the feeling of being a subject looking at an object. He then said, “look for the one who is looking. Turn awareness upon itself, and look for the subject who is perceiving the object.”
Continue reading “There is Only Consciousness: On Minority Experience and Universal Humanity” →
I love Christianity. I love the symbolism, the myth, the ritual. I love Augustine, and Chesterton, and C.S. Lewis, and T.S. Eliot, and Thomas Aquinas, and the Saints, and the story of the cosmic Christ who came to earth to save us all. To my very core, I love it. But I feel it’s time to let go of the label Christian altogether, primarily because I’m exceedingly tired.
Continue reading “Giving Up On Calling Myself Christian” →