Random Entries by Jerry DeWitt
This is a special blog post, with content supplied by the first ever graduate of Richard Dawkins’ and Dan Barker’s Clergy Project, Jerry de Witt. The website “Recovering from Religion offers this biography of Jerry:
The Clergy Project describes themselves as “a confidential online community for active and former clergy who do not hold supernatural beliefs.” I recently attended the Global Atheist Convention, where Dan Barker, Richard Dawkins and Daniel Dennett all spoke of the project, and mentioned Jerry by name. Shortly after the convention, I noticed Jerry’s name on twitter, and started following him. He has kindly offered up this series of short thoughts and observances he wrote down about his experience of discovering he did not believe anymore, and how this made him feel.
Last week, during the cold snap, she left and hasn’t returned. I’m heartbroken.
Now the “fact” is I don’t know what’s happened to our cat. It could be something simply sad like someone has taken her or it could be very tragic, like a wild animal killed her.
I just don’t know. Chances are I never will and it hurts.
Now, if the question about my cat’s fate was the question about god’s existence, it would go something like this: I don’t know what happened to my cat and I don’t think I will ever know. – Atheist
I don’t know what happened to my cat, maybe I will know one day, maybe I won’t. Who can say? – Agnostic
I don’t “know” what happened to my cat BUT I would like to believe it’s living in better home and I going to pretend that I know that’s what has happened because it makes me hurt less. – Theist
When I put it that way, how can “believing” be a bad thing? If it makes you hurt less…that’s good right?
The problem is, either I truly believe my cats in a better place or I don’t. I can pretend to believe and fool YOU with my efforts but I know that I’m pretending.
It’s not that I truly hurt less by pretending to believe, it’s that I deny how much I really am hurting by forcing my imagination to occupy my awareness with fantasy.
Emotional pain is much like physical pain; it’s a signal that something needs to be fixed, not ignored.
Religion attempts to ignore the real pain of being human by focusing on the promises and personalities of imaginary non-humans.
Random (emotional) Entries
There I stood, labored, splintered, and sacrificed, when I saw you, was touched by your radiance and drawn into your presence.
Then I knew, I knew what “I” needed, wanted, and desired.
I knew I would make whatever sacrifice was demanded, to present YOU to myself.
You, my selfish present moment.
But what choice do you have? You can’t help but be yourself, because in reality that’s who you really are!
Oh, You can choose to pretend to be someone you’re not and in so doing you can keep family members who don’t love you but instead love who they want you to be. You can keep all of those friends who give to you only for what they can get from you in return. By pretending to be someone you’re not you can continue to play games with fellow pretenders who are too afraid of their own shadows to ever face the blazing light of self-examination!
You can do that but at what cost?
Yes, there is a cost greater than the loss of family, friends, community and comfort! If you pretend, you will forfeit the ONLY thing that is completely and uniquely yours….Yourself.
Being yourself is the gift you give yourself!
Yes, I dislike the pain it has caused me…but my nature gave me no choice in the matter…
What I see here is small snapshot and a peek into some of the difficulties, pains and realisations that go through the mind of someone who is discovering that most of what they have based their lives and worldviews upon is in fact false. It is not always easy to do this; in Jerry’s case, he was respected in his community as a pastor, and when he left that behind, many of the people who once looked up to him abandoned him. He found himself in a situation where he had no community support, and was in fact shunned by them.
The scariest thing for Jerry must have been the feeling that he hadn’t changed at all. He is still the same person he was, only now he has gained the freedom of viewing the world how it really is, and telling people so. It takes a lot of courage to do this, and to be true to yourself, true enough tot be willing to go through hardship to stop living a lie.
Dan Barker said in Losing Faith in Faith:
This is precisely what Jerry has done. He has decided to trust himself regardless of what others might think. As the first graduate of The Clergy Project, I hope that other preachers and members of the clergy who are doubting their faith, or can no longer hold onto the illusion of faith, will see that the likes of Jerry deWitt, Teresa McBain and Dan Barker, and the 200+ other participants in The Clergy Project as inspirations. I do, and I’ve never believed!