Apostate or Atheist?

Max tells us he won’t be visiting sometime in the near future. I hope he stays and posts as much as he wishes. I do not find him bothersome–at least in the sense that other Catholics have found me bothersome and ban me from their sites. I find conversation, and especially dialogue to always have potential for good fruit.

In a recent comment he wrote:

These are the responsibilities I have had to confront head on. You will see that they are not the problems of an Apostate, but of a true believer whose God vanished:

2. What do I do about my non-belief? Does it mean I am a Nihilist? I don’t want that.
6. What about Religion? Should I just be quiet as I watch other Christians setting themselves up for the same painful shock down the road?

I think there are traditional apostates in Christianity, the anti-martyrs if you will, who gave up the public profession of faith in the face of harm and death. Is Sandy Hook a similar thing for Max. If he and I were face to face and I could be sure he is as he says he is, that would be an item to discuss.

As for the six questions listed, the fact that Max has such a huge number of questions signals to me the complexity of the problem of having faith and then losing it. It’s not quite as simple as turning off a light switch.

As for answers to his questions …

2. I think even an atheist has to have some positive, affirmative direction. Just being anti-Christian is about as dysfunctional as the GOP being anti-president, or the Dems being anti-GOP. Maybe they can sell that kind of definition in the public sphere. I think a person needs an impulse for, not just a railing against. When I ask Max for his manifesto, I’m not trying to catch him in a gotcha! moment. I seriously think he needs one.

6. Yep. Sometimes help is not helpful. And with Max’s approach to Christianity, the best he can do is force people back into the fold and away from skepticism. He’s just not an attractive atheist figure.

I pretty much disagree on the notion of religion as “incredibly controlling.” I think people are willing to turn themselves over to the authority of others, and all too easily. I think they allow their buttons to get pushed.

But religion worries me – I’ve asked questions here because I sometimes genuinely did not know how to proceed and wondered if practicing Catholics might have some insight into these questions. What I have learned is that my Catholic education did not prepare me with good answers for this moment – but based on answers I’ve been told here at Catholic Sensibility – neither has your education been much better than mine. That has been quite a discovery, too.

I don’t know that my education has been better. It’s been different. And as a person more inclined to the mystical life, I tend to discount education. I prefer to seek the experiences of God, faith, and religion, and not information about them as such.

I think every person is beckoned to a pilgrimage in life and does well to drink in a variety of experiences as best as they are able. Max may well be a teenager in disguise, but I enjoy our sparring and his questions do help me prepare for my contact with other non-believers, as well as inactive Catholics. If he’s an actor, he’s a darn good one.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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