The What and Who of Meandering About

Thursday, January 27, 2011

"Thank you, God, for making me an athiest." - Ricky Gervais

I really enjoy Ricky Gervais.  There.  I said it.  I think he is very funny, at times (I know that not everyone agrees).  At other times, he is WAY OVER THE TOP (I think that many would agree).  And even those moments intrigue me, and, yes, often make me laugh.  Therefore, I was sorry to have missed last Sunday night's Golden Globes.  I had actually been looking forward to the show. 

Even though I missed the show, I have not missed the fall out.  I understand that Ricky was typical Ricky.  He was cutting, funny, unreserved and irreverent.  I have found it interesting that even the people who were responsible for the production of the Golden Globes have felt the need to speak out about some of the things Gervais said (Come on folks.  You hired the guy and knew what you were getting into when you signed the contract. But I digress.).  Gervais wasn't going to change his ways, for better or for worse.

Amidst all of the hullabaloo about his hosting, the comment that has gotten quite a bit of the buzz is how he signed off for the night.  In case you missed it too, Gervais said, "Thank you, God, for making me an atheist."  He has been panned, prodded, and vilified for this comment.  He has appeared on talk shows and has been asked to defend the way in which he closed the show and define the reasons why he decided to do it in such a way.  One interviewer even asked, "Did you not know you were offending people by saying that?" 

I am not sure I understand what all the fuss is really all about.  Is someone claiming to be an atheist and making a joke about it a reason to get upset?  What is it about this simple statement that frightens people?  What is it that has been exposed in ourselves in what Mr. Gervais said? 

In my opinion, his statement has opened up a door for discussions about faith and belief in God.  There is no reason to be intimidated or frightened by someone's words about their own belief set or lack there of.  If we really believe God to be who we say God is, then why would Gervais' words bother us?  Let us use this opportunity to enter into intelligent, honest and open conversations with others about beliefs, doubts and uncertainties.  There is no reason to get defensive or be offensive!  Just listen.  Open your heart and your mind; listen and share.  I think you will be surprised at the results.

Look at Paul's approach to the Athenians (Acts 17:17-27).  He did not condemn their ways or beliefs.  Instead, he affirmed their belief system, and then talked about his own.  You do not have to defend or go on the attack.  Simply be willing to enter into the conversation.

Thank you, God, for being Immanuel, God with us.  God with us as we work out what it is that we believe.

2 comments:

  1. What's that one bible verse that says something like, "Lord, help me in my disbelief?" Many times I prayed for God to help me in my disbelief. It's normal, healthy, and arguably necessary to occasionally doubt our God and our Christianity. To doubt our faith means that we are dissecting our faith and trying to make sense of it all. I prayed that prayer many times, but I never really thought I could lose my belief. Yes, a little bit of doubt is good, but a lot of doubt is shattering. I have lived my life as a Christian, based my values off of Christianity, and strived to be Christ-like. But within the past seven or so months, I have found myself drenched in disbelief. I find it hard to accept the idea that we need a "savior." If we were created this way, then why would we need to be saved from what we were forced into? I struggle to grasp the concept of a god- if there could be a god, and what his characteristics would be. Sometimes I think there is a god, and that he is imperfect; I consider the idea that humans are his accidental creation, and that he has turned his back on us, apathetic. I consider my existence... My memories begin around the age of two- suddenly I was conscious. There was nothing before. I sometimes believe there must be nothing after this life, nothing after we die; we just fade right back into unconsciousness. I consider the universe and its expanse. We are so small. People die, people suffer, and the universe pays no mind. And why should it? These are scary thoughts; they make me uncomfortable. I long to have my belief! "Purpose" makes life easier; makes me feel satisfied. But I can not be satisfied with "satisfaction." And so I keep questioning, "what makes sense?" I consider the universe and how large it is... and sometimes it seems that there is no room within the universe to contain any kind of god. Perhaps that is correct- maybe god is so great and good and big that he goes beyond the universe; or perhaps god does not exist. If I ever regain my faith, I know I'll be grateful for this time of doubt, uncertainty, and questions. But it is definitely disturbing and difficult to be within the grasp of doubt.

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  2. Skye, I'm so glad you feel comfortable voicing what I feel is a natural part of growing, both as a person and in your faith. When I struggle through these valleys of doubt, I have used several methods to help me find the way back. Since we are all unique and have different perspectives on life, these methods may not work for you. But, I take the risk of sharing them just in case they might be helpful.

    1) At times, I use my knowledge of math and science. I look around me at all of the wonderful and intricate creations sustained by the land, sky and ocean and thing about the probability that such a complex “circle of life” could have been created by chance.

    2) Other times I have relied on logic and reason. If I believe and follow the teachings of Christ and I find that there is no God, then I still had a life where I helped others and made some sort of difference with the gifts and talents that I have.
    If there is a God and I lived my life as if there was nothing bigger than me, I would have wasted my time here.
    So in the end, it makes sense to keep working toward belief in something bigger than myself.

    3) Most recently I have gained a larger perspective on the idea of the Body of Christ and the importance of corporate worship and study. What I have found is that through life, we all have different times and circumstances where doubt may begin to creep into our souls. During these times, I have found that I can lean on my brothers and sisters of faith to hold me up and patiently walk with me as I seek further clarification and understanding. In these times I lean on others and trust that they have “enough faith” to carry me through the moment. In other times, I may have “enough faith” to carry them.

    I hope this helps in some small way to light a candle in your darkness and shed some light toward a way forward.
    In Christ,
    Jennifer Shivers

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