It's dangerous to ask a blogger a simple question. Four words, "How are you, Brian?," can lead to a much longer reply. Not only can: they are. A few days ago Suzanne ended her comment on a post with:
How are you, Brian? It's lovely to see you continue to blog so enthusiastically! Apparently, you are thriving.
Suzanne (and anyone else who cares), you're right. I am indeed thriving.
Each and every day I prove to myself that believing in God or any other form of religiosity is absolutely unnecessary for living a happy, meaningful, satisfying, and productive life.
I realize that many true believers feel that without their religion, life would be empty.
All I can say is, maybe for you, but not for everybody. Living in the here and now is, after all, the only sort of living that's possible. Churchless folks like me simply are honest and truthful about this fact.
We don't pretend to be somewhere or somebody that we're not.
The most fervent believer in spending eternity with Jesus in heaven actually stands shoulder to shoulder with the most committed atheist. Where? Here in the physical world. When? Now, 2011.
Having become enlightened to this ever-so-obvious yet easily ignored truth, I now spend my days much more connected to reality than I was back in my airy-fairy longing-for-spirit phase.
I don't split my attention between where I am and where I believe I should be, as I did before. Whatever comes along in life is what I deal with, and do my best to embrace with as much yes, yes, yes as possible.
I find it amusing when somebody who doesn't like this blog leaves a comment along the lines of, "Brian, you're obsessed with religion-bashing. Your skepticism has become a new faith for you, the focus of your existence."
Usually I write a Church of the Churchless post every other day. It takes me 1-2 hours, typically. The rest of the time, I'm doing other stuff -- enjoying life in lots of different ways. Which brings me to a more typical answer to "How are you, Brian?"
Just fine, Suzanne.
In half an hour I'll leave the downtown Salem coffeehouse where I am now and head to a Salsa class my wife and I are taking. I think this is the eighth in an intermediate Salsa series that's challenging, but not beyond us. It's cool to learn some fancier face loops and other moves that we've watched from afar, but never knew how to do until now.
Last weekend we went to a pro-union rally at the state capitol here in Salem. I took a bunch of photos (one of which my wife wishes I hadn't, but I told her that nobody looks gorgeous bundled up on a cold day). It was energizing to be with a thousand or so people who were committed to political ideals that resonate with me.
Before the rally I auditioned for a part in a video series -- "Salemia"-- that plans to take a comedic look at Salem, the overly boring city where I live. I've been trying to get in touch with my Inner Actor. A question on the audition info form asked what acting experience I had.
I said, "Back in high school, I was in our junior class play. And every day now I try to act like a normal person." Which got me thinking that I need to lessen my trying.
Like most of us, I present a different face to the world than the visage I feel myself to be. To some extent this is necessary, since if I blurted or acted out everything that passes through my brain, my life would get too interesting real fast.
On the whole, though, I've found that it's better to be real than fake. Keeping a lid on who we really are makes us tense, worried, lethargic, nervous, and stiff. Taking chances with self-revealing helps me realize that relaxed openness beats rigid restrictiveness.
My favorite question at the audition came from the screenwriter: "Would you be willing to wear a red Speedo?" Unhesitatingly, I said "Sure!"
So, yes, Suzanne, I'm thriving. Maybe someday I'll be able to show you how I'm do it in a red Speedo.