The god I’m trying to leave behind is ... well, please keep reading. I’m getting something off my chest here; this is a cathartic ramble for me. I'd love to have you come along to keep me company.
My god is a god of wrath, one that commands obedience to its will. Sometimes, I take great joy in my god, or even solace, but those feelings are short-lived. Mostly, my emotion is fear: How can I live without my god? Who will then comfort me when I need consoling, fortify me when I need strengthening, spur me to action when I need prodding?
I grew up in a family in which that god was taken for granted. Although ever-present, we never talked about god much. My father worshipped often. My grandmother was a great believer, too. They had slightly different interpretations of their god, and swore by their own choices. As a small child, I saw no difference; I figured that when I got old enough, I’d form my own opinion.
And I did. When I found god, it was a different one than either my father’s or my grandmother’s, similar but not exactly the same. Each of our gods had a slightly different message, and I found one I responded to.
As I aged, I began to read science that contradicted everything I thought I knew about my god. Not only that, but my own experiences planted seeds of doubt. After communing with my god, for instance, I almost always felt awful, as if I’d been betraying myself. Why would a benevolent entity allow that? I also worried constantly about my relationship with my god. Why did I need my god so often, when I got nothing in return? And I began to wonder: have I been misleading myself?
So I became, essentially, an atheist for a while. But I still thought about my god often. Even though I was no longer practicing actively, when I dreamed about myself, I was a believer. And I knew I'd be returning to my god someday.
Clearly, I was not ready to give up on my delusion. A spiritual friend I knew introduced me to a ritual common among Native Americans. I tried it. Occasionally I’d see the light, but it flickered off more often than not. Then, another friend inspired me to seek out the “true” god in its many manifestations; that was a rewarding effort for a time, but it left me drained of both energy and finances. In order to participate frequently in the higher forms of mysticism, particularly when they're well-publicized and have become almost "chic," you need plenty of cash.
So I returned to my original fundamentalism. Various state governments, in the meantime, had made it more and more difficult to worship. They’d passed laws that forbade open displays of my religion in public places. That only made me even more stubborn. After all, many of the founding fathers had the same opinion of my god that I did. Although that god is not mentioned directly in the Constitution, it’s clear to me that many of the framers, particularly those from the South, had my god in mind.
I continued to worship for years, still harboring enough doubts to get more and more depressed about my reliance on faith rather than reason. But I was never able to break free of my basic belief that my life would be meaningless without that higher power.
Recently, I promised myself that I would once again embrace my skepticism and follow my intellect wherever it leads. This time, I was determined to leave my superstition for good. I sought out help from scientists and other rationalists I knew, all of whom had a lot to say. I got plenty of encouragement; but, in the end, each person’s difficult mental journey is his or her own to make.
I discovered that there’s actually a pill I can take, twice a day, that may help me let go of god. It’s not fool-proof; a fool will still find excuses to revisit his or her beliefs. And the pill isn’t cheap, but it’s not as expensive as dropping more than forty bucks into the collection plate each week.
Armed with my pill, I decided to cut myself off from my nonsense completely. Last Sunday was the first one on which I didn’t head for church immediately after I woke up. But by the end of the day, though, I had prayed — more than once. I also worshipped in a somewhat abbreviated way on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, although I felt both guilty and dirty about it. Today, I haven’t prayed yet. I find that I’m thinking about my god all the time; the longer I don’t pray the more insistent my god becomes. But I’m hoping that as the minutes, hours, and days pass, my thoughts of my god will fade, slowly, ever so slowly, but increasingly, too.
I want my mind to be free. I'm hoping for the end of Nicotine. It's time to shake off my Smoking delusion. Tobacco is not great. Cigarettes poison everything.