I left the church two years ago. I thought I was just retiring but now I see I left it in more ways than one. I haven’t been back since—to that one or any other.
After 42 years I’m glad I could leave a strong, vigorous, and kind-hearted congregation behind. I’m proud to have had a hand in cultivating a community with a reputation for courage, creativity, and hospitality. I’m grateful to have left behind a “garden” that’s growing and thriving.
People ask, “But don’t you miss it?”
I miss the people. I miss the children. I miss my co-workers. I miss the tilling, the weeding, the harvest. I don’t miss the God that came with the turf.
A woman tilled and cultivated her garden day after day, year after year. Her pious neighbor noticed how luscious that garden was. One day he called out: “The Lord sure has blessed you with a beautiful garden!” The gardener replied, “Well, you should have seen it when the Lord was tending it on his own!”
The gardener didn’t expect God to make the world a better place. The neighbor apparently did. I’m with the gardener. A God that saves some but not others just doesn’t make sense to me anymore.
I’ve left that God behind.
And I’m pretty sure that’s the kind of God Jesus left behind in the third temptation. “Jump and God will save you!” said the devilish Trickster. “God will save you! It says so in the Bible!” (Yes, the devil quotes the Bible! Often on television!)
No, thank you, replied Jesus. I don’t trust in that kind of God.
Neither do I.
Darwin left God out of the natural world and saw truths not seen before. I now read the Bible through the eyes of Darwin and leave God out of it. It makes more sense that way. Which is to say: humanism makes more sense to me than theism. But just to be clear: either without compassion is worthless.