Monday, February 25, 2008

Just can't make sense of it

Someone asked me the other day why I'm no longer a practising Jew.

The short answer?

It's things like this, a horrible, tragic loss that I just can't get out of my head, and particularly several earlier ones much closer to home that ripped everything I ever believed in to shreds. I just can't do it. I can't find anything of the faith I used to have. No god I want to believe in could do things like this to poor innocent children, to a family. Some say "everything happens for a reason", or "god has a plan", or "we just can't know". I reject that. I reject that utterly and completely. If god has a plan to rip families apart, to let innocent babies die preventable deaths, to let women die just when they are finally starting to live, to leave young children alone, losing both parents in less than two years, then the only choice I have is atheism. I want no part of a god that lets these things happen. I cannot conceive of a good and kind and loving god who would let this happen, therefore there must be no god. I'd rather believe that we are on our own in this world than that there is a god who stands by and does nothing, leaving only desolation and loss where once was love and hope and promise.

I know many of you disagree, and I respect your faith, even if I no longer understand it. Envy it even, for I imagine it is a great comfort in times of need. Helena, may she rest in peace, had strong faith in god. I truly hope it was a comfort to her in the end, and that it will be to the children she has left behind. But it isn't for me. Not anymore.

And please. No flames and no preaching. Everyone is welcome to share their thoughts in an atmosphere of openness and mutual respect, and perhaps we can take comfort from each other, but I'm not looking to be converted or saved. If that happens this post will be taken down.


Carol Anne said...

Oh Robin, I'm sorry you are in so much pain. I had a similar crisis in faith several years ago. I was never raised in any religion, so it was perhaps less stark and painful for me. A book that really helped me, which I am sure you have heard of is, "When Bad Things Happen to Good People" by Harold S. Kushner. he is a Rabi who had a very hard time with god when some really tragic things happened to those close to him.

You may have no interest at all, so forgive me if this is out of place. It was just what popped into my head when readying your post. Many hugs my friend

Jubilee on Earth said...

I am so sorry to read this post. How heartbreaking! I found you from Sandier Pastures. At least, if you can believe anything, believe that those who have passed on are in Heaven -- an amazing place filled with love, beauty, and not one bit of pain or suffering. It's hard on those still here on Earth who are left behind to wrestle with the emotions of death, but death is such a small, tiny dot in the big picture. Wait until you see just how happy and loved they are in Heaven. They are in a very, very good place.

Lea said...

I applaud you for such courage to speak your heart and truth.

In my life... I have seen and experienced unspeakables... all have shaken me to the core, stripped away the stories that my mind created and were told were truths... and what I have left, is that place in me that resonates with what is true for me. Not for anyone else, but me. And from that place, I have sought beauty in what ever form life brings to me. But it is my path, and others must find there own way... How grateful I am to be here on this fringe to witness your path Robin, and what matters so incredibly deeply for you. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

I am so sorry, Robin, and I know how you feel. Trust me, I am scheduled to teach Sunday school the month of March, and I am dreading it. I feel like such a fake and hypocrite standing in front of those kids, because I don't know what to believe . . .

How tragic for those poor children. My heart aches for them.

Pieces of Me said...

Oh, Robin, I applaud you and your thoughts. I think the choice is yours and you made a one based on heartfelt circumstances.There is no good or bad decision here.

I too would like to believe there is a good god; it's all so very personal. So many ungust untried sad sad circumstances like Helena. WHY?

With me, there is very much an innocent voice that wants to believe in God and so I still seem to be struggling with this. How do I keep my faith in terms of adversity?

Perhaps Anne Lamott might give a thought or two on this when she comes to speak in Pittsburgh this week.

Bless you

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

You know, I wonder about the same thing.

But then the optimist in me speaks up and reminds me that maybe there are better things in store for these kids and that in the long run, this IS what's best for them.

We often see really remarkable things come out of tragedy. Let's hope that the kids will take that one step further.

Hang in there, babe. All we can do is watch how things unfold from here.

Anonymous said...

I also applaud your honesty. All I can say is that (in my opinion)God doesn't let bad things happen or cause bad things. People gained free will when Adam and Eve chose sin. I found out about this sweet lady's death a few minutes ago and have already prayed for the children.

Anonymous said...

I guess my perspective is that I've never blamed God for the appalling things that happen. I believe that He's up their (or maybe down here) weeping with that family. That He longs to hold everyone who hurts tightly in His arms and give comfort and hope that this messed up broken world we live in right now isn't always going to be this way.

I also think that maybe God isn't all that interested in trying to convert or save you, I think that's the agenda us humans create. I think He just wants to love you and right now to do whatever He can to help you mourn the loss of a friend.

Anonymous said...

That took a lot of guts babe. I hope there is no fall out for you.

I am agnostic. I say that cause I don't really know what I believe, never having had a religious upbringing. But I used to have long conversations with my MIL a very devout Catholic. How can someone who believes so deeply in the good of God hate others because of their religion? She despised Jews. Lost her mind when I was determined to call Boo Asher after one of my favourite high school books (my name is Asher Lev)...

I don't know where I am going with this. Just I understand your pain. I understand your confusion. No parent would willingly stand by and let their children suffer. So if we are children of God, where is he?

Anonymous said...

I spent many years hoping, hoping, believing not in a god but in a spirit world, many strange things had happened to me and I had faith in them, I still do believe in that world but have come to think it would be a relief almost if I was wrong, if just death awaits think of reincarnation or heaven and watching those we love from up there, it just makes me feel so tired. So yes, I'm with you on what you think.

Shermanim said...

I love that you would bold enough to put how you feel out there. It's not easy.

My understanding is also that there is pain, disease and unjust things that occur in the world as a result of the first sin. God has given man free will and it feels unfair that horrible things happen, but I couldn't imagine the world if God controled everything that happens.

I know, for me, when difficult things happen I have a choice to be bitter and angry about it (unfortunately, I choose this way too often) or to embrace how it has molded me into the person that I am (it sounds easier than it really is).

I my personal life, I have tried to live without God and my faith and I felt like I was dying inside, like I had nothing to hold on to. I know it's not like that for everyone though.

Anonymous said...

No flaming or preaching from me. Just virtual hugs across the miles. Your anguish affects me viscerally.

Robin said...

Thank you everyone for your thoughtful and gentle comments and for being so respectful in sharing them.

So that no one unduly worries, this is not a huge new crisis of faith. I'm ok, really. I stopped believing many years ago and have made my own peace with that. It's usually far in the background, it just comes back to the forefront when I'm confronted with something like Helena's death.

Amy said...

I believe that God's heart breaks with ours when we go through a tragedy on earth..

No one can preach or cajole someone from the position of lost faith. I know because I've been there.

I used to sit in church and feel like an idiot... thinking to myself, "do I even believe this anymore" This followed a very dark time for me - after my daughter was the victim of rape. I never before had laid blame on God's doorstep, but this was too dark and too horrible and while I prayed and prayed - I just couldn't recover that feeling that I was in God's presence when I prayed or that anything I did could reestablish a relationship I had with him for years and years before I'd become so angry.

6 years I felt like that, but I kept trying because just when I would give up trying, I would feel so heartbroken at the loss of my faith.

It was only last year when I just broke down and said, "God, I dont' know why I'm praying... I feel ridiculous and so fake, because no matter how much I've tried - I can't find you - and every prayer is filled with doubt. I don't know you anymore... I'm just going to ask you to reveal yourself to me through your holy spirit, because what I'm doing isn't working. So, please... show me who you are, if you even want me to know you..."

I know it wasn't a magic prayer - but it was an honest prayer. My faith is stronger today than ever, and for me that is nothing short of a miracle.

I wish I could have been honest with someone about my crisis of faith - but I was afraid of stimulating doubt in another person... it was breaking my heart - I was afraid to pass that on...


You have a most interesting blog.

Stay on groovin' safari,

Shannon said...

Robin, I just want to say thank you for having the courage to speak your heart regardless of how the "world" views it. That is very brave. I have struggled myself and while I do feel God's presence, I still struggle with what humans have made of him. Religion has never sat well with me. I don't know why we suffer and some so much more than others. I am OK not understanding this but just accepting it as part of our humanity - that we all have a path to walk. For me, I just continue to ask that my heart be open to whatever I am supposed to see or feel. What I should believe and know, I will. That is my faith.

So many amazing comments to this thought provoking post!

Robin said...

I'm so sorry for what your daughter, you and all your family have been through Annie. I can't imagine how extraordinarily difficult that must have been, and I thank you for your courage in sharing your story now. I'm glad you have found your way back to where you wanted to be and that it has brought you peace.

Anonymous said...

Do you ever wonder what happens to you one minute past death? I wonder about this in my post tonight. Let me know what you think at And vote in my poll.