Cloudy Afternoon of the Soul

January 14, 2012

Long Dark Teatime of the Soul was taken…

As long time readers are no doubt tediously aware, I spent arguably the best years of my life in a Christian fundamentalist cult and for most of that time I was a True Believer; not only did I zealously adhere to the cult’s tenets myself, I worked tirelessly to convert others to my sorry theology. But for the last couple of years of my time with the brethren I existed in an odd and excruciating limbo. Though I was convinced that my erstwhile belief system was a crock of crap, I remained a nominal member of the church: in short, I had a decision to make. On the one hand, I could retain my family and half a lifetime’s worth of friends by continuing as a putative cult member. True, I would be living a lie, but in retrospect I am convinced that many of my brethren had made exactly this choice.

On the other hand, I could sever my ties with what I now recognized as a vicious cult. This might strike you as an easy decision… but there were complications: since this cult practices a severe form of excommunication, opting out of this false worship meant that I would also be opting out of community. Probably, it also meant the end of my marriage and to be honest with you, I dearly loved the wife of my youth.

But I did pass through it

So I dawdled a year or two, contemplating upon this weighty decision, and here is why I dawdled: disillusioned, as I was, with a particular religious ‘truth’, I wondered if it was such a great idea to risk, really, my entire life on a concept as nebulous as absolute truth. I thought there might, in fact, be an upside to hypocrisy. It seems a little presumptuous to say that I passed through what St. John of the Cross called the “Dark Night of the Soul”; let us say, instead, that I passed through a ‘Cloudy Afternoon of the Soul’. But I did pass through it. In the event, and as you have probably figured out, I did renounce my vows to the idiotic religion I had become ensnared in and I chose Truth. And, in fact, things turned out much as I expected. My so-called friends dumped me like a carton of sour milk, my marriage ended, and my children were coached to look at me with fear. For several months, life sucked. And then… things got better. New friends, new opportunities, a surge of creativity, and above all, a sense of joy and freedom that remains with me even now. In a very meaningful sense, I was born again.

So now I suppose I am that tiresome creature, a person with advice. For I am certain that a percentage of you, my readers—like a percentage of all humans—are living a lie. You’re in a loveless relationship, a toxic religion, a thankless job, or are existing in some other form of hypocrisy. And I am here to tell you… choose truth. And especially… choose your truth. I won’t promise you that your path will be easy or pleasant, for I know from bitter experience that it may, in fact, be painful. You could even die. But the fact is, when you live a lie, you are already as good as dead… and you may as well start acting like it.

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