Charlotte Haines lost her faith five years ago but is uneasy about calling herself
It's interesting how we haven't seen much
of Dot since she regained her faith. It would be easy to condemn the BBC for such
behaviour, however, personally I want to thank them.
those who do not watch Eastenders, Dot Branning has provided us with a sense of
security throughout all the drama of Albert Square with her traditional and sometimes
I expect few viewers were prepared for
Dot's discovery last Easter that after a violent robbery rendering her unconscious,
Jesus her friend for years had gone AWOL.
Faith has also
gone missing in modern literature with James Wood's debut novel The Book Against
God portraying the fallout of apostasy within a pious family.
bravely showed us numerous scenes of Dot's new-found sense of nothingness. We
could share Dot's discomfort, as she had to call a halt to the vicar's prayers
and explain that although she was an upstanding Christian a few days before, now
she couldn't bear the mention of God in her presence.
antihero on the other hand does not so much struggle with the missing God as much
as find himself forced to admit to his family that he hasn't shared their faith
in years. The pithy platitudes that his vicar father desperately tries to ply
him with exemplify the common attitude of the church in this situation.
why is it that we have to turn to Eastenders and a fashionable novel to explore
what really happens when we are abandoned or we show God the door?
years ago my faith dissolved and I found myself very alone, bemused and angry.
As the journey to non-faith was very much an intellectual one, I had to deal with
questioning the past.
Had my religious life been a sham?
Had I been duped and how could I admit such a thing? How could I reconcile the
strong suspicion that God wasn't there with the feeling of peace that I used to
More to the point how was I to explain to church
friends that I didn't actually want that feeling back though I was not sure why.
The loneliness was brutal. Religion is not talked about in polite society, and
apostasy is not talked about by the religious politely.
is a Secular Society for full time atheists and bountiful churches to cater for
your particular flavour of God but where is the support group to take you in when
you can't believe in God but want to mourn his passing?
Wood vividly shows, Christians are so profoundly challenged by a friend's apostasy,
that at best trite mantras are endlessly repeated and at worst they make pre-emptive
strikes in order to protect themselves from challenge. Another favourite is to
insist that God is simply testing you, or worse He is angry with you, and everything
will be all right as long as you are open to Him.
may have re-found her Lord, but frankly I don't think there is one to find. However,
and this is the really difficult bit, I find myself still unable to sign up to
I am an ex-believer in search of what exactly
I don't know for I can't completely dismiss the metaphysical, yet cannot believe
in the God and spirituality of Christendom or any other religion for that matter.
Finding words to explore a secular spirituality is difficult without being mistaken
All of which makes me wonder why it is so
hard for us to talk about the spiritual outside of the context of religion without
smugness, sniggering or sneering?
Maybe if both arch
atheists and the church could come to terms with losing their monopoly on truth
and were able to talk frankly about the realities of belief, we might understand
a little more about each other and life.
your copy of The Book Against God