Thursday, February 18, 2010

An Atheist's Guide to Lent: Part Two, Prayer

     Welcome back to An Atheist's Guide to Lent: How to Lose god and Find Peace in Forty Days or Less!

     Yesterday we focused on fasting and how you can give up fear, shame, pride, prayer, and your godly distortions for Lent.  We hope that's going well for you, and if you're struggling, don't worry.  It's normal to hear phantom devil cackles and the voices of old nuns and/or your former Sunday school teachers condemning you to hell for the first few days.  Don't stop.  Push through the fear, and with a few more doses of reality, the voices will soon fade away, forever and ever, and let the people say: Amen!

     Today, we focus on the Lenten practice of prayer.  If you've given up cosmic-candy-machine prayer, sports prayer, circular shame, and tell-me-what-I-need-to-do me-centered types prayer for Lent, you will discover that you have a fountain of guilt-free psychic, intellectual, and spiritual energy thirsting for the truth.  

     What is a budding post-theist to do?

     Here are a few "prayerful" practices for your Lenten journey away from god and into peace.

  1. Exercise your brain.  Discuss the hard questions and your doubts about faith and religion with people who won't judge you for going there and won't project their own fears of challenging the faith establishment onto your honest quest.  
  2. Go read a difficult book that is intellectually sound and challenges the assumptions of religion, such as The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins or god is not Great by Christopher Hitchens.  Learn what the human brain has to say about the universe and read Why Evolution is True by Jerry Coyne.  Check out the Freedom from Religion Foundation and Ex-Minister to see what some post-theists really believe.  Read or watch the extremely accessible and humorous Julia Sweeney's Letting Go of God or other very humble and honest struggles about people's journeys from faith into free thought.  Don't shy away from atheists and agnostics, because you've been conditioned into believing they are bad people. 
  3. Embrace the beauty and mystery of the random chance of the universe.  Reflect upon the frailty and fleeting reality of life.  Meditate on that reality and what it means for your life choices.  What are you going to do with this one and only life that you have to live?  Embrace the reality that everyone with whom you interact has only one life and that together we have only this one fragile planet on which we and future generations are are dependent to live.  Reflect upon these realities and see if you can find reasons to act kindly, justly, and humbly without god.

    Ban Loveless Marriages

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