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foggybeachThis weekend it’s been difficult to be Godless in Dixie.  Ordinarily I prefer to write when my head is clear and I’ve got something substantive to offer, but I figure it’s okay sometimes to let the rough edges show and post from raw emotion. Even then I have to be judicious, though, because anything I say can and will be used against me in the court of public opinion.  That’s just how it is when you know people are primed and ready to catch you in a vulnerable moment just so that they can exploit it in order to make themselves feel more secure. I wish they could see how predatory that makes them.
This weekend I had a death in the family. Or rather, someone very close to me did. I would write about it in more detail except that I want to preserve some privacy for those most heavily affected by the loss.  But I’m affected, too. I’m impacted personally by this loss along with people very close to me, and yet I’ve been shut out of a large portion of the mourning process because over the last couple of years I had the nerve to tell other people I wasn’t a Christian anymore. I allowed myself to become one of many visible representatives of a growing number of people who have left their faith. This deeply offended many, and as a result I’ve been a persona non grata for some time now. I should have played an active role in caring for people I love over the last couple of days, but I wasn’t allowed.
I want to be big about this but the truth is that it’s not right and it has hurt at least of couple of people in the process, myself included.
I want to be as constructive as possible when I write, and I try to articulate those ideas and perspectives that I think will make it easier for people to communicate across ideological divides. But sometimes it just doesn’t matter how hard I work at it; I can expend every ounce of intelligence and compassion I can muster to be reasonable and persuasive and empathetic and conciliatory, and it just. doesn’t. matter.  Sometimes people will still reject your peace offerings because you’re on the wrong team.
Sometimes you lose no matter how hard you fight to do it right.
When that happens, I don’t know anything else to do besides just mourn the loss and call it a day.  Get some rest and hope the next day will bring better things. Because some days you won’t lose. Some days people will surprise you. Sometimes people reach inside and find something more useful for building stronger relationships and finding common ground.  Those days are fantastic. The last couple of days haven’t been that.  They’ve kinda sucked, and I’m pretty down about it.
I strongly suspect this particular situation will get better in time.  That thought will encourage me, eventually…tomorrow, maybe…or the next day.  Today it’s just gonna suck and I’m going to accept defeat. Life goes on.
Hang in there, yada yada.  Yeah, I know.  I guess I just wanted to admit that it can really suck to be godless in Dixie sometimes. In case you wondered.  Might as well keep it real.
[Image source: Shutterstock]

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Neil Carter is a high school teacher, a father of four, and a skeptic living in the Bible Belt. A former church elder with a seminary education, Neil now writes mostly about the struggles of former evangelicals...