Allow me to welcome you to Apostate Island!
I hope you’ll have a nice stay.
This world we live in got you down? It sure can get bewildering and nasty sometimes. That’s how it is, eh? So set your suitcases down, here’s a key to your room in our lush Tiki Village… Why don’t you have a drink? The bar is always open here, and the people pleasant. Or at the very least, pleasantly intoxicated.
I’ve been an apostate and atheist for a few years.
Frankly, it’s been a rather excellent few years.
I don’t know where you’re at right now, so I’ll just tell you that apostasy has been working out fabulously for me.
I can see why being an apostate is still viewed as a horrible crime in some places. It’ll get you executed. They did that in the West for a long time, too.
Leaving religion, faith, and religious institutions was difficult for me. I was traumatized by the violence and uncertainty of my earlier years, and I’ve never been the kind of person who gives up easily. I’m hopeful. When it came to religion, which I believed was the source of meaning and life itself, I was like a miner sifting through piles of rock in search of gold pebbles. Then gold flecks. In the end, even gold dust would have been something.
At that point, I wasn’t sure what the fuck I was doing, sifting through these damn rocks.
I won’t go into fine detail here yet, but let’s just say that eventually, I realized the rocks were rocks, and nothing but rocks, and my happiness didn’t depend on this “mystical gold” either. I didn’t need it.
On top of that, it didn’t exist.
At first I thought, well, fuck. This is a fine how do you do. Then I thought, oh well.
Here’s what I want to discuss with you now: once I finally walked away, once I said, “That’s it, I’m done with this,” it didn’t take me long to be okay. It was fairly smooth.
I didn’t feel like there was any kind of void in my life.
Even getting used to the idea of no afterlife didn’t take all that long.
This life was more real, more incredible, more magnificent than it had ever been. I’d never been more grateful to be here, now. Me, a combination of the mushy thing in my head, my bones, my fragile organs, my limited perceptions… How neat and amusing and amazing.
The happy stuff, the shitty stuff, the odds of it all even ever taking place were so astronomical, might as well cry when it hurts, and savor the happy moments, and live while I’m alive. When I’m dead, it’ll be over and I won’t care. It’s all right.
Anyway, the thing is that I was fine when my “relationship” with the supernatural disappeared, because the supernatural isn’t real. All that I’d learned during the process enabled me to realize whatever meaning life had, it was up to me to decide, and this didn’t involve any sort of nihilism or hopelessness.
My life didn’t depend on a supreme entity of any kind. I didn’t have to wonder if I was “truly” loving it, to wonder if it was pleased, if it was “teaching” me or “healing” me or testing me when this or that happened.
I didn’t have to attain a Bigfoot higher state of being to be authentically me, or whatever. I didn’t have a higher self. I didn’t have to be transfigured or sanctified or completed by a big Whatever out there, or “within” me.
That was such a liberating feeling, unlike anything I’d ever known.
Shit happens. No one would be able to use my sorrows or hopes or wounds to rope me into slavery and abuse anymore.
Being upset or feeling empty would have been like mourning fairies and elves. What had seemed so believable, so important, was just a sad puppet theater.
As an apostate, I’m intimately familiar with the mechanism of the systems that had me trapped for so long. I know what makes them tick. I know their ins and outs and what have yous. I think this is why religious institutions despise apostates so much. You’re a dog that goes back to its vomit, right? Or they’ll say, “You were never truly one of us.”
“They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us.” How convenient is that. Talk about a climate of insecurity.
Bla bla bla, yakety yak, don’t talk back, you suck, you’re damned.
No need to pay attention to this nonsense anymore. Ain’t it grand?
Enough for now; we’ll be talking about all this again, no doubt. You’re tired after your journey. So let’s have a drink, let’s listen to the music we’ve got playing, the pu pu platters are on their way…
And remember this: the only sacred thing in this world is Shrimp Toast. And Crab Rangoon, the ruler of the universe.