Living a fulfilled life without God
One thing that has been on my mind from time to time since leaving the Christian faith is the question about where I’ll find community. While the value of the type of community that churches yield is subject to opinions, the fact is that many people claim to find what they consider a healthy sense of community. Friendships are built among like-minded people as they are regularly crossing paths at church events. People talk about this sense of community like it’s extremely valuable and something to aspire to. This leaves people who end up walking away from their faith left wondering where to fill this void that they have been taught to think is so important. While they may not believe in any of the religion anymore, they feel like they miss the community.
I’ve caught myself thinking that I missed this. This caused me to seek out groups within the godless community. Here locally we have the Houston Atheists, Humanists of Houston, Kingwood/Humble/Atascocita Atheists, etc. I’ve only ventured out to visit with the KHA Atheists on a few occasions and shared dinner with them. There’s nothing wrong with the groups whatsoever, but they seem to fail to attract families with children. This has been disappointing. It would be nice to meet some other “godless families” with kids. We actually just met one a week or two ago and we enjoyed getting to know them. I hope we end up hanging out more often.
This inability to really connect with other godless families has led me to wonder if I shouldn’t try out a new place in Houston called “The Oasis.” This is a community of nonbelievers that is structured like a church. The leader is a former pastor who just came out as an atheist last year publicly on Up With Chris Hayes, Mike Aus. He seems like a great person and his community seems to be serving a purpose for a number of people. From what I understand of the structure, there is some music and a talk given by someone. It’s sounds awfully familiar to church life. It sounds like what people may be looking for who miss that. With that said, I’m not certain that I’m one that truly misses that.
The more I think about it, I think I realize that I never really liked that part. I’m not sure I liked setting my alarm on Sunday mornings. I’m not sure I liked feeling like I had to go somewhere. I often found myself bored during parts of the service. Whether I was playing on the phone or daydreaming about what I was going to do when I left, I was never really fully engaged. It seems that obligation played a big part in why I continued to go. So the more I consider visiting The Oasis, the more I realize that it may not be my thing. I don’t mean to suggest that it’s not a good thing, but perhaps just not my thing. Perhaps it’s because it’s also not really all that close to where I live. It would be a 45 minute drive back and forth on Sunday mornings with the family. Aside from the hassle, it would be unlikely that we would connect with someone from our side of town, so the possibility for meeting other families nearby would be slim.
So where does this leave me? If the local groups and the new church-like community is not for me, then what? After all, I’ve had this idea in my head that this type of community is necessary. I think where it’s left me in the last week or two is questioning whether this type of community is actually necessary or not. Again, I should emphasize that when I speak of necessity I’m not referring to whether or not this is good for others. This is just a personal reflection about what (if any) value I find in it personally. Despite the fact that I do wish I knew more people in this area that were non-believers, I’m not necessarily looking to only surround myself with people of my exact values. I actually really like diversity and can typically get along with just about anyone. When I think of community I just think about the people in my day to day life like people I meet at work, in my neighborhood, at my kids’ schools, or during my kids’ extracurricular activities.
I’m not positive where this is going, but I think I’m just tired of feeling like I’m missing something when the reality is that I never really enjoyed the community that the church offered. I was happy to meet some friends in those settings, but the rest of it seemed more like an obligation than anything else. So would I like to meet a few other like-minded people? Sure, but I don’t think I’m interested in any regularly scheduled meetings that I would feel an obligation to attend. I’m sure I’ll still stop by the occasional local events in the godless community to interact and meet others, but I just don’t think I’m at a place in my life where I will find much value in regular attendance at any of these things. I need to lose the idea that this is necessary. I think that’s just some residual church-life thing that’s causing me to think I need to run with a tribe.
What are your thoughts? I’m not looking for an answer to whether or not these type of communities are beneficial or not as a whole. I think the answer to that is simply that they provide a great benefit to people who want that. It’s just possibly not for everyone. I’m wondering how others feel about this. How do you find community as a fellow godless human? Do you just let it naturally happen with those you regularly interact with, or do you seek it out in these type of groups?
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