Atheism for Lent
This year, starting tomorrow, will be my 4th year taking the journey through Atheism for Lent. It's a de-centering practice that's been run for over two decades by Irish philosopher and theologian Peter Rollins, one of my favorite thinkers. The experience every year has been so rich and has really shaped the way I approach the world.
The idea is that we tend to think of atheism and theism as opposites, even at war with each other. But the reality is they are more intertwined than we realize, and they actually depend on each other. There is an inherent atheism baked into theism, and vice versa. The first week, you explore the common atheistic arguments, the ones you run into first if you google “why atheism.” Then the path moves to the mystics, and explores a theological form of atheism, of a God who is always beyond what we can comprehend, thus negating any concept of God we can come up with. Next, my favorite week, looks at the materialist thinkers, who answer “yeah, that's fine and all, but how about we focus on the world we exist in rather than worry about a world we can't grasp.”
That midway point shouldn't be rushed past, because that's the most profound stop on the journey, at least for me. It feels like the final unraveling of all the ideologies I'd set up to cover over the pain of the world. I spend a lot of time in reflection in late March.
From there, though, the journey out begins. You look at materialist theologies, like “religionless christianity” and Death of God theologies. Then you explore different paths forward and examples of what this could look like in our time.
The journey isn't easy, at times it's painful on a deep level. But it de-centers you in a good way, where you're able to experience and embrace the world around you as never before. I hope you'll join me and hundreds of others on the way.
Peace and tenacity,
P.S. Two out of the last four years I chronicled my journey. You can find those articles here.