Posted by: innerpilgrimage | August 23, 2012

Fellowship in Social and Food Anorexia: Hell (and Recovery) is Other People

      Well, I went to meeting yesterday, and it was really nice to feel home. We’re reading Seeking the Spiritual Path at meeting, and it’s a lot of work to read about God when I don’t share the belief. Higher Powers? Yes. Gravity? Definitely a power greater than me. Recovery? Of course. I have seen people recover who have no God and people who relapse who have a God. That Higher Power of my own understanding is hard to understand during this transition. I long to seek outside for that warm, fuzzy savior. The problem is that reason wins out for me.

      I’ve been reading 50 Reasons People Give for Believing in a God by Guy P. Harrison. That first entry, about God being obvious, is, well, obvious. If a god comes from wherever and manifests itself fully? I’m no longer an atheist. Now, I understand the argument of unseen forces acting on our lives. Gravity is an unseen force which can consistently be tested and measured. God cannot. I don’t need faith to know if I jump in the air, I will land on the ground again. This unseen force exerts very real action upon me. Prayer . . . well, the problem is that if I follow the text of any faith, it doesn’t change that my innocent child got cancer. There was no purpose to that. I appreciate that some people feel that his challenges will give him greater purpose. Fine. That’s an easy answer. However, had I prayed to God to cure my child instead of trusted the decades of medical science? I would be visiting my child at a graveyard instead of raising him in my home. Selective and random miracles demand I either (1) believe God is psychotic or (2) believe God doesn’t exist. I don’t want to have the fear that God is a cruel taskmaster who abuses us as slaves over a lifetime. So, I choose to let God be others’ God of love. That’s a nice concept, and I don’t want to interfere with others’ ability to look up to the sky and feel comforted in the belief an omnipresent, omniscient, omnipotent and loving parent is out there watching over them and challenging them to grow.
      My spouse and I discussed atheism and religion, and we both agree: All gods or no gods. If faith is the factor, then any deity who has ever been believed in must be treated with equal weight as any other deity. The skepticism of religions toward other religions is one of those bizarre observations, which Harrison makes. His example is that devout Christians think devout Muslims are deluded and need to question themselves; devout Muslims feel that devout Christians are deluded and need to question themselves. Allah, Yahweh, and Jehovah are the same deity. Same root source. The mythology changes, branches off at different times in the cultural evolution of the region. Why is one truth and another not? Why is Christ the son of God to some and Mohammed is the true prophet to another and to others Moses is the big matzoh? And the schisms even within the religion make me question it all.
      Now, I am talking about the Abrahamic religions because those are the ones which affect my life as a citizen of the United States. The atrocities over time between the three religions is painful. Religions which speak of peace yet wage war on religious principles. How is that not a tragedy to humanity?
      So, I choose to be skeptical of all Gods. I don’t pray to science (“Our Science, who art in the Universe, Hallowed be thy hypotheses and theorems . . .”) because I don’t have to. It’s kind-of like that weird textbook that came out recently, teaching that no one knows what electricity is.   Uh, yes, we do know about electricity. No, it’s not a mystery. Electricity can be generated, harnessed, quantified, explained–and it does not require faith to work. And, well, I’m just aching to have the power grid shut down for 24 hours across the United States. Faith won’t make the lamps or heat or air conditioning go on, people. The hard work of reasoning minds which took inspiration and perspiration together to create the society we enjoy. God did not make or harness electricity to be piped into homes. And yes, I definitely appreciate those who are religious who understand that science isn’t a miracle. Now, yes, I understand it is a blessing deserving of gratitude if one is a religious rationalist. A religious person who sees what advances in worldly comforts humanity has made for the benefit of First World Countries and says, “Grace from God made these things possible,” is someone I can understand. Inspiration seems to come from nowhere, and dedication often appears to have an otherworldly source. But I look at the shovels full of ignorance, and I feel horrible for these children who will expect to be more than minimum-wage register clerks at fast food, clothing stores, or religious bookstores. They certainly won’t be electricians.
      What cruelty of a parent to demand a child’s natural desire to learn be stymied until their futures are even more limited than my agnostic child who survived cancer. What kind of parent does this?
      Hm. Maybe parents who want their children to grow up to reject religion, become atheists, and struggle to self-teach reason as adults while resenting the educators who are ignoring the benefits of their own educations. I don’t know. We’ll see in 10 to 20 years, I suppose.

      I keep worrying I’m going to offend, but I guess that’s the nature of belief. As Diogenes said, “Of what use is a philosopher who doesn’t hurt anybody’s feelings?” I know I have a lot of Acceptance is the Answer work as I dread the reality that people will come to my door to tell me I have to believe like they do. Will pressure me. May I have the strength, when they arrive, to say, “I’m not interested in what a person who may or may not have lived 2000 years ago did then: What are you doing today to heal the sick? Care for the poor? End slavery (I buy local US products and fair-trade and my clothing is secondhand from Goodwill Industries and St. Vincent de Paul Society) in foreign countries, despite the convenience of buying from those places?”
      So there it is. Believe whatever you will. Just don’t tell me I have to enslave myself to an invisible master which has Simon LeGree levels of cruelty for his servants–for the Bible tells me so. I guess I am offensive, then, because I fear those who fear God. Part of the transition, I suppose, as I stop looking to the sky to save me from myself.
      To finish out, I want to shout out to the commenters for giving me things to think about. And I want to give a wave to fredt, who wrote:
      I think it is a wonderful idea of rewriting the steps to better fit us. I attend regular meetings with the “original” steps. They do not accept evolution of knowledge yet, but I must.

Those of us that do not hang together will hang separately. keep your chin up.
      There is a place in program for atheists. I’ve struggled with this since I began this journal. Burning in my memory is something from an AA forum where a person HAAM (heard at a meeting) that no one can recover without God. Well, I’m gonna give it a go. My Higher Power is developing into reason and program. I’ve looked for saviors my whole life–people to love, food, and the like–and I am just sick of trying to shunt my responsibility for my recovery off on someone else.
      And to those who believe in God? Keep believing. Challenge me, show me recovery is for all of us. I have faith in you because you are the fellowship and the program. You are walking stories of recovery from addiction. You are the embodiment that program does work. Just like electricity–I may not be able to see the work going on behind the scenes, but I certainly see the results and trust that program works without me having to have faith in an external intellect with a will of its own.
      My name is Jess. I am a compulsive overeater and an anorexic. And even as an evolving atheist, I am grateful for program and what it represents, what following program accomplishes. Yesterday, I felt the pressure of relapse. Today is a new day, and I expect the addiction to push hard again, but without friction? Forward motion cannot happen. Progress, not perfection–no matter what my Higher Power is.


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