For anyone who hasn't read my blog posts, I am still a "closet atheist": I don't publicly identify as an atheist, and in fact, part of my income comes from church music. I am Director of Music at a small Methodist church in Nashville, TN. That's right...the buckle of the Bible belt! I honestly can't see myself admitting my atheism to anyone in the near future, as my family's harmony and financial security rely partly on my keeping my church job.
Being honest with myself, however, I have to admit that I don't really believe in any of the religious activities in which I participate. I am fascinated culturally by religion, Judaism and Christianity in particular. I know so many sincere, intelligent people, who see no disconnect between their intelligence and their faith. (My wife is one of them...one of the smartest people I know.) And so I stay in the closet. Several people here at TA have criticized me for "living a lie." They ask, wouldn't it be better to "live in the light," so to speak? I admit, it's dark here in the closet. I often feel like I can't see the light, metaphorically speaking, and yet, just as in a real closet, there's a certain coziness and familiarity to living that way. (I'm not inclined to claustrophobia, you see.) Also, as a musician, I can't deny that there is an awful lot of amazing music written by deeply religious people: Handel's Messiah, the Bach B-minor Mass, Verdi's and Mozart's Requiems, and so on. So I'm on familiar ground when I speak the language of faith.
Would I prefer to be open about my atheism? Sometimes, yes, I would. It's not always easy to play a role in real life. And when people around me talk about the power of prayer, or all the blessings of their lives, or about so-and-so, who's "looking down from heaven," I tend to squirm a bit. My parents, for example, aren't really very religious. And yet, they still go to visit my brother's grave, and often talk about how they "know Sean is looking down on us." Awkward.
I still have a collection of about 250 Bibles. Sometimes, I stop and consider, what's the point? I don't believe in all the supernatural gobbledygook that's in the Bible. I recognize the Bible's role in world literature, of course, but really, what is the point, if you don't believe in it as the "Word of God"? Well, I don't collect stamps or rocks, but I do collect Bibles...and Shakespeare's works, and Sherlock Holmes books. So what does it really matter if I believe in it or not? It's a collection, just like some people collect dolls or Beanie Babies.
So I remain a closet atheist, and continue to wonder if I'll ever leave the comfortable darkness. Meanwhile, I take the occasional peek outside...thus, this blog. Thanks for reading.
Shit, maybe if I picture my "closet" like this one, I'll never leave! ;-)