I come to the garden alone, while the dew is still on the roses;
And the voice I hear, falling on my ear, the Son of God discloses.
And He walks with me, and He talks with me, And He tells me I am His own,
And the joy we share, as we tarry there, none other has ever known.
– Charles Austin Miles (1868-1946), from “In the Garden” (1913)
I love Christianity. I love it desperately, dotingly, stupidly, as an infant loves its mother or a lover cherishes the beloved, and as the center of all goodness and safety. Christianity has been so much a part of my life! From the moment when I first saw the light of God in my nighttime bedroom at the age of eight, I have deeply associated the religion with God, with Jesus, and with everything that is right and just. After I first saw that light as a child, I gave up Sunday school for grown-up church, and my mother had trouble understanding that. I recall her telling me more than once how it amazed her to watch my face in church, a little child earnestly singing the hymns and transfixed by sermons that should have gone over my head. But I was sitting at the literal feet of God! So of course I was in rapture. And when I was twelve, I discovered that I could read the Bible and comprehend it, so I began a habit of reading a couple of pages every night that continued for the next forty years.
Given my history of devotion from childhood, my long fall from belief in Christianity has been painful. It began when I took college courses in early Christian history from a professor who seemed to bear a personal grudge against the authors of the religion. Miss Corwin was close to retirement age when I knew her. And she was ardent! She was my faculty adviser, and my devotion to the religion rather than to Jesus Himself seemed to irritate her to the point where I still recall having to submit to lectures in her office as I resisted learning what she was trying to teach. I didn’t want to look behind my beloved religion’s beautiful façade. I hadn’t realized that was what my choosing to major in Christian history was going to mean, and I could already tell from Miss Corwin’s classroom lectures on the corrupt church councils that I didn’t want to know any of that. If you enjoy sausage, never watch it being made! I am realizing only now that I have blocked her point of view for most of my life as I tried to hold onto my youthful love for Christianity, so it really is only in the last few years that I am remembering much of what she said.
If you’ve been reading these weekly missives for a while, you have seen me fall from my lifelong faith as from the top of a tall tower, relying on floor after floor of that tower of Christian faith to break my fall; but then falling to the next, and then to the next as each successive floor failed to hold. The poet Robert Frost directed that his epitaph should be “I had a lover’s quarrel with the world,” and I can identify with that. My own lover’s quarrel is with Christianity, the great love of my life that I met in childhood as a burst of nighttime light and a sweet voice of love and the blessed certainty that if I ever again forget that God is real, I can trust Him to remind me. That set of pat religious beliefs was such an easy comfort! Christianity was the package that contained all truth, and it was so simple and so neat. Everything that was important for us to know had been figured out before I was born, so I didn’t need to think about it much at all.
But we know now from the not-really-dead that Christianity is altogether wrong. And it isn’t even just a little bit wrong! In fact, every core Christian teaching is nothing more than human-made nonsense. The Godhead is not a Big Guy with thunderbolts. The Godhead has no human flaws, and It never judges or condemns us to a fiery hell that does not exist. Every person of every faith or no faith at all goes to precisely the same beautiful afterlife. The Christian religion has almost nothing to do with either the Jesus of the Gospels or the genuine Godhead, but rather it is an amalgam of ancient beliefs well-seasoned with the Roman Emperors’ need to control people by inspiring fear. The Christian Bible as it was assembled at First Nicaea and the other Councils is a collection of writings that could not possibly be all the work of a consistent and loving, or even of a sane and rational God. For me, the kill-shot of my Christian faith was the moment when I accepted the fact that after my decades of reading hundreds of different communications from the dead that had been received over more than a century in southern England and in the eastern United States, I never had found one bit of evidence that the death of Jesus on the cross has ever made an afterlife difference for a single human being.
It strikes me now that my relationship with Christianity can be divided into thirds. I was a Protestant until I was twenty-five, and so filled with conviction that I intended to enter the ministry. Then I fell in love with and married a Catholic, and at twenty-six I converted to Catholicism. I was a Lector, I attended Mass each week, and I sent my children to parochial schools. I was an ardent Catholic while I continued to do my decades of afterlife research, until the lowest floors of my tower of faith eventually were forced to give way beneath the weight of all that I was learning. So in my early fifties I was left bereft, with almost no religion at all. As the title of my weekly podcast insists, I only ever wanted to know what is true! And I have spent this most recent twenty-five years pulling bits of truth from the debris of the tower of my old lost faith, and combining those bits with the afterlife evidence, quantum mechanics, and a lifetime of studying parts of what is one absolutely gigantic truth, until now – within just the past few years – I have managed to replace my makeshift tower of human-created Christian faith with a solid edifice of what I know for certain is nothing but the most wonderful and entirely nonreligious ultimate truth.
But I still love Christianity! As I study the pictures that accompany this post, to this day I yearn for the certainty and safety of my old lost faith. Even though it was a false certainty. Even though now we know so much about what actually is going on that I have established in place of my old religion such abundant bedrock knowledge about what happens at and after death, and where it happens, how it happens, and even a lot about why it happens, that now I look forward to my own transition with a joy that feels like waiting for Christmas. Going home is going to be so much fun! And it turns out that I won’t have to leave my love for Christianity behind altogether. Those that we used to think were dead now tell us that although there is no religion practiced in the afterlife, Christians will sometimes get together to sing hymns for nostalgia’s sake. And wow, do I ever understand that impulse!
So now the jig is up for Christianity. It had a good, long run! Although of course not all of its dominance on earth was positive, what with the Inquisition and the Crusades, the burning of witches and the forced conversions of indigenous peoples here and there. But those embarrassing glitches were by and large the result of cultural influences, weren’t they? Christianity has always been a movement of whatever was its current time and place. So, by and large, Christianity has softened dramatically in the course of the past hundred years.
And the truth about the nature of reality and what happens at and after death is about to become quite broadly known. All the gaps have been filled. There is no need any more for additional theories, no room for further speculation, and Craig Hogan and I are not the only people who are being called to share with the world the beyond-wonderful truth about humankind’s eternal nature and how reality actually works. That old-time religion doesn’t stand a chance! And yes, for Christians the wonderful truth is that we can keep the genuine Jesus. It turns out that Jesus is in fact an aspect of the Godhead, quite literally God on earth, and we can follow Him in undivided joy once all our old religion-based fears are gone.
All of this seems to be such good news! So, why am I suddenly feeling so anxious?
This fluttery feeling of inchoate dread reminds me of the summer of 2010, when The Fun of Dying was about to be published. For the first time I was going to go public with what I had learned about how broadly the actual teachings of Jesus differ from what Christianity teaches. It was to be my first shot across the bow of the religion that I so much loved! I was confident that what I had learned was true, but what if it was supposed to remain secret? Or what if it was supposed to become known eventually, only not just yet?
My anxiety about my perhaps letting some cosmic cat out of God’s personal bag became so acute that one evening about a month before the book’s publication date, I took to my knees. I prayed fervently that if there was anything in that book that was not supposed to come to light now, please God, just take me in my sleep. I had already emailed the publisher that if I were to die, The Fun of Dying should be kept out of print. I prayed so long and so hard that night that God’s will and not my own be done that I was mildly surprised to wake up the next morning to a flood of normal earthly sunlight.
So apparently what is happening now is God’s will. Sooner or later, humanity was going to have to leave behind all its false beliefs and at last grow up! As the Apostle Paul said, “When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known” (1Cor 13:11-12). But still, there seems to be tremendous danger in sharing these truths with practicing Christians!
Learning that Christianity’s teachings are at utter variance with the words of Jesus and the testimony of the not-really-dead was what finally wrecked my own faith. I don’t want to put others through that, so I have always thought my ministry was just to lapsed Christians. I have regularly urged people who were happy with their Christian beliefs to just ignore what I was saying. So I worry now that our making these truths a lot more broadly available is going to separate a great many more people from the Christian religion that I still love. I have no idea what to do about that, but Thomas tells me that the time is now, and just as I am so much happier being free from my old Christian fears, so as more Christians liberate themselves from the religion and discover the genuine Godhead they are going to be a lot happier, too. But still, this effort at religious patricide that is turning out to be the theme of my life makes me on some level very sad. Perhaps in some far-future day, when we all are free from superstitious fears, we can return in some way to a few of the comforting trappings of the faith of our fathers. Then I can be again that child who used to look forward to the Sunday mornings when she was falling in love with her Christian faith.
He speaks, and the sound of His voice is so sweet the birds hush their singing;
And the melody that He gave to me within my heart is ringing.
I’d stay in the garden with Him tho’ the night around me be falling;
But He bids me go; thro’ the voice of woe, His voice to me is calling.
– Charles Austin Miles (1868-1946), from “In the Garden” (1913)