On Friday evening, Pascal and his lovely wife did something amazing. They opened their home and invited me, my wife (CC from The Counterfeit Christian), and six other people (including their oldest son and a couple that we'd only previously met as bloggers here) to sit down with food, wine, and fellowship. We each listened intently to those with sometimes similar, and sometimes wildly different world-views — but we did so with gentleness and respect. Free from hostility we were able to be open and vulnerable. This environment was very refreshing and led to real connections. We were each advocates of the legitimacy of our adversaries as people, which often led us to legitimize one another's point of view. CC wrote about her experience that night in this excellent post that I'm reblogging. When Pascal and I started the online adventure that is russellandpascal.com, we hoped it could grow to be more than a blog. Gentleness and respect was and is more than a tag-line — its a recipe for understanding and friendship. Our meetings originally started across a physical breakfast table and continue there. The blog is just one medium of our communication. We wanted the meaning behind the blog to be a movement that reached into lives of people. CC describes a ripple effect in her post, and that's a bit like what's happened here. This blog is just another tiny pebble dropping in the pond. We didn't start the ripple, it's been emanating for thousands of years — but we do want to join it. We hope that each of you will take it to your own communities and the effect will grow. Pascal decided to call this meeting a détente, which means the easing of hostility or strained relations. It's now a monthly affair. Consider opening your homes and lives to those of different points of view in your own détente. Questions If someone cared enough to invite you to a meeting like this, would you go? Why or why not? Would you consider hosting a détente of your own? Why or why not? Gentleness and respect, —Russell
Tags » Does God Exist?
FOR MANY OF those who do not believe in God and ask this question if God exist, they insist that this question be answered according to their own standard which means you have to show them only “evidences” they wanted to see and dismiss otherwise. 862 more words
I walked into a room in the church basement where my parents had first met more than two decades before. I was trying a new Sunday school class designed for single adults between the ages of 18 and 22. 3,340 more words
CC is the author of the excellent blog called The Counterfeit Christian. She’s also our most prolific commenter. CC and I have been keeping a secret to add another layer of anonymity between us and our blogging world, but now the secret is out. The husband CC has been talking about in many of her posts on thecounterfeitchristian.wordpress.com and comments on russellandpascal.com, is yours truly. That’s right, CC is my wife! :) I’m reblogging her "coming out” post so our readers will have more context into her comments on russellandpascal.com. I’m glad it’s finally out that we’re married. Look at the hoops we were jumping through. Here’s an example from her comment on Pascal's post called Reason To Believe:
You, my husband, Russell, 20-ish The Counterfeit Christian blog readers, your own blog readers, and one friend see the real me.Given the comma, Russell could have been her husband, or not. She’s clever, right? CC commented on one of my many long posts and challenged me to keep them < 1200 words. I responded:
Haha. My wife agrees with you. She said I should title it "The Cure for Insomnia."In Love, Gray holes, Supernatural Ladybugs, and Scripture I finally told her what I thought of her blog.
"I’ve read your blog, linked to it, and recommended it to people. Why? Honestly, it’s because I find you to be an extremely intelligent, amazing storyteller with a very human voice. That is something that doesn’t come as naturally for me. I respect your words and identify with your struggle, and I think many theists do too. You provide for them a window into the real life of a real person who is trying to find out how and where to stand in the aftermath of a faith that fell into and drowned beneath the ocean – an ocean whose waves are still rocking your soul. It’s a process, not an on and off switch, and you capture that well. Your words draw the reader in and compel them to read more, to identify, and to care. This leads to understanding, compassion, and the breaking of misconceptions in the minds of theists. Keep up the great work that I could never do because I lack your skill."That was an honest assessment. If you haven’t seen her blog yet, please check it out. I’m not just saying this because of my bias. She honestly is phenomenal. I write about boring metaphysics. CC writes about life. Much of her blog is about the struggles of leaving faith and the desire to return. She’s genuine, honest, and raw. She’s also the most intelligent woman I know. I’ve truly loved hearing about her thoughts in well-crafted words that we get to discuss after each post. She is both brilliant and stunningly beautiful, and she deserves an audience. I first met CC in the Summer of 2006. Around that time you could find me studying the Bible at Starbucks, building and learning from Bible verse memorization applications, teaching Sunday School, playing volleyball, cello, and guitar, singing, leading music, working full-time in software development, lifting weights, going back to college, doing yoga, hosting Sunday School events, and yes, finishing up a massage therapy license. You can read more about my past and the importance I placed on the Bible and on living for Christ in my post called Not an Outsider. CC’s post, For Days of Auld Lang Syne: On Love Russell, that I’m re-blogging here picks up from when we met. Now that our marriage is in the open, there’s a strong theme and challenge we’ve been facing that has been almost entirely avoided by me at russellandpascal.com. I broke my promise. I failed her in a very serious way. I made a vow to her that I would be her spiritual leader for life – but I have led her astray. I’ve said very little about this so far on the blog, but I want to make it clear now. When I mentioned CC’s experience in How to Love an Atheist, How to Love a Christian I was talking about my own wife. I hope her blog makes more sense in that context. I knew the moment my doubts about the Bible resurfaced in strength that they wouldn’t just have consequences for my life and potential eternity, but for my wife's and future children's as well. They would mean an erosion and potential breaking of the covenant I made with her, and that was the most serious thing in our lives. It was our foundation and our bond, more sacred and important than our love for each other. I did not enter into my doubts lightly or willingly. When you hear CC’s honest words, words of resentment for my failure to meet my commitment, for spiritually abandoning her, for unwillingly pulling her with me, her battle with regret for marrying me, decisions not to have further children, etc., I hope it stirs something in you. I hope it illuminates the deep pain fueling the hateful remarks of some anti-theists. I am not an anti-theist because I understand. It’s clear why religions exist to lead us to such vows, why we believed, why we doubted, why we struggle now, why we long for restoration, why it is unlikely that I will find it, why she is angry, why I am sorrowful. I’m not mad at my former faith, my culture, the religious institution, or a God I doubt exists. She and I often process things in different ways. Neither of us are complacent. Much of her writing reveals what it does to a woman when her husband fails in that sacred duty. The consequences to our relationship have at times been deep and devastating – sometimes a daily struggle. It has occasionally put tremendous stress on our marriage and I’m glad that we can now be open here about the issues if we choose. Your advice and prayers will be a great support system when we face tough times. Pascal has already been there for us. Not only did he do a masterful job keeping the secret of our marriage throughout his various dialogues with CC, he also really stepped in to help support us at crucial times when we needed it. Now that you have some context of who CC was talking about when Pascal wrote The Wedding Rings of Drought, please re-read it. Here’s an excerpt.
Her post affected me Russell. If faith and skepticism are polarizing the world, how much more in the microcosm of marriage?He gets it. And, addressing CC in that same post he said:
Stay. Whether your husband ever believes or not. You were called to him for a purpose, perhaps for such a time as this. Our hearts as believers are to be attracted to the doubting, not repulsed. That is what a friendship with Russell is teaching me and that is my prayer for your marriage.What a genuine friend. The fact of my broken vow, the toll that my apostasy has taken on our marriage, it’s a topic that goes far beyond the discourse of philosophy and reaches down into real life in a very tangible way. It’s an opportunity for a blogging community to come together and share, not just to discuss abstract ideas, but to offer prayer and real-world advice. I don’t have the answers. I want you, our reader, to understand that I’m real. CC is real. Our precious 1 and 4 year-old girls are real. We need support at times – support that we can't often get in a local church while remaining anonymous. I don’t know where she or I will end up on the belief spectrum, but I do know that we’re in a difficult place. Please support her by reading her blog, sharing it with people you think it may help, and commenting when you can. Her latest post, The Call, shows a little more of the struggle and her present desire to try believing again, but it’s lonely and difficult when your spouse doesn’t. CC, I genuinely hope you’ll try, as many times as it takes. I know you sometimes regret that you said yes to being my wife, but I would ask you 1000 times over. Readers, have you been through this situation yourself, or do you know a couple who has? We welcome your advice. Gentleness and respect, –Russell