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I Hope You (Fill in the Blank)

meaning of life

Well meaning people have all kinds of expectations and desires for me. Their expectations and desires for me often reveal how they view my life and me as a person. Often, they view me as hurt, broken, damaged, angry, bitter, disillusioned, unhappy, pessimistic, or jaded. Instead of allowing me to define who and what I am, they use their own version of who and what I am and then come to certain conclusions about me. It’s like me saying I am a cat and someone saying no you are a dog and then all their subsequent judgments about me are based on their belief that I am a dog. No matter how loud I meow, they still think I am a dog.

These kind of people think there is something wrong with me. Take my friend Bill. Here is what he said in a blog comment:

But in my not very humble opinion as a person who has known your thinking for more than 20 years (?), the topic of “god” is disturbing your mind to no good end.

Now, on one hand, Bill has known me for a long time. He lives thousands of miles away from me and we have met face-to-face one time in the late 1990’s. Years ago, I sponsored the CHARIS discussion list and Bill was a regular participant. He has, on and off, read my writing for almost 20 years. He has followed my evolution from a Calvinistic pastor to an atheist. Surely, he should “know” me, right?

While I consider Bill a friend, I would never say that Bill “knows” me. In fact, the number of people who really know me can be counted on one hand. And even then, can someone ever really completely “know” me? During the course of our friendship, Bill has mentally developed his own version of Bruce Gerencser. While this Bruce bears some resemblance to the real Bruce, it is not the real Bruce and if Bill doesn’t understand this he will likely, like in his comment above, come to a wrong conclusion about me.

I think Dale summed up things quite well when he said to Bill:

What Bruce is doing is therapeutic for him and for many of us.

Dale precisely summed up why I write. I am not sitting here raging at God. I am not, on most days, hurt, broken, damaged, angry, bitter, disillusioned, unhappy, pessimistic, or jaded. Outside of the constant pain I live with, I am quite happy. I have a wonderful marriage and family and I love interacting with my internet friends through this blog. Yes, I can go through bouts of deep depression, but people like Bill wrongly assume that my depression is driven by my questions about god and religion.  It’s not. My health problems are what drive my depression. Feel better=less depression. Lots of pain=more depression.

These days, the only time I think about God and religion is when I am writing. There are no unanswered questions for me when it comes to God. I don’t think there is a God, so this pretty well answers all the “God” questions for me. My interest in religion has more to do with sociology, philosophy, and politics, than it does anything else.

I frequently get emails, blog comments, and comments on other blogs that start with, I hope you _____________________. These people have read something I have written and have made a judgment about me. They think I am lacking in some way, and if I would just have what they are hoping I will have, then all would be well for me.  They hope I find peace, deliverance, salvation, or faith. They are internet psychiatrists who think they can discern who I really am and what my life consists of by reading a few blog posts.

I know that this is the nature of the internet. People make snap judgments about a person based on the scantiest of information. They think they “know” you after they have read 1,500 words, and they are then ready to pass judgment on what you need.  Everyone who writes in the public space faces this problem, but it doesn’t mean we have to like it.

This is me saying, I don’t like it. I am not a problem in need of solving. I am not a broken toy that needs fixed. I don’t need what my critics are hoping for me. I am quite happy with who and what I am. It is atheism that has allowed me the freedom to be who I am. I realize this presents a real problem for Evangelicals because they believe that a person can not be happy, satisfied, or at peace without Jesus. But, here I am.

One commenter stated:

Dear Bruce, I hope you are delivered from your delusions of a happy, satisfied, peaceful life. You are living in denial of how things REALLY are for you.

All I can say to this is that I am enjoying every delusional moment of this life and I suspect many of my fellow atheists are doing the same.


  1. Avatar
    Michael Mock

    Yep. Your experience and your perspective cannot possibly be what you say they are, because that would contradict the way we think things work — and that, as everyone knows, is simply not possible, since we know exactly how things work. Things that don’t fit our understanding are not wonderful and wondrous opportunities to explore new territories of thought and experience; they are terrible and terrifying dangers, since if we allowed them to be true the world itself might change.

  2. Avatar
    St Louis Mom

    I hope you…
    Live the life you want to live and find joy, happiness and contentment along the way.
    Have more better days than worse days in terms of your pain.

  3. Avatar
    Karen the rock whisperer

    Paraphrasing a meme I saw on Facebook the other day… (did you post it?) I hope you end up sliding sideways into your grave shouting “Holy Shit, what a ride!” and mean that, when all is said and done, in the most positive sense. THAT is a successful life.

  4. Avatar
    John Arthur

    Hi Bruce,

    Who is delusional? Is it the Fundamentalist who thinks the universe was created about 6000 years ago or the physicist who looks at the evidence and comes to the conclusion that the universe is about 14 billion years old? Who is delusional? Is it the Fundamentalist who believes that God commanded the mass slaughter of little children and babies based on a so-called inerrant book or the compassionate humanist who believes that it is always wrong to slaughter babies and little children?

    Who is delusional? Is it the person who is true to himself/herself or the Fundamentalist who tries (hopelessly) to be true to a book riddled with contradictions but is enslaved to their pastor’s interpretation of the so-called holy book?

    Isn’t it the Fundamentalists who are delusional and need to be delivered from their delusions, not those basing their views on science, reason and compassionate humanism?


    John Arthur

  5. Avatar

    Hi John, I would like to respond to your question: I would hazard that delusion, or imposed excess might have to do more with our individual and especially emotional needs (in terms of excess) than belief or unbelief. Does belief encourage delusion? Yes, logically it does but what about a man like my brother, who suggests that had he not become Pentecostal Christian, he would probably be in prison. In his case, his delusions/excesses may have led him into a life a crime and prison; so he believes. In choosing belief, he was able to abreact and feed his feelings in such a way that he no longer wished to harm, or at least felt able to resist acting on his feelings. Still, he practiced harsh corporal punishment on his kids and engaged in black and white thinking over many years. He remained very rigid regarding social issues, rabidly anti-gay, very role-oriented but able to help out certain needy individuals in his community in a generous fashion.
    I think you might be engaged in wishful thinking when you use the term “delivered from their delusions…” because that deliverance would not change the excess need to believe in something: Science will be under that yoke. So will Reason.
    Compassionate humanism is the natural outcome of living a balanced life, one that cares for self and others but does not insist on imposing a ‘light’ or ‘message’. Fundamentalists choose excess because they have the need, a desperate, glorious need. The blood they drink keeps them drunk enough to manage.
    According to popular religio-interpretation, our deep needs are a result of our separation from God and belief is the repair. It is a magical way of thinking based on a book that says everything and anything you please.
    Compassionate humanism seems to me to be a more natural outcome of sincere human love. When that love is experienced from womb through the early years, a person will naturally emulate it. Their good fortune! allows them to be alive without so much excess, so much anxiety, sin, backsliding, repeatedly crawling back to the boss for forgiveness and so forth. I believe that ‘moderation in all things’ is a the result of human wisdom, experience. It is not what I read in my Bible. Certainly the USA version of fundagelical belief is so far from balanced that it is quite tragic and maimed.

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