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February 13th, 2011
05:00 AM ET

My Faith: Suffering my way to a new tomorrow

Editor's Note: Rob Bell is the Founding Pastor at Mars Hill Bible Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan. His latest book and DVD are called Drops Like Stars.

By Rob Bell, Special to CNN

One Friday evening in the fall of my senior year of college I got a headache.

I took some aspirin, laid on the couch, and waited for it to go away. But it didn't; it got worse. By midnight I was in agony, and by 3 a.m. I was wondering if I was going to die.

As the sun rose, my roommate drove me to the hospital where I learned that I had viral meningitis. A neurologist explained to me that the fluid around my brain had become infected and was essentially squeezing my brain against the walls of my skull.

So that's what that was.

The doctor informed me that it would take a number of weeks in bed to recover.

This didn't fit with my plan.

I was in a band at the time. We'd been playing shows in the Chicago area for a while and had just landed our biggest club dates yet in the city - all of them scheduled over the next several weeks.

We had to cancel all of them.

As this reality hit me, laying there in that hospital bed miles from home with a brain infection, I distinctly remember asking no one in particular "Now what?"

I was devastated. This was not how it was supposed to go. The band was my life, my future, my singular focus. We had just canceled our biggest gigs ever. Eventually I recovered enough to return to school but things weren't the same. Whatever had been driving us in the band wasn't there like it had been before and so we came to the mutual conclusion that it had been great while it lasted and now it was time for the band to come to an end.

I don't think I'd ever felt more lost. I had no idea what I was going to do with my life. I had all this energy and passion and I wanted desperately to give myself to something that mattered, but I had no plan.

I would walk around campus in a daze, muttering the same prayer over and over, which took the form of "Now what?"

Do you know that feeling when you're playing soccer and you lunge for the ball but you aren't fast enough and the player on the other team has already kicked it quite hard and the ball travels with ferocious velocity and force into your groin region and you keel over, gasping for breath, your voice several octaves higher?

It was like the existential version of that.

And then, things took a strange, beautiful turn.

In the days and weeks following the band's breakup, people I barely knew would stop me out of the blue and say things like, "Have you thought about being a pastor?" Friends I hadn't talked to in months would contact me and say, "For some reason I think you're going to be a pastor."

Me, a pastor? Seriously?

The idea began to get a hold of me and it wouldn't let go. A calling welled up within me, a direction, something I could give myself to.

I tell you this story about what happened to me 19 years ago because I assume you're like me - really good at making plans and plotting and scheming and devising just how to make your life go how it's "supposed" to go.

We are masters of this. We know exactly how things are supposed to turn out.

And then we suffer. There's a disruption - death, disease, job loss, heartbreak, betrayal or  bankruptcy.

The tomorrow we were expecting disappears. And we have no other plan.

Suffering is traumatic and awful and we get angry and we shake our fists at the heavens and we vent and rage and weep. But in the process we discover a new tomorrow, one we never would have imagined otherwise.

I have interacted with countless people over the years who, when asked to identify key moments, turning points, and milestones in their lives, usually talk about terribly difficult, painful things. And they usually say something along the lines of "I never would have imagined that would happen to me."

Imagined is a significant word here. Suffering, it turns out, demands profound imagination. A new future has to be conjured up because the old future isn't there anymore.

Now I realize that what happened to me - the fluid around my brain swelling up and squeezing it against the walls of my skull - is nothing compared to the pain and tragedy many people live with every day.

But that experience irrevocably altered my life. Nothing was ever the same again. My plans fell apart, which opened me up to entirely new future.

This truth, about the latent seeds of creativity being planted in the midst of suffering, takes us deep into the heart of the Christian faith. We are invited to trust that in the moments when we are most inclined to despair, when all appears lost and we can't imagine any way forward - that it is precisely in those moments when something new may be about to be birthed.

Jesus hangs naked and bloody on a cross, alone and abandoned by his students, scorned by the crowd, and yet defiant, confident, insistent that God is present in his agony, bringing about a whole new world, right here in the midst of this one.

This is a mystery, and one we are wise to reflect on it, because of the countless disruptions we experience all the time.

God is in those moments, grieving with us, shedding tears with us, feeling that pain and turmoil with us, and then inviting to trust that something good can come from even this.

So keep your eyes and your heart open.  Be quick to listen and slow to make rash judgments about how it's "all going to turn out," because you never know when you'll find yourself miles from home, laying in a hospital bed with a bad case of brain squeeze, all of your plans crashing down around you, wondering how it all went wrong, only to discover that a whole new life is just beginning.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Rob Bell.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Christianity • Church • Journeys • Opinion

soundoff (242 Responses)
  1. Camille

    We are all sinners. That is why there are so many problems in the world, and always will be until Jesus returns. Jesus died for our sins. God gave his only son to die for us because of "humanity's" sins, starting with Adam and Eve in the Garden. Just read Genesis and the rest of the Bible. We each have sins because noone is perfect but Jesus. Here are some great books to read: The Reason for God, by Timothy Keller; Vintage Jesus by Marc Driscoll. I pray that if you are not yet a Christian, you will think about these things.

    February 13, 2011 at 1:17 pm |
    • Don

      Sin is part of YOUR myth. Keep that sick, demented, antihuman nonsense to yourself.

      February 13, 2011 at 1:45 pm |
  2. Zone

    To the author- it is a well established medical fact that meningitis, or meningoencephalitis (n which the brain is infected, particularly with herpes viruses) can lead to hyperreligious epileptiform (seizure) like activity. Your "calling" could very much be a biological/infectious diseases issue.

    February 13, 2011 at 12:44 pm |
    • Maybe

      Zone,

      Yes, and this has been alleged to be the cause of Paul of Tarsus' giant zealotry.... add in his powerful personality and excellent, innovative PR skills and we have Christianity.

      February 13, 2011 at 1:29 pm |
  3. Brandon

    Go Pagan!

    February 13, 2011 at 12:44 pm |
  4. right on

    Jesus is shafting all of you poor sinner with his fat roster.

    February 13, 2011 at 12:33 pm |
  5. April

    Hey, everyone, let's not use this article as a way to prove/disprove or argue for or against God's existence. This article was written by a Christian to other Christians or faith seekers, not as a treatise on the existence of God. So, everybody, let's chill out.

    Aside from that – Rob Bell, you have a way of saying things that leave an impact. Thank you for writing something that is actually meaningul for CNN's religion blog.

    February 13, 2011 at 12:31 pm |
    • David Johnson

      @April

      You said: "Hey, everyone, let's not use this article as a way to prove/disprove or argue for or against God's existence. "

      The article itself is a commercial for belief in god. I, like many others, like to point out alternate points of view.

      Sorry, I think it important to poke holes in believer's delusions. Not for the hard core believers, but for the undecided onlooker.

      I hope to save them, before they drink the Kool Aid.

      Cheers!

      February 13, 2011 at 12:48 pm |
  6. atheistforjesus

    Question. What kind of a god would cause you to suffer unspeakably then take credit for alleviating the same suffering?

    February 13, 2011 at 12:16 pm |
    • right on

      The same kind christians worship, one that sticks his shaft up your a..zz while he laughs at your missery.

      February 13, 2011 at 12:32 pm |
    • Culture Bearer

      Good question. I've always wondered that. We pray to God to make us better, and thank God when we get better. But if we get sick and die, we don't blame God. Did he not do both on purpose?

      February 13, 2011 at 12:58 pm |
  7. Carla Everett

    Wow! This column hit with great force, as I was forced to retire from the job I loved by a new boss who told me I was "too old and ugly for my job," "stupd" and a "Nazi" (those words hurt the most). Although I–and 12 other people who were mistreated by the new boss–reported his actions to our Human Resources officer and to the commissioners who ran our state agency, nothing was done.

    During the past year, I've gone through many of those same emotions of "now what?" Life works great when it goes according to plan...but plans don't always continue, and that's when faith and learning kicks in. During the past year, I've
    really LISTENED to the pain others have gone through as life throws a curve ball...and it has taught me lessons my old
    job never could have, even if I'd stayed another 10 years.

    February 13, 2011 at 12:00 pm |
    • David Johnson

      @Carla Everett

      You should see an attorney.

      If you have any doc_umentation, take it with you.

      Contact the 12 other employees who experienced harassment. If what you say is true, a number of lawyers would take your case for a portion of the settlement

      Good Luck!

      Cheers!

      February 13, 2011 at 12:43 pm |
  8. monster

    God is bread.

    February 13, 2011 at 11:58 am |
    • David Johnson

      @monster

      You said: "God is bread."

      Yes, and also wine, evidently.

      Cheers!

      February 13, 2011 at 12:52 pm |
  9. Kango

    Wonderful commentary

    February 13, 2011 at 11:54 am |
  10. pierg6

    It was John Lennon who said: Life is what happens while we're making other plans.

    February 13, 2011 at 11:52 am |
  11. lance corporal

    THE GUY GOT SICK, IT HAPPENS..... he actually sounds like a cry baby, walking around campus not knowing what to do (and apparently just rolling around in it) oh no the band broke up...... and c'mon is it really that unusual for a young person to question what to do with their lives? is it really a harrowing experience? I thought it was a question most if not all young people have to deal with..... and the bit about people coming up to him saying he should be a pastor just reeks of fiction, it just doesn't sound real, there is a huge gap in the story there and it seems as if the author is creating a story for himself, trying to create passion where in reality is just A JOB CHOICE. great you failed as a musician and are apparently incredibly self obsessed and like to make a big deal out of ...... the stuff that happens in life.... so you look at it access your skills, hmmm, I'm good at telling stories and BSing people.... oh I know I'll become a preacher.
    people this is not a personal achievement story, this is a veiled advertising campaign for his "ministry" this guy will be using this CNN published article for the next 5 years to push the "donations" at his "church" .
    he made a freakin JOB CHOICE after seeing waaaaay too much in to a serious illness and the unheard of experience and tragedy of a band break up...... .
    this is just one more self obsessed tool who is fooling the weak in to paying his living with out having to actually work a real job, he's just another snake oil saleman

    February 13, 2011 at 11:47 am |
    • WarOfKings

      You missed the point of the article. Good job, marine! Now go and get my beach back, I want to be sipping martinis by three o'clock.

      February 13, 2011 at 1:01 pm |
  12. Hawkeye1012

    God is all knowing and eternally loving. He also gave us free will. But if you choose to exercise that free will and doubt his existence, you will spend eternity burning in agony. Nice.

    February 13, 2011 at 11:29 am |
    • Brandon

      Nah, your Christian god is worthless.

      February 13, 2011 at 12:46 pm |
    • Maybe

      Hawkeye1012,

      Your "God", if omniscient, as claimed, knew everyone's eventual fate at the moment of 'creation'... your free will is then an illusion... wishful thinking. Good luck with that...

      February 13, 2011 at 12:55 pm |
    • Culture Bearer

      Why is belief in God necessary? Really, why? Doesn't God want us to be good and be kind to each other? If we do that without believing, why would a loving God still send us to hell? I know lots of people who "believe," but who are horrible to others. Are they safe from hell? Seriously, wouldn't any good God prefer a non-believer who lives a good life over a believer who acts like a jerk?

      February 13, 2011 at 12:56 pm |
    • Maybe

      p.s. Ah, and 'all-loving'... created the damned anyway 😦

      February 13, 2011 at 12:56 pm |
  13. Red

    Are you guys kidding?

    This article was posted on the Belief Blog. It is about religion, which Christianity is. It covered Islam twice in the past 5 articles, so it is not simply a "Christian" blog either. Stop whining about "biased reporting."

    Second, stop using the straw man and ad hominem arguments. These are both ways to avoid dealing with the issues Christianity purports. Pat Robertson and others are not representative of the religious system of Christianity anymore than WWE and Greco-Roman wrestling. And, just because Atheists/Agnostics don't believe in Christianity does not mean they are living sad, pathetic lives.

    If you guys want to debate religion, this is certainly the place to do it, but at least TRY to be civil, shall we?

    February 13, 2011 at 11:14 am |
    • JoanOlsson

      Thank you. Well said.

      February 13, 2011 at 11:19 am |
    • graceonfire

      Agreed, Red. Though I am a follower of Christ, I like to read articles about other beliefs as well. Mostly it's my curiousity about what others believe. But when I do read about other beliefs, I refrain from jumping on to comment about why they are "wrong." It must be because something tells me I may perceive the beliefs of another to be "wrong" mostly because they may differ from my beliefs. The beauty of it is, I still believe what I believe, even though I am not bashing other people. I tend to think my own beliefs are to be used as a guideline of how to live my own life, not to run someone elses life. For some reason, I am not threatened by the beliefs that differ from my own. Crazy, huh?

      February 13, 2011 at 11:41 am |
    • rodneycolma

      I have a question.. is this faith and belief blog dedicated only to Christianity? And why is cnn, the news site, featuring this on their front page?

      February 13, 2011 at 11:51 am |
  14. daughter of God

    Jesus died in our place, because of our sin. Jesus could have summoned 10,000 angels to get him off that cross, but he chose to fulfill the scripture, as you'll read in the old testament. Rob, I say amen to your commentary, life sure does throw us some curves, God doesn't promise to take away our trials, but he is with us through them. God knows the big picture, all we have to do is trust Him and hold on. Thanks Rob:)

    February 13, 2011 at 11:06 am |
    • David Johnson

      @daughter of God

      Umm... Actually, there is no evidence that Jesus ever existed. Only the Gospels tell of Him. And they were written to "prove" Jesus was the Messiah and establish the Christian Religion. Paul was more the father of Christianity than Jesus. Pauline Christianity is what most Christians practice today.

      There are no secular writings of Jesus, that are not later insertions or heresay. Most writings, were written by men who were born after Jesus was dead. Can you say heresay?

      Cheers!

      February 13, 2011 at 12:35 pm |
    • Maybe

      David Johnson,

      Good post. I wholeheartedly agree, as I do with most of your writings.

      (just a fyi, pssst: it's 'hearsay', not 'heresay' - you know, like, hear it, say it)

      (but I still can't figure out if that other old saying is supposed to be "Here, here" or "Hear, Hear"?)

      February 13, 2011 at 12:50 pm |
    • Culture Bearer

      Jesus died for me? Why? Because of my sin? I wasn't even born yet. This makes NO sense. These "bumper sticker" comments are recited by supposed Christians all the time, and they just don't make sense. You want me to believe that he could have avoided being tortured, but both he and his daddy thought it was a good idea? And exactly how does that make me better off than if he had called the 10,000 angels to save him? Now THAT would have been impressive!

      February 13, 2011 at 12:52 pm |
    • David Johnson

      @Maybe

      Thank you for the correction. I have a mental block about that word. I know better, but when I am typing I always type heresay instead of hearsay. I will try harder!

      Mea Culpa, Mea Culpa, Mea Maxima Culpa

      Cheers to you!

      February 13, 2011 at 12:58 pm |
    • David Johnson

      @Maybe

      Sorry, forgot your question...

      You asked: "but I still can't figure out if that other old saying is supposed to be "Here, here" or "Hear, Hear"?"

      I think it is "Hear, Hear" – Short for "Hear him, Hear him!"

      If I used the expression in one of my posts, I would probably blow it and use "Here, Here". *sigh*

      Cheers!

      February 13, 2011 at 1:11 pm |
  15. Dee

    I agree with others who have wondered why this is on CNN. I come here for news and this is not news. Like countless others, Rob overcame his adversity through the strength of his own will and determination.

    February 13, 2011 at 10:50 am |
    • JoanOlsson

      Like you, Dee, I'm also amazed that this is on CNN. Unlike you, I'm glad it is. The editors at CNN appear to be more tolerant and open-minded than you.

      February 13, 2011 at 11:17 am |
    • graceonfire

      Hi Dee, you look a little lost. This is the CNN "Belief Blog," which focuses on articles about faith and belief. I know, how quaint and old fashioned, huh? If you want the usual murder, death, kill stories, you can go to the top of the page on the info bar and choose the "home" option. It's on the top left of the page. It will take you to the homepage, where you can find all the usual death, destruction, and current gore your little heart desires. Happy reading!

      February 13, 2011 at 11:34 am |
    • rodneycolma

      I have a question.. is this faith and belief blog dedicated only to Christianity? And why is cnn, the news site, featuring this on their front page?

      February 13, 2011 at 11:50 am |
    • David Johnson

      @rodneycolma

      CNN has many articles about Muslims. Go back through the blogs.

      Most people in the U. S. are Christian. Why would you wonder, that most of the blogs are about Christianity?

      I think CNN does a really good job of selecting stories.

      Cheers!

      February 13, 2011 at 12:29 pm |
  16. Thomas Barnett

    "Jesus hangs naked and bloody on a cross ... insistent that God is present in his agony". According to the Bible, this is incorrect. While he was on the cross, Jesus said, "My God My God, why hast thou forsaken me". If this wasn't true, then Jesus was wrong and He can't be our infallible Savior. Pastor Bell has a right to whatever theology he wants, but he shouldn't call it "Christianity". He is just another proponent of modern "feel good" theology which is Christian in name only.

    February 13, 2011 at 10:35 am |
    • lance corporal

      agreed because real christians shouldn't feel good, they need to be focused on their sin and how bad they are...

      February 13, 2011 at 11:51 am |
    • Daughter Of God

      Jesus died in our place, because of our sin. Jesus could have summoned 10,000 angels to get him off that cross, but he chose to fulfill the scripture, as you'll read in the old testament. Rob, I say amen to your commentary, life sure does throw us some curves, God doesn't promise to take away our trials, but he is with us through them. God knows the big picture, all we have to do is trust Him and hold on. Thanks Rob:)

      February 13, 2011 at 1:31 pm |
    • NL

      Daughter Of God-
      Before Jesus people just died and that was an end to them, right? Now they can live eternally focused on worshipping God 24/7/infinity. Sounds good for God, but I just can't see any advantage for the human. I'd rather just die than serve as some kind of worship fuel. Reminds me too much of the Matrix movies. Just a pathetic existence outside of reality.

      February 14, 2011 at 11:55 am |
  17. Vera Waitress

    The Bible and Q'uran are both the worst screenplays I've ever read. At least the bible has an Act 1, Act 2, Act 3 structure, but it has way too many characters and is way over 100 pages. It's going to need a lot of work if this thing is greenlit.

    February 13, 2011 at 10:34 am |
    • graceonfire

      Uh, that may be because they are not "screenplays." But since everything these days is reduced to what its worth as entertainment value, I can see why you are confused. Obviously you are a frustrated actress wannabe, who's just waitressing to pay the bills until the big break comes along....

      February 13, 2011 at 11:30 am |
    • rodneycolma

      uh, I believe that's Vera's ironic point.

      February 13, 2011 at 11:48 am |
  18. Matt

    Please. All you "god is great, he gives us a purpose even when we don't immediately recognize it" people have got to shove it. God's a figment of your imagination that you create because you're too much of a coward to recognize that the void of answers is just that: a void.

    So, why should I care if you want to believe in a false reality if it helps you sleep better at night. Because religion is destroying the world, and has compromised the standard of living for me and all those people and creatures that I KNOW do exist.

    February 13, 2011 at 10:31 am |
    • andy

      sad sad sad matt.. what a pitiful existence you must have

      February 13, 2011 at 10:59 am |
    • booschnache

      You do know that the leading slave abolitionists in the1800s were all Christians led by their religious convictions?

      February 13, 2011 at 11:05 am |
    • JoanOlsson

      Someday, Matt, you will face that figment – and you won't be able to say you weren't warned.

      February 13, 2011 at 11:11 am |
    • Ozzi

      Did you know most of the slaves released were illiterate and unskilled? That was 18 million people thrown out into the streets with no place to go. This is why we are still a mess today because crime and poverty are handed down generation to generation. That's what religions count on so they always have a forced audience for their show. Enjoy your non-profit tax free status while you can, murderers. You are just like the slave-owners except you don't give back anything of value. At least, slaves had clothes, homes, food, and a job. You offer nothing except a non-existent afterlife when you have used everyone up. Monsters all of you.

      February 13, 2011 at 11:18 am |
    • graceonfire

      You can read my previous post to booonache regarding my take on belief. If you cared so much about the creatures who exist, you wouldn't be so eager to tear down and ridicule beliefs that do something as simple as "help them sleep at night." As for organized religion, humans are humans, and if various people in assorted organized religions weren't using religion to try to rule the world, they would just find something else to justify their causes. Communism was anti-religion, and that didn't seem to help the creatures who already exist either. Any system of belief can be used to evil ends. Thats people for you, religion doesn't make people that way. It just happens to be something that can be used to justify said evil. Sad fact, but true. Nothing is going to cure the problem of humans acting like the animals they refuse to acknowledge they are. Not even God or religion.

      February 13, 2011 at 11:26 am |
    • pete

      I'm not religious either- but why is your place to crap all over someone who is?- this is a free country- people can believe and worship as they please...and as far as someone else's belief somehow holding you back- what a cop out! talk about being a coward.

      February 13, 2011 at 11:32 am |
    • David Johnson

      @booschnache

      Acually, the American Civil War had leaders and ministers on both sides telling their followers that God was with them, with southern preachers reminding their flocks that God was in favor of slavery.

      Lots of scripture for the southern preachers to quote from. Lordy! God doesn't appear to be a respecter of human lives at all! He kills men, women and children (including babies), and allows His creations to own each other. Nasty.

      Why not in the ten commandments, couldn't god have replaced "keeping Sunday holy", with "you can't own each other"?

      It is almost as if men and not god were the authors of the bible... No, that's crazy talk!

      Any way, there were religious people on both sides of slavery. Each believing that god was with them! Go God!

      No one heard from god, either way. The matter was settled in blood. Lots of blood.

      Cheers!

      February 13, 2011 at 12:03 pm |
    • David Johnson

      @Ozzi

      You said: "Did you know most of the slaves released were illiterate and unskilled? "

      Yeah, but they were FREE! My master's gone away – Me singing!

      Blacks in this nation have had a hard candy Christmas. No doubt about it. Brave people like Rosa Parks and Dr. King have helped to bring equality to the blacks. In 1964 Lyndon Johnson worked hard to make Civil Rights a reality. The bible belt turned from blue to red over the issue.

      Now in 2011, we are still fighting for Civil Rights, for the Gays. The religious are still using scripture from the bible to prevent gays from having what is their right. Just as they did, to justify slavery.

      So, god has spoken, and His word is recorded in the bible. And humans suffer and bleed for them.

      Cheers!

      February 13, 2011 at 12:20 pm |
    • booschnache

      @ David Johnson.

      I do agree with you that their were people on both sides of the fence saying that God was for slavery or against. I was simply making the point to Matt that religion wasn't destroying the world. All religions have some element of truth in them. Some of them have truth but also perversion. Frederick Douglass said the Christianity of the "South" was far different than the Christianity of what Christ taught in the Bible.

      What you had was two groups of "Christians" fighting a stance on slavery. One was selfless and one was selfish.

      February 13, 2011 at 4:06 pm |
    • Nonimus

      @booschnache,
      So are you saying the "northern Christianity" was the perverted one?

      February 13, 2011 at 5:54 pm |
  19. The Buddha

    No one know anything for certain. You can take comfort in that little bit of information because it means no one is necessarily right, and no one is necessarily wrong. Yet you cannot ignore the basic laws of reality and the universe. To live is to suffer, suffering exists everywhere, and in it lies our greatest teacher. The hard part for people is to take a step back from themselves. When your taught to be a Christian your whole life you have a hard time of taking a step back from yourself to examine things, to look for yourself instead through a book or someone else. It is hard for me to fathom a person living their entire life out of a book that was written quite a while back before everyone living today was born. Same goes for an religion that lives out of a book. I was raised in the catholic church but from an early age was exposed to Buddhism and Daoism through martial arts, and my I feel personally more attracted to them for their honest truth which can be experienced by yourself personally. I feel that there are too many flaws in the Abrahamic religions to be totally viable. Their "it's my way or the highway" sounds more psychotic to me than anything; and many times when they open their mouths they come off as brainwashed peons akin to what Nazis used to be under HItler. What is my excuse? Either I'm too intelligent or I think to abstractly to be stuck inside a book. Is that my fault? Should I burn in hell for that? If there is a God in it's all-compassionate power, why would it damn me for eternity when I have done nothing to no one? Close your books, go outside and sit in the grass and feel the sun. Mitakuyeh oyasin.

    February 13, 2011 at 10:29 am |
    • Matt

      Well said friend, well said.

      February 13, 2011 at 11:44 am |
    • Matt

      And no, I am not the same "Matt" which is the person writing all these angry comments about his posts. You can call me Matt2.

      February 13, 2011 at 11:46 am |
    • graceonfire

      You have found something that works for you. Good for you, my friend. Perhaps your gentle words of encouragement will lead another to peace of heart and clarity of mind. We can only hope. As for myself, I love God. Love to read about Him, think about Him. It brings me peace. It saddens me to see the things that have been done and are still done in His name by misguided or calculating humans to further their own agendas. But that is not my God. I decided to look for God on my own terms. I utilize religion as a guide, but my blind faith is in God, not the devices of men. If I can't make sense of other human constructs, why should I blindly accept the regurgitated beliefs of other humans as my own? I'm not a baby bird. I am a child of God. I am not implying you or anyone else automatically accepts "wrong" beliefs because you may follow an organized religion. I follow Christianity, but do not choose a "denomination." I don't think Christ does denominations, but I'm not 100% sure. I think organized religion is merely a tool, for good or for ill.

      February 13, 2011 at 12:26 pm |
    • "NOT ALL WHO WANDER ARE LOST"

      The Buddha........
      I feel that there are too many flaws in the Abrahamic religions to be totally viable. Their "it's my way or the highway" sounds more psychotic to me than anything; and many times when they open their mouths they come off as brainwashed peons akin to what Nazis used to be under HItler. What is my excuse? Either I'm too intelligent or I think to abstractly to be stuck inside a book. Is that my fault? Should I burn in hell for that? If there is a God in it's all-compassionate power, why would it damn me for eternity when I have done nothing to no one? Close your books, go outside and sit in the grass and feel the sun. Mitakuyeh oyasin. you couldn't have said it better my friend!

      February 13, 2011 at 12:44 pm |
    • Laurie

      Dear "The Buddha"- Buddhism and Toaism both have a book of teachings too, that's probably where you learned about the traditions from.

      February 13, 2011 at 1:02 pm |
    • kbaries

      Wow...can I use your comments and post it somewhere (maybe my blog or facebook)??

      February 13, 2011 at 8:46 pm |
  20. booschnache

    Man, I'm so glad everyone has everything figured out...a bunch of smarties commenting on this article.
    There is no God and I hate Him.

    February 13, 2011 at 10:21 am |
    • graceonfire

      How can you say you hate Him if you don't believe He exists? I do believe He exists. But I gave up the "I'm angry and I hate you and I'm going to pretend you don't exist!" game with God. All that bitterness was making me miserable. I decided instead to try to put aside all the things everyone else was telling me I "had to" believe where God is concerned. That meant reading, studying, and thinking about God, Christ, and religion on my own, and coming to my own conclusions. I stopped leaving it up to others to rely on what God "means." I came to the conclusion that any organized religion is based a great deal on humans interpreting what God and various prophets "mean." Since God is omnipotent, and all knowing, how could any human mind in its inherently limited understanding even begin to fathom God in His entirety? For me this means using religion as a guide, not a crutch. Religion is not God, and God cannot be reduced to an intellectual argument to be won or lost. He is also not a sugar daddy who answers every prayer by giving us everything we ask for. It took a long time for me to make peace with God. I had to accept that all the anger and bitterness in the world wasn't going to force God to give in to my demands to prove He exists by making everything in life automatically better. I do not believe for one moment that I have all the answers, and everything is peachy keen because I'm "saved." Life is still full of problems that are fraught with moral and ethical dilemmas. Its just that now when I try to navigate through life, I accept that I am not alone. Atheists – people who are very sure they are alone on their journey through life, and who are very angry and bitter about it. That's why they can't stop talking about and let go of the God they are sure does not exist.

      February 13, 2011 at 11:19 am |
    • David Johnson

      @graceonfire

      You said: "Atheists – people who are very sure they are alone on their journey through life, and who are very angry and bitter about it. That's why they can't stop talking about and let go of the God they are sure does not exist."

      I am not angry because I do not believe in god. I am not angry because I do not believe in Santa either. I just don't think either of them exists.

      In actuality, everyone is alone on their journey through life. Some just choose to fashion a crutch from a nonexistent deity.

      Then when the dog bites or the bee stings, it doesn't seem quite so bad. – Me singing!

      You said: "Its just that now when I try to navigate through life, I accept that I am not alone."

      Yep, lean on that crutch! Don't think. Just believe. And ignore all the suffering and injustice that an all good god would want to eliminate. And an all powerful god could eliminate.

      God, I envy you! I can't stop using critical thinking.

      Cheers!

      February 13, 2011 at 11:46 am |
    • Matt

      Graceonfire, from previous posts I believed you to be one of the few outspoken proponents of god/religion who also succeeded in not castigating us atheists. But this post shows me that you really have no understanding of atheists' basic platform. No, we don't believe we're going through life "alone," we have just as many loved ones, families we adore and friends as you do. If you define being alone as being without god, well, then I feel sorry for you.

      Furthermore, being atheist has nothing to do with being bitter. It has to do with recognizing the validity of empirical evidence. The religious community's insistence that atheism has anything to do with being "lost" is one of those things we just have to chuckle at and say, "you just don't get it, do you?" Clearly, you must know our mindset better than we do...

      February 13, 2011 at 12:12 pm |
    • NL

      graceonfire-
      "That's why they can't stop talking about and let go of the God they are sure does not exist."

      I guess conservatives who can't stop talking about liberal ideals must actually, secretly be angry and bitter about their own beliefs, eh?

      February 14, 2011 at 11:45 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.