What I did this weekend »« Wielding your sword by the blade

The dreaded burnout

I guess I can’t deny it: I’ve hit the wall again. I’ve come to dread the thought of writing another blog article, even if it’s only once per week. It’s time for a hiatus.

I’ve had this sort of experience before, and it generally resolves on its own after a while. Basically, what I’m going to do at this point is blog only when I feel like blogging. Given the current state of my feelings, that’s likely to be fairly rare, at least in the near term. But an explicit lack of commitment is part of what gives me room to regenerate. So with apologies to my readers and the FtB blog network, I’m hitting the “on hold” button, at least for now.For anyone who’s wondering why and what’s up, I can give a couple reasons. One is my day job. We have a new boss who is very progressive and who openly encourages us to fix what’s broken in our current system instead of just working around things for the sake of backwards compatibility. That’s unbelievably awesome, and it’s soaking up about 12-14 hours of my work day (enthusiastically given). By the time the weekend hits, I’ve got about enough mental reserves left to just about tolerate levelling up my fishing skills in Warcraft. That’s probably going to be status quo for at least the next 10 months, but perhaps the stress level will go down sooner than that.

The other factor is that finally, after some 40 years, I think I’m really and truly over Jesus. It was just about 40 years ago that I personally encountered Jesus—or at least, the idea of Jesus—and I believed it. I gave my life to it. But it never really worked. I developed my own personal set of rationalizations and workarounds, as all believers do, but my belief system was designed in such a way that it couldn’t really function without actual divine power behind it. In the absence of any deity to keep it running, it finally collapsed a little over 12 years ago.

I was not yet over Jesus, though. Following my deconversion, Jesus still dominated my life, my thoughts, and my feelings. He had merely become my target instead of my lord. I started blogging in part out of a desire to tear down the deception that had caused me so much frustration and grief over the years, both as a believer and as an unbeliever. But I also started blogging in order to engage some of the best apologetic arguments that were out there, to see if there was somehow some evidence or argument I had overlooked. I was (and still am) open to any evidence of God that doesn’t boil down to merely placing a gullible trust in the words and feelings of men.

The recent series on presuppositional apologetics, over at Evangelical Realism, has been a kind of last straw, as it were. I’m sure there are apologetic arguments out there that I still have not heard, but if they were better than the ones I have heard, they’d have displaced the shoddier arguments by now. And they haven’t. I’ve looked at the subjectivist arguments and the philosophical arguments and the pseudo-scientific arguments and the mystical arguments and many more. I’ve had a taste of about every flavor of apologetic there is. And they’re uniformly the same. Sincere men and women, committed to an idea, and willing to adopt any idea or illogic necessary to reassure themselves that they are right, regardless of internal and external inconsistencies in their beliefs.

And with that, I’ve reached the stage where Jesus is just “been there, done that.” Blogging has become a chore because my core topic was picking apart the arguments for God, and I’ve run out of arguments that aren’t reruns. Indeed, a bunch of it doesn’t have any substance to pick apart, like Pastor Feinstein’s vapid crowing about how atheism was utterly demolished just because he had made some bizarre and self-contradictory assumptions. If it gets that monotonous to write, I can’t imagine how boring it must be to read.

So I need a new core, and I don’t know how long it will take me to find one. But bear with me; I should be back before too much longer. Thanks for reading, and y’all take care.

Comments

  1. grumpyoldfart says

    I’ve been an atheist all my life but some of your insights were brand new to me. Thanks for everything.

  2. JimBobalubob says

    Rest up, Deacon…I have loved following your blog the past couple of years. The organization of your thoughts, the attention to detail, your ability to clearly communicate concepts to a lay audience and call foul on so many assertions, hand-waving and semantics have made this blog one of my favorites. I’ll be watching for your re-appearance one day.

    Take care!

  3. Nick Gotts (formerly KG) says

    @1,
    Yes, I’ve been one for nearly half a century, but have also benefited from this blog – I particularly enjoyed the recent series on Justin Martyr.

  4. says

    Thanks again for your insights and perseverance. I started following you with your series on Craig’s book “On Guard” over at Evangelical Realism. It is a treasure. I can see how the logical conclusion of the intellectual journey out of theism is something like “wow, this stuff is really vacuous!” if (when) you decide to come back, I’ll be back as well.

  5. says

    As an afterthought – you could share a few thoughts on what you’re doing in real life. After all, hearing about what inspires you in real life can be inspiring to others!

  6. says

    I’ve looked forward to your posts every week. You have clarified several issues for me.

    I have been “over” Jesus for some years now, but it was good to sort out the philosophical issues; those I had barely looked at. And I thoroughly enjoyed your examination of Justin Martyr.

    But I agree, Feinstein was enough to induce burnout in writer and readers alike.

    I’ll be looking forward to your posts when you’re ready to start again.

  7. Artor says

    As a 30 year atheist, I’ve been enjoying your rigorously intellectual takedown of various apologists. Feinstein’s piece was a particularly good example of so many logical fallacies that your rebuttals have been an education in logic & rhetoric. Take your time to rest, but I hope you get the fire in your belly soon and come back to kick some ass again!

  8. Otto Tellick says

    I’m hoping that every now and then something about religion will come up in the news and will induce you to explore and comment. Religion seems to be getting more and more active coverage in the press these days, so it’s getting harder to ignore. For example, just this morning there was a long article in the Sunday “Currents” (opinion) section of the Philadelphia Inquirer about one Rev. Hal Taussig, who will be publishing a book called “A New New Testament”, presenting an additional 10 “books” that were either not known of or were simply set aside in the canonization of the “old” New Testament – Taussig’s opus comes as a result of his convening “a council of 20 spiritual leaders.” Seems like the kind of thing you might have some fun with, if/when you can get around to it…

    Anyway, I’ll keep checking for your next post, whatever it is. Thanks for all you’ve done so far, and good luck making the day job all that it should be (and not too much more than that).

  9. Aaron says

    I’ve enjoyed your philosophical take on the arguments quite a lot, and appreciate the posts. Have a good time FISHIN’!

  10. Nemo says

    As long as your archives stay up, this will still be one of the first places I send someone to sow the seeds of doubt, or encourage their growth.

    I think I first came to you through

    “How God really ‘works'”

    It still packs a punch.

    (This comment looks bizarre in the preview; I hope it comes out OK.)

  11. says

    I have been following your blog for only a couple of years but your influence on my thinking will last me much longer. Enjoy your rest and I will continue reading your older posts and maybe I will be caught up by the time you come back.

    Thank you for your time and effort. I’m sure we all appreciate what you have done for us.

  12. Len says

    Thanks for your excellent insights and demolitions of apologetic rubbish. Take your time, enjoy your fishing.

  13. says

    When I was going through my deconversion I was reading apologetics stuff hoping it’d save my faith. Your deconstruction of “On Guard” by William Lane Craig at Evangelical Realism really was a breath of fresh air every Sunday when a new post went up.

    If you need to take a break, or even stop, go for it. It’s quite clear you’ve helped a lot of us with what you’ve written.

  14. Brian M says

    Take a needed and deserved break for certain. Like the other commenters here, I have enjoyed the clear, logical takedowns of apologetics!

  15. says

    Looks like I am just finding your blog as you are taking a break. I, too, will look forward to your return.
    Indeed, taking a break to re-focus is a key element in growing past any kind of burnout.
    Your ideas resonated with me. I think it is possible to be “post-Christian” and have a spiritual center without taking on all of the baggage and labels of “atheist,” “agnostic,” “Christian,” “Theist.” By a spiritual center, I simply mean an acknowledgment that there is something larger than any one of us. That “something larger” could be called God, or The Universe, or even humankind, Love, goodness. It is simply an organizing “hub” for the wheel of life.
    The frustration for me with various philosophies (although I enjoy the intellectual exercise) is that they end of being so much masturbation. Getting all worked up, and for what? :-) I found that in coming through my own personal, professional, and blogging burnout, that I was tired of so much thinking and was ready to DO something. The question became more about “How shall I live?” and “What choices will I make?” For me, the center has become kindness, gratitude, love.
    There’s an old saying from somewhere (how’s that for a citation?) that says all religions are like fingers pointing at the moon. The problem with religion is that people worship the finger, instead of that to which it points. I find that kindness, gratitude, and love are qualities that I can practice and take into the world, my world.
    It is also true in my experience that it is much more energizing to be for something, rather than against something. As you take this time to re-frame your self-expression and search for what you are for, I feel certain that the stream of words will once again begin to flow. I look forward to reading more of you.

    • John Morales says

      MaryBeth:

      Your ideas resonated with me. I think it is possible to be “post-Christian” and have a spiritual center without taking on all of the baggage and labels of “atheist,” “agnostic,” “Christian,” “Theist.” By a spiritual center, I simply mean an acknowledgment that there is something larger than any one of us. That “something larger” could be called God, or The Universe, or even humankind, Love, goodness. It is simply an organizing “hub” for the wheel of life.

      Alethea who?

  16. Tony Hoffman says

    You are a beautiful writer whose posts have helped me to clarify my thoughts. But I think that when talented writers are not compelled to write, they should not write.

    I sense an abatement in the quality of online discourse between theists and atheists, and I have allowed myself to wonder if this is because a turning point has been reached. It’s possible (and flattering to you) that the case has been made so overwhelmingly clear that there is little to explore but mopping up operations.

    Just please don’t ever announce your retirement, or deliver pronouncements that would make it harder for you to return to writing on a topic. I have seen other other great bloggers do that (in a kind of over-reaction), only to discover that there are tasks still to accomplish, and I hate having to see them sheepishly re-appear and stab out their thoughts. I’m grateful for your contributions, whether they be regular or entirely sporadic.

  17. says

    Thank you, Deacon Duncan, for the past couple of years in which I’ve followed your blogs and been guided through the world of Christian apologetics. It’s a lonely road, and it really helped to have somebody there to tell me “yes, I see it too”, since I often started to wonder if I was just crazy or blind when trying to fathom just how anyone else could take these absurd arguments seriously. Tackling William Lane Craig was painful as a reader, so I can imagine how hard it was for you to keep slogging through that for our benefit. Take care, and hopefully we’ll see you around.

  18. MURK says

    Duncan have a good rest – i hope you find rest – but it must be given thus you
    must receive (Matt 11:26)

    i am sorry if truth was misrepresented to you in your earlier days

    But 40 years attempting to eradicate what is in your mind a figment of imagination is
    a tiring endeavor

    should be clear that you can\t win – God cannot be mocked

    and refutes a lot of your arguments / attacks against Christians

    may He show up in the fishing

    take care

    murk

    • Deacon Duncan says

      I had a great rest, thanks. You are correct that the truth was misrepresented to me during the 40 years I was a Christian, and it was an awfully tiring endeavor–like all Christians I ended up manufacturing my own “spiritual” experiences and “answers” to prayer, and then giving the credit to God. He didn’t even show up to take the credit for the works of men, men have to give it to Him. Imaginary friends are all right, I suppose, but they’re so passive.

      Fortunately, those labors ended when I finally cleared my mind of the words and teachings of men, as recorded in the Bible, styled by men as being “the Word of God.” Once I was willing and able to consider Christian teachings in the light of infallible reality, my life became so much easier, because I no longer had to wrestle with trying to reconcile and rationalize all the internal and external contradictions in what I believed. Reason and order are inherent in reality itself, and by forsaking the vain self-deceits of men, and trusting only in reality, I found how wonderfully easy it can be to make sense of the universe, at least relative to the tangled web of superstitious theology.

      Sadly, most mockery of God comes from unwitting Christians, who unintentionally demonstrate His mythical and unrealistic nature in their quest to try to make Him real. It’s poetic justice, because this fate awaits all who would try to turn lies into “truth,” no matter how well-intentioned. But it’s still sad, because a lot of these are basically good people whose only flaw is mistaking gullibility for true faith.

      As for God showing up, He’s a bit late by now. A real God would have been present in the real world since before there were men.

      Cheers.

  19. MURK says

    did the laws of logic exist before man showed up?

    i see your problem – manufacturing experiences and answers is a lie, and all lies are temporary.

    You can only know reason and order are inherent in reality if you first believe there is a connection between the internal workings of your thoughts and the external world – and why would this be the case in your worldview?

    It also entails you first trust your ability to reason in order to determine that reason and order are inherent in reality – can you see what your ultimate authority is ? We all have one – we cannot not have one….He made it very plain…

    not to mention belief in the reality of the external world, uniformity, connection between separate objects and events – which you cannot get to logically without purpose and direction….

    and this from a man who claims he spent 40 years working to remove a figment from his imagination
    not sounding to reasonable to me

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