Lost and Found

Back in the 80’s, when I was just a teenager, I had a really cool friend.

I had grown up in a very bland environment. I had heard mostly bland music, seen bland movies, read bland books.

Now, I don’t mean to imply that my entertainment sucked. I still enjoy many of the things I watched and listened to back in those days. James Bond, Star Trek, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Genesis, Billy Joel. All still entertaining, but certainly not challenging.

My friend introduced me to entertainment with an edge, people who promoted critical thinking. Hunter Thompson, Harlan Ellison, Dave Sim, Warren Zevon, Penn & Teller. I was introduced to them all by the same wonderful guy. He was also the first atheist that I ever knew.

We lost touch over the years, as people often do.

Last night I was surfing the net, bored, when I did a search for my friend.

He has a web site now.

He’s found Jesus.

He quotes scripture and talks about God’s plan.

I can’t recall ever being that disappointed in my life. I’m still shaking my head in disgust. I thought about sending him an email, but I don’t know what to say. He’s no longer than same guy I knew and I’m not sure I really want to know this new guy.

43 thoughts on “Lost and Found

  1. I know the feeling. I’ve known several people who were very unique and fun years ago, but who have since “found Jesus;” it’s like effectively losing them as friends. They’re simply not the same people anymore.

  2. It reminds me of the story from ‘Tales of the Dervishes’ by Idries Shah

    When the Waters Were Changed
    Once upon a time Khidr, the teacher of Moses, called upon mankind with a warning. At a certain date, he said, all the water in the world which had not been specially hoarded, would disappear. It would then be renewed, with different water, which would drive men mad.

    Only one man listened to the meaning of this advice. He collected water and went to a secure place where he stored it, and waited for the water to change its character.

    On the appointed date the streams stopped running, the wells went dry, and the man who had listened, seeing this happening, went to his retreat and drank his preserved water.

    When he saw, from his security, the waterfalls again beginning to flow, this man descended among the other sons of men. He found that they were thinking and talking in an entirely different way from before; yet they had no memory of what had happened nor of having been warned. When he tried to talk to them, he realized that they thought that he was mad, and they showed hostility or compassion, not understanding.

    At first, he drank none of the new water, but went back to his concealment, to draw on his supplies, every day. Finally, however, he took the decision to drink the new water because he could not bear the loneliness of living, behaving and thinking in a different way from everyone else. He drank the new water, and became like the rest. Then he forgot all about his own store of special water, and his fellows began to look upon him as a madman who had miraculously been restored to sanity.

    Obviously your friends didn’t like being part of a minority.  smile

  3. Case in point: my friend Ricki, who was one of my best friends during my teenage years. This was the girl who first influenced me to question authority. She wrapped my first joint for me. She was my hero.

    At age eighteen, she fell into a major depression for reasons that are still unclear to me. It was at that time that some Mormons got hold of her. Several months later, she quit college and got married. Now she is twenty-eight years old and pregnant with her third child.  shut eye

    We’ve tried several times over the last ten years to reconcile our differences and keep in touch, but it’s nearly impossible. We have almost nothing in common anymore, and the few times that I have talked to her I feel as though I’m walking on eggshells for fear of offending her in some way or another. Ricki, if you’re reading this, your legacy still lives on, even though you’re pretty much dead to me now.

  4. I went to a Christian college, and all my old college buddies are ministers now, dripping with goddy stuff. 

    It really means we can’t be friends anymore, because… how do I tell them that 26 years of ministry was all for something fake?  Or why do I tell them?

  5. KPG: you should still send him an email.  Just because he found God doesn’t mean he still wouldn’t mind to hear from you.  Differences in beliefs should not stop you from saying hi to an old friend.

    My Girlfriend and her family are pretty religious people, but My girlfriend knows my beliefs and her and their family, for being very religious, are the most accepting people I have met.  I have been in the same relationship for 4 years and we have plans to keep going.  Religion isn’t the most important thing to us.

    My point is that it seems like it is a loose end for you and should contact this person.  And if he shuns away from you, then you will still be in the same place you are now.

  6. I studied in Georgetown University. It’s run by the Jesuit Order and I tell you, they’ve found jesus, but they spend more time talking about gadgetry and science. And they do it over beer and red wine. It’s good for the heart, they say

    An interesting bunch. You should really meet one.

  7. My point is that it seems like it is a loose end for you and should contact this person.  And if he shuns away from you, then you will still be in the same place you are now.

    So wise for one so young.
    I agree, KPG. Nothing to lose.

    I don’t know what to say.

    Hello my friend. I was thinking of you and I found you. I don’t know if I’m happy or sad but at least we’re still alive.  smile

    I’m sure DoF could write a better letter.  wink

  8. I too have seen this happen to a few friends. Some people seem to choose atheism for the wrong reasons. Not because they understand it, but because it is dysfunctional to how they were raised. A way to rebel. It is part of the reason I sometimes wonder about people who take atheism to an almost religious fervor. 

    Some people truly need religion and I don’t even really see that as a negative. It is a comfort blanket, a tool that helps to fill those holes that you get in logic when one thinks too much of the why. I don’t think they should be condescended for needing it, it is just part of who they are. I sometimes wonder if religion wasn’t something that evolved with higher consciousness, something that actually allowed humans to be a more fit species.

  9. I’d accept that if I continued the thought to include the idea that religion is now a vestigial concept in the community consciousness, a formerly promoting and progressive construct that by development alongside other ideals of civilizations has no more place in the future of mankind as a useful meme than the appendix.

  10. Religious freedom goes both ways.  An atheist should not shit all over somebody else because they happen to believe in gods or other entities.  I don’t have any problem with shitting all over somebody who tries to make others believe, conform, or live according to their beliefs.

  11. Just because your friends found Jesus, don’t mean he’s lost all taste in music and stuff.

    My best friend from primary school is a priest now. Two weeks ago we were discussing how we both enjoyed the Russian horror “Night Watch” and we were looking forward to the sequel. He was worried that it wouldn’t be out before he goes to the missions next year.

  12. One of my oldest friends was an evangelical when I met him. Though he’s not nearly as bad as most (the beer and sex come to mind), in college he joined a Christian fraternity, he graduated with a Biology degree and still believes in creationism, and then he joined the Army so he can “defend America from terrorists.”

    I once told him that were the draft reinstated, I’d be in Canada fast enough to spin his head. He said he’d beat the hell out of me before I could go.

    But before he left for boot camp, we had a 2-man Half-Life 2 LAN party, cooked some giant cheeseburgers, and shared a manly hug on his way out the door.

    I guess the point is that I agree with a lot of the opinion here that such a difference in opinion/belief shouldn’t necessarily preclude friendship.

  13. I can’t recall ever being that disappointed in my life. I’m still shaking my head in disgust.

    I feel ya, KPG. It’s difficult to empathize or to understand how someone who previously was a completely rational, thinking person, can “turn off” the logical and rational part of their brain in order to accept the fantasies and delusions of religious belief. It’s a crushing blow to those of us who value intellect to see someone we thought immune be sucked into the void and empty-headedness that is Christianity.

  14. I would send an email just to touch base and open some communication. That is, if you can be friends with him again even though he has passionately devoted himself to a religion. I say that because some people decide to end friendships or alienate people like us because we are Atheists-and it goes the other way around too. You also have to ask yourself would he want you as a friend now though you are an Atheist? You and I know people are more than just their religion or lack thereof. Anyone can give you their opinion or unsolicited advice about it but when they try to change you because of it, it’s time to cut them off. I had a best friend like that too. He was a really great guy and helped me through some really rough stuff but after he returned from the first Iraq war, he wasn’t the same person. He had his religion and to hell with the rest of us. It’s worth a shot-you might be surprised.

  15. I guess the point is that I agree with a lot of the opinion here that such a difference in opinion/belief shouldn’t necessarily preclude friendship.

    Understand, I am not rejecting them as friends because of their beliefs.  But I can see that my deconversion causes them genuine pain and I just don’t know what to do next.

  16. But I can see that my deconversion causes them genuine pain and I just don’t know what to do next.

    It’s interesting to me that (for the most part) people understand when a Christian says, “It causes me great pain to know your soul’s in peril due to your failure to accept Jesus.” However, it’s apparently beyond the ken of most people that we atheists feel exactly the same sort of emotional pain in seeing someone we care about become so invested in their religious superstitions that they set aside or squelch their intellect in order to maintain their beliefs.

  17. Actually I sent them letters, and got back grieving replies, and pretty much didn’t know what to say after that. …  Understand, I am not rejecting them as friends because of their beliefs.  But I can see that my deconversion causes them genuine pain and I just don’t know what to do next.

    Are they rejecting you?  If they are Catholic or many of the more liberal mainline denominations, there is be a good chance that they wouldn’t be outwardly judgemental toward you and your friendship could continue based upon those parts of you both that don’t involve religion.  (Zac and his brother the father notwithstanding).  If they are tight assed fundies you may no longer have anything in common.

  18. None of my old friends from the 1980’s seem to have found religion.  In fact, 2 out of the 3 guys in my wedding party are in jail.  The 3rd guy is an accountant, so I periodically urge him to get involved in an insider trading scandal so I can claim a hat trick.

    All hail the goat.

  19. Part of me wants to be really irked at the “Oh, my old friend is dead to me now because they’ve descended and devolved into the utter silliness and theocratic claptrap that is Christianity, instead of being the smart, witty, freewheeling, free-thinking, joint-rolling, fun person I used to know them as, back when we were young.”

    Of course, I can think of folks who I’ve drifted away from over the years, as their lives took seriously divergent courses.  I never found religion (or lack thereof) per se a major issue—it was usually more just a change in pass-times, in priorities, in what they insisted on talking about (vs., of course, the stuff *I* was interested in talking about).  The threads of common experience and viewpoint that once bound are now too few to sustain those relationships, beyond a casual reminiscence about yesteryear.

    I try not to automatically assume, in those cases, that it’s just *them* who has changed, or that the change is necessarily just *their* (or anyone’s) “fault.”  Indeed, sometimes change/growth is considered a *good* thing (though movement doesn’t necessarily equal progress).

    I *can* imagine some folks getting into things that I wouldn’t want to be associated with, or have a relationship with someone who was into them.  But is that an indictment of them, or of myself?  I like to think the former, rather than the latter, but it’s a question that should at least be asked.  To what extent is that other person simply challenging my own beliefs or priorities or lifestyle in a way that’s uncomfortable, vs. being unhealthy (to them and/or me)?  And, of course, how much of a challenge am I looking for in that area of my life, vs. someone just to sit back with and share a few beers?

  20. ***Dave, whether or not somebody acquires or sheds religious belief is not, per se, something to get in the way of friendship or a renewal thereof.

    Having said that, I would expect that such a diametrical change of belief systems does not happen on a whim and that it is probably part and parcel of a pervasive change of personality, which could quite conceivably get in the way of friendship. Could, not must get in the way. In every single case, it’s in the eye of the beholder if such a change could be considered as growth, a coping mechanism with personal trauma, or plain and simple change.

    I face a similar dilemma these days, although the sticking point is not religion, but what I consider quackery. I have (deliberately) lost touch of that person almost twenty years ago, am not opposed to opening a new line of communication, but there is the possibility that such will be short-lived. Such is life.

  21. I’ve been following this thread with some interest and ***Dave’s reply finally prompted me to respond because I think he raises an important point.

    I’ve had a few friends/relatives over the years who have suddenly found religion and taken it up with quite a bit of zeal. One of them, Daryl Cantrell, occasionally comments here on SEB. As many of you have probably noticed from the exchanges between Daryl and I in other threads we’re not the close friends as we once were. There have been times, after reading one of his comments here, that I’ve been left with the same since of loss that KPG expressed in his entry.

    By the same token my favorite Aunt and Uncle suddenly decided to become Evangelical Christians and they quit their jobs, sold their home and most of their belongings, took up Clowning, bought an old school bus which they converted into a kind of motor home, and drove around the country as Clowns for Jesus doing shows at various churches and such because they felt it was their calling from God.

    Now we all know that, out of all the Christian sects, I have the hardest time with the Evangelicals. Combine that with what seemed to me to be a perfectly nutty course of action for them to take as a career move and you’d think I wouldn’t be able to stand my Aunt and Uncle anymore, but the truth is they have never once criticized my religious outlook and have told me flat out that I have to follow the path I feel to be the correct one. Out of all the Evangelicals I’ve ever known they were easily the most tolerant and accepting proving that there are always exceptions to the rules. The only real reason I don’t have much contact with them is because they eventually settled down in Florida and are back to living busy lives.

    My point is this: Religious outlook is only one aspect of a person and it can be a big part of someone’s life without it necessarily being a negative on your relationship to them. It really does come down to how much both parties make it an issue between them because there’s nothing that says we Atheists can’t be just as overly judgmental as any Christian.

    ***Dave is another perfect example of this in my mind. I consider him a good friend even though we’ve never met and his religious outlook isn’t an issue. There are plenty of other religious people I call good friends as well. So, if it were me, I wouldn’t necessarily write someone off simply because they’ve suddenly found Jesus. I’d give them the benefit of the doubt and see how things go before making that call.

  22. Great title for the entry, KPG; I’m jealous.

    As for the former friend, my advice is not to sweat it. People often use friends to represent and justify their own beliefs and passions. If he’s insecure in his beliefs and needs others to shore them up, he won’t desire your continued friendship anyway.

    Spend some time secretly reading his website to see if you think he’d value a re-connect. If he doesn’t seem the type to, it’s his loss anyway, right? Some friends will be your friend no matter what; others not so much.

  23. Yep, definitely familiar with that one. I had a friend in highschool was raised as a Chrisitian and until his junior year in highschool stayed a faithful servant of the good book. Something, however, changed in him that year and he changed completely. He grew out his hair, became something of a goth, and became something of a rabid atheist. About two years later he changed again; he found his faith again. I suppose it was simply another case of teenage rebellion, but it was difficult to really tell which faith was right for him. In one respect, he was an honest Christian, and while I felt he was a bit of a tool for devoting his life to such a ridiculous story, he was probably one of the few Christians I had respected because he was ultimately a good man and friend. He never forced his beliefs on anyone and was more of a pacifist than Buddha. To put a finer point on it, he was a true Christian. As an atheist, however, he was everything typical Christians think of atheists. He stole, smoke, drank, betrayed his friends and family and was generally an asshole. I’ve always believed that when he lost his faith, the bleak outlook he took on life got the better of him. For some reason he felt that were there no afterlife, there would be no repurcussions for his actions. Once he adopted his Christian value system again, he was as right as rain. Ultimately, I believe he was one of the few examples of how faith can better a man. Perhaps not. Either way, his example left a lasting impression on myself and I vowed that as an atheist, I would follow a personal code of ethics and morals. In a sense, I became a secular humanist. As for the man concerned, well, the two of us had a falling out after his original conversion and we’ve yet to mend what was a wonderful friendship. He’s managed to forgive and forget, but I find it impossible. I suppose that’s one of the few decent things about theists, well, some theists anyway, is that they have that ability. I, however, do not find it so easy.

  24. Just a point to clarify my reluctance here.

    It’s the combination oh his personality with the religion that has me disturbed, not just the religion. I have plenty of friends who are Christians, it’s seldom an issue. But this paticular fellow has always been a VERY agressive guy. (Try picturing a combination of Hunter Thompson and Kramer, from Seinfeld, minus the recent racial problems.) The kind who believes that anyone who doesn’t agree with him is “The Enemy”. Judging from his website, that hasn’t changed.

    In the past, we were similar enough that it was never an issue. That is no longer the case. I can picture only two reactions from him, he’d either try to convert me, constantly, or he’d just reject me out of hand as a non-believer doomed to hell.

  25. I’ve followed the thread with interest, because my first reaction was to be irked as well.  After reading the post by Les, there isn’t much to add.

    I would say this to atheists in general, given the overwhelming majority that we represent, surely there has to be at least a few of us that can mix in with your affairs, share a smoke, make a joke, and together, grasp and reach for a leg of hope. wink  If there aren’t a few theists that you call friends, that is probably more a reflection on your personality.

  26. Dave: To what extent is that other person simply challenging my own beliefs or priorities or lifestyle in a way that’s uncomfortable, vs. being unhealthy (to them and/or me)?  And, of course, how much of a challenge am I looking for in that area of my life, vs. someone just to sit back with and share a few beers?

    That is a good question, and one that I even asked myself when I first found myself upset to hear of friends’ conversions. In the end, though, I look at the changes that have occurred in the people that I used to love so much and I realize that they truly have become different people. That can be an extremely painful realization (and in the case of Ricki especially, it was devastating).

    Deep down, I suspect that I am being selfish by harboring unfavorable feelings toward the changes in my friends. If these changes make them happy, who am I to complain? At the same time, I have tried to imagine what it would be like for me personally to adopt such changes, and I really cannot imagine it. It would require negating who I really am and all that I believe in, and I cannot do that. And to put on a mask when I associate with formerly close friends out of fear of offending them is something that I have a very hard time doing. If the friendship is genuine, one should not have to pretend, yet that is what I end up doing around friends like Ricki. Could it be that Ricki really doesn’t have a problem with me at all and that it’s all in my head? Could it be that the discomfort that we experience whenever we get in touch is simply a function of some self-fulfilling prophecy on my part? That is quite possible, and don’t think I haven’t strongly considered it. On the other hand, I have attempted to tell jokes or relate stories that would have at one time sent Ricki into hysterics that barely crack a smile on her face now.

    Now it could very well be the case that all of these changes are not related to religion so much as simply the effects of growing up, moving away, etc. However, in the cases of friends such as Ricki, my gut feeling is that their adoption of these religious beliefs has dramatically altered them as people, and there is much to support this idea.

  27. Well, I feel ya KPG, and the choice is yours. I had a friend named Nick, we went to my first round of post-secondary together. I left that place, he stayed and moved on with his life. When I’d come back to Calgary, we bumped into each other a couple times. We got to talking about abortion at one point and the conversation was bitterly divisive.

    Of course, we were both offended at the stance the other person took, as well as the way we expressed those stances. That’s not to say that Nick’s an idiot, although I found his position on abortion to be among those positions I respect the least. The simple reality is that he and I have changed a lot. By my own volition, I’d changed radically in the two years we’d been apart. He has a very firm set of ethics, which he holds in very high esteem. I have a handful of ethical and behavioral paradigms that I follow, but no ethical code to speak of.

    The rest has been said, but growing apart is natural. Don’t feel bad; as Webs said, you’re no worse for wear as a result of it.

  28. I have one more point to add, and I’m trying hard to figure out how to say it without sounding incredibly condescending. I particularly do not want to offend Dave or Consig, because I have a lot of respect for both of you, regardless of whatever disagreements we might have.

    I don’t believe it is possible to look at the evidence and rationally conclude that God exists. Almost by definiton, faith is irrational. Perhaps that is its strength. Most of the Christians I know have been so all their lives. I decided long ago that many of these people are rational beings who, for whatever reason, never left that faith. Some make the choice, some never even consider questioning it, some are just so deeply indoctrinated that it is impossible for their rational mind to overcome it.

    But for a person who had not been a believer all their life, who turned from rationality to religion because it seemed like the right path, to me, that seems like insanity. Like suddenly believing in alien abduction or the Loch Ness Monster.

    sigh.

  29. as Webs said, you’re no worse for wear as a result of it.

    Not quite true.  The loss of any human connection is, in the video-gaming model, “damage”.  Enough such losses and things can start looking pretty bleak.

    I am fortunate to work with an evangelical Christian who is also a great friend, and he lets my eventual fate rest in God’s hands, as I let his rest in how I understand the end of life to be.  That settled we have a tremendous amount in common and get along swimmingly.

    KPG, you are on the focus of a real problem in faith/unfaith relations.  I’m really interested in how it goes when you finally contact him.

  30. Not quite true.  The loss of any human connection is, in the video-gaming model, “damage”.  Enough such losses and things can start looking pretty bleak.

    Agreed, but even if KPG contacts the old friend and the worst case scenario happens (the friends hounds him with calls to faith, and wont stop till KPG is converted) he will at least have settled the question lingering in the pit of his stomach, what will his friend’s reaction be?

    To me I will take the worst case scenario any day if it means answering the question, cause I hate sitting around and wondering… What if?  I like to be the one that instead said, “You know what I took the chance.  Sure it turned out crappy but I took the chance and now I know.

    And besides name one email provider that doesn’t allow you to set up rules or access lists that can easily block what you don’t want.

    KPG I say do a simple cost/benefit analysis and decide.  Pick the worst case and best case scenario.  If the benefits from the best case scenario outweigh the worst then go for it.

    Les: very well stated.  And I think as an atheist it is very important to be accepting of others, and not be too judgmental.  There are plenty of decent people out there that for whatever reason still believe in God.

  31. You need to be careful, KPG, in your usage of the word “rational.” You write…

    I don’t believe it is possible to look at the evidence and rationally conclude that God exists.

    The above is a rather dogmatic statement to make and it’s also irrational in itself because it presumes that everyone evaluates evidence in the same way that you do.

    Rational thought, much like logical thought, is a tool that can be used properly and still lead to an incorrect conclusion. One of the dictionary definitions I’ve heard for “being rational” is to draw inferences logically from facts known or assumed and if those facts turn out to be incorrect or misinterpreted then you can be quite rational and quite wrong at the same time.

    In other words two people can look at the same set of facts and end up with differing, but still rational based on their viewpoint, conclusions.

    Almost by definiton, faith is irrational.

    Certainly some faith is, but not all faith. I have faith in a great many things such as the loyalty of my wife. That faith is predicated on some known and assumed facts about her based on my years living with her, but it’s impossible for me to know everything there is to know about her or how she’ll react in every situation so I could be wrong on some of them.

    Given what I do know my faith in my wife is entirely rational. However if she should give me reason to doubt her loyalty and I still maintained my faith in her in spite of that knowledge then my faith would irrational. The greater the evidence against that faith the more irrational it would be to hold it.

    The point I’m trying to get to is this: I have no idea what it was that made Daryl or my Aunt and Uncle into True Believers™ and from my standpoint their faith seems irrational to me, but that doesn’t mean it actually is. They may have perfectly rational reasons for suddenly believing in God(s) that I’m just not aware of.

    Of course, that doesn’t mean they’re right either.

  32. Not quite true.  The loss of any human connection is, in the video-gaming model, “damage”.  Enough such losses and things can start looking pretty bleak.

    I suppose that makes a certain amount of sense. I have a very deep-rooted philosophy on this subject, as my relationships with others have been tedious and riddled with all sorts of dangerous compromise and betrayal. In fact, I adopted those philosophies for just the reason you say. I’ll share some of it here; maybe I can put this in a new light.

    The most direct way I can think of to express my feelings on this is through the following question. “what’s the difference between a person with whom you have a relationship, but no contact, and a person with whom you have no relationship?”

    I can’t look at a “relationship” in any context that doesn’t involve me interacting with that person. During the time in which we are not interacting but I place some value on it, I have no way of knowing the difference until we actually interact again. Until that time, I carry on with an image in my mind of what that relationship represents to me. This image is not necessarily an accurate description. It really comes down to honoring a shared history. I mean, in our culture, you can have someone as a “good friend” even if you only speak to each other for a few minutes a couple of times a year. In essence, people are my friend only because I choose to make them so.

    However, an equally satisfying answer to why I choose “friends” I’m not so clear on. I suppose because I see their interaction in my life as a benefit.

    Ultimately, the point I meant to drive home was that KPG’s view of this guy existed as a simulacrum for years. I think, DoF, that the disconnect was there, only that it made itself apparent once contact was resumed. I’m sure that his conversion brought some dishonor or shame to the memories that were had of him, but that’s not to say that those memories can’t still be honored of their own merit, even if such a disconnect makes a future relationship untenable. That friendship, that time in that place, with that guy, regardless of who he is now, was what was meaningful, both of itself and what it means to who KPG is now. That history, that impact, won’t change.

  33. Very good thoughts, Patness.  Thanks for sharing them.

    There are several axes on which the importance of the relationship and damage its loss can cause, interact.  A few examples:

    I really pissed off one of my readers this morning; I’d hate to lose a reader because I really enjoy the comments he leaves but if he never comes back to my blog, I expect I’ll manage.  Lots of contact, not a deep relationship

    On the other hand I only speak to my brother once or twice a year.  But (and this is the ‘simulacrum’ you so aptly described) if past experience is any indication, if I called him up tonight I expect he’d be glad to hear from me, we’d talk for a while as if we didn’t live in different states and had never been apart, we’d remember our father, our childhoods, and he’d tell me about getting ready for snomobile season with his sons.  I could drive out to Washington state right now and we’d go 4-wheeling and have a wonderful time, and either one of us would extend an offer to live with the other.  Not much contact, but a good relationship, and one that matters a lot to me.

    On the other, other hand, my oldest son is estranged from our family.  There was some problem between us that I really don’t completely understand, and I am pretty sure is somehow my fault.  I miss him terribly (3 years now) and yet he has made it abundantly clear he wants nothing to do with me or his mother, and worst of all, his brothers.  By ‘damage’ I refer to the feeling of broken glass in my chest that I get when I think about it, including right now but sometimes much worse in the night when I wonder where he is.  No contact, no relationship, only a (painful) memory.

    In the case of my old college buddies, years went by and I pretty much depended on the simulacrum of them.  When contact was reestablished (“I no longer believe in god”) I found the simulacrum was quite accurate, and that they still believed all that rhetoric about hell and were grieved at the thought of me sizzling in eternal torment.  Well that’s kind of a conversation-stopper.  And I’m not keen to try to convince them of my point of view either as it would be a disaster for them.  Nor am I interested in causing them any pain.  Little contact, relationship on hold.

    Still thinking this one through, which is why I’m so interested in what KPG finds out if he decides to contact his friend.

  34. I’ve had so many thoughts whilst reading this ultra-interesting thread.
    You are all so wise.
    To my mind Friendships/relationships (excluding familial – I feel for you DoF) are a mutual using type things. If my best mate wasn’t giving me what I need (and visa versa) there’d be no friendship.
    Then again ‘my mate’ who saved my sanity in Vietnam will always hold a special place in my heart.
    We have little in common other than the shared holiday in Vietnam and the appreciation of beer and dope but I call him at xmas and do a bit of remembering – I owe him big-time.

    Webs: You know what I took the chance.  Sure it turned out crappy but I took the chance and now I know.

    This one jumped out at me – it speaks of the unknown, the challenge, the adventure … and what is life if there’s none of that? Safety? Security?
    I feel it has to be challenged now and again to be fully appreciated.
    I did a fire-walk about 20 years ago – it was about trusting in physics as opposed to ‘rational knowledge’.
    It was a piece of piss to a trained digger.
    As Webs intimated: what’s the worst that can happen?
    Right now your memory of your old relationship has been ‘tarnished’ in any case so, what could be ‘worse’?
    Jump into the fire, mate.  wink

  35. Probably not.  Lots of spam floating around lately, much of it in the form of greeting cards.  Sending addresses harvested from the email clients of the enslaved computers.

    I never open e-greeting cards.

  36. I never open e-greeting cards.

    Me neither.
    There’s either someone out there who thinks I’m an arsehole or there’s not.
    Either way I’m an ‘appy arse’ole. wink

  37. Never occured to me that it could be spam. I get them occasionally, but they’re always from someone I know.

    This one was unsigned, but the card said “A Friend In Need is A Friend In Deed” which just reminded me of this conversation we’ve been having here.

    Could just be a coincidence……

  38. Could just be a coincidence……

    One of those ‘meaningful coincidences’ that shape our lives?? wink

  39. This sounds like the first half of the prodigal son, but in reverse. Whether or not you believe that parable, it has a lesson that applies here. It might do you good to read it. Luke Chapter 15 (NT).

    To those who say that differences in belief do not necessarily preclude a friendship, sometimes it does. It depends on the people. Imagine if one of your friends became involved with white power, or became a murderer, or rapist, or a

    . Many atheists feel similarly about Christians, and vise versa.

    But then, the opposite is true too. In college, I was a devout Christian (and communist), and some of my most memorable, enjoyable, and educational conversations were with a couple of other kids on the bus ride home, Cici and Cameron, who were an atheist and (agnostic?).

    -Bob

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