Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

Why do atheists like Dan Barker abandon their faith?

Unbelievable’s latest radio show featured a discussion with former Christian Dan Barker, the founder and co-President of the Freedom From Religion Foundation.

The MP3 file is here. (60 minutes)

I thought that I would make some general comments about why I think that many people leave the Christian faith, and what you should be careful of in order to avoid following in Dan Barker’s footsteps, specifically.

Basically, there are four major reasons why people leave Christianity.

  1. They want to do something immoral with impunity. This type of person wants to do something immoral that is forbidden by Christianity, like pre-marital sex. They dump Christianity in order to feel better about seeking happiness in this life, apart from God and his moral duties.
  2. They want to pursue happiness in irresponsible ways. This type of person thinks that God’s job is to save them when they act irresponsibly while pursuing happiness. When God disappoints them by not giving them what they want in order to be happy, they leave the faith.
  3. They want to be loved by people, not by God. This type of person thinks that Christianity is a tool that they can use to become popular. When they first try to articulate the gospel in public, they find that people don’t like them as much, and they feel bad about offending people with exclusive truth claims that they cannot back up using logic and evidence. So, they water down Christianity to get along with atheists, liberal Christians and other religions. Finally, they jettison Christianity completely and focus on making everyone feel good about whatever they believe.
  4. They don’t want to learn to defend their faith. This type of person is asked questions by skeptics that they cannot answer. Usually this happens when people go to university after growing up in the shelter of the Church. The questions and peer pressure make them feel stupid. Rather than investigate Christianity to see if it’s true and to prepare to defend it in public, they dump it so they can be thought of as part of the “smart” crowd.

Now listen to the discussion and see if you can identify some of these factors from Barker’s own carefully-prepared words. He is trying very hard to make himself look honest and moderate, because he wants Christians to be sympathetic with his story and his motives for leaving Christianity. But I think that there is enough in his statements to construct a different hypothesis of why he left Christianity.

I’ve grouped the data by risk factor. (These are not his exact views)

Non-rational, emotional approach to Christianity

  • he was raised in a devout Christian family where he probably wouldn’t have faced skeptical questions
  • he converted to Christianity at age 15 as a result of a religious experience, not a serious investigation
  • his idea of God was probably idealized and uninformed, e.g. – a loving God who wants us to be happy
  • he wandered around from church to church preaching, with no fixed address or source of income
  • he earned money by collecting “love offerings” from churches where he performed his music
  • he wrote Christian songs and Christian musicals, but nothing substantive on apologetics and theology
  • he worked in three churches known for being anti-intellectual and fundamentalist
  • there’s no evidence that of any deep study of philosophy, science and history during this time

Desire to gain acceptance from non-Christians

  • he began to notice that some people were uncomfortable with sin and Hell
  • he began to avoid preaching about sin and Hell in order to make these people comfortable
  • he watered-down the gospel to focus on helping people to be happy in this life
  • his manic approach to Christian ministry was challenged by the “real life” needs of his growing family
  • he met liberal pastors while performing his music in their churches
  • he found it difficult to disagree with them because they seemed to be “good” people
  • he watered down his message further in order to appeal to people across the theological spectrum

Ignorance of Christian apologetics

  • he began to think that if there are many different views of religion, then no view can be correct
  • he was not intellectually capable of using logic and evidence to test these competing claims to see which was true
  • he decided to instead re-interpret Christian truth claims as non-rational opinions, so they could all be “valid”
  • he became a theological liberal, abandoning theism for an impersonal “ground of being”
  • he embraced religious pluralism, the view that all religions are non-rational and make no testable truth claims
  • he began to see God as a “metaphor” whose purpose is to make people have a sense of meaning and purpose
  • he jettisoned God completely and focused more on helping people find meaning and morality apart from God
  • seems to think that religion is about having a “great life”, and felt that you can have a “great life” without religion
  • seems to think that religion is about being “good”, and felt that you can be “good” without religion
  • religion makes people feel bad by telling them what to do instead of letting them do anything they want
  • religion makes people feel bad by telling them what is true, instead of letting them believe whatever they want
  • religion makes people feel bad by telling them that God will hold them accountable for their beliefs and actions

So what do I think happened?

I think he abandoned his faith because he wanted people to like him and because he needed to be invited to liberal churches in order to make money to pay for the “real life” needs of his family.

He seems to have thought that Christianity is about having his needs met and being liked by others. I think he wanted to feel good and to make people feel good with his preaching and singing. He seems to have become aware that the exclusive claims of Christianity made other people feel offended, so he cut them out. He hadn’t studied philosophy, science or history so that he would have been able to demonstrate to other people whether what he was saying was true. It’s hard to offend people when you don’t really know whether your claims are true or not, and when you don’t know how to demonstrate whether they are true or not.

I also think money was a factor. It seems to me that it would have hurt his career and reduced his invitations from liberal churches if he had kept up teaching biblical Christianity. In order to appeal to a wider audience, (like many Christian singers do – e.g. – Amy Grant, Jars of Clay, etc.), he would have felt pressured to water down the unpleasant parts of his preaching and singing. Lacking apologetics skill, he instead abandoned his message. He needed to account for his family’s needs and “real life”, and exclusive truth claims and Hell-talk would probably have reduced his ability to do that. It seems to me that he should have scaled back his extreme schedule of preaching and singing, and instead gotten a steady job so that he could afford “real life” and a family without being pressured into altering his message.

Life isn’t a fairy tale. God isn’t there to reward risky behavior. We need to be more shrewd about financial matters so that we have the ability to not care about what people think of us. Look at this blog. I work all day as a senior software engineer with two degrees in computer science so that I can refuse donations. I save most of what I make in case a tragedy strikes. Since I am financially secure, I can say what I think, and disregard anyone who wants me to change my message because they are offended. Becoming a Christian isn’t a license to behave irrationally and immaturely with money. For some people, (like William Lane Craig), stepping out in faith works. But if it doesn’t work, it’s better to retreat and re-trench, rather than to compromise your message for money.

Barker didn’t seem to make any effort to deal intellectually with typical challenges like the existence of Hell and religious pluralism. He just wanted to be liked by people instead of being liked by God. He seemed to have thought that being a Christian would make him happy and that other people would all respond to him and like him without having to do any work to explain why Christianity is true. But that’s not Biblical. When the singing and preaching is over, you still have to know how to give an answer to non-Christians. But Barker couldn’t give an answer – not one that allowed him to retain his beliefs. He had not prepared a defense.

What does Dan Barker think about Christianity today?

Many atheists today are interested in eradicating public expressions of Christian beliefs in the public square, because they hate Christianity and believe that Christians should not be allowed to make them feel bad by exercising their rights of free speech. Is Dan Barker one of these militant atheists?

Well, take a look at this video, in which he objects to a nativity scene and demands that an atheistic denunciation of theism be posted alongside it. In the video, Barker explains that the nativity scene is hate speech, and that the baby Jesus is a dictator. He seems to be totally oblivious to the the idea that if Christianity is true, then it doesn’t matter whether it’s mean and exclusive. And this seems to me to have been his problem all along, from the day of his “conversion”.

So the real question is this: is it true? Barker seems to be much more interested in asking “is it nice?” and “will it make me happy?”.

Filed under: Commentary, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Why do atheists like Dan Barker abandon their faith?

Unbelievable’s latest radio show featured a discussion with former Christian Dan Barker, the founder and co-President of the Freedom From Religion Foundation.

The MP3 file is here. (60 minutes)

I thought that I would make some general comments about why I think that many people leave the Christian faith, and what you should be careful of in order to avoid following in Dan Barker’s footsteps, specifically.

Basically, there are four major reasons why people leave Christianity.

  1. They want to do something immoral with impunity. This type of person wants to do something immoral that is forbidden by Christianity, like pre-marital sex. They dump Christianity in order to feel better about seeking happiness in this life, apart from God and his moral duties.
  2. They want to pursue happiness in irresponsible ways. This type of person thinks that God’s job is to save them when they act irresponsibly while pursuing happiness. When God disappoints them by not giving them what they want in order to be happy, they leave the faith.
  3. They want to be loved by people, not by God. This type of person thinks that Christianity is a tool that they can use to become popular. When they first try to articulate the gospel in public, they find that people don’t like them as much, and they feel bad about offending people with exclusive truth claims that they cannot back up using logic and evidence. So, they water down Christianity to get along with atheists, liberal Christians and other religions. Finally, they jettison Christianity completely and focus on making everyone feel good about whatever they believe.
  4. They don’t want to learn to defend their faith. This type of person is asked questions by skeptics that they cannot answer. Usually this happens when people go to university after growing up in the shelter of the Church. The questions and peer pressure make them feel stupid. Rather than investigate Christianity to see if it’s true and to prepare to defend it in public, they dump it so they can be thought of as part of the “smart” crowd.

Now listen to the discussion and see if you can identify some of these factors from Barker’s own carefully-prepared words. He is trying very hard to make himself look honest and moderate, because he wants Christians to be sympathetic with his story and his motives for leaving Christianity. But I think that there is enough in his statements to construct a different hypothesis of why he left Christianity.

I’ve grouped the data by risk factor. (These are not his exact views)

Non-rational, emotional approach to Christianity

  • he was raised in a devout Christian family where he probably wouldn’t have faced skeptical questions
  • he converted to Christianity at age 15 as a result of a religious experience, not a serious investigation
  • his idea of God was probably idealized and uninformed, e.g. – a loving God who wants us to be happy
  • he wandered around from church to church preaching, with no fixed address or source of income
  • he earned money by collecting “love offerings” from churches where he performed his music
  • he wrote Christian songs and Christian musicals, but nothing substantive on apologetics and theology
  • he worked in three churches known for being anti-intellectual and fundamentalist
  • there’s no evidence that of any deep study of philosophy, science and history during this time

Desire to gain acceptance from non-Christians

  • he began to notice that some people were uncomfortable with sin and Hell
  • he began to avoid preaching about sin and Hell in order to make these people comfortable
  • he watered-down the gospel to focus on helping people to be happy in this life
  • his manic approach to Christian ministry was challenged by the “real life” needs of his growing family
  • he met liberal pastors while performing his music in their churches
  • he found it difficult to disagree with them because they seemed to be “good” people
  • he watered down his message further in order to appeal to people across the theological spectrum

Ignorance of Christian apologetics

  • he began to think that if there are many different views of religion, then no view can be correct
  • he was not intellectually capable of using logic and evidence to test these competing claims to see which was true
  • he decided to instead re-interpret Christian truth claims as non-rational opinions, so they could all be “valid”
  • he became a theological liberal, abandoning theism for an impersonal “ground of being”
  • he embraced religious pluralism, the view that all religions are non-rational and make no testable truth claims
  • he began to see God as a “metaphor” whose purpose is to make people have a sense of meaning and purpose
  • he jettisoned God completely and focused more on helping people find meaning and morality apart from God
  • seems to think that religion is about having a “great life”, and felt that you can have a “great life” without religion
  • seems to think that religion is about being “good”, and felt that you can be “good” without religion
  • religion makes people feel bad by telling them what to do instead of letting them do anything they want
  • religion makes people feel bad by telling them what is true, instead of letting them believe whatever they want
  • religion makes people feel bad by telling them that God will hold them accountable for their beliefs and actions

So what do I think happened?

I think he abandoned his faith because he wanted people to like him and because he needed to be invited to liberal churches in order to make money to pay for the “real life” needs of his family.

He seems to have thought that Christianity is about having his needs met and being liked by others. I think he wanted to feel good and to make people feel good with his preaching and singing. He seems to have become aware that the exclusive claims of Christianity made other people feel offended, so he cut them out. He hadn’t studied philosophy, science or history so that he would have been able to demonstrate to other people whether what he was saying was true. It’s hard to offend people when you don’t really know whether your claims are true or not, and when you don’t know how to demonstrate whether they are true or not.

I also think money was a factor. It seems to me that it would have hurt his career and reduced his invitations from liberal churches if he had kept up teaching biblical Christianity. In order to appeal to a wider audience, (like many Christian singers do – e.g. – Amy Grant, Jars of Clay, etc.), he would have felt pressured to water down the unpleasant parts of his preaching and singing. Lacking apologetics skill, he instead abandoned his message. He needed to account for his family’s needs and “real life”, and exclusive truth claims and Hell-talk would probably have reduced his ability to do that. It seems to me that he should have scaled back his extreme schedule of preaching and singing, and instead gotten a steady job so that he could afford “real life” and a family without being pressured into altering his message.

Life isn’t a fairy tale. God isn’t there to reward risky behavior. We need to be more shrewd about financial matters so that we have the ability to not care about what people think of us. Look at this blog. I work all day as a senior software engineer with two degrees in computer science so that I can refuse donations. I save most of what I make in case a tragedy strikes. Since I am financially secure, I can say what I think, and disregard anyone who wants me to change my message because they are offended. Becoming a Christian isn’t a license to behave irrationally and immaturely with money. For some people, (like William Lane Craig), stepping out in faith works. But if it doesn’t work, it’s better to retreat and re-trench, rather than to compromise your message for money.

Barker didn’t seem to make any effort to deal intellectually with typical challenges like the existence of Hell and religious pluralism. He just wanted to be liked by people instead of being liked by God. He seemed to have thought that being a Christian would make him happy and that other people would all respond to him and like him without having to do any work to explain why Christianity is true. But that’s not Biblical. When the singing and preaching is over, you still have to know how to give an answer to non-Christians. But Barker couldn’t give an answer – not one that allowed him to retain his beliefs. He had not prepared a defense.

What does Dan Barker think about Christianity today?

Many atheists today are interested in eradicating public expressions of Christian beliefs in the public square, because they hate Christianity and believe that Christians should not be allowed to make them feel bad by exercising their rights of free speech. Is Dan Barker one of these militant atheists?

Well, take a look at this video, in which he objects to a nativity scene and demands that an atheistic denunciation of theism be posted alongside it. In the video, Barker explains that the nativity scene is hate speech, and that the baby Jesus is a dictator. He seems to be totally oblivious to the the idea that if Christianity is true, then it doesn’t matter whether it’s mean and exclusive. And this seems to me to have been his problem all along, from the day of his “conversion”.

So the real question is this: is it true? Barker seems to be much more interested in asking “is it nice?” and “will it make me happy?”.

Filed under: Commentary, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Occupy Wall Street mom divorces husband for $85K, abandons her kids

Tom sent me this article from the New York Post. Read the article and decide who you think is to blame.

Excerpt:

She’s protesting banks — but still getting a bailout.

The Florida housewife who abandoned her family to join Occupy Wall Street is divorcing, giving up custody of her four kids and taking a big payout from her husband.

Professional protester Stacey Hessler is legally splitting from her hubby, Curtiss, but not before waltzing off with a portfolio that includes cash and his 401(k) retirement fund, filled with stocks and other instruments of American capitalism.

The divorce settlement, filed Oct. 16, awards Occu-Mom the $79,585 fund and a $5,800 bank account. Her total take: $85,385.

The filing lists Curtiss’ occupation as banker and says he earns $65,000 a year. Her job is listed in court papers as “protester” and her employer as “Occupy Wall Street.” Annual salary: $0.

Divorce papers cite “irreconcilable differences” for the split, saying the 19-year marriage “is irretrievably broken.”

One OWS protester who knows her says that Stacey’s devotion to the movement caused the divorce but that she was unfazed by the breakup.

“She didn’t seem sad about any of it,” the source said. “It was just so matter-of-fact.”

[...]But she did respond when a Post reporter asked about a YouTube video showing her making out with another protester during an Occupy “Kiss In” on Valentine’s Day.

“I actually made out with four guys,” she said, laughing wildly.

Curtiss, 43, initiated the divorce in Volusia County, Fla., where the couple raised their family about 25 miles west of Daytona Beach.

So who is to blame? The bad woman who did bad things? Let’s take a look at it.

Who is to blame when things go wrong in a relationship?

My view is that the man in the story is to blame, because I think that whenever something goes wrong in a relationship, then the person whose expectations are dashed is to blame. The reason why I think this is because you have to take people as you find them and then vet them as if they were job applicants applying for the job of marriage. The job of marriage has very specific requirements, and these requirements are objective. Someone is going to have to raise the kids, someone is going to have to cook the meals, someone is going to have to earn the bulk of the money, someone is going to have to deal with the beasties that invade the home. The goal of the relationship is not to test the person to see if they are “fun” or whether your friends are envious. The goal of the relationship is to test the person for the role they will play in the marriage.

Does it work in reverse – are women responsible for their bad choices?

What I’ve found is that although many people see that the man is responsible when he makes a bad choice, they don’t see the reverse situation. So consider the case where a man has sex with and then dumps a woman, who expected him to marry her and have children. Who is to blame? On my view, it’s the woman who is to blame. The man was bad before she got there, and you cannot expect a bad man to act good, just because you imagine that he will. And giving him recreational sex won’t make him act good – even if you imagine it will. Imagination is not the equivalent of passing an interview with the woman’s father, and getting the father’s approval. Imagination is not a 12-year resume with no gaps. Imagination is not a $500,000 investment portfolio. Imagination is not a paid-off home. Imagination is not a handful of reference letters from his former girlfriends. If the woman relied on her imagination when choosing a bad man, then the woman is to blame for the bad man’s bad conduct. She needs to take responsibility.

Sometimes, what I’ve noticed is that women tend to focus on the bad thing that the men do that is counter to their expectations, because they project a standard of morality onto the man that the man expressly repudiates. In fact, I have actually met atheistic women who think that atheistic men should act based on some standard of morality. But the problem is that neither the atheist woman nor the atheist man accepts any objective standard of morality. If there is no designer to the universe, then the universe is an accident, and there is no way that we OUGHT to be. If there is no way we OUGHT to be, then there is no point in expecting anyone to be any way – it’s just your opinion against their opinion. So you have a woman expecting a man to act according to some standard that she doesn’t think is real by her own worldview!And meanwhile, the good men are passed by because we are “too strict”, “too religious”, “too moral”, “too chaste”, “too sober”, “too predictable” and “there is no chemistry”. (Chemistry = emotional craziness)

My conversation with a Christian woman

I had a conversation with a Christian woman a while back about this, and she could not see how a woman could be responsible for her choices in the same way that the man in the news story was responsible for his choices. So I invented a new example to show how men could be to blame, unlikely though that may be, since men are perfect in every way. This time, I imagined what would happen if a stripper-gram woman showed up at my door. I actually told the woman I was chatting with that I had to go because a stripper-gram HAD shown up. I told the woman how attractive the stripper was, and how I was in love with her, and wanted to marry her. How she undoubtedly was very wealthy, and well educated, and how she would help me to raise little Michele Bachmanns and William Lane Craigs. I waxed eloquently on her B.S. in integrated science with a minor in philosophy, her M.A. in economics and her Ph.D in International Studies. All of which I had no evidence for, except for the feelings aroused by the sight of her naked cleavage. Besides, I explained, it would be easier for me to change her to match my vision of her after we were married.

At this point, my debating partner began to see the point. She could see that this imaginary stripper was going to dash my expectations, and probably cheat on me, and spend all my savings on shoes, handbags, dresses, jewelry and breast implants. And who would be to blame? ME! Because I am the one who was refusing to court her properly, and instead inventing an entire future life together that the imaginary stripper and I had never discussed. The stripper had never demonstrated that she capable of meeting those requirements – or even willing to try. I never asked her to try – and that’s my fault.

Why some women make bad decisions about men

I actually know a Christian-raised atheist woman who co-habitated with a left-wing, global-warming atheist and then got pregnant and had an abortion, and she blamed the man for this. As if an atheist should be expected to believe in objective moral values and marriage! As if the man had been able to get her to co-habitate and get pregnant without her consent! She accepted no responsibility for her choice of this man whatsoever. And when I told her about the dangers of pre-marital sex and the importance of courting rules, she dismissed them as being too strict, claiming that a good job, chastity, virginity, apologetics, a firmly-grounded Christian faith, a rational basis for morality, sobriety, and so on, were all totally unnecessary for a sensible successful marriage. Still! After all that! Her criteria for a man? First, “chemistry”, which is another word for physical attraction. And second, the approval of her very impractical, immature peer group. After all that, she still rejected the idea that standards for choosing the right man were important and should override her emotions.

Filed under: Polemics, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

One-third of adults under 30 have no religious affiliation

From CBS News.

Excerpt:

One-fifth of American adults have no religious affiliation, and this number is increasing rapidly.

The number of Americans who do not identify with any religion continues to grow at a fast pace. One-fifth of the U.S. public – and a third of adults under 30 – are religiously unaffiliated today, the highest percentages ever in Pew Research Center polling.

In the last five years alone, the unaffiliated have increased from just over 15 percent to just under 20 percent of all U.S. adults. Their ranks now include more than 13 million self-described atheists and agnostics (nearly 6 percent of the U.S. public), as well as nearly 33 million people who say they have no particular religious affiliation (14 percent).

This large and growing group of Americans is less religious than the public at large on many conventional measures, including frequency of attendance at religious services and the degree of importance they attach to religion in their lives.

The article notes that “unaffiliated” doesn’t necessarily mean atheist or even agnostic:

Two-thirds of them say they believe in God (68 percent). More than half say they often feel a deep connection with nature and the earth (58 percent), while more than a third classify themselves as “spiritual” but not “religious” (37 percent), and one-in-five (21 percent) say they pray every day.

With few exceptions, though, the unaffiliated say they are not looking for a religion that would be right for them. Overwhelmingly, they think that religious organizations are too concerned with money and power, too focused on rules and too involved in politics.

The lower the age group, the less likely people are to be affiliated.

The growth in the number of religiously unaffiliated Americans – sometimes called the rise of the “nones” – is largely driven by generational replacement, the gradual supplanting of older generations by newer ones.

My personal theory about this is that young people are being neglected by their parents and to a lesser degree by their church leaders. Parents are just too busy with their careers and other diversions, and churches are not presenting Christianity seriously using arguments and evidence. Neither parents nor churches are taking opposition to Christianity seriously from an intellectual point of view. When parents and church leaders step aside, the influence gap is filled by know-nothing peers and by the culture. Peers and the culture are pushing for hedonism, not for a serious search for the truth about religion. And that’s why young people are rejecting the church. If religion is anything to them, it’s about self-fulfillment. It certainly is not about truth. No one has ever presented it to them as true, only as useful for their own happiness and well-being.

Filed under: News, , , , , , , , , , , ,

To marry and have children, it’s important to make a realistic plan

This is a guest post by Mathetes entitled “The Road That Was Taken”.  You can find his last post here.

The Daily Mail is the gift that keeps on giving. And usually the gifts are a witness to the outcomes of bad choices. Previously, we discussed how to live your worst life. Unfortunately, some people serve as stark examples. Enter Megan, and her story that is told in “It’s NOT my fault that I missed the chance to become a mother”.

The story is familiar: a gal lamenting that she has no man or children. But in a world where women have the ability to define and achieve any of their goals, where does this lament come from?

Playing with her nieces one day, Megan burst into tears because “I couldn’t bring myself to articulate the truth — that, at the age of 38, I realised I’d probably never watch my own child doing somersaults on a summer’s day.”

But how did this come about for someone with children as a goal?

“I wasn’t childless for medical reasons, or out of choice. The right man had just never come along.

As a writer living in London, with a fulfilling career and a great social life, I was a doting aunt to Harry, Jack, Emily and Freya.”

This sounds so strange. In a world where women are go-getters, here we have a lady who just sat around waiting for a man to mysteriously “come along”. I don’t believe the incongruence struck her – she has a career in which she is fulfilled, but she probably didn’t devote as much time to finding her man as she did to getting her career in order.

We come to the problem a little later on:

“I’d just assumed I’d address the subject of having children when I met the right partner with whom to confront it later in life. But I never did.”

Wintery often states that it’s important to have a plan for your life. This unfortunate lass didn’t have one, and the result is typical.

Or maybe she did have a plan. Because a plan is a restricted range of choices that is meant to lead you to a particular goal. So how did Megan’s choices influence her life? We read:

“I lived with a long-term boyfriend throughout my 20s, but we were young, and parenthood seemed a long way away. In my early 30s, I entered into a relationship that was so unstable, I knew we would never have children. He was a commitment-phobic poet, and while my friends urged me to finish the relationship and find one in which children might be an option, I didn’t long for a family enough to give him up. At 35, I finally accepted that we were never going to work out. Other relationships came and went, but none turned into something more permanent.”

So here was Megan’s plan:

  • Step 1: Live with boyfriend throughout her 20’s
  • Step 2: Enter an unstable relationship in her early 30’s, where she knew she’d never have children
  • Step 3: After a few year break up with a man who was unsuitable material for a husband

So Megan’s goal was to find a mate and have kids. And her plan was constructed to achieve the exact opposite result.

Maybe after her mid-30’s Megan figured this out. With age comes wisdom, so they say. So what did Megan set about to do:

“I began to think more about having children when I was in my late 30s, but didn’t start sizing up potential fathers on first dates because I didn’t want to rush into having children with someone I wasn’t certain about. “

So let’s add another step.

  • Step 4: Date men but don’t evaluate them for spousal quality

Though Megan made some bad choices, she does see what’s necessary for a child, and she should be commended for this:

“Nor did I want to become a single parent by choice. I’d seen how hard it was to bring up children even with a partner, thanks to my sisters, and I’d witnessed at first hand the struggles of a close friend who had unexpectedly become a single parent.

I just didn’t think I could tough it out by myself. I wanted to share parenting, and never dreamed of becoming ‘accidentally’ pregnant. I wasn’t going to trick anyone, or short-change myself.”

This is to be commended, and I mean this in all seriousness.

But getting back to her choices, Megan was warned:

“A friend who had been ambivalent about children until she was 39, and became a mother at 41, warned me that I would go through a grieving process if I didn’t become a mother. I laughed it off, but my friend was right.”

And here we read the unfortunate result when dreams and aspirations collide with the harsh wall of reality.

“… it dawned on me that I was fast approaching 40 — the age at which it seemed that if I hadn’t had my own child, I probably never would. My feelings of panic grew.”

“Feelings of resentment began to build inside me when, in the space of a year, five of my closest girlfriends told me they were pregnant. I felt happy for them, and increasingly sad for myself.“

“I tried to hide my feelings. I bought baby gifts and picked up newborns with a smile fixed on my face, even as my heart sank when I thought of the children I might never have.”

“Panic flooded over me every time I read a celebrity talking about how their little Petula/Tommy/Isabella was the best thing that had ever happened to them.”

“More and more, I felt weighed down by all the judgments — some proffered, some unspoken — about single and childless women. From being too picky to be satisfied by a partner, to just too career-orientated and selfish, the judgments are endless. In my experience, they’re generally inaccurate, too.“

This is an object lesson in the internal psychic dissonance that takes place when one’s goals collide with their choices.

Perhaps enlightenment at this stage is the best that can be hoped for. Mature adults come to accept that the choices they’ve made have resulted in the position they are in. Thus, we are able reflect and see where we went wrong and how to grow from this. Perhaps Megan will take responsibility for her choices and her current situation.

Not entirely.

“When I analysed the reasons why they and I were in this position, I came to one conclusion: bad luck, bad choices or bad timing. Not selfishness.”

Her choices she can control. But luck and timing? Perhaps, but not as likely, given her focus on career and relationships. And her choices? Doesn’t that imply that she is choosing?

And why blame luck or timing at all?

The reason for this is simple: it’s very hard to realize that you are responsible for your position. This isn’t a hard rule, but you usually got where you’re at because you followed your own path.

And she’s not alone. Other women share her plight:

“‘One of them is that more and more women are childless through circumstance. They are grieving for something few people acknowledge they have the right to grieve for, and many of them don’t even realise that’s what’s happening to them.

‘Some of them are losing some of the most powerful and productive years of their lives as they get stuck in their grief.’

I know what you’re thinking. Now, at last, maybe Megan realizes the way out. She can decide to make sure she dates in the right way. That she won’t waste time on things that take away from her goal. Even if she can’t have kids, she should still be able to find a mate and adopt. So there are possibilities for her.

The question is: where does she go from here?

And the answer is:

Morocco!

“I was determined not to lose some of the best years of my life in this way. I’d written eight books, had a life full of friends and family, and yet I felt like a failure. I had to do something.

So I did. I bought a plane ticket to Marrakesh in Morocco — a place I’d visited just once for a long weekend.”

“If I wasn’t going to have the rhythms and responsibilities of parenthood, I could make the most of my freedom.”

Megan is educated and has a successful career. She’s enjoying her freedom. But there’s still her life-long goal of having children.  How do these diverging paths reconcile with each other?

And here we come to the end. The need to rationalize, and downplay what others have, so that one’s situation is more palatable.

“I’d spent months thinking that motherhood was the answer, but I now began to realise that it wasn’t an instant passport to growth. Just look at the one-track minds some mothers have about their children.”

“You have to be open to change, and that’s possible with or without being a mother. Each side of the coin loses and gains.”

“For all I’d envied about the lives of mothers I knew, they’d envied what I had — freedom, time and the ability to nurture other relationships in a way I never would if I was a parent.”

“More importantly, I realised I wasn’t childless. I had my sisters’ children, my godchildren and a gaggle of girlfriends who were all generous with theirs.”

“For now I am splitting my time between England and Morocco, enjoying the best of both worlds. I no longer feel weighed down in England, just happy to visit.

“And while our lives might be different to the ones we envisaged when we were young, they are just as complete.”

And so Megan’s rationalization takes us full circle. Megan actually is a mother. She is completely free. She can do what she wants with her life. Her friends with children envy her. She is more open than her friends, who have one-track minds. And she, of course, realizes that motherhood was never the answer. It wasn’t a passport to growth. Her life is complete.

As I walked the halls of my work a few months ago I found a notice on a door that showed someone in an uncomfortable situation. The caption said: Sometimes the purpose of someone’s life is to be a lesson to others.

Megan, of course, may never be able to grapple with the repercussions of the feminist lies she bought into. She followed them, despite consciously knowing her choices were not leading her to the life she wanted.

But we can observe and know how to act. Let her story be a lesson to you if you are contemplating her path. Find out what you want, and live with this in mind.

Filed under: News, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Wintery Tweets

Click to see recent visitors

  Visitors Online Now

Page views since 1/30/09

  • 3,943,035 hits

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 1,725 other followers

Archives

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,725 other followers

%d bloggers like this: