Sunday, December 25, 2011

Apathetic Apostasy?

Andrew wrote a great post discussing an interesting article about "apatheism".  Check it out.  It got me thinking about apathetic atheism for those who've left faith traditions.

I was never apathetic about faith and I'm not apathetic about non-belief.  I think the apathetic theists are those who quip, "You can leave the Church but you can't leave it alone."  They don't understand because they don't really process belief. They're just on tracks.  I get that.  I understand just going with the flow because it's easier to be unquestioning and shallow. Sometimes I envy that.  And, I think many apathetic atheists who were never believers are sort of free from tracks and don't realize it or are comfortable with it.

But, the apathetic atheists who were once believers (or attempted believers) are somewhat a mystery to me.  I've heard of them.  I've even met some former believers who just seem to have walked away without looking back, apparently with no psychological need to process any of it.  How? Are these the ones who really were just lazy or sinning or offended?  Or, can one leave for intellectual reasons, problems with church history, or problems with cultural or social/political issues (in short - because they CARED) and just shed it all like snake skin?

I would love to sit one of these apathetic former-theist-atheists down and ask, but well, they just aren't interested in discussing it. Go figure.  It drives me crazy.  Obviously, I couldn't just shed the skin that had grown dry and far too tight. I naively thought that I could.  I'd just stop going and not worry about explaining it to anyone.  If anyone could get away with that, it would have been me.  There was very little resistance from family, friends, religious leaders, employers, colleagues, educators, or mentors to my leaving the church.  In fact, some who really knew and loved me almost seemed relieved to see me finally let go.  Unlike so many others, I genuinely had nothing to lose.  Also unlike others, I sincerely don't miss any of it anymore. Furthermore, I didn't lose my faith - again, there was nothing to lose - so there was no sense of loss or confusion about who I was or what to do next.  Still, I can't just be apathetic about my former religion or faith/belief generally.  Why? How do people who care and leave for ideological reasons just stop caring once they go with no period of processing?


I haven't posted for a while. The first reason is, as always, grad school.  The second is that my husband and I are now doing a long-distance thing and I spend a lot of time chatting with him on Skype and driving between Boston and New Jersey (not at the same time).  The third reason is the addition of this guy to my life:

I've been kinda apathetic about anything and everything that isn't him.  Will that shiny new puppy smell ever wear off?  I want my brain back and I want to stop referring to myself as "Momma" in the third person narrative. That is so irritating!


  1. For my husband, who identifies as apatheist, there was a period of anger and rage toward the LDS church after he left. I think as soon as he had been able to offer his perspective to his younger brothers and see that they were standing up for themselves (the ones who don't believe in the LDS church), he stopped feeling the need to concern himself with Mormonism. For as long as I've known him, he's completely respected the right and ability of other people to make their own choices about religion, even if he thinks their religion is complete bullshit. I think that, for him, it's because he benefited a great deal from his college classes for his psychology degree. He's been able to heal, through self-awareness and through counseling, from the damage done to him by religion. [I'm on the other end of the spectrum. I've left Catholicism behind for the most part, and also healed from the damage, and yet I am still fascinated by and continue to learn about different religions (mostly Catholicism, Mormonism, and Paganism).]

  2. I'm not ex-LDS; I'm ex-Episcopalian, which probably makes a difference. But I'm inclined to think of it this way: leaving your faith is very much like a romantic breakup. Usually, you spend some time grieving, and some time processing; but sometimes the relationship ends with both parties being content to just walk away, acknowledging that they weren't right for each other and moving on, without the need for much processing.