The Joy of Disillusionment

At first glance, this may seem an odd phrase. Isn’t disillusionment a negative concept that would be nearly the opposite of joy? How can we find joy in such a depressing condition?

It is not considered a good thing for someone to become disillusioned. It speaks of someone who has lost their vision or dreams and who is, perhaps, floundering on the stones of harsh pessimism and broken promises.

To those of us who were suckled and steeped in religion, the prospect of losing belief in deity is ominous, if not terrifying. Anyone who “loses their faith”, is viewed with pity - a sad, lonely, disillusioned figure - a figure to be consoled, corrected, or avoided. When the balloon of belief finally burst for me, I was depressed and upset. I grieved for the loss of God and Heaven, and I felt betrayed by the society that instilled these beliefs in me and by my own self for being less critical than I should have been for so many years.

For those of us who have come out of a religious life to the acceptance of disbelief and of a rational world view, the word disillusionment is uniquely appropriate, but in a new and positive way. In fact, it is the perfect term for us. When we dissect this word, the root is, of course, “illusion”. To be “dis-illusioned”, therefore, is to not be deceived by the illusion. Finally, it is to reject the illusion in favor of what is real.

For the former Christian, disillusionment has chiefly to do with the hope and expectation of life beyond death. If we remove God from our understanding of reality, we also remove all religiously based hope and means of achieving such a future life. The idea of our deaths as simple annihilation is too frightening–too alien–to bear. Should we have the courage to bear it, however, we can come to a new view of our lives. Because we no longer are expecting a future eternal life (to which access is conditional), we are naturally led to refocus on the real physical life we have. The value of our life and of each day and moment of it is magnified dramatically. We are instilled with a new courage to live this life fully and not to waste our precious time on futile fantasies. We work harder to stay healthy, productive, and creative as we do our best to extend our useful life spans.

As I began to live this new life, I realized that it is richer and more satisfying than the life I had been living. My disillusionment has caused me to go through a process of emptiness, followed by reassessment and refocus, and finally, newfound health and joy in my present life.

This process can be stated as something of a rule or law: disillusionment in a dysfunctional fantasy results in health and new functionality.

There is true joy in this kind of disillusionment.
For me, it was like waking up from a long illness or autism. When we replace illusion with reality, we step out of our cavern of myth and take a deep breath of the air outside - brisk and with a tang of scents unknown. It is the real world we are inhaling and it enlivens us to move forward and to value who and what we truly are.

True disillusionment is the perception of the real, and this is the essential quality we must have to create true joy in our lives. The process of disillusionment gives us the opportunity to live an enriched and fulfilled life.

What this site IS:

This site is primarily directed to a select group of people - those who are somewhere in the process of leaving their Christian beliefs behind them and moving forward into an unknown realm of rational, non-theistic thought and life. This could be someone who has already made the journey from serious, studied Christian belief to unbelief, or someone still within the circle of belief who is questioning and wondering about their faith and who is, perhaps, unsure or fearful of what lies ahead. A road map for thinking these things through would be of some help, even if it is only one other traveller’s trip diary.

I have taken this jolting journey recently, and I wish to offer these essays and other writings to those of you who may also be seeking this path. Perhaps you will find them helpful, and perhaps you will share your insights and experiences with myself and others through this site. It does not matter if you are already far down that road and are comfortably living a rational-based life, or if you are at the very beginning, just now feeling that Christianity (in particular) is no longer making sense or working in your life. Perhaps you are somewhere in the middle of the process. Welcome, and please take the time to read what is here.

The message of this site is that there is a foundation under the false floor of Christianity. It is the true foundation of human reason and the incredible ability we all have to choose and create how we shall be. This is a message of exhilaration and exuberance in life, and a warning against the siren of depression and devastation that can seem inevitable to one just contemplating the loss of their religious faith.

If you are a long-time rational freethinker, atheist, agnostic, or humanist, you may not find much of particular relevance for you in this site, as it deals with the special problems and circumstances of those whose prior lives were saturated, structured, and defined by belief in a grand set of myths. If your reaction to some of the thoughts presented here is, “well, of course, why all the fuss?” instead of “ouch, that hurts,” or “you went through that grief, too?” this site may not be useful to you. Please understand that this is no lightweight event for those who go through it, and disparagement of it or of them is surely of no value.

. . . and what it isn't:

First, this is not a bashing site of any kind. I do not intend to engage in any form of hatred or taunting of believers or of the churches or the scriptures. I spent too much time in serious, whole-hearted acceptance of Christianity to mock those who are still there. This does not mean I will not engage in examining the truthfulness of the religious claims or speak critically of the beliefs and foundational assumptions of theism, but venting or engaging in personal attacks shall not be found here.

Second, it should be stated that I am not going to present a comprehensive debate of theism vs. atheism in this site. There are many, many other sites that do an admirable job of this task and I will provide links to the best of them in the Links section. This site is about the process, not the argument. As stated above, it is for those who are in or just through the transition from belief to unbelief.


Christian evangelizers / atheist bashers - Please Note:

For Christians who might be tempted to preach to me or teach me about the error of my ways, please don't bother. I grew up fully Christian and I know all the arguments and tools. I probably know more about apologetics and the Bible than most do. If you doubt this, study my Christian book elswhere in this site. I do not need to be taught anything about God, Jesus, or the Bible, and I won't engage you in any such discussion. If you contact me for this purpose, you will politely be asked to go away.

This web site is not for you.


Christianity/theism bashers or haters - Please Note:

There are plenty of websites that cater to ridiculing and bashing Christianity. As stated above, this is not one of them. Our purpose here is not to ridicule any believer for their belief. It is to be a resource for thoughtful people leaving religious beliefs behind them. We are here to guide, discuss, compare notes, and plan for the future, and as part of that we may honestly critique or criticize Christianity or other religious structures for their innate falsehood and negative social effects. We will not, however, throw bricks at believers. If you feel the need to vent hatred, anger, or ridicule, please do it somewhere else.

This web site is not for you.

The present moment is not mundane. It is, in essence, extraordinary. -DC

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