I had the pleasure to meet Dr John Compere on Skype when he interviewed me to join The Clergy Project (TCP) a couple of months ago. We got talking and, as you would expect, we had a ton of similarities. Both dedicating our lives to serving God in ministry and both coming to the realisation that God isn’t real and that what we had based everything within our lives on was false.
As I shared with John, it became very clear that TCP was the right place for me to get stuck in and talk with those who, like us, have lost everything when they lost their belief in God.
Towards the end of the Skype interview, it became apparent that John, having left belief behind decades ago, has a lot to teach and help people like me. Towards the end of the conversation he kindly gifted me a copy of his book, ‘Outgrowing Religion’ to read and get my teeth into.
In my opinion, this book is divided into three parts. The first couple of chapters are where Dr Compere shares about his own personal story. Here he tells us what it was that rocked the boat for him to start with and then explains how it all began to unfold from there. I think we are missing this within “none” religious circles. People who are comfortable enough in the journey so far as to begin recounting their experiences as they realise the God they serve and worship isn’t real.
The second section is a great analysis of all the different areas people often cling to or struggle with, in regard to religion. Take the example of prayer. For me, prayer was a massive aspect of my life that I clung to and got a massive amount of peace from each and every day. What Dr Compere does in each chapter is to look at what people experience, why they experience it and how it doesn’t actually link to or prove a God. In a loving, yet critical, way he breaks down the facade and exposes the reality of scripture, faith, religion, spirituality, hope and God.
I have been criticised a couple of time by close Christian friends that I don’t put enough weight into emotions and feelings. Finally, I find someone who is on the same page as I am: ‘Feelings are a great gift, but a terrible guide’, P108. Dr Compere brings this home a couple of times within his book, explaining that feelings are vital to humans, we experience and live on an emotional level and we should be sure to listen to those feelings, but they shouldn’t be the thing we use to guide our lives.
How you feel can change dramatically and very quickly. Rather we need honest glances at the world through a critical lens. This will make us far more effective at enabling us to make coherent decisions that best align with the reality around us.
The final section of Mr Compere’s book is a collection of guest editorials that he wrote in the early 2000s when he was on the editorial board of the Daily Astorian when he lived for a few years in early retirement. They all have to do with problematic things religion has promulgated.
John wrote all these guest editorials in response to what was currently in the news. There is defiantly a lot of similarity between section two and section three in the messages that are being put across, but rather now in section three, the main point is brought out in a staggered essay format. The stories are all from members of TCP, all of whom had started their life off in service to God and then found their faith crumble away beneath their hands. There are some extremely moving accounts within this book that ring true to my own personal experience, and the one comfort I find is that other people who were in similar places in their lives have awakened and found their deepest beliefs to be based on myths and hope.
I was massively impressed by this book, and now when someone asks me why I no longer believe and wants to honestly hear the reasons, I will definitely be linking them to this 200-pager to run them through the main ones. It’s an easy, honest and provoking read, well worth your time.
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Thanks for taking the time to read my blog. It has taken me a few years to get to a place where I am able to share my loss of faith and to start writing about the journey that I am still on for you all. I hope you find it useful.
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Grammar, spelling, capitalisation and punctuation: I am massively dyslexic. It has taken me years to get to the level I am currently at with writing and I have done this mainly through reading. I want to be better and ask you, reader, to please forgive any errors in my writing. I hope you notice improvement upon improvement over the coming years.
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