Skipping ahead again, and adding a new section. Right now, it's an appendix, but I might make it a chapter proper. I'm talking about life after faith, because of this.
Appendix II: Life After FaithFigured this needed to be there. And we need to remember that there may be some folk reaching out to us who don't know how to be an atheist, but need our sympathy and our help. Whether they go back to being Christian or make the transition to total godlessness or find a comfortable spot in between, I hope we can be there for them.
In memorium Jesse Kilgore
I wrote this book for stalwart Christians who are perplexed by atheists and needed a guide to getting along. But you may have picked it up for a very different reason: you might be wanting to know how to talk to atheists because you rather suspect you're becoming one. You're trapped between two worlds right now. You can't talk to Christians, because they don't understand your growing doubt. You're having a hard time talking to atheists, both because you've been taught that atheists are nothing more than a bunch of murdering, evil plagues on society, and because you don't yet have the vocabulary. You have no idea how to reach out to us, where to find us, or what to do once you've caught our attention.
You don't even know if you want to talk to an atheist, because you're in the midst of losing the most precious thing in your life right now. You may even feel as though your life is ending. You face the loss of family, friends and the God who's guided you throughout your life. It's terrifying. It's agonizing. It's not something you want to face, but you can't get rid of your doubts. You have no idea what's waiting for you if you take that fateful step and renounce your faith.
You probably feel more alone than you ever have in your life.
You don't have to go through this alone. Talk to us. We'll stand by you.
Some of us had an easy time of it, sauntering along the path from belief to disbelief, stopping to smell the flowers on the way, and enduring no more than some good-natured ribbing from our friends and family. We didn't have to face being ostracized from our communities. We weren't big on the church-going to begin with, so finding things to do on a Sunday morning was never a problem. But even those of us who had a primrose path to the godless life understand that other people got to walk barefoot on nothing but thorns and rocks the whole way. We know it can be desperately hard, and while we may not always know what you're going through or the right thing to say, we'll do our best to help you through.
That's what this appendix is here to do. I'll be pointing you toward alternatives and resources. I'll try to ease some of your fears. I'll do my best to guide you through, whether you end up contentedly Christian again or gloriously godless. The important thing isn't winning you for one side or the other: it's ensuring that you live as happy and as productive a life as you can.
I'm writing this for people like Jesse Kilgore, who lost his faith and took his life. I don't want to see others end up thinking that there's no life after faith. You need to know that there most certainly is.
Which I will be. After NaNo, and I've had a chance to sleep for about ten years...