[Mike Rogers is currently in a legal battle with his former partner. Papers were filed this past Wednesday and he sent this message below as a note to share his current thoughts to those who may have missed his contributions here.]
I have been a militant anti-theist and atheist politically and socially for a very long period of my life. Not a nasty pick-on-everyone kind, just a firm ‘leave me the fuck alone and keep it to yourself’ kind.
Recently, I have passed through a barrier of loneliness, pain and solitude that has given me no choice but to consider the possibility that I am wrong in some of my perceptions and positions. My convictions are still the same, I’m talking religion here for some reason.
I will always be a moderate and an atheist politically. I must always see to the freedoms and the welfare of my fellows to ensure that theirs are protected as well as mine. Therefore I must be atheistic politically.
I do believe in the separation of church and state and would oppose any encroachments.
I believe it is in the best interests of mankind that they be governed fairly and this simply cannot be achieved with divine bias and “favoritism”.
We humans are too fallible.
Divinity, faith or spiritualism, at least the way I perceive it socially and politically is the exploration of – the government of self.
I must take this position and I do.
Personally and spiritually for my own self now however – I cannot be so sure anymore.
I had my faith challenged years ago. I have now had my atheism challenged.
So my mother’s urn got smashed and her ashes are lost?
These are just inanimate ‘things’. Yes they are.
Then why am I so deeply hurt and outraged in a way I cannot understand?
We’re talking elemental particles and a vessel of clay. It is practically worthless and, of course, being dead, why would my mother even care? My mother worked in medicine her entire life and sometimes used morbid humour to help transitions and relieve pressure over deaths and the grief surrounding it. Who is to say she wouldn’t find some strange humour in this situation if she could respond ?
But it’s not funny to me.
Something apart from my mother and I stirs. I am learning that it apparently forms some core of something that is me that was unknown to me or forgotten by me and that is frightening and somehow shameful too.
Something very old and very sacred lives there inside of me.
It’s not offence and it’s not anger. It’s not vengeance and it’s not self righteousness.
It is a hurt or wound so deep that I cannot explain. It comes from something much stronger than me.
It is a lament…a plea.
After this past week I was so drained and so lost that I could find no other relief. My mother’s smashed urn and what is left of her remains talked to me I suppose. Or maybe it was her. I don’t know.
It was a ordeal just trying to allow myself to walk to the cathedral, let alone into it, without feeling that I was disrespecting and fouling a holy place with my “unbelief”. Yes, I am an atheist, but I have tremendous respect for pious people and their beliefs.
I do not want to live in a world without them. Even as an atheist. I cannot live in a world without their music, their art, architecture, philosophy and literature.
Secular doors have been closed to me [referring to the legal case], and I had no choice but to allow myself to realize that other options that I felt were no longer there had always been right there beside me.
Maybe I didn’t realize. Maybe I was just at a crossroads, an impassable obstacle.
Perhaps I just couldn’t turn my head in the right direction to see.
I was a recalcitrant and disobedient child.
I am sorry. I could not hear. I would not hear.
I denied it. The spirit of Peter dwells there down in some part of me. I am ashamed.
I gave my first confession in 25 years, the morning of Good Friday.
I spoke with my confessor for longer in one sitting than all the other confessions I have taken in my life combined. I think it was the only one that mattered, perhaps it was in reality – my first. I don’t know. I could not go to Mass for my mother without first going to Confession – I know the rules.
This much accomplished somehow, I took Communion in honour of my mother for the first time in 25 years; later on the afternoon of Good Friday.
I thought it was for her.
Standing in that congregation on Good Friday for the first time in so long, my body and mouth going through rituals I had long forgotten, or so I thought, it was a strange and out of body experience. In my mind I was racing through memories and feelings, my last memories of Mass, but my body was anchored and going through the motions of the Mass on its own.
A section came in the Mass that I had always done in our original congregation with more traditional ritual and sometimes Latin sections being replaced for English or French during the mass.
I found myself reciting these things I had no memory of for so long it felt like some other time, some other life, some other place.
The words and motions just came out…as if I had never missed a day.
My neighbors in the pews around me shot quick glances towards me as it interrupted their own flow and prayer. They turned and smiled when they heard my old “ultra” recitations.
I was at first embarrassed. It seems my Catholic predecessors where “hardliners” and those were apparently the variations I had been taught. I had no idea. I mean… I knew we were strict and old fashioned…but…I was ashamed I interrupted their focus.
Beside me, a stranger took my hand and said, “I’m so glad you are finally home. You’ve been away such a very long time.”
Something has changed.
The next afternoon I came back during the Easter Vigil to celebrate the blessing of New Fire and the Paschal Candle. I remembered this is something we have done together for the better part of two millennia and I cried that my son couldn’t witness it, and that I had denied him something so moving for so long. I had forgotten.
One by one each person lit his fellows taper and slowly the entire cavern was filled with new light.
He should have been here.
I do not feel that I “believe”….I’m sorry – I do not. But I feel something now and even sitting here thinking about it, I think even that may be an understatement.
As an atheist, scientifically minded and proud person I have never shied away from the most accurate answer that can be given by me to very difficult questions. Whenever a primate attempts to convince you that he knows something a primate cannot possibly know….you should be suspicious.
I can only answer in the same atheistic, stoic and truthful way I’ve known for so very long that has encouraged me to seek and continue to ask questions – I don’t know.
We don’t or can’t always see our mistakes. We don’t or can’t always see the road.
I’m sorry to those that have looked forward to my work on our website and have found me absent for so long. I apologize to our readers that I have been gone now for these months. I have been on a journey of many roads and have many tales to share.
I hope that this section of my submissions that I offer to you will help you to understand that the situation I have been forced to endure is beyond my control and there’s no place that I would rather be than enjoying the camaraderie, the talent, enthusiasm, the laughter, the struggles and the whirl that we enjoyed everyday in the little corner of our indie world.
I have learned that although we feel so proud and seem so sure of ourselves when it comes to our society, its protections and systems, there is nothing to be proud of aside from continual celebrations of mediocrity, human error and it’s associated apathies; which serve to plow fields that will produce only pain and misery – confusion, anger and despair.
It has been effectively demonstrated to me that we are alone here in this world and in this way; as a result of politics, disinterest, bigotry and incompetence.
Therefore – we need each other more than ever.
Yet some roads are open to us even if we cannot see. I do not understand why my “faith” (and I don’t feel comfortable saying that) has enabled me to lift an emotional weight off.
I do not comprehend how I could experience peace in the middle of a terrible battleground that stretches out all around me. I’m still there.
I cannot explain it. Perhaps I should not try.
Perhaps that is what a blessing truly is and we’re not meant to know. We’re not meant to understand.
Perhaps we should just be grateful. And so I have put that question away for my own self.
Indeed, there may come a time when I may falter again, my faith will be dormant and quiet. Perhaps it could become as it was after I lost my mother originally and my faith will be darkened and lost again. I don’t know.
We will have to wait and see as my mother would say,
“Time tells us all Michael …
you just have to put your hand on the window my love...and feel the pane.”
And seriously… before you all get any ideas that I’m now some born again type that’s going to proselytize to you assholes on the upper decks of our glorious Ship of Fools here…fear not and do not be mistaken. I’m questioning and exploring my own salvation and in the process of protecting my mothers’…so you keep to yours.
I share these particular thoughts with you since we like conversations here – it’s what we do.
I like to talk. I like words, insights and ideas and I know you all do too.
I share these with you in that spirit and hopefully it can help all of us with new ones.
I wish you all a very happy Easter and I hope that you are all well with you and yours.
I miss you all so very much and I hope to see you soon.