From Marlene Winell
Reclaimers, you are the pioneers. Reclaimers discard their confining religions and free their minds from the cages made in churches. I support you, I help you, but most of all, I salute you. Because it is clear to me after many years of bearing witness to the soul-wrenching work that you do, when I have seen and heard tears and sobs and anger and fear, that you are the ones among us in our world that are birthing yourselves. Most of it is quietly achieved, because you are so ahead of the times that there are not enough words to describe what you are accomplishing. You yourself do not really know.
To understand what you are achieving, let’s try to grasp the context. We live in a world that is only partially scientific, only partially rational. Zealous believers are still performing exorcisms. Faith healing is commonplace, along with other “signs and wonders.” People believe in the “power of prayer” or that an entity called God will change the laws of nature if asked properly. A majority think that they have souls that will continue after they die despite no evidence. They cling to visions of a blissful existence and fear eternal punishment. The legal system is a simplistic treatment of people as guilty or not, which deals out retribution. A shocking number of people are comfortable with ignoring the findings of science and willing to risk the future of the species because they trust in a supernatural solution for the earth. The most powerful nation on earth deals death from the sky unprovoked on other peoples and makes claims about “just war.”
That is, our culture still has one foot firmly planted in the Dark Ages. Most of the unchurched are also unquestioning. It may be true that they have escaped the nightmare indoctrinations of hellfire and basic depravity, and they may have “self-esteem” and sleep well. But they have also not been forced awake. They have not been like reclaimers, jolted rudely and painfully awake and torn away from everything safe and familiar. No, people do not do the hard work that you are doing if it is not required. It is too taxing, too terrifying, too all-encompassing. No one would willingly enter this wind tunnel that seems to have no end.
We live in a world that is only partially scientific, only partially rational. Zealous believers are still performing exorcisms. Faith healing is commonplace, along with other “signs and wonders.” Reclaimers, you who devoted yourselves or were children in the folds of a religion that owned your soul and governed your very breath, will know about this transformation. It is no gentle thing to have the ground give way until there is no where to stand. You have lost yourself, lost the others you thought you knew, and lost your way. It is not exactly the same for everyone. But this much is true: each of you must create your life. You have had much taken from you and it must all be reclaimed: your identity, your will, your thinking ability, your feelings, your trust, your intuition, your sexuality, your creativity, and much more.
The creation of your new life is large, and more than you expected. You are giving birth and you are the parent. There is overwhelming joy along with the responsibility. There is no more outsourcing to “god” and no more talk of being dependent or helpless or bad. There is struggle and there is wonderful discovery. There are questions that are basic and big and tough: Who am I? What am I doing with my life? What is life all about? All of the questions humans have ever asked.
I respect you because I see you rethinking everything and rebuilding everything. You used to have all the answers because they were handed to you and then enforced until you could recite them in your sleep. Now you are working on getting them out of your head. You are stripping away everything familiar even though it hurts because it’s worth it. You have opted for integrity over false safety. There is so much stripped away you are not only naked, your skin is raw.
What a grand endeavor! What heroes! How great it would be if everyone did this complete questioning of everything they ever knew and started over. Perhaps our culture would make more progress inching out of the Dark Ages. And you, reclaimers, are doing this radical transformation with little help and sometimes with real opposition from the surrounding culture. It would be nice, but you are not escaping from a harmful religion into a healthy, evolved, nurturing society. The personal revolution and evolution that you are accomplishing (if you go all the way) will put you ahead of many who have never needed to question.
And that means that you will have wisdom to share. It will take some time, but you will find your place, and others will benefit from your hard-won life experience. You will be an “elder” in the best sense of the word. You live here now, on Planet Earth, and we need you.