I've been thinking about religion and soul work and whether or not I would still say I'm an atheist, and if it even matters and I've come to the conclusion that yes, I'm still and atheist. And yes, it matters.
As I've stressed again and again, it's vital to keep these two worlds separate. They can interpenetrate, and they certainly influence each other, but they are two separate worlds, and to mush them together is to invite disaster. First off, the objective world does exist. There are natural laws, they exist, and they determine what will happen. Everyone should have a grounding in rational thought because we are all citizens of the world; our fellow human beings, and even the Earth itself, are relying on all of us to be as clear thinking as possible. Whether it's in politics or with issues of global warming and peak oil, we need to understand clearly what are the causes of our problems, and what we can do to solve those problems, and then go out and do them. And quite honestly? The world is in too deep a pile of shit for us to get out of it without bringing to bear ALL of our resources.
That being said, we must make room for magic and mystery in our lives. Without it our souls will whither and starve... and, ironically, we will actually be far less effective than we could have been if we'd connected to that part of ourselves. I spent the last ten years of my life completely immersed in the world of reason and politics. I could have made much more of a difference if I had healed myself before that. But even more than that... we need soul in our lives, just as much as we need love, purpose, and connection. We can't even have any of those things if we haven't connected with our deep selves and released the garbage that's covering it up.
Finally, blindly clinging to comforting religious dogmas is actually completely antithetical to true soul work. If you are hiding from your fears of the big, bad world - or, even worse, your own inadequacies - behind the shield of a Big Daddy, or a willful determination that nothing bad ever exists, or whatever your spiritual pacifier of choice is, then you have actually cut yourself off from your soul. Religion can be used by the ego to protect itself just like anything else can, whether it's working for high status, or to look sexually attractive to others, or to be smarter or more accomplished than others, all of that is just the ego trying to protect itself. This is not to say that there's nothing to be learned by people's religious belief, even when it's part of a psyche-pathology. In fact, as we know from our soul work, our defenses are the very place we need to go to learn and grow. And we can explore these religious stories for the goldmines of soul stories that they are.
True depth work requires that we face life fully - face ourselves and life itself - stare right into the face of our fear and inadequacy and powerlessness. To strip away from the ego all of the ways it protects itself from what it fears. This is the only way we can become whole... and the only way we can live in this life to the fullest. We need compassion for ourselves and others; an embracing, kind, affectionate interest. And when the "inner god" asks us to let go of our protective self deception, we need to be kind to ourselves, too. But we must let them go if we are to become whole.
As usual, this is a work in progress. Although my fundamental beliefs haven't changed, even with this recent descent into the underworld, things could always change. They'll certainly evolve.