A Pilgrim Soul
“I was born lost and take no pleasure in being found.” — John Steinbeck
On December 31st of this year I will become homeless.
At the time of my writing this, that is only 13 days away. My apartment is full of empty boxes which will soon be filled and placed into my friend’s garage as storage. And though there were certainly some external factors that set the momentum for all of this—truth be told, I have been on the precipice of homelessness for more years than I’d like to say and for reasons that are not important to mention now—this upcoming upheaval is not a product of pure happenstance.
This was a deliberate choice that I made. For you see, I’ve been working on a plan.
I know the plan is a crazy one and that makes me want to hem and haw about it right now. Explain my reasoning behind the plan before I say what it is. But my friend Amy suggested I just say it, so here goes:
I plan to pack my most essential things into my 1998 Subaru Outback with 299,000 miles on it and start to drive. And I have no intention of stopping for a very long time.
Amy was right. It is good just to get that out there.
Now, let me explain.
When I first started this blog, I declared that I wanted to make “my home here in the shadowlands between faith and doubt.” I wanted to live deep within questions, letting go of any previous answers that I held onto. Because here’s the thing: the two things that I want most out of life, almost to the point of obsession, is to find Truth and Wisdom. And if anyone is going to honestly seek these things out, they must first acknowledge that it is possible they can be wrong about everything and thus must be willing to let even the most deeply held beliefs go if necessary.
It has taken me a lifetime to get to this point (and I still have a lifetime of work to do), but I am at a place in my life where I want Truth and Wisdom more than I want the personal comforts of certainty or even identity. It feels good to believe you are right, but as Radiohead once sang, “just because you feel it, doesn’t mean it’s there.” Or as Nietzsche put it, “If you wish to strive for peace of soul and happiness, then believe; if you wish to be a disciple of truth, then inquire.” And it has become my personal vocation, my calling and purpose in life, to forsake everything in the pursuit of Truth and Wisdom. It’s like a fire shut up in my bones.
But to be clear, I am not advocating that everyone hold this same position. It is a deeply uncomfortable place to be. But I find solace and joy in knowing that I am in no way alone out here. There are many fellow wanderers and wonderers out there, constantly rearranging the few puzzle pieces that they have, trying to make out a sense of the complete picture.
I want to spend time with you. Hear your stories, see through your eyes, see if any of our puzzle pieces fit together.
And for you, my believing brothers and sisters, I have come to recognize that faith does very much count as evidence of the divine, but—and this is important—it only counts as evidence to those who possess it.
By way of example, let’s say you are accused of murder. Let’s also say that the DA has closed circuit video recordings of your car pulling into the parking lot and someone who looks exactly like you getting out and shooting the victim. And for good measure, let’s also say that three witnesses saw you after the shooting covered in blood and holding a gun. This is very damning evidence against you.
But the thing is you know you didn’t do it. You know because you remember the night in question and know that you spent that evening alone watching Gilmore Girls and fell asleep on the couch. You have no alibi, no explanation for all the evidence against you, but that doesn’t matter. You know you didn’t do it. Sure, it’s possible that you went into a sort of fugue state or somehow had your memories altered, but that doesn’t seem likely. Your personal experience, your memories, your feelings, they are all stronger than any evidence to the contrary. But only for you. Your friends and family might believe you, but they cannot possibly know with the same kind of certainty that you know you are innocent.
And this is entirely what faith is like. Just this morning, a friend told me that she doesn’t understand all the mysteries of God and can’t explain everything she believes, but she just knows that Jesus loves her and that is enough for her. And while I, the DA of metaphysics, wants to argue that this is is not a sufficient explanation and the evidence against her claims of truth seem pretty damning to me, I must recognize that this is, at least in part, because I have not experienced the same things she has. She knows something that I cannot from my vantage point.
Not that her knowing it necessarily makes it true (or untrue). Maybe you really were in a murderous fugue state. Maybe there really are psychological, evolutionary, or otherwise totally materialistic explanations for why people experience God the way they do. It is worth exploring though. It is worth exploring with open and as unbiased eyes as possible.
And those of you that believe—whether you be Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Pagans, Transcendentalists, Jedi, or Beliebers—I want to explore these things with you. I want to worship with you. I want to hear the story of your personal evidence. I want to understand your perspective.
When I first envisioned my plan to go on the road, I saw myself as taking up the lineage of the “Holy Fools” who throughout history have undertaken a nomadic life as part of a spiritual quest. Who have forsaken most or all of their earthly belongings in order to roam the world, seeking a deeper understanding of life’s bigger mysteries. I thought of the ancient sages, mystics, and prophets. I thought of the itinerant Methodist circuit rider, the nomadic monk. I think of Abraham, of Buddha, of Jesus.
But that doesn’t fully fit what I am trying to do now. Those people all had messages to give, but I have only questions. It puts me more squarely with the A-Team, the gang from Scooby Doo, and The Hulk from the 1970s television show, in the sense that I will be traveling from town to town, trying to solve mysteries. I am both Mulder and Scully combined. Except that the mysteries I am trying to solve are less to do with why the old amusement park is haunted and more to do with the big questions of the human condition, the fundamental nature of reality, and how we can be better, more loving neighbors to each other in the midst of this heavy and divisive national climate.
So I am forsaking everything to go live on the road. Or more specifically, I want to go live on your couch or on a spare bit of carpet or anywhere else that you’ll let me sleep. For how long is entirely up to you. Maybe it will be for a few days, maybe a month or more, maybe it will just be a few hours long hangout at a coffee shop. However much you are comfortable with. I will be a good guest. I can sustain and entertain myself. But I want to explore life with you. I want to hear your perspectives. I want to play board games and watch movies and go to church and karaoke nights and community gatherings with you.
And I want to travel with you. Find me on the road and spend a few days with me. We’ll explore Chicago or Joshua Tree or any other destination that you have in mind. Let’s explore Truth together.
And I will report back on everything I discover on here. Starting in January, I will post a new essay weekly. I will continue to dig deep into philosophy of religion, church history, and the rest of the humanities and will explore all of these things as honestly and openly as I can with you. And I hope you will continue to teach me everything you have experienced.
In order to dedicate as much time as possible to these tasks, I have started a Patreon account. This allows any of you who are enjoying what I am writing, who are in support of what I am trying to do, to help fund my journey. The more support I receive, the less I will have to spend time and energy looking for odd jobs and remote work while on the road, and the more I will be able to focus on creating conversations with you about the things that matter.
It’s a crazy idea. It’s pure folly. But I am going to do it anyway. Everything in me is telling me to go.
I hope to meet you out there.
For more information on how to be involved, click here.