I Don’t Believe in You Any More

The Merry Mystic Sings the Blues for an Anonymous Friend

I wrote this song for a man I met back in my seminary days.  He told me he was  Vietnam veteran.  I told him I was a seminary student.  He told me he didn’t believe in God—and he told me why.  I wrote this song to honor his story.

I think about him often, and when I think about him, all I have are questions.  I never saw him again; what became of him?  I don’t know that I was any help to him in our conversation; what might I have done differently?  Why is there destructive suffering in this world—not the kind that strengthens people, like a refining fire, but the kind that grinds people down beyond their ability to resist?  How can we help build a more peaceful world, a world where military men and women are not asked to do things that make them feel that “all the lights are dimmer since the war?”  And what better theology could we teach our children—what understanding of God that won’t buckle under the heavy burdens life may require them to carry?

As always, I value your thoughts on these matters.

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3 thoughts on “I Don’t Believe in You Any More

  1. I certainly honor your thoughts here Adam. And agree. I am passionate about using the good minds God has given us to pursue peace. Sometimes it seems to come down to the fact that everyone has to earn a living and have something to do with their 24 hour days and many seem to do that through making war. I have a hard time seeing this earth without it but have constant hope for less. My compassion goes to those who get caught up in it as a career path “for their country” and end up dealing with guilt, shame and grief for the rest of their days. You have done a good job of expressing this. My prayers for those caught up in this are that God will bring people alongside of them that they can respect who will draw them close to Him and he will replace their despair with forgiveness and the joys of life.

    • Thank you, Pat.

      I hope and I believe that God is calling the world into a more harmonious way, which Jesus called the Kingdom of God. In this Harmony there will be no more war. In this Harmony no young man or woman will be haunted by memories of what they did and saw on the battlefield. In our present world a US veteran commits suicide approximately every sixty-five minutes — 22 of them a day — but in the Harmony of God we will not ask our young men and women to shoulder the kind of burden that drives such despair.

      I have no idea how God’s reign of peace will be established, and sometimes it seems pretty far away. May it come soon!

  2. Adam – I hear in the lyrics not just the pain of war but of abuse, of physical illness, and of life alone on the streets. I know people who’ve come to the same cry of “I don’t believe in you” from all these place – they never went overseas to fight our battles. Instead they were stuck at home fighting enemies like poverty, neglect, prejudice, drug addiction and raw power. Our work to end war has its front line near at hand. What strikes me is that you end the song’s cry of misery and defiance as a prayer, with an Amen. That echoes powerfully. I have cried out against God at times in my life and, in doing so, have found myself talking to God. Job’s wife urges him to “curse God and die!” rather than cling to silent suffering in the face of such overwhelming evidence against God’s perfection. What Job ultimately does is pretty close to cursing God and living, singing out his pain as an accusation, including the Amen. This is his truest prayer. I’ve met people who would be helped by the honesty of your song. They sometimes show up for worship. Thank you for listening to this man living on the street, for sitting with him, and for carrying his complaint into our prayers. May we do this remembering all who suffer, often in ways we’d rather not witness. Amen.