I haven't mentioned it for a while because, after the frankness of those two early posts, I've been feeling as if I'd rather prefer to get on with my crisis of faith in private, instead of tweeting it on a minute-by-minute basis. Suffice it to say that not a great deal has actually changed: my worldview was sufficiently secularised before that not having itunderpinned by a literal belief in a deity hasn't really made a terribly seismic difference.
I'm still wearing the wooden cross I've worn under my clothing since some friends brought it back for me from Lourdes when I was eighteen. The habit had become so ingrained it took me months to spot that this was even anomalous -- and about five minutes to conclude that my reasons for wearing it had far more to do with its sentimental value than with what I'd believed. I'm even attending an Anglican church only slightly more sporadically than I used to (atheism being generally accepted as no real bar to ordination these days, let alone communicant status). I've always found church ritual soothing, a link to a historical context of British communities across the generations, and that hasn't changed either.
It's possible I'm not a very effective atheist, but that's not really surprising. I was never a terribly effective christian either.
The main difference I've found in my thinking -- and it shames me to admit this -- is that I find forgiving people far more difficult these days. If you'd asked me a year ago to name a specifically 'christian' virtue -- ie, one which christianity is unusual in promoting, and which has therefore possibly been marginally more prevalent in christian circles than elsewhere, historically speaking -- it would have been forgiveness, which Jesus was so keen on that he reportedly practised it even at the moment of his death. It's a vital social value, which assists in the general smooth running of the comomnwealth by keeping individuals and groups from constant feuding. It would certainly be indispensible in a utopia, which is one reason why it's difficult to imagine a utopia without faith.
In any case, it's not something I'd feel happy to think I'd lost.
However, I've come to understandthat the forgiveness I used to try to practice (not terribly effectively, I admit -- see above) had more than I realised of schadenfreude in it. The peculiar eschatology I'd constructed had no truck with the idea of eternal damnation -- that I'd dismissed, once I was old enough to escape the usual childhood terrors, as a barbaric dogma -- but it had metabolised the idea of purgatory into something typically idiosyncratic. I believed that, after death, each individual (myself not excluded, obviously) would be presented with a moment of absolute self-knowledge, in which it was revealed to them -- not as mere fact, but as an empathetic recognition -- exactly what they'd done and been in life. Every petty selfishness, every thoughtless action, every glib dismissal, sneering gibe, assault, murder or act of genocide would be seen clearly for what it was, and for the effect on its recipients.
Having received this insight, I blithely assumed, everybody would repent and turn to God. There'd be no need for hell after that, because who could withstand such self-knowledge and retain their pride?
As I say, it was eccentric. But it comforted me, when I saw people getting away with selfish, shitty behaviour -- especially the kind of thoughtless use of power which screws up entire populations for generations -- to know that it would rebound on them in the end.
It wasn't a vengeful thought particularly, just a feeling that this was the right, the just, way for the world to be run. Margaret Thatcher or Ronald Reagan or Autgusto Pinochet or Rupert Murdoch might die peacefully in bed, surrounded by admiring well-wishers, but they'd damn well have their complacency stripped away from them afterwards. And, given genuine repentance and a heartfelt apology for the vicious crap they'd inflicted on the poor plebs around them during their lifetimes, I'd be magnanimously willing to share Heaven with the (formerly) evil fuckers.
It sounds odd, I admit, but to be honest I'm not sure it's possible to sustain a religious universalism under a benign God without something of the kind.
Now that comfort isn't available to me any more, I find myself raging day after day, appalled that whatever horrific idea Cameron and Clegg and Osborne (yes, and Murdoch) think up next to ravage the country with, the bastards are going to get away with it. They may face some uncomfortable verbal criticism, but unless God moves in some pretty fucking mysterious ways, it'll be water off a duck's back to them. Unlike the sick and disabled people, the single mothers, the nurses and teachers, whom these wankers are screwing on a daily basis to serve the interest of their plutocratic arsehole friends, they'll never see a moment's serious consequence to their actions.
That isn't just, it isn't right, it isn't reasonable. It's not how I want the world I live in to be.
When people say (atheists, I mean, and as a criticism) that religion is comforting, they usually mean that it allows believers not to be scared in the face of their own death. To be honest, I still don't see that as an issue. I fear the pain that I imagine will precede death, but not the cessasion of my personality. Perhaps when you've grown up fearing hell, the prospect of oblivion seems like a neutral option.
But my religion was a comfort to me, and it was one which for years helped me avoid confronting a basic truth:
The world is unjust, and it doesn't get any better, and that's the fault of specific people. Nobody -- apart from us -- is going to teach them any better. And until they make amends, the bastards don't deserve forgiveness.
 And yes, I'm fully aware of the large body of potential counterexamples.
 It's possible I swear rather more these days, as well.