I went to 12 years of relatively strict Wesleyan parochial education at a top North Carolina elementary through high school (google Wesleyan Christian Academy) and received a four year Bachelor of Arts degree at Montreat College (home to Billy Graham). I publicly gave many testimonies, brought several to the lord, and fanatically attempted to retain faith through doubt the entire time. I was a leader at both high school and college as a musician and speaker. As a senior in high school, I was one of the most outspoken and entertaining Christian leaders around (toot horn). I led small groups and accountability groups with great zeal.
My faith was not destroyed. My faith was strong, my doubts were always stronger. I understand (present tense) full well why faith is attractive, good and inviting. I was always in touch with lingering doubts from an early age, and had I had the strength then as now, I would have grew out of faith at 5, the same year I grew out of belief in Santa. Certainly by 11 or 12. I stuck by it, b/c it was expected by my culture.
I was good at being a Christian and delivering testimonies. I remember receiving notes and thankful words saying never had people cried/laughed/reveled as much as when I stood in church.
When I realized that faith was cultural and environmental, I put it aside, because it’s not realistic to think that I would be a “christian” if it weren’t for the parents and environment I was raised within.
You can say, then I was never a true christian. You may have a point, b/c this is a common response among indolent Christians who don’t want to think this kind of thing is possible.
I thought I was a pretty outstanding and upstanding Christian. My parents did everything right. Sent me to Christian schools, they had me in church on Sundays and throughout the week and bible studies at home, at the dinner table. When my family was financially down and out, my tuition was paid for by anonymous donations, and these things were “miraculous and amazing.” Christianity is what defines my youth.
I can chapter and verse most of my friends under the table (yay me). I can spout all 66 books from Genesis to Revelations in less than 60 seconds (impressive right? yawn). At get togethers, I’m often asked to clarify a religious dispute even now (age 34).
I never did the public baptism, b/c I grew out before it was available, but I’m quite sure it wouldn’t have changed my mind.
There’s *a lot* I’m leaving out. One was that my mom wouldn’t let us take communion until we expressed a sincere cognitive knowledge of why it was important and what it meant. One large part of the process was that I was aiming to go to seminary after college. The books I read in preparation did much to help me grow from faith.
Fact is, I LOVED Christianity with as much as I could possibly give to it. Through education and self awareness, Christianity is somewhat easy to grow out of, not destroy.
What does this mean to you?
You asked. I want to be clear.
For a long time, my goal was to reconcile all that I had learned about Christianity with all that I learned about non-Christianity. This was out of fear of disappointing my family.
There came a time when I needed to be myself whether my family and friends accepted me or not. I took a gamble. I won. My family and friends have been the most supportive. So far, the most friction I’ve received has been from strangers with a need to read random atheists’ blogs and add their $0.02 without taking the time to learn the whole story.
It is not my goal to convert you or anyone. It’s not my goal to be your enemy.
It’s my goal to talk about non-belief as a person who believed with immense and dedicated fervor. It’s my goal to explore belief from this side of the coin.
I can’t help but think you haven’t read enough of my blog yet to understand that I’m not your enemy. I may say some pathetic and antagonistic things about Christianity, but I’ve also made a great effort to bridge the gap.
I mean, this post alone, I’m insisting that atheists read Christian apologetics. You’re welcome! For goodness sakes.
You came here to read my “personal” thoughts. Criticizing me for that which you are ignorant of because you haven’t done the research, is what you’re opposed to. I think deep down, you’re fascinated by atheism, because of a deep-seated jealousy.