Well it's been a journey, to say the least. Like many, I grew up in an intensely religious household and the concerted effects of every single major authority figure I looked up to, my social environment and the highly regulated information environment I grew up in led to me trying very hard to be a good Christian. Because it was what good people did. Because it would give me peace and love and joy and solid relationships. Because it was true.
And I'll admit, I always found it difficult.
I was actually a Missionary Kid, which meant that my parents went to a foreign culture (Israel) in order to spread the gospel and convert the locals. In defense of my parents, however, I have to say that this was done in as appropriate a manner as possible. While I disagree with their goals, they were good people and their only responsibilities as missionaries were to help out with the local church and be involved with the community. The idea was that community involvement would give Christ’s light an opportunity to shine, and the good news will be spread only as a result of curiosity and natural interest. So my Dad managed a coffee shop, started a jazz band and hung out with the locals. Which I guess I’ve always justified as quite a bit more respectable than going door to door, handing out pamphlets and so on.
So all in all, things were going well. In the absence of critical thinking (It was discouraged insofar as it challenged the faith) and protected by the simplicity of middle class life, I found it all quite palatable.
This is particularly the case with the boarding school that I attended. It was incredibly tight knit - probably because it was comprised of only a few hundred students and was situated in a rural portion of a non-english speaking country. And though the time I spent there was supportive and enjoyable for me, I will always lament the narrow mindedness that permeated the place.
Despite being comprised of students whose parents work in something like sixty different countries, everything was suspiciously unanimous. All my inherited views - things like politics, healthcare, abortion, wars, education, science and slight doctrinal differences notwithstanding, religion - they never encountered a dissenting view. And so my confidence in them was great.
So much so that I specifically remember the first time that I realized I could be wrong. Because I was shocked. Now I had always fancied myself as a well-reasoned individual and with this unearned confidence I entered a discussion with one of my newly acquired liberal friends (of course, I only came across these once I enrolled in University) about something political. I believe it was something along the lines of abortion.
Now as I’m sure you can guess, the conventional wisdom on this topic I had grew up with was that it was murder. Period. And anyone that said otherwise was heartless, immoral and misled. This notion was supported by a small dose of talking points, but in my confidence I had never taken the time to verify veracity or understand the complexity.
Needless to say, I was schooled. And I knew it.
I’d like to say that that was it. That that was the moment I swore to re-examine all of my beliefs systematically and adhere to reason above all. It was far more gradual than that. But I did learn never to be so sure of myself.
Political views are less integral to the Christian faith than are other notions of truth and it took a couple more years of open minded searching and some advanced biochemistry to topple my faith completely. It should be said that these years were difficult for me. I felt very lost.
But I wouldn’t trade them in for anything.
This brief summary doesn’t do it justice. Starting in those years, I learned to embrace the limits of my understanding but continually strive to break them down. I learned how to approach life with a minimum of preconceived notions and expand their numbers based solely on merit. I learned the value of discussion and debate.
So I just started a blog. I hope that it will give me access to a wider range of ideas. They will either teach me something new or test the accuracy of those I have. Maybe I just want to add to the noise, if I'm lucky I might deconvert a few. I know these sort of blogs helped me in my journey, I can only hope to do the same.
Hope to see you there.
We're all proud to have you here with your eyes open.
Thank you for sharing your story. :)
Glad you are here and enjoyed reading your story.~ Melinda