Sunday, December 23, 2012

An Introduction: On Anger, and the Pursuit of Truth

My dear readers:

It has been a wild ride here lately. I've had a lot of changes coming for me, most of which have been a long time coming. I cannot properly express to you how much so many things have grieved me lately. I am a man consumed in sorrow and in joy all at once, feeling the necessity to make changes for no other reason than my pursuit of truth, and my pursuit of being happy in life. I take this to mean that I am being who I am correctly. However, I think that this has not been the norm for me for a long time. Allow me to explain why.

As much as I try to keep this blog impersonal, I must address something publicly that may or may not be relevant to you. It has been asserted that I am a very angry person lately. This is not the first time I have been told this, and I doubt it will be the last. However, this time presents an opportunity to explain some things.

I have been a person of faith for as long as I can remember. A lot of the reason I started on this path is because I was terrified of the divine being I was told about from a very young age throwing me into hell to burn and be tortured and alone for eternity. I still have panic episodes over this deeply engrained fear, for whatever reason. However, over time my faith became something I was very militant about, and something I became extremely passionate about. Even now, I can discuss Christian theology and spirituality with anyone that wants to.

Christianity has made me very angry for years. I used to be angry when people would attack my beliefs, and I used to be angry when people told me I wasn't really a Christian. As it turns out, the second group may have been correct all along. I became a very liberal Christian in college, and the reason I did is because Christian theology had become untenable. I looked at this book I'd been told to believe, I looked at history, I looked at alternate views, and I looked at my own reasoning. I then concluded that the Bible is a legendary text and nothing more, and that God is something separate from the religion of Christianity, even though I still believed in Jesus.

Understandably, a lot of people told me that I had watered down my faith, that I had taken all of its' "teeth" away from it. I had a professor at my college tell me publicly that I did not care about the truth because of my views, and any support I received from authority figures was very tentative, as most of them were either trying to save me, and the rest were trying to explain me. Very rarely was I straight up asked about things, and I was told it was because I'm a very intimidating person. This is perhaps true.

I was raised to be angry because I was raised in fear, which turned to militancy, which turned to feeling stepped on and excluded, which turned into resentment. It is not a good position to be in, and it has affected me more than I can possibly estimate. I can spend my time blaming people, but in the end, I blame the system. Christianity cannot escape its' abuses, and this is a very inflammatory view It is possible that all of my anger has become an issue lately merely because of my change of beliefs, so allow me to be blunt.

Yes, I am no longer a Christian, and yes, Christianity does make me angry. I am sure a lot of you feel like your beliefs are being attacked, but let me assure you: I never intend to attack someone's personal beliefs. If I stepped over that line, I am sorry. I endeavor to be objective when discussing these things, and sometimes my passion gets the best of me. There is a reason I tend not to say anything when certain things come up: I tend to go too far, and then everyone gets intimidated by my passion and my reasoning. I tend to be very transparent about these things, and it is my gift to people. I think that most people deserve the truth from me. I am very sorry if my anger has gotten involved and this has all gotten out of hand.

However, it is very important to me that you all understand one thing just as much. I have not made the decision not to be a Christian lately for any other reason than that I do not believe it is true. When I look at Evolution and the origin of biological life, when I look at sociology, history, psychology, archaeology, anthropology and when I really really think and read and research and question and conclude, I do not believe that Christianity is anything more than another historical religion that happens to be involved with the politics and culture of the country I live in.

I would not have decided to publicly leave the faith I grew up in for any other reason than that I do not think it is true. I have paid for it dearly by doing so, and I will continue to do so with friendships, the deterioration of my relationships with people that are religious, and with a lot of misunderstanding. I have paid for it with my mental and emotional state lately, and I have paid for it with my health. I will probably continue paying for it with some of these things, though I believe that the best thing for me to do at this point is to move on and live well, because I also believe that I am right and that I am living rightly.

This is an invitation to anyone that runs across this blog. I don't care if what you have to say is that you hate everything I am doing and think I'm wrong: I want to have conversations. I will not back down from my position without a very good reason, but if you give me a good reason to do so and I am convinced that it is the truth, I will in a second. Surely I have proven that by now, and I hope that I have proven that I respect other people, even if I've never done so perfectly.

Though I do hope you all understand how grieved I am that my relationships with some of you have suffered for the direction I've gone lately, I must make one thing perfectly clear.

I am right to be angry. I am not just angry, I am furiously enraged at the religion I grew up in, because I feel it is unjust, abusive, psychologically destructive, culturally and historically anachronistic, morally offensive, and a historical and political nightmare. What I have gone through is nothing compared to so many people that have been on the other end of religion in general, and I am grateful that the most I have to deal with is some odd emotional things and some awkward conversations with people. This is something that I feel even those that are a part of Christianity still can agree with, even if they are still "believers." Many would say that Christian history is bloody and it is an indication of man's "fallen" state. Where we differ is that I do not agree with that explanation, nor do I place the same trust in the historic Christian church as they do.

What you must understand is that anger is not an emotion that I feel toward Christians. My family's faith is still Christianity, with me being the sole exception. This could make me feel very alone, but I still love them very much, and they still love me very much. I respect many Christians I know very much, and believe they are very smart and educated people. Though I would not disagree with them if I didn't think I was right, this does not mean that I'm going to be hostile or degrading. That's not the person I have ever been, and though I've never been perfect in my goals to respect others, I try my best to do so, regardless of my position on issues, and I expect the same respect from people in discussions. I can no longer tolerate the imposed self-degradation I'm expected to take on in the name of being moral or holy.

I plan on making a series of posts in the next few weeks regarding my "deconversion" from Christianity, because I believe a lot of my regular readers are stunned and confused or angry about the seeming suddenness with which I have changed. It is important to me that you all understand where I'm coming from, and why things have ended up this way, and what my thoughts are.

Lastly, I wish to extend one final sentiment. Regardless of what one believes or how one deals with life, I believe we can all respect each other. It is my hope that the future of humanity is full of that respect, and that we can continue to grow together and leave behind all of that that would get in the way of truth and of love.