Saturday, September 7, 2013

Conversions and De-conversions

The story is over.  What I had initially thought would take me 2 or 3 months of continuous writing turned into 19 months of occasional writing and long breaks.  The writing was not the hard part.  It was the motivation to dredge up the sometimes unpleasant memories, and the thoughtful labor involved in organizing all my thoughts towards the goal of discovering exactly why I converted into Christianity, and why I ultimately had to leave it.  But I am finally finished, and I think I have answered those questions to my own satisfaction.  I wrote it for myself, so that I could discover those answers for myself, but I will leave it in this public forum for anybody who wishes to read it.  I will use this page as a sort of ‘Table of Contents’ to allow me to click on individual articles in the story a little more easily.

I was inspired to write my ‘Spiritual Journey’, if I must call it that, after re-reading Kerry Livgren’s similarly themed autobiography, Seeds of Change.  As I wrote in the very first article of my own series, I was impressed with Livgren’s story because he showed how his decision to convert to Christianity and reject his growing musical fame was not a singular event.  Rather, that decision was the result of a lifetime of experiences and personal meditation, sometimes reaching back into his early childhood.  I wanted to do the same thing with my own story.  Some of the thinking I had as an adult was formed out of events that occurred while I was in still in grade school.  As I have often said, the story of my de-conversion is necessarily the story of my life.  Even though Livgren and I came to vastly different conclusions regarding our religious beliefs, I wanted to show that I also did not make a hasty decision to leave Christianity.  For me, it was the result of over 40 years of experiences, education and deep thought.

Am I right?  I think so, but I have been wrong before.  I can defend most of my positions, but I have learned that I must welcome the possibility that I may be shown to be wrong.  I once thought that I could know and understand the absolute and exclusive Truth about the nature of reality through faith and revelation.  But I will no longer make such claims.  I no longer preach the Gospel of absolute Truth and Certainty.  Methodology is more important than certainty.  I am done with Dogmatism.

Livgren concluded his book with a chapter called Soapbox, in which he vented about the sad state of popular music in the 1980’s and early 90’s.  Portions of that chapter can be read HERE.  In a similar vein I also wrote a concluding chapter, in which I vented some frustrations of my own.  I ultimately decided to leave my own Soapbox off, and leave the story where it is. 

If anybody ever decides they want to know why I left Christianity, I will point them here.  If anybody thinks I was rash in my decision, and threw the baby out with the bathwater, I will point them here.  This is my story.  After writing it, I discovered for myself exactly why I converted into Christianity, and I also know exactly why I left it.  This is why:

I introduce my motivations for wanting to write about my ‘Spiritual Journey’.

I introduce my parents and a little of their religious pedigree.

My parents rejected their respective religious traditions, and I saw a lot of sex, drugs and rock'n'roll.

Mom got swept up in the hippie 'Jesus Movement' and my world became Pentecostal magic and miracles.

As a religious adolescent, I learned to be guilty of what came natural. 

I temporarily drop the religion, but continue as an overgrown adolescent.  My future does not look bright.

Miserable and hopeless, I take the only option that I can see.  I learn again to love Jesus.

I describe in some detail my life as a 'Born Again Christian'.  Here are the beliefs that I held, the sacrifices that I made, the street preaching that I performed, and the bogus apologetics and pseudo-science that I had to accept.  I also describe the constant fears, paradoxes and anxieties that Christian dogma imposed on me.

A mission trip reveals the Christian hypocrisy I was engaged in.  I have to leave my home church.  This part contains clips from an old home movie.

I read one too many Asimov books, and become fascinated by the mysteries of science.

My introduction to astrophysics, the scientific method and skepticism

I meet my future wife.  I describe some of her religious background as a Catholic.

I learn a bit about Catholicism and how that affected my own Protestant beliefs.

I am desperate to be a good husband, so I try to be good the only way I know how - religion.  The results are nearly disastrous.

I start to apply critical reasoning to my religious beliefs while married to a Catholic believer and hosting Bible studies.  It is a precarious balancing act.

I retreat to Christian apologetics to save my crumbling Faith.  The plan backfires.

I finally abandon my Christian faith.  Now what?


unkleE said...

I guess this will be the end of your posting then? If so, I will say farewell and best wishes. I have been following for some time and it has been interesting to understand your journey a little. Thanks.

Zoe Bloomer said...

So appreciate your efforts Heissailing. I have found reading about your journey so incredibly interesting and personal. Your posts were often my early Sunday morning devotionals. *big grin* And here we are on another Sunday. All the best to you and Rosemary.