If I am remembering correctly, we seem to be fairly caught up. My marriage is probably on its deathbed, which leaves me with some shade of relief while still depressed. Maybe it is a good time to bring up religion and faith. What kind of man am I when it comes to belief and metaphysics?
Place yourself in the pew with me on a Sunday morning, let’s say about eight years ago. In reality you’ve been sitting in a metal chair among 250 of Christianity’s finest (read: 30 households with 8 kids each) for about 2 hours. The topic is whatever comes to the leader’s mind. This could be how American culture is pagan, paramount to Sodom and Gomorrah, or perhaps this weeks he is spewing bad statistics about how young men are to blame for the atrocities of rap music, college, and popular culture. After a couple hours of listening to this guy tell his community that they are the only hope for the world, you break into a weekly potluck. Bee-line it for the meatballs and pass the rows of gluten-free-sugar-free-MSG-free-nonhomosexual lasagna that somehow lacks noodles. Eventually you manage to agree with this guy, so much that you join an internship (free labor).
This was my religion, this was my creed. I even have a tattoo of a common creed that we studied. The tattoo came after I left the little cult. It was getting weird. My family stayed behind, but they respected my decision to seek God elsewhere. For me, elsewhere was anywhere I could go that didn’t bring judgment, hymns, white fifteen-passenger vans, or sad lasagna. I would say this was a turning point in my shallow, though expanding worldview.
At first I took the Bible for what it claims to be: exclusive truth. I had always wondered how the Abrahamic religions could be so different, yet claim to have the same foundation. Through some miracle I always managed to quiet those thoughts and return to hating myself for being the scourge of humanity. After I had distanced myself from this…group…I began to ask tough questions. How on earth does a world-wide flood make sense? Doesn’t the Biblical origin story seem poetic to you? Did God send his only son to be a human sacrifice, born of a virgin and raised from the dead? Why would God condemn everyone to eternal torment, yet make it difficult to be saved? Oh, how the list keeps growing.
If you talk to an average Christian, I doubt they could spell out the Bible in a way that would satisfy the average non-christian’s skepticism. That is to say, wherever I went I could not get good answers. All I’ve ever needed is an intelligent conversation about faith that doesn’t rely on the logic of a book written for illiterate farmers and shepherds. I’ve read Lewis, I’ve read Keller, I’ve talked to pastors, I’ve listened to lectures; they all fall short. And what if they didn’t fall short? Wouldn’t that lead me to believe in this ancient book of wisdom literally? Wouldn’t I reverse into the Christian extremist church I had just separated from?
Do you remember that one time when a bunch of Christians decided to go and fight a holy war against the Muslim nations? No, not 2017…try 1099 AD. If people follow the Quran or the Bible to their literal conclusions, we should see another crusade here shortly. So I’m a skeptic of Christianity. I’ve seen the man behind the curtain, and I can’t stomach the fact that people rely on religion as a means to define truth. Organized faith can be viewed a few different ways:
- Religion is truth.
- Religion is lies.
- Religion is useful.
- Religion doesn’t matter.
I stand firmly in the camp that claims religion is a useful tool to teach morality and to develop oneself towards enlightenment. I haven’t had to tell anyone my status as a Christian lately, but I feel like I should stop identifying myself as a follower of Jesus. There just isn’t enough proof that the religion I see in Christian churches is anything more than a show worth billions. I am not bitter or resentful, as many of my demographic seem to be. Rather, it seems that the Bible has a lot to offer as long as you don’t take it literally. Learn from every religious text. Walk among people who defend their views, but not so deeply that they forget to listen to the wisdom of logic, science, or other faiths.