The New Christians, And Why I’m Not One of Them (Part 1)

 

I’ve Rejected Christianity

But it’s not just Christianity; I no longer profess any religion. Not the one I was brought up in, nor any of the others I’ve tried over the 65 years of my life. Becoming an atheist wasn’t anything I decided to do; rather it was a gradual recognition that the word was the best description of my belief system.

Or rather the lack thereof. You see, atheism isn’t a belief system. It’s not something you “believe in.” But before we go any further, let’s define what we’re talking about.

a·the·ism

ˈāTHēˌizəm/

noun

noun: atheism

disbelief or lack of belief in the existence of God or gods.

synonyms:nonbelief, disbelief, unbelief, irreligion, skepticism, doubt, agnosticism;

nihilism

“atheism was not freely discussed in his community”

(Source: https://www.google.com/search?q=define%3Aatheism&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8)

And here’s a nifty linguistic secret: the fact that “God” is capitalized while “gods” isn’t, is a dead giveaway to the very strong probability that this entry was written by a monotheist.

But I digress.

Some History

I was born into a very religious household. Shortly after my birth, my father was ordained as a minister in the Lutheran church, and shortly after that, he was commissioned an officer, a chaplain, in the United States Air Force.

Growing up a PK (“Preacher’s Kid) had its benefits as well as its drawbacks. I was always “on,” in that everyone knew who I was, so that I always had to be on my best behavior. And while this wasn’t hard to do when I was a child, it started to be a problem when I got older. Specifically, when I became a teenager and discovered all of the wonderful ins and outs of our beautifuckingfull language. But those problems were offset by the (false) belief of parents that their precious daughters were safe in the hands (and arms and back seat) of The Chaplain’s Son.

But something I had noticed over the years was that the behavior of many Christians didn’t quite jibe with their professed beliefs.[i] If I had to pick a time when I started having doubts, I suppose it would be when I first made that observation.

Leaving Home

“Leaving home” meant going away to college. I had no choice in this: it was just something that was expected of me. Nor did I have a choice in the particular college I went to: Texas Lutheran College gave discounted tuition to the children of the clergy, and so that’s where I went. Besides, it was only 30 miles from home.

For me, the best part about it was not having to get up on Sunday morning to go to church and then Sunday school. (Well, to be honest, that was the second best thing. The first was getting laid on a regular basis.) And that’s the funny thing about religion for a lot of us: unless your beliefs are constantly being reinforced (which I now realize is the main reason for going to church at all), they can rapidly die off. In that respect, religion is like a living plant: without constant nurturing, it dies.

At least that’s been my experience with religion. Every single one I tried.

Some Context

As Joni Mitchell sang in her generational anthem , “Woodstock,”
Well maybe it is just the time of year
Or maybe it’s the time of man
I don’t know who I am
But you know life is for learning[ii]

I went away to college in 1968. One year after the so-called “Summer of Love”. One year after I discovered the wonders of marijuana, and a year before psilocybin, and LSD. The Beatles had released “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” the year before, and were about to release the game-changing “Hey Jude.”

Who am I kidding? EVERYTHING the Beatles did was game-changing. “Hey Jude” was over seven minutes long, leading George Martin (their producer) to say that it was too long, and that radio stations wouldn’t play it. Paul McCartney just smile and predicted—quite rightly, as it turned out—“They will if it’s us.”

I first heard “Hey Jude” while at the swimming pool during my Water Safety Instructor Certification class—which I had to drop later after my near-drowning at Stinky Falls. The worst part about dropping the class was that it was the only one I had with the (unrequited) love of my life, Candy Sorensen.

The Good, The Bad, And The ADHD

A psychiatrist once diagnosed me with ADHD. I can’t remember his name, but what do you expect? I have ADHD: I can’t remember stuff like that!

But it’s a perfect example of how things have changed in my lifetime. When I was in school, we didn’t know about ADD or ADHD or whatever it’s called these days. Consequently, I was “not paying attention,” “a day-dreamer,” “not living up to her potential,” and a dozen other labels.” Oh, and if you got caught with drugs, you were expelled.

Nowadays, if you’re diagnosed with ADHD, you’re put on drugs.

One of the practical results of my ADHD is the way my mind flits from subject to subject, as it did while writing this entry. And that’s why it’s a bit long. And rather than going on, I’m going to close it now, and save the rest of it for my next post.

Once again, thanks for stopping by.

Robyn

[i] I’m not deliberately picking on Christians–it’s just that Christianity was what I grew up in, and so that’s all I had the opportunity to observe.

[ii] “Woodstock,” by Joni Mitchell, http://jonimitchell.com/music/song.cfm?id=75

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