Because the question needs to be asked.
There are numerous reasons why I left Christianity. The journey was 32 years before I finally said, “Enough.” As a black American, it’s simply not our faith. Christianity in America, by and large, was introduced to, and forced upon enslaved Africans. We were not allowed to practice our religions from our villages in Africa. It’s the slave master’s religion, and I recognize it as such. Being told I’m evil, serving Satan, and going to Hell are no longer compelling reasons for me to stay in something that I no longer want. And all Evangelicals have as a bargaining chip/blunt instrument, is Hell. They become petulant elementary school playground bullies, threatening to sick their god on me instead of the time-honored threat to ‘bash my teeth in.’ I’m done. If there is a God and an afterlife, my part in that is between me and the deity. It’s no longer anyone else’s business, and it really never was. I reject the agency of the church over my relationship with the divine.
That was me. The whole time I was a Christian. I believed, but I’ve never been much of a people person. I fit in when and where I fit in, and I was not there more than I was there. My attendance was never a consistent thing.
I was a solitary believer. And at this point you could say I’m more or less a Jesus-leaning deist with all sorts of Buddhist and Gnostic flavors and notes. Spiritually, I’m kinda like wine.
Continue reading at ChristianPig.com
My jobs have all been secular. I’ve never been employed, in any capacity, by a religious institution. I’ve worked with fellow church-members twice. At one company the coworker had ongoing issues with management. After working there a few years I was promoted to a floor supervisor position. This made me one of his immediate supervisors. The manager didn’t discuss things with the leads unless they were involved in whatever situation was at hand. So I wasn’t present for most of whatever conversations he was having in the office, and he and I didn’t discuss much of it. At some point he started talking with the pastor and a few of the men at the church. Not long after that I was at a party at church and one of the deacons asked me what I did for the company I worked for. Then he asked me if I knew the employee. Then he started telling me about a conversation that supposedly happened between my manager and the employee. I said, “I can’t talk about business matters.” When I said that, his reply was, “…well you can talk about here,” as though church was some sort of ‘safe-place’ where I was free to discuss my employer’s business.
I was part of the management team at a, not-affiliated-with-the-church … had-absolutely-nothing-to-do-with-church-or-religion, secular business. Sharing what was discussed in the office, in the way these guys at church were implying I should, was a good way to lose my job. Risking that was just not on the table. These discussions were intrusive, and honestly the presumption of it all really pissed me off. As I drove home after that I said out loud, “I need separation of church and work!”
The church doesn’t have agency in outside affairs. Many Christians think it does, and dominionists want it to have absolute agency. They’re wrong. Or maybe the institution has the agency that people give it. I was never one of those people. Work was a separate part of my life from ‘church stuff.’
This coworker/employee/fellow church member and I had never been close. We weren’t friends. At best it was kind of a long-term acquaintance. He was someone I worked with, and for a while, someone I attended church with. I was angry, but I never confronted him or discussed the conversation I had had with the two deacons.
Later on my cell started ringing again, this time with the pastor asking about more things to do with the office. I became resentful, or more resentful of the employee after this, and began to distance myself further from him at work, except in my capacity as his supervisor. Some might say that I was disloyal to my ‘brother in Christ’ by not supporting him in whatever problems he was having with his managers.
Eventually I left that church. There were a number of reasons why, and while this wasn’t the primary one, it was definitely on the list.
When you’re part of Christianity, and perhaps in other religions, there’s a rule of sorts…maybe a commandment, that you’re to put the church and your fellow believers ahead of everything. It may be implied by the ‘greatest commandment’ from Matthew 22:36-40 that we’re to love God with all our heart, soul, and mind, and that we’re to love our neighbor as ourselves. There were many times, some might say most of the time, when I didn’t do this. I looked back…often. I didn’t put the church and my fellow believers first when it came to many things during my time as a Christian. I’ve never viewed my employment as part of ‘ministry.’ I wasn’t there for that. I wasn’t there to wear people down or catch them at a low point and sell them fire insurance. I wasn’t there for bible study. I was there to do a job and collect a paycheck so that I could pay my bills. You may say that I was never sincere. You wouldn’t be the first.
We judge each other based on the idea of constants. Life is about ebb and flow.
As far back as I can remember I have believed in the existence of life on other planets. The way I view what’s ‘out there’ is heavily coloured by years of exposure to telescope images, science fiction shows, and science documentaries. Whether they have been here in body or mind is subjective. I hope they have. I hope somebody out there has figured out how to perturb the space around an object such that the perturbation can move sufficiently fast to cover the vast distances. It’s a hope I have. I don’t know. I have seen UFOs on four occasions, but I’m not going to detail those in this post.
We’re a small planet orbiting third in line around a small star close to the outer edge of a galaxy that’s composed of billions of other systems and because of certain hobbling beliefs, some people think we’re it…the only planet with life. I don’t believe that. I’ve never believed that, and I will go to my grave never believing that. I’ve never been satisfied with that idea. Even in my years as a Christian I believed there was life out there. I refused to allow doctrines to destroy my vision of a truly vast universe. I just tried to work in a savior for their ‘mankind’ and hoped that they hadn’t made as much of a mess of their history as we have of ours. I don’t do that anymore.
A few years ago I was talking with a minister friend. He said that he felt that anyone who believed in aliens didn’t know God or his word. I listened. I didn’t challenge him on what he was telling me because his opinion of my views on cosmology is none of my business. And after we got off the phone I said to myself, “Well I guess I don’t know God, then.”
Actually I do.
Some people’s gods are just too small.
Here’s part 2 of my interview on the Losing Our Religion podcast.
Those of us who, through deconversion and/or deconstruction, are challenging Pascal’s wager are playing for the highest stakes imaginable. We’re betting that God is bigger and more awesome than anyone has ever envisioned, that the creator transcends the book and is nothing like our feeble 2-dimensional notions. So I want to say to anyone who is just starting the process or is considering deconstructing their faith or deconverting from it to take heart. It can be scary. It will scare some people in your life, but I think in the end we’re going to be okay.