Losing My Religion
When I started this blog, I considered myself a Christian. When I was in college, my roommate freshman year was a born again Christian. She was a nice girl, and she always seemed happy and on top of things. She gave all the credit for this to god, and eventually I started to listen to her. I've never been great at making friends due mainly to self-confidence issues, and she and her Christian friends were all too willing to befriend me. What began was now that I look back on it, a subtle and calculating campaign of emotional manipulation, which was no less insidious for the fact that it was so well-intentioned. These people truly did (and still do) believe that I needed to be saved, and if they had to force themselves to act like a surrogate family to me to do it, well, so be it.
So I converted. And at first, I thought that it didn't mean much besides my sins were forgiven. Then I was slowly informed of all the other stuff I had to believe, do, and say to be a "good" Christian.
I had to believe that homosexuality was a sin, that was one of the first points driven home to me, as I found out when my roommate came home from class one afternoon and found me watching Will & Grace. Every time a character made a "gay" comment my roommate would go "eww" or sigh loudly. I finally asked her if it was bothering her that I was watching this show. She then enlightened me as to the official Christian stance on queers, that it was a sin, and that people who did it were most likely going to hell. I was stunned. I had a lot of gay friends (I'm like the definition of fag hag), and having been around them, I knew they had no more control over being gay than I had over being straight. I said to her, "But they're born that way", in a state of total confusion. She shook her head sadly and said they weren't born that way, that that was a lie cooked up by gay people. In my head, I thought, "um, wouldn't they be the ones to know?", but the part of me that was at that time longing for acceptance said, "Ok", and left it at that.
And there were other things. I had to go to church every Sunday. I had to go to "prayer meetings" and pray out loud in front of everybody about what I thought god ought to be doing. The logic of prayer puzzled me from the start. If god is supposedly omniscient, and he doesn't make mistakes, why would we need to pray? My basic feeling was that apparently god was going to do what he wanted anyways, so why bother?
And then there were the million and one other little beliefs and controversies that they don't tell you about when you sign up. Baptism, pre-destination, free will, spiritual gifts, the role of women, Harry Potter, spiritual warfare (it's as scary and fucked up as it sounds, trust me), politics (when I informed a Christian friend that I was voting for Al Gore in 2000, she literally gasped in shock), the list goes on. And on. And on.
Needless to say, I struggled as a Christian. I began to suffer from an almost constant state of fear, anxiety and depression, because try as I might, I simply could not figure out, as everybody else seemed to, what "god's will for my life" was. Meanwhile, I was trying to sift through all the bullshit, figuring out just what set of rules I ought to follow to be a good Christian. When I left school, leaving my Christian friends behind, I decided that I was still a Christian but that I didn't care about anything except believing in god and Jesus. That worked ok for awhile, and that was the state my spirituality was in when I started this blog, and some of my earliest posts reflect that. As you can see, even then my relationship with faith and the church was on shaky ground.
However, as the months have passed, as Christians have in general become less and less credible and seemingly more concerned with gaining power and ruling the world than being christlike, and as I continue to have distance from the time when I was fully immersed in the Christian life, I've come to realize that I truly don't believe in god. What's more, I'm happier not believing than I ever was when I did. My whole life seems so much clearer to me. I'm not constantly looking for god's will. I just look for mine, which most of the time is pretty easy to figure out.
The straw that broke the camel's back came the other day, when it occurred to me that if there were no god, or at least nobody who believed in god (not just Christians), the world would be a much more peaceful place. And really it comes to the same thing. If the belief in god or a god makes the world worse off then yes, truly, god is dead.
I leave you with a song that sums up my feelings on the matter nicely. Naked Sunday by The Stone Temple Pilots. Here are the lyrics.