2/1/09                                                                                       View Comments

Seeds of doubt

A typical breathing treatment for cystic fibro...An example of a breathing treatment for a younger Cystic fibrosis patient. Image via Wikipedia

By CH

I was raised a Christian, but my dad was career Air Force, so I lived in foreign countries until I was a preteen. I always wondered why I was lucky enough to be a Christian, yet the kids I played with in Japan were doomed to hell. They were just kids.

We moved from the UK to Tennessee (August 1960, 'whites-only' restaurants, etc.) when I was eleven years old. I am Caucasian, but until moving to TN, I actually had never categorized others by race. I had friends that were black, oriental, Hispanic, white, and never even put it together that any of us were any "different." TN was quite a shock.

We moved off base, and for the first time we attended a Southern Baptist church instead of the Protestant chapel on base. It wasn't long before I was "saved."

I enjoyed the Sunday School stories and activities, but the seeds of doubt were planted after a shocking episode. The church supported missionaries in Africa. I always wanted to go to Africa, was a Tarzan fan, wanted to see the exotic animals, etc. I couldn't wait to hear the missionaries and meet their converts, real Africans. The church barred the 'converts' from attending the church because they were (horror!) black. I was crushed, mad, sad and embarrassed by this awful action. I glimpsed hatred and bigotry and was shocked to my core by it. And these people were Christians! They sent money so these "converts" could be "brought into the fold!" I had even contributed some of my allowance! I began looking at Christians through wiser, harder eyes, without quite the same trust (or gullibility) that I had enjoyed previously. But, I was still a kid and so continued on as an xtian kid.

I was even xtian for my first year and a half of college. By then I was attending (again, only with family) a fundy Baptist Church in Springfield, MO. I was in nursing school, and even joined the Nurses' Christian Fellowship for that first year. Some of my interactions in that group were interesting, as I found out how many different dogmas are touted, how every brand of Xtianity is absolutely 100% true, and if I didn't believe the "brand" of whomever I was talking to, I was damned to hell. If I went to a dance, I was damned by one sect. If I did homework on Sunday, I was damned by another. If I talked to a girl in my dorm room, and both of us didn't have at least one foot each on the floor, we were automatically lesbians -- I didn't even know what that was.

Anyway, the seeds of doubt about all these "truths" were growing pretty fast. The full bloom occurred when I was rotating through my pediatric clinical experience. I was seeing a couple of siblings: a 5- and 12-year-old girl. They both had cystic fibrosis. They both had multiple hospital admissions and were well known to the entire pediatrics staff. The younger sister died suddenly. It was always expected by the girls, the family, and the doctors and nurses that the younger sister would live longer, and maybe even have a good quality of life into her 40s. The hopes were pinned on advances in cystic fibrosis research, but she suddenly died. The family, the staff everyone was devastated, and the 12-year-old was absolutely grief-stricken. Everyone tried to explain to her and to her family, that it was "God's will," and "God moves in mysterious ways." That was it for me. I realized there could not actually be a God that could do this, so I stopped believing in a personal god. Prayers were just mutterings of wishful thinking and just about as effective.

Since that time, returned to school, became a certified registered nurse anesthetist, earned a master's degree in biology, and became a certified hypnotist. I recently retired, after 38 years as a nurse, and 31 years as a CRNA. I enjoy the challenge of thinking, researching, and formulating my own ideas. I have no need or desire to convince anyone about anything.

I now believe in thinking critically, questioning everything, using factual evidence and reasoning logically, and being willing to change previous beliefs if new facts are uncovered. Remember, the earth used to be thought to be flat.

Be true to yourself, be happy and live a good life.


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