Sent in by Zen
Call me Zen. I want to share my story as an ex Christian.
I am Indonesian Chinese. My father raised me as an “ordinary” Chinese, I mean, my father believes in God but never explain his faith deeply. He only pointed out that conscience is better than religions.
We lived in a small city and the best school in that city was Catholic school. Gradually, I became a Catholic, and so did my brothers and sisters. I remembered my father objections to my elder brother for his conversion to Catholic. My father saw Christianity as an evil religion that humiliated Chinese when he was a child in China. But my father was wise enough to say that we all could choose our own religion freely at 17 years old. So, unfortunately, all of his sons and daughters became Catholics when they were 17 years old. Until his death several years ago, my father was still “ordinary” Chinese, going to Temple once or twice a year in Chinese New Year (around January/February) and/or Qing Ming (every April 5th).
When I was at University in Jakarta, I began to be in doubt about Christianity. It was Zen that made me a skeptical one. Zen, as long as I know, was a hybrid of Buddhism and Daoism, so I learned Dao too. From Zen, I learn to be skeptical. From Dao, I learn to be natural.
Zen always teaches me about the Truth outside the holy books of Theravada or Mahayana. So I studied the teachings of Mahayana and Theravada in order to know Zen better. I found the absurdity of Christianity when I read articles from “atheist” Theravada that attacked Christianity.
I learned a lot of western literatures as well as eastern literatures while I was at University. I like Spinoza as well as Thomas Paine and Robert Ingersoll writings. I like Zen stories as well as Laozi and Zhuangzi sayings. Both Great Dao Masters make me appreciating natural way of life.
My change from Catholic to Zen or Dao was gradually. Finally, at 24 years old, when I had graduated from University, I could leave Jesus and God Father. Since then, I began to appreciate my father’s simple religion, especially the “conscience”. Conscience, I think, is the basic of the Zen or Dao. I know there will be a billion subjective interpretations of conscience. But I think conscience is natural: to be kind, free, honest, and simple. I am simply a “Zen” or “Dao” follower.
Now I am 37 years old and have an ex-Catholic wife and a 7 years old son. We are vegetarian family because we believe we are biologically or naturally herbivores like apes, based on evolution theory! You can laugh at me but 13 years of vegetarian way of life had cured my stomach disease I ever had as an omnivore teenager.
I had replaced Jehovah or Father with Nature or Universe like Spinoza or Einstein did. I believe human’s body came from meteorites, hit the earth, brought amino acids, then became microorganisms, and finally mammals, via a long and complex evolution. Shortly, I believe that our body was and is from Universe! I was born as a part of Universe and I will die as a part of Universe too. You can call my “faith” as Pantheism as well as Daoism. I don’t care much about terminologies!
When I look at the stars, I always feel I am a very tiny part of this Great Universe. I wonder if there is another planet like earth. I hope someday humans can make a real “Startrek”. But I think that cosmic journey will need billions of years to find another planet like earth. When humans find that planet, the earth actually had blown up and disappeared! That’s my natural/pantheistic way of thinking. But meanwhile, humans must live in this “sad” and “mad” planet, full with religious extremists.
After 1998 reformation, Indonesia suffered several religious conflicts, for example, Islam against Christianity in Ambon or Poso, driven by extremists from both sides. My wife and I realize that we must be natural and skeptical persons in order to be “glad” and “sane” while we live in Indonesia, the biggest Moslem population in this earth and also the biggest Overseas Chinese population in the world, but unfortunately most of Indonesian Chinese is Christian, the traditional enemy of Moslem. 911 made Christian-Moslem relationship worse. Indonesian Chinese is in a great danger of racial and religious riots! We can compare Indonesian Chinese in this 21st century with German Jews in 20th century. Horrible!But anyhow, all will die someday somewhere
How old were you when you became a Christian? 12
How old were you when you ceased being a Christian? 24
What churches or organizations or labels have applied to you? Catholic
What labels, if any, would you apply to yourself now? Zen or Dao
Why did you become a Christian? cause of Catholic school
Why did you de-convert? study Zen
Online Reading List
- An Outline of Intellectual Rubbish by Bertrand Russell (1943)
- Bible Teaching and Religious Practice by Mark Twain
- God is Imaginary
- Is there an Artificial God? by Douglas Adams (1998)
- Skeptics Annotated Bible
- The Age of Reason by Thomas Paine (1795)
- Which Way? by Robert Ingersoll (1884).
- Why I Am Not A Christian by Bertrand Russell (1927)