Sent in by Larry M.
My goodness - am I ever glad to have found this site! I cannot say how much the comfort in reading others feelings/stories has helped me in my journey .. but first - some context:
I am from Canada - the Fraser Valley in B.C. to be exact. I was born in 1968 into a Christian family - Mennonite to be exact: If you aren't familiar with the Mennonite people, you might have a look at - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mennonite for a quick synopsis. The Mennonite people are pretty pacifistic, and refuse to go to war for that reason. I think this led to a lot of confusion when I saw my American Christian neighbors forming what they called "God's Army" as a teen. Violence really didn't make much sense in my neck of the woods. Anyways, my parents became disillusioned in the 70's and stopped attending church altogether. I noticed that they were reading many psychological texts of the time - incl Carl Jung - and this led them finding an old church friend who was now a psychologist. Now this friend was also a "re-born again" Christian, and convinced my Dad to come back to church. As is custom in many Mennonite families, when big papa makes a change, so does everyone else!So my family started attending their old church, but found it "dead" for lack of a better term.
The time was the early 80's, and the big movement was "revival" - think of Hal Lindsey, Kenneth Copeland, Full Gospel Businessmens' Association etc. We started looking around for alternatives to the "Menno Morgue" and discovered the Pentecostal/Full gospel churches. Wohoo!! Word-Faith, Name it claim it, Glossolalia etc . .. all very exciting to a young teen in search of excitement. I was also forming my musician sensibilities at the time, and was attracted to the Christian music of Phil Keaggy, Roby Duke, Degarmo and Key, Rez Band (o ya - I am a guitar player .. can you tell?), Petra, Steve Taylor etc. I was also secretly admiring Van Halen, Led Zeppelin, and the metal rockers. This led to several interesting "Demonic deliverances", and the "laying on of hands" to deliver me from the powers of Darkness. My family also started to take in mentally ill people to help "save them" and probably to "imitate Christ" in the process. I often wonder if this is what contributed to a fear of mental illness I developed in my late teens ..
Anyways I graduated High school, worked a couple of years in odd jobs, and returned to College to study part-time. This was one of the best times of my life - there were so many options to me!I have a wise Aunt who at the time told me that I'd better do something musical, or I might miss the point of my life altogether .. I am so thankful for this (non-Christian) woman!I finished university with a Bachelor of Music, and became a teacher. I also married another Mennonite girl (which I vowed NEVER to do as a teen!), and had 2 beautiful daughters. I was attending church on and off again during these early years, but was becoming increasingly restless with my philosophical/mystical tendencies as a worship leader!
Then - something happened about 3 years ago: I heard Alan Watts.
Let me re-phrase that: I read, listened to, and watched videos of Alan Watts for the next 2 years. I had a 40 minute commute to work, so I would listen to his talks in my car every day. Something began to awaken in me that had always been there, but never allowed to express itself in quite this way. I also studied the works of people like Joseph Campbell and Ken Wilbur, as well as other Buddhists such as Jack Kornfield and Thich Nhat Hanh. I had NO idea of the ways of the East - to me they were always presented as poor and impoverished countries who were paying for their lack of belief in God. Now, they seemed far more insightful and wise than any Christian doctrine I had encountered before.
Well, these days my biggest struggle is that I am still a very spiritual person, but have no one I can talk to about these things. I have one friend who reads similar works (incl. Watts), but he comes from an abusive Christian background and quite hates anything to do with that world. I on the other hand, have a wife and family who are still quite devout, and find it really difficult to say anything without getting their backs up against the wall. I try to present thoughts/meaning in a non-threatening way (similar to how Alan convinced me - by playing on Christian terms and allowing me to follow through all the way on these absurd propositions), but it is very hard not to start a fight. Most of the time, the conversation ends with something like "Well, you're not going to convince me to lose my faith - as it appears you have .." Lose my "Faith" or "Belief"?
Anyways, I really hope that I will be able connect with someone (hopefully local) that can understand me. It gets quite lonely sometimes (esp. Sunday mornings) when my family has gone to church, and there is no one around. Perhaps a site like this can give us some hope that others feel the same way, and can spend some time supporting one another!
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)