Friday, April 25, 2008

The Decision!

OK, I've made a decision (finally!) - I'm starting a new blog, combining the best* elements of my other blogs!

If you've been loyal enough to bookmark this page, please change your bookmark to:

Thank you and goodbye!

*yes, yes, I know that's a debatable point - let's just say the best elements I'm capable of!

Friday, April 11, 2008

Reluctant Christian considers deleting blog! Action required!

(deep breath) I just deleted TWO BLOGS.

(another deep breath) Yes, it was painful but it had to be done.

I once overheard an employee at Iliad Books in North Hollywood, CA confide to another guy that they had so many books there it felt like he had a "whole lot of poopy in his colon". I was kind of getting that way with my blogs.

The more blogs you have, the more guilt you feel when you don't keep them up. So I'm afraid, friends and neighbors, that I may wind up deleting this one too.

My idea is I'll just settle on ONE blog and put everything in it - no matter what the subject - rather than creating an unending succession of guilt-inducing blogs that rarely get updated.

As of now I only have two active blogs - this one, and this one. I'm going to put a similar version of this post over there, and see which one gets the most traffic/comments by this time next week. And the one that doesn't make the cut - gets cut.

Let the games ... BEGIN!!!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

One of the reasons for the "Reluctant" in my blog title

One of the reasons I style myself a "reluctant" Christian is admirably delineated in this Peter Hitchen article: the almost pathological necessity among Christians to denounce and denigrate other Christians.

It makes one wonder - even if it were possible to reconcile all the various theologies, would Christians really WANT to be reunited? Who would they have to persecute then?

I went to an Ash Wednesday Mass last week and when I came back from communion and tried to reclaim my seat, I found to my surprise that a woman who'd come in late had taken it. When I tried to explain that I'd been sitting there since the beginning of Mass, she actually grabbed my shoulders and shoved me out of the way! (My mother says it sounds like she made an "ash" of herself!).

And okay, sure, that doesn't necessarily prove anything about Christians in general, except in a way it does. Christians are expected to be forgiving, so if you treat another Christian with contempt, you've got a good chance of getting away with it, if the other Christian is even halfway trying to practice that virtue.

You know how some conservatives are saying that if John McCain is the Republican candidate, they'll have to hold their noses to vote for him? Sometimes I have to hold my nose to be a Christian.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

I'm not exactly the world's greatest blogger, am I?

It's not that I don't want to.

I mean, I want to have a really great, thought-provoking blog that people check every day to see what my latest scintillating thoughts are.

And I really DO want to finish up my fascinating story of how I returned from atheism to Christianity.

OK, so here we go - long story, short: I remained an atheist for about a year. During that time, I became a moderator (under the username "windsofchange") at the Internet Infidels Discussion Board (IIDB).

Meantime, I continued going to church every Sunday with Steve, but I didn't pray or do anything else other than that. I guess you'd have to say I was a hypocrite. But I didn't mean to be. I just didn't know what else to do.

See, this has happened to me before. Twice in my life, to be exact. And each time I'd lost my faith completely, I stopped going to church or having anything to do with religion at all. And each time, after several YEARS went by, my faith snuck back.

So, I thought, this time maybe I'll just wait and see. I won't make any major life decisions (or get rid of any books, like I'd done the last couple of times - hey, restocking your bookshelves every time you change your worldview can get expensive!) for at least one year. Then, if I am still convinced that there's no God, I'll do what I need to do.

Then, one day, I just woke up and found that my faith was back.

I know that sounds simplistic, and I don't really know how to explain it. But ...

Imagine a dry well that you've abandoned because you were sure the spring underneath it had dried up, but one morning you were out on a walk and, on a whim, you lowered a bucket, and it came up full of fresh, clear water - and you realized the spring hadn't dried up after all. Perhaps it had just been dormant, and while you ignored the well, it just quietly filled up all over again.

My theory is that it's a good thing for a Christian - or any believer - to take a break from time to time. Chuck it all and live without "religion" for a while, and see if it works for you. Because I think there's a tendency to start taking our beliefs for granted, letting our prayers become rote and stale, and getting smug (we believers are so much better than nonbelievers, aren't we?). So it's good to throw all that off from time to time, and start from scratch.

Just don't forget to lower the bucket into the well every once in a while. Because you never know. ;-)

Monday, November 5, 2007

And now for something completely different!

Thought I’d interrupt my explanation of my journey into/out of/into/out of/into Christianity for a moment and tell you something that might be a little uplifting. I’ll get back into the neverending story later.

It’s one of those depressingly foggy days that strikes Southern California every so often, especially in autumn and winter. As I was slogging into work and dragging myself up the hill to my office, I was feeling pretty gloomy, but then I remembered a similar day a few years ago.

I had been so depressed on that day that I called in sick, got back in my car and started driving aimlessly around the city. Everywhere I went it was grey, foggy and grim. Finally I wound up in La Canada Flintridge (a community near Pasadena) and turned onto the Angeles Crest Highway going north. I thought maybe it wouldn’t be so gloomy up there, since there’s lots of trees, and maybe I’d find a coffee shop or someplace with hot chocolate or something.

Well, I drove and drove and drove and no coffee shop, but the road wound up and up and up and UP and all of a sudden – bam! No, I didn’t hit another car – I went through the topmost layer of clouds and there was the sun and the blue sky I’d been craving all day!

It was wonderful, it was beautiful, and it was just what I needed to see. And from that day on, I always remember that no matter how grey and gloomy and depressing it is down here, if you just get up high enough, the sun is always shining. So don’t give up – just keep going.

And now that I’ve thoroughly Pollyanna-ized this blog, I’ll get back to my regular story – next time!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

God answers my prayer, after I'd already ditched him

Our story so far: I'd begged God to turn Steve P.'s heart towards me and ask me to marry him. Though he (Steve) seemed interested, he said not a word about marriage, and seemed reluctant to even consider it. I got tired of asking God for help and decided there probably wasn't even a "god" out there hearing me. So I stopped praying, stopped going to Church except on Sundays (mainly so as not to hurt the feelings of the nice people at my church, just yet anyway), and rejoined the Internet Infidels. I even became a moderator! Life was good.

And then, Steve and I went to Kansas City for my grandpa's birthday party. We stayed in the same hotel room (sexy!) just down the hall from where my parents were staying (not so sexy!). And the night before the party, when I'd given up all hope of any kind of long-term relationship with him and had decided we should just have a fun "fling" and remain friends -

He proposed.

And I accepted.

And then I realized - to my discomfort - that this was *exactly* what I'd asked God to make happen, and son of a gun, he'd done it.

So now what? I couldn't just make myself start believing in God again. Belief isn't like that - as I patiently try to tell both theists and atheists, when they attack people on the "other side". You either believe or you don't. I personally think it has a lot to do with what's going on in your life, what books you're currently reading, and what you had for dinner last night.

So right now, I had an upcoming wedding going on in my life - a good thing, and definitely pointing me back towards theism (in my opinion anyway).

But - I was still reading books from the atheist point of view. I read all the big bestsellers - Christopher Hitchens' "God is Not Great", Richard Dawkins' "The God Delusion" - and of course, as a moderator at IIDB, I was daily exposed to the arguments - some of them pretty compelling - in favor of atheism and agnosticism. So that still pointed me in the direction of atheism.

As for what I had for dinner, well, since I knew that after I was married I wouldn't be able to enjoy pigging out on junk food in the evenings while watching "American Idol", I threw myself into that with a renewed enthusiasm. That pointed me towards indigestion and obesity, but I didn't really care. As long as I could fit into my wedding dress (and I could! and I looked gorgeous!), I was going to enjoy being single till the bitter end.

Well, to make a long story short, I got married to Steve P. in April of 2007. From the time he proposed till about a month ago, I was still leaning heavily (in more ways than one!) towards atheism, or at least agnosticism. I continued attending church with him on Sundays, but wasn't praying or actively believing in God AT ALL. I felt like a hypocrite sometimes, but I was okay with it. I figured I'd work it all out eventually.

And about a month ago, I worked it out.

Next: How I worked it out!

Monday, October 1, 2007

My Big Mistake

OK, as promised, here’s the big mistake I made –

See, I was doing pretty good in the ol’ religion department, going to daily Mass, praying the Rosary, etc., etc. -- all good stuff, or at least it seemed so to me.

But then I started going to the Eastern Catholic Church to flirt with Steve P (see previous post) and contracted a big case of Cognitive Dissonance, based on the fact that he and everyone on this Eastern Catholic bulletin board kept saying things like, “The Romans do this, but we do this” -- with the not-so-subtle implication that everything after the “but” was better.

Of course, if you pinned them down, most of them would insist they didn’t mean it that way, but heck, it’s okay even if they did. It’s their heritage, their custom, their thing. That’s cool. The problem for me was that after a lifetime of being told that kneeling in front of the Eucharist was the numero uno best way to honor Jesus – based on the authority of the Catholic Church – all of a sudden I’m being told that standing in front of the Eucharist is also the numero uno best way to honor Jesus – based on the very same authority (because these guys & gals are Catholics too)!

Whew! So I'm already getting a little discombobulated! But I could have hung in there - gotten some spiritual counseling, found my own way, etc. Except – I also started getting really, really discouraged by the fact that my prayers about Steve P. did not seem to be getting answered.

In fact, they seemed to be getting ignored. And as anyone who’s ever seen “Fatal Attraction” knows, it is never a good idea for anyone – even a Supreme Being – to ignore a single woman of a certain age!

So after months and months of being ignored, I decided – it was all a crock! There was no God, no heaven, the Church was a bunch of cattle malarkey and I didn’t need it!

So somewhere deep inside me I (or the little person who lives inside my brain and is responsible for these little jobs) reached over and flipped the switch from “Theist” to “Atheist”. And away I went!

I was pretty relieved to have realized the whole thing was a big scam. To help advance my deconversion, I (re)joined a great site called Internet Infidels (where I’d been a member a few years ago, under the charming names of both “Atheist Gal” and “Theist Gal”, during my previous de/reconversions).

I was doing great there. I even became a moderator (the powah! heh heh!).

Then – something completely and totally unexpected happened – something which really shook my steady deconversion process all to hell (so to speak).

Next time: Out of a clear blue sky!