I had a rather busy holiday weekend. I won’t go into the details of all of it (some of it included partying until dawn on Saturday night), but I would like to share one piece of it which is relevant to this blog, my dear reader.
On Friday evening, I accompanied my girlfriend to her friend’s parents’ place for a party. It was a place full of conservative Christians, preachers, and pastors. The McCain/Palin bumper stickers gave that much away as I approached the house. I was warned that this would be the case, but I was not concerned about being myself there.
It was not long before I found myself in a conversation with the lady of the house, a woman who told me that she had been a “heathen” for many years before one day having an experience that “opened up my eyes” and she insisted that if I were to truly seek Jesus Christ, the same would happen to me.
Now, many years ago while I was going through a particularly unhappy period in my life, I did do just this. When I was at my weakest, desperate for some meaning and purpose, I called out to the heavens and I got bupkus. My sincerity was real, and the emptiness in response was depressing. I felt truly alone in the universe. I had never believed in God, let alone any particular ones, but I felt like I needed help of some kind. I had decided to open up myself to the possibility that I had been wrong (I actually had already been open to this, but I was doing it in an emotional way this time).
Nothing came of it.
Now, Christians have told me, including on Friday, that it was because I did not sincerely call out to Jesus Christ, by name, and so I was not truly seeking the truth. See, I was so insistent, even in my time of need and emotional turmoil, to specifically ignore the truth about God and the universe that I refused to truly seek Jesus.
The fact that these people, who found themselves in times of need, heard a call from God and knew it was Jesus Christ is fascinating to me. I ask, whenever I hear this, how they know it was Jesus. They just know. I ask if it’s possible that it is Allah, Vishnu, The Flying Spaghetti Monster, etc and they claim that they just know it’s Jesus. Funny how people who grow up with Christian surroundings always find Jesus in their powerfully transformative experiences, eh? I wonder what happens to people who grow up around Islam when they have such experiences?
But they insisted that i keep seeking. They insisted that the search cannot be intellectual, but rather it must be emotional. I found this to be fascinating as well because while most of my searching is intellectual, I understand the emotional aspect of religion and have not ignored this in my own life. But I could not help but ask what would happen if some part of one’s intellectual searching showed a reason why one should not, perhaps, trust what they find emotionally. This drew mostly blank stares. Probably the deception of Satan, one suggestion surmised.
So we had a nice conversation. Over the evening, I talked to a few interested people about religion, belief, philosophy, and we got along very nicely. Well, except that one woman who, upon hearing something I had to say, interrupted our conversation in order pray to rebuke Satan. I was hoping she was not rebukung me, but she was looking at me…. Really, I’m not Satan or even one of his minions. What I saw was fear in her eyes, and fear in the Christian world evokes Satan, I have found.
I enjoyed my evening. The people were friendly, the food delicious, and the conversation was lively. I would certainly go back to their house for a party another time. And no, it’s not because I want to go back and try and deconvert them, but because I had a lot of fun. I was able to converse with people with whom I shared little in common. I was able to perpetuate conversation between people that rarely talk to one another. I was able to evaporate some stereotypes and assumptions about atheists as well as gain some more understanding of conservatively-minded Christians.
It turns out that I have some things in common with some of them. Imagine that! (That’s sarcasm, people). I wouldn’t be able to be friends with many of them, but there are a number of liberal-minded atheists out there with whom I have the same issue. It is a question of personality less than opinions metaphysical that causes such issues. At this party I found people who were active and athletic (we played a good game of kickball followed by a rousing game of soccer, both of which I enjoyed greatly), some who liked good beer, and people that were interested in talking about their worldview with someone with whom they disagreed.
As far as I can see, that’s a pretty damned good evening.