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Confessions of an Ex-Christian

My high school pastor used to rub his nipples while he prayed.

No, really. He did.

We would sit and watch him with morbid fascination, week after week. Eyes closed, face raised to the heavens he would stand with his elbows rising and falling in a sort of slow-motion, sexual chicken dance. His fingertips made loose circles over the fabric of his shirt and 200 silent teens would make eye contact with their nearest friend, thinking “Is he really doing what it looks like he’s doing, or is it just my mind that’s dirty?”

Those years marked the expiration of my religion. Not because of Tim and his weekly fondle, god bless the man, but because of the endless string of Christian motivational speakers that trooped across the “worship” stage fortnightly.

These people came from all walks of life—or rather, all the walks of life that could be encompassed by a moderately sized rural town populated predominately by white people. There were butchers and travel agents and people who owned hardware stores. Often teachers and students would be the ones to take the stage and share their convictions, but mostly it was someone plucked seemingly at random from the local community.

No doubt this was all engineered with some admirable end in mind. To supply us with a wide range of Christian role models that were both geographically and intellectually accessible? Or maybe to promote a sense of community. And-slash-or other such things the like of which are found in private school brochures across the globe. For some students, it did indeed go down that way.

For me though, the succession of smiling Christians, passionate in their articulation (but not necessarily articulate in their ministration) was what sowed the seed of doubt. Each one, each worship meeting, wound down with something like “Now I’ve covered many things today, but the most important thing about Christianity you should remember is—”

And naturally, it was different each time.

Being told every week with, utter, utter certainty, that these contradictory ideas were each the heart, the core, the focus of Christianity, I began to wonder about that blind and beautiful beast, faith. Contradictory, inspirational, and always irrational, it put the fire in ordinary people but didn’t always bring out the best in them.

There were the occasional profound moments that caused me to question my foundling agnosticism. One soft-spoken classmate got up and shocked us all with the story of having been born blind. Her family took watch by her crib, taking turns in maintaining an unbroken vigil of prayer and after some months the “incurable” infection causing her blindness retreated. Reborn into a world of light and colour, she was baptised the day after, so born into the spiritual collective of those who look always to what is bigger than themselves.

The next speaker fervently orated the tale of becoming a Christian—when she asked God to find her car keys, and he did.

It was around this time it occurred to me that perhaps people just believe what they want in order to make sense of the things that happen to them. Not an original idea I’ll grant you, but it dropped into my 15-year-old mind like a meteoric pop-rock into a maelstrom of soda.

After a few regressions into my congenital Anglicism and the occasional bout of aggressive atheism, I concluded that ‘knowing’ there was nothing beyond the physical realm was as unprovable an assumption as any other that claimed to know nature of the afterlife and the human soul. Also many atheists I came across seemed all too willing to blame religion for wars and world problems, when I think it’s apparent that bastards will be bastardly whether they choose to trot out religion as an excuse or not.

So a slipped into agnosticism and spiritual uncertainty like a comfortable old bathrobe, and I’ve been there ever since.

Because really I believe I something with a passion tenacious as the next heaven-bent Christian, logic-totin’ atheist or tinfoil hat-attired street person.

You gotta have people like happy, harmless Tim. There was a man whose inner child wanted to be a black gospel choir when it grew up. If you could see him belting out “Jesus Wants Me for a Sunbeam”, a hand clamped firmly over each breast and face beaming joy nuclear in its intensity, I think you’d agree. Faith’s tendency towards absolutism may be problematic, but why take away something that so many ordinary people can use to wring some joy out of life.

My name is Cara Lennon, and I am an ex-Christian. I’ve been going cold turkey for 6 years now, but I have a confession.

I’m damn grateful for every religion that’s out there.

Keep it up. I’m rooting for you.

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Confessions of an Ex-Christian by 


Wierd but true. I think he didn’t realise he was doing it… I can’t imagine why no-one ever pointed it out to the poor guy.

Any level of success acheived by this story I attribute to my lucky pencil, with which I wrote the drafts. It contains four different vitamins and is completely fat free.

No really. It is.

Tags

agnosticism, atheism, ccw1, christianity, confession, faith, joy, passion, religion, story

Comments

  • TaintedShadow
    TaintedShadowalmost 7 years ago

    hello miss cara sama! I quite liked this amusing story even from the first sentance. The first sentance got me totally hooked so yay for you, and i really REALLY like your conclusion from the, my name is Cara Lennon onwards. Quite sex-say indeedly. Theres the odd paragraph I dont fully understand but thats mainly because my vocabularly is that of a 10 year old :D. N there are a few grammatical errors but hey who gives a shit eh? much <3
    -The Wog Boy.

  • TaintedShadow
    TaintedShadowalmost 7 years ago

    oh n btw, this story = my favourite. gg to that :).

  • RedEarth
    RedEarthalmost 7 years ago

    Thanks for the comments and the favorite! I showed M. G. from high school and we went on a big nostalgic trip about the people at the college. Man, for a small group of middle class caucasians, they sure managed to squeeze in a lot of ‘interesting’ people.

    Post some work! But no need to change your avatar, it already kinda looks like you. Or if you do, take a black and white pic of your self in big sunglasses. I realized last night that the two guys i favorited so far look the same in their avatars. If you take a similar photo I can have a collection!

  • transmute
    transmutealmost 7 years ago

    Glad you’re not totally off your faith…

    This is a chuckle. Who’d of thought that nipples could bring you closer to God?

  • gabryshak
    gabryshakalmost 7 years ago

    honest, thoughtful, and i loved your conclusion… and now the world will always remember harmless Tim singing "Jesus Wants Me for a Sunbeam”, a hand clamped firmly over each breast and face beaming joy nuclear in its intensity. Thanks for your story.

  • Daniel  Rarela
    Daniel Rarelaalmost 7 years ago

    LOL! a pastor who rubs his nipples while he prays? that’d definitely raise a couple of eyebrows in church! like Chris, i’m glad you haven’t gone totally off your faith, and i think your argument made a whole lot of sense… sometimes its hard to tell the difference between God working in someone’s life (like healing blindness), and someone just using God as an excuse to explain something insignificant (like finding car keys… although depending on the context of that situation, even that could be a miracle)

    and i do agree with you also, on being put off that Christians act like they know everything… I follow Jesus, myself, but I kind of feel like in order to do that, I have to get out of my comfort zone and accept that He’ll always be somewhat mysterious… seeing as to how people will never be intelligent enough to completely wrap their heads around God, in the same way somebody’s pet parrot could never completely understand its master, even if he learns how to talk like him.

    And thanks for rooting for us all, Cara! I want you to know that there’s at least one Christian out there who won’t act like he’s got all the answers. If all the biggest surprises were revealed to us in this life, then there wouldn’t be much of a point in the existence of Heaven, now would there? ;)

  • Damian
    Damianalmost 7 years ago

    Wonderfully done! I really enjoyed the read.

    I think I’ve followed a similar course as you’ve described, so I’m glad you shared your journey up to this point. Glad you’re still going cold turkey LOL!

    When I was at school I had this one minister rotate in every third week, and his oddity was to ask questions like, what would be the result of ‘insert random sin here’, where the answer was always – ‘we would burn in the fires of hell!’ Then there was the priest who got a girl pregnant… I could go on LOL! I was glad the school didn’t argue with me when I told them I was never going to their religion classes again.

  • RedEarth
    RedEarthalmost 7 years ago

    Thankyou for the comments, pplz!

    I’m always interested to here about what other people think about their faith and religion (or lack of same). I kept going to my religion classes, partly for that reason, partly because I was an argumentative little snot at 15 and I liked to sidetrack the class by pointing out ideological inconsisties in the bible and listening to people argue about it. But hell, arguing is a good way to learn!

    Like you Damian, I met some questionable Christians. Not ones that were necessarily bad, just not quite right. One teacher believed in that the bible was meant to interepreted literally, that everything was written down in the bible EXACTLY as it happened. When she teaching us religion, I found it a bit annoying. When she was teaching us SCIENCE it was bloody hilarious! I can still remember her trying to teach evolution, because it was a compulsory part of the syllabus. She inserted disclaimers into every second paragraph, like “But it’s just theory” “they haven’t really proved that bit” “but no-one can really be sure”. Then capped off the lesson with a bible passage about the behemoth, and animal whose description in the bible loosely fits what some kind of dinosaurs look like. I think she was trying to prove that because the bible had a dinonsaur in it, you couldn’t dismiss it on the grounds of it being unscientific. :s

    And thank you for your thoughts, Doctor J! It took me a while to realise that the… “interesting” christians I dealt with daily were not “interesting” because of their christianity but perhaps were just “interesting” in and of themselves. I think some atheists can occasionally be a bit disparraging or condescending about Christianity because they think they have logic on their side. I always enjoy meeting intelligent, reasonable Christians who challenge my agnosticism convincingly, because having to defend it keeps me analysing it and redefining it, and stops me from becoming complacent. And every debate I lose is one I’ve learnt something in!

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