A fall from grace
My journey away from religion
It’s been about a year-and-a-half since I began writing the faith column for The Reflector.
I was a good liberal Christian then, convinced that the Hebrew god was real, that the world was being slowly “redeemed” and that my life had a particular purpose.
Hope wasn’t hard to come by. Excitement for my future was palpable: Jesus and journalism meshed in my mind to create a defined career goal of reporting on social justice.
It’s almost laughable how things have changed.
I’ve edged farther and farther away from Christianity by the day, with the outright divorce from the faith happening only a month or so ago.
An incredible long-term romantic relationship dissolved six months prior to the split with religion. Journalism has tumbled out the window along with the rest of my roots, now becoming an inter- est I only occasionally mess with.
I live an exceptionally privileged life, to be clear. I’m exiting university with an accredited degree and no debt. I shouldn’t have much of anything to complain about. Things are good.
But it’s tough to ignore my rapidly diminishing ambition and optimism. Self-pity isn’t my thing. This column is really more about recognizing a problem.
David Bazan, who was Pedro the Lion’s frontman before he ditched Christianity and pursued a solo career, gorgeously expressed such struggle in “In Stitches” from Curse Your Branches — he sung, “I need no other memory/Of the bits of me I left/When all this lethal drinking/ Is to hopefully forget about you.”
There are so many things that I wish I could forget. Liquor sometimes helps, but selective amnesia isn’t easy to come by.
Religion is to blame for this.
Such a statement likely sounds like a phenomenal over-reaction. There are indeed other things that bum me out: learning about the horrid ecological state of our world has certainly been one, for example.
But much of my bleakness stems from realizing how sorry a state two decades of Christian brainwashing has left me in.
It’s probably tough for people who haven’t grown up in religious circles to get where I’m coming from. That makes perfect sense to me: I often change my opinion on serious issues (sex work, drug use and Marxism are three that come to mind), and don’t drop into depressed funks as a result.
But renouncing a religion is far more significant. I think because faith unfortunately influences everything.
From my end, Christianity was the main reason that my two-year relationship ended.
There were other factors, for sure, but the mind/body dualism that religion is infatuated with to- tally fucked up my understanding of sexuality, not to mention “the point” of dating.
Marriage was pretty much the only goal, which understandably added some pretty bizarre pres- sure to the mix. It’s no surprise that my best friend walked away.
My comprehension of “the point” of life was also twisted by the anthropocentric belief system. Rather than viewing homo sapiens as animals that have some unique evolutionary traits, I was taught by my religion that humans are innately superior to the non-human animals and the world we inhabit, and that each of us has a “divine mission” to fulfill certain tasks. It’s total bullshit, but it’s also a long and terrifying fall to that realization.
All of that isn’t to say that I’m an atheist.
I still believe that there’s something that binds us all together. I adore how Chris Hannah, the lead singer of Propagandhi (and fervent atheist), described that feeling in the last song of Failed States when he sung: “A profound acceptance of an enormous pageantry/A haunting certainty that the unifying principle of this universe is love.”
Call me a pantheist, or a believer in the Force. Whatever.
There’s still much for me to move on from, and much for me to learn.
The person who I was at the beginning of this gig, let alone at the beginning of this month, is so different from who I am now.
That’s logical to me: our physical cells are constantly regenerating, and I’m currently in the camp that views mind and body as united. I hope that in the pain that we all experience, you’ll have the chance to learn and grow a bit too.
Thanks for reading.