My Spiritual Journey - 1

As long as I can remember, I was searching.  At first, I was searching with my dad as we visited church after church. I went to school, and I began to "believe" in science.  It was not enough.  In college, I studied different religions, but I still came up blank.  But finally, I found a place where I was accepted as I was.  I found people who weren't insulted by or afraid of my questions.  I found a God who was big enough not to make me check my intellect at the door, a place where I could be me.
... I was lost, but now I'm found.
   Was blind, but now I see...
    (Amazing Grace)
This is the first in a four part series that follows my journey from agnostic to Christian.

This story is inspired by a time I stepped out of my online comfort zone to talk about something potentially controversial, the dynamic of different religious groups that can happen in a town or city. Several of the comments expressed an interest on how I decided to become a Christian in the first place. I thought that would be a great continuation on my religious theme.

In a way, this is kind of my life story because this journey has been going on throughout my life from about as long as I can remember. Hopefully, I can keep the story from dragging too much. ;)

Like any good story, I have to set the scene. Act 1 Scene 1 starts by being raised in a non-religious household. Oh, I had a Christening dress that I still have on a shelf in my closet, and I have Godparents, who had nothing to do with giving me religious instruction. There's some paperwork that the ceremony took place at an Episcopal church. I knew that my parents also were married in an Episcopal church, but that was about the extent of it.

If there was any kind of religion around the house, it was the religion of the U.S. Army. Like any religion, it is filled with disciplines, traditions, and a moral code. However, it was not a household of blind obedience.

My parents had grown up in the shadow of World War II where Nazi military personnel tried to deflect the responsibility of their atrocities by saying that they were only doing what they had been ordered to do. This was also very shortly after the end of the war in Vietnam where the citizens of the United States learned that their government had lied to them in order to generate support for the war. The level of trust in anything besides what one could observe or reason through was very thin.

My father would regularly tell me stories that sounded true ... at first.  As the story continued, it would get more and more far-fetched and outlandish. A particular one that stands out was about submarine races on Lake Superior. (I probably remember it because it was my cousin who got sucked into the story and was pretty bummed when he found out that we couldn't go and see the race. lol)

The way that I figured, this was my father's way of teaching me that I shouldn't blindly follow or believe anyone, not even him.  I should always use my brain and my own reasoning power before believing anything.  Naturally, this attitude backfired on him when I became a teenager and questioned everything he said. For some reason the stories stopped shortly after that. I'm not quite sure why. ;)

Now, it wasn't that my parents were particularly anti-religion either. When I was six, and my neighbors invited me to go to church, my parents had no objections that I recall. However, about a year later, when I wanted to ride my bike rather than go to church, they had no objections either. Of course, at no time in that year did they ever go with me.

In other words, I was briefly exposed to Christianity, but we lived in an irreligious household. There was no significant change from this as long as I lived with my parents, even after they divorced. We celebrated Christmas with Santa and Easter with bunnies.

However, as all parents (and children) know, children don't learn everything about life at home. School began to have an influence. And that's where the story will pick up next week.

Here's a hint. My father's teaching to question things was encouraged. You already know how the story ends, but I can assure you that I approached the whole thing with a great deal of skepticism.

What is your story?

Until next time ...

(This is an updated version of a post, which appeared on my personal blog on February 9, 2012.)

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