So, how did bad Christians shove me out of Christianity in the first place?
Alternet has some ideas as to why people leave (and leave, in some cases, is a vast understatement). I thought I’d see if any of these reminded me of why I did not just embrace a different worldview but left the other behind.
1. Gay baiting. Hm. I suppose coming out and losing friends will do it, especially when they point to Jesus as the reason (wait, you mean the guy who hung around with whores?). But the friends weren’t all that great in the first place. I ended up realising that if a person can’t deal with my queerness, zie is probably not worth my time anyway. I can’t say I ever had an “it gets better” problem in that respect. Now, you take some of the New Testament with regards to gender and sex roles…
2. Prooftexting. I have a hard time believing that is God speaking. At best, the Bible begins with a whole series of creation myths, throws in some “No shit, there I was” stories, makes rules, and has a singalong. I’m not even sure I believe all of what the church fathers said about Jesus. They may have accurately described what happened, but their commentary is as crap as most modern punditry, and just as slanted. So when some bigoted arsehat throws said Bible at me in an attempt to convince me I’m wrong, not only do I take it with a whole shaker of salt, I’m likely to snort and look up my nose at whoever’s doing it. Your book is outdated. Find the parts that stand the test of time and get back to me with a serious set of revisions.
3. Misogyny. I never did see much of this; the worst was the whole women-can’t-be-priests thing. That said, see above. I’m not comfortable with the parts of the Bible that say all Christians have to adhere to moral codes established two millennia back or better.
4. Hypocrisy. If I could give my high school cohort a gold star for this, I would. I may not have been anywhere near perfect, or even good at some points, but I did my best to follow “harm none”. Love thy neighbor as thyself, except if she’s different. Wait, that’s not how it goes? So I ended up hating a lot of the people I grew up alongside. I’m still not past the resentment. I’d like to be. But that youth group lot? They were bullies. They were fecking mean and nobody ever called them on it.
5. Disgusting and immoral behavior. I didn’t see much of this happening within any church I attended. I do, however, wonder why my evil heathen arse wasn’t the one binge-drinking or hooking up. I have no problem with those things — but their God sure seems to. This is of a piece with the above, I suppose.
6. Science denial. Nobody was quite that fervent, or that stupid, to my face. It’s good to know that there are people who will outright lie about science and hide behind God.
7. Political meddling. Again, nobody ever did this on a small scale. That said, my adolescence was the large-scale version of this. For crying out loud, I was fourteen when Bush v Gore was handed down — or was I already fifteen? It dragged. Nevertheless. I took my sweet time connecting these dots.
8. Intrusion. Actually, I quite liked giving the Mormons tea.
The thing about this article is that it leaves out the positive aspects of other viewpoints that might draw people away. My dad talks about having faith in himself; his locus of control shifted into the realm of the tangible. I found solace in polytheistic, goddess-centered ideas. Holy mothers appeal to me. It’s why, despite its drawbacks, I still go to Mass sometimes. They still venerate the saints. They still love Mary.
I found something that excited my soul more than anything had, and I’d been trying hard to do the Catholic thing. I had. But it didn’t fill in what was missing. Eclectic (very eclectic) Paganism and, later, an all-gods-welcome approach did. Now I have a Kuan Yin on my little living room altar, and symbols of the elements. Even my mother lights incense in prayer to her. In my most desperate hours, I will always cry “Mama!” It’s my business whether I’m crying for the one who bore me or the one who nurtured my spirit.