Friday, April 6, 2012

My Conversion, Part 1: The Way I Was Raised

This month, I will celebrate the one year anniversary of my conversion. In honor of this occasion, I have decided to share exactly how I got here in a short blog series.

Part 1
I used to have moments of pure awe and amazement at creation. They usually happened on Sundays in the Spring when the sun was shining and the birds were singing and I was leaving church.

I was raised in the Missouri Synod Lutheran Church, a conservative denomination of Christianity. I never really liked church - I found it restrictive and confusing. It only got worse as I got older. In Junior High I started confirmation class, which is supposed to teach you the foundations of the religion, but the more I learned, the more I just didn't get it. It made me feel stupid, like the theology was obvious and I just wasn't getting it. Everyone else seemed to understand it, but even the foundational underpinnings of the religion didn't sit right with me. I completed the confirmation class, but didn't actually get confirmed. I left religion instead, just in time for teenage cynicism to set in. Those moments of awe I experienced as a girl were replaced with skepticism and anger. I was angry at the world for being so full of hatred and violence, angry at religion for being illogical, and angry at God for letting terrible things happen and leaving me without a religion to have faith in. Forget religion and forget God, I thought. Who needs them anyway? They only cause confusion and divisions and animosity without providing anything tangible in return.

I replaced God with superheroes. Later in high school, while I was still angry with God and boycotting religion, I came up with a theory about my sudden interest in superheroes - they were a substitute for God. The world of superheroes is generally a world of good and evil, right and wrong. A fictional person's faith in Superman is rewarded by at least a glimpse of his red and blue blur in the sky. The real world has more gray areas and the reward for real life faith in God isn't so concrete. This self-assessment might have pointed out my need/desire for faith and meaning, but it didn't lead me back to religion. Rather than grapple with beliefs, faith, and organized religion, I decided the unknowable wasn't worth worrying about. By the time I started college, I was agnostic.

Part 2 coming soon! Shabbat Shalom and Happy Passover!

UPDATE: Part 2: College and My Spiritual Awakening