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Author Topic:   Christian conversion experience: descriptions/analysis/links: input invited
MattAShine
Inactive Junior Member


Message 106 of 199 (219492)
06-25-2005 6:38 AM


I do not have a conversion story for your records, but I do have a sort of deconversion one.

I was born and raised Catholic. Every Sunday, my father would take myself and my brother Jim to church, and every Sunday I would listen to an old man preaching about the virtues of living a life of piety (whilst surrounded by a monolithic solid marble building and more stained glass than a Tiffany's auction), and the fires and damnation that awaited all non-believers. Suffice to say, such practices were quite sucessfull.

Had my tenure with the church been relegated to Sundays alone, I doubt I would have had much of a problem, but this was not the case. You see, my father had decided that he wanted my brother and I to both be confirmed as he had been, and the result was every week for about 5 years I had to go to a specific Catholic school and be "taught" what it meant to be a good Christian.

When I started these classes (the course was called CCD), I had no doubt in my faith. God was the biblical God, Adam and Eve happened, Noah built the first Titanic, and Moses went onto Mt Siani. There were no doubts and I still vividly arguing with other kids about what my faith was as I saw it as not being faith, but written history (like the Civil War).

Things were fine for about the first year, and then I started noticing things. As my official schooling advanced, I noticed that what I had been taught in the bible hadn't been referenced in regular history books. Not a big matter, I'll grant you but I had always been under the belief that it either didn't happen or it did, no middle ground and all of a sudden a gray area emerged. I spoke with my CCD instructor and asked why people like Christ weren't mentioned in my school history books and he answered "because they don't teach the truth."

By the time I was in my third CCD year (I would have been around 12), questions really started to mount. I had learned more about science and wanted to know how the Garden of Eden could be true scientifically. I wanted to know how they knew the bible was written by god and not just men bent on oppressing others, and the more in depth my questions got, the murkier and shallow the answers became. I was told not facts, but that it's "a matter of faith." To me, now as back then, that is the biggest cop-out. A sign they don't know and they don't care.

The CCD teacher became, obviously, very 'concerned' with the direction I was taking. After trying to talk with my father, I was sent to confere with the head priest in his private residence that was attached to the church itself (don't worry, this isn't one of... those stories). Now, every Sunday I was used to having the collection plate being passed around (I even did the collecting for a few masses), but I was told that the money collected was used to benefit the local homeless shelters and I could never fault them (the church) that... until I went into this priest's private home. It was like Edwardian opulence. There were ornately carved fireplaces, solid brass tea servers, suede chairs, oak and mahogany tables with mother of pearl inlay. It was disgusting. For years, I put my allowance money into those collection plates, and now I finally saw what was done with it.

The final, and irrevocable blow to my faith in the Catholic church was done in my fourth year of CCD, and as with all things in life, it had to do with money. In the local papers and television news it was reported that a number shelters went belly up due to lack of funding and donations. During mass, the priest mentioned that the church was putting all of its efforts into finding the resources to help the community and used the opportunity to push extra hard for "more than generous" contributions. That same week, a drunk driver actually hit the church building, destroying a section of the brick ediface, marble and a few pews. Within 2 weeks, it was right back to the way it was. In 2 weeks, all that marble, stone and wood was replaced. The costs must have been in the thousands and I could only sit back in slack jawed amazement that this was done by the same people who just recently said they needed all the help they could get to help 'the homeless.'

I got confirmed, but only as a favor to my dad (my brother Jim didn't even get that far, rather he quit CCD).

After that, I sort of drifted to other religions. I read as much as I could about them and in the end, I made my peace with being agnostic. I do think something is out there, but nothing that can or has been 'bottled' by humanity. Unlike some who don't believe in the dogma, I don't use my lack of religious faith like a moral credit card (doing something wrong because I don't believe a celestial diety is watching over my shoulder). Rather, I try to treat other people with respect and dignity and try to behave in a manner that allows me to sleep at night with a sound mind. If I'm wrong, I still have nothing to be ashamed of, but I don't think I will ever enter another church or place of worship without it being for a marriage or a funeral.

Matt

PS - Sorry about the length. This is my first post on this site, and it was this discussion that prompted me to register.


Replies to this message:
 Message 116 by lfen, posted 06-25-2005 1:55 PM MattAShine has not yet responded
 Message 132 by Gilgamesh, posted 06-27-2005 12:34 AM MattAShine has not yet responded

  
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