Well, it’s been a while. I’ve made it through finals and am taking a break for a few weeks before summer school starts. I have been chomping at the bit, so to speak, to get back to writing for pleasure and not school; so here I am. I’ve decided to begin with a bit of a synopsis of what has gone on in my life over the past year or so and then move on and start fresh with new stuff, still on the subject of religion, but I may branch out a bit too. I have many more stories and experiences that I have not yet written about, but believe me; I will.
Socrates said, “An unexamined life is not worth living.” I was sitting in my philosophy class the first time I read that quote and to this day, I remember exactly how it made me feel. It was as if someone had thrown cold water in my face. I couldn’t stop thinking about it. In the back of my mind was this nagging thought, “Have I been living an unexamined life?” Even as I asked myself that question, I knew the answer. I had lived most of my life as a Fundamentalist Christian. I was judgmental and intolerant. I saw my world as black and white and people as saved or unsaved and lived my life accordingly. It was easy. There were rules to follow and I followed them, but after reading that quote, I made the decision to step ever so slightly back from my strongly held beliefs and examine them in a way I never had before. It wasn’t as if that quote alone had opened my eyes, because I had already begun on a journey of discovery earlier that year. That was part of the reason I had gone back to school and why I had taken that particular philosophy class. Some have said I had a mid life crisis, but I would call it a mid life epiphany. I had questions, lots of questions, but I had just been afraid to entertain them. I believe the quote was just the match that lit the fuse, which would ignite all the questions I had been denying, and that needed answers. Once I began to critically examine my religion, it became obvious that it was no less tenuous than any other. After much study and much questioning, many sleepless nights and prayerful days, I made the decision to leave the church and religion I had deeply believed in most of my life. Once that decision was made, it was as if something was confirmed in me that I had always known deep down and I felt free. Unfortunately, not everyone has shared my enthusiasm. Evidently, most people are very happy to live an unexamined life and are quite uncomfortable if anyone decides to go against the flow. I’ve been caught off guard a bit by some of the responses I have received from family, friends and church leaders, to my so called de-conversion. Most of these responses have been quite negative and are evidenced here in some of my previous blogs.
All of these examples are really just a small sampling of what I have encountered over the past year or so. I believe I could write a book, but I doubt many would want to read it. Only those who have been Fundamentalist Christians and “left the fold,” can totally relate and understand. Since leaving my religion, I have discovered an amazing world full of wonderful literature, art and people that I would have never let myself experience before. I now hold myself responsible for the decisions that I make, whether good or bad, and I give myself credit for my accomplishments. I feel like Dorothy in the Wizard Oz, when she walked out of her house into a dazzling, colorful new land. I’m a much stronger person now. I went from going grocery shopping out of town, avoiding phone calls and people I knew, to looking someone in the eye and telling him that I’m living the pagan life and loving it. To be honest, I don’t even consider myself a pagan really; it just seemed like the best response at the time. I would have to say the past two years have been the most painful and challenging years of my life, but they have also been the most joyful and exciting. I’ve lost most of my old friends, but I’ve also made new ones and have found out who my true friends really are and they are priceless to me. Is the unexamined life worth living? I now believe a life unexamined isn’t living at all. It seems to me, the better question would be, is the examined life worth living? To that, I would answer, absolutely.