Losing My Religion (now that’s original)

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. 

 

 

 

 

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12 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Marge
    May 30, 2008 @ 00:11:35

    You know, when Socrates wrote that he could have no way to know how impactful it would be to individuals for ages to come. Part of my examination process was asking myself what doI hope to leave behind when I die? I certainly don’t have delucions of being a philsopher but I do hope that some of what I have learned about spiritual and personal freedom will be passed along to my son and future generations so that they don’t have to go through the misery of “de-conversion” to find this freedom.

    Reply

  2. Zoe
    May 30, 2008 @ 03:05:54

    So good to hear from you again and read this post. 🙂

    Reply

  3. samanthamj
    Jun 11, 2008 @ 12:54:28

    Hey – welcome back…. and, nice re-entry into your blog with this post. Love that you are enjoying your new-found freedom. It is free-ing, isn’t it??
    ~smj

    Reply

  4. notabarbie
    Jun 23, 2008 @ 01:00:29

    Thanks sam,
    It is freeing…who would have thought? I need to write more…I can’t believe I haven’t posted since this last entry…I need to get on it. I hope things are going well for you.

    Reply

  5. Spaks
    Jun 27, 2008 @ 18:16:49

    I started reading through your stuff earlier this month, needless to say I’ve been enjoying it =)

    I hope you get around to writing a bit more soon.

    Reply

  6. mary a. kaufman
    Nov 29, 2008 @ 01:54:18

    I have read this blog at least twice before and now wondering why I have not commented. I was, from sometime in 1948 until the latter 1950s, a true fundamentalist believer. I am now very much a Free Thinker. I’m wondering: just what have you questioned? Would love to hear from you. Mary from Meander With Me. makpoet@aol.com

    Reply

  7. FFFearlesss
    Dec 25, 2008 @ 02:14:35

    Notabarbie, I found your site via the de-conversion blog and I just spent the entire morning reading everything you’ve posted here, going “backward” through your journey from faith. It constantly amazes me, the more deconversion experiences I read, just how similar we all seem to be to each other. While my upbringing wasn’t anything close to fundamentalist, I made a lot of attempts to believe and to trust in God but ultimately I couldn’t turn my brain off enough to let certain things go. Like you, my de-converstion isn’t happening in a vaccuum. While I can’t say I had an especially large contingent of Christian friends I’ll be leaving behind (even at my most faithful I had a hard time being around “church people”) my wife is still very much “of the faith.” We have kids who are going to see the division in belief that will have to be considered as they get older. I just wanted to say that your blog has been another refreshing read. Just knowing that there are others out there “like me” has been, well, a God-send these last few months as I come to grips with my own deconversion.

    Reply

  8. notabarbie
    Jan 17, 2009 @ 11:18:30

    FFFearlesss, thank you so much. I’m hoping I’ll be able to write more soon. Do you have a blog? If you don’t, you should.

    Reply

  9. Moura
    Feb 07, 2009 @ 02:12:55

    This is awesome !!! Good work

    Reply

  10. atimetorend
    Mar 26, 2009 @ 23:59:26

    Some have said I had a mid life crisis, but I would call it a mid life epiphany.

    That’s great, I finally have a good come-back to that accusation. Thanks!

    Reply

  11. notabarbie
    Jun 11, 2009 @ 05:16:41

    Yes you do and who can argue with an epiphany? 🙂

    Reply

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