I’ve been reluctant to begin this series of essays on religion. Partly because I’m unsure where to start, and partly because I’m unsure how it will end. More the latter, than the former. If this series ends with me saying “I’m an atheist” what will that mean to the people that I love, but who also love God. Or what if it ends with me saying “I still don’t know what I believe.” What is the purpose of the journey if it doesn’t at least move me to a new place? Or, and perhaps this is most scary, it ends with me saying “I am a Christian.” What if it ends with reaffirmation? That this conclusion is intimidating for me to consider — that’s worth investigating.
As with any writing project, I know it’s the beginning that is most difficult. Though, with this particular subject, each piece — each story — will be shared with anxiety. Mostly because I do not want to disrespect the memory of my father. He was a pastor. He is gone now and I fear that questioning my beliefs somehow insults his life. Like questioning my own faith might negate his. Furthermore, I grew up around impressive adults all with deep roots in Christianity. These are the people that raised me. These are the people that taught me how to love, how to grow, how to think. My tribe was made up of the Christians I knew through church.
I begin this series with trepidation because I do not want to disrespect my beloved “church family.” But my doubts exist. My concerns are real. Not just for me. The values I grew up with — the values of the church I knew when I was young — those values are under threat. They are being hijacked by those that would subvert them as a means to some nefarious end. For that reason, I cannot postpone this journey any longer. My beliefs may have changed, but I cannot sit idly by while the faith that raised me is misused.
So I put pen to paper and share my exploration of religion — of the church — of faith. I’ll question it. I’ll examine it. I’ll observe it. I hope you’ll hear me out. I hope you’ll understand. I hope that wherever this series leads me, you’ll still be on the other side.
Faith is taking the first step, even when you don’t see the whole staircase. – Dr. Marin Luther King Jr.