My Spiritual Colon Cleanse

Back when I first began this journey towards agnosticism, regular church attendance was noticeably lacking until eventually it stopped all together. Whenever I would run into a Christian friend, the inevitable “So, where are you going to church now?” would rear it’s ugly head. The assumption being that, obviously, I was still attending somewhere, the only question was where. When the relationship warranted more than a cursory “I’m between churches right now” response, I would whip out my “Spiritual Colon Cleanse” analogy.

While it’s a little scatological and will certainly lend itself to numerous poop jokes throughout this post, I had no idea at the time how apt an analogy it would prove to be. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Here’s the basic gist of my shitty analogy. I was feeling very bogged down in my faith. I couldn’t tell my faith from religiosity and I was tired of Christianity as an organized religion. As a pastor’s kid, I had seen the inner workings since the day I was born, seeing all the nonstop dysfunction and because of it I was spiritually constipated. Nothing was flowing for me because everything I did felt liturgical. I would be praying in church and think, “Why are we talking to God like this and why does this pastor find it necessary to say ‘Father God’ at the beginning of every frickin’ sentence?”

So I figured a Spiritual Colon Cleanse was the only way to get things moving again. I needed to strip everything down to its basic elements and lose all the extra crap. Basically, if the only reason I did something was because that was how I had always done it, then I wasn’t going to do it anymore until I could do it for a genuine reason. I desperately needed my faith to be genuine. Why? Because much of the stuff that I had been taught growing up didn’t apply to the world outside of my little Christian bubble (i.e. gay people are porn-addicts or were sexually abused as children or are pedophiles, etc.). And now that I was outside of that bubble (bartending while trying to find a big boy job) I needed to flush out all that shit and find a healthy functional faith that could work in the real world. If the things that I was stepping away from were genuine, then I would miss them and I would go back to them and embrace them because they had value and not because they were a comfort blanket that I had always carried. I refused to be a spiritual Linus.

Here’s the thing, I don’t miss most of it! Especially all of those things that told me who I should be instead of helping me see who I am. Now that I can see who I really am, I can embrace all of it, the good and the bad. I can play to my strengths and work on my weaknesses. And all of the other beautiful things about the church…community, morality, love, joy, generosity…guess what! They don’t belong to Christianity. Christianity co-opted them and tried to tell me that I can’t have them unless I tithe and go to church and call myself a Christian. But it’s a lie and all those feelings of constipation were just my heart telling me the truth. Over the last couple years, I’ve seen so many beautiful parts of humanity that operate outside the realm of Evangelical Christianity that I was blind to for so many years. And I feel more content and at peace now then I have in a very long time.

In the end, my little cleanse worked in a way I never anticipated. While I thought I was flushing out religiosity, I was actually flushing out Christianity.

Origin Story

Born into a pastor’s family to two pastor’s kids, I went directly from home school to a Christian Liberal Arts College to get my Bible Degree.  Evangelicalism is so ingrained in my life story that it became all that I was. Becoming a third-generation pastor was clearly my destiny. I was fluent in Christianese and all that I did was guided by the prompting of the Holy Spirit. Over 30 years of summer camp and sword drills, courting and side-hugs, worship team and Jeremy Camp covers, and look at me now…

I’ve been getting questions lately from people wondering how, given this back-story, I’ve come to classify myself as an Agnostic. Old friends not bold enough to ask me, have sat back at a distance thinking, “He’s just angry, maybe has some issues with the church and some of the dysfunction he’s seen, and he’s going through a reactionary phase. This is just his way of rebelling and testing his faith, but he’ll be back…they always come back.” The truth is, rejecting Evangelical Christianity was something I did out of necessity, not rebellion. It saved me. It saved my faith, my joy, and really, my LIFE. How, you ask?

This blog is an attempt to answer some of those questions.  I have a genuine interest in engaging in dialogue about my journey, but no desire to de-convert anyone.  This isn’t about me convincing you of how wrong you are, or listening to you try to reconvert me.

I’m doing this for two reasons. First, I intensely love many people who still consider themselves to be Evangelical Christians.  While I must live authentically, I have no desire for this to sever those relationship with the people I care so much about.  The only way I know to do this is with honesty about what I believe, but with an understanding that I have a deep respect for those that live with authentic faith and conviction.  I believe that we can agree to disagree and still enjoy a deep connection based on mutual respect and honesty.

Second, I know that I’m not the only one on this journey.  I hope that by “outing” myself in this way, I can connect with some of you with similar backgrounds about where you are at in your own journey.  Hopefully, we can help one another as we learn to process life outside the paradigms that we grew up in.

Finally, while I’m a huge fan of blogs and Facebook and other ways of communicating and connecting over the interwebs, I prefer to use these tools as a way to stay connected from a distance and to facilitate meaningful in-person connections.  So let’s grab a cup of coffee or a beer sometime!

In the meantime, I’ll be posting here occasionally and I look forward to being able to share more of my story and hearing some of your thoughts.