4/06/2014 | Share this article: View CommentsBy Brisancian ~
Faith has never been either trivial or ancillary in my life: from childhood to the present, it has always carried a noted cost. This blog began primarily as an extended letter for my friends and family, who will no doubt struggle to understand exactly why I have come to reverse my position on issues of faith. The purpose of Journey is to convey as clearly as I can the tumultuous year that has transpired in the quiet background, consuming my attentions, troubling my dreams, and robbing my sleep. It is not my purpose here to persuade, except perhaps to plead that I have not gone mad or shifted recklessly. There have been only a few with whom I could struggle through these things, and that with fervor and diligence. The struggle has also been largely private with the hope of staving off unwarranted turbulence in my broader circle of friends and family.
The hope of the situation naturally diffusing has since passed, and so these private struggles come now to a juncture of inevitable and broader transparency. I will attempt to be utterly honest, as I hope to be in all things. But it has been for me a dire struggle, and it will not be short in the telling.
Yet I see in the journey a crisp and lucid conclusion, with daylight on the distal side of this unbidden and stormy course diversion. And despite the struggle, the loss, and the pain (past and yet to come), I must affirm that I wish I had known sooner. There were a number of authorities in my past which had been in a position to lift the veil. I am not grateful for this dubious yet well-exercised prerogative. Truth over comfort, and may comfort follow. In respect of my self-disposition and in recognition of how little I differ in substance from my neighbors, I suspect that there may be others who feel likewise. But I may well be mistaken.
The whole mess began quite simply with an article by a respected conservative Presbyterian pastor on the subject of human origins. The questions that it raised, unexpected as they were, disturbed my canoe. So I read a book, which left me capsized. The situation had become far more complex. So I read a second book to answer the questions of the first. The river narrowed, and I was pulled violently into the rapids. This alarming new environ razored my attentions. Casual reading became a critical research project, a pursuit of obsession and exhaustion.
It became clear that the traditional views of Judaism and Christianity did not stand on the firm footing I had thought.Readings took place in the early morning and evenings. I soon retreated from commons lunching at the office and invested every break time upon it. I crammed audio books while driving, sometimes at doubled speed. While standing in line at the grocery. During any odd minute. Most of what I had known about origins and the Bible were overturned or held under threat. Subjects ranged, including the historical Jesus, the historical Adam, human evolution, Old Testament archaeology, textual criticism, interpretive approaches to Genesis, and Jewish history. Everything that I read led to further problems and further questions, and it became clear that the traditional views of Judaism and Christianity did not stand on the firm footing I had thought. The apologetic tactics pursued by the community left me disappointed. Debates and lectures on YouTube became still more grist for the mill. I sought further reading recommendations from our pastor and we engaged in protracted discussions. I stopped working out and pursuing hobbies. I consumed books with a higher priority than food. Sleep fell off, and troubled dreams plagued me, as my mind continued to analyze the problems even while sleeping. Despite the tempo, my readings were not simply shorn of fruit and cast aside. I compiled hundreds of pages of notes from them. I checked backgrounds on the authors. I wrote hundreds more pages of personal journal as I attempted to reduce the problem to its most essential thread of questions. And I did not land where I ever thought I would. Then again, I realize now that I had not been given straight data before, and revisions to the data lead often to altered conclusions.
A first attempt at a summary report landed at 70 pages, and dreadfully inadequate. Further readings followed, and then a second attempt: over 180 pages, far too much, the central thread was getting tangled. The process distilled and clarified, however, and I re-read entire books a second and sometimes third time. After a third draft attempt, I realized that writing anything comprehensive about what happened was perhaps infeasible at any reasonable interval.
Hence, this blog. It is but the merest and briefest distillation of a difficult journey. Please excuse the shortcomings that result. Being a synopsis over an exceptionally wide-ranging investigation, detail must necessarily suffer for the sake of the global thread. I will separately document my actual path, whereas this summary outlines my landing place. A full bibliography will also be forthcoming, since I cannot claim subject matter expertise in anything that follows, but can only direct to the sources.
A light-hearted example to begin… Americans are generally aware that our forefather George Washington never actually committed any arboreal mutilation, notwithstanding the endearing moral fable of temper and integrity. I still remember the dissonance upon first learning that the old legend was not factual, somewhere in the teenage years. My canoe in that case was soon righted, however. It was a fable that stood alone; nothing of significance had been built on its shoulders.
There are more serious hatchet jobs in history, however: Washingtonian sins writ large, and upon which a great deal has been erected. Those responsible, I’ve come to realize, lie long dead... (Continued on the Journey Pages at JerichoBrisance.com)