3/05/2017 | Share this article: View CommentsBy MM ~
Back at that church I remained enthusiastic for about 6 years, involved in the children's holiday club and doing the Moore theological course. Then in the second year of that course we had a new curate, far less good pastorally and more fundamentalist: to him spreading the gospel was everything and pastoral care or charity work a waste of time. We hit the subject of predestination on the course and this really enraged me, the way he presented it so assertively, I wrote to the vicar who was far more pragmatic in his reply but the curate was quite aggressive about me having gone to the vicar! Over the next few months I tried to think through my faith, parents weren't really helpful, mother was understanding (I think she has a faith based on the balance of probability in her own mind so can see the other point of view) but father's response showed a complete lack of understanding of the depth of my doubts. At about the same time the church did a plant placing a lot of pressure on the remaining church members, I was basically on the sound system every week and being pressured to be involved in loads of other events, at this point I gave them 6 months' notice and tried a period without any church involvement (except I did continue attending a home group, mainly due to a fear of losing the friendships built up).
After about a year, things just didn't feel right and I drifted back to the same church, the curate I had had a run-in with had by then left. Over the next 15 or so years until now I have drifted along, I'd say with fundamental doubts winning 80% of the time and some sense of belief for the other 20%. But there are several things I have great problems with: I still do the tech for the children's holiday club each year but have an uncomfortable feeling about being involved in children's work which is essentially indoctrination. At work (science department at a university) I overheard a colleague discussing creation and asserting that the argument that the world evolving by chance is too unlikely is flawed because although the probability of an ordered world evolving is close to zero, it has had an infinite length of time to occur over, a bit like trying to throw ten sixes, if you repeatedly throw the dice over millions of years, the chances are it will happen. Thirdly, the argument that the world shows evidence of a creator due to its beauty and wonder, however, thinking on this recently it has occurred to me that creation is pretty barbaric (the food chain, animals eating each other) pointing away from a benevolent creator.
On top of this I had never been in a relationship to my late '30's, being nervous of making mistakes and therefore waiting for "the one". Then I met a lady on a Christian group holiday and though I should ask her out. Things progressed OK (although she was quite insecure and demanded a lot of attention, always pressing to meet up again sooner rather than later, and as she was about 10 years younger than me I felt obliged to let her set the pace re intimacy, of which there was none), but something I was really uncomfortable with was that she always wanted to pray or study the bible with me, and I felt I was pretending I had a lot more faith than I did, being wracked with doubt. After about 18 months it was clear she was hoping for engagement then marriage, I had to come clean that I didn't feel things had developed anywhere near that far and that I would have to end it. She has found this difficult to accept, I've come clean about the lack of faith and other issues, we split up about 2 years ago, she will seem to accept it for months and I'll think she has moved on, then suddenly I'll have a flurry of upset-sounding letters or texts.
Furthermore since breaking up I have sought out more non-Christian friends, many of whom are local teenagers, as I seem to have hit a mid-life crisis and regret having lived my own teenage years very conservatively and risk aversely, for some reason they have accepted me and we enjoy a bit of football in the park, my bad attempts at skateboarding or BMXing, keeping in touch on Facebook and I follow a couple of their youth football teams and attend some of their matches. A couple of of their parents clearly have unvoiced concerns but they have concluded by chatting to me and keeping an eye on me a the football matches that I'm not up to anything bad. Why I'm mentioning this is it has shown me how the Christian mantra that everyone's inclined towards evil just doesn't ring true. These teenagers who should be at their wildest, yes they swear a lot and might play a bit rough sometimes but most of them are really kind, caring and supportive of each other. I can say the same for most of the parents too!
So I remain in a confused state, trying to decide whether to turn my back on the faith completely, to me the argument that it's best to stay faithful on the off chance its all true isn't enough, you need to live something you believe in, not something you think there is only a slim chance is true. Through the teenagers on Facebook I have supported some charity events and really felt it is something worthwhile, whereas doing stuff for the church or giving them money always has an element of grudgingness about it. I know the parents (especially father) are likely to be difficult if I do announce I have turned my back on Christianity, he took my split with my girlfriend badly as well, saying how unimpressed he was after I had been struggling over that decision for months. They do have a tendency to get annoyed over non-issues (e.g. swearing) and I even suspect that my father gradually disposing of his assets to the local tip has something to do with him not being happy about my break-up.
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