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Gosh, what a long, strange trip it's been

By Jordan ~

Hello and thank you for reading this whoever you may be. This is my account of leaving Christianity (more specifically the Catholic Church) and my conversion to Buddhism at age 15.

I was raised with a non-religious mother and a father who was on and off about religion until about 43 (I'll get back to him later). I was baptized as a baby (Oh good, already in bondage before my first birthday, thanks for letting me use my free will!) and went to a catholic elementary school in Canada. I was a very conservative catholic boy, never questioning a single bit of what I heard. Not even wondering why if God is so all loving, did he drown the world and send plagues upon people? However as I grew older and I began to think for myself, questions arose about the validity of the bible. At this time the shroud of Turin was proven fake by carbon dating and the catholic church was in the process of accepting evolution. I wondered, "How can the Bible be the word of God if its incorrect and therefore imperfect? I thought God was supposed to be perfection."

I began delving into history of Rome, I adored it and the religion. However I noticed something odd, not a single bit of Roman historians living at the time of Jesus said anything about him, his apostles or his supposed LARGE following of Christians. I consulted my religion teacher about this and I was brushed off with a "Well the bible says he exists and the bible is the word of God interpreted by man." Ah yes, the bible is no longer the word of God anymore its just an "interpretation" written down by flawed men who lived well after Jesus' supposed death. However I did not deconvert, although the seeds of doubt were already in my mind. I began to scour my NAV (New American Version, I also had the King James version but my teachers warned me against reading it.) Bible for answers. I wanted to know why other historians didn't document a person who has been claimed as the most important man to ever live.

However I found nothing, nothing to indicate that people refused to record his existence. I kept my studies a secret from my teachers, parents and my priest. I felt as if I was doing something evil by questioning God and would constantly pray for forgiveness after every session of study. I began to delve into the stain of the Bible, the Old Testament. I was horrified by what I saw God commanding, genocide, bets with Satan to ruin Job, hardening Pharaoh's heart so that God may punish him and then go on to kill the Egyptian children. How about the story of the Tower of Babel when God makes people speak different tongues so thy never unite? My teachers and priest had weaved there way around these passages as this was the first I had heard of them. I was also struck hard by the passage in Leviticus, commanding gays to be killed (I have gay uncles and I myself am bisexual). So I became anti-gay as a result during the 7th and 8th grades. I continued my studies in secret, this time going on to the New Testament.

Jesus supposedly came to release us from Old Testament laws, or so my priest had told me. However not one passage hints at this. Instead Jesus states the laws must be upheld! I also read the passage about cutting off your hand or foot or gouging out your eye if it causes you to sin (directly from Jesus himself). Being a 13 year old boy I was bombarded with hormones and had internet access (guess what I did!) and I felt horrible for it. I felt as if I was the only one and I was damned unless I didn't beg God to forgive me and promised that this time would be the last (which went on until I was 14 which was when I deconverted). I also began having the "dreams" developing boys and girls get when going through puberty. I thought these were the product of a demon, however I was so afraid I never asked for an exorcism (thankfully). There were times where I would pray and I would still have the dreams, this began my doubting of the power of prayer. My home life itself was very turbulent, my parents rarely got along and when I was in the 8th grade my father left for two months to "cool down". I knew a divorce was coming and prayed and prayed for my parents to get along. Of course these efforts were fruitless and nothing happened.

I often visited my father who was staying at a friend's house who had also been divorced (most of my fathers friends are divorced and have been multiple times). It was on his two months away he "discovered" God. I was still somewhat christian at the time so I had no problem and he was very liberal about it at first. My first year of high school (catholic high school) was devoid of religious indoctrination to my surprise and I met other kids who were questioning the faith as well. I had accepted there was no evidence for Jesus outside of the Bible and that the Bible was composed many years after his supposed death. I accepted that the apostles were not the ones who wrote the gospels and that the Bible was an edited volume, not an infallible, unchanged work of a God transmitted to humans. I had dropped my anti-gay attitude and began to explore other religions (Namely Shintoism, Buddhism and various pagan religions).

By the middle of the year the year I no longer attended church or read the Bible. I had stopped praying going into grade 10 and began reading the stories of the Kami and the Buddhas. The message of being one with nature, respecting ancestral gods, becoming a kami after death if you lead a good life and being reincarnated if you still need to patch things up really appealed to me and made more sense than a all powerful God who loves us yet sends us to hell, an all knowing God who knew I'd deconvert and suffer from clinical depression and bipolar disorder when my parents' divorce picked up speed, yet did nothing to prevent it... a God who has omnipotence, yet fails to feed the starving, heal the sick, mend the wounded, a God who supposedly only gives powers to a few select people who supposedly aided only those who they came into contact with and finally a God who could easily reveal himself today and prove he is the one and only... yet doesn't. That was it, by the 11nth grade I was out of the Catholic establishment. I no longer believed in God or Jesus. Instead I pursued my path down the way of the Kami, mixed in with Buddhism.

This was not the end for me however... I had to deal with my unstable father who recently became a born again christian (Evangelical) after receiving a vision from God that he was to continue his attendance at church (which his "friend" pressured him into), become a disciple and save the marriage (converting my mother and I in the process). He didn't waste any time in attacking my beliefs, calling me an evil idol worshiper, a blasphemer and deeply disturbed and unnatural. he stated that Christianity will take over the world, starting with Asia and then move west and conquer, you guessed it, ISLAM, then everybody would be a christian and there'd be no more competing religions. He told me that everyone except Christians will burn in hell, that the only reason I don't want to go to church is because his pastor will convert me (in his mind God will "overtake" me and I will writhe and speak in tongues before converting), and that all other religions started with evil pagan, idol-worshipers except Judaism and Christianity and that I don't have a choice, Jesus is the "only way". He attempted to get my mother and I to watch his church videos on how to act in day-to-day life and get us to attend his church's retreats, services and bible study classes (he goes to all of them). This good christian man also never hesitated to lose his temper whenever I questioned him or disagreed with him, he'd tell me thing about his sex life with my mother and that my mother's family was full of incest and rape.

He told me my mother was evil, deluded, "not gonna make it", mislead, a pathological liar, mentally ill, promiscuous and all around manipulative (he also said the same for my grandmother and aunt). He of course, prayed and prayed that the marriage would be saved and he was convinced it would be (God told him so! How can God be wrong?). However it was clear to him it wasn't getting any better and I was drifting away from him (Uh oh, looks like God is losing that battle!). His last ditch efforts to convince me to convert were pathetic and even offensive, claiming he could speak in tongues to my autistic brother and that if I convert, I will do the same. I of course dismissed this as a load of BS, I had never heard him do it and neither had my mother, my brother also acted no different from before, regardless of whether or not my father was around (usually he was off at church, bible studies, retreats for men only or work). When that failed he gave up on trying to convert us and the marriage was no more.

I am not angry with my father, I don't hold a grudge towards him despite how he treated me throughout my life. I believe he is mentally deficient in some way and even if he wasn't people don't do do such things for no reason. I have decided I am going to better, improve myself and not hold a grudge. I feel much better now as a person, physically, emotionally and on a spiritual level. The only thing I have left to say is, "Gosh, what a long, strange trip it's been".