The Unfundamental Conversion
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I Said to Myself, “I Hope the Atheists are Right.”

August 16th, 2013 | Posted by Lana Hope in Faith | Religion | SE Asia | Travel

See part 1. part 2. and part 3 for this to make sense. Now to pick off from Prague.

IMG_2954I flew back to Asia and entered a very dark month. Of all places, I crashed in a hut made of mud up in the mountains. I would touch the walls, and lay down and cry, searching for the means to continue.

Since I was a little girl, I had derived my sense of being and purpose from Christianity itself. (This was intensified by the fact that I was homeschooled and taught that I was a warrior for God.) The whole “Christian” persona was my identity. Not Jesus. Not God. But a profession in those things, and more specifically, in the whole evangelical persona.

“Who am I?” I had always answered that by saying, “Oh, I’m Lana. I’m a Calvinist-Reformed Baptist-Republican Christian.” (Okay, yes, seriously, my online profiles even said that.)

But then there I was, no longer Calvinist, no longer Reformed, and a Big ? mark on Christianity. There I was in the place I did not want to be, asking, begging, holding onto life.

I had at last been confronted with the fact that Calvinism and hell both made no sense. Europe had collasped my love for religion and my love for history, while simultaneously tightening my love for the world and travel itself. I loved the world. I loved exploring and sharing in it, but I hated the war and bigotry. Now, thanks to travel, my mind was stuffed with so many stories. I cried because I felt so alone. I had no blog at this point, and no one to call. No one in the states would ever “get” it because at this point, my circle of friends was only other evangelicals.

The only way I know how to explain this time in my life is to go back to an old post I wrote: on Foundationalism. This is what my worldview had looked like back when I self-identified as an evangelical.

foundationism and fundamentalism

And now suddenly I stopped believing in Calvinism and hell, and all the building blocks on top had fallen over. Suddenly this was my life:

Untitled

My whole structure had fallen down.

So I did the only thing I knew to do. I asked all the questions I had been afraid to ask. Why suffering? Why genocide? Why evil? I actually read the Bible. As I told one of my friends, “I feel like I’ve been lied to my entire life.” But see, this was not the first time I had read about genocide or stoning women who were not virgins. It was, however, the first time I read the Bible with an open mind that my entire faith could be crap, that the Bible is probably wrong, and that maybe God isn’t loving. It was the first time I was able to look at it all and say, “I’m willing to be wrong.”

And it was traumatic, and it was scary.

But you know what’s interesting to think about. Most people I know around the blog world (such as Sheldon from Ramblings of Sheldon) tell me they did not want to give up Christianity. As I describe here, in a way I was scared out of my mind, in a way I was experiencing the blow of having been lied to my entire life about God, in a way maybe I didn’t want to give up my faith.

But mostly I did. I simply said to myself, “I hope the atheists are right.” I wanted to be done with it because I was so tired, tired of digging for a good verse, tired of legalism, tired of misogyny, tired of hard questions, tired of the pain of feeling lost. I wanted to be done, so I had some sense of certainty again. I kept gasping for breath because this was not a place I had chosen. It was just a place that I found myself in, against my will.

I think now, looking back, whether I had given up Christianity or hanged in there (like I did), either way, I went through the hardest part. The hardest part is letting go of the toxic theology. The hardest part is admitting that strict gender roles are wrong, that hell is vulgar, and that life is not an easy pyramid after that. It is painful and difficult, but it is empowering. Because once on the other side, I was able to accept doubt and uncertainty as okay. Once on the other side, I was able to find identity outside a belief, and that was exciting.

If you are going through a time of questioning right now, I want you to know that it is okay…it does get better.

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  • Lana,

    I recently found your blog and I have enjoyed following your journeys in your recent posts. Even though we came from very different Christian backgrounds and I certainly have not been the world traveler you have been I went through a similar path of doubt, which I ultimately found to be very helpful in rediscovering my faith in a new way. I look forward to reading more of your site and future posts. Thank you for sharing your journey.

    Peace,
    W. Ockham

    • Lana Hope

      I’ve seen your “likes.” I find that different journeys lead to similiar journeys sometimes, so there you go!

  • And you already know me from a few comments. I tend to follow Roll to Disbelieve and figured I’d take a look over here after you commented.

    The name is a pseudonym related to my writing, which is not for everyone. Here and over at Roll to Disbelieve I’m kind of OOC (Out of Character).

    As you may have been able to tell by now, I’m an atheist.

    Uncertainty has its good parts though. Like a nice little phrase that some might say is the beginning of knowledge: “I don’t know.”

    Or maybe Socrates’s way of putting it is better, “I know enough to know that I know nothing.”

    It’s hard to learn anything when you think you know all the answers already, and sometimes we just haven’t gotten to the answers yet. We’re willing to try, at the very least.

    Only thing is, it’s not always safe to let people know you have those doubts. It seems at the moment as if you had it slightly easier, being in Asia rather than the American South (not generally a friendly place to those questioning Christianity), but not being anywhere near home may have made that scarier in its own way.

    • Lana Hope

      I totally agree. And in a way there is freedom in not having the answers. But when your taught to have all the answers, then it’s uncomfortable to not have them.

      • And I don’t exactly blame you, considering the ongoing controversy, if you no longer hope atheists are right. We aren’t all like those disgusting guys that blame victims and are just sure that any cry of harassment is due to hysterical anti-men bias.

        A little out of place with this post, but I guess that goes back to how there’s bigotry all over, even if it concentrates in a few particular places.

  • Lana, I have been reading your blog for several months now, and I really appreciate your contributions. I think you are a real help to those who are re-evaluating the foundations of their faith, and your observations from Cambodia really provide perspective.

    Your post today is powerful (along to the posts leading up to it). It is scary point for many of us in our spiritual journey when the things we one believed so firmly are falling apart. My crisis was somewhat different but was similar in many ways. For example–I was scared to death at what I was seeing and thinking.

    I tell the story of My Spiritual Crisis at http://jesuswithoutbaggage.wordpress.com/about-tim-chastain/my-siritual-crisis/.

    Continue sharing your thoughts and experiences and helping others in their journeys!

    • Lana Hope

      You’re not the only one I’ve heard that has had a faith crisis over creationism. That says something about how creationism is presented the gospel. It’s almost like creationism is a foundational block, underneat the Bible, so when it falls, the whole Bible seems to fall.

  • MEN ARE NOT SAVED BECAUSE OF WORKS

    1. Meritorious works cannot save you.
    2. Works of the Law of Moses cannot save you.
    3. Works of righteousness (good deeds) cannot save you.

    Titus 3:5 not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, (NKJV)

    Titus 3:5 He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, (NASB)

    Titus 3:5 then he saved us—not because we were good enough to be saved, but because of his kindness and pity— by washing away our sins and giving us the new joy of the indwelling Holy Spirit(The Living Bible —Paraphrased)

    Ephesians 2:8-9….you have been saved…9 not of works, lest anyone should boast. (NKJV)

    Ephesians 2:8-9 …have been saved…9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. (NASB)

    Ephesians 2:8-9 …you have been saved…9 Salvation is not a reward for the good we have done, so none of us can take credit for it.(The Living Bible—Paraphrased)

    Galatians 2:16 “knowing that a man is not justified by works of the law….. (NKJV)

    Galatians 2:16 and yet we Jewish Christian know very well thatwe cannot become right with God by obeying our Jewish law,…(The Living Bible–Paraphrased)

    WATER BAPTISM IS NOT A WORK.
    1.It is not a work of righteousness.
    2. It is not a good deed.
    3. Men are not baptized because they are good enough.
    4. Water baptism is not administered as a reward for good deeds.
    5. Baptism is not a work of the Law of Moses.

    Water baptism is so men can be saved. (Marl 16:16)
    Water baptism is so men can have their sins forgiven. (Acts 2:38)

    FAITH, REPENTANCE, AND CONFESSION ARE NOT WORKS.
    1. They are not works of righteousness.
    2. They are not good deeds.
    3. Men do not believe, repentant, and confess because they are good enough.
    4. Faith, repentance, and confession are not works of the Law of Moses.

    Faith, repentance, and confession are so men can have their sins forgiven and be saved. (Mark 16:16, Acts 2:38, Romans 10:9-10)

    SALVATION IS A FREE GIFT FROM GOD. But men have to accept that gift through faith, repentance, confession and water baptism.THERE IS NO WORK REQUIRED.

    Men can be saved in the time it takes to believe, repent, confess, and be immersed in water.

    (Note: Repentance in Acts 2:38 means to change from unbelief and to make the commitment to turn from sin and to turn toward God)

    YOU ARE INVITED TO FOLLOW MY CHRISTIAN BLOG> Google search>>>steve finnell a christian view

    • Lana Hope

      If faith repentance, and confession are not works, why is it that if you don’t “do” those things you can’t enter heaven?

    • So basically, no matter how mean you are in life, no matter how many people you kill or worse, so long as you decide you’re going to repent right there before they slide the needle in, you get to go to heaven.

      And every non-Christian you ever hurt goes to hell to be tortured for eternity.

      You should really pick a religion with better morality. I mean, they say us atheists have no reason to not running around murdering and raping in life, but here you are saying that anyone can do whatever they want as long as they repent at the last minute.

  • gakeat

    Lana: While I have not traveled the globe as you have, and my final destination is different than yours (for I am an nontheist, more based on that for me the burden of proof is to those who are claiming that there is a God, and to me, it is lacking), I related to the story in these 4 posts. I can almost see the pain you must have gone through in your major paradigm shift (and I think that is what you had). But in the end, it is the journey that counts, and not the final destination.

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