I’m less than a week away from launching myself on a two-month tour of sex, drugs, and rock and roll in Southeast Asia,so I think it’s a fine time to make a foray into the religious. Lord, grant me chastity and all that fun stuff, but not yet.
I’ve never been a religious man.
My family is vaguely Christian, or at least we used to pretend to be. On Christmas Eve, we would all go to Church. I distinctly remember it as the most boring hour of every year, made worse by the fact that it came the night before the real Christmas morning celebration of shiny new toys.
One year, we arrived at the Church late. Since we were not the only family of Christmas Eve Christians in the neighborhood, the Church was at capacity. We went home. The same thing happened next year, and thus began the Frost family tradition of pretending to try to go to Church one night of the year, because it was the thing to do. Of course we could have easily gone earlier and secured seats, but it was our unspoken agreement and holiday tradition to arrive at a time we knew to be too late, say “Aww shucks!” and go home to eat cookies and wait for the morning.
Like I said: I’ve never been a religious man. And I’m still not. I don’t go to Church. I don’t pray. I don’t believe, nor have I ever been tempted to. As annoying and pathetic as I find most outspoken atheists, I basically agree with them.
Unlike your garden variety atheist though, who read The God Delusion and now feels like the smartest sociology freshman on campus, I have quite a bit of respect for Christians and Christianity. The latter is one of the foundations of Western Civilization and a positive, uplifting force in both individuals and societies, regardless of whether its premises are true, and the latter are generally decent people under unfair assault from an anarchic political culture bent on oxidizing whatever order and justice remains in our society.
I recently became interested in learning more about Christianity and the world’s religions though, for a few reasons:
1) I’m interested in history. Even if Christianity is theology irrelevant, it is the most important intellectual movement in human history.
2) I’m interested in meaning, purpose, morality and la dolce vita. Whether Jesus was the Son of God or not, I would be a fool to rule out the ability of a highly developed, thousands-of-years-old tradition to teach me something.
3) I have never in my life seriously considered believing in God. I’ve always viewed the religious not with contempt, but with a hint of smug self-superiority. I have too much respect for too many Christian writers and thinkers for this to be an intellectually honest position.
4) Anything that the modern Progressive movement hates so virulently can’t be all bad.
So, just to be clear so I don’t any of my Christian readers’ hopes up – I am not going through some kind of crisis of self. I am not in the crushing throes of a quarter-life crisis, reaching out for some truth, any truth, any firm ground to stand on while the world crashes down around me (at least no more than usual). I invite any and all Christians (Jews, Hindus, Muslims, etc) to try to plead their prophets’ cases to me, and I promise to respectfully consider those arguments in good faith. But I think it’s very unlikely I come out the other side of this intellectual mini-journey a Christian.
Over the next few days, I’ll be posting links and guest posts by a few Traditionalist Christians, to whom I reached out to and asked for open letters to the atheists of my generation, as well as a few of my own thoughts on the spiritual. I don’t expect many conversions to come out of this experiment, but I do expect it to be an interesting conversation. Stay tuned.