So I’m still in the process of moving, and I wasn’t planning on doing anymore blogging until I had made a significant dent in my unpacking, but I came across something today that I couldn’t wait to write about so here I am!
I’ve kept a lot of things from my childhood like letters, cards, journals, newspaper clippings, etc. and as I’m unpacking I decided that I would go through this stuff and try to get it organized. I found a bunch of journals from when I was much younger, and I started reading one that I had to write in as part of our daily class participation when I was in 10th grade (15 years old).
At first I was cringing at what an annoying keener student I was, constantly pestering the teacher about different assignments and class work. But then about a month into the journal things got interesting. After we made our journal entry for the day, the teacher would read it over and put a comment in the margins.
On March 7th, I’m guessing in response to something we had talked about in class, she wrote “Are you involved with your church?”
She would probably regret writing that for the rest of the year, because this was the perfect opening for me to try to save her soul. Some of the things I wrote were unbelievable. I knew that I was passionate about Christianity in highschool, especially in Grade 10, but I had no memories of being so obnoxious about it.
To give a little bit of background, 10th grade was my first year in highschool, and it was also my first exposure to evangelical Christians. These new friends had a big influence on my thinking about Christianity, and they introduced me to the wackaloon ideas of the Rapture and the end times. They also got me hooked on reading that ghastly Left Behind series (click the link if you don’t already know what that is, the rest of this may not make sense if you don’t).
Alrighty, time to start showing you what an insufferable Christian I was when I was 15…here are selected quotes from my journal (leaving my poor punctuation choices intact), with the notes from the teacher in italics, and comments from me in red, starting with after she asked about church:
March 8 – I wouldn’t say I’m involved much with my church because the sermons don’t really capture me, and I don’t feel I belong. I’d like to start going to [the local evangelical megachurch] because I’ve heard a tape of their pastor, and he’s really good. This is explained in a note I found in my memories box from an evangelical friend, who lent me a taped sermon on prayer from her church. I remember listening to that, and I seem to remember the minister talking about how dinosaur bones were put there by the devil to test our faith. I took notes from these tapes in my Bible, which I talked about in this post. I’ve been really devoted to God ever since I started reading this book series. The first one is called Left Behind…you should read them because they might save your life. Save your life??? WTF was wrong with me?
“I have faith and am an active member of my church. Thanks for giving me the names of the books though.” In other words, please stop pestering me.
April 27 – Have you ever read the books called Left Behind? I guess I forgot that I had told her about them already. I love those books! …It’s a series, and they’re really amazing…When you read the back it will sound like science fiction, but it’s soooo not! Of course it’s not, no science fiction could be as craptastic as the LB series. READ THEM!!!!!!!!! You’re guaranteed to love them. They get better each new book!!! Tell me if you read them!
“I will.” She then went on to explain how she doesn’t read much fiction, she probably thought that would be the end of it. Ha! I’m trying to save her soul here!
April 28 – No you have to read them!!!!!!!! It’s not fiction at all!!!!!!!!! All the stuff in them is taken from the Bible! The only thing made up are the characters!
I guess I misunderstood. I will tell you if I read them. Ha, she can’t get rid of me that easy!
May 5 – Today the world was supposed to end! Guess not! Huh? I had no idea what I was talking about here, so I looked up 05/05/2000 and found this. The world won’t ever end. First Jesus comes and takes all his people, then theres 7 years of destruction on the Earth, then the world is rebuilt and living on Earth is like living in heaven! Source: a crappy fiction series loosely based on the zaniest book in the Bible. I got no response from the teacher on this one…
May 9 – Aren’t you going to answer our journals from May 5th? Have you read those books yet? You really should!
“I haven’t read the books. I’m pretty much at peace with my beliefs. Thank you for thinking about me.” If you thought I could take a hint, you thought wrong.
May 10 – You really should read them, though. What are your beliefs exactly? Have you read the Bible? She wrote “Yes” in the margin. I love reading the new testament. It’s beautiful. My favourite Bible verse is 2 Corinthians 4:8-9 “We are often troubled, but never in despair. dometi…I forgot it! But it’s beautiful! Oh Christ I can’t believe how annoying I was.
Yes it is beautiful. I don’t discuss my faith because it is so personal and important to me and I don’t feel I should have to explain it or defend it. I am happy that you have found your faith and that you have such serenity. I definitely didn’t have serenity with my faith if I was spending so much time trying to tell someone that the world would end soon.
May 11 – I disagree that you feel you shouldn’t discuss your faith, because it’s very important to share, and in doing so you may save other people. But I understand that it’s against policy for teachers to discuss subjects like that, even though I believe that rule is wrong. That’s right, I was one of those ignorant buffoons who thought that Christianity should be taught in schools.
There is a difference working in the public school system and the private school system. At [Mennonite School] or [Catholic School] religion is separate and integrated so teachers talk about their faith. The public school system has students and teachers of all faiths and if religion is discussed it can offend Buddhist students or Jewish students or Jehovah Witnesses – all of whom have distinct beliefs they value. You will notice there is no public praying in schools.
Although she was a Christian, she made a compelling argument against faith being brought into school, but of course 15-year-old me couldn’t let it go. When I read this next part today I was horrified, my face turned red, and my husband wondered what was wrong with me…
May 12 – I still hold to my belief that Christianity should be brought into the school, because all those people who are in those other religions are going to hell, pardon, I was pardoning myself for saying a swear word, not for saying those people are hell-bound…oh the horror! and same with the kids who don’t believe anything. kids! And I had no problem with this stuff! People think that being a good person will get you to heaven, but you have to confess your sins and ask for forgiveness from God and truly believe in Jesus and God and know that Jesus died to save us to get into heaven. And that’s a fact! Why do people think atheists are the smug ones? This might make it seem like God’s bad, um, yeah. but it’s man’s fault, because when Adam and Eve ate the fruit, they gave the world to the devil, so he’s controlling everything on earth. And you could say God’s like a car, and we’re his gas. He needs our prayers to help us, and he wants us to go to heaven, but some of us don’t believe, and the devil keeps them to himself and they go to hell. What the poop was I talking about? If this journal weren’t in my handwriting I probably wouldn’t believe that I could ever write down such ignorant and awful things.
In your adult life perhaps that is one of the ways in which you can serve – get involved in politics and make changes in the way schools are run. Translation: I’ll ignore the part where you went batshit insane and insulted almost everyone in the world and try to focus your crazy into a future goal.
The journal went on and I would say it even got worse, but for now I think I’ve put you through enough. When I found these words that I had written what I really wanted to do was to burn them so that nobody could know about these horrible thoughts I had, but I swallowed my pride because I think it’s interesting to show how far I’ve come.
Finding that journal has shown me that it’s possible for people with fundamentalist beliefs to learn to use reason and to come around to a skeptical worldview. I’m so glad that I’m not that person anymore.
I may blog about the rest of the journal another time, but I also came across a few other interesting artifacts from my religious past: (1) a letter I wrote to the Bishop when I was confirmed into the Catholic Church, (2) a letter explaining why I wanted to quit going to my church, and (3) a philosophy paper from my first year in university in favour of the existence of God. I hope to write about those soon!
Now back to unpacking…or to bed, wow it’s late!