Christianity has played a significant and dynamic role in my life. I was born into a Christian family and had a strong “Christian faith” until I was 20-years old and learned about the Crusades, the Inquisition, the pagan traditions it copied and the political powers that edited and produced the Holy Bible I had cherished and trusted so much.
This was a confronting moment. Traumatic to say the least – my entire world-view fell apart. I felt betrayed. I felt lost. Very soon after this I left Australia to see the world.
Although I had rejected the religion I continued to feel a relationship, a strong connection, with the divine magic behind life – which I continued to personify as “God”. When I returned to Australia I struggled to relate to my family and friends, who continued to see the world through the Christian lens. If I talked about other cultures, religions and the possibility of pre-historic civilisations, it was like talking to a blank wall – as if anything outside the reality the Bible paints, was a reality that could not be seen, heard or contemplated.
I found myself in a unique position. I completely understood how they were feeling – I had felt that before. I understood what they were thinking – I had thought that way before. And I was still open to what they were saying. I doubted I would ever return to being an exclusivist Christian – believing my truth is the ONLY truth and that everyone else was going to hell – but my heart was open to revisit Christianity. I wanted to evaluate it from a critical intellectual big picture perspective. It seemed that everyone in the world was trying to convince me to believe what they believe. From militant Atheists trying to convince me there is no God through to militant Christians trying to convince me their God was different from everyone else’s. Was evolution a fact, or a theory? Everyone was convinced one way or the other, but what was the evidence for each perspective?
I felt I owed it to my Dad to give the beliefs he so passionately follows one last really good try – investigate the “facts” and critically analyse whether they stood up to the “facts” that surrounded them. “SHOW ME THE EVIDENCE” I screamed out to the world.
Time is the greatest barrier to searching for our own answers to our questions. We lead busy lives and we can’t learn and do everything we want to – so we just accept what other people tell us, and move on. But moving in with my Opa I had been given this gift: the gift of time. Time to seek answers. I wanted to share this gift with others. So I made a decision: I would document all my questions and all the answers. I had no agenda – I didn’t want to convince anyone of anything – all I wanted was to distinguish what was true from what was false.
Never in my life have I ever stopped praying. Even at the point in my life where I was completely skeptical about God and had deemed my prayer an ignorant practice of indoctrinated fools – I continued to pray. It made me feel good. It comforted me. And it seemed more than coincidence that my prayers SO often were answered.
I prayed to God that “He” would direct my search: bring me the books, the websites, the people, that “He” wanted me to talk to. Something deep inside me told me this was my mission – that God had placed me in this unique position for a reason, and that “He” wanted me to undertake this search and document everything in an unbiased, non-misleading, completely honest way.
I wondered about God’s plan for my life. As an ugly schoolgirl with braces, pimples, glasses, a puppy-dog fringe and fundamentalist Christian beliefs, I clearly remember standing there in my room and saying to God:
“Please make me a model. Then I will do anything you want. Imagine if I was famous and beautiful, just imagine what we could do together – how many people we could bring to you. God my life is yours to do with what you please. But PLEASE make me a model.”
God had fulfilled his end of the deal and now it was my turn. Achieving my modeling dreams did change my life – mainly because it made me realise that absolutely ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE. As you have probably noticed by reading any of my writings this realisation and motto has remained with me throughout my life.
‘There are some things you just can’t know.’ ‘If you could actually prove something then everyone would believe – it all comes down to faith.’ ‘I wish you would hurry up and finish searching – you just never know when you might die – I worry about where you will end up.’ ‘Does it really matter?’
I appreciated my family’s loving concern for my eternal life but I can’t abandon my quest for real answers, my quest for TRUTH. It is important. If there is an eternal life then I want to be there but I don’t want to dedicate my entire life to something that is man’s creation not Gods. Questioning is a scary idea – not only because of what might happen in the interim, but I think also because of the fear we might discover an answer we don’t wish to discover. There is also an accumulated fear embedded in the history of Christianity, where questioners were declared ‘heretics’ and expelled from the congregation, or worse. At least now I was able to question without having my head chopped off.
I know I will never learn everything there is to know, or have all my questions answered, but I also knew I could get nearer to the truth than where I was. If I was going to have faith, it was not going to be a blind faith, it was going to be a defined faith, with awareness of which writers, politicians and theologians I was putting my trust in. I needed to get serious.
Beginning my search I was faced with information overload, with one question leading to ten and every website or book directing me to myriad more perspectives. I did the Alpha course and asked questions there. I did John Dickson’s Simply Christianity course with a very knowledgeable family friend, developed more questions and contemplated the varying answers. Returning to university I made friends with theologians, religious professors and philosophers.
After now two and a half years of searching and reflecting, I reduced this mass of questions and answers to two questions:
1. Is the Bible the “Word of God”? Click here
2. Is Jesus Christ the “Son of God?” Click here
Fascinating work (your story, research, etc.)! I’m reading it as I comment to you.
I too am a fan of Alan Watts