Convert/deconvert stories.(6 Posts)
As a person who has grown up secular I have never faced brainwashing (Childhood indoctrination) Of any religion, fell free to share your convert stories with us! Whether you are an atheist, agnostic or Religious, what convinced you of this?
My deconversion was slow. The first time I really honestly considered that Christianity was made up was during thought process after the Boxing Day tsunami. To be honest I wasn't a church goer by that time but still prayed and very much felt I was a Christian. A while later I got into astronomy and was reading about cosmology and physics which led onto a more thorough exploration of my beliefs. For me this led to reading a lot of Sagan's works about the origins of the universe and the psychology behind belief.
I didn't face indoctrination as a child as I went to Sunday School and we did what you did in Sunday School in the 1960s which was read the Old Testament and New Testament stories and sing choruses. I think my parents were just delighted to get a peaceful hour on a Sunda as they didn't go to church and couldn't really help with any questions I had. I loved Sunday School for the singing really but didn't like church which was cold and grey and boring. Luckily my Sunday School was outside of the main service so I managed to avoid it most of the time except for parade service when I was in the brownies.
As a teenager I realised that life is not fair and I blamed God so I stopped going to Sunday School/youth group and got angry. As I was convinced there was no God I would have classed myself an atheist. When I arrived at an Oxbridge college from a bog standard comprehensive and first person in my family to get to uni, I came across Christians of all types. I didn't get on with the Christian Union who tried very hard to convert me but I did meet up with some wonderful mature Christians who were interested in art, literature, philosophy, music and theology. They were kind and generous and intelligent and different to the image of Christians that I had in my mind.
Long story short is that I had a conversion experience during my first year at university in which I encountered God. I know this sort of experience in a minority one as faith is usually a much more gradual experience but it did and the nearest I can get to words is to say that 'love came down.' To be honest I was a bit annoyed as the last thing I wanted to be was a Christian, they were uncool and wore socks with sandals, but supported by the mature Christians I had met in my first term, I started going to as many different churches as I could to learn about the faith and experience as much of the different styles of worship and preaching in the different denominations.
Fast forward. I am now a priest working in the C of E.
So three things were part of my conversion; a direct experience of God, meeting Christians who were in the same academic and creative mindset as myself and a lot of time spent in different churches and denominations experiencing the breath of Christian worship.
My mom introduced us to Sunday school and church as children, even though she herself is an atheist (and never disguised this fact- nor does she now!), as I guess she wanted us to make our own minds up. The church in my home village was (and is) really cool (in my eyes) - low church, very liberal, with a strong focus on social justice. I loved it from the start. It always felt like home, in every possible (good) sense.
There have been a couple of times in my life where I've moved away from faith, but I've always come back to it. I'm still a committed Christian, although I'm not too sure I'm an Anglican anymore, but that's a whole other story.
So to answer your question, I don't feel like I ever converted, I feel like I was born Christian. My brother had the same upbringing as me, and is an ardent atheist.
Talking about a conversion event is a bit false as it wasn't a matter of suddenly agreeing to a set of propositions about faith. When I look back on my faith journey it seems clear that the faith I had as a child is of a very different quality to the certainty I had as a teenage atheist and then as a keen young Christian. I've gone through periods of extreme dryness when God seemed very distant and I drifted away or clung on with my fingertips out of sheer cussedness.
The word journey is overused but it makes more sense of a lifetime than a once and unchanging which is what it might look like from outside but is nothing like how it really is.
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