Personal Note: This post was written by an old friend of mine. He shared it with me in private, and though he wishes to remain anonymous, he gave me permission to publish the account here. His willingness to open himself up in this way is, for me, a much-needed affirmation: this is exactly the kind of conversation I had hoped this site would inspire. I hope you enjoy this piece as much as I have. If his story inspires you to share your own, please let me know. I would be happy to publish anyone’s account as long as it is written with sincerity and respect.
I grew up going to church in a family dedicated to God and his work. It was a strict Southern Baptist upbringing. No TV, no secular music in our house, etc. In fact, I knew about 9/11 before my parents did because there was no TV in the house for them to find out about it! I went to church every Sunday morning and evening, every Wednesday, and sometimes Fridays for youth nights, all up until the time when I got a job and was allowed to use that as an excuse to skip church.
Hypocrisy. It is what drove me from the church, that and normal teen rebellion. I watched a church split up over foyer carpet and a bus. I am sure there were underlying issues but that is what I saw. People dividing into sects and clicks, old folks over young folks, pastors leaving, and none of the people in the church big enough to reason with one another and make decisions for the betterment of the church as a whole.
Leaving the church and joining the army, being deployed to 3rd world countries multiple times has led me through interesting theological debates. There are times that I miss the oneness felt while singing praises to god during the worship service, but then I remember the people. The liars. All sinners who sinned on a regular basis with no sense of remorse except when they were in church, and even that is doubtful.
I watched horrendous things in the name of religion, lost friends, and met people who I would befriend for a lifetime, and in all of this I wondered what was out there. Something is out there. Someone is out there. Is it the Christian God, Allah? Do the Buddhists have it right? The new age religions like Wicca? I have explored a lot, read the Quran, visited Buddhist temples, been to a coven meeting, and I found similarities in all of them. The thing that confuses me the most is the feeling of oneness you find in all of them. When chanting in a Buddhist ritual I felt the same oneness, connected with the universe, that I felt when singing during a Christian worship service.
How do you know which one is right, and for that matter, which of the variety of Christian denominations is right? Is there one true religion? One true God? Is it a decision everyone has to make for themselves or is there a right answer?