I go to church every Sunday. I go to a Bible study every week. I volunteer at church on my free time, and I occasionally do some “extras.” You might find me at church on a Friday or Saturday night, even. My children will be raised in church, possibly attend a Christian school, and participate in religious education and activities.
I am not a Christian.
A lot of people find that pretty strange, and I don’t blame them. I find it stranger every day, myself. It’s a new kind of awkward when you go to a bible study full of Christians for the express purpose of studying a book about how to devote your life to a God that you’re not sure really even exists. Even though everyone around you might be welcoming, there’s a bit of an electric tension that surfaces, a sort of feeling of not belonging. I likened it to being a wolf among sheep, at first, but there’s nothing malicious about it. I don’t come to all of these things because I’m going to challenge God and Jesus and other people’s faith. So, it’s not quite like being a wolf among sheep at all. A vegetarian wolf among sheep, maybe. A wolf that thinks that sheep pretty much have the right idea, but disagrees with a couple of fundamental issues – like wearing wool, or bleating.
I think this puts me in a pretty unique position, and for a while now I’ve been thinking about writing down my observations from this point of view. My goal isn’t to make this blog into a platform for the discussion of religion and philosophy, but from now on if you see something titled AVWAS (A Vegetarian Wolf Among Sheep) followed by a subtitle, that’s what this is going to be about. There’s no curriculum, there’s no agenda. It’s only a blog, and I’m pretty sure that’s what blogs are for. So if you’ve been following this because you enjoy my writing or my music and you simply don’t want to hear any discussion about one of the most taboo topics in American culture, you can feel free to ignore any of the articles that might follow. I mean it sincerely that I generally respect all beliefs more or less equally (the Rastafarians are on thin ice with me, though).
In this lead-in, I want to give a bit of a background of where I am coming from:
I’ve done a lot of cultural studies. I’ve traveled to a lot of places, done a lot of different things. As a result, I like to think of myself as open minded. A lot of people outside the church have a very narrow-minded view of Christians, and a lot of people raised in the church have a narrow-minded view of non-Christians. I’m smack in the middle. I’ve been in and out of churches my whole life. I was a fairly devout Catholic when I was a kid, and I’m serious when I say that. I prayed every night to God, went to church on a regular basis, attended Sunday school, and did other church activities, without complaining too much (though you’ll have to ask my mother). I wandered away from it in my teenage years, and when I met my wife I dove right back in to a completely different kind of Christianity. I’m talking about the speaking in tongues, jumping up and down in church, rock music for two hours, people putting their faces on the floor and crying kind of church. I didn’t quite jump in that deep, but I was there for a while.
People ask me sometimes if that was really genuine – a lot of people think I was just playing the game so I could date my future wife at the time (she is a devout Christian and has been raised in the church her whole life). Only I can really know where I was during that two or three year period of my religious journey. All I can say is that if you grow the guts go home and try to convert your staunchly atheist/agnostic parents, you probably have to believe in what you’re saying. Other than that, I don’t have to prove my experience to anyone.
But I’ve also done some other things, too. I’ve read literature and studied religions from Greeks to Hindus to black magic and Alister Crowley to reading the Koran and parts of the Book of Mormon. So, I’m not only looking at this from the Christian perspective, though I’m going to focus on it because that’s the environment I’m immersed in right now.
I would say that I am not a Christian because the fundamental doctrine of Christianity states that you must believe that Jesus Christ is the son of God, sent down by the father to live a perfect life and be given up as a perfect sacrifice to cleanse us of our sins and be our permanent intercessor as well as our gateway to eternal life in heaven. Frankly, I’m not so sure. I don’t deny that it could be a possibility, but right now I don’t believe it. There are a host of other things that I’m not in line with the church, and I’ll deal with them eventually. Since I don’t believe in Jesus, I can’t be a Christian. It’s cut and dry, for me.
There are, however, a lot of things that I am in line with the church on. And I also acknowledge – and encourage everyone to be cognizant of – the fact that Christians are people. In general, I support what Christians do. No, I don’t support radical right-wing psychopaths that want to lynch homosexuals or burn abortion clinics. Those are the kinds of Christians that make headlines, and those are the kinds of Christians that aren’t Christians. I’ll explain that more another time – the issue of ceremonially succumbing to the anecdotal logical fallacy when religion is involved.
So there it is. A non-Christian acting mostly like a Christian who plans on writing a bit about why he is where he is. A vegetarian wolf among sheep. We’ll see just how quickly someone sets my house on fire. Hopefully I can get some profound thoughts out, first.
Until next time,