Wednesday, February 27, 2013

An Evangelical World

Currently I have been reading In the Land of Believers by Gina Welch, a book that I deem fully worth every cent of the dollar I paid for it at the Dollar Tree. The book details the adventure of an atheist woman who joins Jerry Falwell's Thomas Road Baptist Church and goes undercover as a Christian to immerse herself in Evangelical culture in hopes of understanding the culture and consequently writing a book about said culture that would help bridge the divide between Evangelical America and secular America. Hitherto I see no evidence to suggest that this book will bridge any divides apart from the divides in Welch's own character (divides that seem to have been created by the experiment rather than preceding it), but the book is certainly interesting and promising to the strange breed of atheist like myself.

However, the book did stir one thing in me that I am not sure if it intended to stir, and that I find I need to be reminded of on occasion: that I would not do well in an Evangelical world, that I do not want to see or live in an Evangelical world.

Knowing that skepticism and doubt are integral to my worldview, that I find value in the emotional shades of happiness, despair, pain, and pleasure rather than believing that a sunny disposition rooted in the confidence that in all things God works for those who love him should be maintained and sought at all times, and that I just plain can not imagine seeing the world in that monolithic way that identifies goodness with Godliness and sees all goodness as being derived from the extent to which God's will is fulfilled, assures me that I just could not breathe that air. This last point, goodness being identical with godliness, may have been one of the things that most drove my heart away from Christianity even while my mind retained loyalties; to me it made the world so tiny, although I am certain that there are many who would insist, citing personal experience, that it makes the world more vast.

To be sure, I imagine that most in the Evangelical world are not eager to breathe my air either. I chalk it up to a difference of natures and a difference of what experiences one finds livable. All the same, though faith and religion are of the utmost importance to me (strange breed of atheist that I am), I don't ever want to interact with that faith wrapped in the body of Evangelical Christianity.

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