Extracts from an Earlier Introduction:
Some estimates suggest that as many as three million people are leaving traditional churches in Europe and North America every year. Something is seriously wrong with the Christian religion! Many are simply walking away from what they had been taught about ‘God’, but it seem obvious that there are at least a few million agnostics who have been on what might be described as a ‘wilderness journey’ for a very long time, questioning much of what we were originally taught and wondering what the future holds. There was a time (especially before we had broadband) when many of us wondered if anyone else felt as we did. Now we know we are not alone with our own unique journeys, and it would appear that the numbers are increasing rapidly. Some have been in leadership, others have not.
It can be difficult to know how to encourage people to share something of their own journeys especially if they feel isolated from many of their own families because of their changing beliefs. We are all on our own unique journeys that can involve many stages of deconstruction and reconstruction. Let’s be honest. Haven’t we all been through a phase of rejecting the God we thought we knew? How many people lived with fear, guilt and shame? I have no recollection of ever doubting the existence of ‘God’ (but my understanding of that word has changed considerably over the years). I recognise that many Christians have a fear of hell (and maybe feel the need for a ‘Get Out of Hell Free’ card), but that’s a problem I’ve never had. As a former Anglican I had been taught that the early chapters of Genesis contained a lot of myth and symbolism (and that did and still does ring true for me). Let’s just say that when our adult daughter ‘walked away’ from church and people suggested that she had rejected God, my answer was that she had not rejected God, but had only rejected what she had been taught about God!
How many people for example can relate to Stephen Fry’s view of God?
The irony now is that my problems with the Christian religion only surfaced again after 1995 when the church we were attending was welcomed with open arms by the National Association of Evangelicals in America, following the changes announced by the leadership of the church. It felt like the church was about to throw out the baby with the bathwater!
I recognised that the majority of older people were set in their ways and that in most cases it would be wrong to disturb the faith that they had. I had shared enough stories with leaders and former leaders to be aware of many of the struggles that they went through before deciding to leave or to stay.
I’m not a natural student. I have always been a workaholic. I’ve never found reading easy. I prefer to listen and make notes. It was almost by accident that I became a computer programmer when I was already over 30 (the perfect job for someone with Aspergers Syndrome?).
Although I am in the UK, I was drawn in 1995 (when I was no longer employed) into studying Evangelical Christianity especially in America, by the change of direction of the church that we were then attending.
It’s been a very long journey with many twists and turns. I left school at 17 over 60 years ago and never had any further formal education. I like to think that I subsequently learned a lot in the ‘school of hard knocks’! It’s now 25 years since I had a full-time job, but in that time I ran a ‘Drop In’ for 17 years for the over 50’s one afternoon a week, and helped to set up a ‘Community Cyber Cafe’.
The material on the blog has been developed over several years. I have calculated that I have sat through more than 2,000 hours of sermons (and given a few). I have tried in the past to create a ‘safe haven‘ with limited success.