Today is the dreaded lunch date with my college discipler "Janet", whom I blogged about a few weeks ago. I am no closer to knowing what, or how much, I will tell her about my de-conversion. I will probably avoid the topic until it becomes unavoidable, and then say as little as possible. In that sense, I relate very much to Notabarbie's entry last month on Fear or Self-Preservation.
Speaking of Coming Out, last week I got two emails from college friends that I haven't been in touch with for years and years. They saw my Facebook profile in which I self-identify as "agnostic" and, naturally, out of Christian concern for my spiritual well-being, they got in touch. I suppose I shouldn't be surprised, given that I have now publicly announced my lack of faith, but it was a bit weird to hear from people that I am not the least bit close to anymore.
To their credit, they weren't jerks about it. The first friend simply noted that she had seen it, and offered to chat if I ever felt like it (but no pressure to). She asked if it was related to me having dated a gay man (!). The second friend started blaming himself for my downfall, recalling a mailing list email exchange years ago in which some conservative Christian on the list made some obnoxious statements to which I responded, to which he responded criticizing me and defending his original obnoxious views. The friend who emailed me blamed himself for not stepping into the email exchange to confront the obnoxious guy, thereby letting me believe that Christians all believe the obnoxious tripe and driving me away from the faith. Kind of a sweet thought, actually, but it was truly laughable to me that he would think my faith could be dismantled by one unsavory email exchange.
Still, so far the Christians who have been my friends at some point over the years have been more gracious than I expected. As I mentioned in a comment on a previous blog entry, I went to a wedding last weekend with a lot of old Christian friends - and to their credit, none of them treated me differently or badly or tried to reconvert me or even tried to discuss faith with me. Then again, it was a wedding and not exactly the time or place for such conversation. I may not be so lucky next week when I see some of those same friends in a non-wedding setting.
I guess the only truly upsetting reaction I've gotten to my agnosticism--apart from my mom--is one I heard about second-hand: an acquaintance of mine (Jen) was chatting recently with a mutual friend. Somehow they got on the subject of me and the mutual friend, who is Jewish, asked Jen what her Christian faith makes of people like me, who were once devout but now question their faith. Apparently without blinking an eye, Jen said that I was being deceived by Satan. (This shocked the mutual friend, by the way.)
Jen's words hit me really, really hard. Had she seen the countless nights that I prayed, crying, for God to show me the truth, to reveal himself, to help me understand the things I don't understand, would she be so certain that it was of Satan? If she saw the number of books on my shelf; the hours upon hours I spent reading them, trying to find answers; the number of people I consulted and discussed these issues with, would she be so certain that it was of Satan?
It was doubly insulting when I thought about how disempowering the "Satan" card is. Do I not own my own thoughts? I came to God with as open a heart and mind that I could, and I still didn't get any satisfaction or answers. In fact, my questions only multiplied. When and how did Satan get involved in this?
But I guess Jen has been praying for me a lot, which I suppose is good. I mean, I'm pretty sure it won't do any harm. But I've come to believe it won't do much good either, as I've long since stopped believing in the efficacy of prayer.
Anyway: back to the lunch date. It's in 3 hours. Wish me luck.