Thursday, June 9, 2011

Letter to my friends and family

Here's a copy of the letter I'm planning on sending to most of my friends and nearly all of my family—the exceptions are my nearly 90-year-old grandparents, both of whom are devoutly religious, and for whom the news would come as a severe blow. Ignorance is bliss, right?
To my friends and family: 
This email is being written to you because I love and respect you, and want to let you know about a difficult and significant change that has taken place in my life, one that will, no doubt, come as something rather unexpected. Various issues, thoughts, and circumstances in my life have led me to the realization that I can no longer call myself a Christian. I find myself unable to continue to affirm its core beliefs and doctrines. In fact, I’ve come to a place where I seriously question the existence of any divine being, and if one exists, I think it probably isn’t the God of Christianity. I’ve only recently recognized the many jumps of logic I have allowed myself in order to continue in my beliefs, and I cannot in good conscience continue to ignore them. 
What caused this seemingly sudden change? It certainly wasn’t the outcome of a single issue, question, doubt, life issue, etc. Rather, it was the result of a long process stretching over several years, and I’ve struggled with coming to this decision. The core of it arises from my dissatisfaction with and eventual lack of belief in the “answers” given by Christianity on a range of issues, issues that I’ve only recently begun to face with intellectual honesty and integrity. 
Let me stress that this decision has nothing to do with the my denomination, or any local church, or anything like that. I still respect and love the people of the churches I’ve attended for their loyalty, friendship, and encouragement. I know that I couldn’t be who I am today without their support. What are the immediate results of this change? I’m still going to finish my PhD and try to pursue a career as a biblical scholar and a teacher, though this will certainly take a different shape than I had imagined up to now. I’m still focused on becoming a better, more integrated, and more thoughtful person. I’m still committed to many of the values I hold dear, such as concern for the earth, for the wellbeing of others, and belief in love, honesty, and personal responsibility. In short, I’m still the same person.
This has led to a period of profound clarity, and I feel at peace in this new perspective. I also feel I have a great deal more integrity of thought, no longer forcing the world around me to “fit” into my earlier preconceived view. In no way do I think I’ve got it all “figured out,” but I expect to continue to grow and mature. I’m sure this news will come as a shock to many of you, and may offend some. I’m truly sorry for that. Others might not have an opinion one way or another. Some may be excited and see this as a positive change in my life. Whatever your reaction to this news, I want to take this chance to express my thanks to you for your friendship, love, support, and guidance throughout my life, and I deeply hope to depend on your continued love and encouragement.
Many of you will likely have questions or responses to this letter, and will want to talk about these issues further. For my part, I would be happy to hear from you! Just know, though, that I’m interested in discussion rather than debate. I would hope the conversation would be respectful and open (rather than combative and closed). So, if you would like to talk further, just reply to this email, or send me a letter (my address is below) and I would be happy to chat. 


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