Monday, April 14, 2008

[Xanga] Why I am a Christian: an excerpt from correspondence

"...My reasons in short? I think that Christianity is actually true. So I kind of have to follow it... like, if you see a rock flying at your head, that fact forces you to take action. Since I view Christianity as a fact, that fact forces me to take action - to believe.

Long story? I guess what it comes down to is that Christianity satisfies me on two different levels: intellectually and emotionally.

By that, what I mean is: intellectually, I think that Christian theology is satisfying. It provides answers to the questions that I think ought to be answered (Why does evil exist? If he were to exist, what would God be like? What happens after death? What is life? What is perfection), and only fails to provide thorough rational explanations where, I feel, thorough rational explanations are unfair to demand (e.g., explanations of infinity - the nature of God, for example, or the nature of free will - are unfair to require of a religion, or any system of thought, because, by definition, the nature of God lies outside human understanding). In fact, in such cases - where thorough rational explanations are not provided - I think Christianity still provides answers as best as we can understand them.

More importantly, however, I think that Christianity fulfills an emotional longing in me that I have been, no matter how hard I tried, unable to get rid of.

In high school, I was a pretty bitter dude. I mean, I was really smart - probably smarter than I am now - but I was just purposeless, and kind of self-centred. I wanted to be smarter, to improve myself, to become a better person... but why? Because I thought it would make me feel better.

And, you know, it did, for a while. But the thing about "becoming a better person" is that, no matter how much I improved myself physically, mentally, intellectually, whatever, I always discovered that, no matter how hard I tried, I couldn't find security, peace, a guarantee of anything. [More to the point: these desires, I found, were recalcitrant. It would have been one thing if, confronted with the reality of my weak nature - the Nietzschean weak, not fit for the ruling class of the Strong - I could have come to accept my position. But, no matter how many times I found my desires for peace and deep, true, love stymied, I continued to desire them. This recalcitrant longing is a cornerstone of my turn to faith.]

I'd realized pretty young that other people - even those who really loved me, like my family - could be unreliable. But, oh well, cool, I still had myself. But, senior year, I had this string of events where things just went wrong, through no fault of my own. I lost - and you can dismiss this as coincidence, but i really don't feel that it was - a lot of academic competitions, college admissions, and other kinds of contests that I thought (a) were mine to lose and (b) in which I had performed well [; that is to say, I had achieved my own internal expectations, but my expectations of external rewards or achievement were discontinuous with those internal achievements]. So, second semester senior year, I was left with two choices: (1) either there was nothing upon which I could rely, not even myself, and life was meaningless, striving after, ultimately, unfulfilling goals (i.e. nihilism) or (2) there was some entity more reliable than myself, who I could trust to work for the good (i.e. theism). The journey to Christianity from there was not rapid or even immediate, but pretty straightforward. And, the more I learn about this religion, the more I think that it is true: it explains the world around me, the dreams that I have (even when they conflict with that reality of the world), and the human nature that I experience in myself...."

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