Ever since I became an atheist, I’ve struggled with the dichotomy between wanting to put Christianity completely behind me and wanting to honor its role in shaping me. At first I thought the demarcation would be easy; I even thought that I could somehow retain partial membership in the cultural accoutrements of evangelicalism. So for a time, my habits didn’t alter much. I continued to listen to Christian music and read Christian websites, keeping tabs on cultural trends.
Leaving a community is a sad thing. Even while I knew that, I didn’t appreciate what it meant to actually relinquish my claim on the culture and community that was the most significant one I had ever known. But it was necessary, because while I was trying to preserve the cultural identity that Christianity had given me, I was really only preserving my bitterness.
So I swung to the other extreme. I wanted to forget everything about Christianity. I wanted to forget the many memorized bible verses that were written in my mind, the mental gymnastics of theology and biblical scholarship that I used to find fascinating. I didn’t keep any of my bibles or Christian books, I deleted the worship music from my ipod, I haven’t stepped foot inside a church—all in an effort to leave behind the bitterness these things evoked in me. That’s also why I haven’t been back to this blog much since I graduated. Now, going back and reading my entries, I am surprised by how desperate, dark, and sarcastic I was.
I’m not that desperate, dark, sarcastic person anymore. And I woke up one morning and had a desire to read to bible. I simply missed the literature of the bible. It contains some of the most creative and evocative constructions of language I have ever read. I no longer feel any bitterness in acknowledging that, and being able to learn from it as I do from many works of fiction.