Saturday, March 19, 2011

How and why I became an athest, part 2

In part 1 of what I am starting as a series of posts explaining the origins of my current naturalist, non-metaphysical stance, called atheism by some, I talked about the childhood roots of my doubt.

Now, I advance the stage to high school and college.

My parents divorced at the start of my freshman year of high school. Per the religious background on my dad's side of the family, my mom said the divorce was because he was trying to force all us kids into church work careers. Funny, but mom didn't fight for primary physical custody of me and my sister, in light of this. I know there were other issues, but I'm not sure what all of them were. I'm not sure my mom even knew, but that's something entirely different.

Anyway, I stayed with my dad, even when he moved from rural New Mexico to St. Louis, to go back to his seminary to complete a second masters, then a doctorate of theology.

I wound up only completing one college application, and that was to his undergraduate alma mater Lutheran college. I had started one to New Mexico Tech and hid it, mindful of what my mom had said. When I looked for it later, it was gone. Years and years later, re-reading a letter he sent me my freshman year in college, I realize he found it and threw it away.

Well, it was nice, small, very small, as far as college size. That was good in the sense of not making me "lost" and even more vulnerable to depression, which would have happened had I gone to Enormous State U. But, it was bad, especially with no career guidance or discussions from my dad, as far as academics.

Well, I changed majors half a dozen times, spending most of it in the pre-divinity program. But, when I graduated, I didn't go immediately to seminary.

While I was there, at times I did feel a warm religious glow I hadn't felt at home, or at church during home days. But, it wasn't that common, and in hindsight, it was a glow of "community" as much as it was of religious faith. It was a glow of belonging and acceptance for a kid who no longer felt he was the target of bullies, and was growing up physically at least.

However, besides my dad, I also felt "control" issues from my oldest brother, who had returned to college - at that same school.

I suppose my academic "drift," as far as choice of majors, may also have been a bit of rebellion, a passive-aggressive one.

But, after graduation, I worked 2 years in the volunteer-based U.S. mission church building program the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod had. But, that was only a stopgap. Finally, I subconsciously bit the bullet, and decided I would become a pastor, and told my dad so.

I figured ministry, even as a Protestant, was a bit of escapism. Plus, Lutheran pastors, like Catholic and Episcopalian priests, have a "divine call." They're not hired and fired like Baptist preachers. Hey, guaranteed job security, eh?

More coming in part 3.

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