Dear Previous Self,
I love you, chica. You’re delightful, passionate, curious, and charmingly sardonic. And whatthehell, you’re me; of course I’ve got a soft spot. But oy, you have got to break out of that slump of blissful ignorance you’ve been stuck in since that first felt storyboard in Sunday school. There are some things that must be said. They may not convince you or influence you, but what kind of Future Self would I be if I didn’t try to knock you upside the head?
1) You were not born a Christian. No matter what your family is or was culturally, you are only a member of a religion once you choose to be. Unfortunately, parents don’t trust their children to think and learn on their own, and the word “indoctrination” should be used for what inevitably follows.
2) You have been cowardly. Do you remember sitting in those two philosophy classes and feeling afraid to truly consider what the writers were positing? That was a sign. Your faith was not stronger or more admirable because you did not believe them–in fact, your character flaws of stubbornness, making decisions based on fear, and assuming that your learned-by-ear beliefs were true became more pronounced.
When your college roommates came back from India wondering why God would send those amazing, faithful, lovely people to hell, you should not have tried to influence their curiosity with your Jesus-only teachings. Shame on you for being too afraid to even consider another position, a more flexible theology.
3) Stubborn faith is not admirable. In the words of Richard Dawkins, “Faith is the great cop-out, the great excuse to evade the need to think and evaluate evidence. Faith is belief in spite of, even perhaps because of, the lack of evidence.” You have been taught that a person full of faith is admirable above a person full of reason and flexibility of mind. Don’t ever brag about being intellectually dishonest.
You believe your strongest spiritual gift is faith, since you’ve never doubted the existence of God, even in the face of grief, tragedy, inconvenience, or Christian hypocrisy. You are not pushed to unbelief or insecurity because of what happens to others or how others act. And although I’m pleased that you are not so easily swayed by those things, your confidence in your rock-solid faith is going to fail you in a few years time. You are much too proud of something that has no reasonable basis–just your determination to stick to it in the face of all opposition. What will you do when it fails you?
4) It’s not your fault. Your father did not die of cancer because of your lack of prayer and faith. Faith is not quantifiable, nor is it a commodity or a payment method. You’ll need to hear this over and over again. Even if a deity existed who listened to individual wishes, it would still not be your or anyone else’s fault that sad things happen in the world. Anyone who teaches and preaches “blame the victim” deserves all the wrath of their supposedly loving god.
5) Not knowing is okay! No, really. Just be willing to learn and discern the answers if they’re available!
Does anyone have any other points to offer?