Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Personal History: Brief Entry on Religion

I was the most religiously devoted youth in high school. I was licensed as a Southern Baptist preacher at 18. I was actively evangelical. I arranged and led foot washings, bible studies, and interdenominational youth prayer chains with all the willing churches in town. I was studying ancient Christian texts and writing on church reform before I entered college.

I was one of many in college. There were hordes of young preacher hopefuls with similar small pond credentials. We were of all colors; a variety that only a myopic world view can appreciate given such a monochrome illumination. We debated, exercising the details of our belief and setting up a new ego order in this larger pond. In such competition, specialization is a path to influence, and I quickly became known on campus. I promoted disaffection and speculation; reform filtered though a humanitarian lens. I started a church, unaffiliated with the unreformed Baptist corpus division, decided by vote. I published an anonymous underground newsletter on a weekly basis, with a group of volunteers distributing the issues at predetermined locations. It was anonymous because unauthorized expression of opinion was strictly prohibited. Several individuals delivered the issues because authority would investigate, and a single person makes a signal target.

I was overcome by the dean of religion. An ex-girlfriend’s brother had turned me in as the unknown assailant to established belief. He did it out of spite and a juvenile desire for mischief, he was broken, and I didn’t hold it against him. I held it against the adults administrating my education, and entrusted with my development. They were broken too, but reform was not ready for these patrons of Christian youth; neither was understanding or forgiveness. My every submitted paper was entered as evidence, as was anonymous testimony, and a laundry list of bible passages rudely ripped from context and cast at my feet. I was found guilty, no peer opinion involved, and kicked out of the ministry programs, relieved of my scholarships. I was labeled a danger to other tender ministry students, all my investment discarded.

I was disabused of many illusions.

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