I was raised Lutheran, had thoughts of being a pastor at 12 years-old, was confirmed at 14 years-old, became an atheist at 15 years-old, re-convert, born-again and spirit-filled at 17 years-old but fell away again about 6 or 7 years later. With all that exposure to Christianity both culturally and as a grateful believer, you’d think there would be big parts of me still drawn to Jesus or Christianity in some way — especially since I did not leave angry, bitter or hurt. But I read about Atheists who consider themselves Cultural Christians or Atheist Christians –who, different from me, and are still drawn to something about Jesus or the stories or the rituals of Christianity. But I find Jesus repulsive.
The stories do nothing for me. In fact I find the stories a bit irritating. Neither the symbols nor the themes of Christianity resonate with me in the least. And it is not because I am angry at Christianity for deceiving me or manipulating me. I went in as willing adult and Jesus (and his Church) helped me to grow. These narratives use to mean something to me. And indeed I support many of the virtues cultured by Christians (well, of my favorite type of Christians, that is). So why do I find Christianity so unattractive?
Well, my repulsion is not simply because I find all religions repulsive — I don’t. I find myself aesthetically drawn to contemplative religions. And it is not some naive idealistic Western view of mysticism that draws me — for I lived there and known their weaknesses. So, sort of like my Atheist Christians and Cultural Christian friends, I still value (in certain ways) these traditions in spite of being an Atheist. It seems I have Yuan with Buddhism and other meditative traditions. But I seriously don’t know why.
I have nothing personal against Jesus-tales (in spite of this post’s catchy title) — I just naturally find nothing attractive about his stories or the cultures generated by his believers. Yet for some reason I still enjoy reading the Buddha’s stories and the stories of others in similar contemplative traditions.
As I have blogged and studied about Christianity a bit deeper, this aesthetic-emotional preference of mine has become more clear to me. All I do know is that the preference is not intellectual, it comes from a deeper level. I can describe it as nothing more than Yuan — unless my readers have better suggestions. What do you have Yuan with?