Here is a snapshot of my workspace as “Arthur’s Day” comes to a close in Ireland tonight. “The Sharp”, a blogging Irish Bible scholar, posted a hilarious lambaste today about Arthur’s Day — a holiday I had not heard of before today. On reading this wiki article on Arthur’s Day, I saw that I was missing nothing. Indeed, I was immediately disappointed in Ireland’s secular culture — as is “The Sharp”.
I converted to Christianity just before heading off to college. Part of the reason for my conversion was the contrast I saw between Christianity and secular culture. I would only later discover the error of my thinking, but in my early college years, Christianity was my lifeboat in the sea of secular superficial commercialism. Christianity was my antidote to the curse of secular culture.
It was only in Christian circles that I saw careful thinking about “the good life”, efforts to nurture “healthy emotions” and an emphasis on the reflective life. So in my senior year of High School I embraced Christianity. Mind you, there were many other factors in my conversion, but the threat of valueless secular culture on entering college was one of them. Others were the death of a friend and a Christian girlfriend, so I don’t want to play those down, of course. 🙂
Moving in the other direction, then, a large part of my deconverting from Christianity was seeing that other religions did the same as Christianity: they offered healthy cultures also. Then even later I began to see how reflective, healthy secular cultures abounded too. My original choice for Christianity was based on a limited sampling — but I am grateful for how it served me in those years when all I saw offered by secular culture was careless attitudes toward objects, people and ourselves. Again, I now realize that I did not open my eyes very wide. Culture is redeemable without religion, but it ain’t easy.
Also, see my post on “Cultivating Positive Emotions“.