Christianity was my Life Ring

Life_Preserver_PinI don’t remember learning how to swim. In my early childhood, we had a boat on Lake Erie and I am told that I was in the water since too tiny to comfortably admit in the company of more careful parents. My folks told me that I was first put in a life ring  behind the boat with my Dad swimming next to me. Occasionally, the story continues, I’d slip out and my Dad would put me back on the ring, but eventually I learned to let go intentionally and swam.

Religion has many functions (see my post on Various Religiosity). For me, the function it serve me did not involve looking for salvation, prosperity, escaping my sin, desiring to fill the hole in my heart, escaping drug addiction or violence or any other forsaking any other dark element that Christian conversion stories are full of. My adult conversion was pretty simple — probably like most folks, though they may tell otherwise.

My girlfriend was Christian – she was raised in a very religious Baptist family.  Hell, she was the church organist. It was awkward. My two closest friends were Christian and they had both been bugging me the last year. I was going off to college and uncertain about my future, and leery of leaving girlfriend behind and much more. THEN, I found my best friend dead — (see my post here). The year before I had lost two other friends: one to murder and one to suicide.

Pulling my dead friend’s face off his car seat caused me to embrace Christianity full go, right then and there. I grabbed the religion Life Ring. Only later after some more stability in my life and more insight into religion in general, did I deconvert. I was able to let go of the Life Ring. But before that, I was thankful for what Christianity offered me: a huge support group and a more committed girlfriend (well, for a while).


Pic credit: Life Ring


Filed under Philosophy & Religion

3 responses to “Christianity was my Life Ring

  1. Is not seeking salvation, freedom from sin, filling the hole in your heart psychologically the same yearning for a sense of certainty, direction, or facing the prospect of a “scary” future? I understand the distinctions you made on the surface. But fundamentally I don’t see much difference in the motivations.

    From my age of 10 onward at home, my father had epileptic seizures and hallucinations after a life saving brain surgery. (Not as singularly shocking as your discovery of your dead friend). When I was in college and trying to face a turbulent future, yoga meditation became my life raft. Trapped me for decades.

    Good story. Thanks

  2. @ SM,

    May I be sacriligiously skeptical to wonder if your father story is a “Just-So Story”? — which I actually plan a post on.

    Emotions are funny things — we have words, but they are not singular things, like souls, they need bodies. Neither do concepts come without feelings, feelings do not come without body states.

    Many people stay in religion just to maintain identity (with family, friends etc), some join religion to get girlfriends, get community status, feel they are doing the right thing for their kids. Some to try and cure their depression or loneliness. Lots of reasons. I don’t think I want to boil them (or people) all down to basically the same thing. But that is probably not what you are saying.

  3. Not sure what you mean. Could be though “just so”. I look forward to reading your post.

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