Posted by jester on August 3, 2009
Allow me to briefly introduce myself as a new author on this site (btw, thanks to Paulo for contacting me and inviting me to post).
My name is Brandt. I live in Chicago, and I am originally from Brazil, where my parents are missionaries with New Tribes Mission.
During my second year of Bible school, I began seriously questioning the religious ideas I had been taught my whole life, but it wasn’t until sometime during my last year or semester when I fully realized that all my doubts and fears had driven me straight to agnosticism.
And so I silently graduated from a conservative Bible school, walking away with a worldview entirely different from the one I had when I started. I don’t really know if there is a God, but I think and live as if he does not exist.
Growing up as a missionary kid was an unbelievable experience for me. I don’t regret it, and I wouldn’t trade my childhood for anything else. There are so many things I will always appreciate about being an MK—memories of the jungle, swimming in the Amazon, two languages, exposure to different cultures, pet snakes, Guarana, jambos, the joys of soccer. And lots of other stuff, too, but it would probably just bore you to death… you know, like the time I upset a huge nest of crazy giant killer wasps and had to sprint through the jungle until I found some water to hide in. Or like the time my pet baby monkey came down with a serious case of constipation that ended up killing it.
Of course, being a missionary kid meant there was also that whole God thing. It used to be cool to me, but now I’m really not too keen about it anymore. Now, I’m more than happy to be an unbeliever.
Hear ye, hear ye—I have not finished the race, I have not kept the faith.
I have been weighed, and I have been found wanting.
The story of my slide down the Slippery Slope is long, complicated, and also probably very boring. You can read about it on the de-conversion website if you feel like it. I’m not going to get into all the details right now, but one of the main reasons I left my Christian faith was because I never experienced God.
It’s not about feelings, my confused fundamentalist religion thoughtfully informed me. But without feelings, what’s the point? If I can’t personally experience this God that is so lovingly and fearfully described by angels, men, and Holy Bibles, then why should I give a shit about any of it?
Answer: I shouldn’t. Because simple beliefs, by themselves, can’t possibly count for as much as people used to tell me they did.
Now, the frustration I used to feel from trying to reconcile bizarre, transcendent doctrines with an inconvenient and immanent reality is completely gone. My personal guilt and self-loathing are gone, too. I was drowning in legalism and depression for so long, but now I’ve left it all behind, and I’ve become a different person.
Paulo’s post about why many MKs don’t return to the “mission field” is telling. As religious people realize that one specific religion cannot possibly claim to have privileged, absolute truths, fewer and fewer people continue to insist on that idea.
I am no longer one of those people; I do not insist. I would rather be an unbeliever.
Thank you for reading my little mixed-up introduction. In the future I’ll try to keep my posts more organized and less chaotic. Since it looks like all the authors on this site are MKs, I’m thinking I might use FFF as a platform for discussing my MK experiences, especially as they relate to my decision to leave Christianity.
And maybe I can tell you more about my pet monkey, too.