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Author Topic: Why Do You Hold Your Current Beliefs?  (Read 1124 times) Average Rating: 0
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« on: January 27, 2012, 11:13:19 PM »

I thought it would be a good idea to step back for a moment and discuss the moment when we began to critically examine our beliefs. After all, we've had a fair number of Protestants over the years jump in with unexamined privilege, regressive religious beliefs and outright bigotry who have come around to more Orthodox viewpoints, and I think a discussion about those defining moments would be illuminating for anyone beginning to formulate their own beliefs.

I'd like to keep this thread limited to the actual process of determining our own beliefs, not about the validity of those beliefs. I want anyone who has experienced this process to post without worrying what other people think about their thought processes. Feel free to post your own stories and discuss the common themes.

Oh and feel free to include religion, politics, and whatever else.

The last 2-3 years have marked a steady transition for me from a watered down Christian fundamentalist libertarian to Christian Hypderdox somewhere between conservative and liberal. As much knowledge I have regarding politics, Orthodoxy really threw my political stance into a big curveball. I was reading Ayn Rand late in high school and was majorly influenced by her works which was later shattered by reading the end results of what kind of a world we would be in if we adopted her Objectvism. When I started college I really didn't have a philosophy nor did I care for it. I was never really exposed to it in my youth. It was kind of a shame how Christ was in the back of my mind at this point considering how much sin I was getting myself into. It actually took a big heartbreak to get me to come back to God for comfort and relief. I've always been the intellectual type and I loved researching so I ended up analyzing Christianity to its source. After a few battles with atheism and a complete distrust in the Bible I found myself at the doors of Orthodoxy. It was pretty remarkable how I even ended up in that situation after all the blows that were taken against my evangelical faith. I'm more devout about my beliefs now than I was a year ago, the strange part is for all the structure one must do in their life to be an Orthodox Christian the more I become a freer man. I didn't realize how restricted I was by not believing in anything, yet Christ has miraclously broke off alot of the chains that held me back in life. I can't wait to live the rest of my life with this faith and continue to grow deeper in my relationship with God. Alright I sound like a religious loon but that's where I am now. But for as the main question as to why I hold my current beliefs? Because they are beautiful, true, complex, simple, poweful, compelling, etc. I've yet to find something else that matches it and never will.
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« Reply #1 on: January 28, 2012, 12:04:16 AM »

Sorry.  Rethought it and decided it wasn't prudent. 
« Last Edit: January 28, 2012, 12:22:20 AM by Ionnis » Logged

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« Reply #2 on: January 28, 2012, 12:21:12 AM »

My turning point was when I first took notice of Holy Icons. They portrayed the truth I had been searching for.

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« Reply #3 on: January 28, 2012, 12:27:58 AM »

Sorry.  Rethought it and decided it wasn't prudent. 
Shame! I really enjoyed reading the story you initially had laid out.
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« Reply #4 on: January 28, 2012, 12:29:09 AM »

I've come to   more of a mildly agnostic/indifferent attitude to religion. I really doubt I would ever go any farther than that though. I still like it, plus I wanna be buried with my ancestors, relatives, kin etc.
On the other hand I've come to see the importance of politics
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« Reply #5 on: January 28, 2012, 12:31:53 AM »

I've come to   more of a mildly agnostic/indifferent attitude to religion. I really doubt I would ever go any farther than that though. I still like it, plus I wanna be buried with my ancestors, relatives, kin etc.
On the other hand I've come to see the importance of politics

Do you find religion and politics to be incompatible with one another?
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« Reply #6 on: January 28, 2012, 12:32:23 AM »

I guess I owe my current belief in the Orthodox faith to my passion for history; in part at least.

I was brought up nominally Anglican and was confirmed around 20; better late than never. I was swerved from that path by my husband, who couldn't stand liturgical services. Irony! Anyway, after not going anywhere for a couple of years, we finally attended the *church* my brother and his wife were attending. Things went ok for a while. I wasn't interested in theology, didn't see the gaping black holes that whole worlds disappeared into. Just wanted somewhere to go and take the kids to get some Christian teaching. Yes, well. Once the kids stopped going to *church* for various reasons, mainly because of the judgemental attitudes of the people in the congregation, I did, too.

Later, some brown stuff hit the fan, I returned to *church* for comfort and found none! Over the next few years, nephew became a pastor in that *church* and we would have long chats about theology. It got to the point where I noticed that he was changing his doctrine with the frequency that one changes undies; depending on who he had come into contact with during our breaks from each other. Eternal security was all the rage, I remember, then not! I was drifting in my opinions, too. I decided there had to be an anchor somewhere and was considering going back to the Anglican Church. I made a phone call to the local parish and got in touch with some Anglo-Catholics in error. I went to meet the priest, but quickly realised that it was never going to make the final cut.

A friend from my nephew's *church* was feeling all adrift like me and mentioned that she was studying Catholicism, so I joined in and was quite keen on the whole thing for a few weeks!  Cheesy I even went to an Easter Vigil. However, I never did get back to phoning the local vicar. Huh Then, my friend asked me if I had heard of the Orthodox Church. A few years before I had, when visiting Kiev. I was completely gobsmacked by the beauty of the Churches and had even lit candles. But I kind of had the idea that Orthodox was just Catholic for Greeks, Russians, etc.

As I started reading Orthodox theology, I keep thinking, this is what I've always believed; and felt so out of place because of! The history seemed to back up the claims of the Orthodox, for me, at least. So anyway, we converted.

I have this tremendous freedom since becoming Orthodoxy, but I still don't think I've arrived anywhere. My current beliefs on things that are not set in concrete are still under process. I couldn't imagine being anything other than Orthodox, but I don't think that I will ever come to the point where I think that the Church and I have the perfect relationship. The honeymoon is over. There are things I question, things I struggle with and probably always will, but somehow I don't think that's the point. Relying on God's mercy, I will continue to hang in there.

Sorry, to have waffled on.  Embarrassed

« Last Edit: January 28, 2012, 12:33:16 AM by Riddikulus » Logged

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« Reply #7 on: January 28, 2012, 12:35:29 AM »

I've come to   more of a mildly agnostic/indifferent attitude to religion. I really doubt I would ever go any farther than that though. I still like it, plus I wanna be buried with my ancestors, relatives, kin etc.
On the other hand I've come to see the importance of politics

Do you find religion and politics to be incompatible with one another?
Frankly I think religion can very often be an obfuscation, a mystification of problems that could be solved politically if people weren't kept to look at them that way by religious beliefs.
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« Reply #8 on: January 28, 2012, 12:52:58 AM »

I grew up as a Protestant. Of course, it didn't take long to realize how flawed that was. After all...how could any of the thousands upon thousands of denominations within Protestant Christianity actually be either the Church founded by Jesus Christ or else a pure continuation/restoration of such a Church. Fast forward to 2007...I was received into the Catholic Church. Now, well...I haven't been to Church in like two months, and I feel really lost. I know too much to ever be able to be content worshiping in a Protestant church again. It would go against my conscience to do so. Yet, there are issues with the Catholic Church that make me feel a bit uneasy as well that I don't really want to go into. Basically, I feel stranded. I see the problems but no solution. Right now it feels as if there is no Church I can fully agree with, and yet intellectually I feel like I must because if there is a "True Church" then everything about that Church should be true, but yet there is no Church that 100% goes with my conscience. It's a frustrating state to be in to say the least.
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« Reply #9 on: January 28, 2012, 01:39:15 AM »

As I was crafting the following, Ioannis, you removed your post.  I just wanted to say, I really enjoyed it.

My story isn't as interesting as the two of yours, but I've not much else to do right now, so here it goes.

I was raised in a Protestant household, with my mother, three sisters, and grandma.  We went to church pretty much every Wednesday, and I went to AWANA for several years and through the fifth grade.  I remember reading the Bible fairly frequently, and starting at about age 9 had questions that people didn't have good answers for if the Bible was infallible (as I was taught to believe), questions like "Why does Judas die two different ways?"  I also started developing a very strong interest in the idea of spiritual warfare and demons and such and reading things like the Forbidden Doors books.  I also started reading theological works by Protestants.  One thing I can remember from about the time I was ten, until I was probably thirteen or so, was a fierce anxiety over whether or not I'd wind up in heaven if I died that night, something that I pondered quite a bit during hours I should have been asleep (this is also when I began developing a habit of staying up far later than I ought to, because I was able to distract myself from questions like that if I was watching t.v. or reading).  I suppose it's kind of odd that I might have that questions since I went to a church that taught "once saved always saved."  But I couldn't help but think "What if the reason I asked Jesus into my heart was only because I was scared of going to Hell?"  and "Does that even matter?"  At the time, pretty much my entire view towards religion was to avoid Hell.  That also prompted my attempts to save my classmates who were not Protestants (yes, Catholics needed saving too) that started in the late fourth or early fifth grades, and continued into the summer between 7th and 8th grades).  I was really rather off-putting, because I was quite certain that if I didn't save them, they'd all go to Hell and suffer for all of eternity.  

Early in my seventh grade year, I began reading things that I later recognized as Messianic Jewish writings, and began adopting ideas like Modalism.  Also in the seventh grade, my family began attending a mega-church that several people, who had attended the church we previously went to, had already started attending.  It was nice enough for a little while, but after a few months, I completely stopped going to church.  This increasing disinterest in church was tied to an increasing uncertainty about Christianity in general.  I started reading refutations of Christianity, that were really refutations of the sola scriptura I had come to identify with Christianity.  After a little while, I began doing an immense amount of reading on other religions (something I had done to an extent, previously, but with the intent to figure out how to best go about converting those people).  I initially focused on the Abrahamic faiths as they were most familiar to me.  I looked at Judaism and really started to see myself, in the future, as a Jew.  I did a great deal of thinking on some of the points of Judaism that I was uncertain about.  I became convinced that Judaism was probably true, and started reading halachic rulings of different poskim, and started reading some Orthodox Jewish theological works.  I mentioned my desire to become a Jew only to a couple of people, in part because I knew that no rabbi would let me convert if I was living in a non-Orthodox household.  Because I couldn't yet be a Jew, I read (I believe) everything that had been published - at the time - in the English language on the Noachide Law, and did my best to follow it.  During this time, one of the issues I'd been a bit uncertain about had been the Oral Law, and I had accepted it as true because I didn't know of any Jewish groups that were still around who did not accept the Oral Law in some fashion (and who had not become as liberal as the Reform).  That is, until I read about the Karaites, and began to become interested in their teachings and traditions.  I studied them a lot and thought to myself that perhaps I'd finally found my real religious home, until the idea that a law which permits everyone to keep their own, albeit studied, interpretation of it is no law at all had started to grow, and grow, and grow in my mind.  Eventually I shelved Judaism and said, "If I really can't find anything that makes more sense, I'll come back to this."

Then I took a long, hard look at Islam.  I became somewhat in love with Islam, much as I had Judaism.  I studied it, and studied it, and studied it.  I read everything I could.  I thought it made sense.  I was always able to quiet any thoughts that it might be a violent religion by saying that the terrorists aren't real Muslims or are extremely misguided Muslims, and relying on those that didn't seem to advocate murder.  I again only told a few people, because I was terrified of what some of my family (a few individuals in particular) would say and/or do if they found out I wanted to be a Muslim.  I was extremely terrified of that.  In the end, what my family might say or do wound up not mattering, because one day I was reading a book on the Qur'an that - at the time - I didn't realize was by an ex-Muslim.  I saw an Arab name, noted that it was a book on the Qur'an, and assumed that it was an Islamic book on the Qur'an.  In the book, I read for the first time about Qur'an manuscript variants, which of course contradicted Islamic claims about the Qur'an.  I promptly closed the book, returned it to the library, and pretended I never read it, because I wanted to believe in something again.  That book was ruining my attempt to.  However, after a couple of weeks, I became consumed with what I had read, and set out on a quest, that was doomed to fail, to disprove the idea of Qur'an manuscript variants.  Islam was then placed on the same shelf as Judaism.

I think that this was probably my first Deistic period, where I accepted the idea of God but just rejected the notion that He had a major impact on the world.  At first I felt somewhat freed, as I had for Judaism and Islam, but that quickly fell into discontent.  So I was back on my search, wherein I investigated - with varying degrees of seriousness - everyone from the Sikhs, to the Zoroastrians, to the Buddhists, and others.  I even read up, some, on various tribal religions (especially of American Indians).  Throughout this time, I would undergo a few different, brief, Deistic periods.

Eventually, in part because all of this time I had been suddenly, and without meaning to, adding "in the name of Jesus" (or otherwise praying to Christ) at the end of my prayers - something I thought had been a habit, but now I think might have been something more - I began to give Christianity a second look.  Because of my problems with sola scriptura - and even more importantly Christ's promise that the Gates of Hell will never prevail against His Church - I could not bring myself to accept the Protestantism I had long since ceased to believe in.  I wanted a Church that could say "I was founded by the Apostles."  I did, very briefly, look at Anglicanism, because it could be traced back through the Roman Catholic Church to the Apostles, but my investigation led me to believe that Anglicanism shouldn't be considered a Church because their is no unity of belief, at all.  That left me, at the time, with the Roman Catholic Church (I was unaware of groups like the Old Catholics and even the Orthodox Church, at the time).  I was very skeptical of the Romans, because I had not really considered them to be "real Christians" when I was a Protestant.  As I learned more about the Catholic Church, and began discovering that it was not, in fact, the cesspool of corruption, filth, and evil that Satan swam in during the summer, I began to like it more.  I had been able to overcome most of my objections to it when I finally heard about Orthodoxy on the Catholic Answers website.  But, I still had some things that made me hesitate, most prominently the idea of an infallible Pope, when history seemed to suggest that this was not always the teaching of the Church.  I had, at this point, really grown to like the Catholic Church, because I liked what I saw online of the mass, I liked the clear-cut hierarchy, I liked the organizational aspects, I liked how there were Catholic Churches all over the place where you could hear the same thing every Sunday, I liked how ancient it was, I liked how its priests were clearly identifiable and not ex-businessmen who had never gone to seminary but were friends of the retiring pastor (as one pastor I'd had was).  But at the same time, I knew I could not be a Catholic if I did not believe in Papal Infallibility, and I knew I could not yet say I did (though I was very close to just giving in and saying I was wrong, when I first saw mention, in passing, of Orthodoxy).

Thankfully Catholic Answers informed me of Orthodoxy.  For the next two years, before attending an Orthodox liturgy, I began reading about Orthodoxy.  I began comparing Orthodoxy to Catholicism (during the process of which, I frequently gave up and tried to convince myself of some other religion or just call myself a Deist and quit on religion).  I struggled to accept Orthodoxy, as I was doing this, because it did seem to be disorganized, it lacked a strong hierarchy (on a world-wide basis), it wasn't neat, it wasn't clear-cut.  At times I still want to just give in and say, and lie to myself saying, "I believe the Pope is infallible" and become Catholic, especially when I think about the fact that there's a Catholic Church that is a ten minute walk from my house, and an Orthodox Church that is an hour and a half drive from my house, and how almost anywhere in the country I go, there's a Catholic Church present, or how I could attend every service the parish in my town has, if I were Catholic.  Or how it doesn't seem as tough ascetically.  Now, I just think about how, if I were a Catholic, and if I ever had any kids, they would be denied the life-saving Body and Blood of the Lord for so many years after birth, and it reminds me I can't go that way.  But in the end, after I determined that I can't just accept Catholicism and lie to myself for the rest of my life, when I am not thinking about what seems easiest, or what is nicest to me, Orthodoxy seems right.  It seems true.  It seems good.  It seems holy.  It seems like the Body of Christ.
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« Reply #10 on: January 28, 2012, 01:52:58 AM »

Right now it feels as if there is no Church I can fully agree with, and yet intellectually I feel like I must because if there is a "True Church" then everything about that Church should be true, but yet there is no Church that 100% goes with my conscience. It's a frustrating state to be in to say the least.

Nothing will ever go 100% with your conscience. Your conscience, formed by your upbringing, your own investigation, you beliefs etc, is uniquely yours. And to imagine that any group of people will have that same conscience is going to led to frustration. Families don't agree 100% on matters of the conscience.

True Church not perfect Church. The Church in heaven is perfect; on earth it consists of people who are being perfected at different stages. While we might like to think that the thing we commit ourselves to in that moment of utter devotion is the end of the journey, it reallys isn't. Like getting married isn't the end of a journey for two people who love each other. Anything we set our hand to, is going to hit some pot holes, to believe otherwise is courting disillusionment.

To me, the Orthodox Church is the best there is theologically speaking on the important things that make us Christians. That doesn't mean that there will be peace and goodwill amongst her members, because the members, even those high up, don't all agree on issues that are still being played out.

« Last Edit: January 28, 2012, 01:54:13 AM by Riddikulus » Logged

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« Reply #11 on: January 28, 2012, 02:19:58 AM »

Alot of what I believe now was given to me by my grandmother.  I've told this long story many times on here, so I'll just say that she was religions.  She took me to Church when my parents forbade it.  She got a lot of crap for it, too, from my mom in particular.  She thought that my grandmother was  somehow brainwashing me.  She also felt looked down upon because my grandmother held her Roman Catholic beliefs very strongly.  My grandmother was very un-wavering in her devotion to Christ and her Church, which I admired very deeply, even though it caused so much conflict within our family.

My grandmother opened me up to Christ.  She taught me about prayer, reading the Bible, and also about hell.  I watched a movie when I was little about the children at Fatima.  My grandma explained the whole story to me in great detail, especially the part where the Mother of God speaks about those perishing in hell for their sins.  This fascinated me, quite a bit.

I remember visiting the graves of my great grandparents with my grandmother.  She asked me to pray.  I didn't know any "real" prayers, so I just said what they taught us in school - "Come, Lord Jesus, be our guest, and let thy gifts to us be blessed.  Amen." 

My grandmother told me that it was beautiful.  I think that this is when I decided that I was a Christian, and would later on figure out what kind!  (this is where my "convert stories" thread comes in!)


She really caused me to "examine my beliefs" when I was very young.  I went from believing that Easter was about candy, to believing that it was about Jesus Christ and his resurrection.  I know I hadn't yet developed any real religious beliefs, but this defiantly made me re-think and change what I'd believed.




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« Last Edit: January 28, 2012, 02:22:21 AM by trevor72694 » Logged

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« Reply #12 on: January 28, 2012, 02:34:38 AM »

I've come to   more of a mildly agnostic/indifferent attitude to religion. I really doubt I would ever go any farther than that though. I still like it, plus I wanna be buried with my ancestors, relatives, kin etc.
On the other hand I've come to see the importance of politics

Do you find religion and politics to be incompatible with one another?
Frankly I think religion can very often be an obfuscation, a mystification of problems that could be solved politically if people weren't kept to look at them that way by religious beliefs.

I can see how a communist could say such a thing, however, if one looks at the details then one would also see or at least could also see that religion can very often enlighten the blind spots of a society and solve it's problems.

Each Religion is different and the focus is different. The focus of a Mormon in the area of politics would be different from that of a Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim and even Christian.  And even among Christians, different groups may focus on different issues more than others.


And so it's not that Religion can only do one thing, which to you would mean Obscure and mystify problems. It can do both! It can solve problems as well. It all depends on what the Religion is interested in the most.


The various protestant groups solved many problems in the area of Politics, but in doing so they also caused many new problems as well as. Also in focusing on some problems they often neglected other issues that also needed to be addressed.

Also Mystifying a problem is not always a bad thing. If everything is naturalized then we will end up with the horror of the French Revolution, Marxism/Materialistic Scientism, Eugenics.........etc.


There has to be a certain level of Mystification in order to not do much harm to each-other and to the world around us. Mystification in some ways is a form of respect. It can help restrain the evil desires within our very being.

If we aren't somehow restrained then the amount of evil we could possibly do would be unlimited.

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« Reply #13 on: January 28, 2012, 12:18:47 PM »

Thankfully Catholic Answers informed me of Orthodoxy.  For the next two years, before attending an Orthodox liturgy, I began reading about Orthodoxy.  I began comparing Orthodoxy to Catholicism (during the process of which, I frequently gave up and tried to convince myself of some other religion or just call myself a Deist and quit on religion).  I struggled to accept Orthodoxy, as I was doing this, because it did seem to be disorganized, it lacked a strong hierarchy (on a world-wide basis), it wasn't neat, it wasn't clear-cut.  At times I still want to just give in and say, and lie to myself saying, "I believe the Pope is infallible" and become Catholic, especially when I think about the fact that there's a Catholic Church that is a ten minute walk from my house, and an Orthodox Church that is an hour and a half drive from my house, and how almost anywhere in the country I go, there's a Catholic Church present, or how I could attend every service the parish in my town has, if I were Catholic.  Or how it doesn't seem as tough ascetically.  Now, I just think about how, if I were a Catholic, and if I ever had any kids, they would be denied the life-saving Body and Blood of the Lord for so many years after birth, and it reminds me I can't go that way.  But in the end, after I determined that I can't just accept Catholicism and lie to myself for the rest of my life, when I am not thinking about what seems easiest, or what is nicest to me, Orthodoxy seems right.  It seems true.  It seems good.  It seems holy.  It seems like the Body of Christ.
I apologize for the quote cutting
I honestly have these same feelings at time. It would just be so EASY for me to just go to confession, confess a myriad of sins, and just become catholic once again. However, I know that those times are long gone, and I could never live with myself, if i became catholic again.
At times, I am also sorely tempted to just take the easy road out, and just become Lutheran (LCMS).
(ill get back with a full post later)
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« Reply #14 on: January 28, 2012, 01:39:55 PM »

Right now it feels as if there is no Church I can fully agree with, and yet intellectually I feel like I must because if there is a "True Church" then everything about that Church should be true, but yet there is no Church that 100% goes with my conscience. It's a frustrating state to be in to say the least.

Nothing will ever go 100% with your conscience. Your conscience, formed by your upbringing, your own investigation, you beliefs etc, is uniquely yours. And to imagine that any group of people will have that same conscience is going to led to frustration. Families don't agree 100% on matters of the conscience.

True Church not perfect Church. The Church in heaven is perfect; on earth it consists of people who are being perfected at different stages. While we might like to think that the thing we commit ourselves to in that moment of utter devotion is the end of the journey, it reallys isn't. Like getting married isn't the end of a journey for two people who love each other. Anything we set our hand to, is going to hit some pot holes, to believe otherwise is courting disillusionment.

To me, the Orthodox Church is the best there is theologically speaking on the important things that make us Christians. That doesn't mean that there will be peace and goodwill amongst her members, because the members, even those high up, don't all agree on issues that are still being played out.



 Very nicely said!  I rarely participate in these "Posts of the Month" exercises, but this deserves a nomination.
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« Reply #15 on: January 28, 2012, 01:57:53 PM »

I was raised a Southern Baptist and my dad converted to Jehovah Wintesses when I was around 6 years old. (They're still together by the way.) So from a very young age I had questions about the different beliefs my parents held. At around 15 or 16 it led me to exploring the different religious traditions and deciding all of it was a bunch of hooey. It's funny but for whatever reason I didn't look at Catholicism or Eastern Orthodoxy back in those days. I went through a lot of 'isms' in my teenage years: Atheism, Agnosticism, Buddhism, Marxism. And then in my second year of university I had a Catholic professor. All my post-modernism, relativism, and liberalism was put to the test. We would have discussions about religion and philosophy in his office after classes, and I started having to look at the idea that there was an ancient Church that was still around. Chesterton and St. Augustine were quite convincing. I started attending Mass with my professor and his family. My thoughts kept turning to the Orthodox though. What was there position, how were they different from Roman Catholics. My professor gave me a book called "Fathers of the Eastern Church" and it was there I first found St. Athanasius, St. John Chyrsostom, St. Basil, and St. Gregory the Theologian. They're asceticism seemed so genuine and real and at the same time otherwordly and mystical.

I had to find somewhere to go to an Orthodox Church. A friend of mine who I met before I was even reading into Catholicism had met an Eastern Orthodox girl and was attending Liturgy about two hours away from me. He had recently been made a Catechumen. I called and asked if I could go to Liturgy with him. He said sure, but something came up and it would be another two or three weeks before I could make it up there. At the same time, another friend, who lives 3 hours away, invited me to go camping for his birthday. He lived in a town that had an Orthodox Parish. So I drove to Clinton, MS, met my friends and we went camping on a Saturday afternoon about an hour outside of Clinton. I woke up at the crack of dawn to drive back to Clinton and attend the service. My hair was messed up and I smelled like camp smoke. I used the water from my canteen to give my hair a decent looking appearance and headed into the Church for service. It was 8:00 am and there was only an older gentleman there besides the Priest and a few choir members. He helped me throughout the service-- kiss the Gospel book, move out of the way for the censor, kiss the cross and the priest's hand, etc. More and more people came in around the time Liturgy started and, man, what a service. I loved the Liturgy. The reverence, the prayers, the singing, the standing, the incense, the icons, everything. When Liturgy was over I was exhausted. I had slept in a sleeping back on the ground in the cold, woke up at 6 am, drove to Church, and stood the whole time for my first Matins and Liturgy. (It was an OCA church and there were only benches along the walls for the Elderly.) There was no other option at this point. I found home. At coffee hour, I talked to Fr. Paul about joining. He advised me to find a closer parish and get in contact with a Priest he knew. It was not for another 7 months that I could reguarly attend Liturgy.

That was where my mind was at this time. My life and my actions were far from being anything good. I had spent the last 6 or 7 years living a selfish morally corrupt life style. It was what was typical of youths. I had a long way to go. I finished my classes for the year, left my job, and moved to where I would be close to the Church. I had come to believe in the Truth, but the question that remained was what was I going to do about it. I was fortunate to have the support of my Orthodox friend and his wife to start living an Orthodox life. We became very close and over the next six months I went through a lot of soul searching, learning, and reading and finally I was baptised as an Orthodox Christian.

I did not expect to write that much. Smiley But that was my process and this is where I'm at now.
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« Reply #16 on: January 28, 2012, 04:53:29 PM »

 I was raised in a family in which the word "God" was never mentioned. I was agnostic up to 22 years old. It's not that I contemplated the idea of existing God, but because I was never bothered by such question. I was just living. I came to the faith after several real miracles that were granted by God. I should have been dead by now, but I am alive courtesy of His grace. I cannot imagine myself being out of Orthodoxy. My life has completely changed.
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« Reply #17 on: January 28, 2012, 08:45:16 PM »

I've never really fleshed out my conversion story before, so this'll be fun...

I was raised to be Catholic. My mother's family is Catholic, and is split half and half between cafeteria "the Bible is sexist and I got divorced without an annulment and don't care" Catholics and more conservative ones. My mother herself is very religious, but she's kind of "spiritual" and anti-organized religion in a way. She goes to Church every week and goes to confession the bare minimum of once a year. She loves kooky ascetic practices like having a "day of silence" but she'll never do the regular stuff like praying the rosary or confessing. She has told me before that she believes in things like reincarnation, although now she's less willing to tell me about stuff like that because she knows what I think of it. My fault for being overly triumphalist at times, I suppose.

My dad's family is kind of irreligious/Protestant. Of the four brothers in my dad's family, he is the only one who attends a Church, and he's just in it for the social normality of it. He converted to Catholicism because he wanted his kids to be raised in a homogeneously religious household. He is essentially a Protestant who believes in the Real Presence. He has explicitly told me he rejects Purgatory because it ain't in the Bible. He thinks that dogma just obscures Christ's message (which to him is basically be nice and don't be a sexually active gay). He refuses to stop drinking coffee before Mass because he doesn't believe me that it violates the one hour "fast" before Communion. He's been to Confession like twice in his 15 years as a Catholic.

I'm not trying to be completely asinine about my parents. They're pretty good as far as most Catholics these days go. They go to Church pretty much weekly and pray before meals. They raised me religiously, which is more than a lot of my peers got. They don't think it's okay to just pick whatever pagan or non-Christian religion you want to be, although my dad is fine with pretty much any Christian denomination and my mom is okay with Catholicism and Orthodoxy.

So I was pretty much raised like that, a kind of mellow-yellow cafeteria Catholic. One day I saw a Christian subforum on a videogame website. Cool, I thought. I'm Christian, I'll go check it out. It was pretty much filled with mocking atheists from other parts of the website and hardcore evangelical Protestant kids. During this time I tried to cozy on up to the atheists and became one of those Christians who tries to justify everything materialistically to them. You know, one of those "loving God is just a commandment because it helps you love your neighbor! But all the more power to you if you don't need its help" types of people. Ugh.

One day my mom showed me Catholic Answers without realizing it was conservative. I read a lot of its articles and apologetics and realized that it there was absolutely no intellectual integrity in being a materialistic, cafeteria Catholic. So I started debating the hardcore Evangelical people in the aforementioned forums on Catholic doctrine, stuff like saints, Purgatory, the pope, sacraments, etc.

My atheist friends were appalled. How could I, a dumb religious person, make claims to objective truth? They were fine with me being religious, you see, so long as I wasn't dogmatic about it and rolled over whenever they mocked it. I basically had to accept that I was using a numbing opiate and that they were smarter, better and enlightened. But now I was telling the evangelicals they were wrong. The atheists were outraged that I was claiming my opiate was better than theirs.

After that I realized how much I hate internet atheism. On that forum, I saw dozens of nice, sheltered Christian kids come in and get torn to pieces by the pseudo-intellectual college (usually British) atheist kids. So many of them lost faith in Christ. Flat-out lies, like the discredited Jesus-is-Horus myth, went unchallenged. Any thread that even tangentially mentioned the Old Testament was filled with evilbible.com links. Atheists would post in prayer request threads things like "praying doesn't work, God isn't real." My atheist buddies and I pretty much became mortal enemies because I refused to roll over and accept that I was an irrational loon like most of the other Christians on that forum did.

I stayed over there for a while and became pretty much universally hated. I'm willing to admit that I was way too triumphalist against my Protestant brethren, but the hatred I got from the atheists was completely unwarranted. At some point I became a mod and then an admin, then I had a falling out with the administration over the mods' unwillingness to limit the level of mockery the atheists could express. I've got no problem with them saying "there is no God," but the constant comments about how religious people are batty and God is as idiotic as a magical unicorn kind of got to me. I'm guessing my experience with the asininity of internet atheism has kind of psychologically ensured that I'll never go godless, which is probably not a good thing when it comes to open-mindedness but at least I'm willing to admit it.

Anyway, during this period I saw all of the anti-liturgical abuse stuff on CAF and became a traditionalist when it came to Mass. I started intensely disliking the watered-down Mass at my Catholic parish and found myself disagreeing with my priest's constant wishy washy sermons. This went on for a while and my family started considering me a reactionary loon, lol.

One day it was my turn to be an altar server. The amount of training we were given was pitiful, but that didn't matter too much because liturgical abnormality was the norm. I didn't want to completely screw up the Mass so I googled some stuff on how an altar server should behave. I accidentally clicked on an Orthodox or Eastern Catholic server guide, I can't remember which. I remember being deeply touched by the attitude toward the Liturgy therein. There was something about how the entire Liturgy elevates oneself to Christ and gives you the capacity to follow His commandments through imitation of Heavenly glory. In my parish, the attitude seemed to be that the only thing holy at Mass was the Eucharist, and that itself wasn't all that sacred. I recall getting funny looks from my parishioners when I knelt before the Blessed Sacrament at the National Catholic Youth Conference in 2009 in Kansas City. Once my dad told me a joke during the consecration. The sense of the sacred was gone and, from what I could tell, it was present in Eastern liturgy.

I tried to become Eastern Catholic for a bit, but the nearest Eastern Catholic facility was a Byzantine chapel at St. Meinrad Seminary, which is a two hour drive away. Maybe I should still go sometime, if only to see what type of latinizations there are.

Anyway, my interest in Eastern liturgy led me to study Eastern Christianity in general, and at some point I realized that Orthodox claims about the earlier papacy seemed true. I eventually decided to become Orthodox...at like 15 years old. My parents were reluctant to let me set foot in the EO parish here in Louisville, KY, until at least a year after I became interested in Orthodoxy, and I was reluctant to ask. I know that I had stopped communing at my parents' Catholic parish well before I ever went to the Orthodox parish in town.

On Holy Saturday of 2011 my mom came with me to the morning DL. I didn't get to go to the Paschal Vigil. After that I started getting a ride from mom to Church every week. I sat by myself, being as absurdly shy and introverted as I am, for months, and began walking home as soon as liturgy was over. Now I sit with people I am fairly well acquainted with, but I still dread coffee hour every week. I feel like I'm overstepping the hospitality my hosts are offering me. I feel clingy always sitting with them and forcing them to introduce me to people. People have offered me the opportunity to join the youth group or the high school Sunday school, and if I'm shy around adults I don't know it's way worse with teenagers I don't know. The worst thing is that I know that I'm being paranoid. I know that if I showed up to a YG meeting I'd be met with open arms and I'd be comfortable in like two weeks, but I just can't over the initial dread of jumping in. Agh!!! Please pray for me.

That's my main concern about my Orthodoxy. It seems so fake. My mommy drives me to Church. I'm not involved with the parish in any way. I spend probably at least a thousand times more time on the internet reading about Orthodoxy like a nerd than going to church or talking with real Orthodox people. I'm really critical of "internet religion," or religion based completely off of books and other media and not real life experiences because pretty much every atheist I know is that way because he read some atheist polemics on a forum or something. So I feel like a complete hypocrite having an Internet religion. I'm trying to get my driver's license ASAP so that I can go to Vespers or other Church events more often but I'm in all honors classes in my Jr. year of High School so I don't have as much time to get all the hours I need.

Sorry about the pity party at the end there. That's my story. Pray for me!
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« Reply #18 on: January 28, 2012, 10:05:33 PM »

Great stories everyone!

William, wow, I can totally relate to Christians losing their faith debating with "pseudo-intellectual college atheists". You know a person who knows more about that is theistgal, who ironically used to be a moderator for an atheist forum. Seriously when Christ-myth threads get untouched, you got to pray for those that lose their faith and hope they don't take it merely on face value. Going to most, if not all, atheist boards is like going into the lion's den. It was kinda empowering when I was learning about Orthodoxy at first because it was this "Aha! I have ammo that atheists cannot deflect!" and really none of the atheists I encountered on message boards had refutations. All they have are Protestant strawman arguments. But once you get a Catholic or Orthodox involved it gets a lot more complicated and complex, at that point refuting the claims made is very hard to do. I've said this in the past and I'll say it again, arguing with atheists online is a complete waste of time. I don't nearly embroil myself in debates with them like I used to. I recall an atheist who loved to read stuff by Robert M Price and other fringe scholars but wouldn't bother looking at people like Raymond E Brown because he's a "Christian Apologist". At that point it was hard to take him seriously considering Brown dismantled the Nativity of Christ in the NT but still accepted it based on faith.

I know a handful of folks who lost their Protestant faith become so bitter and filled with despair that they end up turning around and truly examaning the facts and not the spin atheists like to give.

I hope Sleeper posts his story as well. He went from earning a biblical degree, touring all over the country, losing his faith, and then becoming Orthodox. He helped me considerably in my journey.
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« Reply #19 on: January 28, 2012, 10:37:00 PM »

I first became really interested in religion in 1997, when I started watching a TV host named Bob Enyart, and joined a Wesleyan Holiness church. Eventually I decided to attend one of the schools affiliated with my denomination (Church of God out of Anderson IN), but I only made it through a year there. I was studying history and theology mostly on my own, and debating that stuff on a couple online forums, especially theologyonline.com. This studying led me to eventually question what I had believed with an ironclad resolve previously, and frankly is probably the root of the skepticism that permeates my approach to this day. [melodrama]So burnt was I by the experience that I was forever changed. [/melodrama] Seriously though, I was. After that I went into a short phase when I questioned everything and was grasping at straws. I still believed in God, mostly; and believed in the Bible, mostly. Eventually I came to believe that God, through Jesus on earth, had intended to found a Church. And it only made sense that if God had founded a Church, that it must still exist, as Jesus prophecied that the gates of hades would not conquer it.

This led me to the choice (I thought) of Catholicism or Eastern Orthodoxy. I really wasn't aware of Oriental Orthodoxy at the time, and had too quickly dismissed Anglicanism. But anyway, so I was comparing the RC and EO churches with what I believed, to see which was closer. Eventually I was shown that this was the wrong way to approach things... at least if I wanted to do things in the spirit of ancient Christianity. So I began examining more what the ancient Church believed and did, and did less comparing with what I already believed. Eventually I decided to become Orthodox in 2001, though some days I would still wonder whether I had chosen correctly, and I was always testing my choice.

After becoming Orthodox I threw myself into it. If I was going to be Orthodox, I was gonna go the whole way and be uber-Orthodox. So I went the traditionalist route for a while, or at least I tried as best I could. After all, what's the point of calling yourself Orthodox if you aren't doing things right? But again I kept testing... and I couldn't remain in that mindset. This is not to say that traditionalists are wrong, only that my version or attempts at it were misguided. Eventually, in 2006, I left the Church. I had been having problems for a long time that I was struggling with, but the previous 5-6 months had been especially difficult. I had sought out help from priests, as well as people on forums like this, but I still couldn't, in good conscience, remain Orthodox. I respected Orthodoxy too much to "play" church and just go through the motions. If I didn't believe it, and wasn't doing it, then I wasn't going to claim to be it.

Over the years since then I've gone back and forth, mostly between agnosticism and Orthodoxy. I continue to question, I continue to learn, and I continue to grow spiritually. Part of that growth was just learning to stop focusing so much on academic/nit-picking stuff which really doesn't matter. Gradually I realised that I make mountains out of theological molehills oftentimes. I am still struggling with the whole faith thing, and belief in God generally for that matter. All the academic stuff is largely done, all those problems perhaps not solved so much as fallen away as ultimately unimportant. Yet I still do not have much faith, and I still struggle with the basic stuff of the life in Christ. But I keep trying.
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« Reply #20 on: January 28, 2012, 11:18:35 PM »

I was raised in a parish that was founded by my Great Grandparents in the early part of the last century.

As a child, Church was all about family. It was the only place I knew where there were other people like me, Ukrainian, and Orthodox. Most of the kids I went to school with had never heard of Ukraine or Orthodoxy, so I looked forward to Church on Sundays and Church activities because it was a place where I could be accepted for being me. I didn't have to explain why our dance shoes consisted of knee-high red boots instead of pretty satin ballet slippers. :-)

I always had faith in God as a child. I still remember Mrs. Roland describing who and what God was in Sunday school. I didn't quite understand how this invisible being could see everything and know everything about me, but if Mrs. Roland said it, it had to be true.

After Church on Sundays, my family would walk down the block from Church and crowd into my Aunt Sophie's kitchen for coffee hour. All my relatives where there; aunts, uncles, cousins. We skipped coffee hour at the parish hall most of the time and crowded into her tiny apartment instead. I loved it!

Although my family was Orthodox, we weren't a particularly pious bunch. Sure we prayed before meals and before going to bed, but none of us had icons at home or really followed the fasting cycles of the Church. We didn't eat meat on Fridays, and that was just the way it was.

When I was 9, my parents divorced, and my mother, who had been raised Catholic, became Baptist. As my father had us every other weekend, we (my sister and I) were at a different Church every other weekend. This was very difficult for me, as the doctrine my mother was teaching us was very different than what we were taught in the Orthodox Church. Furthermore, my mother believed in having long theological discussions and Bible studies to teach us about the faith. Dad wasn't a man who taught by speaking, but rather by example. So he wasn't exactly an avid defender of Orthodoxy, he just took us to Church every weekend he had us.

As I grew into my teens, I became more active in my mother's Baptist Church. There were more people my age at her Church, and I felt that by being Baptist, I would fit in with more of the kids at school. After all, nobody asks if you're Jewish when you tell them you're a Baptist. ;-)

I bounced back and forth between the two for a while, and in my early twenties was attending the Baptist Church exclusively. Then, one Sunday during Lent, something happened that changed me forever. That particular year, both Catholic and Orthodox Easter fell on the same date. So all of the Liturgical churches in the area were cloaked in purple for Lent. Everyone was preparing for Christ's resurrection except us Baptists. This bothered me.

I happened to be on the Power Point team for my Church, and that Sunday was my turn to run the slides. I got to Church early to prepare, and as I sat there waiting for everything to begin, I watched the Pastor prepare for the service. Rather than being in a state of prayer, or reviewing his sermon, reading scripture, etc., he was having make-up put on him as light and sound checks were performed. There was no sense of reverance that we were in God's house, but rather, that we were on a sound stage.

This really turned me off.

I then began to investigate every form of Christianity. Eventually, my search led me to where I began; the Orthodox Church.

Although my journey took me out of the Church for a time, I don't regret it. It taught me scripture, and forced me to figure out what I believe and why.

For that, I am grateful.
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« Reply #21 on: January 28, 2012, 11:52:55 PM »

Great question, Achronos!  Though I will honestly say that I cannot answer your question here without discussing a lot of things I cannot go into on a public forum.  

I will say this, when I was six I was taught a lesson by a R.C. nun in my Catechism class in parochial school.  I decided at that moment that I didn't care if I went to heaven or hell, I just wanted to know and love Christ.  At that point, loving Him meant suffering with Him.  

As soon as I made that choice, my life pretty much went to hell in a hand-basket. . . so my conscious decision was tested, sorely. . .**laughing**

When I was 18, I looked in all the other world religions and was awed at how compassionate and loving the God we have, comparatively.  

But it's always come back to that 6 year old's thinking.  I'm thankful that after wandering in the desert for 40 years, He brought me to the true church. . .the place where I have the support to truly love Him. . .  
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« Reply #22 on: January 29, 2012, 02:20:20 AM »

*Please nobody hate me for my post, its just a testimony of why I am where I am*

I was baptized and raised in an Eastern Orthodox home.  As a child I was an altar boy and through my teens I was the head altar boy.   My beliefs in Orthodoxy were very hardened into me like concrete, so much to the point I believed nothing else could be right.  I thought that I had a calling into the church and attended St. Vlad's in New York.  It was then that I found out that the OCA had involvement int ecumenism, which I felt was incredibly ironic for "the one true church" to be involved in.  As documentaries on ecumenism show on youtube, the Orthodox involved would hold liturgy & the Eucharist on the same altar as pagans just used a moment before in the ecumenist party tents.

So after a lot of struggle, I left the OCA & St. Vlad's.

I started to attend a ROCOR church and thought it was pretty traditional, until I started to travel all over the world and see other churches.  I saw monks on Athos being tormented by their bishop for rejection of ecumenism.   I saw man priests stray from ecumenism.

(of course as far as I know, Rocor is involved in ecumenism today)

So anyway (yes I'm trying to condense this as much as possible) I really tried to find a traditionalist Eastern Orthodox church that was non ecumenism and traditional.  I ended up finding HOTCA which I personally believe is probably the most "TRADITIONAL" Orthodox church in America today.  However the drive was really far and I can't do that with 5 kids...  It's just too much.

I did a lot of praying on the subject, and a TON of book reading.   I started researching WHO and WHAT the early Christians were.  Well lo and behold I found out that much of what they did incorporated Jewish teachings into their worship.   It didn't involve much of what the EO church practices today.   I found that the EO church is said to be "evolved" into certain practices and called "living and breathing", yet the irony runs wild because I thought the EO faith was supposed to really be "original".

Despite the beauty and tradition of the church, I left.   I started studying with some Messianic Jews.  I never considered the fact in broad terms that the apostles & Yeshua (Jesus) were all Hebrews, and really spoke in Aramaic.  The Messianic Jews which comprised of many "ex Jews" and "wanna be Jew" protestants, had a very awesome explanations of the meanings of things in the bible.   Things which EO never taught me.  (Coins from the fish's mouth for example)  They had excellent understanding of the Hebrew texts of the Old Testament and how it incorporated into the New Testament.  

The issue there is that they focused so much on the OT.   Though it is important, it started to be the same battles as I saw in EO.  Bishop vs. Bishop.

So I started to study the behaviors, family life, and many of the examples that were given in the scripture and other early Christian writings.

All in all I ended up finding out that the Amish/Mennonite/Hutterites were actually PRACTICING what very early Christians did.  Bishops could marry for instance (even supported in the Canon of the Holy Apostles).  Women actually dressed modestly, did not wear make up like the whores of Rome did.  Nothing was flaunted.  No bragging.  Called each other Brethren or brother.  They practice baptism (later years) much like the Early Christians, which was also fundamental to a belief.   They practiced communion, believed in the trinity, unction.  They confessed to one another and not only to a priest as the scripture speaks.   They didn't dress as byzantine kings, but rather as commoners.  Many lay people practiced communal living where everybody shares out of the same money bag (hutterites).    Also their children were EXTREMELY well behaved, the adults were absolutely devout Christians where their faith worked all through their day.  

Many Anabaptists did not have churches, but rather spent their money helping the needy, widows, and orphans as the scripture of the New Covenant tells us to.

So I am left in a quagmire of sorts.

Though I love the EO church and it is very deep in me, and the messianic understanding is wonderful, the people I actually see "doing something about it" is the Anabaptist.  No, they don't go back to 33. A.D.   The funny thing is, they don't care if they do.   I find the 33 A.D. thing actually to be a badge that has tarnished so many, and many fight over the claim....  The Anabaptists just want to be good people, good Christians, raise their children as Godly as possible.  The rank/power, in fighting between bishops, etc., does not matter.   They keep their lives simple and god oriented.

Though the worship is considerably different the EO, they hymns different, and some of the theology different, I found myself willing to change the way I thought.  I found that these people LIVED according to the scriptures.   No their church was not the same, but their church is no where near a typical protestant thing.   Then again, I found the EO church to be nothing like the early Christians either.  One look around these forums and you'll find people arguing ROCOR vs. This vs. that vs. calendar vs. canon vs. beard vs. head covering vs. ecumenism vs. tradition vs. culture....  It's madness.   One man's heresy is another man's salvation --- So lets go attack some 90 year old monks on Esphigmenou.  Its ridiculous.

After all I've been through, I just want to be a good Christian.  I saw the fruits of the Anabaptist, and though not perfect, it was pretty darn good.  Watching those people take care of their elderly, infirmed, giving away all their money to help a perfect stranger, left me speechless. There are parts of Orthodoxy that I do miss.  Probably the deep history and ancient hymns.  

Please remember folks, this is my testimony to why I am where I am.   If it sounds loaded, it's my opinion and what I have formulated through my experiences.
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« Reply #23 on: February 03, 2012, 06:36:26 PM »


Very interesting story Will, it is nice to see it for the first time. One thing that really stood out to me was your parents attitude toward religion. I think that I can probably relate to your mother's side more than your father's side. Except, instead of Roman Catholic, Protestant. My parents were Protestants and took it seriously, except, they did not really have any order or did not think about these topics very seriously. My mother was one of those paranoid the-end-is-coming Protestants who believes in all of that rapture mumbo-jumbo and all. And my father was a bit more open minded and tolerant, except, he did really misunderstand things at times and his understanding of doctrine sometimes scares me. The one positive thing I can say is that, even if she does not understand any of it or believes in heresies, my mother puts me to shame because she lives the Christian life by being hospital, charitable and forgiving to people more than perhaps anyone in my family. Especially with how much she forgives all of us, like with my dad relapsing into drugs, how she was able to forgive him, and how she forgave me even though I got arrested or how she forgives her own mother even though she used to abuse her, along with her older sisters. My mother has always reminded me of St. Monica, the mother of my patron Saint Augustine. I'm hoping that one day my mother will convert to Orthodoxy, then I can recommend that she chooses St. Monica as her patron.

Moving on,Your segment about internet atheism is interesting. And, I remember that you used to be rather upset with me for associating with them. In a sense, I think that we are both guilty. You are guilty for being so critical to me and not understanding that I actually used to be one of those internet atheists, as you will see in my conversion story, so, I naturally have sympathy for them and want to help them. However, I was also guilty for trying to materialistically explain everything in Christianity and trying to be so polite all the time. Anyway, from my experience with internet atheism and the time I spent as one, I realize that the biggest issue is closedmindedness and stubbornness. In other words, they beome so caught up with each other in their cliche that they forget to associate with other types of people, and the only 'Christianity' they are exposed to are their own strawmen and misunderstandings coming from silly Evangelical Protestantism. Whenever another Christian, like you or I, tries to show them what real Christianity is and tries to explain that we do not believe that, they just dismiss it as 'explaining-away' and do not like it because it is different from the perfectly fallacious strawmen Christianity that they formed in their minds.

I think that the biggest mistakes many Christians make when trying to practice apologetics, especially the mainstream Evangelical ones, is that they immediately accept the atheist's strawman as valid and try to justify something which is already fallacious. But the real truth is, you need to pull the rug right from under them and show that you do not agree with their terms and that the preliminary reasoning leading to their objection is already fallacious. Many Christians fall easily to the Loaded Question and False Dichotomy fallacies made by atheists; such as evolution OR creationism, God OR reason, science OR religion, God OR sexual liberation etc. The list goes on.

Anyhow, I really amend you for your appreciation of the Liturgy and our worship. To be honest, this played only a little part in my conversion. I was really bothered by the almost lazy forms of Protestant worship with the disregard it seemed like so many people had. I felt like it was mediocre how everyone came to Church in shorts and sandals, messed around on Android phones and just laughed and told jokes during the services. I felt like it was disregard for God's temple. This is one of the things that made Catholicism and Orthodoxy more appealing to me, however, to be honest, I probably would not have minded a watered-down Mass because I think anything would have been better than the Protestant forms of worship. I wish I could appreciate the Divine Liturgy more, but I honestly have not developed that much yet. Maybe when I can finally receive the Eucharist I will appreciate it more. Right now the highlight of the Liturgy for me is the sermon, and I wish it was longer, probably the former Protestant inside of me talking. But that period after the sermon and before the Eucharist is a period I unfortunately dread and hate, Lord have mercy. Just spending like forty minutes standing, doing nothing until they finally take out the Eucharist. Pray for me.

Oh, and read my conversion story now.
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You're really on to something here. Tattoo to keep you from masturbating, chew to keep you from fornicating... it's a whole new world where you outsource your crosses. You're like a Christian entrepreneur or something.
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James, you have problemz.
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