I've realized that once you think some things, those things are hard to unthink. It's hard to go back to a thought or belief, when that thought or belief no longer adds up. And when one thought gets released, similar to a Jenga puzzle, it's only time before the other related thoughts start to fall away as well.
As a child and young adult, I had a traditional, conservative Christian worldview. I spent those years accepting certain thoughts—like a literal, Biblical Creation, among others. I once read that we see what we look for and we explain it using what we know. And I think so many of the stories that founded the various world religions were stories based on a social, cultural context. It makes me wonder what the world would be like if we could abandon our preconceptions about these stories, and read them as they were written.
As I’ve grown older I’ve become less conservative, and more focused on essential truths. Now, as a 30-something year old, I've been on a journey of gradually letting go—and life has become less about right and wrong, or sin and eternal life, and more about respect and love. I am no longer afraid of asking questions, and I am no longer afraid of what those questions or answers mean for my eternal life. Today I seek truth and understanding, and I believe that ultimately God represents life—and it is our greatest calling and responsibility to defend life through the pursuit of love, humility and service. My faith is relevant, because it is the foundation for why I believe it is our responsibility to care for others and care for the earth.
There are clear moments for me in my journey, where I felt a shift in my worldview. One was as a young adult when I met people from the Presbyterian Church (USA), who were rescuing and protecting Mexican immigrants after they illegally crossed the border. This is when I learned how blurry the line is between right and wrong, and how we are called to love people, which looks different depending on the circumstances. Another time my worldview shifted was when I read Rob Bell's provocative book "Love Wins" in 2011, which was about heaven, hell, and fate. I shifted again when I read "God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything," by Christopher Hitchens, in which he makes the case against religion. For someone raised in church, the book was overwhelming, but ultimately Hitchens provides a compelling argument for the ways in which religion is man-made and how it has hurt us.
I recently watched a documentary about Bell, called "The Heretic" (trailer below). The film follows the life and work of Bell, while he grapples with questions like, 'Do spiritual traditions simply serve to further divide our world, or can they offer real help and hope for a better tomorrow?' As I was watching this, it felt like the motivation for another shift in my worldview. Bell argues that all of us, with faith or no faith, are asking the same questions—he says, it's all expressions of the same thing, which is "Who am I, and what am I doing here?" Maybe it's possible for me to be in a place where I'm not comfortable with a traditional understanding of religion, where I can ask questions, and still live with faith.