I have several well-meaning believers in my life. These people, for good or for ill, often come to me with requests:
“Will you come to church with me?”
“Will you read the book of John for me?”
“Will you listen to this song for me?”
So far, I’ve only said no to one of these offers. Shortly after my mother discovered my deconversion, she said to me, “If I send you a Bible, will you read it?” I politely, but firmly, told her no.
A simple assignment isn’t going to “fix me”
I’m not inside the mind of the people who make these requests, but I imagine they believe that if I do what they ask me to do, it will cause me to discover Jesus, the RealJesus™. I understand why they want me to convert; it’s the same ole spiel, if you truly think people go to hell without Jesus, of course you want to spread your world view.
But I don’t think they understand why their technique doesn’t work.
I’ve read the Bible many, many times. In high school, I listened to a substantial amount of Christian music. I’ve been to a plethora of churches. They aren’t introducing me to anything I’m not familiar.
In a way, this is an extension of my “Condescension Isn’t Kindness” post and my “Please Stop Trying to Explain Why People Leave the Church” post. People are trying to be kind in how they approach me, but they still ultimately believe they can change my world view with a simple act. Like their instruction can revive my faith in a way that my prayers and own Bible study didn’t.
If there was a one-size fits all path to reconversion, modern Christians would have found it by now. I do think reconversion is possible; I’m not one of those atheists who thinks that those who return to the faith were never actual atheists. I think its healthy for beliefs to change and evolve. I could eventually start believing in God again, but I don’t personally think so.
But rereading books of the Bible that I’ve read time and time again aren’t doing it for me. Listening to worship song after worship song isn’t doing it for me. I haven’t been to church in well over a year, but I’ve accepted invitations that no one has ever taken me up on. If what I had been doing didn’t stop me from leaving the faith, why would it bring me back?
I didn’t leave the faith at a time where I was distant from my faith. I went to church every Sunday. I was involved in a small group. I was close friends with a pastor at my church and his wife. I read and studied the Bible frequently.
But I still left.
The man who asked me to read the Book of John is a man I respect a lot. He’s asked me to pray and say, “God, if you’re real, please make me feel something as I read this book.” I plan on doing this for him, but, after this, I no longer plan to indulge such requests from Christians.
Equal opportunity potential convert
If a Buddhist or a Muslim or what-have-you asks me to do something, I’ll likely do one or two things, just to keep it fair. I have a copy of the Qur’an gifted to me from the Masjid in Oxford that I’ve never read. I have read the Bhagavad Gita which, to be perfectly honest, really shook up my world view.
The closest thing I have to a belief in God right now is my Ganesha necklace, made from a chain and pendant purchased at my local Michael’s. I put it on and said to myself, “Remove all the obstacles in my path,” several times. It’s likely just placebo, but I do feel better while I wear the pendant. Regardless of any potential supernatural powers, it’s pretty and I enjoy wearing it. That’s enough for now.