Undoing the divorce from my religious lineage: the surprising story of my turn back towards Christianity, 15 years after being excommunicated
That was a thrilling read, especially with the Miserere playing in the background. I particularly liked this line “What if we saw the great cathedrals of Europe not as tourist curiosities or “art history” but as a precious gift from our ancestors, a reminder of what is most important in life?”. As a fellow Christian I’d like to say welcome back! It is truly wonderful that his love extends to us when we are furthest from him.
I recently left my literalist/fundamentalist Christian group ~ 1.5 years ago, which certainly soured my relationship with anything “religious”.
I’m 23 and not as far along the journey as you, but so much of what you’re saying rings so true.
It’s a weird arch, to go from a literalist understanding of the Bible (believe, or else) to see the value and wisdom of metaphors and meaning embedded in these texts.
Thank you for sharing some insights gained by your ongoing journey; it made me felt seen.
(Some day I’d love to chat with you about your background/past; it sounds oddly familiar.)
I'm not sure if you read him, but there are echoes of Paul Kingsnorth in you.
Great writing and powerful ideas!
I'll add that a metaphorical reading of certain parts of the bible were probably intended straight from the start. Garden of Eden being one of them (Talking snake, rivers with jewels, mythical time, the whole shebang).
There is a lot to unpack about symoblic/metaphoric reading of the bible, but I'd really suggest reading the Introduction to The Guide for the Perplexed, (it's not an easy read tbh), where he goes about saying that the purpose of the book is to help someone perplexed, because their reason contradicts their tradition. He says that the problem is caused because what is figurative/metaphorical/symbolic language is confused for literal.
my thoughts on this are always shifting, but there's something innocent and fitting for certain people to take the literal track, and it makes me think that that's how it has to be, where most people take most things literally and only a few can do otherwise.
anyways, this is great and beautiful, thanks
When you wrote “Now, as we approach our 4th anniversary it’s obvious that marriage rendered a deep change in me. I’m like the unwitting recipient of a potent magic spell: I was a partner, now I’m a husband.” It reminds me of the participatory knowing that Vervaeke espouses
Wow Richard, what a journey you have been on and are still on. I can't think of words to reflect the feelings I have after reading this article. It's been a long time ! All the best.
Thank you for writing this.
I didn't grow up in a context like yours, so a journey of rediscovery looks different for me than it does for you. In a way, there is even a small sense of jealousy (or appreciation) that you went through such a strong imprinting early on that you can now return to after the prodigal son's typical absence.
Much love to you, Richard. Your story nourishes the sense in me that there is a positive and non-naive Christianity being reconstituted right under our very eyes, if only we can look that low to see it.
Thanks for your testimony. I found it very edifying.
I have a different take on "The Prodigal Son". The Father never moved from the house UNTIL the son came back. This was the resolute firmness of the father endowed with hierarchy and the author of the son's life, while at the same time the love of the father who ran to meet his son once he saw that his son was returning.
Peace & Blessings
🥲 beautiful Rich.
As a (previously lost) son (of a strictly religious dad), an older brother, and a father myself, this resonated a lot.
I’m glad you found deliverance and gratitude in surrender.
(I’m also glad I read it with the Gregorio Allegri you recommended.) 💜
If you like it harmonious religious pluralism you'd love Ramakrishna.
The man practiced several major religions respectively and found the one inherent common divinity behind them all.
I've learned from Him that I can learn from, love and respect Jesus, and Buddha and and Krishna, Divine Mother and all the world teachers equally.
Some real intense elevating revelation if you can jive with it.
Took me a few years after hearing of him
at first to get to learn what He was really saying.
It took me quite a bit of time to get over my own cynicism for Christianity, although since I didn't have a fundamental upbringing I guess it was a bit easier for me :) And while I still don't really think of myself as a Christian, there are definitely many interesting threads to pull on, and also a lot of healing in reconciling with something that used to be at the core of the culture I grew up in.
You might enjoy the substacks of Paul Kingsnorth and Rhyd Wildermuth!
What a beautiful journey, Richard! Thank you for sharing a small glimpse of it with us all.
Yes, yes, yes ... and maybe this is obvious, but it's no longer anything to do with believing something because someone said so or told you to believe it. To me, it's about our attempt to listen deeply to what others in the past may have been trying to say, even though their language was different, and translating it for ourselves into words and concepts that we can, actually, see in our own lives, our own experience.
And there's something very very deep and important about that orientation, that willingness to look, that curiosity about what is or was going on in the other, without needing our experience to be the same. But connected in spirit.
Amazing read!!! I loved when you said “I’m starting to see there’s a more complex metaphorical understanding available for those of us who can’t stomach the literal reading.”
This was a very inspiring piece as I myself have been learning from Christianity, as a raised atheist, largely with the help of John Vervaeke first of all but also Pageua, Peterson and Bishop Barron.