Yesterday (Tuesday) was the 30th anniversary of my baptism. In the Churches of Christ, baptism (by immersion) is a Big Deal, because the CoC believes you can't be saved without it. It is at the point of baptism that you become a christian, and since you are also "born again" at this point, it's sort of your spiritual birthday, as it were. In any case, it's not an event you easily forget. so, with a shudder at the rapid passage of time, I contemplated the fact that the earth has gone around the sun exactly thirty times since I went before a small congregation of the Church of Christ in Simi Valley, California, affirmed my belief that Jesus was the son of God, and got dunked in front of 50 people.
Well, beliefs can change, and mine certainly have, but the past can't be re-written. June 12 will always be the anniversary of my baptism. And I just can't express how awkward it feels that an event that meant so much to me at the time, now means absolutely nothing. Less than nothing, because what it really was, was my pledging my allegiance to the biggest and most successful con job in history.
It's hard to describe what I feel, when I think about it. I'm not bitter; I moved past that stage of my separation from the Christian faith years ago. Becoming a Xian was something that met emotional needs that I had at the time and provided a social circle that was definitely more secure, if less educational, then the rowdy high-schoolers I'd have been hanging with otherwise. Still--it all seems so stupid now. God, Jesus, heaven and hell, the Bible, getting "saved", trying to get others "saved", going to church three times a week, worrying about sin and how good or bad a Christian I was. All for nothing. All the prayers I prayed, the hymns I sang, the communion I took, the Bible I read, the heaven I looked forward to--not to mention the money I put in the collection plate every week.
Deception and delusion, all of it.
Bitter? No, I guess I'm just a bit sad. I guess I still grieve somewhat for the world I wanted to be real, the world in which evil is ultimately defeated and good triumphs, the one where death isn't the end and all your hopes and dreams eventually come true, if only you believe. That world.
And I DID believe in it, just as fervently as a three-year-old believes in Santa Claus. And I guess maybe that's why I am angry, just a bit. I'm angry that people still believe, believe because they NEED to believe, because they know what the consequences are if the atheists are right and they're wrong. Kids aren't devastated when they find out the truth about Santa or the Easter Bunny. What the hell's wrong with us grown-ups?
Thirty years. Twenty of which I spent in vanity and pride (there's irony for ya :)). Now all I want is to forget. But the past can't be re-written. June 12 will always be the anniversary of my baptism. But now I think of it as a mental death, rather than a spiritual birth. And the epitaph reads "Beware of Dogma."