What a misguided belief. What a harmful practice.

It is heartening to know that I wasn't alone in this kind of training, and yet disheartening to know that all the way across the country, and probably everywhere in between, this beat-them-into-submission style of evangelism was, and probably still is, being taught.

Alisa, as I alluded to before, could not be mistaken for a person who has this in her past. Today, she is humble and sweet and, though I've heard and read her argue to great effect, there's not a mean bone in her body.

But, I worry about myself. I worry often that the combative stance I was taught—and, let's face it, some of it is just in my fighting Irish genes—has stayed with me today. Shortly after college, I returned to campus to hear a speaker, a former radical Muslim Palestinian turned Christian, give his testimony. The audience expected to meet a repentant, peace-loving man, but what we found was a man who redirected the hatred he grew up feeling toward Israelis, back at his own people. In short, he'd experienced an ideological conversion, but his heart was still the same.

I think about him often and hope I'm not like him. I don't ever worry about Alisa, though. Most readers won't have the chance to meet her, but take my word for it, the militant little girl who used a goat costume contest as an opportunity for political controversy has been completely replaced by the person who can look back at that time with a bit of humor and a tinge of regret, but, most of all, with the ability to see that her story provides an opportunity for commiseration, as well as a chance to realize valuable lessons.

For more conversation on Raised Right—and to read an excerpt and author interview—visit the Patheos Book Club.