I, a Rabid Anti-Christian, Very Suddenly Convert

The split-second before I very suddenly became a Christian I couldn’t have been less of a Christian if I had red horns, hoofs, and a long pointy tail. If anything, I was anti-Christian. The religion struck me as ridiculously immature, a way-too-obvious system designed mostly to capitalize on people’s guilt: Big Daddy in the Sky knows you did wrong, but will love you anyway if you’ll only admit that he’s perfection itself, and that you’re a wretched, sickening sack of sin.

Please. I always figured that if I wanted Father Knows Best, I’d watch television.

And it wasn’t like I didn’t believe in anything. I did. I very seriously believed in me. I hadn’t a doubt in the world but that I was somebody truly worthy of my utmost affection and devotion. I was strong, capable, friendly, competent — I was just a general, all-around good guy. I was thirty-eight years old. I’d been happily married for sixteen years. I had a good job. I had friends. People liked me. I liked me.

That is, I liked myself as much as it seemed reasonable to do so. I was certainly aware of my own shortcomings (which I won’t share with you here, in order to save my friends and former friends the shock of suddenly realizing what happened, that one time, to their stashes of porno and pot). But I didn’t need God or anybody else to forgive me for the times I behaved poorly. I was perfectly capable (if not spectacularly efficient) at forgiving myself, thank you very much.

Because I knew that, at my core, I was a good, morally sound person.

On the other hand, I was a human being. And human beings, I knew (boy, did I know) have natural needs, and natural weaknesses.

The paramount imperative, I believed, was to love myself. That’s what it was all about: loving, and forgiving, oneself. Those who mastered that, mastered life. You had to be your own parents, your own nurturer, your own best friend.

Who could argue with that?

Then one day I was sitting at my desk at work during a totally typical weekday, feeling regretful about a particularly immature, semi-destructive thing I’d recently done, when this feeling started coming over me that in about four seconds had my undivided attention.

“What the hell?” I thought. The next thing I knew, I was very nearly desperate to be alone somewhere. It felt like warm water was filling me up inside — but downward, starting at just beneath my scalp. Right about when the “water” had moved from my neck to my chest, I knew that whatever was happening to me wasn’t going to stop.

And I could tell it was something spiritual, or psychological — or something basically non-physical.

“I’ll be right back,” I said to a co-worker — and then cut out for an auxiliary supply closet in our office no one ever used. I flipped on its light, closed its door behind me, and waited.

I closed my eyes. The intensity of what was happening made that seem like a good idea.

And what happened, rather all at once, was that I saw what a complete asshole I was. Isn’t that awful? All at once, the truth was before me that instead of being a good guy who’s basically always trying to do the right thing, I was a selfish, emotional weakling who was always doing and saying whatever best served my own needs at the time.

I never lied; but I’d fudge the truth here and there if it didn’t really hurt anybody and would help things roll my way.

I never cheated; but life is complex, and sometimes one has to make deals that more directly serve a Larger Good.

I wanted to help others; but there were so many good shows on TV, especially after a long, rough day at work.

What suddenly became a fact to me was that I’d been fooling myself for so long I’d forgotten the act. I wasn’t the great, honorable person I started out to be, that I’d meant to become — that I actually thought I was. I was just another guy so busy thinking he’s constructing the perfect home that he doesn’t realize how long ago he stopped using a level.

Man, I hate it when that happens.

I hate it when my whole view of myself is suddenly deconstructed and replaced by a view of myself that is so not what I expected.

I hate it when in one second I go from being Batman to being the Penguin.

Actually, though, that wasn’t the worst part. By far.

The worst part was that, accompanying that Less Than Peachy view of myself, was the very real knowledge that I was never, ever, ever going to change.

Ever. Never. Ever.

I was born as I was. I had spent my life as I was. And I would die as I’d always been: small, selfish, and mean as a pissed-off penguin.

And there was absolutely nothing I could do about it.

I’d already spent my whole life trying to. Miserable mediocrity was the best I could do. I could achieve that only when I’d somehow pulled it together enough not to be a completely craven animal.

On a good day I was the Penguin!

And then here’s what happened: I saw my death. I mean, I didn’t see myself writhing around after I’d been hit by a truck on the freeway or anything — I didn’t see how I would die. But I did see, in a sort of direct, open tunnel, the disturbingly short distance between where I was, and where I was most certainly going. I saw my mortality. I saw the simple fact that I would die — and that, as surely as one day follows the next, at the moment of my death I wouldn’t be any different than I’d been at any other moment of my life.

I wasn’t going to get better. I wasn’t going to become stronger, or wiser, or smarter, or more honorable. It just wasn’t going to happen. I was thirty-eight. I was who I’d die being. At best.

Oh, but that was a bad, bad moment for me.

And then my legs disappeared from underneath me. I actually fell on my knees.

In the supply closet.

At my job.

Looking at my miserable, weak future, straight to my miserable, means-nothing death. It was just me and the cold, hard, gray, flat fact of … me. Which was never going to change. I just did not have the will or means or character to change who I was, which was exactly who I’d always been.

I saw that my life, in any way that could possibly matter, was over.

Then I did something I never, ever do. I started to cry.

Because isn’t the whole point of being alive to be someone you’d really want to be?

So I’m kneeling there, blinded by my sad, stupid little fate, when, from up and off to my left, I hear a disembodied voice say something.

And it says what it says in a clear, distinct cartoon voice.

Listen: I grew up glued to cartoons. As a kid, I had absolutely no idea what was happening with adults, who were clearly insane. But Daffy Duck, I got. Porky Pig was my kind of guy. Wiley Coyote? Please—my very alter-ego!

To this day, I practically shiver with joy when The Simpsons are on.

Anyway, of course I can’t exactly describe the cartoon voice I heard. But, you know: goofy, precise, rich, psuedo-edgy. Cartoonish.

And what that voice said, from up and off to my left somewhere — from offstage, as it were — was, “Isn’t this what Jesus is for?”

And just like that, I stopped crying.

And do you know what I knew at that moment — what instantly imprinted itself upon me? That the story of Jesus is historically true. That it happened. That God, desiring above all else to show the people he’d created that he loved them, became a human, and came to earth, and sacrificed himself, and in every way did every thing he possibly could to show people exactly how deeply and terribly he loves them.

That’s what my conversion consisted of: a sudden, sure knowledge that the historical story of Christ is true.

It wasn’t, like, wisdom at all. I wasn’t suddenly filled with the Mind of God, or anything like that. My soul didn’t light up. Angels didn’t sing for me. Nothing like that happened. In a way, it was about as boring as learning the year house paint was invented, or that your bank has slightly altered its Saturday hours. All that had changed was that I was now sure that the story of Christ, about which I had always scoffed if I ever thought of it at all, was true.

Then it was like how, when it starts to rain, you think about the only thing you can think, which is: “Oh. Now everything will get wet.”

That’s about what I thought: “Oh. Now I’m a Christian.”

So I stood, wiped my eyes, opened the door to the supply closet, and went back to work.

And that was that.

 

(This is taken from my book, Penguins, Pain and the Whole Shebang.)

If you’re interested in how my wife took the news of my conversion, see How my wife took the news of my sudden conversion.

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About John Shore

John Shore (who, fwiw, is straight) is the author of UNFAIR: Christians and the LGBT Question, and three other great books. He is founder of Unfundamentalist Christians (on Facebook here), and executive editor of the Unfundamentalist Christians group blog.  (In total John's two blogs receive some 250,000 views per month.) John is also co-founder of The NALT Christians Project, which was written about by TIME,  The Washington Post, and others. His website is JohnShore.com. John is a pastor ordained by The Progressive Christian Alliance. You're invited to like John's Facebook page. And don't forget to sign up for his mucho awesome monthly newsletter.

  • Elizabeth

    Here's why I believe your conversion story: because it is so unbelievable. If you were trying to hoodwink people into thinking you were a Christian you would have developed a story that seemed more intelligent, rational, etc. Instead you admit that you were blindsided by faith and God and Jesus….in a closet at work. May your faith and joy grow.

  • http://soiledwings.com Sherry Meneley

    Post-closet…a new normal.

    I like this story – I hate having to prove myself / this type of stuff to anyone. Brave of you to do so.

    • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

      Thanks–but it's not really bravery, or anything. I don't care. It happened. What can I do? I just get accused, sometimes, over on HuffPo, of being a "stealth atheist"—that is, someone who PRETENDS to be a Christian in order to more trenchantly argue the case AGAINST Xtianity. (I think that's what they mean. It's so stupid I sort of have a hard time following that whole line of reasoning. Who would go through the trouble of PRETENDING they're a Christian just so they could complain about Xtianity?)

      • http://soiledwings.com Sherry Meneley

        Awe – I get it; the steathy wolf in sheep's clothing. Dang, going to that exteme takes too much energy… that would be a bit stupid. Well fundies do get bent easy and claim most of us are wolves, regardless of our best Jesusy intentions.

        • Sam

          The Pharisees always like to insist their virtue is superior to the rest of the pack's.

          I've been accused by many of not being a "real" Christian and many people who've known me a while are somewhat astounded when they find out that I spend my Sunday mornings in church, but I guess that's what happens when you don't spend all of your time running off at the mouth about abortion and gays and don't seem bothered at all by the concept of evolution and such. People are weird.

  • http://jhsketch.wordpress.com jhsketch

    I am very glad for you that it happened!

    Praise the Lord!!!

    Jan

  • http://awalkwiththee.wordpress.com awalkwiththee

    Was "the voice" really coming from the left? If that were true…that would mean that even in the state you were in pre-closet… you were on the right-hand of God. Which is true for all of us.

    • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

      Yeah, that's not the kind of detail you could just make up. (Well, duh: of course you could. But … I didn't.) It was definitely from the left, and a little behind me.

      • Tommy Jay

        Sensing a presence is typically from over the left shoulder. Google "sensed presence effect" for some of the abundant research on the matter. It is quite easy to induce the sense that there is another being nearby through transcranial magnetic stimulation. But, it often occurs in isolation or with oxygen deprivation or in highly stressful environments. One researcher indicated that left-handed subjects more often sensed the presence over their right shoulder, but the majority sense that presence to their left.

        I am not saying that it wasn't one of Jesus' minions come to hang out in the closet with you; but you need to dismiss the very common chemical explanations for such things first. Don't you?

        • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

          No, no, I don't need to dismiss that, at all. I don't see anything in what you've said to contradict my experience. I was stressed, and no two ways about it. I've got no issues with there being a hardcore physiological basis for what I ultimately experienced as spiritually transformative. I'm good with the idea of the body beginning what the spirit completes. (And you were so close—just one " one of J.'s minions" away–from being completely respectful! I appreciate that effort.)

          Oh–and I actually did, as you suggest, Google "sensed presence effect," and—for the first two pages of results, anyway—found nothing but the same (interesting!) article. That doesn't really strike me as an "abundance of research." But, as I say, it was a good, compelling article. But … the conditions it described in the people who experienced SPE were a whole lot more intense than anything I was going through just prior to my experience. So … I dunno.

          • Tommy Jay

            No disrespect intended, but did the experience not bring you to [your version] of Christianity? It seemed that you put Christianity on the table, so I thought it perfectly reasonable (even appropriate) to bring Mr. J.C. into the comment. Was it “minions” that you found disrespectful? That presence to your left might have been the late Red Skelton, but that could not have been used as a Christian awakening (especially if he was in clown face!…creepy!)

            I just don’t see how “a presence” leads to the specific Christian explanation. (actually I do…culturally predominant memes).

            “Sensed Presence Effect” is a lay-term that I pulled from a recent Scientific American article. I don’t know whether that is commonly used or whether there is a more proper scientific term. Still, one article links to another and there is a not-insignificant recognition of the somewhat common psychological phenomenon.

            I am about half way through the book “The Third Man Factor” [John Geiger] that the Scientific American article mentions. It is quite common for these experiences to be transformative for the subject because they seem quite real to those that have the experience. Lacking any other explanation, of course that presence would be a guardian angel or culturally predominant deity.

            If such an experience leads you to be introspective and feeling that there is some higher judge, then cool! Introspection about how you interact and affect the world and society can be nothing but good (I think). Making [what seems to me to be] the unsupported leap to some specific, man-made religious narrative adds a whole lot of baggage that need not be there and can only taint what introspection brings.

          • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

            Yeah, and, I mean, again, these good points you (and the article, and research, and I assume "The Third Man Factor") raise are all completely valid. But, as I say, I don't understand how identifying the physiological response pattern this evidence apparently does necessarily invalidates the possibility of those patters also being part of a response mechanism to a larger, genuine supernatural phenomenon.

            I didn't make "the leap" to a religious narrative (which, by the way, you have no more evidence is "man-made" than you do that it's not: that's purely a judgment call on your part). My … imprinting experience came to me, very specifically, as a validation of (what amounts to) the historical veracity of Jesus Christ. There was no "leap" at all, on my part–or certainly no conscious one. That package was delivered as a whole.

            But it's an interesting phenomenon, isn't it? Tell you what: tomorrow a.m. I'll do a post about this conversation: I'll recount what we've gone over here, and see what anyone thinks. What (if anything) might it do to the fervor of a person's religious conviction if it could be proven that there is "purely" a physiological explanation for everything they experience and process as spiritual inspiration? I think that's a good question.

            Except—no, it's not, since it's one for which there is virtually no answer (which, to me, makes it Instantly Boring). We'll never know, really—or certainly don't know at this point—whether or not there really is any sort of real ghost in the machine. So I suppose such conversations can only ever be what even ours here (if it continues) is destined to become: an endless round of assumptions being asserted as necessary—or at least more probable—logical conclusions.

            Maybe God's real. Maybe he/she/it isn't. No one's got the definitive proof either way. No news there, is there?

          • Tommy Jay

            FYI John,

            I just finished The Third Man Factor.

            The big take-away????…..NEVER EVER EVER CLIMB HIGH MOUNTAINS OR EXPLORE THE NORTH OR SOUTH POLES!!!

            It was an interesting read with some gripping tales of survival. People interpret the sensed presence in various ways…some religious…some not. Toward the end they do a somewhat cursory review of some of the science. The biggest ommission however is the almost total absence of proper statistics. The lay reader (unfamiliar with statistics and population studies) could readily come away with the idea that these sensed presences always lead them to safety…which (were it true), could be a very compelling argument for the supernatural. There is only the very briefest mention that we have no way of knowing how many people had a mysterious companion accompany them to their death. Judging by the harrowing conditions some of these people were in…I would guess most of them!

            I would recommend reading it.

          • denver

            There being a physical explanation doesn't necessarily negate that it was a spiritual thing, IMHO: if you believe God created everything, scientific explanation does not negate the idea that he made it. God can make atoms as well as flowers, as it were. So God could tweak your brain chemicals – or whatever the underlying premise of that article is, having not read it at this point – and use that as his method of communication.

          • CP O'Connor

            John. Interesting stuff. Maybe this finding is no more or less scientific than a study showing that a majority of humans see physical presences communicating to them from right in front, because their physical presence is in fact positioned in front of them and can both be heard and seen with the eyes, which operate in a unidirectional fashion, are located in the front of the head. That is, they are talking face to face. I have no trouble reconciling God and matters spiritual with anatomy or physiology either. Is it not conceivable that there is a in fact an organ or system, although perhaps more neurologically diffuse than a single nucleus, that is involved in such, often spiritually based, communication? Isn't it conceivable that like the eyes, this window is directional. What is that little voice over our shoulder? Is it our conscience? Is it us, or is it something being communicated from somewhere else? Is it the part of us that exists in a collective consciousness? Is it God? 3 men, one in Jakarta, one in Mexico and 1 in New York are all about to murder someone. A little voice over each of their left shoulders tells them not to, that the would be victim has innocent family that would suffer, for example. Is that their individual consciences, or is it coming from somewhere else through some portal over the less shoulder, perhaps divine. One doesn't need to be a Shamaylan fan or a space cadet to acknowledge the presence of a sixth sense. Interesting also to speculate that such design might have been both intelligent and divine. Perhaps if we paid attention more to what was being communicated to us from over our left shoulder than by those whom we see right in front, the world would be a much better place. The next time I feel confused, if not flat-out screwed, I'll actively look over my left shoulder for a possible solution.

          • elliott

            what tommy isn’t getting is that you didn’t “interpret” the presence|voice|experience…it just WAS. that is why you say it was “imprinted” (GOOD WORD!) on you. I don’t believe you would have interpreted any of it with such a “Christian” spin if it HAD been you interpreting it.

        • Prwayno

          just because we can explain odors doesn’t make them any less real.

  • MEL

    GREAT post. You've alluded to this before, John, but this is the first time you've described in any detail what happened. Thank you for sharing this.

  • Patty

    John, My respect for you grows by leaps and bounds. You are a worthy role model, a position you don't seek, making you all the more worthy. Thank you for sharing your conversion story with us.

  • http://highonlifejunkie.blogspot.com/ Ellie

    I love your blog and all the thought you give to the subject of religion since I spend a great deal of time pondering the same subject. After reading this, I think it sounds like your conversion was based on a fear of death and what happens next. I am pretty much at the place you were pre-supply-closet. I currently view organized religion as a human construct to help us all deal with death and make it less scary. I hope there is a God. I believe someone named Jesus existed but I also believe that many of the writings about him were influenced not by God but by flawed humans just like us. I envy all believers because they have peace and comfort and I do not. I want faith but not at the expense of what might be the truth: that when we die, it might be all over. For any of us to pretend that we know the answer to what happens after we die, and state it as a fact, is silly.

    • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

      Hi, E. Thanks for comment. My conversion moment didn’t actually have anything to do with afterlife, in which I have virtually no interest, then or now. If you’re interested, you might care to take a gander at a piece I once wrote called Death is the Answer.

      • http://highonlifejunkie.blogspot.com/ Ellie

        I read your Death post and my head almost exploded which is a good thing. Then I went back and re-read this post. I now see that it’s not about an afterlife for you. I must have been projecting my fears into your writings. I now think that your conversion was more about giving your life meaning. It would be a horrible thing to live a life and not have in mean anything. The sentence that jumped out on my second review of this post was, “…what instantly imprinted itself upon me? That the story of Jesus is historically true. That it happened.” I’m not so sure it happened. At least, I’m not so sure it happened the way the bible says it happened. A lot of people will think this is heresy. That you can’t question the Immaculate Conception or The Ascension of Jesus or Mary. I do. My dad says I shouldn’t challenge a person’s faith because I could possibly rob them of it. I feel impelled to do it – not because I want them to lose faith – but because I want to recapture mine. Thank you for allowing me to do this.

        • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

          But … as I say in the post, my life DID have meaning up until then. I was happily married. I was satisfied with my artistic career. Life was … fine for me.

          And don't worry (not that you are) about questioning anything and everything having to do with Christianity. I think that's a perfectly healthy thing to do. Only an idiot follows without questioning.

        • jes

          “My dad says I shouldn’t challenge a person’s faith because I could possibly rob them of it. ”

          I think that if a person’s faith is so shaky that they lose it all because someone says their experience is different, it was only a matter of time until they lost it anyway. Don’t stop your exploration and analysis of your own self and experiences out of fear of disrupting others; just don’t go the other extreme and force your thoughts and feelings on others who are different.

  • http://schlegsofminne.blogspot.com Schlegs

    Tow things hit me where I am right at this moment, in my own walk, no less:

    "What suddenly became a fact to me was that I’d been fooling myself for so long I’d forgotten the act. I wasn’t the great, honorable person I started out to be, that I’d meant to become — that I actually thought I was. I was just another guy so busy thinking he’s constructing the perfect home that he doesn’t realize how long ago he stopped using a level."

    and,

    "Looking at my miserable, weak future, straight to my miserable, means-nothing death. It was just me and the cold, hard, gray, flat fact of … me. Which was never going to change. I just did not have the will or means or character to change who I was, which was exactly who I’d always been.

    I saw that my life, in any way that could possibly matter, was over."

    I've been there, am there, and vacillate between there and someplace else, someplace a bit better, but often not much so. And, at the point you mentioned you cried, I couldn't help but shed some tears along with you.

    Thanks for sharing your story. Genuine. Straight. Honest.

    Peace to you

    -Schlegs

    • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

      Thank you, S., very much. (And I like your blog!)

  • Jill

    I know what you mean about trying to convince people. I've been a Christian since I was about 14 or 15. Old enough to be pretty young to take Physics. But I was about 30-ish before I got knocked over the head with what a jackass I really was.

    For me it was that I lied. In court. On the stand. I know this isn't true confessions, and for the record, I will say that my lie actually had no bearing on the outcome of the case, as the defendant had already confessed to the (rather minor) crime anyway. So why did I lie? To get someone out of trouble? For revenge? Oh not, not for any strong, compelling reason. I lied so I wouldn't look quite as foolish as I actually am.

    Travelling back to my teenage years, I lived with people who made it pretty easy for me to fool myself, most of the time, into thinking I was a pretty cool cat. And I was a goody two-shoes. I was *awesome* at being a good little girl. I did what I was told, made the right choice, and covered my bad choices and conveniently forgot about them. Until that one. It was like having a huge magnifying glass placed in front of my character so I could see all the nasty little details.

    Now, FF another dozen years or so to now. I am well acquainted with being a jackass, I can see it coming, I see it happening, sometimes I am successful in stopping it, and other times I get to apologize, and that's getting pretty old hat. I am no longer A Good Little Girl. In fact I am a lot mouthier, and kind of a rebel. I do okay at not being so annoying people can't stand me, so I'm able to carry my rebel-ness off without getting kicked out of our congregation, but even that's getting dicier.

    So, the point. One day, I am explaining to a fellow member (and local missionary) about the lapse of time between my belief, and my realization of my jackass-ness and true confession. She claims that you can't be saved without confession. I claim God knows what he's doing. But she told me, "Well, I 'm glad you didn't die before then." That irritated me. One of the clearest evidences that I am still a jackass is that I really don't like this woman. It's also evidence that I am still a Pretty Nice Person. I have to work with her a lot, so I make nice.

    Conversion can be instant and unexpected, or it can be like being crafted, over a long period of time. Some people are just tougher cases than others, I guess. It would be nice if people simply accepted your unique story as a part of your whole, and who God made you to be rather than getting in a snit because it isn't just like theirs.

    • Diana

      "One day, I am explaining to a fellow member (and local missionary) about the lapse of time between my belief, and my realization of my jackass-ness and true confession. She claims that you can’t be saved without confession. I claim God knows what he’s doing. But she told me, 'Well, I ‘m glad you didn’t die before then.'

      A quote from Clarence Jordan, a Southern Baptist preacher:

      “I just cannot stick my God into a little time-space relationship here, hindered and always working against the impending physical death….Maybe God is in hot pursuit of us; we’ve been thinking of giving our heart to Christ. We’re thinking so hard on it we’re driving along and we don’t hear the whistle of a freight train. And bam…it just smashes us to pieces. And God said, ‘You know, I almost had him. That freight train beat me to him.’ What kind of God is that? A God whose purposes can be voided by a freight train? I can’t fit that in.” (Clarence Jordan, The Substance of Faith (New York: Association Press, 1972), 150. as quoted by Philip Gulley and James Mulholland in their book “If Grace is True, Why God Will Save Every Person.”

      Anyway, I just thought I'd share.

  • Christine

    John: thanks for the post my friend. It made me laugh, it made me cry and then it left me with an immense satisfaction of the greatness of God and his ability to destroy the walls/life we make for ourselves. You have given me hope at a time when I really need it. I have never questioned your faith but this story is so honest, so beautiful that if anyone doubts you from now on I will personally hunt them down for you :) Love ya man

    • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

      Ha! Very good, Christine. I'll have a list of people you can hunt down ready for you by Monday.

      • Christine

        Sweet, you pay for the plane ticket and I will do the rest ;P

        • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

          Okay. But ammo's on you. And so are all disposal costs.

          • Christine

            hmmmmm sounds like you get the better deal (depending on how many there are of course)

  • Matt

    That is an amazing story!

    It could only have been made better if, when you entered the closet, you found yourself in Narnia. Because you know, a wardrobe is just a closet with more hangers and less cleaning supplies. :)

    • Lance

      Good one, Matt!

      And yes, it's a beautiful story. Faith is an affair of the mind inasmuch as it is of the heart.

  • Thomas

    I'm still not convinced. Are you a Republican? Have you stopped cussing? If you answer yes to both those questions, I MAY come to admit that you are one of us.

    But seriously, I very much enjoyed your story, and I get a much-needed laugh reading your site. Thanks.

    • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

      I'll say this: I cuss inside polling booths.

      Thanks for the gracious words, Thomas.

  • Susie

    I believe you because it happened to me…when I least expected it too! The amazing thing I discovered that the Lord really answers prayers. It took a while but I understood when He answered…like the most believable, fantastic, loving, amazing realization in my life. Thank you for your post…hope everyone who reads it will one day understand. You're loved—amazingly!

  • Richard Lubbers

    What I appreciate most about you John is that you adhere to the truth of Jesus, and you push the envelope on almost everything else. You make me think, laugh, and at times, tear up. I am greatful for the day I found you on the site Christianity.com.

    I have a story with much the same flavor. I'll share it sometime in an e-mail message on FB, if you're interested.

    Rock on; Write on!

    • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

      Thank you, Richard. I certainly appreciate your friendship. And yeah, do share your story! Maybe put it on your FB page, to share in that way. Whatever works for you, of course. I'd certainly love reading it.

  • http://thisjourneyismyown.wordpress.com Kass

    A friend sent me a link to your recent post on HuffPo on 10 Ways Christians fail. I’ve read two of your posts (this one and “No One Walks or Talks with Jesus”) and I’m completely blown away. Stealth atheists don’t write real and honest posts like that. You get it, man. You really do. I am officially a dedicated reader now. Thank God for someone in Christianity who isn’t pretentious and unabashedly honest.

  • tom rowland

    so what do you recommend for people who are like you WERE, who think christianity–modern american christianity, is more or less the exact opposite of what christ taught…and recognize that christ was a geat man, but aren't convinced in any way shape or form that he was actually the son of god and that christians aren't any more the ''right'' religion than any other…l would like to believe, to have faith be part of my life, but l've never had any sort of ''closet experience'' as much as l've asked god for some sign that he really is there…l mean, he's the one who gave us these brains that are formed to ASK QUESTIONS….that's what we do, ultimately, is seek out knowledge, not legend, and put blind faith in it, when blind faith is just the sort of thing that kept the corrupt kings and popes in power during the middle ages, put Hitler in a position to kill millions…blind faith seems to be the thing that leads to a lot of the world's biggest problems, yet that's what GOD, who gave us these questioning brains, expects us to rely on in order to ''know'' he exists? and why christianity–for those of us who haven't had god speak to us–l mean, if l would've happened to have been born in some other country, or in this country but some non-christian, ethnic community, l would be expected by my parents and family to be just as devout to that other religion as l am expected to be a devout christian. and certainly there are people who have never even heard of christ in some places in the world, or heard of him but know nothing of him b/c he's not part of the fabric of the tribe or nation or country–those people get denied everlasting life in the kingdom of God, or is their a loophole for the people who haven't even heard of jesus, or were forced by their families–or not even forced, but brainwashed since birth into believing another religion, and would never even have the mental capacity to question what they've been taught and convert? l'm like you were–39, and the way you explain yourself is pretty much a lot like l feel about myself, with the exception that l DO go out of my way to help people whenever l can. l'm also severely ill, physically, which is manifesting itself into mental illness vis-a-vis anxiety and depression, but knowing friends who have faith, there's nothing l would like to do more than to be able to trust god was never going to put more on my plate than l could handle, and that through his divine intervention, things will work out for the best. but without a ''closet moment'', l just can't buy it. l want to, but you can't just decide what you believe in–what you TRULY BELIEVE IN. beliefs go beyond conscious choice, they're established through life experience. so with no life experience to give me a basis for my belief, and dozens if not hundreds of other religions out there that sound just as plausible to an open minded listener–if not more so–why, how do l put my faith in god and jesus and just believe. certainly, if god talks to SOME people, and he's omnipotent and omniscient, when he sees someone who is suffering mightily through no fault of their own, and that person WANTS to believe but just needs a little nudge because his god-given brain, designed to ask questions, raised in a society that teaches us NOT to take things for what they claim to be, NOT to trust people to be who they say they are, but rather look for proof in all things…why won't god whisper in my ear, just once? or save me from my life of pain and misery? there's nothing l'd love to be able to do more than to turn my problems over to god and say ''okay big guy, l need help,'' and l have ''prayed'' per se, for some guidance or help through these difficult times, but with each passing year, or more probably, a couple times a year, l just get kicked when l'm down, while any times that l used to feel like l caught a lucky break have long since ended–when things can go good, neutral or bad, they usually break towards the negative side of par, and the times when l get a good break, increasingly, are fewer and further between. is that what god does, try to break genuinely good people physically and mentally until they say, in exhaustion ''l give. uncle. l believe.'' l can't see the ''god of love'' doing such things, when he has the ability to whisper in my ear, from above and to the left, and just say ''l AM here.'' that's all l would need is to here those three words, and l could have faith and believe. so what do you recommend (l ask you because like so many others have said, you seem like a ''real'' christian.)

  • Elaine

    Wow! I love hearing conversion experiences. The voice you heard, now that intrigues me….Having been a Christian since age 25, I had a profound experience happen to me at the age of 39….I had obeyed God a few years before and went to nursing school, became an RN, after I had really wanted to do somethiong else, something that was going to make me a lot of money…I had done my duty to Gos, now it was MY turn. I was going to leave nursing. Yes I was, yes I was. I thought about it many many times during the day over a period of months. I was quitiing nursing and going back to school!

    One day I was in the anteroom of a hospital room pulling up a syringe of Demerol. I wasn't thinking much about anything, just the task at hand. Suddenly I heard an unemotional voice very clearly state, "Give my love to the sick and the dying." I thought, "that's very interesting" and went on my way. After that moment everything changed in my life. Six months later I was working for Hospice and have been there 24 years now.It was as if the Voice was heralding a change in my life. I believe it was God…I thought I was the only one that had this type of experience.

  • Seeker

    I apologize in advance if someone already asked this. I didn't read all the responses. I envy your experience and believe it. I wish that such an event would give me certainty. I was raised by dedicated believers who practiced what they preached. This example was a strong impact on me and outlasted my years of experimentation and rebellion. But I can't help but doubt. I try to live by emulating the example of Christ because I believe that is the only way to sense of fulfillment and also to seek what good there is in this earthly life. At the same time, I have difficulty joining a church because I can't bring myself to profess all of the statements about Jesus and divinity. The concept of the trinity, and the masculinity of the "father" and the "son" , the historical issues with the texts, all this smacks so loudly of man and mankind's eternal attempts to harnass political and psychological power over others that I can't seem to get over it…. it is not that I can't believe the mystical. It is as if I can't bring myself to identify the mysteries as exactly as Christianity requires me to do. Do you have any advice for those of us who have not had the honor and help of a closet experience?

    thanks

    • Cheryel Lemley-McRoy

      Seeker: Would it help to know that the Bible as we have it today is not as it was originally? And that the word for God in Hebrew is neither exclusively masculine nor neutral, but one of the rare words in the Hebrew language that is both masculine and feminine, and even the pronoun more accurately should be translated S/he? In the names and attributes of God, some are masculine and some are feminine. The Holy Spirit embodies the feminine names and attributes of God. She is the Wisdom of God. The Bible says to ask Her and She will give you all wisdom. I hope this helps.

    • Allie

      It’s been a while since most denominations would denounce you for heresy for failing to articulate the Trinity correctly. And to a large degree the Trinity is a thing invented to prevent people from falling into other odd heresies, such as believing that Jesus was illusionary, since God couldn’t suffer. If reciting the Creed bothers you as a matter of principle, I’m pretty sure there are Unitarian churches out there just for people like you.

      The Son wasn’t “masculine,” he was MALE. Because he was a dude. A dude with a penis and testicles. When he became a human being, he had to be something, and that’s what he was.

  • Apty

    With all the "I believe you, man" responses, I'm going to go out on a limb and say I don't. The human mind / brain is an amazingly complex organ. Having said that it can be easily fooled, duped, hypnotised, drugged, physically influenced to make you see, hear, believe things that are not. It is possible that what you described had a neurological explanation – the feeling of warmth moving down your body, losing control of your legs, the voice, a sense of knowledge. I'm not in anyway associated with the neurological profession so I'm about as ignorant as can be, but maybe those things could be explained by something like a Transient Ischemic Attack (Mini-Stroke), and you interpreted the J.C. explanation. I look forward to reading your other posts and maybe commenting on some of those too.

    Best wishes, Graeme.

    BTW I'm probably at the state you say you were before your conversion, and in my ignorant bliss quite happy with living without Jesus in my head or heart. I'm no more afraid of dying than anyone else, and I don't have any reason to believe I have to have a purpose to be here. Just because I don't understand something I am not going to need an explanation and definitely not going to put a supernatural meaning on it.

  • JustTheFacts

    Forgive me if this post is not as supportive as most of those previous. Clearly you had a very powerful, intense, and stressful experience. I think your interpretation of and reaction to that experience is understandable, but wrong. Based on your account, it sounds like you freaked out and your mind used your understanding of Christianity to cope with the situation. Had you been raised in India, perhaps you would have been suddenly "known" that the religious myths of that culture were historically true. Had you been born in China, perhaps you would have been comforted by your ancestors. You were in freefall and your mind gave you Christ as a parachute.

    I doubt that my pop psych analysis will sway you. I'd guess that the fear of another freak out will keep you faithful for some time, maybe the rest of your life. Still, you are obviously a thoughtful person and someday you may realize that Christianity is as much of a mythology as Greek, Norse, Hindu, Jewish, Egyptian, Mayan, or any other religion alive or dead.

    But that's not why I'm writing. I'm writing this to relate an opposite experience. This is the story of my conversion away from religion, Christian or otherwise.

    For many years I was a doubter. I wore my Catholicism awkwardly, like an ill-fitting suit. I eventually left The Church. I did a lot of reading, talking, and exploring to try to figure out religion and spirituality.

    Then one day when I was in my 30's, my 4-year old son got a rare form of kidney cancer. It was detected very late and he had to be rushed to surgery to remove the kidney before the tumor burst the tissue enclosing the offending organ and spread the disease to the rest of his body. The surgery was a success and my son is now a quite healthy and happy person.

    The conversion (or anti-conversion) moment for me happened when I was sitting by his bed in the ICU a few hours after his surgery. I realized that not once from the moment of diagnosis to then had I thought to pray. This was puzzling to me because I had always heard that in times of trouble, people will turn to prayer for comfort and strength. Then I realized that the reason I didn't think to pray was because I believed that there was no reason to do so. There was nothing out there listening.

    It is important to understand that I was not angry with God. People often misunderstand me on this. To be angry with God is to believe in God. I wasn't angry, I was just sad and afraid. My son's disease was just one of those things that happen sometimes. The human body is an enormously complex thing and there are lots of one-in-a-million things that can happen.

    My realization was that the universe just is. Maybe it was created by some force or intent, maybe not. That question is one with no answer and falls into your category of Instantly Boring. In any case, I don't think the universe has any meaning other than what we give it.

    The meaning I gave to my son's disease and cure was that I am profoundly thankful that we live in a time when this disease is treatable. I was profoundly thankful to his doctors for their skill and ability to treat him. I was profoundly thankful to my friends and family who supported us throughout the ordeal. I was profoundly thankful for my wife for the amazing way she supported the family. And finally, I was reminded how precious and short our time together is. I try to remember that every day and make time to connect with my kids, my wife, and other close friends and family.

  • Richard

    As a practicing agnostic it makes me all warm and fuzzy that an epiphany-like event came your way…. I will continue to make myself available to such an out of the closet experience in my own dis-perfect life.

  • Steve

    Thanks for sharing this story John. You wrote it in a very colorful way. You commented that Angels didn't sing for you..I beg to differ :) Read John 15, the story of the missing sheep and prodigal son. They're beautiful, amazings stories showing how personal your relationship is with the Creator. I think that moment in the closet, although you might not have perceived it, caused a tremendous celebration in the heavens…

  • Claire

    I love your story. I find it hard to believe that most other people don't hear God speaking to them. I suppose they just don't hear what he is saying. I have never had a prayer unanswered. Never. Sometimes it's not what I want to hear, but I do hear it. I feel it. I have a gut reaction to it. Several times I have had God answer me in a quiet voice…then, looking for another answer, had God Yell at me! Yes Yell at me!…" I have already answered you, Claire!" has been his response to my questioning his initial answer…btw, I am not a crazy person….I am a fairly "normal" human being. I have told my husband of things God has told me/us to do to resolve an issue, and we always agree, sometimes reluctantly I may add, to do what HE has told me to do.

    It really makes life easier to live when you have faith! Praise God!

  • mark

    Belief is learned…………Faith is granted.

    P.S. I was raised roman catholic, so, of course, I have neither and am agnostic. I envy you.

    • http://www.facebook.com/narnar Natalie

      What I enjoy about your blog and your stories, John, is that you appeal to Christians, non-Christians, agnostics, atheists and everyone in between. Your faith isn’t preachy, it just IS. It’s what you hold inside of you, and what you believe in, but you’re a very non-Christian type of person. You’re not trying to make people believe what you do, you’re just sharing your own experiences, and encouraging others to share theirs. It’s very refreshing. Thanks for that.

  • http://www.wholearmorkarate.com mrswack

    I like the story, thanks for sharing it with us.

  • Pete

    Why are religious conversions never based on anything rational, but rather always seem to be people who are going through a crisis in their life then suddenly have a 'warm fuzzy feeling ' as well as some hallucinations, all by themselves so nothing is verifiable and decide Jesus or whatever else is the way they can turn their lives around? Bizarre isn't it? Of course, a couple of thousand years ago you would have had this experience and decided it was time you started worshipping Zeus. If you'd had this experience in the Middle East, you'd likely have decided Islam was the thing you'd been missing from your life.

    If only history really worked this way as well. We can ignore the shocking unreliability of the biblical accounts of the gospels, their contradictions, mythology, lack of evidential support and distinct lack of any contemporary source corroborating with them because somebody had a hallucination in their closet. After that point, no amount of evidence to the contrary matters. Brilliant isn't it? Atheists are called close minded, yet now since you've been 'told by god the truth' no amount of evidence will convince you you're wrong here. Funny isn't it? I should notify my professors, fellow students and of course myself that the rigorous methods we put into historical research are actually all useless. We should instead fall on our knees, alone in a closet and get God to magically beam everything into our minds. Think of all the time being wasted right now as people gather silly and pointless things like evidence and use stupid and silly things like rationality and logic to analyse that evidence, when really we should all just be kneeling and waiting for 'heavenly signs.'

    No offence meant of course, I'm sure your spiritual experience means the world to you, I just don't buy it I'm afraid and I know you already understand that. But, then again, you wouldn't say that a Muslim or a Pagan who has an experience like yours could use it as any evidence of the truth of their religion. You'd suddenly become very rational and sceptical and place it on a number of different things it could easily be. Interesting that isn't it?

    • Diana

      "But, then again, you wouldn’t say that a Muslim or a Pagan who has an experience like yours could use it as any evidence of the truth of their religion. You’d suddenly become very rational and skeptical and place it on a number of different things it could easily be. Interesting that isn’t it?"

      Not speaking for anybody but myself, but no, I would not use someone else's experience as the evidence of the truth of their religion. Nor do I really expect other people to use my experience as the evidence of the truth of my religion. People need to come to their own conclusions about these things through their own experiences, logic, reading, etc. Moreover, no one can force another to adopt a religious (or any other viewpoint) against their will. They might be able to force someone to pretend to adopt a particular viewpoint, but what happens inside a person's brain is theirs (and perhaps God's–but according to my beliefs, God has a "no interference" clause when it comes to a person's right to come to his/her own conclusions–and of course, you don't believe in God at all, so….) and theirs alone.

    • http://dianer.blogspot.com/ DR

      "Brilliant isn’t it? Atheists are called close minded, yet now since you’ve been ‘told by god the truth’ no amount of evidence will convince you you’re wrong here. Funny isn’t it? I should notify my professors, fellow students and of course myself that the rigorous methods we put into historical research are actually all useless."

      Do you even *go* to this school?

      (Hi Pete. I assume you write this in response to the 99% of Christians you've encountered both online and off that hold this particular point of view, so it's fair you'd assume the same is present in all Christians, including those here. You'll certainly find the exception to the rule, most of the Christians here would agree with you, have absolutely no problem putting science on its proper pedestal and would readily admit we aren't quite sure that we possess the full "truth" in its entirety at all.

      Though you may not really be interested in experiencing the counter to your previous experience – I hope you are but Christians have been shaming and dismissing Atheists for years while benefitting from the cancer cures they provide our families and the computers we use to interact on these Internets. No one would blame you if you didn't. )

      DR

    • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

      I think it's "interesting" that you so readily assume to know my mind.

      • Pete

        And I find it interesting the creator of the universe decided to telepathically communicate with you in a closet.

        Imagine we take your story, but replace Yaweh with 'the alien race who created us' and replace 'I know the bible is true' to 'I know my favourite science fiction book is true.'

        Or we replace Yaweh with Zeus and say that we know The Odyssey and Iliad are now true.

        You'd be considered by most people, well, crazy by most people. You'd likely feel yourself somebody recounting a story like that had something go wrong with them at some point. I just find it really bizarre that when you do so with the Christian or any other widely believed faith (mythology) suddenly it's a deep spiritual journey that deserves utmost respect.

        Then I'm the arse for pointing out the sheer absurdity and nonsense involved. But, still it needs to be.

        Believe whatever you wish of course, just don't expect everybody to take you seriously any more than you'd take somebody who believed in big foot seriously.

  • David Potter

    The focus of many blogs seems to be to try to explain YOUR experiences, but the genuineness of what happened in the closet experience is only found in the effects on YOUR heart and life. This is something that is not always visible, but generally becomes visible in time. The Apostle Paul's life is an excellent example of this.

  • Amon

    I think it is brave of you to share your experience. I am always envious of people who have some kind of “certainty” in reference to faith or god or whatever it is they believe in. I have heard it takes just as much faith to not believe in god, as it does to believe. This simple notion really amuses me. I never think of my disbelief and disdain for uniform religion(s) as some sort of belief. I know I am reacting, I can’t help it. lol. I have this exquisitely negative visceral response when it comes to uniform religion. It is as if there has been some sort of cosmic joke shared, but not with me.

    And perhaps that is a big part of the problem. These religious experiences, regardless of their true origin (organic, emotional, hormonal, glucose induced :) ) are not uniform, they are personal, and I think there is room for lots of variation. I have no desire to “join” the herd and do that herd mentality thing, especially when it seems devoid of reason. I also don’t believe “not believing” is the same thing as having faith that God does not exist. I have no reason to believe god does or does not exist, I fear my little brain is too small to really KNOW that answer. I can say that while I am unsure about god, it is folk like you who make me feel less unsure, and even that is a comfort.

  • Brianisha

    My experiences went the other way. I was raised into Roman Catholicism and LMS christian. Yup the fundie sects. My experiences with christianity, and christians in general were not pleasant ones. In fact, Im pretty much turned off of the religion/relationship/way of life for life. You mentioned nature, and I was taught some very unnatural things, like if you think something and its bad, youve sinned. Sex outside marriage is a sin etc. I didnt deconvert because im rebellious, I deconverted because my experiences put me on that path. I searched for spirituality, I went to many churches. I met my real family, and they were both arguing over who had the right interpretation of Jesus. Then they attacked me and my beliefs at the time. I was at the time a very devout born-agan type. That did it! I thought hard, and I deconverted after many months of wrestling with myself. To make matters more interesting, I met my husband after I deconverted, and he, like me, Is a non christian.

    I also noticed, some of the greatest minds of all time were non christians. How can you deny that Gandhi, Einstien, and some of the greatest philosophers and leaders, were great people without Jesus? You cant. That is what makes it all the better.

    • Matthew Tweedell

      Hmm… that wasn’t the right version of the text. (Sorry. Tired.)

      Try this one:

      Sure we can, by clinging to the truth that they were not without Jesus! They took not a single breath but by the Grace of God, in Christ Jesus incarnate. There is none good except God alone: the greatness of these individuals was accrued in the Spirit of Truth, who is present everywhere and fills all things in eternal Trinity with the Lord Christ and with His heavenly Father—so let Jesus be glorified in their greatness. Furthermore, these two mentioned by name would seem to owe allegiance to the Prince of Peace, plainly putting them under the dominion of Christ, even if their role is not as His explicit standard bearers: For they are either with Him or against Him, and surely, they were not against Him. A man can truly only serve one master; so theirs would be what exactly? Could you suggest that they served only themselves? Or just wanted to make their mothers proud? Or was it for Mammon that they toiled away? No, I tell you, they did the work of Christ (who is the very Truth and Love that shone from these people upon the world). They did the will of the Father. Such a person is Christ’s brother and sister and mother, and only such a one will enter the kingdom of heaven.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

      Wow! What a story. Thanks for sharing it.

  • http://opreach.org Sister Pat

    I’ve been watching your xtranormal videos on the Huffington Post with great interest. So I have come to your blog.

    Thank you for your own personal story, which resonates with me. My return to my own faith tradition, the Catholic Church, had much to do with God speaking through Harry Reasner, as he interviewed some inspiring women of faith in the Mississippi Delta. I understand the voice, that is not exactly a voice. And its message is usually unmistakable.

    Most recently, as the battle in my mind continues about . . . just exactly who is this Jesus? . . . I looked up at a huge projected icon of St. Joseph holding the child Jesus. It was at a Mass on the Feast of St. Joseph. Joseph’s glance was directed forward, so it appeared that he was looking at me, and I “heard” the words, “I didn’t know who he was either.”

    And isn’t that the point of our faith. Faith is what we do, not what we believe. Our belief may waiver. We may experience confusion and doubt. But it is our faithfulness in following Jesus and listening – and standing – with those who are most vulnerable.

    I can’t find, except through metaphor – which is always open to interpretation, anywhere that Jesus said it’s what and who we believe that counts. In the Gospel of Matthew it is clear that it is our actions that tell the story of whose “side” we are on, not a profession of faith.

    Again, thank you for your thoughts. And let’s keep asking questions.

    • Diana A.

      I love this. I especially love your last line. Thank you.

  • Kristy

    I love this story.

    I’ve actually had the opposite experience. At a certain point in my life, certain things happened that caused me to say, “Huh. Well, that certainly wasn’t covered in Sunday School. Pretty sure it wasn’t Christian. I suppose I ought to look for something new, that also accounts for this new knowledge I’ve gained here.”

    But I love this story. In part because of the unabashed acceptance that sometimes you’ll have very subjective experiences that will never mean as much to anyone else as they did to you, and maybe other people won’t even believe them, and THAT’S OK, because they were YOUR experiences.

    And in part because it confirms what I’ve believed for a long time:

    We live in a wacky and wonderful world. And maybe we don’t really know what’s going on. But maybe, once in a while, we get an inkling. Maybe it’s filtered through whatever beliefs we’re carrying with us, but one way or another, we get an idea. And it doesn’t make a bit of sense… but maybe that’s ok. Maybe your path doesn’t have to make sense to me, and vice versa.

  • Monica

    Meh. You had a panic attack followed by hallucination. It’s okay. Plenty of us have them. Doesn’t mean you have to buy into what you previously saw so clearly as rubbish. In fact, it kind of irritates me that people – when overcome by emotions – have to attribute such things to religion. It COULD just be a regular, unpleasant, scary panic attack. But hey, to each their own.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

      Man, it’s AMAZING what some people can find to hate on.

    • DokieArtieChokie

      Monica, what an icy, mean post – and so early in the day. I do hope you bring a little more kindness in your daily interactions with people than you just delivered to John in your comment.

      Thank you for sharing your experience with us, John. You rock.

    • http://sparrowmilk.blogspot.com Shadsie

      I have panic attacks on a semi- regular basis – that is, on an average of every two to three months, sometimes more frequently if I’m undergoing a lot of stress. They are unpleasant.

      Not a one of them was anything like a spiritual experience. Not a one of them ever changed my life or inspired me to be a better person.

      You might want to be a little more mindful of people who’ve done the “first hand research” before you shoot off your typing fingers to yelp at someone on his own blog for handling a situation you didn’t experience in a way that YOU don’t PERSONALLY approve of.

    • Allie

      I know many people who have panic attacks. I don’t know anyone who became a better person because of a panic attack. The proof is in the pudding.

      John, thanks for linking this in your latest post, I hadn’t seen it before and I’m glad to know your story.

    • Cheryel Lemley-McRoy

      Panic attacks don’t overwhelm you with joy.

  • Sara Martin

    This is an awesome story. And Im glad it brought you home. All that matters is that you know you are loved, and that He will love, always, no matter what. Praise him, welcome home. <3

  • Nick

    Well lets take what Monica has said and see how it holds up. The panic attack and the sudden feeling of warm water isn’t what converted John. You can take those 2 things out and it would still be genuine. I mean really??? How does some high heart rate and sudden feeling warmth make you realize the Historical Jesus is true?

    After those moments, John had clarity that he was living very selfishly. The previous events have no baring on that realization. Before that moment John saw no reason to live life any other way. This realization was further connected by the cartoon talk. It reminded him of Jesus and how he should live to be like Him. I hope i’m getting this right, because the cartoon conversation was showing the distinctions between the person’s personality and how it differs from the cartoon. Much like how we should live to be like Jesus because He had lived a perfect life for us to exemplify.

    Please…..if you bash a story, then at the very least make sure you understand the point of it.

    • Sara Martin

      Amen.

  • Stephanie Elaine

    One split second, you just know, and once you know, you can’t unknow. I think that’s how it works for everyone when it happens. It’s not about saying a prayer or practicing a religion. It’s about dang, you know. Real Christians can’t help it. It’s like a gate opens up in your brain, and the knowledge like water goes in it. Such ppl would have done everything in their power not to become Christians because many Christians we know have never known him – and they don’t know -; they are practicing a sham of faith invented by humans, which is why it bears more resemblance to a gentilic form of Judaism than to Freedom. So people who love Truth and Love, people for whom the light has turned on, are often the kind of people who avoided Christianity to start with.

    What I like about this is the language, the lay it on and let it go of the story. No moral at the end, no urging. So you have written to us like God spoke to you. <3

    • Diana A.

      Yes. That’s one of the things I love about John’s style.

    • Alan

      One split second, you just know, and once you know, you can’t un know. That is what Jesus said, the wind blows and you don’t know where it started when Nicodemus asked how/ can a man be born again, who can he go back into his mothers womb.

  • tim conard

    my return to the faith was a purely rational one. i was taking a required religion class at a small american baptist university, a class that focussed purely on the gospels. one day, about a month in, i realized that this was the way i wanted the world to be. i wanted to live in a world where jesus came with such a powerful message and made such a great sacrifice for me. so, i decided that this story, that held such a resonating truth for me had to be true.

    so, here i am. i may be wrong, but if i am i will be gloriously wrong…

    • Diana A.

      I like this too.

  • Jenell Brisnon

    Yep. It really is just that dramatic. No one else can tell you what its really like, there are no words to convey it. And while it is a different experince for each person, intricately tailored to where you are and where you need to be, it really is just that dramatic. You WILL know it when it happens, and you WILL know it is nothing that is of this world or your intellect or what anyone one has told you or convinced you to believe.

  • http://agnosticchristian.wordpress.com Karl

    Jenell – yes, some people meet Jesus on the road to Damascus. Others on the road to Emmaus. And yet others had him as a family friend from way back.

  • John

    This doesn’t describe a conversion to Christianity, sir.

    What you’ve written about here is your admission that Christ, as is documented historically, actually live and died. It seems that you only admitted he was a real, living, breathing MAN.

    What’s missing is your admission that Christ bore the guilt, pain, grief and anguish of your sins while he hung there on that cross. And then he was buried. And — this is the best part — he rose again and ascended to heaven to stand at the right hand of God the Father.

    Also, in order to become a Christian, you have to ASK for Jesus to come into your heart, to be your Lord and Savior. The audible suggestion you mention in the story isn’t evident of that. It is almost equivalent to “I met a preacher, and he told me that Jesus is the way.” Hearing is NOT believing. Even Satan himself knows the Scriptures. (See Matthew chapter 4, verse 6.)

    • Diana A.

      Who are you to judge someone else’s experience?

    • vj

      Before you decide that John Shore is not a *real* Christian (and who asked you, anyway?), may I suggest you read a whole lot more of his writing than just this one blog post? As a start, browse through the ‘Christian Spirituality’ section of the blog (it’s easy to find on the home page)…

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

      Do you ever ask questions about it, or do you just tell people who and what they are?

      • Melody

        I’m not sure, but this could very well be the same John that once trolled Stuff Fundies Like, ad nauseum. If I’m right, he has the same superiority complex that our friend Frank/Thomas has, though I’m pretty sure he’s not the same person.

    • DR

      There’s that “sir” Ning again. So creepy!

      • Melody

        Agreed. Nothing like a little passive-aggressive faux-politeness to make yourself look good. It doesn’t work, SIR.

    • Christelle

      Dear God,

      Oh wait. Your name isn’t God.

      Thank God!

      C

    • joan

      You have to ASK Jesus to come into your heart? That’s funny, as I found him there and got to know him slowly and richly as he flavored and flavors the rest of my life… If you are looking to help people find Christ, show a little of his spirit and not beat them up about their journeys… No two are the same, and no roads to his love are ever simple for us as humans…

    • http://Www.unnameablecuriosity.wordpress.com Christine

      No, John, you’re right, this does not describe a conversion experience to your narrow, petty version of Christianity.

      • http://Www.unnameablecuriosity.wordpress.com Christine

        Ok, maybe that was a bit unfair. I don’t KNOW John’s version of Christianity is wrong (any more than he doesn’t know other John’s is wrong), but that “you have to recite this exact prayer to be saved” bullshit really gets on my nerves.

        The story has true repentence and admission of wrong, an understanding of why Jesus came and a belief in that being true. If that isn’t good enough because it didn’t come with the right language, order or formula, than that isn’t the Christianity John Shore converted to anyways.

    • http://www.enesvy.com Nicole

      Jesus isn’t limited to your formulas, John.

      • Melody

        But it’s just so EASY to put God in a box and narrow everything down to formulaic bulletpoints. Because God made everyone exactly the same, and so everyone follows the same formula, amen?

  • Nathan

    Great story John – thanks for sharing it. (I know it is old – but I just saw the link on your latest post) I sometimes “wish” that I had some dramatic conversion story. Rather, I grew up in a conservative Christian home (“fundie” as you call them!) and have believed the basics of Christianity ever since I can remember. But I see that God is gradually reshaping my thinking and making me more “humble” about those things that I was once so sure of and more “accepting” of Christians who differ quite dramatically from the sorts of Christians that I grew up with. Your posts (and the users who comment here) have really opened my eyes up that Christianity encompasses much broader set of beliefs than I was taught in the “fundie” church that I grew up in.

    • DR

      I’m so glad you’re here, You are such an encouragement to me. xoxo

    • Melody

      I know what you mean, Nathan. I had a similar upbringing. I’m glad you’re here with us, friend.

  • http://www.trafficsalad.com/ Ryan

    Wow, I believe in your story and wishing more people would experience Christ in their own personal way. :)

  • Cheryel Lemley-McRoy

    John, I read through all the comments to see if anyone else had ever experienced a similar experience, and found only one who alluded to it. I very rarely tell anyone, but I want to tell you about mine. It was 1969 in Hollywood, California. It was the beginning of the “Jesus Movement” in Hollywood. Hollywood Presbyterian’s college youth minister, Dr. Don Williams (“Call To The Streets”) had built a Christian coffee shop, the first of it’s kind, called The Salt Company that featured Christian folk singers. Larry Norman was one. I had accepted Christ as my personal Savior when I was eight years old in a profound conversion experience that makes me know children’s conversion experiences are not to be discounted. But when I became a teenager, the hypocrisy of church Christians led me to reject Christianity. I became involved with drugs and the Hollywood streets. Long story short, an encounter with Dr. Williams, as recorded in his book, led me back to the Lord. Now I was involved in his street ministry. I said all that to say my experience was not a conversion experience. I had heard of friends who had been “baptized with the Holy Spirit”. They wouldn’t say exactly what it was and no two seem to be the same. I was told to just “ask” for it. I was standing in the Salt Company one night and the band was leading us in worship. I don’t remember what was on my mind or if I was thinking anything at all. Suddenly a physical sensation of warm oil pouring from the top of my head and flowing continuously to the bottom of my feet began. I don’t know how long it lasted, but I remember I was overcome with the most profound feeling of joy that I had ever experienced. I began to cry and laugh at the same time. And all I could utter over and over was, “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus.” I didn’t become a better person. I didn’t hear a voice. I just knew irrefutably that HE IS. My walk since has not been stable. It’s been one step forward and fall down. But in times when intellect has made me think it’s just ancient legends that imperfect men recorded, I always came back to that experience and just knew HE IS. I’ve never had panic attacks, so that wasn’t it. It was a physical feeling but nothing I’ve ever experience was as strong; sexual climax cannot compare. People say that praising God for eternity would be boring, but if it feels like that, it won’t. I’ve since talked to people that have had similar experiences like yours and mine. It certainly isn’t mass hysteria. Most people are alone and not expecting anything. These people are ordinary people. A couple of years later I was witnessing to a friend at work who said she wasn’t interested in religion. Her husband had been raised in the Southern tradition and had raged against God for years and she wanted nothing of it. One day she came to work and had to talk to me immediately. She had been at the mirror putting on mascara, and suddenly had an experience almost identical to mine. (I had never told her of mine. Or that such a thing existed.) She had two questions; Why that name, Jesus? And why didn’t God give it to her husband instead of her? I don’t know why some people “get it” and others don’t. The Holy Spirit seems to be arbitrary in Her choice of anointees (Yes, the Holy Spirit in Hebrew is feminine). My husband struggles with his Christianity because he’s never felt anything. I pray that certainty be given him. I rarely relate this to people because I’m sure they would have reservations about me. I don’t know how many people you’ve met that have had this experience, but I wanted you to know we exist. I want to thank you for your blog. It shows you can be a spiritual believer and a rational thinker and questioner at the same time. God bless you.

    • Ann McPherson

      I’ve had a similar experience of the Holy Spirit coming upon me and have shared it VERY discreetly to whom I feel led to share it with. It is clear to me that I am no more special than any other believer or non believer and I’ve also wondered why I’ve been blessed with the Knowing when others who seem more deserving have not. I’m grateful for you & John sharing your experiences…Thank you!!

      • Kat

        Ann,

        I know we share the same Father, but who knew we’d have the same brain/heart. My 1st response at reading your comment was “I don’t remember writing this!”.

  • http://madhatsmusings.blogspot.co.uk/ glo

    Woah!

  • Robert

    Lucky you.

  • Rod McBoyle

    Are you planning to add the story of your convertion at some point? I’m looking forward to hearing that bit.

  • Kathryn V.

    Without going into a bunch of details…..me too! Direct Contact! Totally undeserved and unexpected. Thank you so much for sharing.

  • Ann

    I’ve known people this has happened to, and I can’t help but wonder if it’s not a mental illness, because it is iften followed by very strong obsession, and they end up hating or being judgemental of anyone not within their belief system. Some end up way out there spouting nothing but religious stuff on facebook and can’t abide democrats.

    • Brian

      This has happened to me as well Ann, almost exactly as described by the author. Unlike the other folks you’ve met, however, I’m not hateful of people not within my belief system. After hanging out with some of the people you’re talking about, I tend to almost prefer people with different belief systems – they’re less rigid and more open to seeing things in a different way. I’ve always hung out with these more interesting types of people my whole life anyway, when the event described happened to me, I was the president of the Zen club at my university. Despite my friendship with more colorful and interesting people, I never feel confused or conflicted about what I believe. I let them talk about their beliefs even if I see things differently and usually don’t say anything if I disagree. If they ask me about my beliefs then I explain them as gently as I can manage. And I don’t mind democrats, even if I’m not one myself. I dislike the Republican and Democratic platforms more-or-less equally. Oh, and I think Facebook is the worst possible de-humanized forum for talking about what you believe, so I never speak about my beliefs on Facebook. Perhaps you’ve just not met someone LIKE YOU (e.g. with the same personality type and values) whom this has happened to.

  • Tasha

    I’m so glad I stumbled across your site. Your conversion story resonates with me, as I too came to Christianity as a full-blown, know-it-all adult who, up until the moment I was struck like Saul on the road, had anti-Christian resentments. I don’t often come across others with similar experiences, so it heartens me to know God is out there personally nudging others as He did me.

    There is nothing quite so bewildering as this sort of experience. It turns one’s world on its side and forces a new view of… everything. My life is richer for it, and I’ll always have the gratitude and forceful memory of the day the dark veil was pulled aside and I finally could see the depths of spiritual reality I had, until that moment, been smugly blind to.

    I look forward to your mailings, John. Thank you again for sharing your experiences with the world.

  • Mitch

    Goodness! I came upon this blog thanks to your insightful IMO commentary on an Exodus International leader’s non-apology to the LGBT community. I’ve only read your description of your conversion experience and your wife’s response so far. Your decency, humility and humor come through very well.

    I’m as with you as I can manage on the idea that we tend towards smug self-centeredness and could all use a nice saving or two. But parts of what you say leave me confused, particularly the connection between your deep and sincere realization that you’d acted like an asshole (no offense intended, I have too, as has essentially everyone I’ve ever encountered), the followon idea that this was what Jesus was for, and your subsequent decision/acceptance/whatever that you were a Christian.

    As you pointed out to one of the nastier commenters above, it’s your experience. I’ll probably chime in with some pointed questions after a bit. For now, I’ll just mention how glad I am to see a good writer who calls himself Christian who does not seem positively thrilled by the prospect of my burning in hell. Thanks, really! Great writing and an interesting blog.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

      I appreciate this very much, Mitch. Thank you. And welcome to our little collective here!

      • Mitch

        OK, John, here goes. I’m going to say a bit about myself, then a bit about what I believe, and then ask a few questions.

        I’m of Jewish heritage, but my parents never pushed religion on me and Judaism simply never appealed. I’m gay, 55, and in a five year same sex marriage. I did pray to God in my early teens, on the chance s/he would intervene and turn me heterosexual, but I never took the prayer seriously and, it would appear, neither did s/he.

        I’ve spent some time with zen Buddhists, and I like much Buddhist thinking. I’ve read The Gnostic Gospels, and I like gnostic Christianity much more than the current version offered by most churches. I dislike hierarchy, and feel most large institutions eventually succumb to people’s ambitions, greed, and delusions, losing sight of their original reasons for existence. I identify as a Jewish Buddhist atheist these days, when anyone asks. Fortunately, few do.

        My own understanding of the whole good versus evil thing is science-based. I think we’re “bad” — the scare quotes are vital — because we’re evolved creatures. The evolutionary process through the eons has focused on differential reproduction, not niceness. That’s changed a bit in the most recent hundred thousand years or so, but the vast majority of evolution has led us towards getting for ourselves, our kids, and our identifiable relatives, and the rest of the world be damned. I think we’re good because we’ve somehow evolved consciousness, selves, and societies, and we can rationally and emotionally object to the suffering of others based on the distaste we’ve discovered for our own suffering. Both natures now coexist, and we’ve identified our animal instincts as “ours” but misread our voices of conscience and compassion, in truth equally “ours,” as external, belonging to God.

        Onwards. Your tenets for UC include two that appeal to me enormously, #3 and #11. Both say, roughly, “love one another,” and I agree that’s the best advice in the bible, by far. It’s pretty close to Rabbi Hillel’s version of the golden rule (“don’t do anything to anyone that you wouldn’t want someone to do to you”), and aligns pretty well with the Buddhist ideal of compassion for all sentient beings. I think most spiritual teaching goes farther, adding in that when you really understand the way in which we are all connected, loving one another ceases to be a chore and self-interest is revealed to be unnatural — as odd as biting off and eating your fingers because you are hungry.

        So, my questions. Do you believe that your first tenet (roughly, “Jesus Christ is the light and the way”) is necessary for leading a good life? If not, why is it your first tenet? If so, what happens to those who strive to live lives of compassion and love, but had the supposed misfortune of not being born Christian, and whose exposure to Christianity has been limited to the version preached by certain churches that may be lacking in kindness and compassion? I ask because putting your first tenet where it is immediately cuts the people of the world into two categories, and you indicate in several places that you are not interested in convincing people to convert.

        Oh, and here’s a gift, in the spirit of your tenet #8 about the moral repugnance of certain concepts of hell. Just in case you haven’t heard the story, please consider going to wikipedia to check out the allegory of the long spoons. I’m pretty sure you’ll be glad you did if you haven’t already heard it.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allegory_of_the_long_spoons

        I’ve heard variants in both Buddhist and Jewish contexts.

        Thanks again for your blog. What a breath of fresh air.

        • Mitch

          Thought I’d add that you’ve written what is one of my favorite lines ever: “Because isn’t the whole point of being alive to be someone you’d really want to be?”

          I just remain befuddled by the connection between it and the specificity of your Christian conversion experience.

          • tom brisson

            John , This is as beautiful a story of change as I have ever read! Not unlike C.S. Lewis’. Thank you for this, and God blesss oui!

  • Erin

    I just found your blog today, and I appreciate it.

    I grew up in a very mainline church – some are very conservative and believe the Bible is the literal and inerrant word of God, and others believe that Christianity is just a slice of the Whole. I still go to church, but I really have a lot of trouble getting my very vague spiritual notions to match up with what the Bible teaches, and those with what I see as physical reality (I am a former biology major, believe that the earth is billions of years old and that yes, we went from the goo to the zoo to you).

    When I read Genesis 1, I get this image, almost like the Sorcerer in Disney’s “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice,” waving his arms and creating matter from nothingness and beauty from void, and I feel such love in this imagery. But ultimately, I believe that it is imagery of, what is in my mind, the reality of natural selection over millions of years, because that is what the physical record supports. I don’t really believe even in intelligent design, because evolution seems more like trial and error – the mistakes die off.

    So, if God didn’t really “design” us to be who we are, then how does God fit into the picture at all? Are humans the only ones who have spiritual experiences? If so, why?

    I also struggle with the whole “Jesus thing.” Yes, I believe there was a guy named Jesus. I think he was a radical who threw the cultural norms on their heads. I think he died for his beliefs (although I have heard that it normally takes several days, rather than several hours to die on a cross – which means, was he really dead?). Was he the Son of God? I don’t truly know this to be any more true than I believe the Buddha or Muhammad to be the way to God. Are people like this just wired differently from most of the rest of us and at different times and places throughout the world, someone is born who has a clearer picture of how things are supposed to be? I think I feel like this is the case. To use an idea you used in a recent post of yours, I think I am drinking my water out of a Christian shaped cup, but equally, others drink their faith from cups shaped from a different faith background.

    I did have a similar spiritual experience when I was going through a divorce – I was crying inconsolably, and in my mind, I asked, “Where are you?!” At that moment, these words came into my mind: “Lo, I am with you always.” Like you, I instantly stopped crying. I believe that came from somewhere other than myself, but that was one experience ten years ago.

    Why does God allow such evil to occur in this world? Why does God not show up to the real evil doers and convert them? We have crazy people trying to dissolve our government and blind sheep who will follow. Other countries have dictators who kill their own people. Sometimes it feels like intolerance is coming into vogue and that when a stand is made, it is ignored.

    And, like you, I struggle with the fact that at the age of 43, I am who I am going to be. I am selfish, not as good of a parent as I would like to be, messy and mediocre.

    I think these are really the major things with which I struggle. I guess I do believe that there is some amorphous entity “out there”, some collective consciousness, but that’s about as much of a definition as I can give it. And it’s hard to hang your hat on something like that.

    • Elizabeth C

      I’m sorry to bother you, Erin, but I think it might be helpful if you know that all of this was expected. (There is a lot of angst of whether God can exist or not when evil is allowed to exist, so I think it might be helpful to be assured, and I mean you no harm). Revelations was written to assure us that though evil is being allowed for a time, ultimately, Jesus is Lord and will win. The bible is not a biology book, and I’m very sorry that people have been trying to argue that they know the age of the world based on bible references, but the most important thing the bible does is show you the personality of God. You can see it most obviously in the personality of Jesus (Yeshua), but if you take a look back through, you can see it further back if you look. Also, there are comments that help you recognize it, like Galatians 5:22-23: “But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!” Lots of movies will tell you that the big battle will be obvious- that angels with swords will be alight in the sky, but life is never as simple as movies. Hitler used Jesus as a cover for what he was doing. “My feelings as a Christian points me to my Lord and Savior as a fighter. It points me to the man who once in loneliness, surrounded by a few followers, recognized these Jews for what they were and summoned men to fight against them and who, God’s truth! was greatest not as a sufferer but as a fighter.” Adolph Hitler speech April 12, 1922

      There are a group of “Christians” who act much more like Satan was said to then what Jesus was said to: They are arrogant, rebellious, greedy, will not listen, breathe lies and never admit they lied, they are merciless…oh, here I am listing things fresh, when I could just use the heads up warning we were given ahead of time to make my point:

      “But there were also false prophets in Israel, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will cleverly teach destructive heresies and even deny the Master who bought them. In this way, they will bring sudden destruction on themselves. Many will follow their evil teaching and shameful immorality. And because of these teachers, the way of truth will be slandered. In their greed they will make up clever lies to get hold of your money. But God condemned them long ago, and their destruction will not be delayed. For God did not spare even the angels who sinned. He threw them into hell, in gloomy pits of darkness, where they are being held until the day of judgment. And God did not spare the ancient world–except for Noah and the seven others in his family. Noah warned the world of God’s righteous judgment. So God protected Noah when he destroyed the world of ungodly people with a vast flood. Later, God condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah and turned them into heaps of ashes. He made them an example of what will happen to ungodly people. But God also rescued Lot out of Sodom because he was a righteous man who was sick of the shameful immorality of the wicked people around him. Yes, Lot was a righteous man who was tormented in his soul by the wickedness he saw and heard day after day. So you see, the Lord knows how to rescue godly people from their trials, even while keeping the wicked under punishment until the day of final judgment. He is especially hard on those who follow their own twisted sexual desire, and who despise authority. These people are proud and arrogant, daring even to scoff at supernatural beings without so much as trembling. But the angels, who are far greater in power and strength, do not dare to bring from the Lord a charge of blasphemy against those supernatural beings. These false teachers are like unthinking animals, creatures of instinct, born to be caught and destroyed. They scoff at things they do not understand, and like animals, they will be destroyed. Their destruction is their reward for the harm they have done. They love to indulge in evil pleasures in broad daylight. They are a disgrace and a stain among you. They delight in deception even as they eat with you in your fellowship meals. They commit adultery with their eyes, and their desire for sin is never satisfied. They lure unstable people into sin, and they are well trained in greed. They live under God’s curse. They have wandered off the right road and followed the footsteps of Balaam son of Beor, who loved to earn money by doing wrong. But Balaam was stopped from his mad course when his donkey rebuked him with a human voice. These people are as useless as dried-up springs or as mist blown away by the wind. They are doomed to blackest darkness. They brag about themselves with empty, foolish boasting. With an appeal to twisted sexual desires, they lure back into sin those who have barely escaped from a lifestyle of deception. They promise freedom, but they themselves are slaves of sin and corruption. For you are a slave to whatever controls you. And when people escape from the wickedness of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and then get tangled up and enslaved by sin again, they are worse off than before. It would be better if they had never known the way to righteousness than to know it and then reject the command they were given to live a holy life.” 2 Peter 2:1-21

      Now, as Christians, we have an assurance that every knee shall bow and every tongue confess in the end. But please understand that God is far more patient than any human is. By the time God sent the angels to destroy the ancient cities referenced here, there were not ten good people left…He gave everyone plenty of time to change their ways. Sadly, there have been heretics who have introduced heresies that make it hard to see God. The one I have had the most problem with was Hell. It’s an anglo saxon word that was translated in. If you care enough to look into it, you’ll see that it’s as much a supernatural place as skid row is. (Gehenna was the Valley where children were burned alive to worship Molech, and the place was so corrupted and gross they had to keep fires burning constantly so people could breath) You don’t have to believe me, you can look into it yourself, if you care to find out.

      But ultimately, God’s told us to be lights to the world, and then allowed darkness to fall. (That whole letting the devil reign for a time thing). We’ve been called to be lights, and we know that God will ultimately win, but we don’t have to be jerks about it. The thing that really strikes me about this passage is how these false teachers are quick to slander celestial beings. It calls to mind how Legion appealed to Jesus to let them go into the pigs, pretty much begging for mercy and He granted it. (He was not there before the time to torment them as they thought). So, um, I’m sorry, I know we’re all on our own journey, but if it helps at all, here’s a tiny slice of why evil is allowed to exist for now.

  • http://jesuswithoutbaggage.wordpress.com/ jesuswithoutbaggage

    Talk about a crisis conversion!

  • Misha McHugh

    Wow is all I can say. This is exactly what happened to me in February of this year (2013). I was pretty content being a 47 year old “agnostic-buddhist-jew” living a pretty content life. I was never an atheist, however, I found organized religion to be a farce. In particular I found Christians to be some of the most hypocritcal people in the world. I thought they truly espoused what Jesus would NOT say or do. I always wanted to ask them “Who Would Jesus Bomb” instead of “What Would Jesus Do.” Anyway–I found your blog through NALT and applaud you. When I read your conversion I nearly fell on the floor. I had such a similar experience. One Sunday morning I was sitting in my chair at 10:30 am reading the paper. Before I knew what happened I found the presence of the Lord in the room and I immediately said “you are my Lord and Savior” and fell to my knees. I got up and said I must be hallucinating as this can’t be real. So I looked at the clock and began to time the physical feeling you experienced. It was so physical and lasted for over five minutes (again I timed it as I thought I may be losing my mind). Afterwards a huge sense of calm enveloped me. I could not believe what had just happened. All I do know is that I have felt His love and comfort since that day. I go to a non-denominational mega-Church in Houston, Texas because I love to worship there and feel the Holy Spirit every time I walk in the building. Many call my Church “Christian Light” but I don’t mind as we are taught not to judge at this Church, which is exactly what the critics of this Church are doing. What I find so interesting is that now I am a Christian (baptized this August) I find that Christians “eat their young” so to speak. Talk about feeling judged more now than ever! Before I would never say to a Christian that they are misinterpreting the Bible as I had never read it. Now that I find myself studying the Bible I can back up what I say up with scripture to show them how they are doing the opposite of the Lord’s teachings. If still stuns me that a person who was arguably a LIBERAL in our present day has believers who espouse so much hatred. As a Christian, I feel I don’t have to explain or justify my beliefs. They are my beliefs and my relationship with Jesus is just that…MY relationship with Him. In closing I am learning not to judge others and this goes for those in the flock who are sending the wrong message. Instead of criticizing I just ask the Lord to guide them in a positive direction. It’s hard and I am still working on it! Thank you for sharing your conversion story.

  • SFree

    I had a similar experience 24 years ago. (Yikes, I didn’t realize till just now that it was that long ago!) I’d been trying to run away from Jesus for a long time because the Christians I knew were fundamentalist crazy people, though certainly well meaning. Some of them had been trying to convert me and all their words and “logic” weren’t moving me. Then one day I was doing an ordinary thing – driving in my car to run some mundane errand – when the car was filled with light and love and so was I. It happened in an instant and just like that I knew “I am a Christian now.” Thank you for sharing your story.

  • Psycho Gecko

    People have weird experiences all the time. People think they have alien abductions. I’ve had times when I was sure that whatever I just experienced was something I dreamed about weeks prior. Someone thinks they hear the Rolling Stones singing about worshiping Satan when they play an album backwards. Some people are sure that they saw the piece of evidence that proves that mankind didn’t land on the moon, or that the world is run by reptilian aliens. Others think that everyone they know was abducted and replaced by an evil twin.

    If those sound ridiculous and like they might have other explanations besides what those people themselves assume is the explanation, then that helps to show why a seemingly powerful event when you just realized your own mortality might have not been quite so earth shattering or supernatural as you thought at first.

    And, if it really rests on thinking that the historicity of Jesus has ever been proven…well, you might want to do more research on that one. Western historians, who have tended to be Christian, have generally just assumed he existed on the basis that a lot of people existed without leaving evidence that could prove that this specific random Sumerian fellow himself existed or that unnamed Chinese guy once lived.

    But you’re talking about a guy who was thought of at various times as either a god or a great teacher, whose death and resurrection were supposedly a matter of public record, and whose return supposedly caused zombie saints to rise and march through the city.

    And there’s no contemporary accounts outside the bible that even mention him or events like this happening.

  • Jean Thompson

    I do have to wonder if you had been brought up in another culture or another time with a different frame of reference if you would have attributed your experience to another god? I say this as an ex-born again Christian who is now quite happily Heathen (and NOT of the godless variety).


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