I found your conversion story ["I, a Rabid Anti-Christian, Very Suddenly Convert"] both moving and bewildering. Moving, because your self-description so closely works as my own. Bewildering, for the same reason — and for one other simple fact, which is that I’ve not had the same experience.
I’m 49 years old, a physician, a musician, and a spiritual seeker with a lot of intellectual obstacles to the mystical and metaphysical. I really want to believe; I really want to transcend the ordinary. But I have deep, terrible fears that the hardcore scientists and materialists are right — that we are chemicals, we are animals, and we don’t mean anything at all.
But I’m open to experience as evidence — if God or Jesus or Anyone At All would just show up for me the way He/She/It showed up for you, I’d drop the baggage in a heartbeat and get in the boat.
So my one and only question for you is this — assuming your experience was valid (and I’m having trouble coming up with a materialistic or neurological explanation for it) — why you? Why not me, and why not a hundred million other “rabid Anti-Christians” among which you once numbered yourself?
Asked another way — are you special? Am I not? Am I not worth God’s trouble? Is is just a long, long queue, and your number came up? Does it trouble you that the God of Love and Inclusion chose you and did not choose a whole host of others equally in need (if not equally qualified)? Any idea how this works?
Don’t you dig the whole tone and style of Dr. Leed’s letter? (Young people: “I can dig it!” or just, “Dig it!” is a hippie saying from the 1960′s. I believe it refers to how something becomes “deep.” “Deep” is a hippie word meaning … oh, never mind it. Hippies had their own Hobbity language that no one but them understood.)
So how cool would it be to have a doctor named Skip? I’d dig saying, “Hey, Dr. Skip, can you hook me up with some free samples?” Or, “Did you find anything in there, Skip?” Or, “Give it to me straight: how long do I have to live, Skippy?”
Huh? Huh? You know you’d love it.
Anyway, about Dr. Leed’s question.
The response I initially fired back to him was, “It’s true: I’m awesome. Clearly, you’re not. Bummer for you.”
Har! Good on me! All I have to do now is remember not to open any packages from Yellow Springs, OH, and I’m set.
But seriously: Why did I have a conversion experience, when so many others don’t?
Well, first of all, so many others do: every day, all around the world, thousands of people have conversion experiences just like mine. I don’t know how often it happens in a supply closet at anyone’s job, but God zapping people out of nowhere with the sudden conviction of his reality isn’t particularly uncommon.
So that’s the General Perspective. But it still leaves the question of why, particularly, me?
Well, another factor might be that I’ve always been acutely — and I mean, deeply — aware of what at least I always experienced as the reality of God. I’ve been thinking, talking, reading, and boring people with my ideas about God ever since I was able to point skyward and drool. So it makes sense that I would finally be moved to just sort of pick a Bonafide Theological Schema. It’s true enough that I had very definite help picking Christianity. Whether that help was genuinely supernatural, or just the synaptic misfirings I wrote a bit about in “My Conversion Experience: Real or Synaptic Misfirings,” I have no idea. Nor do I care; that’s just not a relevant concern of mine. As a religious philosophy, and an explanation for reality and people’s relationship to it, Christianity works like incense in a stinky room. Hence, my all-inness. (Young people: “inness” isn’t a word. When writing, it’s annoying to make up your own words. Please don’t forget that.)
What’s also true — whatever its relevance to the question at hand — is that I do not give one minute, inky-dinky iota of crap what anyone else thinks Christianity is, does, says, or should be. (For a bit more on this, see my post “I Don’t Care What You Think of My Christianity.”) Christianity is positively jammed with people telling you what Christianity is or should be, what the Bible really means, what does and doesn’t constitute “Christian” behavior. And 99.99% of it … desperately needs incense.
All right, I’ll be honest with you. You want to know the real reason I think God decided to turn me into a Christian? I’ll get ridiculed for saying this, for its apparent arrogance. But, what the heck; how many have read this far down this post anyway? So with you, fine reader, I’ll share.
I think the reason God made me a Christian was so that I might write stuff that would help people understand how and why it is that for a long, long time now — and in too many ways that are doing too much harm to God’s will and intent — people have been getting Christianity butt wrong.