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this is me.

I love words & people.
I write angsty post-christian shit.
I walk alongside people in search of authentic spirituality.

When I was sixteen years old, I went forward at an altar call and promised God I would dedicate my life to ministry. It was a big commitment, inspired by youthful passion, religious programming, and emotional manipulation. If those were the only things that drove me out of my seat that night at teen camp, I wouldn’t be writing this today. I no longer believe I am bound by that particular promise; indeed, I no longer believe in the God to whom I made that promise or the fundamentalist religion that inspired me. But I haven't been able to shake the desire to somehow connect with the Divine, and help others find that connection too.

My earliest memories are of the liberal seminary where my dad was studying to become a pastor. But by the time I reached first grade, my parents had stumbled across the world of fundamentalist homeschooling. This world would define the first two decades of my life. Along with my eight siblings, I grew up in rural Pennsylvania, where we were often mistaken for Amish folks. In addition to being members of Bill Gothard’s now-infamous homeschool cult, we cycled through half-a-dozen variations of fundamentalist religious communities: a pseudo-Mennonite cult where everybody had beards and suspenders, a community-center charismatic church where people played guitars and got slain in the Spirit, a dysfunctional house church in a friend’s basement, an evangelical megachurch, and a series of KJV-only Fundamentalist Bible Church congregations, where I was the resident Bible Quizzing champion in high school (obviously).

Because the homeschool cult frowned upon the risk of liberal indoctrination inherent in higher education, I thought it was a good idea to spend two years after high school working in the cult centers instead of going to college. This was followed by an inevitable stint as a missionary in Africa, doing youth pastor stuff in Zambia for a year. When I moved back to the United States at the age of 21, I enrolled in an evangelical liberal arts college in Minnesota, got married, and became a dad.

During college, I enjoyed the relative permissiveness and open-mindedness of the conservative Evangelical subculture, a remarkably liberal departure from the fundamentalism of my upbringing. I listened to John Piper and Sean Hannity and Mark Driscoll and Lecrae. I watched R-rated movies. I learned to drink beer.

As the homeschoolers had warned, college proved to be the place where my faith was tested. When I started to critically consider the implications of the theology at the heart of our belief and practice, I wondered whether I would be able to keep believing in God at all. Eventually I sought the advice of my pastor, who told me to repent of the sin of unbelief. So I did.

After college, I moved to rural Arkansas to work as a media production guy in the evangelism industry. In this exceedingly inconvenient environment, I immediately began systematically deconstructing all my political values and religious beliefs. I documented this process in real-time on this blog, and found that my stories and experiences resonated with a lot of other people. Isolated in the heart of the Bible Belt, the post-evangelical blogosphere became my family, my support group, and my church.

Eventually the tension of working in the evangelism industry whilst being a post-evangelical writer became too much to endure. Me and my wife and our boys moved to North Carolina to be part of a cool progressive church. Things went very badly; the church imploded and our marriage ended. For a long time, I stumbled through a wasteland of confusion and heartache, always trying to point my steps toward a God who was far too often silent.

That was about five years ago. With the help of a lot of therapy, a bit of whiskey, and a few good friends, I survived what I never thought I could and started rebuilding my life. After a brief online dating spree, I fell in love with a doctor / single mom / amazing woman and last summer I married her on top of mountain in North Carolina. These days I spend most of my time driving kids around in a minivan and cooking mac and cheese. Also, I enrolled at United Theological Seminary, where I am working toward a M.Div. in Religion and Theology.

I'm still very much trying to figure out what the fuck to do with God. For a long time I kept trying to go to church, thinking if I found the right one it would feel ok again. I kept saying that I loved Jesus, hoping that if I said it enough it would eventually come to mean something. But I got tired, real tired of that. So I am currently taking a break from trying to be a Christian, a church person, a Jesus follower.

I cannot play religion. I am a believer convinced of nothing. I am agnostic who doubts my own unbelief. We are fleeting flesh-organisms on a fleck of dirt in an infinite universe that is mostly cold and dark. Maybe God loves us very much. Maybe God doesn’t exist and we make all of this up so that we can get through one more meaningless spiral around our dying star.

If there is a God out there at all, any energy force or divine spark or current of Love at the heart of the universe, I want to find it. And I want to be with my fellow humans who are looking for it too. Maybe at the end of it all, that's all there is - the infinite search for the infinite. Maybe that is enough.

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