A Changed Man

everything changesYesterday was a pretty good day. The weather was nice, I got spend some unexpected time with Diana and, I got to hang out with my brother from another mother, Hugh Hollowell. It was, for us, a remarkably focused conversation. We both have just the tiniest touch of ADD (each of us combined having the attention span of a gnat), so normally, we’re all over the map. I won’t bore you with the details, but something he said jumped out at me: None of us is who we were 5 years ago. That’s especially true of me; which you already knew if we’ve been acquainted that long.

Five years ago, I was pretty conservative. I had left the Republicans and become a libertarian. I believed that poor people were basically moochers who didn’t want to work, preferring to live off government assistance rendered at my expense. I believed that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were justified, legitimate uses of military force. I believed that health-care reform equalled socialized medicine (and that socialized medicine was a bad thing). I believed that any gun control was unconstitutional and would lead to the disarming of American citizens. Most importantly, I didn’t see any conflict between these beliefs and my Christian faith.

If you’ve read this blog much, you know these beliefs have changed just a little bit. And, “changed just a little bit”, I mean 180 degree turn changed. You’re probably wondering what could have brought about such a thing.

I can trace the change back to three incidents:

  1. Returning to church, where I heard about a Christianity different from the one I remember as younger person.
  2. Being diagnosed with colon cancer, which showed me that the health-care system was broken and caused me to look at my life in a totally different way and,
  3. Watching one of Rob Bell’s NOOMA videos, which exposed me to the emergent movement and introduced me to a different way of thinking about faith.

Between items 2 and 3, I felt very uneasy when my political beliefs rubbed up against my new religious beliefs. I didn’t know it at the time but that’s called “cognitive dissonance” which is defined as “psychological conflict resulting from incongruous beliefs and attitudes held simultaneously”. If you’re dealing with this, you know it’s not fun.

After item 3, one of the things I did was begin this blog saying that I was starting a spiritual journey and that I would write about it because “I’m just vain enough to believe someone else might care what I think.” Besides, as Flannery O’Connor (the grand dame of southern writers) said “I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.”

But, it’s time for a change. For a while now, I’ve not been all that happy about the content I’ve putting out. Yesterday, talking to Hugh, I realized why: my original reasons for writing aren’t enough anymore. Understanding that, I took a look at what I wanted to accomplish here. I thought about the posts that were the most fulfilling and the comments that were the most satisfying. One particular post “A Big Blow Off” stood out because A) It felt good to write, B) it actually helped someone and C) thanks to people like Roger Wolsey and  Bruce Reyes-Chow sharing it, a lot of people saw it. That tells me what But Not Yet should be about: making this new/old way of looking at Christianity accessible to that are struggling with the “cognitive dissonance” I spoke of earlier so that they don’t have to go through all the crap I did to get here. Now, if I can just figure out how to do it without sounding like an ass.