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“Outgrowing Christianity” and Discovering … What?


It strikes me as giving up steak for sugar-free, unflavored cotton candy, or giving up Guinness for the lite-est of lite beers, or having mastered chess whiling away the hours playing tic-tac-toe. You gain something, I suppose, but the thing you gain is freedom from substance and the demands anything of substance puts on you. You also lose all the pleasures of substance. You give up the richness of Guinness for urine-colored water.

I’m thinking of the modern narrative of liberation from religion. I’ll be making a point about Advent, in case you’re wondering.

The Huffington Post’s religion pages love the modern narrative of freedom from oppressive religion, and their readers clearly do also. The writer, usually in his twenties or thirties, saw through traditional Christianity and freed himself. This I can understand. “I’m not putting up with this any more” may be justified or not, but it’s a normal human impulse. It may often be admirable.

What I can’t understand is how happy they are with where they wound up, because they almost never wind up anywhere. They simply find themselves “not there.” The language they use is completely open-ended. You could never tie it to any reality you could recognize.

You can find thousands of these stories on the web, and probably hundreds on the Huffington Post  website alone, but the one that sparked these thoughts was titled My Emancipation From American Christianity, by a “pastor and writer” named John Pavlovitz. “I have simply outgrown American Christianity,” he says.

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