In 1977 my parents came to the difficult conclusion that there was no future for them and their children in Iraq. Under the guise of vacation we left for Greece, where we lived as refugees for a year and a half. During our time there we met American Evangelical missionaries, who were kind to us. But they told us we would not be real Christians until we became “born again.” They informed us that my parents’ ancient faiths—Chaldean Catholic and Syriac Orthodox—were just dead traditions. My parents trusted them for guidance, so we became “born again,” and started attending Evangelical churches. I do not scorn this part of my past because I believe God uses such means to draw us closer to him. But after a short stint in such churches after we arrived in America, my parents returned to their small, poor Middle Eastern churches.
I was ashamed of them. I wanted desperately to become fully American, and in my mind that meant shedding all the vestiges of my Iraqi heritage, including our religion, and embracing the lingua franca of America: Evangelical Protestantism.
As soon as I could do that on my own, I did. Shortly after I turned 19, I headed for a nondenominational Evangelical church. I was catechized by an ex-Catholic pastor who railed against the Catholic Church almost every time he preached. From him I learned to love my Bible and loathe Catholicism.
I am an ecclesiastical mutt. After five years in the nondenominational milieu, I walked away from God for some time before meandering through Protestant denominations surveying various traditions of doctrine, liturgy, and music. I wanted the fullness of truth. And I also wanted goodness and beauty—to behold and uphold.
Read more at First Things.