28 Feb 2014, 11:57am

A Little Personal History, part 2, flat-earther in a planetarium

Can people change or just change manifestation of the same? I’m wayback time machining for the next few days I’m considering 20 to 30 years ago.

As of 1991 I had been born again for 10 years, expecting a life in the ministry and a lifetime of celibacy. I didn’t know the route how to where and it really wasn’t up to me. I’d pray and listen to instinct and watch what doors opened and kept moving.

I wanted a hard science degree, or to go into journalism or translation, but again, that wasn’t up to me. It was complicated by being convinced I was no good in math (wrongly) but I was also a skeptic of whatever the school system fed me. In high school I could be asked to write an essay on Duddy Kravitz and write a report on why the book should be banned and still get an A because it was considered “critical thinking”, which it wasn’t. It was just distinct from what mainstream taught. It was a natural extension of what I was feeding my head.

I was accepted to Bible College but on a tour of campus I got asides from the student guides to not worry about the division of dorms by gender and the curfews. Or the ban on smoking, alcohol and drugs. There were ways around those. And boys, there was a system to getting them to your room too. And then there was the tour of room plastered with boy bands, and the student art gallery which was indistinguishable from secular art. There was Bible Study too but the sample was more a quickie reading, no discussion, and singing kumbayah.

It looked like the kids were cowards taking free rides off their parents to where they had no interest in going themselves. I figured I’d be better off in secular university where there might be less childish rebellion but an actual interest in learning. (I had snuck drinks and smokes in primary school. It was out of my system by the time I was 15.)

I subscribed to a magazine which had an article on a woman who was doing her degree to disprove carbon-14 dating to prove creation. This comforted me that the intellectual life wouldn’t be in direct opposition to faith.

As a teen undergrad the geology building glittered for me. As much as I found the displays on tectonic forces and the garnets appealing, as much as the quiet calm of the halls centred me, I could feel the nattering in the head of anger prickling at the hot-faced lies of how the earth formed and was billions of years old. That the devil planted fossils to test faiths didn’t seem unreasonable. It’s a funny thing about being in a consensus society. Everyone you know doesn’t give flack to the “facts”.

The Onion has a beautiful story on a Close-minded man not even willing to hear out argument placed in neutral terms of how gays are hell-bound.

It’s important to remember past selves. No one knows your own story except yourself.

Some of it was invisible. Who knew I had scripture on me at all times? Given that I was given a Christian Award from the school in primary school and high school, maybe it showed. Or maybe that was from giving our mail-order tracts. I remember the dismay on the face of the Danish exchange student as I gave him a bible tract in Danish. I can’t escape this even in Canada? he asked.

That was at the peak, when I was doing 25-30 hours a week in formal structures of faith. That’s a lot of energy to buttress against the world at large that would eat my soul for breakfast if it could.

Any one group may not have known about the others. For two years I was going to Seventh Day Adventist Church three times a week, for the Saturday Sabbath, and Bible Studies, and to the Baptist Church for Lord’s Day Sunday and to two bible studies and church youth group. At school I was at the Interschool fellowship which met before school and after school for a scripture reading and prayer. At home I had my morning and nigh devotional studies. In a spare I’d walk over to the Anglican church and have quiet time. I had a few heart-to-hearts with the religious man there who made gentle sounds and assured me my life wasn’t over if I did or didn’t fail or fail to get an A in some course.

Do I still feel driven to succeed? Yes. It doesn’t matter the particular outcome of the era. Then it was my ticket to university and out of the town where there were crass bullies and poverty and people who couldn’t treat one another decently. Maybe over the scholastic rainbow was civilization and respect for the world as I projected it. I’d go on spec.

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