I have been avoiding this letter for sometime. Sure, it's been easy to do so with finals and the wrap up of school but I could have easily wrote this letter at any time over the past several weeks. I have avoided it because I have not known the direction I wanted to take with this and how I wanted to present this. Now, I think it's time. You are now thousands of miles away, across oceans, and continents now. That distance makes things easier for me to write this for some reason.
As I write this, Arch Nemesis, I am listening to a spiritual song about following Jesus Christ. It is amusing to me that such a song would be playing while I'm writing a letter about religion and atheism. I do not write this to offend you and your pernicious evil. I write this to explain the context of why and who I am concerning this one small facet of my life. Surely your wicked mind set will not impede you in reading this and comprehending what I am attempting to convey.
I mean no disrespect towards most beliefs and doctrines that are held by most people on this planet. The richness and diversity of those beliefs fascinates me. I do not begrudge the belief of any individual and I do not hold any notion of destroying another person's beliefs. I follow the philosophy, as I have always done, of "live and let live." The journey I am on, far from complete, began with me being raised as a Mormon. I learned and came to love many of the Primary songs and memorized the Articles of Faith. I loved the stories of faith, courage, and devotion to God. It wasn't until my senior year that I developed a deep connection with the stories of faith. I term those stories the Crisis of Faith stories. Those stories are the ones when Alma and Amulek what their recent converts burn in the fire and they are placed in prison. The story of Hezekiah and the Assyrians, Elisha and the servant against the Syrians, Shadrach, Meshach, and Obed-nego with the fire. They touched my heart because I felt alone and cut with facing my being gay with a far stretching future and a feeling of failure on my part with God.
I served a mission and did so with as much joy, curiosity, and faith as I could manage. To say it was hard would be an understatement. It was what it was and I don't regret having ever served a mission. I look back on that time of my life with fondness and an understanding that it shaped and continues to shape my life. I believed in God without question during that period of time though I heavily doubted that he cared about me despite my efforts to seek after him. It has only been three and a half years since I served. The memories from that time are still fresh in my mind and still bring a smile to my face when I remember.
Post mission was different from any other point in my life. Suddenly, I was truly on my own. My faith was no longer building to something. I tried to study daily and maintain those habits that I had developed while on my mission. But it was as if things were many times harder. I began to enter into a period of depression, emptiness, and confusion. I will discuss that part of my life to you in another letter.
My point in all of this? I believed. I believed strongly. I cared about that faith and nurtured it with all my heart. I found purpose and joy in my faith, my Church. I loved the beliefs and doctrines that were taught by my leaders. I knew the doctrines and beliefs better than many of my peers throughout my childhood because I loved to learn about them. I did not experience my doubt and eventual departure from these beliefs until I was in college.
My arch nemesis, my hope is that you understand more clearly just the type of person that you have talked with. Convert me if you'd like, but before you do, learn a little more about who I am, please.
May you see reason some day,
9 months ago