Blogging the Book of Romans: Introduction

I see that some religious bloggers are blogging the book of Mark, one chapter a week. Being new to blogging myself, it's my first experience with the concept, and I like it! Instead of just pointing out how crazy some people's expression of religion can be, I'd like to do some building up as well. It's easy to sit on the sidelines and criticize, but I should be willing to stand up and say what I believe and subject my thinking to the purifying light of critique.

However, I'm devoting my Tuesday blogging to religion, and this would put me behind a week if I were to pursue the book of Mark. So I've decided to go to the book of Romans instead. I studied it a bit in my youth, and I'd like to see how my impressions stand up to my current frame of thought.

Which bears stating out loud, although it will become clear pretty quickly. I am no longer the Christian I was in my youth. In my mid-to-late twenties, my faith was beaten out of my life in several battles with reason and the humanity of people I trusted. Faith became, in a concept I've borrowed from Peter Straub, radioactive in my life. It's not just that I was one more gay man trying to atone for my desires by serving Jesus. It's not just the many places where I found the Church of Christ hermenuetic incapable of transmitting a good portion of the message of Scripture. It's not just being betrayed in different ways by a variety of people, two being an elder and deacon of the Church of Christ. It's all of them combined. Faith has wounded me greatly.

Another reason I approach faith reluctantly is I know how I act under the influence of the faith meme. I look back on my life as a Christian and see a Paul-like fervor, a willingness to travel to foreign lands and race Jehovah's Witnesses to the doors. I can think of several times when my assurance of being correct doctrinally made me an insensitive jerk to other people. Perhaps my pursuit of politics is a substitute for the faith I dare not reach for any longer, for I see many of these traits in my political writings and actions today. I guard against this better in my thirties, but still stridency will be my undoing.

I also approach discussions of faith with caution, because there are others who believe, whose faith is not the damaging thing mine was. My loss of faith was a dark period for me, and I wish it on no person alive. Life without my faith has been no bed of roses, but at least it's not the bed of torment my faith drew me into nightly. Perhaps there are those who are just as racked with pain as I out there, and to them I would speak. The nature of blogging emboldens me a bit as well. If you're here and you've read this far, I can't help that. Nobody is being forced to read, much less believe, what I'm blogging here.

So this is where I stand: an agnostic skeptic returning to the biblical texts of my youth and recording my past and current impressions. I'm a graduate of a Church of Christ Bible college, with two years of graduate school under my belt. Welcome to Bolo Boffin Tuesdays.