(This a repost. This post was the most popular post over the past 3 years, with over 15,000 page views)
I was a Christian for most of my life, a pastor for most of my adult life. I was a fervent believer of the faith once delivered to the saints. I believed it, practiced it, and lived it. When I was in the box of Christianity it all made sense to me. Everything I read, everything I heard, and everything I experienced, reinforced the belief that I was in the right box.
God told me, the Bible told me, my friends and family told me, and the opposition of the world told me, that I was in the right box. Every once in awhile I would take one step outside the box and experience a bit of other boxedness. (yeah it is not a word but you know what I mean) After every foray into the world outside the box I would return to the safety of the box.
This is the way I lived my life for 5 decades. Then one day, I decided to take more than one step outside of the box. I haltingly, tentatively took a few steps, close enough to the box that I could run back if I needed to.
Over time I wandered farther and father away from the box. I found all kinds of things that were not to be found in the box I was in. I was confronted with data, beliefs, ideologies, ism’s, and practices that I had never heard of. I was uncertain about what I should make of these new found things.
I talked to fellow box keepers about this. They caution me about wandering outside of the box. Nothing good happens outside of the box , Bruce. Everything we need for life and godliness is right here in the box. We even have a box manual that tells us how to live in the box.
Over time I continued to wander outside of the box. One day I wandered so far outside the box that I realized, for the first time, that the box sat on a steep. slippery hill. One day while I was far outside the box I turned around to longingly look at the box and I slipped, and before I knew it I was slipping and sliding down the slippery hill.
On this day I fought my way back up the hill and I crawled back to the box. Dirty and bruised, I was safe within the box once again. The box was my salvation.
But is wasn’t. My mind was filled with thoughts of all the wonders I found outside the box. Things that those in my box said were bad for me. Things that they were sure would ruin me. They told me that the box was all I needed.
But out I wandered once again and just like before I fell down the slope of the slippery hill. This happened to me many times before I finally gave up stayed at the bottom of the hill. At this moment the box I had lived in for almost 50 years no longer fit. For the first time the things I had found in the box seemed odd, peculiar, and contradictory.
When I was in the box it all made sense. It all fit. But now, here I am outside of the box, at the bottom of the slippery hill, and the things I once believed now seem to be the strange language of an alien culture.
I now find myself saying, I can’t believe I actually believed _________________________. It seems so crazy and incoherent now, yet when I was in the box it all made sense.
I can’t go back to the box I was in. As a secularist, as a person who promotes skeptical, rational thinking, I must always be aware of other boxes around me. Every box says that they have the truth. Every box wants me to take up residence in their box. However, I have learned, perhaps the hard way, that living in the narrow, blind confines of a box keeps me from experiencing the world that lurks just outside the box.
Experiencing the world out side the box changed me forever. I know I still have a penchant for box-like thinking but I revel in a life free of the constraints of any one box.