Miniblog #137: How Did I Break from the Fundamentalist, Pentecostal Republican Mold?
Those who know my story often ask how on earth I went from being a fundamentalist, Pentecostal Republican to a hardlining moderate, Anglican independent.1.Relatively new readers might not know my background, so I’ll paint the picture as clearly and concisely as possible: As late as 2005 I cited Jerry Falwell as one of my spiritual heroes, my favorite book used to be Tommy Tenny’s The God Chasers: My Soul Follows Hard After Thee, and through my freshmen year I remained an avid fan of Rush Limbaugh–faithfully listening to his daily podcast each weeknight. It has taken some time but I’ve figured out that what they’re asking for isn’t the survey of my life’s narrative. No, what they want to know is how I so completely broke from the mold in which I was raised. Or, rephrased from another perspective, how I escaped. It’s something I’ve given much thought over the years. Last night I believe I finally found my answer. Spanning the spectrum from politics to religion, so many conservatives and progressives seem fueled by sheer anger toward one another. It’s as though there’s something about them–something deep down in the recesses of their hearts, minds, and souls–that resonates with a spirit of opposition and is driven by a desire to defeat one another.22.They’d never come right out and admit this, but the plain reality is that they’re invigorated by conflict. It’s this thirst for an intoxicating brew of power, control, and victory. When I was a fundamentalist I felt that elemental, competitive fire. Yet it was never a good fit. There was always something that felt innately amiss. It’s as though the perpetual conflict produced physical energy while simultaneously sapping my emotional, intellectual, and spiritual vitality. Outwardly I felt enlivened but inwardly, and when I was alone, it felt like I was Marty McFly fading into oblivion.33.Incrementally and with each passing day I somehow felt less alive. Eventually I bottomed out. That is why I broke from my childhood mold. To employ a nutrition analogy, it was a pure survival mechanism reacting to years of empty calories resulting in malnourishment.44.I would note that’s also why I cannot for the life of me figure out how people on the ideological extremes sustain that level of fervor channeled into opposition. Far from slowly taking a toll as it did to me, it seems to animate them. Somehow they seem renewed by the constant turmoil. This genuinely baffles me. Bottom line: I’m just not wired that way. My desperate need was for emotional transparency, intellectual honesty, and spiritual health. The only way I found to achieve those things was to be driven far more by my passions for virtuous things than against vile things. To achieve that, my only choice was to radically alter my entire life outlook and approach. In sum, the reason I’m no longer a Fundamentalist, Pentecostal Republican is that I desired to be civil, felt unfulfilled, and innately cared more about truth than ideological causes.55.That and some good, confrontational friends and mentors who forthrightly challenged my impassioned, ignorant crap. H/T to Mr. Smith, Jerry Foecke, Wally Glucklich, Mike Newsom, Sean Jarvie, Tim Abramson, Matt Nagel, Garrett Laakkonen, Zac Neubauer, Blaise Brankatelli, Alex Valdez, Matt Swanson, Greg Stoutenberg, and many others.