My name is Ben, and I’m a cynic. OK, the label “cynic” might be a bit of an overstatement. I am just incapable (or so it seems) of experiencing paradigm shifting growth without becoming overly critical of where I was standing pre-shifting experience. As an example, my eyes roll so hard when I hear typical evangelical Praise and Worship, that there might actually be a chance they will stay in that position. And it goes much deeper than that. I get super uncomfortable and even a tad (or a lot) judgy when I meet someone who strongly identifies as a Christian, uses the word “Lord”, or refers to the Bible for almost any reason. That list is not exhaustive.
After reading that first paragraph, you’re probably already up to speed on my “Disillusioned Evangelical” status. If you’ve ever encountered us in a group, where we feel safe enough to let the judgement out, you know that cynical is somewhat the baseline. So much so that it’s not really ever challenged. We feel like we have a right to be cynical. Why? Because we are…wait for it…enlightened. 🙂
Yes, I just used a smiley face in a blog. I guess I am feeling the need (after taking nearly a year off of this whole thing) to take a few layers of polish off and give myself the freedom to be a little messy here. Because, if I’m not blogging with a little bit of mess, I’m not telling you the truth. I digress.
I am totally aware of the trap I could easily fall into at this point–the trap of cynically criticizing the disillusioned evangelicals the same way I often do evangelicals themselves. But obviously that is just another expression of the same mental dysfunction.
So the question I am asking myself today is this. How can I experience personal growth–the kind that truly disorients everything I thought I knew and rips me from my sense of certainty and comfort–without becoming cynical toward where I came from? How can I be honest about where I am today without seeing the people I used to “agree with” as somehow lagging behind?
Does anyone else find themselves in this place? Am I the only asshole in the room? Of course I don’t think this is a phenomenon exclusive to former evangelicals. I think it’s far more universal than that. I have the same problem in political circles, social justice circles, even sports circles. I mean, we all know that the American man who refuses to see Football, Basketball, and Baseball on par with Fußball, is far more cultured than the one who says “It’s not fun, because sometimes nobody scores”.
It’s true. You should never underestimate my ability to think less of you for almost any reason.
But as you will see if you scroll through the archives of this blog, spirituality is what I often think/write about. So I’ll focus on my asshole-ness in that arena for now.
I think the slap in the face I’ve received here is this. If cynicism holds a primary place in my mind, I’m probably 1. being invited to work through some hard shit and 2. not nearly as transformed as I would like to think.
So here’s my invitation to you. I expect that I will be blogging more (intentionally vague considering that the mark I’m trying to surpass is 1 blog per year) and I want to do all I can to speak in the affirmative. I mean that I want to speak vulnerably and honestly about my journey, highlighting the things that inspire me, addressing the things I see as objectively harmful, all without that pesky seed of cynicism. So, if you see it pop up, call me out. You can be kind and do so in a private message, or give me the public pistol whip I deserve by commenting it in all caps. I am inviting either as totally valid.