In order to make sense of where I'm going, it's important to know where I've been. Since this blog is about my conversion to Judaism, let's start with my religious and relevant cultural background. I'll try to keep this as interesting as possible.
I'm a 26 year old woman, born and raised in a small town in Alaska. I started believing in God about 20 years ago, back in the day when vacation bible school was a welcome break for my mother. She didn't start going to church services until I was about 10, a few years after I got involved with a youth group. I think it's important to note that I chose faith, and that it wasn't something that was forced on me. It was very much a choice, because believing in God just felt...right.
As I got older, I stayed involved. I was a member of my church's drama troupe, and I always performed in Christmas programs. That's not to say that I didn't question my faith; quite the opposite, actually.
I grew up in a Bible-based, non-denominational Christian church. They were a bit fundamentalist, but that was at a time when I really didn't know the difference. We will call this church by its initials, LMBC. I left that church at about 13 years old, when it divided into two churches.
Most of my youth group leaders went to the new church, and I followed them. Its initials were CCC. By this time, my mother had become a Christian, and we very involved in both the church and in supervising my life. She was instrumental in ensuring that I went to church at least once a week, and she generally attended with me. The pastor of CCC did not grow up in a Christian home. This made him really interesting, because he had never planned to become a pastor. Originally, he was a forester, a scientist. Because of this background, he encouraged his congregation to ask questions and challenge their faiths. He believed, and understood, that doing so would ultimately serve to strengthen convictions, rather than allow seeds of doubt to take hold. I stayed with this church until I moved away from my parents' house and commuting to this church was no longer possible, even though I had disagreements with some of their philosophies. My mother still attends this church, and is very devout.
I went to college in North Dakota. Generally, I did not go to church alone, as a result, I usually didn't go to services. My best friend and room mate at the time is Catholic. I believe that the first time I attended STANC, it was for Easter vigil. I discovered that I really liked the priest. I think he was a Jesuit, but I could be remembering incorrectly. What I do remember is that he speaks seven different languages, seemed to be well-versed in science, and was a very engaging speaker. He always seemed more interested in teaching than in preaching, which was something that I appreciated, even if I didn't always agree with what he was saying. I attended a Catechism class under him, and ended up not converting to Catholicism. This was partly due to my disagreements with dogmatic law, and partly because I became involved with a different extra-curricular activity which prevented me from attending further classes.
After graduating from college and moving away from home, I haven't regularly attended church. I have visited several, but I haven't gone to one for more than about two weeks in a row. I just can't find one that doesn't offend me somehow. It seems like every Christian church I go to is set completely against providing equal rights to all (generally manifested in their stance against gay marriage). The biggest church in my area is incredibly commercial, and has recently built a sports arena. Initially, this project was to be partially funded by the government, which I feel is too much of an encroachment of the separation between church and state.
Between the politicization of faith, the commercialization of charity, and the basic human rights violations being perpetuated in the name of Jesus...I'm seriously considering renouncing Christ and Christianity and believing in God in his more ancient incarnation.
This is partly how I found myself in a synagogue on Saturday morning, attending a Jewish service and beginning my studies in conversion class at CBS.