So I joined Facebook last night and I…
No, wait, something else first. Something related. Introductory.
So I’d pretty much decided that this blog was going to be about reviews. Mostly movie reviews with some TV. Mostly bad movie reviews. Deliberate ambiguity there – they’d be mostly bad movies ‘cos most movies are bad a la Sturgeon’s Law (95% of anything is crap) – but they’d probably be bad reviews too. A kind of a gimick.
I also thought maybe having a scoring system where the worse the movie the more words the review can have. A gimick too far? Perhaps.
So having decided the substance of my blog – Faith and Personal Stuff being ruled out because a) it’s gotta be about one thing and b) I’ve got hardly anything to say about Faith and far too much to say about Personal Stuff.
So I joined Facebook last night and I realised I had something to say about Faith.
Joining Facebook is the kind of thing I’d’ve vowed I’d never do 48 hours ago. Last night though, M. was talking about how she’d just joined. I was just thinking, “I’m not going to join just cos she’s in it. How many different ways do I need to communicate with her?” when I got an email from an old friend Nigel. Inviting me to join Facebook. So I did. Well then at least I’d have 2 friends on it. Actually now I’ve 4 although one of my friends I don’t really know.
I could have a lot more. I did the friend-of-a-friend-of-a-friend link clicking until I realised half my old church are on there somewhere. It was tempting to just add them straight away. But I didn’t. What stopped me? Well see I’ve changed since I knew them. I haven’t done the church thing regularly for nearly nine years, I no longer know exactly what I believe. Mostly though because I gave up.
I stopped being a Christian. They carried on. I found myself wondering if they would secretly hate me for taking the easy path. Hate is too strong a word, resent maybe. I know that when I first stopped going to church many of them treated me likely I was a naughty schoolboy playing truant. That I should just pull myself together and go back, that this not going was rebelliousness, or worse, sulking. And whilst there was an element of that, not going, giving up, even for a short while, opened up a gap filled with questions that I couldn’t easily close again. A gap that has if anything grown over the years.
Don’t get me wrong they’re all nice people, mostly. It drives me batshit crazy the way some people on Ship of Fools portray Evangelicals. By all rights my old church mates shouldn’t exist, or they should be much nastier, much crueller… but that’s another post I think.
No they’re nice, but am I? It’s a question I constantly wonder at. In some ways the change has been so gradual that I’ve hardly noticed. In some ways there are specific step changes I can identify. I do look back and wonder if I’m as nice as I was. I don’t seem to have the same patience. I feel very selfish at times. Less forgiving. More angry. God, I’m angry. In fact, though I hate the cliche, I probably am angry at God. Though that seems to have ebbed a little lately.
So if I’m unsure how they see me and questioning my own goodness, then I tend to wonder if – those that would re-be-friend me – would see me as ‘project: needs help getting back on track’. Is that unfair? Well put it this way, when I used to go to church I had lots of friends, lots of people I saw at every service and prayer meeting, people who I socialised with. When I stopped going, all bar a handful fell away. I guess I didn’t make much effort either but the ones that bothered to seek me out, who wanted to see me, not just happen to bump into me because we went to the same church meetings three times a week, those are the ones I considered real friends.
Funnily enough one of them was Nigel.
 Actually I also had in mind some bad-good movies. Not so-bad-it’s-good, laughing at what a film did wrong is a pleasure that palls quickly. No, a lot of movies I’ve enjoyed are flawed in some way but still have points to commend.
 It’s no excuse but I was feeling grumpy. My brand new phone wasn’t working.
 The internet’s funny like that isn’t it?
 OK, so I’m nowhere near clear enough on what I still believe to go about saying for sure what makes you not a Christian, if there is anything at all, and if the label’s up for grabs I’ll take it. I feel like it’s my heritage or something. But “stopped being a Christian” is shorthand for “stopped doing all the things I thought a Christian should do, licked my wounds for a while, tentatively came back to the question of Faith and found I had less answers that I thought.” Any other shorthand, taken on its own, would be just as misleading.