Lord of the Flies and Disco - Confessions of an Ex-Atheist
When I was in high school, I was this fuzzy headed punk rock kid. I'd been an atheist, a communist, a Freudian, a revolutionary, and was currently on an existentialist kick. I remember reading an 'existentialist reader,' and thinking Jean-Paul Sartre was brave for staring down the meaninglessness of everything.
A friend I went to school with who was on my soccer team went to church with a bunch of my friends. So when he invited me to come to a bible study at his church with him I went.
I went because my friend Kyle asked and because he was a good friend. I had no intention of becoming a Christian. I was an argumentative atheist. I told myself to not worry, I had my arguments all lined up. We got to bible study and a little smiley red headed church lady named Susie Brown shook my hand, asked me my name, handed me a bible and we sat down in a circle. When you are a freshman in high school, you can't tell the difference between a 27 year old and 47 year old, by I knew that I didn't hang out with adults. But here were High Schoolers who were glad to be hanging out with this adult. Kinda weird. But maybe cool that an adult took kids seriously.
She looked around and said, "The question for today is, are people basically good?"
I raised my hand, "Of course."
She looked at me and said, "Well, the bible says that we are all sinners who choose sin when we are given the chance."
My world began to unravel in my head. I don't remember anything else. But I remember that night thinking about how everything I believed in depended on people being good.
Around that same time, my English teacher had us reading 'Lord of the Flies.' He talked about how William Golding believed that, without the restraints of society, each of us would push that boulder onto Piggy.
It made me angry. But not because he was wrong, but because I could see that he was right. People were terrible to each other. The used one another and were hungry for power. There was a little Saruman in each of us.
I began to see it everywhere. Original sin. (Chesterton calls original sin the most easily verifiable of all christian truths). And there it was. A simple truth from the Bible. A simple scripture read to me as authoritative. It was a terrible week waiting around for the next Bible study. I couldn't quit thinking about Jesus. What if he was the answer. What if we weren't just mammals at the top of the food chain.
I don't remember what the next week was about, but there was a sign up for a Fall Disco themed retreat. And I put my name down. Up at the retreat, we danced disco, I sang Green Day songs with a couple of the kids that played guitar, and different high school kids got up and talked about following Jesus and I was terrified. I kept telling myself, "It's just a psychological weakness, it's just peer pressure." But I knew that wasn't true.
When I woke up the last morning of the retreat, I looked right at this purple Lava Lamp and knew that I had to get close enough to this Jesus character to know for sure. I didn't have an instantaneous conversion. I spent a year in 'back and forth mode as the, 'no I'm not's became shorter and less frequent and the 'yes I am's became more frequent and stronger. But it began with the simple challenge to a foundational assumption by someone who was had no idea who I was, but took kids seriously enough to teach them the Bible.