I picked it up from Pithless Thoughts, a very funny, honest blogger who I check in on once in a while. He is an Orthodox Christian, and I believe perhaps the original poster is as well; however, I'm sure that believers of all shapes and stripes have seen this process, at least a few stages through. I know I have, probably several times. Have you?
(from Steve at Pithless Thoughts )
Stages of ConversionI don't think I have ever lifted a complete blog post from someone else's blog (though I've quoted and recommended a few... very few). Silouan posted this on Facebook and I read it. It is about the process of "converting", something many or most of us have done. I'm posting it because I don't want to take the chance that you won't take time to click the link.
Wisdom, let us attend!
It doesn't seem to matter what version of the Christian faith you join, because this seems to be a near-universal process:
Phase 1: The Cage Phase
So you've found your new tradition, and you've finally discovered all the answers to life's problems encompassed within it. You've also read a few books that explain how every other Christian tradition (especially the one you just left) has absolutely ruined the piss out of the Christian faith as a whole. As God's apostle to the unconverted, it now falls upon you to save the world (especially your friends and family in the old tradition) by enlightening them as to just how perfect everything is about your new tradition and how stupid and wrong everything about their current tradition is. It is very important for you to have a blog during this time so that you can enlighten as many people as possible.
Phase 2: Addiction
After having ruined all your relationships from your past life, you are now disillusioned with the willful ignorance and impiety of all those outside your new church. Let the heretics stew in their heresy. It is now time to busy yourself with drinking as much religious Kool-Ade as you possibly can, preferably until your skin becomes the same color as Purplesaurus Rex and your body's pH levels are completely thrown off. You need to read every theological or devotional book you can, buy lots of the assorted trinkets associated with your tradition, and make lots of pilgrimages to either theology conferences or monasteries, depending on how your church rolls.
Phase 3: Apostle of Renewal
You've recently noticed that most of the other people in your church are not nearly as obsessed with it as you are. They aren't reading those books, and they aren't buying all that crap you've strewn your house with. They're more concerned with paying the bills than why those awful sectarians are wrong. They even have friends outside the church! Many of them are not aware just how right and perfect their church is, or how great their lives would be if they would just fling themselves with total abandon into the kind of obsession you yourself have. This is clearly a problem that must be fixed, for it threatens to destroy the purity of the faith. As God's chosen agent of change, you busy yourself with trying to whip up everyone in the congregation into the same frothing devotion you yourself exhibit.
Phase 4: Beaten by Reality
You've finally faced the harsh truth: The people in your new tradition are, at their core, a whole lot like all those people from your old tradition that you despised so much, with all the same foibles and failings. You give up on saving the world, on restoring your tradition to its purity, and have lost your confidence that God himself has appointed you to fix everything. You've discovered that your new church in fact has a lot of ugliness in its history, has a lot of jerks in its power structure, can't solve all of life's problems, and isn't always all that consistent or believable in what it teaches or what it does.
Phase 5, Option 1: The Rat Leaves the Ship
Clearly, you were had. You thought you had found the One True Perfect Tradition, but you were deceived. You know what you must do--find the tradition that really does get it all right, because it must be out there. Back to Phase 1 for you!
Phase 5, Option 2: Complete Disillusionment
You have realized, perhaps after going through this cycle several times, that you are perhaps the only sincere, thinking Christian in the world. Everyone else is a hypocrite or a dunce, and all these corrupt denominations and hierarchies have ever accomplished is completely screwing up everything. Completely embittered at the idea of organized religion, you isolate yourself in order to go be a true follower of Christ without all those awful other people screwing things up. If you meet some like-minded folk, you start meeting up with them in order to transcend organized religion by organizing a religion. It's very likely that you eventually realize that all religious people are deluded fools and become an atheist or agnostic.
Phase 5, Option 3: Partial Disillusionment and Accommodation
After facing the harsh reality in Phase 4, you've further realized that phases 1 through 3 ought to be renamed "Jackass," "Nutjob," and "Know-it-All," respectively, which suggests that you are, for the most part, much worse at being a decent human being than all those people too stupid and impious to realize how awesome your new religion is. While many of the reasons that you had for joining your current tradition remain, and thus so do you, you decide it's time to cut yourself, your church, everyone else's churches, and rest of the world some slack.