- Environmental: I've liked the idea of using public transportation (or my bicycle, for that matter) over single-passenger vehicle travel for quite some time in order to play a part in reducing emissions and dependence on fossil fuels. Would it contribute much? No. Does it make me feel like I'm at least doing something to take a stand and foster by example a similar attitude and mindset? Yes. This desire was recently re-fueled (pun intended) when I learned that an oil spill released ~800,000 gallons of crude oil into the Kalamazoo river which dumps into Lake Michigan. Being from Milwaukee and still inhabiting the Midwest, this was disheartening, especially as it occurred in the wake of the oil spill in the gulf.
- Schedule: I am absolutely horrible at getting out of bed. I hate waking up, love sleep, and have just not mastered good sleep habits. Don't get me wrong, I know I should, but at the end of the day I'm just too interested in reading and doing stuff to go to bed when I should. I'm also delusional about how much sleep I need, or at least this is highly likely. I also overestimate how well I'll be able to self-motivate in the morning to get up when I want to instead of when I absolutely have to. 99 times out of 100 I align with the latter and not the former, usually feeling like a failure in some way for doing to... again. I'm hoping that the bus can help me get a schedule going.
- Productivity: I have a ton of books to read. Taking the bus will carve out about 10 hours per week of mostly uninterrupted reading time which will be pure awesomeness. I do worry that my hopes of conducting detailed notes/blogging as I get through books will suffer since I will be reading far faster than I can keep up on notes. I guess I'll either have to postpone posting (perhaps just copy the quotes I want to use and hope I remember the main idea until later?), or cut down heavily on what I actually write about each book (overall take, highlight of how it affected my view, or simply strongest/weakest points/arguments lists?).
- Balance: My Quest is incredibly consuming mentally and emotionally, but also with respect to units of time. I think that setting this reading time aside will help me focus more on my family when I come home rather than constantly wanting to get to my books or other quest-related endeavors. I see this as a creative way to actually increase both my time input toward seeking the truth and being a better father and husband.
- Financial: This is nowhere near a slam dunk. I am pretty convinced that taking the bus in my situation amounts to paying a premium for increased time for reading, a better schedule and life balance, and having something to point to showing I care about the future of the world. One possible exception is with the winter. I think it will actually be a huge positive to not drive in the winter. I subject my 1995 Mazda to far less wear and tear, opt out of driving when I get horrid gas mileage, and reduce my likelihood of crashing when the roads are bad.
Great. There's my thoughts on the bus. What about TrueChristian(TM)-ness, though?
Well, since I've begun my quest, and especially in talking with others and reading and commenting on blogs, I've noticed a trend in believers to accuse those who were once Christians and are now skeptics/agnostics/atheists/etc of never having been Christians in the first place. This is one of the things that bugs me the most, primarily because as the one actually going through this I think I'm the most qualified to answer the question of whether I was a "true" Christian. As corroborating evidence would be those nearest to me: family, pastoral leaders, those in my men's group, co-workers in the ministry I served with, co-workers now in my engineering job, etc. But a blanket statement by someone who's read a few sentences of mine on a blog or forum? No way.
I especially loathe the idea that after all this work and coming to the conclusion that the god of Christianity probably does not exist... I'll be written off as simply having a hidden moral agenda, hating god, preferring that god is not in my life, having issues with authority, this being a spill-over from a bad relationship with my dad, or supposing that "I guess he just never really knew Jesus." No, no, no. This is hard. Despite differences, each side should have to square up and say, "Here's someone who's done their homework, perhaps more than me. I can't just write him off. I've got to conclude that someone has examined the same evidence and reasonably concluded that the god I believe in does not exist." I want believers I know to receive a wake-up call as a result of my quest. It is my belief that everyone should go through what I am undertaking; namely, everyone should have reasons and evidence supporting their beliefs. Some do, though many I've talked to do not. I don't know what made me lucky in having my "dogmatic shell cracked" in order to even be able to consider that the case was not as strong as I thought, but it happened. Go through a thorough examination as an adult (or perhaps late teen) at the very least it gives one perspective on why so many others don't believe (not hard-heartedness but obscurity of evidence), and at best it may align one with a better portrait of reality in the case that they conclude they were subscribing to something untenable.
Anyway, I hope to write more about my past Christian-ness, but this new bus idea made me recall a particular anecdote. I decided to set up a novel alarm for myself at one point to try and help me get out of bed (I've been trying to make progress in this area for quite some time). I did it in response to someone sharing a link with me called Slay Your Dragons Before Breakfast. It inspired me and I wrote back with the following email (I blurred my first name and my wife's name):
This is simply to illustrate that about 2 months before deconversion (note the date compared to my first doubts at X-mas 2009), I was interested in "slaying my dragons" with an audio clip for an alarm clock. I listened to the clip today as I couldn't recall exactly what it was. To set this up, I typed up an assortment of some short scripture passages I found very inspiring and then read them with my Macbook's text-to-speech accessibility function while daisy-chaining the headphone port to the audio input in order to capture via GarageBand. I used the OS X alarm clock linked in the email to play that every morning for a while.
Anyway, I do want to write more on this topic (past Christian-ness) to demonstrate that I really was a strong and believing Christian. I mean, how many people do you know that would get really excited after setting THIS up as their alarm clip?