Part of my journey has been to realize that I am in a particular place and time, formed uniquely by this place and time and the other places and times in which I was a baby, a child, a teen, a young adult, and now. So many assumptions about how the world really works. A great many people realize in adulthood that our assumptions aren't necessarily wrong, but they are unique to each one of us.
As I have distanced myself more and more from what is generally called Christianity, I feel that I have been afforded the chance to see it from several perspectives. And while I no longer feel bound to that tribe as a specific identity, I really do appreciate the formation process it offered me as a human being.
I have realized that by specifying and binding myself to something in particular, I am able to see the limits of myself, of people, of ideas, etc. It offers a context to view the grand human experiment. Not much happens in a vacuum anyway. :)
Each person learns about life in some sort of environment...and mine was specifically American and Protestant...even more specifically, white, middle-class and southern. :) While a great many of my peers were being formed by a broader American worldview, I was brought up in narrower, ethnically-tribal story.
A great many of you know that I didn't just grow up in this story; I bought and sold it, too. I was it's poster-child for a good deal of time. And this wasn't inauthentic. I have always wanted to understand the world and God and myself. Christianity was one of my first channels by which to do that.
So what I'm trying to say is that, given the immense number of traditions I could have been brought up in, I'm quite happy about having been brought up Christian. Being a part of a church and youth group gave me social connection that I needed as a child. I was nurtured by people who were not family, I was given opportunity to develop my gifts, and I had a safe place.
Growing up in a religious world also offered me the possibility to think critically about dominant culture. This is something that has taken me a long time to appreciate, as this trait of religious folks is generally quite off-putting or plain mean. Christians judging people for doing what was "normal" by most people's perspectives. But what is normal anyway? That's simply the norm for some particular story.
My ability to eventually critique Christianity came from my experience within Christianity. And I deeply cherish that.
Though religious people are sometimes caricatured as all being bigotted and judgemental to outsiders, they deeply love their own. And sometimes some of them love outsiders as well. :) I definitely felt that love. I would suggest that an inordinate amount was poured out on me. And I am forever grateful to people I know and people I will never see again for that.
Thing is, you must be raised some way. You must have some bias, some understanding of social (or ethnic) boundaries. You have to develop a way of understanding the world. And I guess all I'm trying to say is that I'm glad that my experience—my tribe—was Christianity.
And that's all I'm gonna say about that.