These walls encircle your whole world.
Some of them, you inherited.
Others, you built yourself.
But what if you tore them down?
If you demolished the walls,
Broke the foundations,
And stepped out
And saw what lies beyond your

$ SHATTERED PALISADE

$ /turds/init

When I was small, the world was small too, and everything made total sense. There were the Things I Had To Believe -- not in a tidy list, because God hated creeds and catechisms, but there definitely was a body of dogma. Evolution wasn't real. Neither was global warming. The Flood, Noah's Ark, and the creation account in Genesis were real. Everyone who thought like I did would go to heaven when they died. Everyone who disagreed would go to hell. This was, somehow, a loving arrangement, because God had become human and suffered and died, which was somehow necessary for him to send us to heaven at all. Being gay or trans was bad. All other religions were from Satan.

After I went to college, I began to entertain the possibility that my religious beliefs were not necessarily the correct ones. Some things I was unwilling to question; the core dogmas of Christianity were infallible. But some things, certainly, were "written in pencil," as my professor in my Christian Worldview class explained. Me and my roommate had theological discussions which led me to start looking into other traditions, eventually settling on Catholicism as the one with the most plausible claim to being founded by the original Apostles. This pedigree was, obviously, the only real way to tell whether their teachings were true, though I immediately set to work learning all the ways I could defend Catholic teaching if challenged.

While this might seem like a step backward from a free-thinking perspective, for me it was a major step in the right direction. I had consciously made a major shift in my worldview, toward something that many in my life would not understand or agree with. I had come to it on my own, by my own research, and for my own reasons. Furthermore, Catholic teaching opens up the possibility of accepting that evolution really happened, and the universe was billions of years old, and I was Pratchett's "falling angel meeting the rising ape." My world expanded, and I seemed to shrink.

I started therapy. I learned to combat the anxious, pessimistic voice of my depression by demanding proof of its claims. The walls I built to keep myself within the confines of my religion had been keeping me trapped in a dark place. I began to chip away at them, and they were paper and dust.

My sister shared a question she'd found. "Can you name a single non-religious reason why being gay is wrong?" I found that I couldn't. But I had to believe it. God said it. But there wasn't any other proof. That didn't add up.

I stepped back, started at the beginning. I demanded proof that God exists. I didn't find any. I became agnostic. I demanded proof that capitalism works. I didn't find any. I became a leftist. I demanded proof that I was a man. I didn't find any. I became a girl.

For all this change, all this unlearning, the dogmatism still lives within me. The insistence on coming to the "right conclusion" and living there, instead of constantly questioning and re-evaluating. Nah. No more of that. At least as much as I can help it.

As I write these next words, know that having done so was a process of consciously choosing to overcome the lingering fundamentalism, the xenophobic fear of devil-worship, the dogmatism that I held for the first two decades of my life:

Hail Discordia! Hail Eris!