One Faith, Many Paths: Jannah Leah

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This is my first interview with an Eastern Orthodox Catholic. Thank you, Jannah Leah.

1) How was your childhood?

Fairly average, I guess. About the biggest thing that impacted me was my parents’ divorce when I was six. I was also bullied all throughout school, which affected my self-esteem. To this day, I still suffer from self-esteem issues.

2) How did you become a Christian?

Really it was a combination of a few factors. I have suffered from depression for most of my life and in some ways faith has aided with that.  I also have an interest in history, theology, etc.  Religion is a subject that I’ve always found quite fascinating despite my family’s own irreligious background.

To give the short answer, I chose to become Christian because the messages were appealing to me.  I also found the historical evidence for Christianity, particularly Orthodoxy, to be overwhelming. No other religion can claim their historical figures performed public miracles.

3) How has your family taken your conversion to Christianity, given that they do not share your beliefs?

It’s been mixed. My mother is of the mindset that it’s a good thing if it’s what makes me happy. Others still don’t really know since they’re not particularly fond of religion.

4) You said that you used to be somewhat of a troll. What led to the change?

I guess the easiest answer would be that I simply grew bored of it and matured.  It also got rather tedious to have to constantly create new Facebook accounts.

5. When were you diagnosed as autistic?

I was fourteen I believe. Somewhere in my early teens.

Continue reading “One Faith, Many Paths: Jannah Leah”

One Faith, Many Paths Follow-up: Arri Lemons

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My Facebook Friend Arri was my first interviewee for my “One Faith, Many Paths” series. You can read her first interview here. She asked for a follow-up interview, so I sent her some new questions. Arri had a troubled past to say the least, and she’s since risen above it. Here’s what she had to say.

  1. When you decided to become a Christian after being a Buddhist, did anyone help you in your conversion? Yes and no, maybe? It’s hard to say. Thinking back on it I was a kid that was angry, grieving, and depressed. At the time, my grandmother and best friend had passed away close to the same time. My thought was what many others tend to think when losing a loved one: if God was kind then why did He take them away? I turned to Buddhism when my biological father mocked about being one, and so I began to study it and several other religions. Buddhism is a philosophy, and so I gravitated towards that aspect.  My path to being a believer in Christ happened one evening when I was home alone; I was hurt and angry and over all of it and grabbed a knife. Before I could go further, I felt a great presence wash over me which I still cannot adequately describe. It felt as if someone was there to tell me I wasn’t alone. I broke down and had my first real talk with God. Since then, I have done my own study of Christianity through the lens of artwork. Mostly, if anything has helped me continue my religious path, it has been the people I have become close to–you, being one. It has given me a new perspective to look at God, which to me has helped immensely. Religion isn’t a fixed thing; it’s also about the journey, not just the destination.
  2. Continue reading “One Faith, Many Paths Follow-up: Arri Lemons”

One Faith, Many Paths: Therese Johnson

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This time around, I interviewed Therese Johnson, mother of a non-verbal autistic boy named Ben.

1. What was your childhood like?
My childhood was amazing. Surrounded by love and laughter and having everything in abundance but my parents always instilling wisdom and knowledge in us. We spent lots of time bonding as a family.
2. When your child was diagnosed with autism, what was your initial reaction?
Ben was diagnosed on Friday 23rd January 2015. Our initial reaction was relief and confirmation of what we already knew.
What caused this reaction to change, if it has?
It hasn’t changed, if anything it’s helped the whole family learn more and more about autism spectrum disorder in order to understand/ help Ben.
3. What methods of non-verbal communication have you been teaching your child? Which one seems the best?
Right now we use speech, but one sentence at a time giving Ben time to process and we speak slower. We also use visual cues i.e.: show him the actual nappy when it’s time to change him and we are using PECS but with our own pictures. As he gets older and understands more then we’ll move on to other visual cues.
4. What is your favorite Bible verse?
I have so many favourites but the one that really touches my soul has to be Isaiah 55: 8-11
Isaiah 55:8-11New International Version (NIV)

8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
9 “As the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts.
10 As the rain and the snow
    come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
    without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
    so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
11 so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
    It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
    and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.

Continue reading “One Faith, Many Paths: Therese Johnson”

Debunking Myths: Just How Many Atheists Are There, Anyway?

If you were to go on YouTube or Facebook, you would see a largely atheist presence. Go on any YouTube video about Christianity or atheism, and you will find the most vile attacks on Christianity from atheists. They seem to outnumber Christians comments. I’ve even seen a video once (it’s taken down by now, I think), where a vicious atheist claims victory, only by the sheer numbers of pro-atheist comments he’s seen on his own videos and the number of likes his videos have received. But are these a good gauge of the influence of Christianity vs. the influence of atheism? What is the reality?

According to a recent Gallup poll I looked up to research this post, 77% of the US identified as Christian (despite our current President saying that we “are no longer a Christian nation”), while 2.4% say they are atheist. Something seems wrong to me. The atheists are often saying that their arguments are winning, that Christians are leaving churches in droves. They say that in a matter of time, Christianity will be outmoded by atheist philosophy. I disagree. They are still a small segment of the population, and they can push us out of the “public square” all they like. Many other hostile groups have tried the same, and instead of Christianity dwindling, it has thrived.

So, why is it different online? Why do we appear to see a trend towards atheism? To be honest, I think the “trend” is a myth. I think what’s really going on is that these people see the advantage of the anonymity that the Internet gives them.  They can say things they wouldn’t dare say in public. You can troll all you like. No one will hunt you down.

Continue reading “Debunking Myths: Just How Many Atheists Are There, Anyway?”