Why I’m Quitting Cynicism

I was That Guy at my parents’ church.

You know the type:

  • Slouching in the back pew with raised eyebrow.

  • Smirking every time the pastor made a point during the sermon.

  • Stewing in the corner after services, reading something intellectual and avoiding conversation with the dull-eyed parishioners.

I was a cynical jerk. I started this blog because I’m trying to change that.

Maybe you’ve never been that cynical. Maybe you’re even worse. But wherever you fall on the spectrum, you’ve definitely met people like me–it could be your friend or your brother or your kid. Sneer-lipped flippancy is a hallmark of young people raised evangelical.

And I wasn’t simply “raised evangelical.” To borrow a phrase from the apostle Paul, I was raised “an evangelical of evangelicals.” Among my credentials:

  • I grew up in Colorado Springs, the Vatican of Evangelicalism.

  • My mom teaches at an Evangelical school

  • My dad is the CFO of Focus on the Family.

  • I was homeschooled before going to an Evangelical high school and Evangelical college.

  • I then went to Costa Rica, where I worked for one of the many missionaries in my family.

And somewhere along the way, I turned into a cynic.

The reasons were complicated. I’ll go more into detail later, but it was partly intellectual doubts, partly social pressure, and partly ego. In short, I loved thinking that I was smarter and better educated than my evangelical friends and family.

I’m better now. But I don’t mean “better” like I had a sickness and I’m now completely over it. I mean that I’m less bad than I was. I’m still a work in progress and a knee-jerk cynic. My guess is that lots of you are either in the same position, or love somebody in the same position..

That’s why I started this blog.

I’ll examine all things related to evangelicals and cynicism. Why people become cynics, what it leads to, and (hopefully) how to get over it. As I’ve learned the hard way, being cynical is like eating a deep-fried twinkie: it feels good at the time, but eventually rots your insides.

But I won’t attack cynicism by pretending that evangelicalism is a Norman Rockwell utopia. I’ll be clear-eyed about evangelical oddities. But I’ll also be clear-eyed with the flaws of evangelicalism’s cynics.

If you’re not a cynic, hopefully this blog will encourage you that your cynic friends and family aren’t too far gone. If you are a cynic, hopefully this will encourage you to reconsider your attitude toward your evangelical roots. At the very least, you can avoid becoming a jerk like I was.

And if, like me, you’re a recovering cynic, you’ve probably thought up a half dozen snide remarks about this post, but are trying to restrain yourself.

Thanks for the effort.

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2 thoughts on “Why I’m Quitting Cynicism

  1. Mellema,

    It does my heart good to hear what you have to say. Keep it up, man. May the balance between truth-seeking criticism and warm-hearted charity continue to be struck in all of us.

    bn

    Like

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