So, coming out of high school, my orthodoxy was pretty solid. I had my beliefs, which were well-researched, and well supported by my social milieu. At least, I thought my orthodoxy was pretty solid; but it only survived less than a year of university. Simon Fraser University brought new experiences and new friends.
Blame Dungeons and Dragons. I was such a stereotype – pudgy, shy, awkward, well read, and extremely well versed in the ways of geekdom. Well, this was the late 80s, the Golden Age of tabletop gaming, and believe me, I was not alone. Instead, it took less than a week for me to find a circle of gamers who became dear friends that I still talk to.
These friends, who remain an absolute blessing, gave me a sense of belonging, love and laughter (as well as a TON of drama) for years, but most importantly for this story, they profoundly challenged my sense of Catholic orthodoxy. Although they may try to deny it, most Catholics project a sense of quiet, smug superiority to non-believers. To be Catholic is to believe that you are in the best, most exclusive club of those who follow the One True Way and are therefore among the Saved. I realize that most religions teach some variant of this, but believe me, Catholics have a kind of old school arrogance that can really only be matched by the British aristocracy.
Well, my new friends had no time for this. They weren’t dickish about it, but these were intelligent people who were used to confidently sharing their opinions, and expected other people to have reasons for their opinions stronger than, “Because the Bible says so.” We weren’t trying to score points off each other, or to be more clever than each other, we were trying to understand each other and be understood. I was learning that there were WAY more ways of looking at the world than I had ever imagined, and that people had very good reasons for how they looked at the world, and their places in it.
And all of a sudden, I really wasn’t sure what I believed any more.