Well, we gave it a good try.
The story: two women enter the world around the same time, and in the course of that parallel timeline, find themselves on diametrically opposed pathways. One day in late 2010, they meet through the blogosphere, talk by email for four months, collaborate for a week on details for a public blog, then, exactly three months later, decide to quiet the public discussion.
Thankfully, it’s not a bitter ending. A bit sad, yes. Even as late as this week, readers were registering to receive our updates, and recent comments about our blog had been very encouraging. I feel badly that we’ll be disappointing them by what seems a premature ducking-out. But in reality, it was time. Though shorter than I would have hoped, the run was longer than if we’d never tried in the first place. (I like to see the glass half-full.)
Our farewell post at An Atheist and a Catholic went up yesterday, and while it’s true that breaking up is hard to do, Neece and I both feel okay about this. It did not go down in a bitter dispute but a friendly acknowledgement of real life having taken over, and the need to prioritize.
I think in the end we both feel we accomplished what we set out to do: to share our views as respectfully as possible, knowing there would be tension and even some frustration. And yes, we had that, and we worked hard to overcome it, even instituting the “traffic light system” should we need to “red light” a comment or two (our aim was to avoid moving into full-out debate). But we never had to employ that in the short time it existed. And maybe that’s good. We didn’t set out to start a war. We just wanted to explore our perspectives and include the thoughts of others in the process.
When Neece and I first started talking, we set an immediate ground rule: no attempts to convert on either of our parts. Neither of us were seeking to force the other into our way of seeing the world. We just felt that by stretching ourselves, we might learn something new, or find a new way to reach out across the abyss that exists between the world of believers and non-believers. We realized soon into it that it was as much about trying to encourage respect, and recognizing that definitions can be just as problematic in a coming-together as anything. Of course, I would celebrate the conversion of anyone whose heart is touched by Christ, but I realize how tender a process this is, and would never purport to have the power to effect such a transformation in another. That would be the job of the Holy Spirit, not Roxane.
We will keep our blog out there until our year registration expires in April 2012, so please stop by and read the conversation as it was. If you have any further thoughts on any of it, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In the meantime, this recent article, Reasoning with Atheists, written by my friend Jennifer Fulwiler, a former atheist, sums up what is required for conversion. She presents a formula: intellectual assent + openness to love. You’ll want to read her definitions, though (I can already hear the murmuring regarding “intellectual assent”). It’s a thought-provoking piece that has already attracted so many comments at last count (178) that the comments box had to be closed.
Q4U: What does conversion mean to you, and what is required for it to happen?