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The Vague and Boring Year-Long Story of How I Inexplicably (and

Apparently Suddenly) Became a Christian

March 24, 2014

Sometime in mid-2012, I turned to Jesus.

There wasn’t a day when I had a big spiritual experience, or made a conscious decision. So
maybe some people will say I’m not really converted or not really born again. Maybe they’re
right; I get nervous about it sometimes. But I do know that on January 1 of 2012 I still identified
as a pagan, but on December 31 of 2012, I was a committed little-o orthodox Christian.

I hadn’t been much of a pagan in a while, to tell you the truth. I was not particularly pious by
then. I had pretty much totally stopped making offerings or praying or singing hymns to the gods
at all. My paganism had sputtered out into just thinking pagany thoughts every now and then and
reading pagan blogs. I was more into the Civil War, Southern literature and country music than I
was into the theoi. And I tried to hold it all together into some sort of broad paganism that could
include all of that stuff, but it didn’t ever really seem to fit right (Stonewall Jackson was a
Presbyterian who talked about Providence all the time, Flannery O’Connor was deeply Catholic
and it intensely informed all of her work, and Jesus is all over country music), and it was
increasingly evident that the paganism was slipping away.

I also started getting more interested in pagany things that leaned a bit back Christianward.
Tarot. Arthurian stuff. In fact, that was one of the first tipping points, really. I read Keith
Baines’s rendition of Malory’s Le Morte D’Arthur in the spring of 2012, grail quest and all, and
it moved things in my heart. I was back to thinking about Druidry and Vedanta a bit (again,
trying to hold it all together). I read Gareth Knight and underlined all the references to Jesus and
the Trinity (there are a lot). I started looking into the Gnostic gospels. I picked up some books
about esoteric Christianity. And within a really short amount of time, I was earnestly reading the
Gospel of John and then the rest of the actual Bible.

At the same time, my kids were getting older and getting literate. My oldest (then six) was
starting to get interested in the Bible and Bible stories. We always had tried to be multireligious
(my paganism, my beautiful and sexy wife’sChristianity), but it was plain that the kids liked
Jesus best.

Flashing back for a minute–the day I knew I was going to marry Katyjane was the day I came
back from Chattacon with my buddy James and we went straight to a Young Single Adult
broadcast at church. I looked around for a place to sit, and I sat down by my friend Daniel. But
then, a few rows up, I saw Katyjane, sitting by herself. So I hopped back up and went up to sit
next to her. And when I sat down, it felt so insanely right. I was in trouble. I knew I wanted to sit
next to her in church for the rest of my life.

So going to church with Katyjane, and now with my kids, was important to me. Even if I was a
pagan. But we hadn’t been going to church regularly since we moved to Chicago, and I kind of
wanted to start again. Especially since my kids were showing interest (and pWning me with the
Bible, which is a story I’ll tell in another post). So my mind was inclined in that direction.

As I said above, I was also listening to a lot of country music (I still am), and that also meant
basically relentless exposure to Jesus. I could not help but think about Jesus Christ because the
music I listened to mentioned him over and over again and it moved me. It was troubling,
uncomfortable, and kind of exciting.

But again, there was no moment of clarity. No road to Damascus (unless the whole year was my
road to Damascus). I mentally made peace with some sort of Green, liberal, vaguely Hinduish
pagany kind of Christianity, but that was clearly just a threshold to walk through, since I spent
basically zero time grappling with that. Instead I was just on a straight trajectory to orthodoxy. I
picked C.S. Lewis back up and read Miracles, and was blown away by how much I had just
glossed over things like the Incarnation when I was first grappling with Christianity as a post-

That’s important: I left Mormonism mostly because I had an increasing sense that Mormonism
and Biblical Christianity were not the same thing. But I really struggled with Christianity in the
years after that because my notion of what Christianity is was really limited to the teachings of
Jesus and the Atonement. I think I had an acceptable handle on those, but I understood them in
such a radically different context that I just could not make the direct transition, and I didn’t
realize the pieces I was missing. even when I read about them I just kind of glossed over them as
secondary. No wonder I struggled.

But this time, coming to Christianity with fresh eyes after a couple of years of pagan
detoxification, it was all just totally new, and totally amazing. I just found myself hungering for
the Bible and for Jesus and the more I consumed, the hungrier I got. I still feel that way. Reading
the Bible just makes me want to read the Bible more.

So Jesus just sort of gradually sucked me in.

By the end of the year, we had moved to Baltimore (that was unrelated, but not irrelevant), I was
reading the Bible and praying every day for the first time in years, I was devouring N.T.
Wright’s New Testament for Everyone, and I believed in Jesus Christ, my prophet, priest and
king and my only savior. And then I spent 2013 continuing to grow. We were baptized. We
joined a church. I kept reading the Bible. I prayed more. I put my trust in Jesus. I even read

I have to eat a lot of crow to write this, and one of the reasons I have held off on spelling it all
out is fear of being called out for wishy-washiness. “Oh, Kullervo’s found a different religion
again. Must be a day that ends in -y.” I don’t have an answer for that either, other than to swear
that this time it’s different. But of course I can say that all day. I can say that through all my
pagan years, I always had a sneaking suspicion that I would eventually come back to
Christianity, that like C.S. Lewis I had to learn to be a good pagan before I could learn to be a
Christian, but I realize that’s easy to say and hard to believe. Maybe it doesn’t matter because it’s
ultimately between me and Jesus anyway.
But I wanted to finally write it all out, mostly so that I can refer back to it in some other posts I
want to write and not have to give a lot of background every time.

So there you have it. There’s a lot of different ways to look at that I guess. Country music and
the Bible turned me to Jesus. A good Christian woman turned my heart to God. The Holy Grail
and the blood of the Lamb called me straight from heaven itself. I finally dropped the pretense of
exploring spirituality unbounded and settled down like I was always going to do anyway.
However you want to look at it, that’s how it happened.