A Godless Fundamentalist: Chapter Ten – The Unraveling Begins

church building

by John Ellis

As 2002 began, I found myself living in Atlanta, GA. Over the previous three years, I had made some minor alterations to my grand plans. Having fallen in love with performing on stage, my goal was no longer to become a movie star. I was now focused on a career as a theatre actor. And from my perspective, I was on the cusp of achieving all my goals. My life was going great.

My Christian upbringing was a distant memory that rarely troubled me. At parties and rehearsals, I would often mention that my dad was a fundamentalist Baptist minister to the great delight of those around me. I would regale them with tales from my time as a student at a Christian school and BJU, and they would chortle at my mocking depictions of people from my past.

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A Godless Fundamentalist: Chapter Nine – Embracing the Darkness

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by John Ellis

In December of 1997, the Oscar winning film Good Will Hunting was released. I watched it three times during the movie’s theatrical run. At the time, I enjoyed the movie, of course, but my fascination with it was mainly driven by the narrative surrounding its journey from page to screen.

The short version of the story goes that buddies Ben Affleck and Matt Damon, both struggling and unknown actors at the time, had miraculously sold Miramax the rights to their script. A true rags to riches tale. Granted, none of that is how it really happened, but I didn’t know that at the time. In late 1997 and early 1998 the tale of two unknown actors plucked from obscurity resonated with me. So, I began writing my own screenplay.

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My Illness Reminded Me to Be Careful What I Preach

Sick man

by John Ellis

I’ve prided myself on my body’s ability to heal quickly. It’s rare that I’m sick for longer than 24 hours. In fact, it’s rare that the lingering effects of illness stay with me longer than that 24-hour period. A good case in point is the last time I had strep throat.

Late one afternoon on a Saturday in August seven and a half years ago, my throat began to hurt. As the evening wore on, the pain became worse. By the time the sun rose on the Sunday morning, it felt like there were razors in my throat. I immediately went to a Minute Clinic type place, was prescribed amoxicillin, took my first two doses that Sunday, and woke up Monday morning almost 100% back to normal.

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A Godless Fundamentalist: Chapter Four – For the Love of Grunge

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by John Ellis

During my transition from a Christian day school to Bob Jones University, and at the risk of romanticizing a musical genre that’s more artistically challenged than I realized at the time, grunge music, and its accompanying culture, became my god.

It didn’t happen overnight, though. The last half of 1993 and through the first half of 1994 provided me with clarity about my beliefs, or lack thereof, as well as boldness to act on my growing confidence in who I wanted to become.

In large part because of that, if you were on Pensacola Christian College’s campus during the fall of 1993 and you remember a brown and beige van frequently barreling through with music blaring, that was me.

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A Godless Fundamentalist: Chapter Two – My Childhood ‘Conversions’

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by John Ellis

(read the intro here and chapter one here)

Even though as a young child I had trouble wrapping my brain around the existence of God, accepting the existence of hell was not difficult for me. My developing brain had yet to connect the apologetics for the existence of hell with the existence of God.

What I knew and understood was pain. I knew what it felt like to get stung by a wasp, to have my finger slammed into a car door, and to somersault over my bicycle’s handlebars onto the asphalt after my poorly constructed ramp disintegrated mid-trick. I also understood the pain that comes from the rejection of friends, disappointment of my teachers and parents, and the loss of a pet. More importantly, for the concept of hell, at least, I had learned very well that disobedience brought with it punishment of the painful variety.

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A Godless Fundamentalist: Chapter One

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“Doubts”

by John Ellis

The day children are born is generally a momentous occasion for the parents. For the kid too, I guess. The day is scary, amazing, and filled with sensory overload. Over the next few days, the excitement is tempered, but not by much.

The moment the arrival of my first born became real to me was when I fastened my daughter’s car seat into the car for the first time and then sat behind the wheel. The things that I had taken for granted for years, like most other drivers knowing what they’re doing and traffic lights working as intended, etc., now seemed to be a collection of potential … nay, highly likely scenarios that ended in tragedy. My hands were at 10 and 2 and the speed limit became sacrosanct during that drive home.

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A Godless Fundamentalist: Introduction

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by John Ellis

In 1994, Douglas Coupland, the voice of Gen X, published Life after God. A collection of short stories, the book gave voice to the belief that my generation was “the first generation raised without God.”

Beyond just seeing the release of one of Gen X’s seminal works of art, 1994 was notable in my life for seeing me graduate from high school. And while it’s true that the world around me was erasing God, the aisle I marched down to receive my diploma led to a platform from which I had been force-fed God for years.

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