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  • Writer's pictureBryan Jun

Being Born into Christianity

I don't struggle with this anymore but a prominent aspect of my faith has been tied to the reality that I was born into it. The "Jun Family" has been following Christ since my dad's paternal grandmother (which is relatively significant, but also not statistically surprising given Korea's history embedded with war and western influence). My mom was the first in her family to attend church and ultimately evangelized to her own mother, who is now an elder at her church. While we've all had our individual ups and downs in our walks with God, at the surface level (especially in the perception of non-believers), I'd say we're a rather generic Presbyterian household.

I think this post is unfortunately going to be intertwined between a being a faith post and a political one, as the two seem to be constantly tangled lately. I'm going to talk less about my faith and how it's evolved and concentrate more on my strong belief that we should always question what we believe in, especially if they feel passed down from our family or it's an "infection" from those we spend the most time with. As knowledgeable our generation may be with the world's resources and information at our fingertips, I also think we're the easiest to be influenced and it's quite hard to escape the constant messaging that reinforces our beliefs depending on how deep the various algorithms have penetrated our lives. Note that this algorithm isn't limited to our Youtube recommendations, but our social dynamics as well, where our backgrounds, occupations and geographical location literally limits us and forces us to interact and hear one side of the story over and over again.

It's a wild thought spiral to venture into once you start heading in this direction of why you are the way you are - if you never recognize that something else may exist beyond your immediate bubble, then the immediate bubble itself is your world and it's impossible to understand that it's a bubble at all. I think the danger associated with this is that it's often beyond our control and not a "trap" that we can escape simply based on a mindset change. We may go our entire life thinking that pineapple on pizza sucks or mint chocolate is disgusting, without having tried it. But I think a scarier reality is that it's possible that you go entire life not knowing that pineapple could be on pizza at all or mint chocolate exists. If there was a scale that measured being entrapped in your own ideology, I'd rank not being aware of the other side's existence as worse (or I fear it more) than knowing it does but blatantly not trying it out. Obviously for my strict adherence to my favorite PC culture I used less controversial topics (or maybe they're quite controversial, the culture's moving too fast for me now), but this applies to everything and anything nowadays as we live amongst an opinionated lifestyle.

The same holds true, if not at a steeper incline, for faith. Being born into Christianity is a lot like being born into a certain cuisine. You may go your entire life thinking that burgers and fries are the best thing in the world until you head off for college and recognize that dim sum and Brazilian BBQ exists. Furthermore, having tried those things, you may solidify your love for burgers and fries but be glad that you had the experience. You could continue to question whether or not your love for burgers and fries stems from your upbringing as opposed to your genuine affection for the cuisine - and this is where I think I'm with my faith. After recognizing how routine my church-going had become and how the practice had merely become a practice rather than a lifestyle or concrete world view, I began to dive into the beliefs themselves in addition to grasping for what others called truth. But it's hard to disassociate, even at the level of confidence I have in my faith and worldview, whether the confidence derives from my exploration and reaffirmation or the upbringing I had continues to steer my perception of how this universe functions.

I'm well aware that two things make this entire post rather meaningless: (1) I'm discussing the very nature of faith - its entire definition revolves around believing without seeing and putting trust into something somewhat unbelievable. While questioning the truth to make sure it's sound and it's something I can accept is valuable and often encouraged by just churches, it does somewhat defy the purpose of the ideology. (2) If we continue to question whether or not what we believe in (not just religion) comes from who we are and our upbringing as opposed to our logic and thinking (which we can also argue stems from who we are and upbringing), you can't be sure about anything. I know people personally that actually worship this school of thought that we actually shouldn't be sure about anything and all of our beliefs should remain on a confidence interval that never hits 100 - I'm unfortunately (or fortunately, personally) not one of these people.

As I continue to know all the lyrics to the praise songs and hymns during Sunday service and have an immediate reaction to "let's pray," I hope to stay aware of what I deem to be "not being comfortable with what I know and believe just because it's easier that way." The true value, as I mentioned above, in questioning such things often comes in the ways of further solidifying the values you value. Whether this is a case of confirmation bias or not is whole another question, but as my head is starting to hurt, I'm going to sign off and go do my daily Bible reading.

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