High school saw my foundations as a right-winger with some very disturbing ideas about life shaken pretty hard; by 2001 I was already far enough left that I was alarmed by people’s reaction to the September 11th attacks, and I was one of the few people who bothered to say so.

My distrust of the Bush regime- along with an infatuation with an English artist I’d met via the Internet- led me to register for an American university in London, and in 2003 I began my first semester there.

Things didn’t work out with this artist, and in early 2004 I finally admitted- to myself and to friends- that I “might be bi.”  At the time I still wasn’t sure that homosexual acts were consistent with a Christian belief system, and I began to seriously research progressive Christianity.

It was around this time that I met a fellow American via the Internet (while still in London, ironically) who would later become my boyfriend and, much later, my fiance.

For years, I lapped up page after page of fairly compelling arguments, and became increasingly convinced of just how little of the Bible was really clear on anything.

I also became aware of other things.  My university was right on the edge of Richmond Park, and I would spend many long hours among the trees, watching the deer, contemplating life and what it meant.  For the first time, I began to understand that the universe could exist without God as I knew Him.

In April 2005, drawn by some instinct I didn’t fully understand, I spent my spring break in the New Forest, and had many long ruminations about the nature of life and the world.  Between that and Richmond Park, I was never entirely the same.

I returned to America in 2005, and called myself a Christian until around 2006; by this time, however, it had become more rote than meaning.  I simply had moved on from nearly everything that defined me as a Christian, and I at last had to admit that I was functionally agnostic.

I remained an agnostic or atheist- albeit reluctantly- for about 4 years.  At times I felt it was only a concession to facts I couldn’t deny; other times, I used it as a means of feeling superior to others, lashing out at the conservative Christians that I felt had failed me and failed my country so profoundly.

More to come tomorrow in Part 3.