by Carl E. Olson | Catholic World Report blog
A. N. Wilson has been there, seen that, believed this, and rejected that. The British author, now in his sixties, has had an on, off, and on again relationship with Christianity. As a young man, he pursued theological training and potential ordination in the Church of England, but by the late 1980s he was openly atheist, writing a 50-page booklet, Against Religion (1991), that complained of the "intolerance", "authoritarianism" and "spiritual bullying" of the papacy. But, after three decades of skepticism, Wilson announced in 2009 that he had returned to Christianity, a decision that he discussed at length in this essay in The Mail.
For much of my life, I, too, have been one of those who did not believe. It was in my young manhood that I began to wonder how much of the Easter story I accepted, and in my 30s I lost any religious belief whatsoever.
Like many people who lost faith, I felt anger with myself for having been 'conned' by such a story. I began to rail against Christianity, and wrote a book, entitled Jesus, which endeavoured to establish that he had been no more than a messianic prophet who had well and truly failed, and died.
Why did I, along with so many others, become so dismissive of Christianity?
Like most educated people in Britain and Northern Europe (I was born in 1950), I have grown up in a culture that is overwhelmingly secular and anti-religious. The universities, broadcasters and media generally are not merely non-religious, they are positively anti.
To my shame, I believe it was this that made me lose faith and heart in my youth. It felt so uncool to be religious. With the mentality of a child in the playground, I felt at some visceral level that being religious was unsexy, like having spots or wearing specs.
This playground attitude accounts for much of the attitude towards Christianity that you pick up, say, from the alternative comedians, and the casual light blasphemy of jokes on TV or radio.
Now, in a long essay, "I’ve lived through the greatest revolution in sexual mores in our history. The damage it’s done appals me", published in The Mail this past Friday, Wilson takes up the topic of his youth once again as he tears into the sexual revolution that began, as he marks it (fairly accurately, I think), in 1963: