I haven't always been pro-Christian in the past. I wouldn't say I was anti-Christian either, but I was very... reserved about making friends with and/or interacting with Christians. I had some very bad experiences with some rather close-minded adherents of the faith, and sadly they colored my view of the group as a whole for much longer than I like to admit. There were even times when I made the attempt to interact with Christians with the idea that I might convert to the community at least, if not the faith. One particular interaction sticks out in my mind as being especially harsh. A friend of mine had asked me to attend a meeting at someone's house where there would be plenty of singing and some informal prayer and discussion. At one point it somehow came up that some of the members believed that if you didn't believe in Jesus Christ as Savior, you shouldn't even sing the songs. This seemed so completely petty to me, that I shut up for the rest of the meeting, locked down, and pretty much didn't talk to anyone. If God belonged to everyone, it didn't make sense to me to hoard words and songs of praise to Him just because I wasn't a believer in my heart yet.
Stuff like that made it more or less impossible for me to ever become a Christian, and if they were trying to spread the word of Jesus, they totally fucked up with me on that count.
It wasn't until college that I met someone who might have been able to convert me again, and in a sense he did. Not necessarily to being a Christian, but to at least trying to be more Christlike in my dealings with my fellow human beings. And I can tell you, it is not easy opening your heart. I'm of course talking about Matthew, my room mate, and his parents as well. Matthew loved God, he carried God with him every day, I never saw him kneel and pray because his every breath was a prayer to God. He was a tender soul who loved everyone; even, it seems, those who hurt him the most.
We had been room mates for a couple of semesters when I finally asked him, despite my trepidation at learning the answer, if he thought I was going to hell. His answer was not only a kindness, but also I think the only answer he could give. He told me, “I don't know.” This is the same answer that Cron gives to his alcoholic and emotionally absent father on his deathbed, and I think it's the only answer that someone who is trying to live a Christlike life can give.
Had Matthew answered with anything other than what he did, I might have felt or always wondered if he was lying to me. Or even worse, if he had told me he thought I was going to hell, we would always have had that wall between us and not been able to experience the love we did have for each other. The love he showed to me in that moment has been one of the greatest gifts, and while it may not have brought me to God, it did allow me to accept the love and friendship of his followers where I once may have turned it away. He taught me what it means to be a Christian, even if I cannot follow the faith. I can only hope that others will take this into their hearts and their lives and, like Matthew and Cron, learn to say, “I don't know,” when it comes to saying who does and does not go to hell.
My review can be found on Goodreads.
LibsNote: Review copy sent by publicist.