Liam Young is a former student who, by all measures, shouldn't have gotten along with me. When we first met, he was ultra-conservative and a newly enlisted Marine. But from the very beginning, he was interested in learning and being challenged. Seeing firsthand how the prosperity gospel is both a horrible misreading of the bible and a weapon used against lower-income people, Liam began deconstructing from evangelicalism early on. From there he saw racism and other forms of bigotry ingrained in evangelical culture, but here's where it gets interesting. Instead of sliding into liberal or progressive views, Liam looked more into older versions of christianity.
It's not my thing at all, but it makes a kind of sense when you think about it. Contemporary versions of christianity have added white nationalism, bigotry, and worship of money to their religion, Liam went looking to church traditions that existed around 1500 years before evangelicals were formed. There he and his wife found theological answers to his criticisms of evangelicalism, but there was a catch. They found all this theological wonder in an Egyptian Coptic Orthodox church.
In the end, Liam is a kindred spirit who cares about humanity while holding to his faith. I salute him for that. So many conservative kids came and went through my classroom who refused to engage in discourse about tough topics. Liam was always up for discussion, and he was an eager and active listener. All this made for an amazing story of personal convictions leading to growth and discovery. An inspiring and fascinating story all around.
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