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_“To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, ‘If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.’”_—John 8:31-32 Jordan A. Monge ’12 is a philosophy concentrator. She looks you directly in the eye when she speaks. “Specifically, what do I believe?” she asks, then pauses for a moment. “I believe that Jesus Christ was the son of God, that he died on the cross for my sins and for the sins of the world. In so doing he conquered Satan, defeated death, and three days later was raised from the dead. So I believe in the bodily resurrection of Christ and that also includes a belief in God who is loving and just, merciful and powerful.” For Monge, coming to know God was an arduous, conceptually challenging journey. “My story is very much one of seeing an intellectual appeal in Christianity,” Monge says. This, she recognizes, is rather atypical. Monge, like Tu, entered college not believing in God. She grew up in Orange County, Calif. in a politically conservative, atheist family that places itself somewhere between the Rick Warren megachurch crowd and Hollywood’s secularists. Though the matter of God was always a topic of conversation in her family (her father is an atheist philosophy professor), Monge’s childhood was characterized by a marked absence of religious schooling. She laughs a bit as she recalls her first encounter with the church. Monge was four or five, and her grandmother—a Catholic—decided to bring her to mass. After sitting through the service, she arrived home and eagerly announced: “Dad, I met Jesus today!” Her father, confused, asked, “Wait, what’s going on?” To which the young Monge eagerly replied, “Yeah, he was wearing a dress like when you graduated.” Monge pauses, letting the punch line sink in. “I was talking about the priest and the robes…so I didn’t have a very clear idea of it.” This religious ignorance soon transformed into a deep curiosity about Christ, prayer, and theism. Yet, Monge’s exploration led her to the conclusion that neither God nor Christianity was viable. “Why would I believe in God?’ she remembers asking. “There’s no evidence for God.” In school, Monge had classmates who questioned her about her atheism, and often berated her for refusing to say the “under God” part of the Pledge of Allegiance. Monge argued with them, occasionally picking religious battles between games in gym. Once, the religious kid who sat next to her (who always sat next to her) found out she was atheist. Why don’t you believe in God? What’s wrong with you? He told the whole class. One boy threatened to come to Monge’s house and shoot up all the atheists. But that was only once. However, Monge, who was always very concerned with social justice, found herself struggling in high school to find an atheist moral system in which she was satisfied. “I believed in human rights, but couldn’t really give an explanation as to why,” Monge says, recalling her frustration. She spent her time exploring what morality without religion would look like, pondering how to ground ethics and justify human rights if God didn’t exist. Monge didn’t come up with much, though. There should, she believed, exist a universal morality. But, as she examined the ethical allowances of various cultures, Monge found that what was permissible in one community was often morally suspect in another. It was the relativism that troubled her. John Joseph Porter (He Goes By Joseph Porter) _“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ says the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a future and a hope.’”_—Jeremiah 29:11 “When I came to college I had a friend who really pushed me on this issue and said, well, ‘why?’” Monge looks down at her lap.Freshman year, there were evenings spent talking on secondhand futons in Wigglesworth, hours devoted to philosophizing in empty music practice rooms. J. Joseph Porter ’12, who grew up a Christian, prodded Monge about her atheism, asking her to revisit the moral quandaries that had puzzled her throughout her high school years. He explained, questioned, and debated with her. _Where do your strong ethical and political beliefs come from? How do you fit human consciousness and free will into your moral framework? How did everything come into being?_ During this time, Porter helped Monge realize that, for there to be meaning in her life, God would have to exist. Once, Porter played her a song on the piano—“Hallelujah.” That night, he remembers Monge praying. “I came to think that the reason that we do treat each other with dignity—and that we ought to—is because of this relationship that we have with our creator,” Monge says, reflecting on her early explorations of theism. Monge attended her first service in February, when she accompanied Porter to a meeting of college students at MIT. She was baptized two months later in the Boston Church of Christ, a decision that came as a shock to her parents. Monge chuckles, recalling how her dad suggested, “Maybe you could just wait ’til, you know, 2012.” Questions of how and why her faith developed are ones Monge has thought about and been asked to justify quite often. In fact, soon after her adoption of the Christian faith, Monge wrote a document titled “Converting to Christianity: A Humbling Tale of Love, Longing, and Learning,” which explains the process of her spiritual transformation. It is published as a four-part note on her Facebook. “I’ve heard many people say that the way to convert skeptics or intellectuals is to appeal to their heart, not their head. I think you have to appeal to both,” it reads. “This is a story I never thought I would write, but one that I will never regret.” This is an excerpt pulled from an article posted here: http://www.thecrimson.com/article/2012/3/21/finding-god-at- harvard/?page=single

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1 Sarah R = "Notice Jesus doesn't say "if you believe what I"m teaching, then you are my disciples." He says, "If you HOLD to my teaching." If you FOLLOW my teaching. If you LIVE by what I am saying. Faith is more than believing. It's a way of life."
2 Sarah R = "God is not an either/or God but a both/and. He is loving AND just. He is merciful AND powerful. He is transcendent AND personal. We must recognize both sides of God in order to have a better understanding of Him."
3 Sarah R = "During a "cross-cultural counseling" class in college my classmates actually said that if a culture says it's acceptable for a man to beat his wife or for an adult to have sex with a young child, then we should not judge them and say it is wrong but should also accept them in order to be "culturally sensitive." I was the only advocate in the class trying to argue that something can be wrong even if culturally acceptable!! The relativism troubles me, too."