Another Brick in the Wall …

October 19, 2007 at 10:15 am 17 comments

wall.jpgI am very fortunate to have many friends walking this path of de-conversion with me right now. Most of us haven’t totally made a break from the spiritual, but we’ve all come to grips with the fact that “organized religion” is really neither organized or religious, in the sense of the spiritual.

One of my friends is Paul. He was on staff at a “church,” and was dismissed in the name of financial cutbacks. However, he was really let go because he was pushing the envelope and, like all prophets before him, when you start screwing with the status quo, they look for a way to hand you your head. Paul spent a lot of time trying to come to a middle ground with these individuals, but to no avail. Now, he’s simply trying to find which way is up when it comes to spiritual things.

Paul is also a great writer. I would invite any of you to visit his blog: paulfilan.wordpress.com, and respond if you wish. If you visit today, you’ll find an interesting discussion from some of Paul’s “friends.” Like many of us, he’s come out of the ranks of not only “church attendance” but being a participant and leader for years. He’s raw, and very, very authentic. Which, by the way, is another thing “good church people” really do not like, because it forces them to look at who they are and what they believe in ways that make many of them uncomfortable. They will say it’s the words Paul is speaking that they are responding to, but my heart tells me it’s their own fear of confronting their ignorance.

I’m finding the majority of religious people, especially once they are in some type of leadership, are afraid to question their beliefs (although they are liberal in doing so for others). I understand the concept of “maintaining the power” (although especially in a spiritual context, I don’t agree with it), but it just goes against everything I understand. Call me crazy if you will, but I’m beginning to believe so-called Christianity is the most bi-polar institution around. At least we expect politicians to say one thing and do another!

Being the trusting soul I am, and having had good, early examples, I kind of look to “church” people to actually have some semblance of consistency. I know, I keep coming back to this like an idiot, and I just cannot seem to learn my lesson. And I don’t want to become bitter, either. So I hold my hand close, and hope to God someday someone will prove my observations about all the hypocrisy wrong. However, I’m also a realist enough to know that, like the unwanted stray dog, I will keep getting fed by the compassionate, and kicked by the rest of them.

Anyway, I hate to sound like the broken record, but this is just where I still find myself. Even after an amazing discussion with one of my “atheist” friends yesterday (who insists I’m getting closer all the time to making the “leap of un-faith”), I find I still crave something I believe to be real.

I have found a lot of acceptance and encouragement in this de-conversion community. I can’t thank you guys enough for the things you have taught me, and the kind words you have shared. In my own “blogging” way, I have come to trust your views and opinions, which is why I invite you to “get to know” my friend Paul and the idiots that surround us. Oops … that sounded a little too bitter, didn’t it? Anyway, at the very least, you will see one more reason I say the “structure” is building it’s own mausoleum, and hastening its own demise.

- lostgirlfound

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17 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Yueheng  |  October 19, 2007 at 11:54 am

    Hey…I think there’s an error in the link to Paul’s blog. It should be

    http://paulfilan.wordpress.com/

  • 2. The de-Convert  |  October 19, 2007 at 12:39 pm

    Thanks Yueheng. It’s fixed now.

  • 3. societyvs  |  October 19, 2007 at 4:54 pm

    Oh God, did you read the first 2 posts those people sent to Paul? Ouch. They thought they could actually judge him back into the faith – and then defend their right to do so? I was like – this is so ‘not cool’.

    I liked his story and his emotion that came through in the post – it was real. He is struggling and wrestling with this faith or what he thought it all was – and a lot of us can relate – it hurts and it sucks – but that’s change for you. I hope he sticks around and blogs with us all – he seems like a very nice guy.

  • 4. karen  |  October 19, 2007 at 7:29 pm

    Thanks for the link, lostgirl. It sounds like Paul is going through the worst part of deconversion right now. It’s a bitch, I’ll tell ya. Anytime a religious person tells me I chucked belief hastily, or I didn’t struggle enough to hang onto my faith, I’m just flabbergasted. If only they knew how much sincere, heartfelt anguish is involved!

    You wrote:
    I find I still crave something I believe to be real.

    If you’re still hoping to fit in somewhere within the Christian belief system, you might look into the emergent or emerging church if you haven’t already. It’s a small, youth-oriented movement that drives the evangelical community nuts. While it tries to stick with the divinity of the bible, it reinterprets much of the really offensive stuff to conform better to today’s reality. I get the feeling most adherents are very sincere, truth-seeking, kind people with a liberal bent socially and politically.

    It’s not for me, but you might find a home there if you’re really, really desirous to hang onto Christian belief. If you’re willing to go outside Christianity, there’s Unitarian Universalism (where even nonbelievers are welcome) and a number of philosophies of life that could be beneficial to you, such as Buddhist philosophy, practicing yoga, etc.

  • 5. Lorena  |  October 19, 2007 at 7:44 pm

    “Most of us haven’t totally made a break from the spiritual, but we’ve all come to grips with the fact that “organized religion” is really neither organized or religious, in the sense of the spiritual. ”

    Thank you for the link.
    I have to agree with what you said in that paragraph. I was telling some atheist friends of mine that it is very hard to leave Christianity. So hard that even if people become wiccans, or pagans, or whatever, it is still a big step.

  • 6. LeoPardus  |  October 19, 2007 at 8:37 pm

    Anytime a religious person tells me I chucked belief hastily, or I didn’t struggle enough to hang onto my faith, I’m just flabbergasted. If only they knew how much sincere, heartfelt anguish is involved!

    I remember watching an acquaintance going through it 6+ years ago and I was thinking like that.

    Now my wife thinks the same of me.

  • 7. V  |  October 19, 2007 at 11:29 pm

    I just want to thank you lostgirl for posting this and for all the people that took the time to read Paul’s blog and respond. As his wife, it has meant a lot to me (and him)…nice to know we are not alone on this journey. And what Karen said is so true…there is a lot of sincere heart felt anquish in de-converting…especially when you’re not ready to convert to anything else…just freedom! It is a bitch. I might also add it is really hard to not be so angry with people who think they need to save you. AGH!! That is tough. We are being saved right now from those ticky tacky boxes.
    Halleluiah! >smile<

  • 8. LeoPardus  |  October 20, 2007 at 12:41 am

    V:

    Wow. The two of you are together on this. How good for you. Congratulations.

  • 9. Brad  |  October 20, 2007 at 8:50 am

    Wow indeed.

    V:

    I made a couple comments of my own, and while I do not come from quite the same perspective as most of the folks here on d-C (being a Christian), we are very much united in our stance against abusive fundamentalism.

    I cannot even begin to express how sad it is to hear/read Christians who are not accepting or loving of people who are just trying to find their own way. We don’t have it together half as much as we would sometimes like to communicate, yet we err on the arrogant side of confidence (which is fine if expressed with love and humility). I hope and pray that more churches will remove their heads from their asses and realize that there are people hurting because of the way we’ve acted, and just need some love and understanding.

    May the Lord bless you on your journey together! And while I pray that you would find a rekindled faith in Him, I will pray that it is done WELL outside of the abusive experiences that have been so clearly illustrated on your husband’s blog!!!

    -Brad

  • 10. The de-Convert  |  October 20, 2007 at 9:28 am

    Here’s a previous post I did on the subject of spiritual abuse:

    http://de-conversion.com/2007/06/21/spiritual-abuse/

    Also, here’s a site on the subject:

    http://safechurch.com/resources/

    Read the article “Deeds…” and the book review on “The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse”

  • 11. lostgirlfound  |  October 20, 2007 at 10:48 am

    Leo and Brad:

    I’m glad you responded to V, because it lets me know I’m not the only one walking this path without my spouse (who, BTW, is a pastor in an evangelical church). So, it’s normal to walk the path alone? Wow, that gives me hope!

  • 12. Brad  |  October 20, 2007 at 11:58 am

    lostgirlfound,

    “People who never question their faith scare me a little, because I wonder how you can have a relationship with God with perfect security. Doubt must be present for faith to exist.”
    -Stephen Burns

    A modernity-influenced Christianity would have us beileve that truth is only true if we do not doubt. Doubt is necessary (to some degree) for faith. What has your husband said about your struggles? How has he reacted to your questions?

  • 13. LeoPardus  |  October 20, 2007 at 12:20 pm

    lostgirl:
    It seems to be pretty common to take the path away from faith without one’s spouse. Just based on what I’ve seen in various de-conversion fora and blogs, it even seems the norm. But that’s only my impression.
    Some others around here have left spouses behind in the faith. HIS, and Karen are two others I recall with that situation.
    Of course your husband is kind of trapped. If he gave up the faith, or even expressed doubts or questions, he’d be in the unemployment line.

  • 14. karen  |  October 20, 2007 at 2:57 pm

    Deconversion is such an intensely personal, usually highly intellectual process. In what I’ve seen over the past 5-6 years, it’s less likely to be a shared experience, so most of us go it alone while our spouses (if they are religious) look on in a combination of shock, horror, and sometimes anger.

    People who calmly and peacefully accept the deconversion of their spouse are usually either extraordinary people in the first place, or already nonbelievers or non-traditional believers themselves.

    V. and Paul are amongst the lucky few, I’m afraid. There are more than a few divorces that result (see Dan Barker from the Freedom from Religion Foundation), and other couples who seem to make peace with their differences in the long run. I’m thinking, but I don’t recall anyone deconverting and then having their spouse also leave the fold sometime later. I’d like to hear about that if anyone knows of an instance where that happened.

  • 15. The de-Convert  |  October 20, 2007 at 4:15 pm

    Paul, V., etc.

    Please also check out our de-conversion.org site. We’re compiling de-conversion stories: http://de-conversion.org/viewpage.php?page_id=5 and also have a forum for more of a community feel.

    d-C

  • 16. lostgirlfound  |  October 20, 2007 at 7:16 pm

    Karen: You’re right … my husband is an amazing person! He’s even volunteered to give up his profession, but I just can’t have him do that. Why, when I’m asking for acceptance for “who I am” would I ask him to leave that part of himself behind?

    I think he struggles a lot more than he lets on, Brad. But our conversations are becoming less volatile as time goes on. I mean, he’s not easily angered, but this is something that questions his core of being, you know? He was raised in the church, his parents, grandparents, and great grandparents were a part of this denomination! And, he’s “letting go” of things a little at a time … I’m not “required” to go to the structure every Sunday (although I still go often because I like some of the people there). He knows about some “habits” that are frowned upon by the religious people he works with, and has simply asked me not to partake in his presense (a little weird, I know, but …)

    Many of my friends are “worried” about us, but you know what? You don’t invest twenty-plus years into a relationship that produces four amazing, beautiful children and easily walk away from the person who walked the path with you. And, if he ever decides to walk away … I’ll cross that bridge if it comes my way, you know?

    Leo … I haven’t talked about these things with my kids, either.(refering to your discussion on the d-c forum) Your wife sounds very, very wise! While I don’t hide my journey from them, I also don’t go out of my way to involve them in my search. We’re very honest at my house … but why given them more than they need right now?

    So, like Karen, I’d be interested in how you all deal with the …conflict? It’s good at my house right now … but that changes like the weather in Michigan!

  • 17. V  |  October 21, 2007 at 11:52 am

    Thank goodness for sites like this. Lostgirlfound directed me to this site…I know it’s been good for both of us. We’ve also had each other and a couple other friends to question with at least….but I know it is especially difficult when your spouse isn’t along side your like you would like. For Paul and I it has been like we are in the same book, but on different pages sometimes. I might be ahead four or five and just stay there for a bit and then he catches up and we are on the exact same page for a while. It has been harder for him I think. Especially because he was employed by the structure and lived in that for soooo long. For me it was easier, because I never settled in one structure or religion for that matter. My family had their set way of believing when I was growing up, but we went from lutheran to baptist to charismatic/pentecostal to non-denominational (whatever that is). I grew up questioning a lot!…only it wasn’t alright to do that. I never really liked church. Paul is a very passionate, people person. I don’t want to speak for him as absolute, but I would say that is why it is much harder for him…because he did enjoy it and believed he could make a difference. It is much easier for me to walk away than him. And that can be a struggle sometimes. But what Karen posted #14, really hit me. Wow. I am really thankful for where Paul and I are. I don’t want to give the picture that it has been smooth sailing…it has been very very rough and I have wondered if our marriage can take all this change…but we are together….because like RoseMary said on HelsSailing’s post…we love each other. We didn’t get married for any other reason….we were just really young and stupid……….just kidding :-)

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Attention Christian Readers

Just in case you were wondering who we are and why we de-converted.

de-conversion wager

Whether or not you believe in God, you should live your life with love, kindness, compassion, mercy and tolerance while trying to make the world a better place. If there is no God, you have lost nothing and will have made a positive impact on those around you. If there is a benevolent God reviewing your life, you will be judged on your actions and not just on your ability to blindly believe in creeds- when there is a significant lack of evidence on how to define God or if he/she even exists.

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