My journey into and, later, out of Christianity (Introduction)

January 27, 2009 at 12:03 am 41 comments

This year, I’m planning to write a series of posts about my journey into and, later, out of Christianity. I guess I should start at the beginning.

I was born into a multi-faith family. My mother was of Jewish heritage, although her father was an atheist and their family did not practice religion. My father was raised in the Catholic faith, and his mother was very devout. They went to Mass every week, said the rosary every day, and their home was filled with reminders of their faith.

Ever since I was a child, I’ve always been surrounded by friends and family members who were different than me. I never thought I was unusual in this way. Even with a start like that, I was still ignorant of the amount of diversity around me. I was six years old before I realized that not everyone was Catholic or Jewish.

I stood on the front stoop with my mother, looking down the block toward Trisha and Diane’s house. My two friends had invited me to go to Vacation Bible School with them, and since school was out for summer and I was bored, I wanted to go. My mother wasn’t so sure it was a good idea.

“It might seem strange to you,” mommy said. “They’re not Catholic.”

“Oh,” I said, “They’re Jewish?”

“No.”

I didn’t understand. How could someone be not Catholic and not Jewish at the same time? I didn’t ask.

“They’re Christians,” she said, which didn’t clear things up for me at all. Until that moment, my universe did not include anything besides Catholics, like Grandma and Grandpa Druchunas—and us—and Jews, like Grandma and Grandpa Tolen and half of the kids at school.

Vacation Bible School at the Protestant church turned out to be not all that different from Catholic catechism except that we met inside a church instead of at the teacher’s house. The classrooms were dark and dingy, with cinder block walls and small windows that were too high for five-year-olds to look out of. We sat in a semi-circle of miniature plastic chairs, and a the teacher stood by a big felt board covered in paper-doll cutouts. Instead of paper boys and girls with paper clothes, these dolls were characters from the Bible. As the teacher told us stories about Moses and the burning bush, Jonah in the belly of the whale, and Jesus feeding the five-thousand with the loaves and fishes, the little paper Moses and Jonah and Jesus and the whale skipped and swam across the felt board under the control of her fingers.

After the Bible story, we sang songs that were different than the ones we’d learned at school. Nothing with cheery melodies and words about the farmer who had a dog named B-I-N-G-O or the oink-oink here and the cluck-cluck there on Old MacDonald’s farm. Instead we sang a strange sounding song that I didn’t understand. The tune was easy to learn, and the words were repetitive.

Kumbaya my Lord, kumbaya,

Kumbaya my Lord, kumbaya-ah,

Kumbaya my Lord, kumbaya,

Oh Lo-ord, kumbaya.

The other versus added some words I understood, one verse after another, building on the theme.

Someone’s sleeping Lord, kumbaya…

Someone’s crying Lord, kumbaya-ah…

Someone’s praying Lord, kumbaya…

Each verse ending the same way.

Oh Lo-ord, kumbaya.

The music made me feel happy and sad at the same time and I sang along and swayed to the music, even though I didn’t know what the words meant.

I kept humming the song to myself as we worked on a crafts project, making a cross out of noodles, coloring pictures of Jonah and the whale, or some similar childish artwork.

It wasn’t until we all went outside to play and have snack of cookies and Kool-aide that the sweet eeriness of the singing faded away in the sunshine as the noise of sugar-buzzed kids playing drowned out the tune lingering in my mind.

I didn’t think of Vacation Bible School much after the week was over, but I never forgot the new song we’d learned with the strange words and the haunting tune.

Growing up, I didn’t realize that one could choose one’s religion. Although my mother went to the Catholic church, she was still Jewish, wasn’t she? Religion was like nationality: something you were born with, something you shared with your family, something you didn’t — couldn’t — change. Religion wasn’t about belief. It was about tradition and heritage. I didn’t know that many people believed that their religion was “right” and everyone else was “wrong.” Religion, to me, was something you inherited from your parents and grandparents, like your eye color and the shape of your nose.

It was only later, when my mother was born again and when I was baptized in the Holy Spirit, that I started to see religion as something more personal. I would have said, “I’m not religious, I just love the Lord.” And perhaps that’s the crux of the matter. When religion becomes too personal, when it’s not about tradition and heritage and holiday celebrations, but when it’s about belief and salvation and personal sanctification, that it becomes dangerous. When I begin to feel threatened by those who don’t share my beliefs, I become dangerous to myself and others.

After I realized that not everyone was Catholic or Jewish, I found that I had many neighbors who were of differing faiths: Greek Orthodox, Buddhist, Protestant, and even unbelievers. We were all friendly and we all spent time together, focusing on the things we had in common. Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about why it is often so difficult for people of different faiths to respect and befriend each other. When I read the news and blog posts, I feel like most people are surrounding themselves completely with others who are just like them, who believe the same things, and who have the same opinions. I can’t help but think that this trend is dangerous and stifling.

I never ask people what they believe in when I meet them. It eventually comes up, usually months, or even years, later, and by that point it’s irrelevant. Although I also became a born again Christian, and then left my faith behind, many years ago, I still keep in touch with my childhood friends and my evangelical Christian friends. I still like them. We are all still the same people we were all those years ago, even though we’ve followed different paths.

I feel like I’ve come full circle in my life. I was born into a diverse family, as a child I discovered that I was part of a diverse community, and today I find myself living in a diverse world. I would like to embrace that diversity. Over the past eight years, I’ve felt angry towards Christians, written blog posts that were rants against religious extremists, and forgotten that people who are different than me are still people. I’ve started to remember, and I hope you will remember, too. I hope the next eight years will be filled with discussion instead of debate, conversation instead of criticism, and acceptance and inclusiveness instead of anger and isolation.

I look forward to sharing more of my journey here throughout the year.

- writerdd

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God loves you…. Finding Yourself After De-converting

41 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Quester  |  January 27, 2009 at 12:26 am

    Thanks, dd! I look forward to reading more.

  • 2. writerdd  |  January 27, 2009 at 12:29 pm

    Thanks Quester. This was supposed to be a book, but for some reason I can write blog posts on this topic, but the book is going nowhere. So I’d rather share the info here than put the manuscript under the bed.

  • 3. orDover  |  January 27, 2009 at 12:54 pm

    We are all still the same people we were all those years ago, even though we’ve followed different paths.

    If only fundamentalist Christians thought that way, maybe I could finally tell my parents that I’m not “one of them” any longer.

  • 4. writerdd  |  January 27, 2009 at 1:12 pm

    orDover, sorry about your parents. Not all fundies and evangelicals are like that, although I think many — especially those who are less secure in their faith — have some degree of fear about being corrupted or “unequally yoked.” I guess that fear is not entirely unfounded. Look what happened to me, after all. :-)

    Perhaps it’s unusual that I manage to get along with my old friends. We are not as close as we once were, mostly because we don’t live near each other any more. But my mom (you’ll learn more about her in future installments) lives with us now, and jokes about our atheist bumper sticker and is not ashamed to drive our 4WD car with that sticker when it snows. Go figure.

    Have you not tried to talk to your parents at all?

  • 5. orDover  |  January 27, 2009 at 2:32 pm

    Have you not tried to talk to your parents at all?

    I talked to my mom a little bit when I first started de-converting, when I was around 16 and 17. Her response at first was to write it off. She said that everyone had “crises of faith” throughout their lives. A few months later when I was still having problems, she gave me several apologetic books to read, such as Classic Christianity and Evidence that Demands a Verdict. Then as my doubts continued, she told me that, obviously, demons were fighting for my soul. That’s when I stopped bringing it up.

    She’s a very strong believer in the influence of demons, and I don’t know how I could possibly admit that I’m an atheist without her thinking that they won the battle for my soul, and that I am now possessed or evil something similar. I don’t think there is any way that she could still see me as the same person.

  • 6. SnugglyBuffalo  |  January 27, 2009 at 4:18 pm

    orDover-

    She’s a very strong believer in the influence of demons, and I don’t know how I could possibly admit that I’m an atheist without her thinking that they won the battle for my soul, and that I am now possessed or evil something similar. I don’t think there is any way that she could still see me as the same person.

    I’ve been dealing with that a bit lately myself. My mom claims she is physically assaulted by demons when she prays for me, leaving her paralyzed (sounds psychological to me, especially since she got a nasty bump on the head in her childhood that left her epileptic). Of course, only she can see them. I’m actually starting to think that she needs to seek professional help for this, but she’ll never do it, obviously.

    And she’s already dropped that she thinks I’m a different person now. I think it’s mostly that I’m standing up to her where I used to just passively dismiss some of her sillier notions, and she’s not used to that. None of my close friends would say I’ve changed. I’m willing to bet that with time she’ll realize I’m still the same person I always was, aside from some changed beliefs.

    Still, through it all she’s affirmed that she doesn’t want our differences to drive us apart (we’ve pretty much agreed that discussions of religion are taboo, it just ends up getting both sides upset); she still wants to be part of my life, and I’d wager your family will, too. It certainly won’t be easy, and I doubt things will ever “be the way they were” once you come out. On the other hand, I feel so much better now that I’ve told my family, now that I know where we stand instead of constantly wondering and worrying.

    Of course, had my mom not started probing me on my lack of church attendance, I very well could still be in the closet on my atheism. I understand where you’re at, and I wish I could offer more than my own anecdotes and empathy.

  • 7. writerdd  |  January 27, 2009 at 4:23 pm

    Well, if you can get along by avoiding the subject, that seems OK to me. I mean, I hardly ever discuss religion with my family, even though they know I don’t believe (they read my blog, so it’s no secret, even though I have never actually told anyone face to face “I am an atheist.”) Years ago I told my mother that she wasn’t welcome in my house if she was going to try to witness to me and get me to “come back to the Lord”… and if I expect that of her, then I have to respect her enough to not try to convince her that she is wrong either. Sadly, not everyone is able to let others be what and who they are.

  • 8. Anastasi  |  February 1, 2009 at 12:38 am

    Ok, I don’t know how you got de-converted and I don’t know how you stopped trusting God, but He is trustworthy. How do you explain all the work He has done in many lives? He is powerful and real. How do you explain people who try so hard to prove God doesn’t exist but they end up believing in Him? Personally I think people don’t believ in Him because they can’t see Him but you can’t see life but it’s there. You can’t see the wind but it’s there. There’s evidence eveywhere. Trusting in Him is the key to seeing Him. Maybe you haven’t trusted enough.

  • 9. LeoPardus  |  February 1, 2009 at 12:55 am

    Oh fer cryin’ out loud. Why can’t these drive-by’s ever read the BIG RED EXCLAMATION POINT posts?

    I don’t know how you stopped trusting God

    Wrong. Do try reading more carefully. DD no longer believes in a deity.

    but He is trustworthy

    You don’t need to look back very far at all to find my post, “Reasons why I can no longer believe: 4 – God is not trustworthy”

    How do you explain all the work He has done in many lives?

    Psychology does just fine without resort to an invisible unknown.

    He is powerful and real.

    Why is it so terribly difficult to understand that simply asserting something with vigor does not make it true?

    How do you explain people who try so hard to prove God doesn’t exist but they end up believing in Him?

    Bad research. Bad thinking. Wishful thinking. The influence of people and circumstances in their lives. There could be many other explanations that don’t require an invisible, unknowable, supernatural being.

    By contrast, how would you explain people who try so hard to believe, who scream and cry in anguish because they don’t want to lose the faith that has defined them and been precious to them for so long, who plead with your deity for anything to help them hold on, yet in the end they get nothing but silence?
    (I know, you say, “You didn’t look hard enough, listen closely enough, pray or wait long enough…. god speaks in a still, quiet voice, maybe he did send you a [fill in the blank] and you never noticed…………..”]

    Personally I think people don’t believ in Him because they can’t see Him

    Can’t see, hear, detect in any way; can’t discern any influence that rises above random chance; can’t see any effect on the lives of believers compared to non-believers; can’t see any effect of prayer; can’t see the church being any less corrupt or ineffective or reforming that any other organization.

    but you can’t see life but it’s there. You can’t see the wind but it’s there.

    Sheesh! Why the same lame idiocy time after time after time?
    I can see life all around me. I can feel the wind and hear it and observe its effects very clearly.

    There’s evidence eveywhere.

    Point to some. [Note: Sunsets and babies being born are not miracles.]

    Trusting in Him is the key to seeing Him. Maybe you haven’t trusted enough.

    As I asked at the top…… why oh why?

  • 10. writerdd  |  February 1, 2009 at 1:53 pm

    Anastasi, I hope you will keep reading throughout the year as I continue to post about my journey. My future articles will answer many of your questions. But please note that I am just telling my story which perhaps will help others who are struggling with doubt and fear about losing their faith.

    I am not trying to convince anyone, such as yourself, who is a believer to turn away from their faith. I only ask that people question everything and don’t accept their faith or any religious doctrine at face value without sincere questioning and evaluation.

  • 11. Cyndi in BC  |  February 5, 2009 at 7:38 pm

    Very interesting post and comments!

    You know, maybe your book just isn’t ready to be written yet because you haven’t finished receiving feedback and discussions such as this one.

    I’ve thought about writing a similar book about my journeys through life. More for myself than with a goal of publishing.

    I haven’t been to this site before. I think I’ll do some looking around. :)

  • 12. writerdd  |  February 5, 2009 at 9:18 pm

    Thanks Cyndi. Yeah, it may be a book someday, or maybe not. I think I’m ok with wherever this leads. I have found writing for myself to be helpful, too. Sometimes I write to figure out what I think about something.

  • 13. anti-supernaturalist  |  February 26, 2009 at 9:43 pm

    ** You want autonomy — to become who you are! **

    Becoming-who-you-are or ‘individuation’ (to use Jung’s terminology) is the goal of personal growth. It cannot occur without self-doubt or without doubting authority and authority figures.

    When you’ve made a “leap of faith” into hyper-religious space there is no return except by self-assertion, and doubt is just one form of it.

    It’s not surprising that even attempting to leave a near-eastern religious culture which demands ’subordination’ or ’submission’ to someone else’s interpretation of an alleged *will of god* does adversely affect the psychological well-being of the so-called apostate. (Particularly when you’re the one who is becoming balanced and self-possessed.)

    You’ll emulate defiant Prometheus and steal the fire rather than submit to the dictates of the pauline Jesus. The hero labors, struggles, succeeds, or dies trying; but throughout remains human.

    Welcome to a very hard, worthwhile journey — as Pindar puts it “of coming to be who you are.”

    anti-supernaturalist

  • 14. grace  |  February 27, 2009 at 8:09 pm

    Hi, Leo Pardus,

    Just happened on this blog again from unreasonable faith. It doesn’t seem to me that serious questions, and honest doubt mean the absence of faith, just a radical search for truth.

    I do think that if people are crying out to God to help them believe, or to “hold on,” on some level they must already have faith. Why would it all matter so much to them, otherwise?

    If the Christian story is true, then God cares for us so much that even the hairs of our head are numbered, and in the end we don’t have to worry about holding on…. He’s holding onto us whether we happen to realize it or not.. In the end faith really will be come sight, so to speak.

  • 15. LeoPardus  |  February 27, 2009 at 8:27 pm

    If the Christian story is true, then God cares for us so much that even the hairs of our head are numbered, and in the end we don’t have to worry about holding on

    Right. One more reason for all of us decons not to worry. :)

  • 16. grace  |  February 27, 2009 at 8:41 pm

    Absolutely, LeoPardus. :)

  • 17. Ubi Dubium  |  February 28, 2009 at 11:24 am

    Grace:

    I do think that if people are crying out to God to help them believe, or to “hold on,” on some level they must already have faith. Why would it all matter so much to them, otherwise?

    But do they have faith in “god”, or do they have faith in “faith”? So many “believers” don’t seem to have a need for “god” so much as they have a need to “believe in something”. Any religion can fill that need, but it doesn’t speak to whether any of them are “true”.

  • 18. Yurka  |  February 28, 2009 at 11:34 am

    #17, Amen

  • 19. grace  |  February 28, 2009 at 2:48 pm

    Good point, Ubi.

  • 20. Quester  |  February 28, 2009 at 3:39 pm

    Hey, Grace,

    It doesn’t seem to me that serious questions, and honest doubt mean the absence of faith, just a radical search for truth.

    I’d agree with you. I struggled with serious questions and honest doubt for almost a decade before I experienced an absence of faith. They are very much different things.

  • 21. grace  |  March 1, 2009 at 8:21 am

    Hi, Questor,

    I have a question. :) What do you feel are some of the best things for Christians to do to support people who are experiencing honest doubt, and struggling with issues of faith, or even the absence of faith.

    And, what are somethings that are not too helpful? Hey, if anyone else is around, or would want to comment on this, feel free. I would appreciate it .

    Thanks.

  • 22. Yurka  |  March 1, 2009 at 6:03 pm

    #21 Grace, can you clarify? As a Christian, do you believe there are any real consequences of unbelief?

  • 23. Ubi Dubium  |  March 1, 2009 at 11:35 pm

    Grace, ignore Yurka. I’ve yet to read anything helpful from him.

    My first suggestion would be to refer you to the big red exclamation point on the right side of your screen, and there click on “why we deconverted”. Then, from that post, click on the link for the post named “convenient categories”. That will take you to a really great posting that is full of “what not to say” to someone who is dealing with doubt or loss of faith.

  • 24. Yurka  |  March 2, 2009 at 11:41 am

    Grace, don’t let “Ubby” bully you out of thinking for yourself. Lawyers for the association of American corn farmers have a ‘big red exclamation point’ of what to say to people who doubt the health virtues of high fructose corn syrup. But as I say, what you believe about the consequences of unbelief, the reality of Christianity, and the trustworthiness of the bible will determine how you should counsel someone struggling with unbelief. Is this just a matter of taste, like whether one should wear Hawaiian shirts or not, or does it have real consequences, like whether someone should smoke or not?

  • 25. Joshua  |  March 2, 2009 at 12:57 pm

    “What do you feel are some of the best things for Christians to do to support people who are experiencing honest doubt, and struggling with issues of faith, or even the absence of faith.”

    Genuinely try to understand every point being made. Once you have reached this point of understanding, you will know :)

  • 26. grace  |  March 2, 2009 at 8:41 pm

    Thanks guys. :)

  • 27. grace  |  March 2, 2009 at 9:19 pm

    Yurka,

    I wanted to come back and answer your question. One of the biggest consequences in my life that I personally experienced when I wasn’t a Christian believer was a more judgmental, and less caring attitude toward others. I didn’t fully realize how precious people were created in the image, and likeness of God. I tended to judge people more just based in performance, and wrongly thought I had it altogether, when I actually didn’t.

    I didn’t have a concious awareness of the depth of God’s love, and my own purpose.

    I think that I didn’t even value the creation to the same depth that I do today, or consider that we were meant to be stewards of the earth.

    I guess I could go on, and on. But, you can see where I’m coming from.

  • 28. Joshua  |  March 2, 2009 at 10:07 pm

    grace –

    For many of us, the story was completely switched. As a Christian I think I was for more judgmental and unloving than when I left. I felt almost programmed by the Christianity I knew to find fault with others. Perhaps its just a different perspective?

    I wonder if conversion (either way) is often accompanied or influenced by an increasing sense of the awareness of others and the human need for love and understanding?

  • 29. Quester  |  March 2, 2009 at 11:47 pm

    Hey, Grace,

    What do you feel are some of the best things for Christians to do to support people who are experiencing honest doubt, and struggling with issues of faith, or even the absence of faith.

    Put yourself in their shoes. If you were experiencing honest doubt or struggling with issues of faith, what would you want? Reassurance that doubt does not lead to eternal hellfire? Reassurance that God is secure and confident enough to withstand being questioned or loving enough to want people to seek Him through any means possible? Evidence that God exists, loves each individual human and acts out of that love? Responses regarding the evil and suffering that people experience, without blaming the victims for being who God created them to be?

    As for those struggling with the absence of faith, ask yourself what they are struggling with. Imagine that you lived in a world where 90% of the other people believed something you did not. Some of those others think that you are immoral, evil, deluded, or simply condemned to everlasting torment. The majority of people do not want you in a position of power over them. They do not want you to be able to express disagreement with them, and call you militant or extremist when you do. Imagine that there are a significant number of people who believe that you were pre-determined to be tormented for eternity by a loving and all-powerful creator who made you for that purpose. Imagine that your family raised you to believe something that they had no evidence for, and when you realized this, you stopped believing, leading your family to disown you. Imagine that people in power put up shrines to something you did not believe exists in your workplace, your school, your town, your court rooms, your public parks, your television station, radio stations and in your movie theatres, assuming that anyone right-thinking agreed with them.

    Heck, if it’s easier, imagine you were one of the earliest Christians in the first century after Jesus died. How would you want the Romans to treat you? How would you want the Pharisees to support you?

    Does this help you at all?

  • 30. grace  |  March 3, 2009 at 9:30 am

    Yes, ((Quester))) !!!

    Your comments have touched me deeply. I’m praising God for you, and your ministry even as an atheist, if that makes sense. :)

  • 31. grace  |  March 3, 2009 at 9:33 am

    It might be Johsua, although I think the object, and reason for conversion would be most significant.

    I have to honestly tell you, and I hope this won’t cause offense, but I think anything that calls itself Christianity that makes people more judgemental, less loving, and all around plainly miserable is bound to be a counterfeit.

    Praise to Christ that you are free of it!

  • 32. Yurka  |  March 3, 2009 at 12:18 pm

    hi, Grace. I hope you don’t think it’s judgmental just to perceive the condition of someone as unbelieving. It would be judgmental to believe that I am intrinsically worse than any unbeliever. But I don’t think it’s judgmental to merely perceive that someone is an unbeliever, and this means that they will be judged by their sins, and that I would like them to receive grace.

    And I’m not sure what resonates with you re Quester’s comments. He raises a bunch of strawmen that I’ve never come across. Ask yourself – are the objections of atheists usually based on rational arguments? I’ve hardly ever seen them here. Mostly they are arguments by outrage that people could ever be held accountable for the evil they think or do.
    The devil’s in the details, and Quester doesn’t really give any, does he? They never do. When they try they are easily refuted (Jesus murdered a fig tree to make a point! How evil!, etc.)

    I want them to be cured. Do you? But the only way is to preach the word to them in the hope that it will be the means by which they will be convicted.

  • 33. Yurka  |  March 3, 2009 at 12:25 pm

    #32 Duh. I meant “it would be judgmental to believe that I am intrinsically *more virtuous* than any unbeliever”. Freudian slip? :)

  • 34. Quester  |  March 3, 2009 at 2:41 pm

    Yurka,

    The purpose of this site is not to argue that God does not exist and convince people to convert (or deconvert) to atheism.

    The purpose of this site is to support skeptical, deconverting, or former theists.

    This is why you rarely find convincing arguments here; we’re not trying to convince anyone. I don’t care what you believe, Yurka. I don’t have to. It doesn’t affect me, and I no longer believe there are eternal consequences for you.

    You say I’ve presented a bunch of strawmen in #29. “Strawman” is a type of argument. But in #29, I’m not presenting any arguments. I’m telling Grace how to support someone she has chosen to care about. You’re right that I’m not supplying details. I don’t know the specific person she’s wanting to support. I’m providing generalities she can adapt as needed.

    We’re here to support people, and be supported. We’re not here to argue with them. There are other blogs dedicated to that purpose.

    Do you go onto pastoral care blogs and complain that their case studies and responses lack rigor as evangelical apologetics?

  • 35. Yurka  |  March 3, 2009 at 3:07 pm

    Fair enough quester. I’m just concerned grace is asking people who reject Christianity what the best way is to counsel people who are rejecting Christianity. There is so much relativism in today’s society, and I’m sure even decons would agree it does no good to cloud the issue with it.

  • 36. BigHouse  |  March 3, 2009 at 4:05 pm

    I’m just concerned grace is asking people who reject Christianity what the best way is to counsel people who are rejecting Christianity.

    Who better to ask? Know thy audience…

    There is so much relativism in today’s society, and I’m sure even decons would agree it does no good to cloud the issue with it.

    What does this even mean?

  • 37. Quester  |  March 3, 2009 at 4:05 pm

    Yurka, I think I hear you, but if you go up and re-read #21, she asked how to support people, not how to counsel them. I responded accordingly.

    I understand that your belief that there is not only an objective truth, but that He became incarnate for the salvation of all (or some, I don’t actually know where you stand on predestination) makes it very important for you whether or not someone accepts that reality is as you believe it is.

    Not believing in eternal consequences, I am less concerned with whether a take on reality is correct, than with it being harmful to the self or to others- within this lifetime.

    So for you, the issue is “what is truth”, am I right? So, all your ideas about counsel point to what you believe truth to be, and relativism clouds this issue.

    Since I have been asked what can be done to support someone, the issue for me is “how to help someone fulfill their potential as a human being without harming or sacrificing the potential of others”. Thus, all my rhetorical questions point to reciprocal ethics, which you might be more familiar with phrased as, “love your neighbour as you love yourself”. In this, relativism is less an issue, and more something to take into consideration.

    For example, you might argue that you consider being saved from eternal torment by the blunt revelation of unvarnished truth to be the most loving act you could receive. But would you not want this truth to be presented to you in a way that you could receive it? This is where relativism- or, more accurately, empathy- comes in. Look at your target audience. In what way do they receive things as truth? Present it in that fashion.

    That’s all I’m saying in #29: if you want to support a doubter or unbeliever, think of what “receiving support” would mean to you if you were struggling with honest doubt or no longer had faith, and then give that as best you can. For you, it may mean sharing truth in different fashions. For another, it may mean standing up for the personhood of the athiest in the face of those who would caricaturize them, deny they deserve the same rights or respect as any other human, or otherwize label them as somehow subhuman. A third might decide the most loving thing to do is actually listen to the person struggling with doubts or not having belief, and try to understand who the person is and how the person actually sees the world. I know that you have argued with many of that third type of person who has come to this blog.

    I don’t know what Grace considers most loving. This is another reason I used rhetorical questions and generalizations- to make her think of what she would consider most loving if she were in our boots. To make it even easier, I gave her an example she may have more experience empathizing with. The more I think about it, the more I like my example:

    If you were a first century Christian, and the Pharisees were telling you that you were not one of God’s chosen because you did not follow the right rules, the Sadducees were telling you that you were not one of God’s chosen because you were not worshipping at the right temple, the Herodians were telling you that you were not one of God’s chosen because you did not have the right politics, the Romans were telling you that you were not a proper citizen because you did not appropriately revere the Emperor, and that you were an athiest because there was no physical representation of your god in your worship space, how would you want one of these Jews or Romans to support (love) you?

    So, yes, I agree that relativism should not cloud the issue. I just disagree with what the issue is, and what relation relativism or objective truth has to “the issue”.

  • [...] My journey into and, later, out of Christianity (Introduction) [...]

  • 39. Was I saved or brainwashed? « de-conversion  |  May 20, 2009 at 1:06 pm

    [...] My journey into and, later, out of Christianity (Introduction) [...]

  • 40. Change creeps in unawares « de-conversion  |  June 10, 2009 at 8:52 am

    [...] Part I: Introduction [...]

  • 41. Dealing with Doubt « de-conversion  |  September 20, 2009 at 7:13 pm

    [...] Part I: Introduction [...]

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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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