Peace or the Sword?

January 7, 2011 at 10:31 pm 41 comments

“Dear Abby”

I want to take a moment to put before our community here an issue that has come up for me recently.  It’s a small question, but I think ties into something bigger.  I’d love to hear everyone’s thoughts.

I just recently entered the 21st century, and joined Facebook.  The last filaments of my SNL (Social Networking Luddite) resistance eroded away as I decided that, [huffily] okay fine, it really is a pretty good way to keep up with friends and family whom I would otherwise rarely see. 

 So, now I’m on Facebook. My family, too, is on Facebook.  My saved, Bible-believing, churchgoing, Christian-rock-listenin’, Sarah-Palin-lovin’, Obama-can’t-standin’, fundamentalist family.   And you can be sure of that, because their profile (not to mention “status” updates) say so.

 Me…. well, now, not so much. Now, my FB profile could – could – if written for full disclosure, accurately say something like (one could mix and match here, so take your pick): secular, atheist-leaning agnostic, humanist, religious naturalist, and liberal/progressive, existentialist, militant agnostic (“I don’t know and neither do you”), and, of course, Arrested Development fan.

 There are more contrasts to be had, too, when you get to the likes and dislikes sections.  I do not have a favorite book of devotionals or apologetics. I do not watch Fox.  Ever. I do not write “Happy Birthday Jesus” on Christmas day. I dislike C. S. Lewis and have no favorite scripture.   Instead, my favorite quote (or one of them) would be from Nietzsche:

But I am one who can bless and say Yes, if only you are about me, pure and light, you abyss of light; then I carry the blessings of my Yes into all abysses.  I have become one who blesses and says Yes; and I fought long for that and was a fighter that I might one day get my hands free to bless.  But this is my blessing: to stand over every single thing as its own heaven, as its round roof, its azure bell, and eternal security; and blessed is he who blesses thus.

 My profile could say these things.  But it does not.  Nor do I put up posts and updates about something exciting I just read from Carl Sagan or Richard Dawkins, or something interesting I learned from Bart Ehrman or Robert Price. I deliberately stay away from anything strongly religious or political.  I do not link to anything I write on this blog.  I know that, essentially, when on FB you are in mixed company.  Many people will see what you write.  Given the intensity of their views, and, frankly, the prickliness of their views, many of my family and friends would be very upset indeed at the sort of things I have to say. So I restrain myself.  I try to keep it light, try not to offend.  Even if it means downplaying who I am and what I really think.  I hold back.

But they don’t.  My family and extended family put up religious (and political – strongly conservative) posts all the time.  They make not the slightest pretense of holding back.

 Now, it doesn’t bother me so much what their views are.  It’s not the content, in other words.  I know what they believe and I expect lots of Jesus-this and Jesus-that.  The rub for me is that it does not seem even to occur to them to refrain, as I do, for the sake of not ruffling feathers.  They know, broadly at least, what I think and what my opinions are, and in person we have an unspoken agreement to simply not talk about sensitive matters. But on FB, it’s damn the torpedoes, full creed ahead.

 So my question is simply this: they do not make any effort to downplay or even tone down their views for my sake.   Should I?  So far, I am of two minds about this.  One the one hand, part of me feels I shouldn’t tone down, anything, at all, beyond what one might normally do in a public forum.  Just be me and write whatever I think, whether it’s religious, anti-religious, political, gallows humor, or none of the above. It may cause friction, and if so we’ll either work that out or we won’t, but regardless, being a secular humanist, atheist/agnostic, or whatever is nothing to be ashamed of and I should not treat it as such.

On the other hand, just who am I trying to model myself after here?  Why should I aim deliberately to mimic this wear-one’s-ideology-on-one’s –sleeve mentality that I, frankly, can’t stand?  Being an atheist is not the most important thing about me.  It is the absence of theistic belief, not an organizing theme for a life. Besides, I kind of suspect that those who feel the need to publically, and over and over, affirm their beliefs are too wrapped up in (and insecure about) their own identity.  Why go around declaring yourself to be this or that?  That’s insecurity, and it’s off-putting to others, and it’s kind of pointless.   It’s like saying, “Don’t forget – I’m a Christian!! Don’t forget!!”  And moreover, I do think it’s kind of incumbent upon liberals – valuing tolerance and pluralism as we do – to be more sensitive to these matters and to make a greater effort to avoid pointless, arbitrary divisiveness and tribalism.

Now, I know that FB is not such a big deal.  It doesn’t really matter whether I put a Nietzsche quote in my profile or not.  But it does have to do, I think, with how we present ourselves, as atheists, agnostics, and humanists, as nonbelievers, as deconverts, to our families and to the world.  If we hold back for the sake of peace, are we confident and mature, with a healthy dose of perspective, or merely lacking in resolve?  Conversely, if we let it all hang out, are we simply being true to ourselves and claiming our rightful place in this pluralistic society, or are we being somewhat self-centered jerks, more interested in spouting off about me, me, me, than we are in our lives and our relationships and the things that really matter?

I don’t know the answer.  What say you?

Richard

“Perplexed About His Profile”

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Why We Leave Are You Sure You’re Sure?

41 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Nathan  |  January 8, 2011 at 1:11 am

    Isn’t there a middle ground? Can’t you select a few posts that might allow those who have ears to hear, but those who cover their ears to miss it? It’s my experience that many fundamentalists will find away to ignore challenging views due to the cognitive dissonance they create, as long as they don’t feel attacked. At the same time you’ll be surprised at who is ready to listen. Be intentional about your post and ask what you want your audience to take from it and what they can hear at their developmental stage.

  • 2. Phil Stilwell  |  January 8, 2011 at 2:18 am

    Personally, I choose not to debate religion on the FB profile pages of family members, yet allow them to post to my own profile page as long as the comments provide actual evidence and argumentation.

    I ended up blocking 2 fundamentalist siblings who could not restrain themselves to this. I have to admit their absence from my life does not bother me much.

    My mother chooses to communicate her rebukes to me by posting bible verses on her own profile page, but we normally get along fine whenever I call her.

    I don’t hesitate to post quite pointed critiques of the bible, faith and religion on my profile page, and I’m in constant debate with some of my former church mates.

    Since I have nearly 1,000 FB friends, I find this a good way to communicate my position, plus it keeps me honest and on my toes.

  • 3. Quester  |  January 8, 2011 at 2:43 am

    I don’t have many family members on FB, and when I was a Christian, I was the most fundamentalist of my friends. The friends I have left, if Christian, are fairly liberal in their faiths. Still, I’m more likely to post links to the Symphonies of Science series, or TED videos and cheer for the wonder of reality, rather than post attacks or debates. I tend to treat my FB wall like my home, and my FB friends like invited guests, and practice behaviour I see fit as a host. I treat their walls as their homes, and act like a guest. If I am treated poorly as either host or guest, there are defriending and ignoring options available.

  • 4. Tomas S  |  January 8, 2011 at 7:23 am

    I try to avoid getting into debates on Facebook, and I usually don’t comment on other people’s religious postings. but my wall is my own area for sharing my thoughts. People read my wall of their own choice. What I notice is that people really do not get it. They think I’m harping on my godlessness, while other people post about God all day long and nobody bats an eyelash.

  • 5. Ubi Dubium  |  January 8, 2011 at 8:36 am

    Quester, I really like your approach. I’ve been avoiding Facebook for several reasons, and this issue is one of them. (The biggest other reason is that it’s a massive time-suck, and I don’t need any more encouragement to spend more hours posting on the internet!) I have several places, including work and my chorus, where there are devout people I have to deal with on a regular basis, and I work hard to avoid the topic of religion entirely. I prefer that in my day-to-day interactions with colleagues and acquaintences, the rule of avoiding “religion and politics” be the norm, and I try to set a good example on that.

    Among my friends and on the internet I’m free to say what I please, bash religion when I feel like it, and call out stupiditiy when I see it. Facebook would bring those two worlds into collision, and I really don’t need that complication in my life right now. I’ll stick to Atheist Nexus for now. It’s not as active, but it’s safely anonymous.

  • 6. Eve's Apple  |  January 8, 2011 at 7:46 pm

    I don’t currently have a Facebook page but may eventually get one due to the fact that most of the members of the professional organization I belong to have one. That said, I personally would be very careful about what I put up there. You don’t know who will be reading it and what their motives are. Things can be taken out of context. Also, in an age of diminishing privacy, I have learned to guard what little I have left.

    I had the disconcerting experience at work of having my name publicly googled during a meeting and brought up on the screen for all to see. Everything that I had done on-line under my own name plus everything that others who shared my name had done on-line came up. And a couple of those were pretty questionable. Of course those were the ones my co-workers latched on to right away and no amount of my telling them it was someone else would change their minds! Luckily no harm was done–but. You just never know where that information will pop up. Given people’s attitudes I would not put anything but the blandest of information on my Facebook page. And not just because I worry about my family members reading it. That is just my two cents worth.

  • 7. Sylvia  |  January 9, 2011 at 6:40 pm

    Thanks for all your post. I enjoy reading each of them. You should write a book.

  • 8. Vol-E  |  January 9, 2011 at 9:13 pm

    I have a very similar problem and have solved it by putting up 2 FB pages. They have very similar names, but one is the “real” me, snarky atheist warts & all, with very tight privacy controls. The other is specifically geared toward my evangelical Christian in-laws and my similarly inclined co-workers (the company is privately owned by a religious family; we used to get “Our Daily Bread” dropped onto our desks 4 times a year, whether we asked for it or not). It’s very “vanilla,” I go there less than once a week, and the privacy settings are as wide-open as the Montana sky. So far, it’s worked; I feel no compunctions about this little bit of deceit because, in the words of Mr. Nicholson, the people who see me on the “vanilla” site can’t handle the truth, and I’m not inclined to get confrontational about it and jeopardize my tenuous peace of mind.

  • 9. Serenity  |  January 10, 2011 at 7:19 pm

    I used to have the same questions until like a few days ago. If your life isn’t in danger (because some people’s lives ARE in danger for speaking up or presenting their true selves), I say speak up and show your real self. If someone wants to debate your views with you and tell you you’re wrong, just tell them, “To you be your way, to me be mine.” We can be friends without holding the same views; we can be united without being the same. I’d even think this is a great way/test to see who’s going to stand by you. All you need in life is a couple of folks to support you and give you hope and faith in humanity so you can continue living for the next.

  • 10. grasshopper  |  January 11, 2011 at 12:02 am

    I have a lot of the same concerns about facebook. My former school friends and family members are constantly posting their jesus stuff, but I exercise caution. I tend to post links, so that people can choose whether to be exposed to the view or not.

    I will say, though, that shortly after coming out as a lesbian to my family, I changed my status to “out.” An aunt and uncle came out of the woodwork, having seen and understood my status and what it would mean for my relations with other family members. They are now the most supportive relations I have, and the first relations to meet my partner.

    So there are benefits to putting yourself out there. It can go either way.

  • 11. mike  |  January 11, 2011 at 2:20 am

    It’s interesting how Christians proclaim their views on FB as if they are so original and unique for holding those views. They aren’t posting because they think they’re in the majority… they post because they think they are “witnessing” to the majority.

    And while we’re on the subject… how insanely annoying is it when speaking about God, they capitalize he and him? I don’t think there is anything that gets my blood boiling more than that.

    “yay! the minors have been freed… give Him all the glory! Thank you Jesus!!!! He is the deliverer and miracle worker… He is so good!!!!”

    yeah, how many of you just threw up in your mouth?

  • 12. LifeTrekker  |  January 13, 2011 at 12:01 am

    I have had many of the the same concerns with regards to FB and what, if anything, I should post there regarding my recent de-conversion.

    Part of my concern is that while many of my FB friends, especially the people I know from my former church and my immediate family, already know about my de-conversion, I don’t think any of my old high school and hometown friends do. Not that it really matters what they think all that much, since before FB I had pretty much lost contact with almost all of them anyway. What they think or don’t think about me at this point will not affect my life in any way as far as I can tell.

    At this point I have just changed my religious affiliation to nothing, and pretty much left it at that. However, the more I have thought about it as I have written this post, I think I may just start dropping subtle things into my status updates that reflect my new thinking and worldview. Nothing as bold as quoting Richard Dawkins or anything like that, but just a comment here and there about the need for rational thinking for example. Who knows, maybe one of my old HS buddies is a closet de-convert or is in the process of doubting the old time religion too, and my boldness may encourage him or her to come out. Maybe I can be “Salt and Light” and a “Witness” for the cause of reason.

  • 13. Debbie  |  January 13, 2011 at 9:53 pm

    One of my “friends” on FB just posted this:

    boy writes God a letter, “Dear God, why do you let bad things happen in our schools?” God replies, “Dear son, I’m not allowed in your schools.” Re-post this if u agree!!!

    I really had to bite my tongue, it’s so hard not to respond. My first thoughts were: Apparently, God is also not allowed a lot of other places either – Arizona, Australia, Haiti, the Twin Towers in NY, children’s cancer wards in hospitals, etc. etc.

    If only the world didn’t think that atheists are all evil, devil-possessed communists who are out to “get” them. : (

  • 14. SteveJ  |  January 14, 2011 at 1:58 pm

    One thought about political conservatism and fundamentalism: This is a purely cultural phenomenon. Most fundies have never read Burke, Hayek, Adam Smith or Milton Friedman. They believe what they believe because everyone else in the group does. (Of course, in the liberal mainline churches, the same blatant “you’re not a consistent Christian unless you agree with our politics” occurs … only in reverse.)

    I believe in limited government, maximum individual liberty and self-initiative, not because a particular tribe thrusts it upon me, but because I think it’s rational, supported by the evidence. At the same time, I believe that the big-government, socially planned, welfare state rests on a foundation of irrationality, prejudice and “tenderer-than-thou” grandstanding. And I’m utterly convinced that people embrace such politics for reasons divorced from logic — just as they do fundamentalism.

  • 15. milehigh  |  January 16, 2011 at 11:01 am

    Mike-
    It’s interesting how we perceive the majority. When I was in the faith, it was ‘our tiny faithful minority against the godless world out there’. Now that I am outside of the faith, it seems just about everyone around me believes in god. Here in the good ol’ USA the non-believer is certainly in the minority and is held in contempt.
    Mike said:
    “yay! the minors have been freed… give Him all the glory! Thank you Jesus!!!! He is the deliverer and miracle worker… He is so good!!!!” yeah, how many of you just threw up in your mouth?”

    haha! It’s nice to cheer for the miners and marvel over the small miracles in disaster situations- but try spending some time in a third world country and see reality for what it is. For every kitten rescued from a burning house, there are millions of children living in horrible conditions, suffering child sex slavery, dying in disasters, murders, rape… the list goes on. Watch Slumdog millionaire sometime- that is the reality I saw for millions of children. God apparently sees it all but chooses to enjoy the sweet incense of the local churches’ worship team instead.

  • 16. milehigh  |  January 16, 2011 at 11:11 am

    This is off-topic at best, but just something I noticed from Luke when Jesus was preparing to eat dinner. Jesus chose not to wash his hands before he ate, drawing the ire of the Pharisees. Now, I understand the reasoning, but think of the blown opportunity to save millions of people from suffering and dying of disease! How about, “All of this ceremonial washing is worthless under the true law, but please be aware that there are tiny creatures on our hands that can cause disease and death. Don’t just dip your hands in the water, but take this easy soap recipe and use it when you wash your hands. Someday humans will discover those tiny creatures with powerful viewing devices and you will have even more reason to believe.” The logical answer is that he didn’t know himself. Come to think of it, he didn’t say anything against slavery either. Wouldn’t we all agree that slavery is disgusting? Another missed opportunity.

  • 17. Richard  |  January 16, 2011 at 1:06 pm

    Thanks to everyone for their input! Looks like there’s a range of opinion, which is comforting, at least somewhat, in that I am not the only one to have struggled with this.

    What I have done so far is somewhere between what Nathan and Quester do. I do tone down what I write, and (although this analogy had not occurred to me, but its a good one) I treat my FB page like my home and visitors like guests. Which is to say, I try to keep things civil and make a deliberate effort not to antagonize anyone, yet Im also not willing to totally make myself a G-rated milquetoast. So, the things I write do have that edge so that ears that are ready to hear, could tell that I dont sound like the church lady. It seems to me that this is probably what most people do, in daily conversation: be yourself but also be tactful.

    SteveJ – I dont want to get sidetracked on politics here, and I agree with you that conservativism and fundamentalism are not necessarily intertwined, though in practice they do often track together. And I will certainly agree with you that many if not most progressives, also, think what they do for social and cultural reasons. But right now in our country, there is for more lack of information, misinformation, and often outright paranoia about government (e.g., “tyranny”) coming from the right than then left, which dovetails very neatly with fundamentalism, and this shows up on FB. Its hard to miss the parallels between the fetishizing the Constitution among Tea Partiers and the similar attitude of fundys toward the Bible.

    Debbie- Yes. Yes, yes, yes, yes yes. Thats exactly the sort of thing that makes me (a) retch and (b) want to quote Mencken or something. Or at least makes me wish there was a “dislike” button to click.

  • 18. SteveJ  |  January 16, 2011 at 9:28 pm

    Richard, thanks for your reply. And I agree that this isn’t the place to duke it out over politics.

    It’s an open question whether disinformation and paranoia are concentrated on one end of the spectrum (and which end that might be) or whether it’s spread out fairly evenly. Naturally, the tendency is to deem one’s own news sources and political persuasion superior in their pursuit to the truth. I understand that.

    But I contend that the axioms underlying the free market, personal responsibility, the virtue of individual liberty, etc., are solid from a purely logical point of view — without regard to which side is skewing the news. That’s why it surprises me a little that deconverts with their deep regard for reason are so swift to wrap themselves in the mantle of big-government statism, which strikes me as extremely unreasonable. (Do they even look at the libertarian option?)

    Anyway, I really like this site. Glad someone pointed me to it. Keep up the good work!

  • 19. SteveJ  |  January 16, 2011 at 9:30 pm

    Oops. Should be “in their pursuit OF the truth.”

  • 20. Richard  |  January 16, 2011 at 10:39 pm

    SteveJ, I think we agree that the first distinction to be drawn is between those who think through their reasons for a given position (political or otherwise) and those who do not.

    At that point, however, I think you have to be careful. Its easy to assume that those with whom we disagree are just being unreasonable. But the obvious rejoinder to this, I think, is that those on the other side who *are* well informed just do not agree with you about what constitutes the weight of logic and reason. To wit: one persons “big-government statism” is anothers “reasonable social safety net.” Progressives dont believe in governmental regulation just for sh**s and giggles. They believe in it on a case-by-case basis because they think the free market, for all its many virtues, is imperfect, produces (at times) demonstrably unjust or dysfunctional results, and is thus a means to a good society, not the definition of it.

    Thanks for your remarks!

  • 21. SteveJ  |  January 17, 2011 at 8:13 am

    Fair enough, Richard.

  • 22. SteveJ  |  January 17, 2011 at 9:58 am

    Oh … I can’t just leave it at that, Richard. (Restraint isn’t one of my strongest virtues.) I’d love to discuss how the crushing, astronomically gargantuan sums government has spent since Obama took office amount to nothing but a “reasonable social safety net.” But another time, another place. Have a great week. :)

  • 23. Frreal  |  February 3, 2011 at 9:50 am

    Please do not assume that all unbelievers are liberal progressives. Why would I want to exchange belief in God to “trust” in govt? Thanks but I will take individualism and small govt anyday over a bunch of nannystater bureaucrats who just “know what’s best for me”

    Btw, good to see the site active again. I appreciate all the postings. I hadn’t checked for a while.

  • 24. BigHouse  |  February 3, 2011 at 1:30 pm

    +1 Frreal. False dichotomies exist in every label we try to apply to people.

  • 25. Richard  |  February 3, 2011 at 7:20 pm

    Frreal – I make no such assumptions. Robert Price, whom I admire tremendously for his erudition, humor, and complex, nuanced, psychologically astute, and decidedly *non*dichotomous view of the world, is a political conservative. My article reflected the reality of me and my family. Nothing I wrote suggested it must necessarily apply to you or anyone else.

    Also, FWIW please dont assume what my view is about gvt based on an article about facebook. Neither I nor any liberal I know argues you should “trust” government. That is a caricature and it is not my view. But again, this is a de-con site, not a political one, and I dont wish to get derailed w/current hot-button political issues.

    Thanks for reading!

  • 26. disco doan  |  February 6, 2011 at 12:49 am

    I have the same problem.

    Having been a pastor and a christian counselor, I am now in a time of extreme questioning. Most of my fb family and friends are solid evangelicals.

    sigh…

  • 27. LifeTrekker  |  February 6, 2011 at 1:06 am

    As an update to my previous post, I just wanted to let everyone know that I did post a couple of quotes under my “philosophy” tab in FB. I didn’t go so far as to post a quote by Dawkins or Hitchens, but I did post a couple by Carl Sagan. The quotes are not out and out atheistic, as was Sagan’s style, but my hope is that they will get someone to thinking. Although somehow I doubt it. Confirmation bias has a way of blocking such things from view unless someone is ready to question their faith.

    FWIW, here are the quotes I decided to use:

    “I maintain there is much more wonder in science than in pseudoscience. And in addition, to whatever measure this term has any meaning, science has the additional virtue, and it is not an inconsiderable one, of being true.” -Carl Sagan

    …”For me, it is far better to grasp the Universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring.” -Carl Sagan

  • 28. Infidel  |  April 2, 2011 at 6:06 pm

    I know I’m late to this party, but this post made me want to ask something: Have you noticed how unperceptive you Christian acquaintences are?

    If you’re like me, you haven’t been to church on a regular basis, if at all, in months, you don’t talk the “god” talk anymore, you don’t watch Chrisyian TV, read Christain books, etc, etc, yet they don’t notice.

    Is it ignorance, blindness or self-absorption?

  • 29. A  |  May 13, 2011 at 12:23 am

    I often imagine what it would be like to “come out” on fb… I prob. won’t ever do it though. The people that need to know about my faith, or lack thereof, know. Since I live in a rural Southern area, work as a nurse. and most would be OFFENDED by my beliefs, most people don’t need to know. I don’t feel it’s dishonest to acknowledge other’s beliefs and still keep mine under wraps. I don’t know.. I would really like to know. I think it would be very cool if I could live forever, but its not gonna happen.
    What bothers me most is I know that if I were to “come out” people would act as if I was the one disrespecting them. Somehow, when you believe in God, it is discrimination if others treat you differently, but if you don’t believe in God, you are discriminating against those who do…I don’t have any opinions one way or the other. I give my kids the same choice I had. I try to educate my children, so they can make the same INFORMED decision I made. Why am I so offensive??

  • 30. A  |  May 13, 2011 at 12:27 am

    @ Infidel, It doesn’t matter if you go to church or talk about God, but don’t you dare bring up an alternitive way of thinking.. If you don’t no one’s the wiser.. How many times do you see people partying and “sinning” on Sat. night, only to be front row on Sun. morning. I used to work with some women that would only go to church to dress up and see what other people were wearing.. They would flip their lids if I told them I was agnostic!

  • 31. Eliatan  |  May 16, 2011 at 2:18 am

    Wow, so funny I should find this after an hour long phone call from my mother about how my posts on FB offended her and her beliefs. Sigh. I comment on posts made by the Australian Secular Lobby (lots of drama here now about the government funding of religious chaplains in our secular schools) and she reads my comments, out of context of course. And yet, I am still amazed I haven’t been de-friended by more conservative friends. I live in hope that perhaps in their insulated world of christian fellowships, youth groups and other such activities, my posts might give them insight into other options, other ways of life.

    And I don’t mean to offend, but sometimes I inadvertently do (never in status updates, but perhaps in replies to other secular conversation threads) and yet, the overly religious never seem bothered that they might offend me with their public comments.

    I gets me irate, but then I think about how very silly it is to believe a big old fella in the sky is watching your every move (like Santa Clause for grown ups) and then feel sad that so many of my intelligent, articulate friends and family think this is a perfectly reasonable supposition. Maybe I can help them ‘see the light’ of reason. And I guess they feel the same way about religion towards me.

  • 32. exploring  |  May 20, 2011 at 3:27 pm

    honestly, i think that there may be time for all the scenarios in your post. in the sense that maybe it is ok to let it all hang out as an insensitive jerk. that isn’t the best case, but maybe there is room for that. i know that there have been times where i needed to use my voice because it had been stifled for so long. maybe i was being immature at times or insecure or whatever, but i needed to express myself. so there is room for that. although, it seems you aren’t really in that space. so maybe start small with a profile update or two…or maybe a sassy status update. :)

  • 33. keith  |  May 21, 2011 at 11:52 am

    please post some comments on a new site we are starting…we’d love to hear from ya.

  • 34. keith  |  May 21, 2011 at 11:53 am

    wronggodtonogod.com

  • 35. Jim Jones  |  May 28, 2011 at 11:10 am

    “So my question is simply this: they do not make any effort to downplay or even tone down their views for my sake. Should I?”

    They post and speak so because they have no faith. The completely faith-filled man is indistinguishable from the atheist (example: Fred Rogers). They replace faith with pointless noise and pointless activity in the hope of filling the void.

    Quote: “I don’t pray, go to church or do any similar things because I have complete faith in god. I assume that things are proceeding as god wishes and she has no need of input from me. I don’t seek god anywhere because clearly she doesn’t want to be observed or found and I respect her wishes”.

  • 36. ToonForever  |  November 1, 2011 at 7:15 pm

    *But they don’t. My family and extended family put up religious (and political – strongly conservative) posts all the time. They make not the slightest pretense of holding back.*

    And that’s why I decided not to hold back. I’m asked to pray every day. I’m told what God wants me to know. I’m told tragic stories of an Iranian pastor sentenced to death for teaching Christianity and asked again to pray. Miracles are related to me all the time. I’m told in many different ways clever stories that relate mundane events to the wondrous workings of a personal God.

    So when I recently deconverted and started my blog to explore what that means, I thought “screw it.” We’ll just throw it out there and let the discussion begin. Defriend me, if you like. Post cute fables designed to enlighten me on all the basic truths you think I don’t know but I actually know better than you know them yourself. Go for it. Let’s rumble. I’ll still love ya, and hopefully you me…

  • 37. michelle  |  February 11, 2012 at 7:42 am

    Richard,

    First, I must say I’m new to all the deconversion stuff. I’m only in my first month or so. Your posts are of help to me, as I only have devout, unwavering Christians and entirely “unbelieving” but absolutely beautiful and accepting people who do not understand the ins and outs and Bible-literal Christians. I am always seeking out deconverts

  • 38. michelle  |  February 11, 2012 at 7:56 am

    (cont’d). So, thank you for your virtual input!

    Now, I’m probably very much still talking like a Christian, but perhaps your last paragraph is part of the key. It’s about motives and why we do what we do. At this point in my life, I feel love should be our motive. You can choose to put it all out there on FB out of love or hate. You can choose to refrain out of love or hate. And probably there’s a mixture of both. You’re just human. And some will love and some will hate you for choosing either option. They’re just human too. We’re all on a journey. We all influence each other.

    But maybe that’s too agnostic of an answer. :) Who says love is the purpose? Me? If I’m not God, how can I subjectively choose what’s important? I’m trying to embrace uncertainty, but you’ve written about how hard that is!

    As you could guess, I’m a nut job right now. Just trying to find my way and be open to it all.

    Thanks again!

  • 39. ubi dubium  |  February 13, 2012 at 6:45 pm

    …Who says love is the purpose? Me? If I’m not God, how can I subjectively choose what’s important? I’m trying to embrace uncertainty, but you’ve written about how hard that is!

    Yes, you are the one to say what’s important for your life. As de-converts, meaning is not something we are handed, it’s not something we have to search for, it’s something that we make for ourselves. Only you can decide what the meaning of your life should be, and isn’t that wonderfully freeing!

    (This website been pretty inactive lately. I recomment you visit exchristian.net for a really active community of deconverts, including quite a few formal biblical literalists.)

  • 40. Richard  |  February 14, 2012 at 1:05 am

    Ubi – good to hear from you! I’ve always found your comments to be thoughtful and well-spoken. And nice to know there’s still an active site out there; I’ll try to check it out.

    Michelle- welcome, and thanks for the kind words. But, alas, ubi is correct; there hasn’t been activity (new posts) here in a long time. Feel free to look around , though, of course! To your specific comment: ubi is, as usual, dead on: making one’s peace with uncertainty means accepting that you do not- and never did- have access to perfect answers. It may be tragic, perhaps, buts it’s life. And it ain’t so bad, once you get used to it. So, yeah: what do *you* think is important? (Show your work) — and then live your life accordingly. That’s as good as it gets, and despite what fundys often say, it’s pretty good. we don’t *need* perfect answers. So if you think love is the basis on which we should make such a decision as we are discussing, then do so.

    For me, yes, what I do, I want to do out of love, or at least not hate, or anger, but there are other values, too (honesty, keeping the peace, being a good model, etc), and it’s not always clear to me how they balance out. But that’s okay! That’s why we talking.

  • 41. Trey  |  March 23, 2012 at 10:19 pm

    Wow, I’m sorry that I missed the whole beginning of the conversation. I’ve struggled with the same issues on social media for about 4 years. My solution has been to choose my battles. People that REALLY know me already understand my position on most topics. My family and other fundamentalists don’t really know or understand my current world view. Therefore, I choose topics that are most likely to be of interest to everyone and present them from a viewpoint that appeals to all parties. I’ve posted about healthcare reform, but only as it pertains to helping the poor. I consistently point out idiosyncrasies between the rich, middle class and poor. These “social welfare” messages resonate with those on the left, make sense to christians, and resonate with many fundamentalists. I also make a point of sharpshooting my mother’s re-postings of anything from FOX News. I can get away with it since I’m her son, and they really piss me the f*** off.

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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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