Hello everyone, I’m back – if not only for a short time – to discuss something that has been bothering me for the last month or two and with a small discovery I hope will be helpful to others still dealing with the traumatic reprogramming necessary to leave the church you once loved.
It has come to my attention recently that I am an extremely self-deprecating person. When people compliment me, I find it difficult to just casually accept their compliment without either having a completely inflated ego as if starving for attention or wanting to dismiss their genuinely kind words as unnecessary flattery. In other words, I don’t really like to think about myself except in a negative light and as a result of the lack of confidence I tend to rebound the other direction on occasion in full-on arrogance.
Now, I’m sure a decent number of people struggle with this and perhaps you are one of them. What I’ve realized recently is that the Christianity I grew up with almost encouraged this type of thinking. And here is how…
Is your god patient?
Not if he’s the god of the bible. According to the theology of most Evangelicals, Jehovah’s wrath is so intense over the first offense of any human that he immediately deems the offender deserving of eternal torture. No joke. One offense by any offender is sufficient to incur a divine wrath so terrible that “there will be weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth” for eternity awaiting that offender when they die.
“Can’t god do what he wants?” you may ask.
Sure. There is nothing illogical about a malicious god. God can be as mean-spirited as he wants to be. But in addition to being malicious, the god of the bible is then also a liar since he claims to love the very humans he damns to hell-fire over a single offense. This god of the bible unequivocally claims in 1 Corinthians 13:4 that love (agape) is patient. If god loses his temper over the first offense, and deems eternal torture the only thing that will appease his anger, just how much space is left over for patience?
Normally when we think about patience and impatience we think of 2 extremes with a soft delineation somewhere in the middle such as is shown in the following image.
Here patience and impatience fall on a normal continuum. Because words belong to human convention, the standard for the extremes ought to reflect human sentiments about patience and impatience. For example, (more…)
I’m not really a people person. Like a lot of atheists (supposedly), I’m quite an outsider, as much of a hermit as I can get away with, in fact. I have never liked going out in crowds or socializing with large numbers of people. But I help run my local atheist group and am coordinator of the Morgantown Coalition of Reason.
Why am I telling you all of this? Because I have realized something that I want to share with you. Even though I’m a curmudgeonly hermit-y atheist, I love going to the 3 atheist/freethinker/skeptical meetings we have every month. That’s 3 Sundays a month where I happily leave the house and go socialize with a small group of people. And I look forward to it. The one or 2 Sundays where we don’t meet I miss it.
Even people like me benefit from social community and contact. The beauty of the atheist/freethinker community is that we are relatively like-minded. We have a foundation of common ground. But we are also quite different, of course, which is good because that makes things interesting. The added bonus of freethinkers, skeptics and atheists is that we seem relatively level-headed (overall – there are exceptions, of course) and we argue and discuss matters with interest and fairness. No drama llama is invited! So it’s actually fun and mentally stimulating.
I think we all need some type of community, which is one thing that religion has in its favor that being a lone atheist or nonbeliever does not.
But this is easily remedied. I thought I’d share some thoughts on how to get involved with a secular group of like-minded people. If none exist in your area, you can start one up…
OK, here it is, warts and all, the first episode of … this. Whatever this turns out to be. Warning, it is about 38 minutes long, so make sure you have a bit of time on your hands.
Don’t expect a Hollywood production here, folks. This has absolutely no production value, and the only edits I made were to remove two or three times where I slipped and called RoseMary by her real name. But I think the audio came out ok, and that is what is important.
I uploaded this to blip.tv since they allow me to embed an audio player here. Here is the description I put there:
My wife RoseMary and I would like to welcome you to the first episode our podcast. She is a Catholic Christian, and has been her entire life. I met her in 2004. We dated, and even though I was a liberal Baptist Christian, we fell in love. We wed in 2005. Some time in 2007, after 2 years of marraige, I lost my Christian Faith, and now considers the term ‘atheist’ to most accurately describe my religious stance. But my wife loves him whom I do not believe exists.
Does this story sound familiar? Is your marraige challenged with a similar situation? Has one of you fallen out of the Faith? Believer, what advice have you gotten from your friends, family and church? Non-believer, do you have anywhere to turn for support, or do you feel compelled to stay in the closet? RoseMary and I both believe that these stories are very common, yet few are willing to share these stories.
We are not so sure that we want to tell others our own stories, but are willing to give it a try. We want to share our experiences of being “unequally yoked”. Do you have a story to share? We would like to hear it, and possibly share it with others. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
It is my hope that this proves beneficial to somebody out there, and it generates some healthy discussion around here.
It has been over two years since I placed an article here at de-conversion.com, but I think it is time. My wife Rosemary and I have been kicking this idea around forever, and we both think now is the ideal time to start acting on it. We have been married now for 4 1/2 years, and we both wed as devout Christians. I have since left the Christian Faith, and although her beliefs have also evolved, she still identifies herself as a Christian. A couple of years ago, we posted an article here where we shared our views a little bit, but we would like to carry this to the next step and go into the world of podcasting.
I have scoured the online world looking for stories, experiences, perspectives and worldly advice from couples who are “unequaly yoked”, particularly those where one has de-converted after marraige. With the exception of religious sites that dispense advice to win the heathen back to the Faith or consider divorce, I can find absolutely nothing out there. People in hurting marraiges need more than that. I am particularly interested in those who want to remain in a healthy marraige, and those who have children. How do you maintain a healthy marraige when you have different religious beliefs? What challenges do you face? What compromises do you make?
My wife and I would like to discuss these issues, and maybe (with Paul’s permission) post them here for your enjoyment. I should be ready to put the first episode up in the next couple of days. I don’t have any idea what will become of it, but I do think it is an important topic that *nobody* is discussing.
I am interested in your stories. Perhaps we can hook up a skype interview or something, if you are interested in sharing your experiences here – or maybe you can just submit emails for me to read. Right now, I am just in the crazy, brainstorming phase…
[Note: this is a difficult and heavy post. If you are enjoying your Easter, please don't read until tomorrow. Happy Easter everyone!]
Today I woke up and was pretty happy. The birds were churping, we have a full house between my roommates and their parents coming to visit, I just finished a massive requirement for a project yesterday that consumed roughly 115-120 hours in the last two weeks, and I’m just excited to be alive.
While for the most part I have moved on from the religious ‘discussion’ (and have not posted here in a while) I found myself this morning anxious, apprehensive, and conflicted. Religious holidays tend to do this to me now – although it is getting better.
I’m in Chicago – miles away from the friends and family that I grew up with and I miss them. I miss the Easter dinners, the good times we had, and the sunshine and kickball. But I don’t miss Jesus, I don’t miss church, and I don’t miss the beliefs that I once cherished.
Since leaving, I have come to realize that the beliefs of fundamentalist Christians are sadistic. The other day it occurred to me once again that they believe that I am a wretched sinner in need of Jesus and unless I accept Him I am going to hell. They praise the person who created this hell and then blame me wholly for going there. My confession on this Easter is that I don’t know how to emotionally and mentally deal with being friend with people who believe this. I’ve never known how to mentally grasp the concept of an eternity in hell. And yet to the fundamentalist Christian all the joy of Easter rests solely on their being delivered from that awful invented place…
Some time ago I wrote an article for this blog discussing my take on the issue of who, “really”, is a Christian. This comes up when you are told, as we all have been at one time or another, that you never really were a Christian in the first place – because if you de-convert, it somehow proves the alleged falseness or insincerity of your prior belief.
My basic argument was that there is no answer to the question. The reason is that “Christian” is an arbitrary human group designation that is used with different (implicit) definitions by different groups. Since none of those groups has accepted authority to establish a (or the) correct definition, and since “Christian” does not (as we used to believe) refer to anything divine or supernatural, it follows that there can be no final, ultimate, “correct” definition. There is no right answer to whether “I was a Christian” is true or not, independent of context and a pre-chosen definition.
I still think my answer is substantially correct. But its not exactly punchy. It takes a bit of explaining, and that won’t always do in the heat of an argument. When faced with confrontation and criticism from friends, former friends, and others who challenge us, it helps to have an answer at the ready that doesn’t depend on delving into philosophical issues of “natural kinds” vs “nominal kinds”. I wanted something more memorable – compact & colorful, more visual and less abstract.
So after continuing to chew on this, I think I’ve come up with one. So, let me share it here and you all can tell me what you think.
Here’s the setting: you are telling a friend, coworker, or stranger on the web that you used to be a Christian, but you deconverted. She scoffingly replies that that means you never were one in the first place; true Christians remain faithful and never leave. (Or, as a variant, as was said to me once, that you cannot lose your salvation, so you are still a Christian whether you think you are or not.)
I think I will call this Kenobi’s Fallacy...