Posts tagged ‘de-conversion’
[This post has been sitting in my files for a while. Finally pulled it out and “finished” it. Writing never really seems finished, does it?]
Noting that my journey out of Christianity is different from most (in fact, unique in my experience so far*), I took some time to try to recall the steps I took over the years. I list them here in no particular order (though they are roughly chronological). *For any who don’t know, my path was, very briefly: “saved” at 19; evy/fundy for many years; converted to Eastern Orthodoxy for about 3 years; left the faith entirely.
– I sought to base my morality, politics, and behaviors in more than just, “the Bible or my church says so”. After all, if something is right, it ought to be right for everyone, Bible or no Bible. I mean isn’t that what’s really meant by, “the absolute truth of God”?
Funny thing is that I did this right from the beginning of my Christian life. So maybe I was just doomed from the outset eh?
– I got sick of the shallowness. Those damn praise choruses [“Jesus I luuuuv yew. Jesus I neeeeed yew. Jesus I luuuuv yew. Yes I doooo.”] are just drivel. So is the “Jesus, my buddy” flatulence. There’s just gotta be more to a faith than lousy songs and Forest Gump level theology. This garbage was/is growing by leaps and bounds throughout Protestant churches, and was even making headway in some Catholic parishes.
– I got it through my head that young-earth creationism was WRONG. I.e. that evolution did happen, that the fossils were really old, that the flood of Noah was not global, that dinosaurs and humans never lived together, that the speed of light is in fact a constant, and so on. (I can’t tell you how humiliating it is to admit that I was idiotic enough to ever believe that crap.)…
Suddenly, after months of resistance, after exhaustion, after going to church six days a week, after listening to three hour sermons every night and skipping school when I was too tired to get up in the morning, suddenly I wanted to be what they were. I wanted to have what they had. Suddenly I understood what I was missing.
I close my bedroom door, sit on my bed, pull my knees up to my chest, and shut my eyes. In my mind, I picture a teenage girl standing at a makeshift altar at the front of a small basement arranged like a church.
Her lips move in silent prayer as tears stream down her face. Tom Shaffer, a visiting evangelist from Texas, lays hands on her, his ostrich-skin cowboy boots spread hip-width apart, firmly planted on the concrete floor, his pudgy fingers pressing down into her hair. His words are so loud, he doesn’t need a microphone in this small sanctuary. He hardly needs one when he preaches in the VFW or Oddfellow’s hall, either.
“Repeat this prayer after me,” Tom says. “Heavenly Father, I want to receive this power that Jesus spoke of. I ask you now to baptize me in the Holy Ghost.” The girl repeats, timidly at first, but getting louder with each sentence. “I say by faith that I receive Him now in all His fullness, and as the believers did on the day of Pentecost, I will speak in tongues as the Spirit gives me utterance.”…
So last week I was talking with my daughter. The conversation just kind of meandered in a way that my de-conversion came out fairly easily and naturally. She seemed to take it pretty well at the time (brought up some friends who were atheists). She was upset though, as I found out a couple days later when my wife asked me about it. Apparently daughter did some crying later.
My middle son also knows because he was in ear shot when mom and daughter were talking. He apparently just said that he liked church and his friends, and there better not be any talk of not continuing to go to church. (Of course I have no problem with this, as I’ve said around here before.)
Oldest son (in military) does not know still, and as always I’m in no hurry to tell anyone, his sibs may be the ones to tell him; who knows?
My wife did have some concern that I would now make it my project to de-convert the family. [Apparently evangelism is only OK for Christians.] To say that she does not at all comprehend where I’m at would be a severe understatement.
Anyway, it’s out now. The kids seem to be taking a ‘wait and see’ approach. Basically, if Dad is still just Dad, I guess they’ll judge everything to be OK. Not sure if they will try asking any questions directly. But at least there was no big hullaballoo.
theBEattitude recently posted a post on his blog entitled “Losing my religion. Why I recently walked away from Christianity.” For the past few days the post has been one of WordPress’ top posts. According to the author on his Twitter account, he’s had over 50,000 hits in a two day period. The post has generated over 900 comments as of this writing.
Our humble blog has seen over 1,000,000 hits in our first 2 years of existence and almost 30,000 hits in the past week alone. We’ve had almost 25,000 comments since our inception. Other similar sites such as Debunking Christianity and ExChristianDotNet continue to also be very popular sites.
Due to this phenomenon, we are in the process of relaunching our community site to be more of a social networking site where we can in essence build a community of apostates, de-converts, ex-Christians, or whatever label you wish to wear.
Here’s to this new trend! Why do you think this is becoming such a popular decision?
- The de-Convert
A few weeks ago, ironically when I’d been planning to speak at an atheist meeting, I went to church with evangelical friends. I almost called them fundies, but I’m not always sure what that means any more. These days it carries a connotation of negativity, so I’m choosing not to use it to describe my friends, although I’m pretty sure they still hold to the “five fundamentals” with which the name originated. These were friends from my teenage days in New York, when I was on fire for God, a spirit-filled, born again Christian with a mission.
The experience made me wonder how I got that way, because when I think back to my younger days, I was a nominal Christian. I was born again when I was nine, but I didn’t spend most of my time reading the Bible, praying, or witnessing. But when I was 14, all that was starting to change.
Friends from church invited us to their house to hear a preacher from Texas. Ernie greeted everyone at the door, and Helene ushered us down the stairs into the basement. The long, narrow room was filled with metal folding chairs lined up in rows facing a makeshift pulpit that was nothing more than a cheap music stand. There was no organ, but two electric guitars and a microphone stood in the corner of the room next to a small amplifier, and a tambourine waited silently at the foot of the pulpit…
My name is Philip Francis, a doctoral student at Harvard Divinity School, writing a dissertation on religious disenchantment narratives and the arts. I am posting here to see if there are any readers who would be willing to contribute to my project a short memoir of their experience of leaving the Christian fold, making particular note of the role of the arts, creativity, literature, beauty or aesthetic experience (broadly conceived) in this process.
This memoir could be sent to me directly at email@example.com or posted here. Questions about the project may also be directed to my email address.
The following are some basic guidelines and starter questions, but approach the writing anyway you like.
The memoir may be as short or long as you like and assume any form. It may be signed or anonymous.
Others have found it useful to structure their memoir as follows:
1. The Unsettling: reflect on your experience of the forces and factors that unsettled you from the system of beliefs and practices that you once held in a dogmatically unassailable manner. Were the arts in any way a part of this initial unsettling? Feel free to cite specific examples from the arts and literature, or your own creative projects…
This guide is in many ways similar to a sex education class. I am neither condemning nor condoning recent de-converts’ decisions to debate their lack of beliefs with Christians. I am simply recognizing that for many of you it is inevitable and therefore insisting that you learn to do so properly.
Of course, I mean “debate” loosely. It’s only half up to you, but it should be a conversation characterized by more than two sides trying to score points by pointing out each and every one of the others logical fallacies by their Latin names. But part of any conversation with conflicting points of view is a debate, and understanding how a pure debate works is important.
Much of what you need to know is just standard knowledge of how to debate and knowledge of Christianity and apologetics in general. I won’t go into any of that, but will instead focus on the psychology of recent de-convert versus Christian debates. It’s my hope that if you don’t know your stuff at all, you find this to be fairly unhelpful. Learning to debate what you do know is the art of communication, while learning to debate what you don’t know is BS artistry.
Recent de-converts are at an enormous debate preparation advantage simply due to timing. De-converts often go through an enormous intellectual struggle trying to make themselves believe before realizing that trying to believing that which one has learned to be false is hopeless. Thus, de-converts know exactly why they left their faith. By contrast, even apologetically inclined Christians probably have not been studying like that, simply because it’s hard to match the passionate study of a de-convert trying to figuring out if they’re going to hell…