Posts tagged ‘de-conversion’
To celebrate our 2nd Anniversary, 1,000,000 page views, and 22,000+ comments, I’d like to highlight a few of the images posted on this blog by our contributors. These images give a great summary of the general topics of our posts for the past 2 years:
[Art by Jim Huger from Dead To Rights, a parody of Jack T. Chick's tract]
The last article I wrote was about the biggest benefit religion possesses: its strong sense of community. That feeling of unity and belonging that the Christian community provided is maybe the thing I miss most about being a religious person. But coming in at a close second are prayer requests.
For the ten years I went to Christian school, every day started with the opportunity to share prayer requests followed by a prayer that dutifully addresses all concerns. Prayer request time was supposed to be time set aside for spiritual introspection and communion with fellow believers, but it always devolved into nothing more than story-telling time. And I loved it. We had a way of taking a story that we wanted to tell and twisting it to make it either a prayer request or an object of praise:
“Last night, when we were coming home from soccer practice, it was really dark outside. A dog ran right in front of our car and my dad had to slaaaam on the breaks! We all started screaming because we thought he had hit the dog. My sister even started to cry. My dad got out to make sure the dog was okay and saw him walking along the sidewalk across the street. He got back in the car and told us the dog was alright. My mom said that maybe we should go pick it up so that it wouldn’t get hurt or cause an accident. So we took the dog home and called the number on its tags and its owner came and picked it up. I’m thankful to God that my family and the dog were not hurt and that it got to go home to its family.”
Human beings love to tell stories. It’s the primary way that we learn and relate to each other. I can still remember the feeling of excitement as I sat at my desk with my hand raised, waiting for the teacher to call on me so that I could tell the entire class my new and exciting story–err–I mean, prayer request…
Well team, it looks like we’ll hit the million mark sometime this weekend ahead of our 2nd Anniversary in March. This is being achieved without counting the page views of our many contributors since WordPress does not accumulate those views in their statistics.
Of course, we could not have accomplished this without our many visitors who came to d-C via StumbleUpon.
On our busiest day, we saw 13,834 views and it’s an honor to be ranked in Alexa.
- The de-Convert
This post is somewhat of an addendum to my previous post in which I discussed how I was beginning to realize just what being an “elite” Christian had done to my thinking. In this post I wanted to focus more closely on one area of my thinking that has truly been tainted or hurt by being a fundamentalist conservative Christian: how to be a friend.
Recently I was asking advice of a friend and was basically told to either submit to Biblical advice or get nothing. This hurt. Quite a bit. I thought that by even asking for advice I was trying to be a friend. But I realized that the advice from this person – and the associated love – was conditional: I needed to be or do something first in order to warrant a love that I felt I should receive either way. And this was from a friend who has taken almost no time at all to try and connect with the pain and suffering leaving the faith has brought me this last year. So while I am to listen to this person: they feel no need to listen to me at all.
Although I am obviously upset, this has got me to thinking: this is how everyone I knew acted. It is how I acted.
My friends and I were basically trained to feel uncomfortable around people whom we considered to be a potentially bad influence on us. I can’t express how frustrating this is now. Even until recently I found it hard to feel comfortable around certain non-Christians I knew because I consistently had my guard up, looking for areas of disagreement like a dog trying to pick a fight or looking for reasons to distrust them because they might unwittingly be a bad influence on me.
A good Christian can never be too careful about being a friend…
February 17, 2008, I preached my last sermon, said my good-byes, and changed out of my clergy garb for the last time. Since then, I’ve learned some things similar to Josh’s experiences, though our roads have had some different curves.
Where do you go when you leave the church?
1. I went back to church:
I got a job back in the town I had grown up in, and attended a few Lutheran worship services with friends who were part of the worship team there. It’s a beautiful service, but I was suddenly an outsider. Even as a theist, I would not participate in hymns or prayers I could not support the message of. Now, there was little I could give voice to. I had to get out and put some space between myself and church.
2. I studied other religions:
An old friend found me on Facebook. He’s been a member of the Sikh clergy since I last saw him. We exchanged a few stories, and I started reading up on Sikhism. I admired much of their philosophy that I could find, but I had no real connection to it.
3. I looked for a church-replacement:
I did Google searches for secular or humanist groups around here, with no success, then tried “universalism”. If nothing else, people who described themselves with such a term would not consider me hellbound…
I have a confession to make. Despite the way I may sound confident after leaving the faith, I admit that being myself has been so difficult. It has taken about a year for me to see this, but this last year has been a massive realization that so much of how I thought about life was driven not by who I actually was but by who I felt expected to be as a ‘mature’ Christian.
Within the faith I feel there is a sub-class of the elite faithful. These are the individuals who are looked up to for advice and who in many ways drive the faith forward. In many ways I saw myself as one of these individuals within Christianity just a year ago. Was it arrogance? Probably. Was it accurate? I don’t know.
But I am just now discovering how it truly affected my thinking. This last summer as I was leaving the faith I can remember this sense of hurling over a cliff… as if my entire thought process about the world and life was being reinvented. Oddly I was the same person, but the way in which I thought about things was changing.
One area I have struggled with is the area of friendships. On the one hand, I love my old friends within the faith. On the other hand, I am finding that so many of my previous friendships just are not working the same way anymore. So many of those friendships were based on the faith itself – on discussions about Bible passages or prayer or accountability – that now I find I do not have much in common with those people. Furthermore I am finding that some of the friendship decisions I made within the faith were actually really poor, but I made them for ‘spiritual’ reasons. For example, there were friendships I started or kept going because I thought that the Lord wanted me to be a ministry to someone but if I had not been a Christian I probably would have stayed away…