Reblog: From Fundamentalism to Freedom

Feeling strong kinship with the author, and also being impressed by the balanced, compact, and expressive prose, I found this article worth reblogging.

http://new.exchristian.net/2014/05/from-fundamentalism-to-freedom.html

Comments

  1. archaeopteryx1 says:

    No one I know writes more “balanced, compact, and expressive prose than you, so if he/she impresses you, I must read it —

    Like

  2. That was a fantastic testimony and very well written. I could resonate with much. The begging and pleading to “God” for answers, especially. I attended, and was a member of most mainstream denominations, with exception of Mormons and JW’s. I had read their literature and listened to their spills, and wasn’t the least bit interested. But the last denomination I joined encouraged its members to study the OT, and that’s what did me in. Oy. All I knew was that I could not, in good conscience, worship such a god, even if it meant I would go to hell for not doing so.

    Matt, thanks for sharing. I’m going to pass this on to Charity. She will, no doubt, resonate as well.

    Like

    • Victoria,

      So very true. I am thankful that “resonance” may be found so broadly in our ever-growing internet numbers. You read others, and you realize that they could read your mind or finish your sentences. Resonance sometimes has more value to me than novelty. Just nodded all the way through that one… 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Charity says:

    You can feel the writer’s hurt in trying to figure out his own salvation. The knuckles bleed and no one ever answers the damn door. You ask, plead and beg God to show himself or just to help you be a “better Christian” and the sky stays silent. Beat up hands, sore throat, worn out body and a troubled mind, then you realize “he” doesn’t even keep his own “word” when there are no answers and no open doors. Deconversion is one of the hardest awakenings anyone can experience. I hope the author and his wife are doing well now. Once you know what we all know, you can’t fake it at Church and house groups any longer.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Charity,

      Absolutely true. The hardest thing.

      Of course, then you realize that the house is unoccupied, thus explaining the silence, and that this is only the case because you moved out, having been the sole historical occupant. “I’m not convincing me that I’m another giving answers anymore.” iGod. It leaves the cross-hairs of anger oddly without target.

      I hope the author and his wife are doing well too. I didn’t sense a closure on that front.

      It is certainly no fun faking; I knew I simply couldn’t be the closeted type. I’m no good at it. Thankful not to live in certain bygone eras. But then, if I had, and if I had lacked the modern information resources, I do not think I ever would have seen through it.

      We are at what mathematicians call an inflection point. The arc of the curve seems possibly to have reversed…

      Liked by 1 person

    • East TN Ex-Christian says:

      Hi everyone, and thanks to Matt for re-blogging!

      I’m glad that sharing my experience has had resonance with people here and elsewhere online. It was originally written to help me encapsulate the journey I have undertaken while the memory was still fresh, as well as to provide a “behind the scenes” look for those that care about me who are still in the faith. It is an anecdote, not meant to be a persuasive counter-apologetic in any serious sense, but I did hope to highlight how the religion of my youth did have a net-negative impact on me, and that my eventual apostasy stemmed from serious intellectual struggle and desire to prove my faith.

      I don’t know what will continue to transpire on the family and friend front. My father and I have regular, intriguing, friendly conversations and I know he enjoys having someone to discuss ideas and doubts without being looked down upon. He is a believer, but far closer to agnostic and universalist than I ever knew. The extent of any conversations with my mother was exchanged letters about why I didn’t attend church with my wife and one phone conversation. I have never explicitly used the term “atheist” or “non-believer” with her, instead preferring a more loose allusion to questioning beliefs and seeking to live honestly. My desire in that, for better or worse, was to spare her pain as she has poured her life into having her children grow in the “fear and admonition of the Lord.” I know she was doing what she sincerely thought was best. I have the greatest respect and love for her intentions, despite my disagreement with much of her worldview. We talk often and have a very good rapport, we just avoid the elephant in the room.

      My wife is a believer, attending a local Baptist church. We’re both the conflict-averse type, so after a few initial fireworks, nothing more has really been said about it. I don’t think her family is even aware that I no longer attend church, and I don’t look forward to them finding out. My wife and I have a great relationship on many fronts, which is why the fact that my intellectual journey is a hush-hush issue is quite frustrating and I do often feel like I’m walking on eggshells around the inlaws–not wanting to start fights or exceed my wife’s comfort level for sharing, but also trying to be honest and genuine.

      I wouldn’t change a thing, but there are days it’s a tough road to travel in the Bible Belt. The community found online has been invaluable to keeping my sanity intact and hope for humanity alive!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Howdy East,

        Welcome to Jericho, glad you’re here. 🙂 Couple of thoughts… I too discovered all of this ahead of my wife, and we also have a very good relationship right through to the present. One thing that helped in our case was watching debates together… WLC, Harris, Hitchens, Ehrman, Evans, Wilson, etc. The disarming thing about debates is that both sides are represented equally. I also shared with my wife some of the books from our side of the fence that first disturbed my canoe. It is difficult to argue with the author when he shares the same faith that you do. But you also come to realize that you really weren’t told the whole story. In the end, she realized that I was still sane, and that our fundamentalist lives had been… cloistered. She continued to read more, and gradually less from our inside-the-bubble authors. We’re on the same page today. I don’t know if either of those two things would help, but they were beneficial for us.

        Matt

        Liked by 1 person

        • archaeopteryx1 says:

          Matt’s not telling you the whole story, East TN – he’s leaving out the part about how damned lucky he was to have gotten one of the cool wives!

          Anyone – well worth a read:
          http://unpackthatthought.wordpress.com/2014/05/21/thanking-satan/

          Liked by 3 people

        • East TN Ex-Christian says:

          Thanks Matt, much appreciated! I’m hoping for an opening to compare and contrast viewpoints and reasoning with her. It doesn’t help that one set of my “grandparents-in-law” are so vocal and disapproving of anything that doesn’t fit their very narrow, conservative view of Christianity and politics that they engage in passive aggressive shunning and gossip against those who are too “liberal.”

          I think the opportunity for discussion and a better mutual understanding may come when things inevitably “hit the fan” on that side of the family. At this point, I don’t feel conflict with the older generation is worth it, but I’m also sure that I can’t live another few decades (or however long my in-laws make it) keeping a secret or dealing with the consequences of decades of deception just to avoid rocking the boat.

          The silver lining is probably the fact that this is all pretty new to my friends and family. They haven’t had the same desire or ability to spend the hours I had to read and question. The overwhelming majority of my Christian family and friends are loving, caring people, and my leaving the faith seems to temper the rougher edges of doctrine (kind of like parents of gay children “evolve”). I’m relatively young (<30), so time is presumably on my side. 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

          • I think you’re right and pragmatic in your viewpoint. Something else that forces the discussion is kids… you guys have any yet? … With us, the immanent need to figure out how we were going to parent cut the time delay option pretty quickly. My oldest was 12 and my youngest was 2, with a couple between. That internal demand for us created more pressure than the externals of extended family.

            Liked by 1 person

            • East TN Ex-Christian says:

              Hey Matt,

              No kids, my wife has never wanted any, so discounting a sudden change of heart or an “oops,” that shouldn’t be a tension point. We have had to think things through a little bit, though, as we are designated guardians for a friend’s child if anything were to ever happen to them. Of course the chances of that couple meeting a common disaster are almost zero, but they are (to my knowledge) not aware of my disbelief, and I don’t know if it would change their mind (they’re pretty devout). If I ever find myself responsible for a child, I’ve already resolved to take the “teach critical thinking and let them make up their own mind” approach. Though my own parents have been respectful of my right to hold different views as an adult (thank goodness!), that would likely have not been tolerated as a child. Church participation was not an option, prayer before meals was not an option, memorizing Bible verses was not an option. As I mentioned before, I think this came from a place of care and love, and I hold no hatred against them, but the harm of the dogmatic is still there.

              Liked by 1 person

          • archaeopteryx1 says:

            My son has lived that lie for quite some time now, but he loves his family. Bear in mind, he doesn’t breathe a word of this to his sons, because they’d run straight to their Mom, but the other day, he and his older were headed for basketball practice, when his son asked, “When I grow up, can I chose whatever religion I want?” His Dad said, “Sure,” to which – and yes, I’m beaming – the boy replied, “Then I think I’m gonna be an atheist.”

            Liked by 2 people

            • Janelle says:

              arch, this is AWESOME!

              Like

              • archaeopteryx1 says:

                My son swears he had no hand in the boy’s decision, and I believe it, as my son would be singing soprano if his Catholic wife thought for a minute that he did, and since the news was on tape (he emails me MP4’s, it’s more personal), he was still a baritone.

                Liked by 1 person

      • Janelle says:

        East TN, Thanks so much for sharing.

        If you haven’t already found them, you might like Nate’s blog at http://findingtruth.wordpress.com/ and http://godlessindixie.com/. Both are in the deep south.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Great to see you, East TN.

        I must tell you that when I first started reading your post on ExChristian.net, I thought you were a woman. Why? Because I’ve never met a Christian man who was taken aback by the inhumanity towards women in the bible, and questioned their faith because of it. I was deeply moved by your compassion and empathy. I really don’t have the words to describe how you made me feel in that moment when I realized you were a man. My whole mind and body reacted. Tears welled up.

        Thank you so much for your gift of words. You have my utmost respect, and I admire you for going against the cultural tide. It’s not easy being an unbeliever in the bible-belt. I live in South Carolina right now, but have spent most of my life in the deep South. I never share my lack of belief (except online) unless I’m backed in the corner. I have good reason to keep my mouth shut. You are among friends here. I hope you’ll join us more often. I have met the most awesome people, online, since I deconverted several years back. It has curtailed the loneliness I experience in my ‘real’ world.

        Thanks again for sharing, and welcome. It’s a pleasure to meet you.

        Victoria

        Liked by 2 people

        • East TN Ex-Christian says:

          Thanks for the kind words, and glad I could be a credit to the XY chromosome ;). The Jepthah story was certainly a major step on my journey out of faith. My personality bends me toward empathy and a strong sense of justice. I hate seeing people walked over and denigrated by people with power, whether they’re female, LGBT, or in a racial minority. The mantle of “godly leadership” placed on men is no picnic either! My father is a very laid-back, non-controlling “big picture” person and my mother is very analytical, detail-oriented, and struggled for many years to be the mythical “perfect mother.” I think the fact that my father didn’t step in, make the majority of the decisions and be the driving force for religion in the family has bothered her for many years.

          The irony is that, on the whole, women tend to drive religious participation and attendance within the majority of families (with the exception of some very fundamentalist sects). The church has noticed the declining attendance of men and is trying to market to them (usually through anything they think will appeal to testosterone–whether through “Fight Church” (http://fightchurch.com/about), gun giveways (http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2014/03/03/churches-guns-giveaway/5967533/) , or the plethora of the “manly” Christian authors (John Eldredge, Mark Driscoll *gag*).

          Like you, I’m working to become more open in my non-belief, but must give consideration to each action’s effect on my family life, the business I run, and the relationships I have in one of the “biggest small towns in America.” The pull between passion and pragmatism is strong and conflicting, but simply existing as a puzzlement to those who picture an atheist as an angry, amoral nihilist without purpose, meaning or joy. Most will reconcile this by assuming I’m just putting on a happy front, just pretending to be moral, not *really* an atheist or that I’m just “borrowing” my morality from Christian roots. I do hope, however, that a few will see my story and realize that the morality they hold is irreconcilable with the morality of Yahweh.

          I won’t be a stranger here! Thanks for the warm welcome.

          Liked by 1 person

          • I love the borrowed morality line. What a mind job. 🙂

            Like

          • The irony is that, on the whole, women tend to drive religious participation and attendance within the majority of families (with the exception of some very fundamentalist sects).

            Hi East TN,

            You brought up something that I’ve researched quite extensively. Why more women attend church than men. As a woman, it seemed rather obvious for a number of reasons. I think you will find this collection of theories interesting. http://biblicalstudies.gospelstudies.org.uk/pdf/vox/vol20/women_walter.pdf

            I’ve also read more recent studies showing that women attend church for social reasons. And as mentioned in the paper, throughout history, church was usually the only adult social interaction women had, that women tend to value relationships (historically) where men tended to value individual autonomy (Gilligan 1982). And it’s only been very recently that cultures embraced women’s independence and autonomy, and still we see many cultures, mostly religious, who’ve not embraced this fully. Quote:

            “Whereas a relationship with Christ may fulfill a woman’s desire for relationship, it directly confronts a man’s desire for independence. Taking up the cross, denying himself, and abasing himself before God is hardly the fulfillment of his masculinity! This may help us interpret the finding in the London Bible College survey that 22% of the men, but only 6% of the women, said they valued God as ‘lord’, ‘master’, or ‘boss’.”

            You wrote:
            “The mantle of “godly leadership” placed on men is no picnic either!”

            I agree, which plays a role in why men tend to kill their whole family and often themselves. Crime stats show that almost all family annihilators are men – an estimated 95 per cent. Quote:

            “The psychological profile they share, however, concerns how they have constructed their sense of ‘self’. According to stereotypical gender roles, while motherhood is often seen as the denial of self by putting one’s children before one’s own needs, fatherhood is more concerned with provision for the family and being seen as the head of it – the family becomes part of the self, rather than supplanting it. The typical profile of a family annihilator is a middle-aged man, a good provider who appears dedicated, devoted and loyal to his family. The tipping point is some catastrophic loss or impending tragedy that threatens to undermine his sense of self and amplifies his feelings of impotence and powerlessness.

            In individuals for whom their family is an integral part of their identity – part of themselves, rather than a separate being – murdering the family is akin to a single act of suicide. It is a way of regaining control; of obliterating the impending crisis. This explains why men will often not only kill their partner and children, but also pets and destroy their property by setting fires. It is an eradication of everything that constitutes the self.
            http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/8961851/What-drives-a-father-to-kill.html

            We can see this in the 10th Commandment. A man’s identity is in what he owns — his property, and that includes his wife. Thanks for the fuel for thought. 🙂

            Like

Two Wheels Across Texas

My Quest to ride through all 254 Texas Counties

The Curious Atheist

Freely Seeking Truth After Religion

Class Warfare Blog

I don’t want to start a class war; it started a long time ago and, unfortunately, we are losing.

Variant Readings

Thoughts on History, Religion, Archaeology, Papyrology, etc. by Brent Nongbri

Out From Under the Umbrella

playing in the rain

A Measure of Faith

Investigating the collision of faith, science and reason

aspiretofindtruth

Seeking answers for some of the big questions of life.

Random thoughts

Random musings about everything.

Victoria NeuroNotes

Into the Gray

%d bloggers like this: