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Hammurabi

Phases Of Deconversion

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:twitch:

 

Hammurabi that is dead-on.

 

Instead of fear though I would have to say anguish is the word that really sums up steps 2 and 3.

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Pure magnificence.

 

When I was a young man, there was a particular saying that expressed maximum satisfaction and I haven't used it for a very long time. I believe right now is a perfect moment to dust this one off:

 

Fuckin' A!!!

 

Have I simultaneously dated myself and revealed the fact that I'm an idiot? Perhaps. Sheer joy will do that to one every now and again.

 

Well done, mate. Well done.

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Wow! That was very well thought out and put together. Nicely done! :D

 

The only thing I would like to mention is that people can bounce back and forth between phases for years...especially if there is something influencing their decisions (mental conditions, family members, etc.).

 

I jounced from phases 0-2 and back again many times over. Even made it all the way to step 4 a few years ago until my ex (then wife) basically brow-beat me back into the cult.

 

Until I got my head rearranged I couldn't consistently move on, something always pulled me back.

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That's as good "a piece a writin'" as I've read in a long time, and I read a lot. You hit the nail on the head.

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Phases of Deconversion:

 

Phase 0 - The pre-deconversion.

 

This step really isn't a step at all. This is just the generalized time before deconversion. In this phase you are 100% committed to your belief, you call yourself a christian, you think of yourself as a christian, you know all the ways to answer all the questions about your faith and the idea of not being a christian has yet to enter your mind. This phase could be brief or quite lengthy, but it is characterized by the complete lack of questioning about your faith. You may be confronted about your faith by others, and you respond with all the "right" answers, but you yourself have yet to put your belief under the microscope. Some can go their whole lives without ever leaving this state, but we are talking about deconversion here, so on to phase 1.

 

If that is pre-deconversion then I never was a real Christian, though I dedicated forty to fifty years of my life trying to convince myself that there was something to it--trying to figure out WHAT there was to it--all because I happened to be born into it and the social pressure was such that not conforming required emotional strength I didn't have....It's a seriously vicious circle.

 

For the very specific reason that I could not buy into the crap religion robbed me of the strength required to leave and trapped me inside a steel and concrete jail and sent the blood hounds after me when once I did manage to break free. The bitterness of soul with which this leaves me is not going to be without recompense. I learned things about religion that religionists do not want their enemies to know.

 

Enemy spies should not know the home language and culture better than the natives themselves, right? Well, then they should not force them to stay against their will for decades on end.

 

Now I'll read the rest of your post.

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I read this thread now. Lived most of my life at Phase 3. The psychological implications of the isolation--and severe abuse this amounts to--brought me the opportunity to investigate the religious stuff on levels that perhaps not all people get the opportunity to investigate. I really don't know. But by the time I left my native community I had tried EVERY FUCKING LAST HOME REMEDY IN THE BOOK and then some. That was the ONLY thing that kept me from succombing under the weight of persecution when I left. With blood hounds at my heels and nothing but the empty universe in front of me, leaping off the planet seemed the most friendly choice.

 

I'm still looking for a place to land but THERE IS NO GOING BACK.

 

Technically, I could still repent and return if I decided to do so. But at what cost?

 

The unforgivable sin, according to the NT, is blaspheming the Holy Ghost. Jesus said turning your back on him, and even on God, could be forgiven, but turning your back on the holy spirit just can't be forgiven. That's why some people feel such release at taking the Blasphemy Challenge. They then know that the decision has been made; it's irrevokable; they can't go back and change their minds.

 

I personally don't want to take that step at this point. 1. I cannot convince myself that mere words are that powerful. 2. I don't feel the need; I think Truth stands regardless of ritual and ceremony. 3. I don't want to willfully "seal my doom" if by any chance there is anything to it.

 

It seems to me that if I deconverted all on my own--if I saw as a child of about eight when I first heard that Jesus died so we could go to heaven when we died that it makes absolutely no sense, and if that doubt remained a burning question through all the brainwashing and manipulation and whatnot of adult life, then there is NOTHING that is going to make me reconvert against my will and better knowledge.

 

All I had to do to be accepted was stop asking these troubling questions. But that was the one thing I could never do. Actually, I could do it lots better now that I know they have no answers. Now that I know they're all playing make-believe I could pretend, too. But back then they I didn't know they were pretending. I didn't know anyone was being less than genuine because I was genuine. They all seemed to be so much smarter than I was.

 

At this point I don't see any reason ever to go back to my own native community other than as spy or in some other way to pull down fundamentalist religion. I don't think I have to go into their community to do that. They are dependent on a larger infrastructure. They kept me prisoner so long that I am intimately familiar with how they fit in. In addition, they are unwittingly giving me information from time to time that makes me aware that there are new developments that I can check into if needed.

 

Maybe I'm just living out the anger phase. I don't see myself ever moving totally beyond it. I see myself as having more or less accepted that there are scars I will carry for life. Wanting to kill every Christian in sight is not the kind of anger I feel. I've never felt that way because, well, I simply can't be true to myself and feel that way. I know some really good people who are Christian. The overwhelming desire to bash in the face of any bastard who dares tell me what to do without solid authority to do so is a feeling that may never leave me.

 

I have ALWAYS questioned authority. Even before I had any overtly religous training; it's just the way my brian works. I don't expect that EVER to change. The Old Order Mennonites practically killed me (not sure why I never just did myself in; they told me I'd go to hell if I did though that made NO SENSE) in their efforts to break my will but they never managed to convince me that I did not have the right to be happy. The bible itself--that holy and inerrant bible itself--PROMISED peace and happiness if I did what God (a.k.a. church, parents, teachers) told me to.

 

When their church and god failed to provide it--and I was convinced that I had tried every last thing in the book--I left.

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Very nicely done! Well thought out, with many valid points!

 

:grin:

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Even though I haven't gone through your stages exactly as you wrote them, I can really relate. Where I differ is the feelings of anger or betrayal. Then again, I haven't totally deconverted. I guess I'm afraid of the disappointment in my Christian friend's faces. If they were to turn on me, then I would probably feel angry and betrayed, but I love and trust my friends, and I know they have lots of friends who are non-believers who they keep as true friends. Thanks for the great, thought provoking post. :grin:

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This is great and really is what we see with most of the people who come here. I think this should get pinned somewhere so new arrivals can see it easily.

 

I'm proud to say that I dropped off the old christ-mobile some years ago and it was very liberating. Coming to this site has helped to me to go back to the scrap heap occasionally to have one more whack at the old geezer, but I certainly no longer tow it around town.

 

Love the analogy, and enjoyed this piece (and not just because you quoted me). :)

 

Heather

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Hey all, thanks for all the great positive feedback.

 

Doc - I totally agree, I knew as I wrote it that I needed a better word than 'fear", thanks

 

Kenny - Fuckin' A

 

GG - Yeah, I know that numbering the phases indicated a progression but obviously people move back and forth. I would also submit that people move between 4 and 5 pretty regularly

 

Ruby - I used phase 0 as some sort of ill-defined starting point. It certainly isn't supposed to represent what the fundies call a True Christiantm. Your second post about being in phase 3 the majority of your life really brings to light one of the reasons I wanted to write this down. Whenever I read what you write about your former faith I am always struck by the pain I see coming through in your posts. Many, many other posts from other authors also echo this hurt and I hope that having a clear (or clear-ish) way of identifying where someone is in the deconversion process will help us all (as the supporters we are) to minimize the time wasted and pain caused by deconverting. I know it's a lofty ambition for my scribbles here, but hopefully with the input of the ex-c community it can evolve into a useful tool.

 

upstarter - I'm the analogy king! Also, about your post, I aim to please. :wink:

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I would also submit that people move between 4 and 5 pretty regularly

 

That's true. I've been doing that a fair bit lately.

 

Me: "I'm calm, I'm calm, I'm calm..."

 

Fundy: "Hey, GG, you know the story of Job, right?"

 

WHAM!...

 

Me: "Fucktard..."

 

...

 

Me: "I'm calm, I'm calm, I'm calm..."

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Dear Hammurabi,

 

this is a great post. You have done a grat job on this ...my respect. You are observing things very good and you can put it down in a down to earth way. Thank you for this post.

 

 

 

When I read your post, I got reminded of this. Maybe as an addition to your thoughts:

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transtheoretical_Model

 

It is about change of behaiviour, but can also be used to describe change of values.

 

You can read the above or the short version. Proschaska claims that there are six phases in change of behavior. People are using this model to deal with addictions.

 

 

Quote form the homepage above:

Prochaska's Model Prochaska's model stipulates six stages:

1.Precontemplation - lack of awareness that life can be improved by a change in behavior;

2.Contemplation - recognition of the problem, initial consideration of behavior change, and information gathering about possible solutions and actions;

3.Preparation - introspection about the decision, reaffirmation of the need and desire to change behavior, and completion of final pre-action steps;

4.Action - implementation of the practices needed for successful behavior change (e.g. exercise class attendance);

5.Maintenance - consolidation of the behaviors initiated during the action stage;

6.Termination - former problem behaviors are no longer perceived as desirable (e.g. skipping a run results in frustration rather than pleasure).

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"Congratulations! You are now a non-believer. Here is your hat and t-shirt. We're having a bake-sale this Saturday at the park and I'll go ahead and sign you up for our newsletter...." Well, not exactly. When you converted, there was all sorts of pomp and circumstance. People were showering you with attention, everyone was your friend and you were instantly tied into a new social group. Your moment of deconversion, the moment you first answer that question "No", by contrast is wholly unsatisfying.

 

For me this was an important point. The "pomp and circumstance" at my baptism has been like patting a child on its head for doing something right. It is the confirmation, that the baptism was the right thing. Again, this is a psychological thing, that helps us to find out the appropriate behaivor for the situation. The confirmation combined with peer preasure kept me in the xian faith for nearly 20 years.

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Wow.

 

Just... wow.

 

Kind of like the stages of grief, ain't it.

 

Very well done, Hammurabi. :thanks:

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I can't seem to get past phase 5. Every time I start to take my car to the dump someone seems to jump up and say Wait! Don't throw that out! It's not broke you are. You just never knew how to drive it. Let go and let the car. Great Post.

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I can't seem to get past phase 5. Every time I start to take my car to the dump someone seems to jump up and say Wait! Don't throw that out! It's not broke you are. You just never knew how to drive it. Let go and let the car. Great Post.

Xandermac - I think maybe it is partially geographical location for both of us that we keep the old heap sitting up on jacks in the driveway. Or, since you are from Alabama, sitting in the yard with kudzu growing up on it. Kind of hard to get away from seeing others driving their old beaters around and fixing them no matter the cost.

 

Hammurabi - I really enjoyed your post. Although I try to live without regrets, I still can't help but think how differently my life would be now if I had had the courage to say "I don't believe" at either one of two crucial points in the past. One was about 30 years ago during my college years, and the other about 23 years ago following the birth of my daughter.

 

Kenny - fuckin'-A. Yeah it dates you.

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Wow. That was wonderful. I too bounce between phase 4 and phase 5. Sometimes, I also miss the old car. The way the leather bucket seats felt. The quirky way the car handled on turns. And... Sometimes, I miss the ritual of going to church, singing the songs, feeling "connected" to something bigger than me.

 

For me, it was reading the Bible cover to cover that made me start to question. The sheer cruelty of the Bible was what pushed me over the edge. That and praying, fasting, praying, praying and praying for healing that never came, that started me asking questions. And questions led me to seek answers. Only, the answers didn't begin to touch the questions. Answers spawned more questions. I found it confusing. Still do find it confusing.

 

Walking away from religion and deciding, "No, I don't believe," is like plucking a cello string. It cannot be un-plucked. The note has sounded. There are times when I wish I could shut off my mind and just have faith, because it would be easier to trust in a loving god who has all the answers. Don't worry! All of life's questions will make sense some day. Everything will be fixed in heaven. No illness. No pain. No tears. Perfection. Peace. Hallelujah! Praise God! Oh, it would be easy if I could have faith. But, I plucked the cello string and heard the sound. I asked the questions. I took the red pill. I chose to see how far the rabbit hole goes, and now...

 

Now I know there are questions without answers. I know that life is terrifyingly random. Is there a pure, perfect, all knowing, all loving God? No, I don't believe. I've seen too much, endured too much, suffered too much, wept too much, and fallen too far down the rabbit hole, to believe. But, a part of me still wants it to be real. Dumbo's magic black feather. I let go of the feather. It's falling to the ground. I'm still flying, but I miss how the feather felt sometimes. It was a comfort, even if it wasn't really helping me fly.

 

And then again, some days I'm glad I'm free to think, and question, and grieve, wonder, observe and laugh and just be...

 

CelloChick

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I find it curious that people often start on their deconversion process after developing a distaste for the (so-called) 'Old Testament' god - for me, that god has no reality at all but is just a reflection of how certain people decided to justify their own actions - no more true than say 'Son of Sam' claiming god told him to do whatever.

 

There again, we have no idea what the (so-called) 'New Testament' god (Jesus) actually said - if he actually said anything - as we only have the words attributed to him by others with agendas of their own to follow.

 

So for me, the biblical expression of 'god' is irrelevant as to god's existence or non-existence.

 

Fortunately I had my awakening outside the normal run of these things - nobody was there but me, so nobody can demean it nor add some sort of religious requirement that I must fulfill in order to attain some salvation (or whatever) as I already had much more (it seemed to me) than they were offering or threatening to withold from me.

 

Plenty of times during my shop around the christian world people told me I was satanic - especially when I left, or was booted out of, their congregations. In retrospect I see all the five steps described above as part of a seamless whole - a bit like digesting food - it all goes in, gets sorted at various stages of the singular process and gets excreted in due course.

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Wow! nicely done. I remember right after I had read a bunch of apologetics books, I was like WTF??? Then I hopped on the internet...oooohhh but I remeber being so scared. I don't know what I thought was gonna happen but it was not good. But it pretty much has played at as you have predicted. I'm still officially very pissed off.

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Wow! nicely done. I remember right after I had read a bunch of apologetics books, I was like WTF??? Then I hopped on the internet...oooohhh but I remeber being so scared. I don't know what I thought was gonna happen but it was not good. But it pretty much has played at as you have predicted. I'm still officially very pissed off.

 

 

My entire Christian life has been plagued by apologetics books. They always made me doubt more! I read all those books wanting to squash the doubts I had from time to time, and to "… Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have…" (1 Peter 3:15). I found myself desperate to defend my faith, but was I defending it against the attacks of others, or was I defending it against my own doubts. Those books try to bring reason to a faith issue with ludicrous arguments like the gospel must be true because all the early Christians risked their lives and became martyrs for it. I bought that hook line and sinker...then the events of 9/11 ...or a look at a picture of a Buddhist monk on fire in protest, or Jim Jones, or Heaven's gate and on and on, all made me realize that being willing to die for something doesn't make it true.

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In the name of shameless self-promotion, I hearby bump this post to give it one more chance to be read before it floats away into the vast ocean of forgotten threads.

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In the name of shameless self-promotion, I hearby bump this post to give it one more chance to be read before it floats away into the vast ocean of forgotten threads.

 

Well what the hell I'm all for self-promotion, I'm gonna read it again :P

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I'd consider adding in as a step 4.5 (possibly contributing to the anger) a step to describe the jolt someone's identity takes from actually leaving a religion, particularly if it was (and it commonly was) a key part of someone's identity. There is the stage of figuring out what one believes after.

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