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Everything posted by Geezer

  1. I think most of us that participate on this site can remember a specific day in our lives when we came to the realization that all of the stuff we had been taught and believed in simply wasn't true. I think many of us look at that event as the day we were liberated.
  2. Yep, I get that. My wife continues to be a believer and I continue to attend services with her, but she has at least accepted the reality that the bible isn’t literally true. I’m grateful for that. We’ve been married 47 years and neither of us has any desire to end our marriage. We’ve made it this far because long ago we learned how to compromise and cope. She knows I’m no longer a believer but I’m not trying to deconvert her. She is also aware that I am only physically present during the church service. The words no longer have any meaning to me. I smile and greet people as I’ve always done; and I have become rather proficient in my ability to look interested and stay awake while turning everything going on around me out. She doesn't want to go to church alone and if she did that would invite questions that neither of us want to deal with. I went through the stage of challenging the bible and believer’s faith, but I stopped that some time ago. Church for me has become similar to having to attend an irrelevant business meeting. You have to be there but you don’t have to listen. You only have to look interested. And I just don't feel the need to deconvert anyone else. I figured it out on my own and I assume others, who have developed doubts, will do the same.
  3. You didn’t mention your prior denomination affiliation. If you were affiliated with a liberal version of Christianity then your pastor is more likely to be receptive to your predicament. If your prior affiliation was with a fundamentalist or conservative denomination then your pastor will probably not be receptive, much less have any understanding or empathy, for your dilemma. If you have had an extended relationship with some Christian group then I assume you have some level of knowledge and experience with Christian apologetics. In other words, you know what you used to believe and why. I wouldn’t think a minister would be able to add much to what you already know. Therefore, based on my experience, I think religious historians such as Robert Price, Elaine Pagels, Bart Ehrman, and Earl Doherty would be more informative and beneficial. It is a historians job to determine what happened and when it happened. Apologetics is basically focused on the various legitimate ways to interpret scripture. In my particular case I wasn’t interested in interpreting scripture, so apologetics wasn’t my focus. I wanted to know if the bible was true or not and it’s the historians job to determine that. Since ministers pretty much have to believe the bible is true I wouldn’t consider their POV as being particularly objective. Therefore, I personally wouldn’t put much stock in their counseling.
  4. Welcome Greylight. Our stories often contain similarities. I think this will be a good place for you to detox. The de-conversion procedure is usually a lengthy process and by lengthy I mean years not months or weeks, but it does get better and easier with the passing of time. I’m sure you will find this a good place to vent.
  5. Yes, but that is just the tip of the iceberg. When the bible is studied, like historical scholars study it, from a historical critical perspective it falls apart like a house of cards. The bible is absolutely and positively not true in any literal or historical sense. It is simply a collection of ancient legends, myths, and fables. Christians believe the Gospel writers were eyewitnesses to the events they are writing about, but that isn’t true. The actual authors are unknown. The names Mark, Matthew, Luke, and John were added decades after the Gospels stories were written. And the Gospel stories themselves are based on oral traditions that are likely based on legends and myths. The real kicker is that there is absolutely no historical evidence whatsoever than even remotely suggest that Jesus of Nazareth ever existed in the flesh. It is more than likely that Jesus was a mythological character that evolved from pagan myth.
  6. Seriously? And I thought the Church of Christ was legalistic but even they didn't do anything like that,.... but that is probably only because nobody thought about it.
  7. Liesbet, welcome to the fray and your English is very good. I didn’t find anything unusual in your story. In fact, I think your story is pretty typical. I read somewhere that the deprogramming process takes approximately one month for every year that you were a Christians. I was a deeply involved Christian for more than forty years and I’m officially into my seventh year of the deprogramming process, and I’m clearly not there yet. My point being that it takes time and usually a lot of time. It won’t happen in a month or a year. The process will likely take years, but please don’t let that discourage you. It is what it is because the process is so emotional. You just can’t flip a switch and suddenly forget all that you have learned and experienced. In time you will realize you are basically starting your life over. You need new friends, if that is possible, that think and believe like you do now. I think you will find this place helpful because all of our stories are similar. Folks here know what you’re going through because we’ve been there and many, if not most, of us are still going through the process. One of the unpleasant side effects of the deprogramming process is the lost of your former Christian friends. This usually happens naturally because the commonality that you once shared is gone. In time you will likely realize that is a good thing because their desire and efforts to bring you back into the fold is only adding to your deprogramming problems and that’s the last thing you need right now. Many de-converting ex-Christians feel the need for some professional help. Nothing wrong with that and if you think you need it then get it. I think many folks have found the process to be a one day at a time thing. It does get better and easier with the passing of time. And lots of folks are here for you anytime you need to talk, vent, or cuss. It’s all just part of the process. Glad you found this place and I hope you will find some healing here.
  8. I’ve found it helps to acknowledge that Christians, like the Borg in the Star Trek shows, have been assimilated. They have a central authority that thinks for them because they are part of the collective now. They can do nothing and say nothing that has not been approved by the collective. The collective has programmed their minds and they are now slaves of the Borg. If you did a brain scan on them you would see their brain has been replaced with a micro-chip. When their battery runs down they die and that forces the Borg to find a replacement. This sequence is repeated as often as necessary to keep the collective adequately populated.
  9. All of our stories contain similarities. At some point many of us realized it was the fear and indoctrination that captured our minds. Once you identify the problem then you can deal with fixing it. The initial problem is identifying what is holding you captive. Telling your story is part of the deprogramming process. Glad you found us & welcome aboard.
  10. I am a geezer, so my screen name is appropriate. Thanks for the welcome.
  11. True, and I tried to go the liberal Christian route as an alternative, but that didn't work for me. My studies convinced me Jesus was a mythical historical figure and Yahweh was basically a metaphor. I haven't been able to get beyond those realities, so the Jesus thing and a metaphorical Hebrew god just don’t work for me anymore, but I remain hopeful that the more and other do exist in some form, although I also acknowledge there is no valid evidence that would support my “hope”.
  12. I noted in other posts that I still attend church services with my wife. The little congregation we attend, like many small congregations, is experiencing financial trouble. The congregation does not currently have a preacher. Instead of a sermon yesterday each of our Shepherds gave a report about various problems facing the congregation. One of our senior Shepherds started to give his report and then broke down in tears. They lost their 21 year old son a year ago. He woke them up at 1 AM that day with extreme nausea and difficulty breathing. They drove him directly to the emergency room but he died from a heart attack almost the same instant they entered the emergency room. This Shepherd is a really good guy. Through sobs and tears he told the congregation that his wife was no longer a believer and she told him she hates god because he could have saved their son, but didn't. Such is the predictable result of believing that god controls every aspect of every human beings life 24/7. Believing that god is our “buddy” the fixer of problems and healer of disease is destined for an eventual devastating reality check.
  13. When I studied religious history, and the creation and evolution of the bible, it became obvious that none of it was true in any literal sense. It also became obvious that all of it had a totally human ancestry.
  14. Due to the fact I was a Sunday school teacher and Elder my wife has been a witness to my evolution because it was evident in my teaching. I readily pointed out the inconsistencies and contradictions in scripture when I taught a class. I suppose the final straw was my public teaching on homosexuality and my belief it was time for the church to rethink their blanket condemnation of homosexuals. I noted that it was my opinion that if homosexuality was a sin then it was God’s problem not mine or any other believer’s. That statement predictably didn’t go over well. After class one of the men pulled me out of service and asked me to go to the church office with him. His face was scarlet and he could barely speak he was so angry. He put his fist in my face and began to scream at me. I’d relate what he said but it was mostly incoherent. I eventually got him calmed down to the point I felt like he wasn’t going to physically attack me. It took awhile before we got to the point we could agree to disagree, but that incident motived me to begin to rethink my “faith” and why I was identifying with Christianity. My wife and I had always been hard core fundamentalist but I’d been drifting away from much of that thinking for some time before the incident. I began having my wife order books for me from Amazon written by decidedly liberal theologians. I had her order the books because she had a business account with them that gave her free shipping. By ordering the books she became familiar with the authors, the titles, and at least a cursory familiarity with the contents. I didn’t just read the material I studied it much like I was preparing to teach a course on it. I underlined and highlighted relevant sections and left the books out so they would be accessible when I wasn’t around. I would occasionally ask her to read some passage that I thought was particularly relevant. A few weeks after the incident I resigned from both leadership and teaching. I continued to obtain more reading material while making a clear and intentional disconnect from church activities. I stopped attending Sunday school and then exited our small group meeting on Sunday evening. I still attend Sunday morning services with her though. Our church friends have to be aware that I’ve changed but no one has asked anything, at least they haven’t asked me. After ordering the book, Born Again Deist by Dr. Beth Houston, my wife asked me if I still believed in Jesus. I told her I did not. Then she asked me if I still believed in God and I told her not the God of the Bible but I remain open to the possibility there is more to our reality than we can positively identify. And that is where we are. She recently noted that she had looked up the definition of Deist because wasn’t familiar with the term. I explained that Deism doesn’t have a static definition. It basically means whatever the individual Deist envisions it to mean. I haven’t put any pressure on her to change her beliefs nor have I challenged her beliefs. I’m okay with her being a Christian and she appears to be okay with me being a Deist.
  15. As a devout Christian God was a very real presence in your life. Non-believers probably can’t relate to that, but any former dedicated Christian certainly can. Your best friend is gone now. That vacancy leaves a hole in your life that you will intuitively seek to fill, but that takes time. When I fully accepted that the god of the bible was a human invention I mistaken thought that would bring my god issues to an end, but it didn’t. It takes time to process your new reality and make adjustments. As others have already noted. It will get better with the passing of time. I think you will find places like this site helpful as you work this out.
  16. I’m a slow learner. It took me thirty plus years to figure it out and another seven years of study and research to convince me it was all a hoax, but even then it was hard to let go. My Christian experience was limited to fundamentalism. When it comes to brainwashing those folks are absolute experts. I think they could probably teach the CIA a thing or two about indoctrinating people.I found out that God is easier to grab hold of then to let go of. I tried to make the liberal and even progressive forms of Christianity work for me after leaving my fundamentalists roots, but that didn’t work either. Once I became convinced the bible simply isn’t true in any literal or historical sense no form of Christianity made sense to me anymore. I eventually accepted Deism as my “pacifier” because Deism is whatever you want it to be. It’s an agnostic alternative that says maybe there is something more, but whatever that is, if it actually exist, it certainly isn’t the God of the bible. I don’t possess faith anymore. If I have anything I guess I would label it hope. I hope there is more but I readily acknowledge there is no evidence that suggest there is. I read “Stages of Faith” by James Fowler several years ago. That is when I became aware that a lot of people make this journey at some point in their life. I have seen much evil done to people in the fundamentalists group I was part of for 27 years. Religious leaders are often arrogant, self-righteous, vindictive assholes. The Mary Winkler case in Selmer TN is an example. Her husband was a Church of Christ preacher with sadistic tendencies. He was addicted to pornography and made her dress up like a hooker and pleasure him in abusive ways. Divorce is simply not an option in the Church of Christ and that is especially true for preachers. When she reached her breaking point, and she could see no way out, she killed him with a shotgun. And her lawyer got her off. A person would almost have to have been a member of the Church of Christ to even begin to understand how hopeless her predicament was and why should would be motivated to do what she did. She was clearly an abused spouse.
  17. The non-religious often appear to me to be bewildered by the inability of Christians to process information in a rational and logical manner. They fail to grasp the mind controlling power of repetitive indoctrination and peer pressure. When a Christian cannot respond rationally or logically to the evidence they revert to their programming and quote scripture. “God’s ways are not our ways”, has been pounded into their brain. The more bizarre and unbelievable the doctrine the easier it is for the church to sell it, because God’s ways are rarely logical and often appear to be nonsensical to the human mind, that’s why faith is necessary. Faith makes anything and everything possible because faith, by definition, requires no evidence. And if a believer ask for verification that is evidence the believer lacks faith and lack of faith is sin. There is a bizarre brilliance in the way the founders designed religion. They are never required to prove any of their doctrines or traditions and anyone who questions them is sinning. And sin will send the offender to hell. The King can do no wrong and the penalty for questioning the King is death.
  18. I'm pretty sure I'm past all of that. I've been deprogrammed. I'm more focused on helping those that are still going through the process than being helped. I probably need a lot of help with many things in mylife but in the religious context I'm okay with where I am now. Seven years of intense study and research of religion resolved my issues and concerns. I know what I believe now, or don't believe, and why. Thanks to everyone for the warm welcomes.
  19. Yeah, I’ve been where you apparently are now NEVERAGAINV. I’ve worked through all of that stuff and I think I’m in my right mind now, or at least as close as I’m ever going to get. I think education is the key to being deprogrammed, as you’ve eluted too. All groups including but not limited to religious, political, military, education institutions, etc. use the same tactics. Their tools are propaganda, repetition, rewards, punishment, and intimidation. This cycle is repeated as often as necessary until they reach a point where they believe they’ve taken control of their targets mind. At that point they have essentially created a human robot that can be manipulated and controlled. Scary, huh?
  20. The International Churches of Christ, Cross Roads, and Boston Movement are definitely groups that should be avoided. I’ve encountered several former members of those movements and some of them became active on the Ex-Church of Christ web site. They often tell about some really intimidating experiences that they’ve had with one of those groups. All religions attempt to control their adherents but those groups take it to the extreme.
  21. We left the Church of Christ in July 2005. In Sept of that year I stumbled across an ex-church of Christ support group web site. I’ve been active on that site since then helping support those who have left, or are thinking about leaving, the c of C. I’ve been thinking about disconnecting with that group since becoming an ex-believer. The folks over there, for the most part, are still believers. They’re wanting out of the Church of Christ but they are looking for a more “grace” focused religious group to affiliate with. They aren’t looking to become ex-believers. Since I’m no longer a believer my presence there isn’t helpful, so I’ve been looking for something else. I’ve checked out some atheist sites, but I recognized while I’m no longer religious I’m not really an atheist. So, those sites aren’t a good fit for me. And some of the commentary on those sites is a little to militant for me. Religious folk generally aren’t ignorant, they’re brainwashed and there is a huge difference between being indoctrinated and being ignorant. Brainwashed people obviously aren’t aware they’ve been brainwashed or they would remedy their situation. People who have never been brainwashed can’t relate to those who are or have been indoctrinated. Brainwashed people are not capable of processing religious beliefs rationally or logically. When it comes to religion their common sense has become so distorted that reality for them has become completely distorted. Atheists that rant on and on about the stupidity of religious people are as clueless as the one’s they’re condemning. Anyway, this site seems more compatible to my present non-religious status.
  22. I stumbled across this site yesterday. After reading a number of posts I knew I had much in common with this community of ex-believers. I wasn’t raised in a religious environment. My father was an atheist and my mother was agnostic. When I was a kid some of my friend’s families were religious and I was often invited to go to church with them. I didn’t understand anything that was going on, but the idea that God was real resonated with me. The seed of faith was planted in my mind but I didn’t really act on it. After high school I enlisted in the Navy. That was in 1964. Viet Nam was heating up and guys my age were subject to the draft. My family was dirt poor so college was never an option. The men in my family that had served in WWII were all Navy, so I decided to keep the tradition alive, and crawling through rice patties in View Nam wasn’t an appealing option. So the Army or Marines weren’t on my list of options. I eventually was shipped to the Naval Air Station in Memphis TN for school and training as a jet engine mechanic. I met my bride to be while stationed there. She was a cradle Southern Baptist. Her father was a deacon in the largest SB Church in America. The seed for believing in God had already been planted and I was certainly receptive to pleasing my bride. I was on leave between orders when we were married. We had two weeks together and then I had to leave for Cecil Field Naval Air Station at Jacksonville FL. I assumed the squadron I was assigned to was already aboard ship somewhere between Florida and Viet Nam. It would be normal to be transferred to the squadrons home base and then be flown to the ship. I was shocked to discover, when I got to the base, that my squadrons mission was to train pilots. By some really weird quirt I ended up with shore duty for the rest of my enlistment. I’d never considered such a thing was even possible. I called my bride the next day and began making arrangements for her to join me. We started our married life together and attending church was just natural for her, and I had no real objections to it either. I was soon baptized. I really didn’t understand the significance of that. I did it more to please my bride than anything else. The indoctrination began immediately and obviously it never stopped. With the passing of time my knowledge of the bible and commitment to the church grew. My discharge from the Navy came and went. I got a job managing a store for a national clothing retailer. We were transferred several times and ended up in Greenville South Carolina. The first major gas crises and economic downturned forced the company I was working for to discontinue business. We ended up back in Memphis. I started a new career and things were going well for us. I was asked to serve as a deacon at the Baptist Church we were attending. My immediate supervisor in my new job was a member of the Church of Christ. I’d never heard of that group and knew nothing about them. Coincidently my wife’s boss was also a member of the Church of Christ. Both supervisors were attempting to get us to have a bible study with their minister, but my wife and I didn’t tell each other about what was going on. Her boss finally convinced her to have the study and she told me about it. If I’d had a crystal ball we would both have quit our jobs and ran like hell to get away from these religious whacko’s. We agreed to the study. These folks are trained manipulators. The first thing I realized was the Minister conducting the study had memorized the entire bible. Seriously, he had the entire bible memorized. I met several other men who had done after our “conversion” Long story short he convinced us we weren’t saved. We were baptized early the next morning and thus began, what turned out to be 27 years of living in legalistic religious hell. I was never quite as convinced of their teaching as my wife was but I went along. In public I walked the walk and talked the talk but somewhere deep inside me was a dormant doubt that never went away. The Church of Christ, much like the LDS, and JW’s is a cult. Personal relationships are kept within the c of C community. Families will disfellowship their spouses and children if they leave the church, just like other similar cult religions. With my wife’s encouragement I became a bible school teacher, then a deacon for the youth group, and ultimately an Elder. An Elder in the c of C is like God’s personal enforcer. An Elders power and authority in the c of C is above reproach. This kind of authority often produces some exceptionally mean and arrogant people who sometimes see themselves as having God like qualities. Unfortunately for them, those lingering doubts that I’d been concealing for 20+ years were no longer dormant. By then I’d been teaching the bible for more than 20 years and I had become fully aware of the contradictions, inconsistencies, and factual inaccuracies that are replete throughout the bible. The Church of Christ takes Bible literalism to the point of absurdity. They teach that every word in the bible must be interpreted literally. I was fully aware by then that the bible was written mostly in the context of allegory, metaphor, and narrative parable. I decided to use my authority as an Elder to start educating the congregation in how to correctly read and interpret scripture. Subconsciously I knew what I was teaching wasn’t going to fly. And if I didn’t “repent” I knew what the result of that would be too. I knew I was done with the Church of Christ and wanted out but that is easier said than done. If a person hasn’t experienced a cult first hand they can’t know how difficult it is to break that bond. I served about six months before the poop hit the fan. I was asked to voluntarily resign. I told my wife and I also told her I was leaving the Church of Christ. She was tired of the c of C too, but letting go knowing all of our friends would no longer associate with us was a problem for her, but she agreed it was time to find a less legalistic religious group of believers. I resigned and also announced to the congregation that my wife and I were leaving the Church of Christ. That began a turbulent time in our life and marriage that is still ongoing. I’d developed a passion for theology that started somewhere around 1999 or thereabouts. Once we were free from the Church of Christ my theological passion became an obsession. At some point I stopped reading apologist and switched to studying and researching religious historians. I eventually went back in time as far as there is any recorded history of religion and began reconstructing it back to this day and time. My journey took about seven years to get to where I am today. Long story short I’m no longer a Christian or even a believer. The historical evidence convinced me Jesus is more than likely a mythological historical character. His story preceded him by as much as a thousand years. The bible is a collection of myths and legends and all religions are manmade. My wife continues to be a believer but she is aware that I’m not. She has taken all of my revelations pretty well. My study has convinced her the bible isn’t literally true so some good has come from my research. She can’t let go of Jesus though, and I’m okay with that because religion has become a taboo subject in our house. We just don’t talk about it. I still go to church with her so she doesn’t have to go alone. We worship with a small community church that has a great rock and roll band. The music makes the service bearable for me and I’ve learned to just shut the sermon totally out. We’ve been married for 47 years now and we’ve both learned how to adapt. I’m more comfortable with Deism than atheism at least for now. I don’t believe there is a god per se, so I am more comfortable with the term sacred. I associate the sacred more with nature and the natural laws of science than I do with any supernatural life forms. Glad I found this site and some likeminded folk.
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