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More About Me

Still have any Gods? If so, who or what?

Found 8 results

  1. My journey here is probably something like a clone of many of yours. Raised in a Christian home, by parents who were raised in Christian homes, went to Christian colleges and never questioned it. Church nursery ages 0-2 (where I'm told I was bitten several times and almost kicked in the head by a rambunctious older boy...isn't church such a peaceful sanctuary away from the world?) gave way to Sunday school, and by age four I was deemed ready to be up in the adult services (Reformed Baptists start them young). Theology and dogma saturated every sermon; of course, I didn't understand it and would rather have been running around outside, but I tried to be reverent to avoid the disapproving parental glares, and believed whatever wasn’t too confusing. I sang all the songs about being washed in Jesus’ blood, felt guilty for making him die with my six-year-old evilness, and was appropriately grateful for being saved from the fiery tortures of hell. With morning and evening services conducted by ministers and deacons who really didn’t know when to shut up (stretching them to 1.5 hours a shot), I’ve spent roughly 2500 hours sitting in a pew. That’s not even counting travel time (our church was half an hour away) or the weeks we attended prayer meeting. A hundred and fifty thousand minutes I could have spent learning to be a musical genius or something useful! Not that the indoctrination ended at church. A homeschooler K-12, I was taught all my subjects from a Christian perspective (believe me, biology was…fun). All my friends came from church or the Christian homeschool group we joined (you’ve never seen so many jean jumpers). I sensed even at a young age that I was different somehow than everyone I knew; I became a loner and could usually be found in some corner with a book. This is probably what rescued me. While my peers were succumbing to the brainwashing, turning into carbon copies of their fundamentalist parents and each other, I was reading, writing, developing the critical thinking skills that I would later apply to religion. I can’t pinpoint my deconversion, but it was probably around age 12 or 13. In the beginning I still believed everything—I just didn’t feel any sort of divine presence in my life, and realized I never had. My default reaction was to assume that something was wrong with me…that maybe I hadn’t been predestined. Convinced I was going to hell, I prayed for god to just make me a Christian. I told him my heart was open and the holy spirit could waltz right in anytime. It was only when nothing happened that I began to wonder if there was actually anyone up there. So it was back to the books; I dove headfirst into the study of religion, filled notebooks with biblical criticism, and concluded that religion was a manmade tool of fear and control. Voltaire and Thomas Paine became my mentors through my teen years. I admired their courage, their nonconformity, and their dedication to dispelling superstition. Reason was, and still is, my guiding light. After graduation, my parents gave me a choice: I could either live on-campus at a Christian college, or live at home and commute. They were still unaware of my deconversion, so I suppose they were reluctant to have me mixing with “unbelievers” and being tempted away from the faith. I decided it was more important to get out of the house and start becoming independent. Christian college it was. And what a Christian college. Mandatory Wednesday chapel (I sit in the back with the other hoodlums, headphones on to block out the call-and-response chanting). No vacuuming or laundry on Sundays. Dancing prohibited (unless it’s line dancing or some other kind that nobody wants to do). Core courses include Bible class. The halls are deserted on Sundays as students flock out to church, while I stay in the dorm and watch Christopher Hitchens debate Christians (he was a brilliant man) or read Dawkins or Harris. I felt like a wolf among the sheep…but I didn’t attack anyone’s faith and didn’t proselytize freethought. Having other people’s beliefs forced on me turned me off the idea of doing that to someone else. If people asked me about my views on religion, I’d be honest, but most people just assumed everyone was a Christian and the most heated debates got was over denominational differences in doctrine—infant vs. adult baptism, predestination vs. free will. When these came up I usually just walked away. It wasn’t worth the fight for something I wouldn’t even be able to change. My classes, however, were another story. My professors caught on pretty fast when I started writing papers for Old Testament class about how Yahweh was a megalomaniac tyrant who ordered genocide, or did a project on the topic of how there is a rational basis for morality, or (most telling) wrote the various “self-reflection” papers on my deconversion. They mostly reacted the same way—they were sad, yet accepting, and offered to discuss religion with me anytime. Sometimes I took them up on it, but they had believed the Christian story so strongly for so long that it was clear I wouldn’t change their minds…and after all my studying, I knew that I could never find Christianity intellectually satisfying, so they wouldn’t change mine. I still think it was valuable to have those encounters, if only for the sake of helping both sides understand each other more, and I discovered that I could truly respect my professors even if it didn’t mean agreeing with them. I dropped the bombshell on my parents over the Christmas break of my freshman year. Understandably, they were shocked and there were tears, but I was able to present my reasoning calmly and non-confrontationally, and they admitted that they had no answers for my questions. For them it just came down to faith and the work of the holy spirit. They probably pray for me every day. Currently I am eighteen, in my second (and last) semester at this school. Next fall I’ll be transferring to a non-religiously-affiliated college. Seeing as I’ve never been around non-Christians for very long (besides the one or two people I’ve found here), I’m expecting a culture shock. And I’m looking forward to it.
  2. Hello all, I deconverted from Christianity about a month ago, as the result of quite a bit of thinking (with quite a few periods of trying to ignore my other thinking) about my religious beliefs over a period of months. I've also been married for nearly 9 years, and my wife and I have two sons together. We've had some marital issues in the past relating to some other things, but lately things had been going much better. When I had my epiphany about my (lack of) faith, I told my wife almost immediately (it happened in the middle of a church service, and I told her on the car ride home), and she has had multiple reactions since then. First, it was mildly negative (and almost patronizing); then it was more worried and bitter; it has since turned somewhat passive-aggressive, and she has turned to an old church (a charismatic mega-church-emulating congregation) for guidance, you might say, even seeking it from their pastor (a man I instinctively distrust, having met him a few times). I've been trying to minimize the seriousness of this change, but my wife hasn't seen it that way. She was mildly religious before; now she seems more resolved to keep her faith now that I've lost mine. She's always been really preoccupied with heaven (especially after her much-beloved father passed away a few years ago), and now that factors into matters. And when I have sought out other freethinkers (including thinking about attending the Reason Rally in DC), her response has been that I'm just trying to persuade other people to become atheists, etc. It's become something of a wedge, and although we have had some reasonable discussions, it feels much more tense than ever between us. Does anyone have any experience or relevant information that would help in this regard? The whole situation, coupled with my general anxiety about being almost entirely in the closet (only my wife, mother, and a few nonbelieving friends know), has gotten me really depressed, and any words of advice or even encouragement would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.
  3. My mom passed Sept 16th. This just happens to be the same day as a junior high schoolmates birthday, one I have celebrated for many years now, we just got back in touch on Facebook a few months before. Unlike my friend who I had lost contact with for many years, I had either seen my mom or spoken to her every day for the past 30 years. While she was diagnosed with cancer, moved to a facility and then shortly after that, moved to an hospice, this enabled me to break the habit of calling everyday. Her death was a blow to me. She was really "gone". I faced it head on and that is when realized that I was "no longer a christian". I was grievously aware of the void of spiritual talk and banter with others and I scrutinized every unction toward prayer. I felt alone. Really alone. I couldn't talk about this with either my brother or sister or dad. I removed myself from them and even found it difficult to make the courtesy calls to family and friends of her passing. Even though there is a void of sorts by the lack of the christian lifestyle, I know that I have adapted to losing her, adjusting through my deconversion and progressing in my new life. It's amazing how much progress we can make personally when we have just a few thoughtful supportive and respectful "friends" around us at times like these. I think of the forums and here at Exchristian.net where I have felt acceptance that enabled me to work through the issues rather than deny them as I did when I was a christian. Loss really affects our lives. I will never be the same. Even though my mom died at the age of 87, we had all expected her to live well into her nineties. I just wasn't ready to let her go but I had to do it anyway. BTW; isn't she beautiful...
  4. "Coming out" is a term that is not exclusively for those talking about their sexual orientation or preferences but also for the EX christian who is "coming out" of hiding that fact that they are NO longer "of the faith". I found this to be the term used for ex-christians who have "deconverted" on the wonderful website for ex-christians called ex-christian.net. I was at one of my favorite consignment stores; ok, it was the Goodwill store and it is awesome by the way. I have befriended one of the "associates" and she allows me to rummage through the jewelry in the glass counters and we chat for a while. We both have wonderful sons of about the same age. Today, upon chatting with Melissa, I "came out" of hiding and said for the first time to anyone but my Love, "I am not a christian any longer". I even told her that I had not said this to anyone outside my immediate family until now. The look on her face of having been "taken aback" seemed to mildly surprise as well as slightly amuse me. I wondered why I was amused by this. Perhaps that she "expected" by my kindness and interest in her as a person, that I "must be" a christian, like herself. I then told her that I "really love Jesus, even yet"...she replied "THAT'S good!" I mean that with all of my heart. I still believe that Jesus is awesome and love him. Today, I believe that I got a little taste of the confusion that one may feel when they hear a deconvert's testimony. Maybe it IS easier for me to say it than for a christian to hear that I have made a conscious and very deliberate choice to NOT be a christian after living the christian life for over 25 years. I feel good about "coming out" today. I feel good about WHO I AM and WHAT I FEEL AND THINK.
  5. Hi everyone; I love this place. I am a NEWbie...I have a NEW life and singing a NEW song; you can call me NEW or NS if you like... I will post in anti-testimonies once I read more on this site but before then I think I need to share and get feedback on ONE issue that I am dealing with...I have not so reluctantly and amazingly very easily NOT called myself a christian after "having been one" for over 26 years but have even called myself "a non-christian" in ways...this is truly amazing that I have accepted and fully embraced my worldview and religious thought as "being me" rather than rejecting it and suffering from guilt or "sinning" as the "christian" worldview would like to see me. I am NOT backslidden...I have NOT slipped BACK into an old life (as they would try to explain me) but have embraced my NEW life. The issue: I was VERY active in ministry; singing, songwriting, recording, performing, praying, etc...I even had an employee eprayer chain for almost 10 years. I "led" people to the Lord,etc. I was VERY active. I met TONS of people; a few with whom I still have contact. What I miss is that I used to sing and minister "gospel songs" and I loved that genre but as for being a singer, I don't know WHAT GENRE to sing. I feel at a loss; a voice without a song in ways. I am a song writer and considering writing my "process of deconversion" in ways...don't know yet. Secondly even though HAVE a NEWlife; I still mourn for the OLD "christian" life because of its validation of my "gifts and talents" and the sense of community and belonging that I felt...I don't feel that I have that now...I have LESS contact with "society" and I am a VERY sociable person. My integrity won't even allow me to walk into a church; after spending MORE than half of my life in it as active as I was. I have NO desire to "associate" with the mindset and "proseletizing" attitude of those "in the church". I really get it. :blink:I was just like that. I was so ignorant of humanity and callous toward any "other life" apart from Jesus and the church; I am "ashamed of myself" in a good way now and dealing with this also. I have relocated and lost a choir that I sang classic music with for 6 years, relocated when I resigned from my employer of 23 years, divorced an abusive husband and married my First Love (pre-christian days) after 25 years. I would love to hear how YOU dealt with YOUR FEELINGS of embracing your NEW life apart from religion and how you went about transferring talents/skills once used in the "church" to your NEW life...thanks.
  6. I think deconversion could have been quite a bit less stressful if at the time I’d known about the concept of faith stages (that I was simply going from Dependence to Independence). The criticisms are serious but overall it makes sense and seems helpful. Finding Your Religion by Scotty McLennan, summarized from pages 19-31 Magic stage: all-powerful God. Typically age 2 to 10. The world is full of spirits and demons, God makes everything happen. Reality stage: cause and effect God. Logic comes in and Santa Claus goes. God can be influenced by good deeds and scripture is taken as literal. Dependence stage: parent God. Authority figures are important as well as following religious doctrine. Many adults remain in this stage for life. Independence stage: distant God or atheism. Spirituality becomes individualized and God is either nonexistent or seen as an impersonal force. Religion can become demythologized and analyzed for conceptual meaning. Interdependence stage: paradoxical God. Typically occurs late in life. A “second naivete” where religious symbols become sacred again. Ability to tolerate contradiction and ambiguity. Two examples: maintaining your own unique faith while participating in a religious community, and the ability to pray to a personal God while understanding the divine as an impersonal force. Unity stage: all-pervasive God. Awareness of the oneness of all existence. Ego attachment disappears. God is in everything and everything is in God. Criticisms of stage theory: The spiritual journey is too personal, unique and undefined to be outlined in this way. Seeing the stages makes people become goal-oriented rather than nurturing the spirit at whatever stage it happens to be in. Stage theory is judgmental, implying that later stages are better than earlier ones. Positive aspects of stage theory: Avoids either/or thinking (either you "have religion" or not) and allows us to see religion as a developing process. Actually prevents judgmentalism by making it easier to see the similarities between spiritual paths within different religious traditions.
  7. Richard Rohr: "I'm afraid what we've done in a lot of formal religion is try to build a house for people starting with the 2nd floor. In other words, we come in and give people the conclusions, the doctrines, the answers they're supposed to have, the moral conclusions they're supposed to have come to. And I think that's why so many people are so angry at religion. Because this 2nd floor house, filled with answers and explanations that they have not asked for or struggled for or needed or desired basically doesn't make sense and collapses like a 2nd floor of a house would if it doesn't have a 1st floor. " From the dvd Crisis of Faith (by 4 Seasons Productions) which has aired on PBS.
  8. Guest

    Thomas Paine quote

    This quote from Thomas Paine's The Age of Reason summarizes why I quit going to church: "Infidelity does not consist in believing, or in disbelieving, it consists in professing to believe what one does not believe." In other words, since I no longer believed in the Biblical God, I could not have been true to myself by remaining a Christian.
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