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Autumn girl

An Always Christian Now Doubting

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Hi, Sarah, and welcome to ExC.

 

You have already received some very good responses to your questions. I'll do my best not to repeat what has already been said, but I will address a few of your questions and concerns.

 

One of your issues is the story about the 15 things said to a Moslem man about his personal life which, according to the story, caused him to convert to Christianity. Here is the story as you related it:

 

At church this morning I felt so much frustration, confusion, sadness, and concern. Then I felt anger. The guest speaker spoke all about missions and how the need is great but the workers are few. He relayed stories about how in the middle east God (or god?) is showing himself strong on behalf of the Muslims who are wondering if he's the true god. There's lots of supernatural stories that make me even more confused. He relayed one: a muslim man wanted the missionaries to tell him one personal thing about himself that only he would know. If god were to reveal this to them, this one thing that they would have no other way of knowing unless it was from god, then he would believe. Well, during prayer time later that day these missionaries (who were uncomfortable with his "test") asked god to reveal them anything about this man that would help him believe. One of the missionaries began writing things down on a pad of paper, one by one, all the way up to a whopping 15 things. This Muslim man was read these 15 things and they were all true, all extremely personal, and there was no way for these men to know about them. Things like financial trouble, extra marital relationships, his current marriage, etc. This Muslim man said that this god of theirs was the one true god and has believed ever since.

 

What the heck do I do with a story like that? And how ridiculously difficult it was to sit through this message, with my eight year old son next to me, when I'm so frustratingly confused myself!

 

Let's look at the evidence for the truth of his assertions. Again, I only know what you relay here, so I will have to base my answer only on that. If I have something wrong, then please correct me. Let's look first at the basis for this guest speaker's knowledge of these events. You do not say whether the guest speaker was actually one of these missionaries or whether he was actually present for the alleged events he spoke of. My assumption is that he was not present but only heard this story from some other source. That makes it hearsay evidence and there is a very good reason why hearsay evidence is generally not admissible in a court of law. Hearsay evidence is an unrelliable form of evidence because one is unable to question the true source of the evidence. Your guest speaker would never even have been able to have presented this story in a court of law to prove the truth of his assertion. And what was that assertion? It was that "...in the middle east God (or god?) is showing himself strong on behalf of the Muslims...."

 

And what is more, where was the actual list of 15 items allegedly written about this man by these missionaries? You didn't see it, did you? I assume you didn't and therefore I ask you what is your basis for believing that it ever existed?

 

Who specifically were these missionaries? What are their names and their present locations so you can check with them directly to learn how trustworthy this account is?

 

Who was the Moslem man about whom these things were written so you can check with him to learn how trustworthy this account is?

 

How do you know there were only 15 things written? Maybe there were 60 things written and only 15 of them rang true. How would you know?

 

Did these missionaries question the Moslem or did the Moslem tell them some things about himself? Again, how would you know?

 

What specific moslem country were these missionaries in? Where is the evidence that corroborates this fact?

 

I could go on and on, but I think you get the drift. All you have is hearsay evidence from someone who was not even involved in the alleged events. That is not enough for you or anyone else to believe the tale. You need much more than you have and I can guarantee you will never receive the evidence that would be necessary to make it at all believable. It's a tale and nothing more.

 

Like most of us, I have also heard such tales when I was a Christian and at that time I was as gullible as everyone else because I wanted to believe them. But I now demand actual proof of such tales and I have never seen satisfactory proof for any of them. And the tale you relate is no different.

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The next item I will address is the issue of fulfillment of alleged prophecies. You have already received some very good responses to this issue and, again, I will try not to repeat what has already been written. Here is your question:

 

3. What about the prophecies of the bible? My parents came to Christianity mainly because of the belief that the fulfilled prophecies of the bible have only happened because they are from god.

 

My assumption is that you are really speaking of the prophecies which allegedly identify Jesus as the Messiah. In other words, the so-called prophecies that he fulfilled which "prove" that he is actually the Messiah prophesied about in the Old Testament. If he actually fulfilled so many prophecies as Christians claim, then it would be an open and shut case. How could anyone question his messiahship if he actually fulfilled the prophecies?

 

My question is if Jesus actually fulfilled these prophecies then why is it that, as a group, the Jewish people have not accepted Jesus as their Messiah? Now, I'm not talking about the relatively small handfull of individual Jews who may have accepted Jesus as Messiah, but about the people as a whole. As a group, they have historically not accepted Jesus as the Messiah. And you talk about intelligent and educated people? How about the greatest Hebrew scholars in the entire world? I'm talking about the Jewish scholars who have the greatest knowledge of anyone else about their OWN scriptures and their own ancient language. They REJECT Jesus as the Messiah because they can see through the tricks that the authors of the gospels used to make Jesus' life fit into their misunderstanding of the Hebrew prophecies.

 

And how do Christians deal with this very difficult fact? You know because you have probably heard it. They come up with all sorts of things like the Jews are blinded by their non-belief or some such nonsense. But what they don't deal with is the simple fact that those who know their OWN scriptures and their OWN ancient language better than anyone else have determined that this Jesus character is a fraud perpetrated on the masses who do not themselves have the training to see the truth.

 

If you are interested in further reading, check out this website:

 

http://www.messiahtruth.com/response.html

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Guest wasachristian

Hi Sarah,

 

My wife and I met at bible college and we've been together 30 years; five of those with me not a christian. She has had to put up with a rollercoaster of emotions. If you and your husband put love before orthodoxy you can do pretty good especially if you don't blame 'normal marriage problems' on this new change.

 

It's certainly a process if you want to be free of the legacy and the anger and everything else. If you keep on this track there's an angry phase somewhere around the corner ... and then some.

 

As far as I am concerned everything hinges on the inspiration of the bible; if that falls it all falls ... the whole lot becomes completely irrelevant; hell, heaven, sin, salvation etc.

 

As someone said earlier, there are no answers as good as the ones you dig up for yourself. If there is a god, then surely he'd respect you for the honest use of the amazing brain he 'gave' you. Unlike the blind submission to a simplistic understanding of the amazing universe we live in.

 

How do you explain that esp-type stuff with the muslim man? You don't have to. The evidence may be real, the verdict may be pure speculation .... at least be open to the possibility of other verdicts ... and then there's my favourite, it's a mystery :)

 

I gotta stop but last one ... don't engage christians! You don't have to convert them (i.e. save them from a non-existent hell) and you certainly don't have to explain, justify or defend yourself. Destiny, whatever it is, is personal. If only Christians understood that!

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Welcome, Sarah.

 

It sounds like you are really struggling right now. Do go easy on yourself.

 

Here's some of the questions my husband has and that others I know (such as my mom and dad) would have if I told them I was leaving Christianity:

 

1. How come Christianity is the number one religion in the world if it's false?

 

As Hans (Ouroborous) mentioned, about 1/3rd of the world is Christian. Currently, about 1/5th is Muslim, and growing. If the proportion of Muslim believers overtook the proportion of Christian believers, would that make Islam truer than Christianity?

 

Have you checked out religioustolerance.org? They have a lot of interesting info on all sorts of religions. Here is their religious breakdown.

 

3. What about the prophecies of the bible? My parents came to Christianity mainly because of the belief that the fulfilled prophecies of the bible have only happened because they are from god.

 

Have you spent any time with any religious Jews, or reading Jewish theologins? You seem to be a reader. Consider checking out the Jewish Study Bible or even spending some time with a local Jewish community in one of their classes, or at temple. There is also this open course at Yale, Introduction to the Old Testament (Hebrew Bible) if you prefer a classroom format.

 

5. How in the world does one rid themselves of the fear of hell, which both my husband and I have, if we become ex-Christians? We really don't want to burn in hell for eternity! How can we know for sure that there is no hell?

 

Isn't it interesting how whatever we are told is true and important as children effects us deeply in adulthood?

 

6. What can I read that will explain how the ancient religions, before Christianity, had very similar elements in them. I've heard bits and pieces about this, and am very interested, but don't know where to look to find out more.

 

One of the books on Prof. Hayes list of that Yale course I listed above is Pritchard, James, ed. In The Ancient Near East, Volume 1, which has translations of many of those writings with very similar elements. For instance, The Epic of Gilgamesh, which parallels at one point the flood story. I ordered the book and have done some reading in it. It isn't analysis, though, just the translated texts. But I saw the similarities between Noah's Flood and Gilgamesh's flood immediately.

 

Phanta

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I will simply say that the concept of Hell is bogus and isn't in the Bible like preachers say it is. I like the website what-the-hell-is-hell but it is Methodist.

 

It is in the bible, just not as much as one would think based on sermons.

 

I don't believe in talking donkeys, talking snakes, virgin births, people rising from the dead and walking around, dry bones dancing, angels with flaming swords keeping me out of a paradise with a tree that makes me self-aware, a flood that covers the earth- in spite of the geologic evidence to the contrary, an 900 year old man, centuries old people having babies, giants, horn blasts making walls fall down, people living in the middle of fires, a voice coming from a burning bush- that is never consumed, two fish feeding 5000 (men- because the women and children don't COUNT)....killing a child for being sassy, stoning an adulteress, or the idea that mensuration is an abomination......

..................................

....................................................................or hell. Because they come from the same book. It just takes time and a new internal dialogue- you will recover from the fear.

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3) Some very skilled cold-readers can extract information from a person, without the person realizing that he or she is giving it to the cold-reader. Body language, tone of voice, choice of words, unintentional responses, etc.

I'd also like to point out that everyone has problems in their lives. The things listed concerning this man's struggles could be anyone's. Some probably applied more than others, but basically, despite the fact there were 15 of them, they were all fairly non-specific, e.g., "Financial Trouble" is true of basically everyone, what it would take to impress me is, "You owe Ahmed the Shopkeeper four hundred and sixty two sheckles and yesterday he told you that if you did not pay by midnight tomorrow he will sell your youngest daughter Fatima into sex slavery to Mahomet the Disgusting".

 

Basically you take a guy who is already doubting his faith / open to your alternative, give him 15 somewhat vague items, a half dozen of them will happen to seem spot-on to him -- and if he's guilt-ridden and brainwashed into thinking he's a worthless excuse of a man, he may think they all apply. In any case once he accepts a few he can rationalize the others being somewhat off or a stretch.

 

Indeed, suppose the guy wasn't all that impressed but acted like it to be polite or to get on with his day. The missionaries are so pleased with themselves that after the mutual back-slapping self congratulation they now have ego invested in their story. It's to their advantage to gradually (gradually so as not to admit to themselves that they are kidding each other) embellish their story, while discounting or ignoring the fact that their mark didn't actually convert or that they never actually followed up with him. "Wow, isn't God great? Wasn't that awesome? I should never have doubted the guidance of the Spirit!"

 

It doesn't require the missionaries to be (very) consciously duplicitous or in collusion. It all can happen sort of automatically, as everyone develops a tacit "don't ask, don't tell" policy. By the time the story filters back to the States, it's got a life of its own that the original principals behind the story actually are embarrassed by but wouldn't dare speak out against.

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Just a suggestion, if hubby isn't a reader, there's lots of good youtude/TED talks that he could watch, especially by people like Richard Dawkins

I saw Dawkins interviewed on TV by Bill Maher the other day and I have to say he comes across (or at least, can at times choose to come across) much more reasonable and less abrasive in person than he does in print. I don't feel that Dawkins is the best place for a Christian in the process of deconversion to go in many cases because Dawkins is so disrespectful and insulting and antagonistic and bitchy towards people of faith that it's hard not to take personally until you have a lot of distance from the faith. Even then, it's hard not to think that Dawkins has some personal demons to tame before you can take him that seriously.

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Who specifically were these missionaries? What are their names and their present locations so you can check with them directly to learn how trustworthy this account is?

Another excellent point. Who among the faithful is going to ask such a provocative question and risk being seen as a thinking skeptic? Credulity is the order of the day amongst the sheeple.

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I will simply say that the concept of Hell is bogus and isn't in the Bible like preachers say it is. I like the website what-the-hell-is-hell but it is Methodist.

 

It is in the bible, just not as much as one would think based on sermons.

 

I don't believe in talking donkeys, talking snakes, virgin births, people rising from the dead and walking around, dry bones dancing, angels with flaming swords keeping me out of a paradise with a tree that makes me self-aware, a flood that covers the earth- in spite of the geologic evidence to the contrary, an 900 year old man, centuries old people having babies, giants, horn blasts making walls fall down, people living in the middle of fires, a voice coming from a burning bush- that is never consumed, two fish feeding 5000 (men- because the women and children don't COUNT)....killing a child for being sassy, stoning an adulteress, or the idea that mensuration is an abomination......

..................................

....................................................................or hell. Because they come from the same book. It just takes time and a new internal dialogue- you will recover from the fear.

 

I don't fear hell, I'm well aware that it's bogus. Nor do I believe the bible. I was simply clarifying that, while the bible doesn't deal with hell nearly as much as christians claim, it is still in there.

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My wife and I met at bible college and we've been together 30 years; five of those with me not a christian. She has had to put up with a rollercoaster of emotions. If you and your husband put love before orthodoxy you can do pretty good especially if you don't blame 'normal marriage problems' on this new change.

Agreed. My late wife was a believer to her death bed and the last 5 years or so of our life together I progressed to a fairly complete deconversion. It never phased her. To the end, her Rationalizer ™ never broke down. She had a dream in which she asked Jesus, "Is Bob still yours?" Jesus laughed and said, "Bob has always been mine." That was good enough for her.

 

I'm of the opinion that if deconversion cracks open fault lines in a marriage, they were already there anyway. And if a believer chooses to make disbelief an issue or ultimatum, it's an excuse -- I don't believe that loss of faith as such is the cause of any marriage failing. There are far too many other causes for marital problems and the same magical thinking a believer uses to sustain their faith could just as well be employed to sustain their marriage.

 

So don't worry about it ... it will be what it will be, one way or the other. The most you can say is that deconverting may accelerate or make obvious problems that were already there. Love is love and loyalty is loyalty. True love and loyalty can survive anything, if the lover so chooses.

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By the way, HAPPY BIRTHDAY SARAH! :clap:

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By the way, HAPPY BIRTHDAY SARAH! :clap:

 

Oh, yeah. Happy birthday. Maybe your present to yourself will be freedom from christianity.

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What an awesome and needed forum this is! Thank you to everyone who has replied. I am tremendously grateful.

 

I stayed up way too late last night and listened to all of "Great Big Bore"'s youtube videos going through the book of Matthew. I couldn't stop watching and listening. Oh man, I'm about done with Christianity. There's so many conflicting scriptures that do not mesh with each other. Jesus was usually teaching things that are utterly ridiculous! I feel duped. Seriously duped. I have a ring on my left hand's index finger that reads "Princess" and has a crown. I think I'm almost ready to take that off, since it was always a reminder that I'm god's princess.

 

Now, my children. What to do about them? They are being fed dogmatic nonsense every week at church and at AWANA. I was reading a book to my five year old last night, which she chose. This book is written by someone who created letters that seemed to be coming right from god to her. Sherri Rose Shepherd. Have any of you heard of her? Well, the letter from god (ugh) that I read to her last night was signed off with "Your Daddy in heaven". She was intrigued and quickly asked me what that meant. I said that no, her dad, Matt, is her daddy. She was kind of stuck on this new idea about god being her daddy though. Then I prayed with her to Jesus before saying good night. It was SO PAINFUL to do all of this!

 

I'm tempted to get rid of all of my Christian books (and there are lots), my bibles, my Christian music CD's, take my kids out of AWANA, stop going to church, tell the head of our Sunday school program that I will not be going to the meeting on Sunday with all of the volunteers, and write a letter with lots of links and information to everyone that would care I'm not a Christian anymore. Something tells me that this might not be the wisest course of action though.

 

Oh, and then there's the fact that I homeschool and since I'm going through all of this I'm not sure if that's what I'm going to want to continue. I have many reasons for homeschooling that have nothing to do with Christianity or religion, but the main, number one motivation was that I felt it was what god wanted me to do. I was concerned, to put it mildly, about putting my children in an environment that would be a negative influence on them. I still believe that homeschooling is the ideal situation for my family, but I'm not sure I want to go through with it since I don't have the "god wants me to do it" source of motivation to back me up.

 

I'd appreciate any advice about how to navigate this turn of events in my life. Of course, I'm aware that I'm the only one who can make decisions about my own life. I'm on a path to become a bonifide free-thinker, able to trust myself and my decisions. I'm not there yet though because I have so much baggage to unload and get rid of.

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What an awesome and needed forum this is! Thank you to everyone who has replied. I am tremendously grateful.

 

I stayed up way too late last night and listened to all of "Great Big Bore"'s youtube videos going through the book of Matthew. I couldn't stop watching and listening. Oh man, I'm about done with Christianity. There's so many conflicting scriptures that do not mesh with each other. Jesus was usually teaching things that are utterly ridiculous! I feel duped. Seriously duped. I have a ring on my left hand's index finger that reads "Princess" and has a crown. I think I'm almost ready to take that off, since it was always a reminder that I'm god's princess.

 

Now, my children. What to do about them? They are being fed dogmatic nonsense every week at church and at AWANA. I was reading a book to my five year old last night, which she chose. This book is written by someone who created letters that seemed to be coming right from god to her. Sherri Rose Shepherd. Have any of you heard of her? Well, the letter from god (ugh) that I read to her last night was signed off with "Your Daddy in heaven". She was intrigued and quickly asked me what that meant. I said that no, her dad, Matt, is her daddy. She was kind of stuck on this new idea about god being her daddy though. Then I prayed with her to Jesus before saying good night. It was SO PAINFUL to do all of this!

 

I'm tempted to get rid of all of my Christian books (and there are lots), my bibles, my Christian music CD's, take my kids out of AWANA, stop going to church, tell the head of our Sunday school program that I will not be going to the meeting on Sunday with all of the volunteers, and write a letter with lots of links and information to everyone that would care I'm not a Christian anymore. Something tells me that this might not be the wisest course of action though.

 

Oh, and then there's the fact that I homeschool and since I'm going through all of this I'm not sure if that's what I'm going to want to continue. I have many reasons for homeschooling that have nothing to do with Christianity or religion, but the main, number one motivation was that I felt it was what god wanted me to do. I was concerned, to put it mildly, about putting my children in an environment that would be a negative influence on them. I still believe that homeschooling is the ideal situation for my family, but I'm not sure I want to go through with it since I don't have the "god wants me to do it" source of motivation to back me up.

 

I'd appreciate any advice about how to navigate this turn of events in my life. Of course, I'm aware that I'm the only one who can make decisions about my own life. I'm on a path to become a bonifide free-thinker, able to trust myself and my decisions. I'm not there yet though because I have so much baggage to unload and get rid of.

 

Holy shit, Sarah, are you SURE you're not ME? I feel like I could have written most of that post. I'm dealing with some of the same things, as far as raising kids to be freethinkers, in the midst of marriage to a xian, and I also homeschooled. And when it wasn't working out so well, I kept at it far too long because of the religious homeschooling books, sites, mags, etc telling me I HAVE to keep it up because it's god's will. I finally put them in school a few years ago and they are doing so much better. I'm not kidding when I tell you it was seriously compromising my mental health. That and the absolute stress of trying to make all the contradictory christian teachings "fit" reality. I've been 1000 times healthier since finally letting go of it all, and living openly as an unbeliever. I'll PM you, and we can talk more. There are several here in "unequally yoked" marriages and trying to be true to ourselves and do what's best for our families. You're NOT ALONE!

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Oh, and then there's the fact that I homeschool and since I'm going through all of this I'm not sure if that's what I'm going to want to continue. I have many reasons for homeschooling that have nothing to do with Christianity or religion, but the main, number one motivation was that I felt it was what god wanted me to do. I was concerned, to put it mildly, about putting my children in an environment that would be a negative influence on them. I still believe that homeschooling is the ideal situation for my family, but I'm not sure I want to go through with it since I don't have the "god wants me to do it" source of motivation to back me up.

 

As you correctly point out, these are your decisions. Before my deconversion, my daughter was in a Christian private school. This was something that I insisted upon. After my deconversion, one of the first things I wanted to do was get her out of that environment. She was in this school from k4 through grade 9. They reluctantly taught about evolution while at the same time saying that it was all false. Everything had a christian slant to it. I got her out of there and put her in public school which was seen by christians as me doing a terrible thing to her. But it wasn't terrible at all. She thrived there and continues to love it.

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Guest wasachristian

My suggestions,

1. Keep the bible for reference. You aren't done yet.

2. Don't bother explaining - would you have wanted to listen before?

3. The kids ... encourage them to think for themselves ;)

4. One step at a time usually does pretty good

Hope that helps.

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What an awesome and needed forum this is! Thank you to everyone who has replied. I am tremendously grateful.

 

I stayed up way too late last night and listened to all of "Great Big Bore"'s youtube videos going through the book of Matthew. I couldn't stop watching and listening. Oh man, I'm about done with Christianity. There's so many conflicting scriptures that do not mesh with each other. Jesus was usually teaching things that are utterly ridiculous! I feel duped. Seriously duped. I have a ring on my left hand's index finger that reads "Princess" and has a crown. I think I'm almost ready to take that off, since it was always a reminder that I'm god's princess.

 

Now, my children. What to do about them? They are being fed dogmatic nonsense every week at church and at AWANA. I was reading a book to my five year old last night, which she chose. This book is written by someone who created letters that seemed to be coming right from god to her. Sherri Rose Shepherd. Have any of you heard of her? Well, the letter from god (ugh) that I read to her last night was signed off with "Your Daddy in heaven". She was intrigued and quickly asked me what that meant. I said that no, her dad, Matt, is her daddy. She was kind of stuck on this new idea about god being her daddy though. Then I prayed with her to Jesus before saying good night. It was SO PAINFUL to do all of this!

 

I'm tempted to get rid of all of my Christian books (and there are lots), my bibles, my Christian music CD's, take my kids out of AWANA, stop going to church, tell the head of our Sunday school program that I will not be going to the meeting on Sunday with all of the volunteers, and write a letter with lots of links and information to everyone that would care I'm not a Christian anymore. Something tells me that this might not be the wisest course of action though.

 

Oh, and then there's the fact that I homeschool and since I'm going through all of this I'm not sure if that's what I'm going to want to continue. I have many reasons for homeschooling that have nothing to do with Christianity or religion, but the main, number one motivation was that I felt it was what god wanted me to do. I was concerned, to put it mildly, about putting my children in an environment that would be a negative influence on them. I still believe that homeschooling is the ideal situation for my family, but I'm not sure I want to go through with it since I don't have the "god wants me to do it" source of motivation to back me up.

 

I'd appreciate any advice about how to navigate this turn of events in my life. Of course, I'm aware that I'm the only one who can make decisions about my own life. I'm on a path to become a bonifide free-thinker, able to trust myself and my decisions. I'm not there yet though because I have so much baggage to unload and get rid of.

 

So long as the home schooling material is secular, home schooling my provide you with extra opportunity to slowly undermine their brainwashing.

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Oh, and then there's the fact that I homeschool and since I'm going through all of this I'm not sure if that's what I'm going to want to continue. I have many reasons for homeschooling that have nothing to do with Christianity or religion, but the main, number one motivation was that I felt it was what god wanted me to do. I was concerned, to put it mildly, about putting my children in an environment that would be a negative influence on them. I still believe that homeschooling is the ideal situation for my family, but I'm not sure I want to go through with it since I don't have the "god wants me to do it" source of motivation to back me up.

 

Regarding this...if I had kids, I would want to homeschool, and many of my non-Christian friends homeschool (usually they actually Unschool). They/we feel pretty strongly about the benefits of homeschooling. Many of my friends also have their children happily in public school.

 

Regarding what you should do...did you homeschool because someone else told you homeschooling was what God wanted for you, or did you have a personal conversation with God that determined his intent for you? If the latter, consider that "God" is actually YOU, and so homeschooling may be deeply grounded in your own values.

 

Levels of motivation/influence on any given lifestyle choice is something only you can sort out, but it's something to think over.

 

Phanta

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Now, my children. What to do about them? They are being fed dogmatic nonsense every week at church and at AWANA.

First of all, Sarah, let me say that you are very courageous and admirable for dealing in reality despite what must seem like a Chinese wall this is creating for you to scale.

 

I have to say that your mention of AWANA brings back memories for me, as I was enrolled in that at church when I was a little bean sprout. I have mixed emotions about it because in the main I have warm memories of it for what it was, but on the other hand, it was probably formative in setting my expectations of life in very unreasonable ways that ill served me later on in life. No one can predict how harmful (if at all) this sort of thing is for your children; indeed, in my experience the connection between effort and outcomes in many areas of life (and child rearing is one of them) is much weaker than most people are willing to admit. Children have free will of their own, they have their own personalities, and their own strengths and weaknesses, and ultimately, their own responsibilities for their response to things. I would be guided by what your children seem vulnerable to.

 

What I was vulnerable to was a sense of entitlement and a strong need for approval, and for clarity and certitude. Fundamentalism fed into all this. By the time I entered the adult world, normal youthful hubris had been so amped up in me that I had almost zero humility or caution about anything I did, so long as God, the Bible, my mentors and teachers and my parents didn't get upset about anything I was doing, or could be seen as approving at any rate. I married badly, stayed in that bad marriage way too long, accepted way too much abuse, had two children from that marriage who are to this day in various ways screwed up by a seriously strange childhood with a mother who was seriously mentally ill. Yes, I married a paranoid schizophrenic with a side of borderline personality disorder, despite clear warnings from mental health professionals treating her; got her with child not once but twice, and stayed with her for 15 years of my life that I will never get back, all because of strange religious ideations about God's will, miracles, love and faith conquers all and makes all things right, divorce taboos, and massive ego investment.

 

I also home schooled my children. Like you, it was not all about faith, but in retrospect, it turned out that my social and political conservatism eventually were supported by my faith, and my distrust of society's educational structures were supported by a combination of my faith and my wife's paranoia. I would never do it today. My girl friend, a lifelong agnostic, has trouble getting her arms around why I did it ... to her it is borderline child abuse. "Who does that?!" she asks, partly in ignorance of what a widespread phenomenon it is becoming these days and was even back then, but she just feels that no parent, no matter how dedicated and well meaning, can compete with trained, dedicated educational professionals; that the parent / child dynamic needs to be kept separate from a teacher / child dynamic if either is to be optimally effective; and that, a la Hillary Clinton, "it takes a village". And mostly, I grudgingly agree to all this today. I'm not as in awe of and trusting of public / traditional classroom education as she is, but I feel like I did my kids a disservice on balance, despite the fact they hit the ground running when I switched them to public schools, got good grades, etc. I feel they missed out on social aspects, and it's notable that both of them dropped out of college after 3 semesters, returning to finish up only several rudderless years later. Granted, my wife's illness is a complicating factor, but still ... I just can't commend home schooling to others as a way to go. Nothing is sufficiently broken about the system to demand that, and besides, as a practical matter, it's damn hard work.

 

My daughter, now 31, has two boys that she was home schooling even though she's an agnostic, and I'm convinced she did it mainly because it's what she mostly knew growing up (I put her in public school halfway through 8th grade, but home schooled her for six years before that). I think she also did it to try to work out a lot of conflicted feelings about how she was raised, and because she picked up my inherent distrust of delegating to or being accountable to society any aspect of my child's upbringing. Circumstances have conspired, thankfully, to force her to put the boys in a charter school and I think she's committed to that now, but I am not proud of how the patterns I set are attempting to repeat themselves in subsequent generations.

 

All that said, you probably shouldn't abruptly change everything in a day or do anything rash. You need to make a reasoned decision and develop a transition strategy.

 

EDIT: Another point I need to make. What was I protecting my kids from? My GF is proud of the fact that she didn't shield her kids from the real world, warts and all, including the occasional dipshit teacher or bureaucrat. Rather than invest her life force in the teaching process, she was a momma bear and went to bat for her kids when it made sense, especially when they were young ... she attended all the meetings and functions and extra curriculars ... it isn't like she wasn't engaged just because she wasn't home schooling.

 

This is another angle to give serious thought to. When your children grow up they will have to deal with other less than perfect situations with employers, friends, and so on ... they need to develop coping skills and not find the real world a surprise. Frankly I found it a surprise even though I wasn't home schooled. I feel that my kids were even less ready for the real world, though they eventually adapted.

I'm tempted to get rid of all of my Christian books (and there are lots), my bibles, my Christian music CD's, take my kids out of AWANA, stop going to church, tell the head of our Sunday school program that I will not be going to the meeting on Sunday with all of the volunteers, and write a letter with lots of links and information to everyone that would care I'm not a Christian anymore. Something tells me that this might not be the wisest course of action though.

Yes, as I said, don't be hasty. But at some point you will have to make a break and explaining it in bulk via email or letters might well be indicated.

I'd appreciate any advice about how to navigate this turn of events in my life. Of course, I'm aware that I'm the only one who can make decisions about my own life. I'm on a path to become a bonifide free-thinker, able to trust myself and my decisions. I'm not there yet though because I have so much baggage to unload and get rid of.

I don't think there's a dry eye in the house, Sarah, we all have unloaded so much and lost so much and we definitely understand. Please keep us posted on your thoughts and progress.

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I also home schooled my children. Like you, it was not all about faith, but in retrospect, it turned out that my social and political conservatism eventually were supported by my faith, and my distrust of society's educational structures were supported by a combination of my faith and my wife's paranoia. I would never do it today. My girl friend, a lifelong agnostic, has trouble getting her arms around why I did it ... to her it is borderline child abuse. "Who does that?!" she asks, partly in ignorance of what a widespread phenomenon it is becoming these days and was even back then, but she just feels that no parent, no matter how dedicated and well meaning, can compete with trained, dedicated educational professionals; that the parent / child dynamic needs to be kept separate from a teacher / child dynamic if either is to be optimally effective; and that, a la Hillary Clinton, "it takes a village". And mostly, I grudgingly agree to all this today. I'm not as in awe of and trusting of public / traditional classroom education as she is, but I feel like I did my kids a disservice on balance, despite the fact they hit the ground running when I switched them to public schools, got good grades, etc. I feel they missed out on social aspects, and it's notable that both of them dropped out of college after 3 semesters, returning to finish up only several rudderless years later. Granted, my wife's illness is a complicating factor, but still ... I just can't commend home schooling to others as a way to go. Nothing is sufficiently broken about the system to demand that, and besides, as a practical matter, it's damn hard work.

 

Everyone's posts are very helpful and are giving me lots of support and direction, so thank you again.

 

DesertBob, everything you said is extremely compelling. I've wanted to homeschool ever since my oldest (who is almost 9) was two years old. I've researched it for years, going back and forth over whether or not I have it in me to do it or not. You're right, it's damn hard work. It can be very rewarding and even fun at times, but mostly it is seriously overwhelming to me. And this is even when using a beautiful curriculum plan, Waldorf-inspired homeschooling based on Rudolf Steiner's Waldorf education (which is partly what has led me away from Christianity...that's a long story for a separate post). It's a very art based curriculum that brings things to each child according to what Steiner believed about child development. I have some concerns about this form of education though. One thing I do know is that there are lots of homeschooling methods and even more curriculum choices out there. I've read about unschooling too, lots. A Thomas Jefferson Education. Charlotte Mason. Classical. Etc., etc.

 

Back to the "damn hard" aspect: The thing is, my oldest son has high functioning autism and epilepsy. He's had seizures ever since he was a baby. They now occur every few weeks to every couple of months. Each seizure lasts a couple of minutes, and they affect his whole body, so he's completelyl unconscious during and afterwards. He has incurred some scarring to his left temporal lobe (brain damage) which is an area of the brain that deals with learning and memory. He takes two different anti-convulsant medications which work to slow down his neurotransmitters within his brain, so that doesn't help his ability to grasp things. He's bright, considering all that he has to deal with, but NOT AT ALL a typically developing child. Autism AND epilepsy. It's a lot. In the past he has been in special education public school and also mainstreamed public school classes for a little over three years, but in the summer of 2008 I decided that homeschooling would be best for him/us. I've gone back and forth ever since. I see the pros and cons.

 

I have huge concerns about homeschooling this child and also huge concerns about sending him to public school, which by the way, is literally a two minute walk from our house. We can see the school right from our front door. It's not a bad school. Not great, but not horrendous either.

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I will simply say that the concept of Hell is bogus and isn't in the Bible like preachers say it is. I like the website what-the-hell-is-hell but it is Methodist.

 

It is in the bible, just not as much as one would think based on sermons.

 

I don't believe in talking donkeys, talking snakes, virgin births, people rising from the dead and walking around, dry bones dancing, angels with flaming swords keeping me out of a paradise with a tree that makes me self-aware, a flood that covers the earth- in spite of the geologic evidence to the contrary, an 900 year old man, centuries old people having babies, giants, horn blasts making walls fall down, people living in the middle of fires, a voice coming from a burning bush- that is never consumed, two fish feeding 5000 (men- because the women and children don't COUNT)....killing a child for being sassy, stoning an adulteress, or the idea that mensuration is an abomination......

..................................

....................................................................or hell. Because they come from the same book. It just takes time and a new internal dialogue- you will recover from the fear.

 

I don't fear hell, I'm well aware that it's bogus. Nor do I believe the bible. I was simply clarifying that, while the bible doesn't deal with hell nearly as much as christians claim, it is still in there.

 

Oh! I understood that. I was agreeing with you. It would have made more sense if I had attached this to a different post!

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"And what the story I posted about "god" revealing the Muslim man's personal facts to him through the missionary? Do I just dismiss that, and any other story like that? "

 

That is an extraordinary claim, thus it requires extraordinary evidence. Did the speaker provide any? I'm sure he didn't. The speaker may believe it, as he may have trusted the source, but it is virtually certain that someone, somewhere along the line made it up or, at the least, took a grain of truth (the missionary made one wild but accurate guess) and exaggerated it. It's been said before, that if a claim sounds too good to be true, it almost certainly is.

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DesertBob, everything you said is extremely compelling. I've wanted to homeschool ever since my oldest (who is almost 9) was two years old. I've researched it for years, going back and forth over whether or not I have it in me to do it or not ...

It's a complicated and difficult decision, and your son's issues with autism and epilepsy certainly have to figure into it. An argument can, of course, be made that with these issues you need all the help you can get -- any form of autism is exhausting to deal with, and this little thing called "division of labor" can be a godsend.

 

My son, BTW, has a borderline Asperger's label from a psych eval when he was 15, though he has no epilepsy to contend with, and I have to say, the autistic tendencies were not that manifest to me until after his home schooling years were behind him. You can't really predict these things very much; in my case, my son has turned out to be a fine young man, quiet and introverted yet confident and at peace within himself, respectful, ambitious and hard working and detail oriented, and we are as close as we can be given his emotional reticence. I thought he was going to be the problem child / worry to me. It was ultimately my daughter who has been difficult and with whom I've had the prickly and so far rather unrewarding and thankless post-childhood relationship. Who knew.

 

At any rate, you are their Mom and you know them best -- and I'm sure you'll make the right decisions each step of the way. No one can take away from you that you love your kids and would do anything for them, and I'm sure they know that.

 

One step at a time -- you have a lot on your plate.

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What an awesome and needed forum this is! Thank you to everyone who has replied. I am tremendously grateful.

 

I stayed up way too late last night and listened to all of "Great Big Bore"'s youtube videos going through the book of Matthew. I couldn't stop watching and listening. Oh man, I'm about done with Christianity. There's so many conflicting scriptures that do not mesh with each other. Jesus was usually teaching things that are utterly ridiculous! I feel duped. Seriously duped. I have a ring on my left hand's index finger that reads "Princess" and has a crown. I think I'm almost ready to take that off, since it was always a reminder that I'm god's princess.

 

Now, my children. What to do about them? They are being fed dogmatic nonsense every week at church and at AWANA. I was reading a book to my five year old last night, which she chose. This book is written by someone who created letters that seemed to be coming right from god to her. Sherri Rose Shepherd. Have any of you heard of her? Well, the letter from god (ugh) that I read to her last night was signed off with "Your Daddy in heaven". She was intrigued and quickly asked me what that meant. I said that no, her dad, Matt, is her daddy. She was kind of stuck on this new idea about god being her daddy though. Then I prayed with her to Jesus before saying good night. It was SO PAINFUL to do all of this!

 

I'm tempted to get rid of all of my Christian books (and there are lots), my bibles, my Christian music CD's, take my kids out of AWANA, stop going to church, tell the head of our Sunday school program that I will not be going to the meeting on Sunday with all of the volunteers, and write a letter with lots of links and information to everyone that would care I'm not a Christian anymore. Something tells me that this might not be the wisest course of action though.

 

Oh, and then there's the fact that I homeschool and since I'm going through all of this I'm not sure if that's what I'm going to want to continue. I have many reasons for homeschooling that have nothing to do with Christianity or religion, but the main, number one motivation was that I felt it was what god wanted me to do. I was concerned, to put it mildly, about putting my children in an environment that would be a negative influence on them. I still believe that homeschooling is the ideal situation for my family, but I'm not sure I want to go through with it since I don't have the "god wants me to do it" source of motivation to back me up.

 

I'd appreciate any advice about how to navigate this turn of events in my life. Of course, I'm aware that I'm the only one who can make decisions about my own life. I'm on a path to become a bonifide free-thinker, able to trust myself and my decisions. I'm not there yet though because I have so much baggage to unload and get rid of.

I homeschooled for a while too, and then gave it up. You don't have to give it up, though. The world is your oyster. You can restructure your lessons. Talk about ethical things, character issues, and science! As you move with them into your new life, you can begin to phase out old ideas and phase in new ideas.

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My youngest son and my daugher are home schooled. My and my wife's biggest concern for them is bullying at school.

 

My daughter was trying to think up reasons to skip school. I'm not completely sold on the idea of her being home schooled, because I know one day she'll have to know how to deal with assholes. But I also do not want her to miss out on an education because she's more concerned about being picked on than learning. It's hard for me to say if it's the right thing to do.

 

However, for my youngest son, there is no doubt that home-schooling is best. He also has high-functioning Autism. Luckily, he doesn't have seizures or anything like that. The local school system has passed him year after year despite my wife's protests that he doesn't really understand the curriculum. He's in the 7th grade, but has trouble with my daughter's 2nd grade work. I have no idea how he passes the FCAT. It almost seems like someone must be feeding him answers. The online home-schooling system he's on right now isn't great by any means. But my wife is now directly involved in his education and more able to articulate what it is that he's not learning. Right now, he's getting extremely low F's in his classes. My wife is currently trying to get financial assistance to get him into a near by school for autistic children, but there are some wierd legal complications involving his biological father that I won't get into.

 

I mostly agree with Desert Bob, but I certainly think there are situations where home-schooling is best.

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