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Free From Paralysis


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I was the fifth of ten growing up in an evangelical Christian household. We weren't tied to one single church, as many testimonies on here talk about.
I bring up the fact that I'm blind in this discussion. Not that blindness has anything to do with it, but the lack of free access to INFORMATION does. I was born in 1970. During my growing up years, if you were blind, you had very few options to get access to materials. Most importantly, you could not "wander in and find something out."
What that meant was, I could not just happen upon something. I had to order a specific book from the library ahead of time, knowing what it was I wanted and get it. Naturally, this would go through the filter of Christian parents, who were not as strict as some of my Christian friends' parents, but were stricter than others.
Between fifth and seventh grade, my parents embarked on what was then, a very unusual activity in the Pacific Northwest: they homeschooled a bunch of us kids. The texts came from Christian Liberty Academy. I could get into the challenges of being outside of the public school system, as a blind person, and the limited access to information that it necessarily creates. But suffice it to say, the world got pretty dim there for a few years. My favorite passage, or quote, from their "science" textbook, came from Rodd And Staff Publishers, distributed by Christian Liberty Academy. It's been years, but here is a paraphrase of what it said: "Now God's word has nothing at all to say to us about gravity ..."
And that was followed up by a Christian apologetic about how Isaac Newton was really a committed Christian. No discussion of density, mass, and so on. Though, to be fair, they did present his laws of locomotion. In the back of my mind, I knew this had to be absurd. I can't claim that I grew up with this, and just didn't know it was not normal. No, I knew.
I first believed myself to have gotten converted as the result of being punished for having gotten my younger brother to call my sister something, that I can't even remember anymore. It happened before school, and while I sat in an 8th-grade science class, of all places, soap taste still in my mouth, breathing bubbles and throat burning, I conceded I must have gotten saved. After all, I reasoned, we had prayed, I'd asked for forgiveness, there was penance involved (the soap, the topic of leading little ones astray and millstones). Yahweh does have a thing for stones, doesn't he? And, that was it. No fanfares, no dancing bear.
A couple years later, a couple churches later, and we were in a more so-called liberal church, I believe. I was just in the youth group, on again, off again, but had started to read the Bible through as a teenager, a chapter or two a night. Lots of Paulianity. Not Too much Old Testament. I still remembered the grotesque burnings and sacrifices I'd read about from Christian Liberty Academy's My Bible Guide. Well, they had had us reading old testament passages.
A note on reading, I think this will be instructive for anyone helping atheists in developing nations where print may be scarce. In those days, it literally took months to over a year to have something transcribed into Braille. No computer-generated anything. There were all sorts of helpful translators willing to print Bibles but not necessarily scientific literature. A bit more on that later.
Anyway, I was keeping to the faith, praying with people, properly supporting the appropriate Republican candidates. For non-U.S. folks, to be an evangelical in the United States, especially after the Fallwellian Explosion of the 70s and 80s, one has to be a Republican of the most staunch variety. One is the other, and the other is the one. They are inseparable, you could say the two have become one flesh. What Dobson hath joined together, let no doubter cast asunder, and all that.
In high school, I had several odd-ish experiences. A couple of long-haired more demonstrative Christians wanting to befriend me. I had already befriended a couple atheists, guys who got pretty good grades, better than mine actually. And the irony was, the long-hairs got some kind of report on the home front. I admit, I was still attracted to Christianity, a bit attracted to the more dancing bear variety. A bit more attracted to that than I would like to admit. These Christians caused problems at home. Primarily because they were loud-ish. Not to Southern proportions, mind you. I think at that time I might have gone off screaming from that. But anyway, my parents, having vicariously acquired an opinion from my sisters, didn't want me hanging around with those, and so, no more precarious outward demonstrations. Back to the atheists, quieter then. These were not your loud kind that you see now. Calm, rational, not given to fits of anger like your evangelicals. They didn't even berate the Christians who told them they were going to Hell.
But like the North Korean who visits the U.S., I self-imposed a bubble and maintained intellectual distance from them.
My first experience with glossolalia (speaking in tongues) came in the form of a friend who, after we knew each other for a little while, wanted to start praying together. He would take off like a boat starting up and get rolling. I put my face in my hands, the first couple times, because I was afraid I would show my amusement. I couldn't see it was from the devil, as my parents had suggested, but I didn't know what it was.
He gave the typical "Spirit-filled" explanation, and after a few weeks of this, I started telling him I could tell what he said. Sort of. He claimed it was spirit. It was sort of Latin-ish phrases that I picked up on, I was a Spanish translator by then, and my mind did what human minds do. I filled in the rest. I felt kind of guilty about the fact it wasn't supernatural: was I fooling him? It wasn't the devil like my parents thought it might be. They never said that it WAS the devil, just that it might be. But it wasn't spirit.
Through college, I had my fun. But I also fell in with more reasonable, intellectual Christians, and was introduced to apologetic beyond the nonconvincing Josh McDowell.
But, through college, I was quite "on again off again" till I settled in in my last year and a half or so. Then, I met my wife-to-be. She came from a Methodist background, but her family didn't talk about religion at home. She was finding her way. I was young, cock-sure about a lot of things, had started really delving into conservapolitics. Again, without access to free flow of information. As a blind person, I couldn't just go to the library and pick up a random publication I happened to spot. So, my field of vision was still very narrow when it came to information. Fortunately, my education had included a lot of cultural anthropology and a lot of other tools which can provide a skeptical outlook if one only uses them.
Anyhow, she found faith. And unlike the few pentecostals I'd seen, and unlike others around, hers was something different, unique. But, she went along with me, and we were in love. Shortly aftr we were married, I'd graduated, and looking for work, I made two discoveries: Rush Limbaugh and Bob Larsen.
Then set off a couple of years of fundamentalist fieryness that I sometimes felt outside myself even though I was in the middle of. I went from voting against the OCA's Measure 9 here in 1992, to voting for their subsequent one. These were anti-gay measures, not anything to do with gay marriage, but pretty deplorable stuff.
I was playing piano and traveling around at the time, and that endeavor ultimately collapsed. Of course, at that time, I thought God had had something to do with it. I was an odd Christian even then. I didn't so much scream at God, as wondered what had possibly gone wrong. Of course, I had some pretty emotional moments, but deep down this started to look like it wasn't a fit.
But I still was looking through the Evangelical framework. My best description, looking back, was that I honestly didn't know what to do with it all at the moment. I had a one-year-old daughter, a wife who had stayed at home with her while she was a baby, and no income.
I ultimately, and relatively quickly, got into the technology industry. Seemed like an eternity at the time, but it was about five months: a pittence compared to what job seekers now experience.
There was technology by then that would allow me to use Windows as a blind person. And, my first job in technology was at an Internet outsourcing company. Not totally foreign, I'd worked on Dos based Novell networks so this was at least somewhat familiar. And then the door opened: I experienced for the first time in my life, what it was like to accidentally run into new information. I was supporting Internet users, and so by necessity was on the Internet a lot myself.
The first foray into free information gathering was nothing other than research I was doing for a customer. But then it turned to publications, articles that I could read at the same time as everyone else, and just random findings. For a blind man who had never freely experienced the information exchange most people take for granted when walking by and seeing an article in a newsstand, this was revolutionary!
I took a job in the South across the country, when the contract was about to expire at my current employment. And there we were, in the depths of Christian America. A month in, and I rededicated my life to the Lord. A bit privately this time. And never again to experience the fiery days from before. In fact, I'd convinced myself that wasn't real anyway. I was embarrassed about it. My wife, on the other hand, who had benefitted from some of that stuff, longed for some of it to come back. I by necessity was no longer so sure of convictions, and had arrived at the humanist conclusion that people were more important than convictions anyhow. Although, of course, I would never admit to anything humanist. For those outside the U.S., humanist to AmeriChristians, equals Red Scare Communist equals Enemy of the State. The intellectual leaps they have to make for that? Too much to cover here.
But here I was, again a committed Christian, though inwardly very confused about a lot of things. And here I was, raising my daughter in an environment that in so many ways just seemed wrong to me. I justified it for the money: it's actually quite difficult for the blind to get employed, with a 70% unemployment rate. That is in no way an excuse, but it was an explanation for sticking around down there.
But as I moved up in the industry, by necessity, I was learning skepticism and analysis. And it kept filtering into every part of my life. And, often even by accident, I was planting little seeds of skepticism into my own daughter. Now, she had every possible spiritual experience, except for glossolalia and floppoflailia (the slaying in the spirit). We even homeschooled her for a year, although not from the aforementioned academy and not for the same reasons. It was to avoid the FCATS testing Florida was issuing at that time.
I self-maintained as one of those "we can be reasonable about things" Christians. Very unconvincing to the evangelical literalists. very "You confuse me" to the doves, and somewhat attractive to outliers who were trying to make sense out of the nonsense. I was, I believe, one of two who didn't deny evolutionary biology in our church. I was also one of those in the pentecostal church who read the Baptist apologetics against modern miracles. Out of curiosity, to start with. But they certainly helped in my deconversion, ultimately, because they applied skepticism directly in to the heart of allegedly spiritual people.
We moved back to our home state, the "unchurched" Pacific Northwest. I was already becoming fed up with the term "liberal". Already a lot of Conservapolitics simply were no longer passing the outsider test anymore for me. The events of 9/11 had come and gone. And I had experienced the one time I had agreed with Pat Robertson on the 700 club. The wife had it on when I came home. And he stated something to the effect that, any sacred text that condones stoning or terrorist acts should be challenged. For "The first time, I agreed with something on the 700 club." I'd seen the reports coming out about the Koran and the stuff pitched at little kids over there. Not unlike Vegetales and something my cousin posted on her Facebook, some cartoon characters talking up the terrorist book Deuteronomy.
Anyway we got settled, and the wife had found a church. She had been through some major issues, she'd been in ministry and had some real problems. She'd really suffered, and showed great courage in coming through that. I did watch, i did notice it didn't change her faith. Perhaps she changed some things, but never had the nagging questions I have forever always had.
After a few years here, she enrolled in a course for ministry readiness through a large evangelical denomination out here. There was serious apologetic and other stuff going on there for a time, but we were back here in Oregon. Looking back, i was on my way to deconversion, even though I would have told you I was being one of the reasonable ones. I even read Francis Collins, and was elated to find a famous Christian who had the good sense to not deny evolutionary theory. The church we went to, which had a good youth group, had an extensive apologetics library. They would, of course, hear nothing of Francis Collins. Even with his acknowledging evolutionary theory, though, I could not get past the moral first cause argument, where God / Yahweh/ Allah / Bin Laden do these terrorist activities and yet he claims to be moral first cause. This was obviously not something I could discuss with them.
It all really started to escalate quickly, though, when she was in her last year of the certification. She came home with one of those checklists they have at the churches, how do you believe about various doctrines and apologetics. I was long past rote response days, and I knew when she asked me to do it, she really wanted to know. Or at least thought she did.
I don't remember all the questions, but of course failed the Intelligent Design test, failed the Scriptural inerrancy test, and a few others. What I mostly remember is, I made Her cry. She has never been one for tears of manipulation, I knew it was genuine. I promised, and meant it, that I would support whatever endeavors She, or She believed God wanted, her to get into.
Meanwhile, the pastor there was constantly talking on about how if you do away with Genesis, you've done away with the entire Bible. And at this point, as an out atheist, I agree with him. But before I came out, I had to figure it out. I didn't know at the time that I actually didn't believe any of it. Duty, family, holding things together, being the only income at the time while She did school. Problems at work. Life was pretty overfull at the time. And, I reasoned, so what if I can't make myself pray much. I read the Bible every day, and I was working my way through Christian apologetics as much as I could.
But I resolved at that point to cease being defensive against the evangelical AmeriChristian mindset, and look into it. look into it, the way I'd look for a bug in software. And that did mean taking everything apart. Everything. I started going to extrabiblical, noninvested sources and learning as much as I could about the problems associated with the Bible. at that point, I thought I could still make it all make sense to myself, construct a rational argument, present it to my wife and tell Her, it's all okay.
And, the war in Afghanistan continued. People I knew were over there. Allah and Yahweh, terrorists competing against the West. And i in search of my own heritage roots, learned about the terrorist activities by middle eastern religions against the West long ago, Romans driving underground native religions and traditions the way that we later did to the Native Americans. Even destroying ancient bronze instruments, claiming the British Aisles were full of cannibals. A claim that has no archeological evidence whatsoever.
The cognitive dissonance was painful, until Christianity died. By the time i discovered its absence in my life, it had already been dead and gone. Fish food, like Bin Laden, at the bottom of the ocean.
It was then I took the glasses off, and asked myself: So what? No god or gods, so what? What does that ultimately change?
I'm not going to lie, I had a few weeks full of terror of going to hell. Because I knew I couldn't go back to Christianity.
None of this, my wife knew. I finally came clean to Her: we were between churches, since the daughter had moved out. I couldn't hold Her back from going wherever She needs to be comfortable, which is somewhere I couldn't live with anymore.
I really feel for younger people who have come out now. I'm glad you did. Because I am a father, and I have constant nightmares, where some fundamentalist group is taking up arms and stoning or bombing, and I am standing by, with the presence of mind to have done something about it. But I stand by paralyzed with indecision. That is the dream, because for a time, that is what I was.
Not anymore. And there are a lot of people in those places who, gotten by themselves, would not act out. But the mob mentality, the groupthink mentality, makes me extremely wary. lest someone think I'm only picking on the Pentecostal dancing bears, I'm not. It's my opinion, and I think there's evidence to back it up, that any group where its ideology exceeds its humanity is likely to turn out terror of one form or another.
I take comfort in a few things: My wife's faith, however misguided I now see that it is, is well-meant and genuine. She was not raised RepubliChristian, and although has been shoehorned into it at times, thinks that "true" Christianity can be different. I do feel a bit responsible for having directed us that way, and a bit sad for Her, that it has worked out as it has. I'm not insensitive to her words, that "It can never truly be okay."
My daughter, still a Christian, has told me she wasn't very surprised. Has had a few questions. Then, poor sweetie, took an afternoon and tried to reconvince her old man, at the end of which she said her head hurt. But our relationship is not diminished. I made it clear that I love her as I always have, and that I value people over what people believe. That is not some soft fuzzy argument, I explained. It means that no set of beliefs could ever see me bombing your friends, literally or figuratively. It's a safeguard of society itself.
I don't suffer the way some "unequally yoked" people on here do, but I willing admit I postponed some of this till the daughter had moved out. After all, in evangelical circles, there is no greater crime against the family than a man who walks away from faith. I'd taken my share from the PromiseKeepers who would claim it was all well and good that I did domestic tasks and helped with the house and the daughter and all, but failure to be 'the priest' or failure in my own spirituality could mean hell for my own offspring. This is their rhetoric.

Again, not sensible logic, but that's how they think. Coupled with the wife's growing up experience where her father didn't always go along to church with them, she didn't know why, and found it affected Her.
But, it seems, I'm probably to expect some of the five stages of grief on Her part. She is missing something, She says. I miss none of it. i didn't do this by feeling, but I feel no loss at all. If it comes down to me being the rational anchor in the storm, I will do it gladly. I have before, and would willingly do so again for Her.
I want the best for both of them: nothing has changed in my view towards them.
My Wife has said She wishes I could have "included Her in the struggle ... included Her in the decision." I understand, I don't know how that would have been possible. Especially since the accelleration started precisely because I had upset Her due to my beliefs, and that checklist. And, I knew it wasn't the checklist, it's what She calls the Spiritual connection between us. I try to take the rationalist hat off and put on the humanist hat, to understand it. Of course, I love Her no less now than I did then. Ironically, it's easier to support Her doing whatever She wants, now that I am not in the inner turmoil of trying to make it all make sense to myself, the guilt for being the only one that doesn't really buy a lot of that foundational stuff.
She asked if I'd been "leading a private life" or been "led astray" by atheists. I've tried to rationally explain atheists find themselves out, they are not converted like a believer.

It's a balance: me finding the solace that I need, and not doing anything to emotionally make the situation worse for Her than it has to be. But me getting solace from this place, and the local meetup, gives me the strength to help Her, should She again go through more grief.
There are, of course, people i will not willingly come out to. It makes no rational sense to do so. If my parents press the issue, which they usually don't, I will come clean with it. I'd rather not, at their age. I have good reason for that: They have a lot on their plate, and I know what they've been taught. I have read about how it was for kids growing up in the 40s and 50s in churches. A lot more hell than it even was for us. It seems a gross unkindness to put them through that kind of trauma. But, if asked, I can't be dishonest. If my mother asks what I think of John Loftus, I'll have to candidly say I've come to the point in life where I agree with him.
When I was in, I was frequently spotted, because I frequently got asked how I came down on this issue or that, and too often upset the applecart due to nonconformity, or sidestepped the issue and struggled with it internally when all was quiet and nobody around.
 

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I have to say, I really appreciate the insight on this site. I've been reading from here for a couple of months now.

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I made a few edits to the original post to hopefully make things more sensible, and have fixed as many typos as I could find.

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I don't think of this so much as an "atheist site" as a place where ex-christians share the common ground of having been believers and now are not. To me, it is more of a support forum. We are not simply espousing non-belief, but commiserating with our common history and struggles. We know the scriptures, preached the scriptures, and lived the scriptures, and now see that we were lured into a belief system that is as false as every other god and goddess whose temple ruins litter the Earth.

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LBM, welcome to Ex-C! I really identified with your journey. These waters are tough to navigate!

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Hi, LeoBirdMan. That was an interesting extimony.

 

This is off-topic, but I couldn't help wondering how you interface to the computer to do your job. You mentioned searching for software bugs, so I assume you have done that at times.

 

I was imagining a tablet that could create bumps for you to read through static electricity or some type of membrane. Of course I'm sure they have braille printers, but that would waste a lot of paper.

 

A talking computer would be cumbersome unless you can easily skip forward and rewind. I hate those automated telephone interfaces.

 

Just curious how it all works. smile.png

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Thanks guys, for the encouragement. BTW, I was gonna go by Leo on here, no astrological leanings, but it's my middle name.

Anyway, to Directionless:

I'm still learning how to navigate this forum site. There are software programs that communicate the screen or the web using speech or a pizzo-electric Braille display. No such luck on the static / haptic feedback front, though you perhaps by accident hit on some rather edgy and interesting technology by mentioning your tablet.

To communicate it by speech has to be way better than the telephone systems. And yes, Windows and the Mac, and even my iPhone, have ways to navigate around without a pointing device. Well the iPhone is a bit different, but you can read about its VoiceOver if curious.

Anyway, so instead of just reading the text out loud to you, the software reads it relationally. Simple example:

Warning! dialog

Are you sure you want to exit?

Yes button.

Now, of course, we know that neither 'dialog' nor 'button' appear on the screen. Those are descriptors. A whole huge raging debate for how to best communicate nonvisually certain UI semantics. Under the hood, they're not just visual, they're relational and communicate behaviors and roles. So this site's code has all forum posts under individual headings. I just skip around by heading, or even move between graphic to see the profile names.

It's all quite interesting, and you can even read up on the Web Accessibility Initiative, if curious, to find out how web content can be best coded for us to fully use it.

Basically, so long as an object on a device or device-agnostic platform like this site, uses enough type / role / state indicators to clearly identify itself, any accessibility APIs (interfaces) will be able to understand and interpret.

Hope that kind of sort of makes sense. Lol the wife and daughter are just used to it all by now.

I never mind answering sensible questions. But this is precisely what I meant on the Disabilities thread: That fellow nontheists can ask these types of reasonable questions, as you have, and take a common sense answer, rather than having to read everything into it for some kind of spirituality.

To be fair, not all Christians drag the issues into the spiritual weeds either. But, it's near universal not to, among nontheists.

 

Anyway, on another note, I did tell Her, in interest of full disclosure, about being on this site.

I appreciate the safe space.

I and an atheist at work were both talking over Skype about this very thing. He's not an ex-Christian, but an atheist nonetheless, and in a Southern state has had to deal with all sorts of complications that I do remember.

... then my irrational self begins to fantasize about an underground railroad to pull many ex-Christians and atheists out of these hostile areas.

 

Anyway, thanks for the responses, guys, and I'll try and figure out at some point how to quote posts the way you do. I see the links for it, just have to figure that out.

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What an interesting story. I had never thought about the struggles a blind person must go through to get information, especially if raised in a christian home. Thanks for shedding light on this issue.

 

And this isn't really an atheist site, although a lot of ex christians do become atheists after deconverting. But there are others here who are spiritual it some other way. What we have in common is the "christian experience" and then leaving it.

 

Crazy how intertwined religion is with politics. And it doesn't even make sense. Why should a person's religious beliefs limit the rights of other individuals, many of which do not hold the same beliefs? I think of gay marriage as an example, but there are so many others too. I thought you brought up some great points.

 

I wish you the best with your family. You never know, someday they may see christianity for what it really is. It just takes time and patience on your part. I think all of us at one point would have said, I would never give up my christian faith! And then look at us now. With enough questions and enough information, faith and bible god kind of just disappear.

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Welcome.

 

As a fully sighted person who cannot imagine blindness, I'm impressed by your facility to use computers.

 

Your story is very interesting - and says a lot about the way you maintain your relationships.  That is also impressive.

 

Mind, if this is an atheist site, I'm in the wrong place...

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I'm sorry for inferring everyone was an atheist. Atheism makes the most sense for me, but I understand that isn't true for everyone, even most people.

I think if my Wife were to deconvert, She would remain some kind of theist / spiritualist of sorts. She has even tried to get me to "imagine what I think a god might be like ..." but not interested in probabilities.

Anyway, not at all my interest to make light of other beliefs, so again, please accept my apologies on that front.

I think fundagelical AmeriChristianity needs politics to support itself. One of the greatest thread pullers, initially, was when I learned the truth  behind School Choice: the 500 dollar voucher towards a $25,000 private academy.

Obviously ludicrous: no poor family is going to come up with the difference, and consider that a "choice". Except, that politic and free will have an awful lot in common, in the Christian context.

I wonder how many of us apostates would have been soundly rebuked for taking up liberal Christian literature? I admit, I hadn't read any. But now that we're deconverted, some Christians might ask if we haven't considered that?

It's a case of wishing for the evil of yesterday, because today's is so much worse. These are some of the same who fear for those liberal Christians' salvation, are they really Christians?

It doesn't make any rational sense. But I have resolved to do what I can to take off the rationalist hat and put on the humanist hat when talking to them. Unless they want to pull out the apologetics or pseudoscientific arguments.

For other theists, I don't think we atheists are anything superior. I, as an atheist, can't speak for anyone else. I simply find no real wish for a god, no longing for a god. The longing I had felt during my 'backslidden' days of a couple years? That was all constructed for me by the Christian framework I had been living under, but was setting aside at the time. But of course, that doesn't mean nobody else has such a longing.

Hitchens and Dawkins, the latter whom I greatly respect, fail to reconcile the real science of cultural anthropology with their sometimes dogmatic epithets. The culture of Christianity for people still comfortable with it, provides them something. My wife's mom, for instance. People seem to develop communities around rituals, look at all the pagan revolutions that have surfactedin the last 100 years or so. Wicca being the most popular in the United States.

I admit, I like Norse mythology. I like the young male tendencies in Thor, and the wise father tendencies in Odin. But I don't have whatever predeliction for belief in it. I

find the "belief gene" hypothesis to be fascinating, if it's developed far enough to be a hypothesis.

I tend to hold to the noble virtues of the PpreChristian West, love, fidelity  and honor.

But I have nothing against theists of any sort, deists, univeralists or what have you. So any indication to the contrary, I apologize.

I also appreciate the words about my family. Yes, I am a typical male like some have talked about on here: perhaps have been on eggshells about that stuff around the Wife. If it was up to me, the two of them would be able to be just as open about it around me now as they once were, without having to feel hindered by a difference they now feel exists.

I know for the Wife, she prefers it if we are all going together. But, unlike some on this site, She would rather I not go with Her since I don't buy it. And I can appreciate that. More time for me to do other things, and actualy be in the community. Church never really felt like community: sit there and listen, the conversation afterwards generally stilted to a few subjects that were okay. The notable exception was when I and other dads would take the kids to the playground afterwards and just hang out, push them on swings, toss a ball, or whatever.

But this past Sunday I was in my neighborhood coffeeshop. A father came in with his young son. A lot of people there know him. The little boy was running around between tables, we were just all hanging out. Community, without the expectation. And there are so many expectations for Christian parents. I thought being a Christian kid was hard!

My wife faced so much competition all the time: why aren't you homeschooling? What do you think of those humanists? What are you doing to make sure your daughter doesn't leave the faith? Endless, endless, questioning, dog-sniffing, interrogation, and most of all, thoughtcrime analysis.

It seemed to be worst among the moms, mainly because nobody could refute it.

Anyway guess I kind of rambled there. But again my apologies to all who aren't atheists, that was never my intention to make you feel bad or displaced.

I'm so glad the cognitive dissonance and toiling is over. I have no illusions: there are likely to be bumps in the road. But I know I've made it through some bad bumps in the past before. Only this time I won't later perform a substitution and revise it all to claim someone else did it. I'll be honest and say, there wasn't, and isn't, anybody out there besides us humans. At least in my case.

 

I always had an affinity for Cool HandLuke. ... "I guess I'm a hard case, God. Then again, I guess you're a hard case too."

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There is something I wanted to add here.

Boy this is taking thought. I was never that good at the Christian testimonies either, even though they had formulas for that stuff.

 

Anyway, the gay marriage issue of late has been a major part of my own coming out. That probably sounds strange, being I am a heterosexual who has not ever had gay leanings. I can appreciate how gay Christians must really struggle with this, though.

Anyway, it started in late 2009 early 2010 when I got a Facebook. I did so initially to help the Wife with Hers. I didn't know how to use social networks then, so I thought I would get one, learn it, and then I could answer questions that She had. I also at the time got a Twitter.

There was the whole controversy then of if you get a Facebook should you tell your wife every time you 'friend' someone on there.

Anyway the Wife didn't initially keep Hers, but I got interested and so kept mine. And then, a friend of my sister's from elementary school started posting a lot on Facebook and Twitter. She wrote on my Twitter having reminded me who she was, and telling me about her life.

It all came out, she's gay and married, living in San Francisco. After my foolish bully days of my early 20s, I have had no problems with gay people and worked with many. But I have not known any who had kids. Anyway, she started to post updates. Hers were the most frequent updates, except a few cousins from the Christian would-be-pioneer-women camp, a group I find to be rather strange, but that is another topic.

Anyway, I'm a male, she's a Lesbian. I didn't even consider it might be possible to create insecurity in a marriage by talking about what a Lesbian had posted, but I did. I mean, it's not like I would or could "do anything" about it, even if I had wanted to.

But, here is a new kind of family. She was posting about the struggles they were having. I personally felt like my sister's friend was giving me a glimpse not only into her own life, but the lives of interracial couples 50 years ago. My mind just has always gone like that: curious, following up with things, and so on.

Again, still the kind of Christian that tried to make it all reasonable and fit, I just thought the leadership would ultimately try to find a way to make it all work, as they had interracial relations. Meanwhile, the Wife was really struggling with this issue. She didn't and doesn't know any gay people. But as a human being, doesn't like the idea of them being limited. But as a Christian found the gay Christians unconvincing, spiritually, scriptturally. She really agonized over this for years. And here I was, just seeing it for what it was: the injustice done against gay parents and spouses and their families. Then, 2012 came, and all that came with it. She had friends who supported Chick FillA even if She didn't Herself. And you know, on account of a few things, gay issues were all over the news in 2012. It was, for one thing, the 100th anniversary of the birth of Alan Turing. A great scientist who pioneered artificial intelligence, and helped the Allies win the second World War. His death was a tragedy.

Naturally, discussing Alan Turing with most Christians makes their eyes glaze over.

This started to really confirm for me the terrorist antics of Biblegod Yahweh, Allah, and even Jesus. I had created a problem by eating from the Tree of Knowledge. But, I have always eaten of it whenever possible, and will eat of it for the rest of my life.

In my sister's friend, I hadn't found, as my wife called it, "a new best friend." We were acquaintances through my sister, have evolved into a sort of online friendship over the years, but never met in person. I'm just not that avatar-ish: I have to see someone face to face before really taking an online relationship that seriously.

Not a "new best friend," but exposure to information that collided with my secretly-openminded Christianity. I wasn't, as She suspected me of, "learning all I could about gays." She read far more articles on the issue than I had. I was seeing Facebook messages and tweets from one particular person. Whose claims I backed up  by legal and historical sites related to treatment of gays and other minorities.

It's not that I was "deciding to be different," but we as human beings are changed by what we learn.

I went from openminded about gays, to understanding the real, legal, cultural injustices they are dealing with, including those that they themselves don't write about.

I was already an emryonic apostate, though I didn't know it at the time. But what kind of "loving god" would even make this an issue? Force someone like the Wife to agonize over this, to work against Her own better judgment, human compassion, and conscience, to keep its untenable truths in line?

Just another way that faith is no strong tower. The righteous run into it, not for safety, but to defend it lest it fall down.

This was not intended as an insult to the Wife. She doesn't hate gays. In my own cognitive dissonance, I at one time judged Her very unfairly. The problem is systemic.

It doesn't come up now: 2012 is long gone. She's not tring too get into ministry or church-related career anymore. I know there are gay Christians. I met one the other day at a coffee shop, didn't know he was Christian, told him about our meetup in case he wanted to join and be accepted. Upon finding out we are all nontheists, and that I am an atheist, he proceeded to try and tell me it wasn't too late.

So they're working on it, apparently. In fifty years, maybe less, Christians like my Wife won't be put through that kind of crucible. They won't have to choose between acceptance of gay people and following their texts.

Rationally absurd, but humanly sad.

In defense of Her honor and character I'll say She has never bashed gays, trumped out leviticus, or even Romans 1, that passage that says all us apostates are supposed to turn gay. She has never trash talked gays, even corrected me for use of the term 'fairy'.

I only used this example to illustrate what was happening to me, and the illumination of the totally absurd.

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The absurd does tend to abound in matters of doctrine.  Be the issue gay rights or any other form of equality issue, attitudes to other belief systems or even other versions of one's own system etc etc,  It seems that Christianity makes everyone's private life everyone else's business - which is just another control mechanism.

 

Be that as it may, no apology needed on the "atheist" front (at least, not so far as I'm concerned).  You would need to say or do a lot more than that to make me feel "bad" or "displaced"...

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Hi LeoBirdMan! I really appreciate your story.  It sounds to me like you have really got it together.  I'm going to be blunt with you...  I really respect you.  It amazes me that you have been able to overcome so many obstacles in your life despite your blindness and the obvious setbacks that have come along with it.  It also amazes me that you have been able to accomplish so many things without caving in from the religious pressures that are around you.  You work with computers, and you also seem to have a very logical and rational view of the world around you.  I just wanted to tell you that I found your story to be very inspiring.

 

When I was a kid attending private school, a blind piano player was invited to entertain us and teach us all about God.  He sang old songs about the Christian faith, and then he made songs up based on any topic we would give him.  He added an extra element of surprise to the show by placing his glass eyes on the podium in front of us to stare at us while he jammed out on the piano...  This story feels awkward to tell.  Anyway, I really wish that someone like yourself would have been invited to talk with us instead.  I can't even begin to tell you about all of the psychological and emotional damage that was inflicted upon our psyches because of religion.  Looking back, it seems like the Christian leaders we were raised around did anything and everything to keep us from thinking for ourselves.

 

I hope you'll stick around and continue to inspire others with your story.  Thank you!

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Anyway, to Directionless:

I'm still learning how to navigate this forum site. There are software programs that communicate the screen or the web using speech or a pizzo-electric Braille display. No such luck on the static / haptic feedback front, though you perhaps by accident hit on some rather edgy and interesting technology by mentioning your tablet.

To communicate it by speech has to be way better than the telephone systems. And yes, Windows and the Mac, and even my iPhone, have ways to navigate around without a pointing device. Well the iPhone is a bit different, but you can read about its VoiceOver if curious.

Anyway, so instead of just reading the text out loud to you, the software reads it relationally. Simple example:

Warning! dialog

Are you sure you want to exit?

Yes button.

Now, of course, we know that neither 'dialog' nor 'button' appear on the screen. Those are descriptors. A whole huge raging debate for how to best communicate nonvisually certain UI semantics. Under the hood, they're not just visual, they're relational and communicate behaviors and roles. So this site's code has all forum posts under individual headings. I just skip around by heading, or even move between graphic to see the profile names.

It's all quite interesting, and you can even read up on the Web Accessibility Initiative, if curious, to find out how web content can be best coded for us to fully use it.

Basically, so long as an object on a device or device-agnostic platform like this site, uses enough type / role / state indicators to clearly identify itself, any accessibility APIs (interfaces) will be able to understand and interpret.

Hope that kind of sort of makes sense. Lol the wife and daughter are just used to it all by now.

I never mind answering sensible questions. But this is precisely what I meant on the Disabilities thread: That fellow nontheists can ask these types of reasonable questions, as you have, and take a common sense answer, rather than having to read everything into it for some kind of spirituality.

To be fair, not all Christians drag the issues into the spiritual weeds either. But, it's near universal not to, among nontheists.

Thanks, LeoBirdMan. smile.png I was a programmer during the 90's, but my knowledge is out-of-date now. So it sounds like you use headphones and the web pages become sequences of words describing text and buttons? Is there a special web browser that turns web pages into audio or is it part of the windowing software for the OS?

 

I was trying to imagine how I would have debugged software if I was blind. I bet you have an incredible memory, so that you can visualize in detail a chunk of several lines of tedious code. I was reading about refreshable Braille displays on wikipedia. It appears the common ones only display one line at a time. I can't believe they don't have something like a tablet that can display a whole page of Braille. That would probably be much easier for you.

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Leo, welcome to Ex-C, i've enjoyed your posts but never got to welcoming you around the site.  So welcome :D 

 

I'm at work currently but reading through this thread whenever I get the chance. 

 

Thanks to science, we get to enjoy your company. 

 

Thanks to bible god, scores of blind people have had their faces smeared with mud in the dark ages because a religious book said it would help.

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Thanks guys.

 

@Directionless, No, I'm afraid my memory is just average. But I do use a Braille display when programming.

 

@imperialblue: I hope what I have to contribute helps. I'm afraid I'm just not one for being the dancing bear or putting on the show, as the guy you referenced apparently did. Part of the problem is being disempowered by people only seeing one aspect of me, a biological hardware issue, me being blind, in that environment. That's not a blindness issue, that's a showmanship issue. The guy was a prop, the blind piano player. Just as Sarah Palin was a prop, a beauty pageant winner from Alaska in the 2008 election. I'm not sure I really believe in the concept of inspiration. At least not in the pop culture / Christian culture sense of the word. Again, not a blind thing or related to your piano player, just not sure I get that. If I contribute something that helps someone else's deconversion go better, or helps someone make sense instead of nonsense, it's all good; I'm happy to have done that.

@Roz: Thank you.

 

To all, while I've got a lot of things rationally figured out, I admit emotionally I still have a very far distance to travel. I'm not even sure how yet, for parts of it.

But I really appreciate all the posts I read on here, extimonies, as well as many other areas of the site. Taking a bit of a break in the apologetics / counterapologetics department for now, even though part of me kind of digs that stuff. A bit frying to the nerve endings. Also, I keep being afraid someone in the circle of influence is going to bring someone home who is going to try and debate some of this stuff with me, and if I've had a bad day, or just not up to it at the moment, I will lose. Of course, that doesn't even mean anything except I lost the debate, but it makes me think I have lost my entire argument.

But, as one who doesn't debate that well, I will say on more than one occasion I have won an argument while losing the debate, if that makes sense. And admittedly I'm getting just a bit pissed off at the whole idea that in order to convert, one only has to assent to a few things you don't yet understand. But to deconvert, you suddenly have to become an expert on religion and apologetics.

I never had that much curiosity about world religions: not out of arrogance, but I was never that curious whose god did what to whom. Raised in the proper context, I would never have cracked a religious apologetic book at all.

Sunk costs fallacy comes to mind, in our situation.

The APastaSea blog has a lot on this stuff.

But yeah, I'm at a place where my emotions have got to catch up with my rationale. Not sure how that's done, but guess I'm gonna find out.

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LeoBirdMan: What an interesting life story. Very well written, with lots of insight. Here's my favorite

of you comments:

 

"It's my opinion, and I think there's evidence to back it up, that any group where its ideology exceeds

its humanity is likely to turn out terror of one form or another."

 

I fully agree. It is a litmus test for fanatic cults. When your commitment is stronger for a doctrine

than for the betterment of people, both the commitment and the doctrine are bogus. One example in my

mind is euthanasia. Years of horrible suffering from a terminal illness is preferred by fanatics over a

plea for a painless death by the sufferer. Welcome to this site. You will be a great contributor. bill

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