Monday, September 08, 2014

A Wifely Update

A person asked, “I was very interested in your wife's reaction, and wonder if you are at liberty to give an update on what has happened in the intervening years.” Therefore,… one of those “Where are they now?” posts—what has happened with my wife?

Our situation is probably different than most, so I am unsure how helpful this will be. All I can do is tell the tale. First, there are two things you must know: 1) I am the outgoing one in the relationship and 2) I was the spiritual instigator in the family. Our friendships were (and are) developed through my contacts. I play soccer on a co-ed team; my wife developed friendships with the other female soccer players and joined the team. I started hanging out with a certain group; my wife developed friendships within this group.

This has been typical throughout our adult lives. ALL my current friends are a complete change-over from my Christian life. My wife still connects with some former Christian friends through Facebook, but we never see them in person. Let alone go out to eat, or a party, or hang out.

Further I have always been the spiritual motivator. I pushed to go to church, join this program or that, attend an event, etc. My wife was not the pushy one.

When I deconverted, I was a Sunday School teacher, a Children’s Church leader, on a Committee, and tapped to become a deacon. I was requested to be the College Student Leader. As it would be clearly inappropriate to continue in any of these positions, I resigned and declined them all.

Additionally, I stopped speaking up in Sunday School—my Christian interaction would be inquisitive, a bit confrontational, but always a search for what was Godly correct. Once I was no longer a Christian, this could easily slide into disruptive and argumentative. Best to keep quiet.

I went from an out-going, church leader to a silent ghoul. If you ever attended a church, you will immediately recognize what happened next. Rumors abound. Was I mad at someone? Did someone do something to offend me? A Divorce? A crime? Ironically, becoming an atheist was far worse than any rumor could even suspect, and even the worst rumormonger failed to stumble upon it! (As far as I know.)

We looked for another church to hide in. Our (then) friends attended a large church seemingly safe to disappear. But I could only stand so much. Church is designed to worship a non-existent being. It revolves and is imbued with Christianese at every level. For me, it was like attending a Magic show where I already knew how the magic trick worked.

Over and over. Week after week. How many times can you see the same Magic trick, where you know the handkerchief is stuffed in a fake thumb, before you just can’t see the same trick anymore? I finally reached a point where I would not go anymore. My wife and I got along better when I stopped attending—less strain and tension when the family went without me.

But then our friends obtained employment in another country. They went abroad for a few years. My wife had no one at this church. She stopped going.

And hasn’t gone since. (With the exception of a few Christmas Eve services that I wanted to attend. I still love Christmas Eve services. *shrug* So sue me…)

The church has utterly failed people in my wife’s position. I struggled with deconverting, but eventually happily reached my current belief system, found new friends and moved one. Yeah for me—everybody be happy for me! But my poor wife has no support system whatsoever. Christians are the least helpful—ranging from “Hmm…I wonder what she did to make him become an atheist?” to “We don’t know what to say, so we don’t say anything at all.”

Do you know what the difference is between not saying anything because you don’t know what to say and not saying anything because you are deliberately cutting the person out of your relationship?

No difference; no difference at all.

Who does my wife turn to? Christians? Not hardly. Non-Christians? They don’t share the same beliefs, let alone understand or empathize with her position. Unsurprisingly, she has fallen into a nominal theist position. Thanks God or offers prayer on Facebook, but has no spiritual support system whatsoever.

Our kids are less than nominal theists. They all find Church extremely boring and never attend. We have become a family where Sunday is a day for playing together, soccer, running, errands, napping, etc. and God is a general belief not much more than as depicted on Simpsons.

This is not a surprise.

59 comments:

  1. Hey Dagood,

    I left a comment/question on the last post. If you get a chance I'd appreciate your response.

    Have a great day!

    Gary

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  2. DagoodS, it is great to hear from you. I really enjoy your content. Cheers :)

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  3. Hi Dagoods, thanks for your reply to my query about your wife. I guess I'm quite a novice when it comes to blogs, because I just now found this post today, over a month later.

    By the way, I'm glad your wife is still your wife.

    Our situations do have a few similarities. My husband is the outgoing one, the leader, the talker. His deconversion process started through studying the Bible. All his life he had been obsessed with figuring it out, reconciling the inconsistencies, trying to make it all fit together. He finally discovered a problem that just wouldn't go away. That led to more and more study, and the gradual breakdown of faith. The thing is, I was dragged along on his journey whether I liked it or not. There was no telling him I didn't want to hear it. Every thought that comes into his mind comes out of his mouth. I listened daily to his struggles. He'd spend hours at the computer after I'd gone to sleep. In the morning he'd say, "You won't believe what I found out this time." And I'd say, okay, there must be an explanation for that, we just have to find it, and what about such-and-such, you can't refute that. And he'd say, oh, I'm afraid to even tell you what I found out about that. And then he would. I felt like he was pulling the legs of a table out from under me one by one. Finally the whole table was on the floor, and my world was upside down. But I couldn't refute anything he said. It all made so much sense. In a weird way, it was like many of the puzzle pieces of life fell into place, and I could relate in a new way to the whole world, to other people.

    But as I was sort of dragged along on the coattails of my husband's deconversion, it was easy to just let it wash over me and not commit myself one way or another. I mean, I still have never come to the point of looking at myself in the mirror and saying, "I am no longer a Ch...". See, I still can't even write it! It's been over two years and I still cant' do that, even though when I think about the Bible it all seems so silly now--I can't believe I took it seriously.

    In the beginning I was mainly just sad, but lately I've been able to see some good things. One thing that hit me recently is that my life is like a gift, given to me to do with what I choose. I no longer have to feel slightly guilty for taking pleasure in things that I do for myself. I no longer have to feel uncomfortable for choosing to paint a picture or read a novel instead of doing something to save the people who are slipping into hell every second. I used to give up doing things I liked because evangelism was more important, and I'd console myself with the thought that in heaven I'd have forever to do those other things. Now I have a different sort of zest for life, a determination to make something good of what I have, in the time I have left, and it's up to me!

    On the other hand, so far it's lonely. We left the ministry we worked for and moved away to another state where we know no one. We have only told one single solitary person so far. That's partly because we'd rather tell them in person, and we haven't seen them yet. But also, I have no desire to be thought of as a reprobate backslider who let the devil get a foothold. I know exactly what they will think of me, because it's what I have thought of many who have gone before! (I see them in a new light now--maybe they weren't so evil after all, maybe they actually just saw the light.)

    Before, all my friends came from church, so now I have no friends. We don't know who to hang out with, we don't seem to belong anywhere. I wish there was a way to connect with other local deconverts. Maybe we'll have to start a DA group--Deconverts Anonymous.

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  4. Hi Anonymous (I want to call you Coattails.) :-)

    In my marriage, I (the wife) was the one who left first. Thinking on the term "coattails" made me think of my husband sort of being dragged along too without really wanting to "go there." But you know, in a relationship you want to talk, to share, to care about what it is you believe or don't believe. When you learn things you never knew before you just want to share it with your partner.

    I have been reading your short dialogue with DagoodS with interest. Many of us can relate to you and some of what you share. The loneliness and the loss of community. My husband and I left lay positions in youth ministry (still Christians at the time) and I would have loved to move out of this community. I sort of envy you that. :-)

    You might consider lurking about and commenting on various blogs of those of us who left the faith to sort of have a little less loneliness as life goes on.

    I hope it goes well when you tell your friends and when it comes to avoiding those who will call you "a reprobate backslider . . . " you just can't avoid it.

    You wrote here: "One thing that hit me recently is that my life is like a gift, given to me to do with what I choose. I no longer have to feel slightly guilty for taking pleasure in things that I do for myself. I no longer have to feel uncomfortable for choosing to paint a picture or read a novel instead of doing something to save the people who are slipping into hell every second. I used to give up doing things I liked because evangelism was more important, and I'd console myself with the thought that in heaven I'd have forever to do those other things. Now I have a different sort of zest for life, a determination to make something good of what I have, in the time I have left, and it's up to me!"

    I like this. Sounds uplifting and positive. :-)

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  5. Hi Zoe, this is Coattails. I'd been trying to think of a moniker for myself, so I adopted yours and changed the spelling.

    You brightened my day immensely by your response. Thanks!

    I have been trying to lurk around and find some former Christian blogs, but they all seem to have swung the pendulum all the way over to atheism. Where are the theists? I still believe there is a Creator who is not the Hebrew God. On Reddit I found an ex-Christian section, but there was a note saying "this forum has been given over to the atheists." Don't the theists want to talk?

    Also I would like to subscribe to this blog, but I can't figure out how to do it. What is a live bookmark? I'm not a complete technological idiot, but blogs are new to me. : )

    Yes, I am glad my husband shared all his thoughts with me. It was much better than having him bottle it all up and have me wonder what was going on, and then having him spring it on me all at once in some terrible moment! I've thought about whether I wish I had never met him and had married someone else--chances are very good that I would still be a happy Christian today. And do I wish that were true? I can't honestly say that I do. I guess I prefer living in reality than in a sort of LaLa land.

    Not to mention that I love my husband. ;-)

    And yes, we do feel lucky that we could move anywhere in the country and didn't have to be stuck skulking around hoping we wouldn't run into someone we knew. Too many potential uncomfortable situations there!

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  6. DagoodS,

    I need a favor when you get around to it:

    Settle a dispute for me, please. I'm being told that archaeologists have found dining rooms in two Pagan Greek temples. This person insists that the finding of these dining rooms is evidence for the truth of Paul's entire testimony in the NT. She challenged me to ask any attorney if this was evidence that supports Paul's credibility.

    I'm of the opinion it is only evidence that meals were eaten in the Greek temples in question, that possibly meat was sacrificed there, but says nothing with regard to the reliability of the NT nor Paul's testimony regarding anything else.

    What say you?

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  7. Hi Kotales,

    I hope you won't mind me commenting here. I have swung the pendulum, but I'm really more of an agnostic atheist. At any rate I think you'll find that many of us, even if we are calling ourselves atheists, are sympathetic to the Deist position. Speaking for myself, I'm definitely not hostile toward the notion that there could be a creator. I just don't think it's any of the gods which have been posited.

    Zoe's right, just poke around a little and I think you'll find some Deist friendly folks that might take away some of the loneliness. I know it was such a big help to me.

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    1. Thanks, Ruth. It's funny, when we started getting dangerously near to realizing the Bible was a manmade document, one of the lame arguments I made to my husband was that if that was the case, then there would be lots of former Christians running around who had discovered the same thing, and where were they? I had never met one. Haha--I hadn't surfed the net enough!

      I would like to hear your (and Zoe's) story--what started the ball rolling as far as your deconversion, and what was the straw that broke the camel's back?

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    2. Testing to see if this will link to my page on my blog.

      Kotales, this post here is a start. ->

      http://secularwings.wordpress.com/2008/11/06/for-barbara-aka-notabarbie/


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    3. Trying again. Hope this makes a hyperlink Kotales. If so, click on the link and it will take you to my blog post for some of my story. That post was originally written in 2006.

      A Bit Of My Story

      Zoe

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    4. one of the lame arguments I made to my husband ..was that if that was the case, then there would be lots of former Christians running around who had discovered the same thing, and where were they? I had never met one. Haha--I hadn't surfed the net enough!

      Yep, we're all hanging out here on the net [mostly] in amonymity. *grin*

      Here are a few posts I did when I first began to doubt. I don't have a post, which I've been meaning to write, that outlines my deconversion story per se. I really should do that. It's splattered all over the pages of my blog in bits and pieces. But this is where I started:

      http://gulliblestravelsdma.wordpress.com/ifs-and-buts/

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    5. Ruth, I enjoyed reading your blog posts. A couple of days ago I read the one "Along Came a Spider." I could so relate.

      Today my husband and I took a walk to look for some tall pampas grass or something to put in a really tall vase we have. We saw this beautiful, perfect, classic spider web with a huge spider in the middle, and he took several photos of it. Later we took the car back to that area to cut down some weeds for our vase (we couldn't find pampas grass). He shoves the 6-foot tall weeds in the car, I look back from the front seat, and there's the spider! The same spider and his web! Yikes, I was out of that car so fast! He was able to kill it, but now we have spider guts all over the back seat.

      Your spider-in-the-car story was MUCH creepier, though!

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    6. I'm glad you enjoyed reading along.

      Spiders are just creepy! Ugh! I'll just admire from a distance, thank you very much. Yeah, I'm glad your husband was able to dispose of the spider. Had that been me, and he weren't able to do so, I might need a new car!

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  8. Ruth,

    I would tell your friend not to ask lawyers questions—she may not like the answer she gets. Just because a person is credible on one, commonly known statement, doesn’t make the person more (or less) credible on another statement.

    If I told you I posted a Facebook status about how my dog tells me to throw paint at my neighbors, would the fact that Facebook and statuses (stati?) actually do exist make it more credible I have a talking dog? Or do you still question my credibility?

    As lawyers, we pry and dig and exploit the non-credible statements amongst the credible. We highlight and emphasize where the witness is not credible, given common sense or other evidence.

    The only time we would ever point out how a person was credible on one statement, making it more likely another statement is true, is when we are trying to rehabilitate the witness (exactly as it sounds, recovering the credibility lost in opposing counsel’s questions)—a recognition the witness has lost credibility in the first place1

    Paul is a person of the first century—it is unsurprising he uses actual ethics, norms, customs, cultures, names, places, etc. within that timeframe. Just like we use “selfie” now, and a few years ago the word “Polaroid” meant something. Or if you read the words “car phone,” this would date the writing to the early 1990’s.

    As to his credibility on anything else, if one reads Paul’s letter, he gives very little historical reference. Unfortunately. We don’t know when, specifically, he was writing, or what events were occurring, etc. His letters focus on theological aspects and doctrine.

    Because he mentions the (commonly known) practice of festivals and pagan ceremonies does not make it more likely he was actually transported to heaven for a period of time.

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  9. Thanks! I really didn't expect you to get back to me that quickly.

    I assume you mean 'friend' loosely. She's more like a nemesis. A thorn in my side. I've prayed three times but the Lord has not taken it away from me. ;)

    This is what I tried to say, though not nearly as eloquently. Then she laid down the gauntlet, so to speak, and I thought I'd ask. Maybe my rationale was completely off-base. I didn't think so but it's always good to do a self-checkup.

    Do you mind, then, if I copy and paste your response back to her?

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  10. Replies
    1. I was attempting to be polite. There were other terms that came to mind.

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    2. LOL! Yes, a few of those terms crossed my path too.

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  11. Creative name Kotales. :-)

    Glad to help brighten your day.

    It's true that many of us have been swingers. *grin* We have swung toward an atheistic point of view. I think you'd find that some of us didn't swing as quickly as it might appear. For many of us it has been a process and many are still on the journey.

    You'd even find that many of us stopped along the theist avenue, then on to deism, maybe later some agnosticism and then eventually atheism. I know some who settled on paganism, pantheism and panentheism. Like Ruth I'm an agnostic atheist. I don't know (technically agnostic) but in my everyday life I don't have a God of any sort that is part of my life (practically atheist). I've grown to prefer the term secular (separation of church and state) and humanist.

    You might try a search for theist blogs &/or deism blogs.

    There are atheist blogs that would welcome your participation but there are others where it might be difficult to develop a sense of community. Patience being a virtue is often missing with some bloggers. :-)

    I'm not sure how to subscribe to DagoodS blog. I blog at Secular Wings which is a WordPress platform. His blog is on Blogger. I'm not sure if he has a subscribe option available on his page, Though if you scroll down to the bottom of the page you'll see that you can *Subscribe to: Post Comments (Atom)* Attention Blogger Bloggers, how does Kotales subscribe?

    Aside from a subscribe option you could just make his blog part of your *Favourites* on your computer and simply click on his blog at your leisure.

    Zoe

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  12. It is amazing to see the power of the internet! How many of us would still be devout, conservative Christians if we had not stumbled across a website that made us stop and think: "Hey. Something's wrong here with my 'inerrant' belief system!"

    I deconverted from conservative Christianity four months ago and the word "atheist" still sticks in my throat. Due to my upbringing, "atheist" has always been in the same category as "deviant", "pervert", etc.

    I am no longer a Christian, but what am I now? I have no clue if there is a Creator, but I do know that he/she/it is not Yahweh or Jesus. I used to call myself a "deist". I have graduated to "agnostic".

    I believe that the more of us "come out" on line, the more people will stumble across our blogs and start asking themselves tough questions that they never even considered before, such as, "How do we know that the books of the NT are the very words of God? Is there a list somewhere written on Golden Plates in Yahweh's handwriting, dropped down from heaven?"

    Once you start pulling a few loose strings in the Christian weave, more threads come loose, and eventually the whole thing unravels. It is a shocking discovery.

    I wasn't happy to lose my faith. I was very happy with it. But I was also happy believing in Santa Claus at one time. I prefer to know the Truth regardless of how I may feel about it.

    Good luck in your journey, Coattails. You are not alone.

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    1. Hi Gary. I didn't realize you'd moved to agnostic. Your experience highlights what I was sharing with Kotales. I remember that "what am I now?" phase.

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    2. Yes, the "deist" position is too difficult to defend. The fundamentalist Christians try to corner me with "your belief system is based on faith too."

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    3. Does anyone know how Bruce Gerencser is doing?

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    4. I stay in touch with Bruce. I'll be in touch with him shortly and let him know you asked about him. Things change from day to day with Bruce so I'll check with him before saying "how" he's doing. I know he will be happy you asked. :)

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    5. Gary, I think I remember seeing some of your comments sprinkled through DagoodS's deconversion story, is that right? I didn't read many of the comments because I was intent on finishing the story itself, which was pretty long. But I would like to trace your journey--can you tell me where to start? Was it here on this blog?

      I like your analogy about pulling the loose threads in the Christian weave. Exactly.

      I was happy with my faith too. It's been a rough couple of years, but I'm beginning to be happy again, thanks in large part to all the encouragement received here online.

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    6. Hi Kotales,

      Yes, I did comment on DagoodS' deconversion in an attempt to rescue him from his loss of faith...and look where that got me! :)

      My deconversion from Christianity began in early February of this year. I had been the author of an orthodox (fundamentalist) Lutheran blog whose primary goal was to show other ex-evangelicals, like myself, the truths of orthodox Lutheranism---the TRUE version of Christianity. In February, for some reason, one day I decided to do a google search for ex-evangelicals turned atheists. I thought maybe if I shared the good news of orthodox Lutheranism with them that they would see that they had left Christianity because they had been in the WRONG branch of Christianity. I believed that if I could just help them see the truths and beauty of Lutheranism, they would come back with tears and open arms to Christianity.

      So I came across the blog of Bruce Gerencser, a former fundamentalist evangelical pastor, turned atheist. I tried to convince him that God really does exist (assuming that if there is a God, he/she/it MUST be Yahweh/Jesus), that if Bruce only understood TRUE Christianity (Lutheranism), he would believe in Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior once again.

      Then, it was Bruce's turn, and he blew me out of the water!

      But after awhile, he got tired of my circular arguments defending fundamentalist conservative Christianity, and told me that before he would discuss the issues anymore with me, I needed to read a couple of books. He referred me to a couple of Bart Ehrman's books.

      I was shocked by what I read. I could not believe that the Bible had blatant alterations in it and that my pastors knew this, but had never told me. As I continued reading, more and more gaping holes in my "inerrant" belief system were exposed. My faith slowly began to wane.

      Either Bruce or one of his readers referred me to Dagood's deconversion story. I began to engage Dagood and his readers in conversation. Dagood is very, very patient. He could have just blown me off after my many questions and comments, but he kept talking to me. His logic, reasoning, and calm demeanor impressed me. With each conversation, I began to see my faith draining away, faster and faster, until I saw it circling the drain, and in June this past summer, it was gone. I no longer believed. It was an amazing four months.

      I would point you to Bruce's blog to see the original conversation, but Bruce has shut down his blog for health reasons. If you would like to see my comments on my first discussion with Bruce on my blog (which is now agnostic), you can click on this link:

      http://www.lutherwasnotbornagain.com/2014/02/fundamentalist-baptist-pastor-abandons.html

      In this post, I ask my readers to pray for Bruce that Jesus will bring him back to the fold. What an idiot! If I had known what was coming, I would have asked my Christian readers to pray for ME and forget about Bruce! :)

      Gary

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    7. Gary, I just checked out your blog. Boy, do I have a lot of reading to do! And how did you manage to write 160 blog posts in June alone??

      I spotted one of your posts about the Book of Enoch that Jude quotes in verse 14. That was the first really big problem that started the hairline crack in my faith: why would God inspire Jude to quote from an obviously non-inspired apocryphal book? We wrote to several pastors and checked all the apologetics book about this problem, and not one had an answer. In fact, most of the problems we encountered were not even listed in the apologetics books. They only talk about the easy ones, no matter what the title claims.

      Bart Ehrman--my husband read all his books. I didn't read them at the time, but I think maybe I will now. I would just go around the house turning the spines away and covering them with other books so our son wouldn't see them.

      Have you heard of John Colenso? He wrote a book iin 1862 showing in minute detail how the Exodus could not have happened. That was another turning point for me. My husband was aghast that this published information had been around for 150 years and he had never heard of it.

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    8. It is amazing what we learn when our curiosity causes us to venture outside of the fundamentalist Christian "bubble".

      I did not realize that one of our Founding Fathers wrote a book that attacked religion, its superstitions, and the effects of those superstitions on society: Thomas Paine, in The Age Reason. It is my next read.

      One thing I have found interesting is how Christians go out of their way to point out to me that I was never a "true" Christian. The orthodox Lutherans who comment on my blog (especially one very sarcastic Lutheran pastor) who tells me this repeatedly, "You never were a true orthodox Lutheran. You were still a fundamentalist evangelical. If you had only understood Lutheran teachings, you never would have left the Faith.

      I then get evangelical Christians leaving comments in which they ask me a few questions and then decide that I was never really "born again", and that if I will just pray to God, he will save me THIS time.

      It gets really exasperating.

      These people just can't see that Christianity is a house of cards. There is NO evidence for any of their supernatural claims. We have no verifiable evidence that there were eyewitnesses to the Resurrection. Paul never says he saw a walking/talking body. The entire, 2,000 year old belief system is based on assumption built upon assumption built upon legend and hearsay.

      Sadly, only eight months ago, I believed all the same superstitions just as strongly as any of those leaving the "you were never really a Christian" comments.

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    9. Hi Gary, Ruth, Zoe, and/or DagoodS,

      I'm starting to get to know people in our new locale, and I'm nervous about how to respond when they ask if I'm a Christian or if I go to church. I have no idea what to expect if I tell them the truth, which is that I used to be until I found out the Bible isn't true. Is there a typical response you get from Christians, or is it all over the board? And what is the best way to reply so that you don't open a big can of worms? Or is it impossible not to open a big can of worms? Is it possible to be friends with Christians, or do they shun you--or worse, look at you with big sad eyes all the time, and pretend to be friends with you in hopes of reconverting you? Does it make a difference how gung-ho of a Christian they are? I mean, would a liberal Christian not think it's that big of a deal and still be willing to associate with you?

      Sorry for all the questions, but I want to make new friends and suddenly am realizing it might be complicated. I'm getting involved in some volunteer work with a group of people and don't know if they are all Christians or what, but I've overheard the word "church" a couple of times in their conversations with each other and it's making me nervous!

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    10. I moved to a new location just over a year ago, myself. To be honest I don't exactly know how to handle it either. I typically choose not to open up the can of worms. I've been invited by a couple of neighbors to the Baptist Church at the entrance to the subdivision I live in. These are not people I know very well so I just smile and thank them for their invitation. I never say I'll think about or maybe or decline. I just leave it at that. I'm not sure if they persisted with invitations what I would do but I would probably just tell them I don't attend church for my own reasons.

      I would think that more progressive or liberal Christians would likely not see it as that big of a deal. Unfortunately in the neck of the woods in which I live I don't know any. South Georgia is home to fundamentalists of every stripe.

      Sometimes I wish I were more forthcoming. The outcome might be better than I think it would. I just don't want to become anyone's project.

      I can understand the "church" conversation making you nervous. Just take a deep breath and be as honest and forthcoming about your reasons for not attending as you want to be. Most likely the better you get to know those people the better you can gauge how they'll react and plan your response to their question about church accordingly.

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    11. Hi Kotales,

      I live in a large city on the West Coast so I have it easier than someone who lives in a small town. I would suggest that if you are not ready to say, "I'm an atheist", just reply with: "I'm not big on organized religion. I find it very divisive."

      If you get pushed to expand on that position, just say you prefer to keep your beliefs regarding spirituality private and would rather not get into the topic. If they push beyond that, I would find new friends.

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    12. i deconverted in late high school (*mumble* *30+ years ago*). college and work life has been in professional circles in larger cities, so that may not match your circumstances.

      i'm agnostic, and when asked, i usually just say something like "i'm not really religious," or "i don't really go to church." that's never been a problem for me. if i know someone better, i'm happy to discuss it more. i've met very few people that cared.

      i did go thru a period in college of trying to argue with people about religion, but realized few people really wanted to discuss it, so that got old and i mostly stopped talking about it.

      you don't owe anyone an explanation. also, most people are really only asking to put you in a box, they likely don't really care. so, since atheists are heavily frowned upon in general, and it's really none of their business, i'd be as non-committal and vague as possible, and move the conversation on to other topics. also, there is a huge group of people that are unchurched, nones, "spiritual but not religious", etc, etc. so being vague won't actually make you stand out at all, they'll likely assume you're one of those people. and there are a lot of people that stop going to church, but still consider themselves christian. whomever is asking you, probably knows a number of people in that category.

      mentioning you used to be religious, that you're now an atheist, or anything that outright challenges their beliefs, etc etc, is what opens the can of worms i'd expect. confirmation bias means they'll assume you're pretty much like them unless determined otherwise.

      people also ask about your job, not because they care, but because they feel the need to put you in some sort of socioeconomic box to know how to treat you.

      i pay no attention to sports, and people often ask me something like "who are you rooting for", and i say "for what", and they say, "the superbowl", and i reply "oh, who's playing?" that usually gets me funnier looks than anything else.

      but all this is really just phatic communication. just social cues with no other meaning that determining if you're in their tribe or not, or welcoming you into their tribe.

      so statements about the weather, about winning sports teams, about where you're from, about current events, are usually just a "hi, i see you there, and you look like you're in my tribe. are you?" no more meaning than that. just give the secret handshake, and move on to the next topic.

      so if you're in seattle, you say "how about them seahawks?", and if you're in chicago, you say "how about the bears?" etc. "hot enough for ya?", "yeah, it's a scorcher!"

      so just answer the religion question vaguely, and move on to the next phatic question -- the weather, sports teams, etc.

      or, as dagoods mentions, ask them about themselves. most people love talking about themselves (usually more than other people like listening to them!)

      Delete
  13. Gary, this is Zoe. I emailed Bruce Oct. 17th. I haven't heard back yet. As you know Bruce has some serious health issues. He may not be able to respond at this time. I'll let you know here if you prefer when/if I hear from him. I know he would be so grateful to hear you asked about him.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, please let me know how he is doing and please tell him "hi", that I am thinking of him, and thank him again for helping me to see "the light" of Truth.

      Delete
    2. I have heard back from him Gary. As I mentioned, there are health issues but he was able to enjoy and evening out with his wife for her birthday recently.

      He's had to make lifestyle changes that are difficult for him. Life does go on though. They are expecting another grandchild due this week. :-)

      I let him know via email this a.m. that you thank him for helping him to see the light.

      Thank you for caring Gary.

      Delete
  14. Kotales,

    It doesn’t really come up for me very much. I engage with people on so many differing topics, religion is just one of many. I always approach it non-committal. Look…I am a bombastic litigator who knows more than almost every single Christian I have ever discussed the topic with. Including Pastors and Teachers and Professors and Deacons, let alone the average Christian on the street. They are not prepared to have that type of discussion.

    So why engage in the first place? Better to distract, and let the conversation turn to other—more mutually beneficial—topics. A suggestion: People LOVE to talk about themselves. Especially a topic they brought up in the first place. Turn it to a question for them, and let them ramble on regarding the topic.

    Stranger: Where do you go to Church?
    Kotales: We are in the process of…what types of Churches are your favorite?

    Then keep asking THEM questions. They will think you a wonderful conversationalist (because you actually listen) and you don’t have to commit to anything.

    Stranger: Are you a Christian?
    Kotales: [sigh] That word hardly has any meaning anymore, in this day-and-age. What do you think “being a Christian” means?

    I am a master at turning conversations.

    If they get really pushy, tell them (without committing to any position) you have been reading some really interesting books recently and slowly work the conversation over to your new favorite podcast—“Serial.” You ARE listening to Serial, right? With the rest of America.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Dagood,

      Do you ever actively try to persuade theists to deconvert? If so, how do you do it?

      Maybe its just because I am new to finding the Truth (that religion is mostly superstitious nonsense and is often harmful to nonbelievers and society at large) and partly because I enjoy a good debate, but I feel that maybe if more of us would confront theists, we would speed up the decline of superstitious religious domination of our culture. We don't have to be asses about it, but we can speak out.

      If we all just sit on our own websites and chat among ourselves, the "Good News" is not going to get out. How often does a theist actively search for opposing views to his "inerrant" belief system?

      What do you and your readers think?

      Delete
  15. Gary,

    When I deconverted, I was ecstatic to share my new-found information with those about me. I tried to share it with my family. They didn’t want to hear it. Tried to share it with long-time Christian friends. They ran away. Tried to share it at “Skeptic’s Night” and with pastors, and with…well… you name it. I was politely told to go away.

    Humans desire comfort. We turn up the heat when we are cold; we eat when we are hungry. Having one’s personal beliefs confronted in an aggressive manner is not comfortable. No wonder they wanted nothing to do with me. Who can blame them?

    After hanging out with the infidels, I found on-line debate to be boring when there are 20 non-believers to every believer. So I sought out Christianityforums.com. (Long since gone.) And off to the debate. But soon I tired from that, as well. It was the same thing over and over and over. Same arguments on both sides. Looked for something fresh.

    Wandered to another forum called XnForums. Ah…the memories were good there. Met my longest on-line friend, secularwings. (Although she will always, ALWAYS be the moniker from XnForums in my mind. Always.)

    Posted on debunkingchristianity for a bit. I have fought, scraped and posted on many Christian forums, blogs and articles.

    But now, I am done. A few posts once and awhile. Can’t help but rile up Frank Turek, given the chance. You are more than welcome to take up the challenge to talk to Christians. I encourage you to do so. I have been involved or facilitated a few deconversions…let the others take up the challenge.

    I find other things far more interesting.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I was told by another more "seasoned" ex-Christian that it will take me eight years to get this desire to "evangelize for Truth" out of my system. My wife hopes it is a lot sooner! She isn't really religious but she gets tired of my "Wow, Honey. Look at this fact that proves Christianity false." She doesn't want me to return to my former religiosity, but she is tired of hearing my new found belief system.

      I see what you mean about debating Christians. You do hit the same arguments every time. I will bet that the Internet will finish off fundamentalist religions within a generation. I hope so at least.

      Delete
  16. Zoe responds: OMG he remembers! *grin*

    DagoodS wrote: "Wandered to another forum called XnForums. Ah…the memories were good there. Met my longest on-line friend, secularwings. (Although she will always, ALWAYS be the moniker from XnForums in my mind. Always.)"

    Zoe humbly responds: Xnforums . . . how I long for the good ol' days. ;-) For those who don't know, secular wings = Zoe. And Zoe use to = NinjaBoo. My fav moniker as well. Boo after the little girl in Monsters Inc.
    Ninja, self explanatory. LOL! But, I have lost a lot of the Ninja outwardly. Do not fear though, if called upon she will rise again!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Geez...I'm sorry I missed all this!

      Delete
    2. Oh Ruth you would have loved it! We were a motley crew. I remember when DagoodS showed up. I was a regular by then and just nicely had stepped out into my post-Christian world. I had not announced it publicly on the forum until DagoodS posted about his doubts. I answered him and in the process "came out." I think I may have been the first to declare that I no longer believed openly. The rest is history. :-)

      Delete
  17. Kotales, just seeing your comment from Nov 1st now. Will answer it formally soon I hope. My initial recommendation (as per my experience now after 10 years post-Christianity) is similar to what DagoodS suggest. Politely and inquisitively turn the question(s) back on to them. I really like your comment though and would like to give it some more thought before responding.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Me again. Kotales, I wrote a long response to your questions and it is too long to include here in DagoodS comment section. I thought of posting it on my blog but would rather have your permission before doing so. Or, I could try to break it up in parts, 2 or 3 and post it here.

      If you see this let me know your preference.
      Thanks,
      Zoe

      Delete
    2. Hi Zoe, I don't mind your posting your response on your blog. Or here, whichever is easier. Thanks for writing it!

      Delete
  18. Okay, I clicked on a bunch of "reply" buttons and nothing happened, so I'm not sure where this comment is going to show up. The different levels of reply are kind of confusing for a newbie. Anyway, thanks everyone for all your comments. DagoodS, you are so uncannily like my husband! He is a master of masters at turning conversations. He's so slick it took years before I could notice him doing it with people. I, on the other hand, am a tongue-tied introvert who always seems to put my foot in my mouth. When nervous I tend to blurt out too much information. I've been told I'm "too honest." I've tried turning conversations using my husband's technique, but it just doesn't work for me. However, you did help me realize that when asked a simple question about church, I don't need to go into every detail of what led up to my not going. Like sgl said, I can just say "No, I don't attend. Where do you go?" That I think I can handle! And once I get them talking, I really am a good listener.

    But after you get to be friends with someone, it's kind of different, isn't it? You can't keep avoiding the subject forever.

    sgl, I'm with you on the sports thing. I lived in one large city for 16 years, and when someone mentioned one of the city's teams, my usual response was "Are they baseball or football?" I literally could not remember, because I cared so little.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Kotales,

    I posted it here

    https://secularwings.wordpress.com/2014/11/04/answering-questions-on-dagoods-blog/

    That won't be a direct link but click on my user name secular wings and it will take you to my blog. :-)

    ReplyDelete
  20. NinjaBoo—we WERE a motley crew, weren’t we? *grin*. Curious whether I could go back in time and review some history, I found a few archived threads. Just reading some of the names brought a huge grin. Wonder where some of those folks are now. (Because I just know some lurkers will review a few of these, I used the moniker “Ham on Rye.” )

    http://web.archive.org/web/20060116224903/http://www.xnforums.com/cgi-bin/ultimatebb.cgi?ubb=get_topic;f=17;t=002128

    http://web.archive.org/web/20060116211857/http://www.xnforums.com/cgi-bin/ultimatebb.cgi?ubb=get_topic;f=17;t=002111

    http://web.archive.org/web/20060302172932/http://www.xnforums.com/ubb/ultimatebb.php?ubb=get_topic;f=21;t=000246

    http://web.archive.org/web/20060308192831/http://www.xnforums.com/ubb/ultimatebb.php?ubb=get_topic;f=21;t=000230

    http://web.archive.org/web/20060308193118/http://www.xnforums.com/ubb/ultimatebb.php?ubb=get_topic;f=21;t=000208;p=1


    Truly miss pie. (If nothing else, read the third thread where Prophetess Glynis Bethel alternatively damns me to hell AND begs me to represent her. Remember when she called me “Satan’s Semen”? Bwahahaha.)

    ReplyDelete
  21. Ok, I had to have a lurk at those. Surely the Prophetess was a Poe! Surely.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Ruth,

    Nope. Real deal. Just Google “Prophetess Glynis Bethel.” A fun story is how her husband (Orlando Bethel) caused a riot at his Uncle’s Funeral when Orlando insisted on giving a Eulogy about how the uncle was a fornicator and a drunkard and currently burning hell, just like the rest of the funeral participants would be doing some day.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ha! And, DagoodS, my goodness! You didn't even get 'spawn of Satan'. You're the semen....

      Hahahahahaha!

      Delete
  23. Seriously? Who knew those archives were still out there? I even saw one from *The Basement* later renamed *The Red Zone.*

    As I read my former posts I think, "Who is that women?" :-)

    Wow. I too wonder how they all are doing. That one thread was from Aug. 2001. That's the month & year I joined!

    Good memories.

    ReplyDelete
  24. Hi everyone,

    I wanted to check out those old threads but I am having trouble accessing them. Do you have to be a member of the site?

    Hey Dagood,

    Could you refer me to a good article on how to rebut Christians who try to tell you that morality depends on the existence of God?

    Thanks!

    Gary

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Gary, they are archived from years ago. It's no longer active and I would not think membership would matter at all. I did note that when I pasted the url into the address bar there was a bit of a wait before the window opened up. Other than that I'm not sure about access. It seems Ruth got in.

      Delete
    2. She did, indeed. It did take a minute for the window to open, but I didn't need a login or anything.

      Delete
  25. Dagood,

    I have tried to connect to these links that you left above, but for some reason I cannot connect to them.

    Would you consider copying and pasting the conversation on the skeptics' forum in which you first said to yourself, "Wait a second. Something's wrong here with my inerrant belief system" and then the final conversation in which you realized that you no longer believed the Christian story.

    I would find it very educational and I would be that a lot of your other readers would also enjoy reading it.

    Thanks,

    Gary

    ReplyDelete
  26. Hi Dagood,

    Over the last year and a half I have watched as your blog has remained silent, wondering why you lost interest in it. I now think I understand.

    You no longer need to confirm to YOURSELF that Christianity is false.

    I have been furiously debating conservative Christians regarding the non-reality of the Christian supernatural claims ever since my deconversion in June, 2014, most recently on Theology Web, debating apologist Nick Peters. I have come to the conclusion that no amount of reason, common sense, and even evidence will change a conservative Christian's view of the Bible and his supernatural belief system. It is a futile effort. He or she is never going to see the truth until they decide that knowing the truth is more important than their cherished faith. Very few of them are willing to make that choice.

    I am now fully convinced of the falsity of Christianity. My debates with Christians may have never changed the mind of a single one of them, but my debates with Christians have convinced ME. And I guess I should be satisfied with that.

    Thanks again for your help in the past.

    Peace and happiness,

    Gary

    ReplyDelete
  27. "2. The learning. One of the first debates in a long, long time, where I actually learned something. And not just something—a whole lot of something! I had never heard the arguments regarding Direct Speech in Luke/Acts. I had not heard the Essenes and the Qumran Community predicted the Temple fall (although I am aware they desired it, or at least the then-current Temple leadership). I like that Dr. Evans emphasized the fire of the Temple not being mentioned. (more on this in a minute.)"

    hello Dagoods

    but you didn't inform about the fire
    in this post

    https://adversusapologetica.wordpress.com/2016/02/17/radio-debate-tomorrow-on-the-dating-of-the-gospels/

    ReplyDelete