On today’s episode I am finally getting the opportunity to discuss the topic I am most interested in: Humanism or what I call Secular Grace. It is ultimately about answering the question, “how do we live life well post deconversion?” Rather than looking backwards, it is looking forward to learning to thrive as a human being.
My guest today is Jim Palmer. Jim is an ordained minister, receiving his Master of Divinity degree from Trinity Divinity School in Chicago. After serving several years as the Senior Pastor of a non-denominational church, Jim left professional ministerial life on a quest for more authentic spirituality and has authored five books about his journey. In addition to writing, speaking and his spiritual direction practice, Jim is an adjunct professor in the areas of Ethics and Comparative Religion. He is the Co-Founder of the Nashville Humanist Association and is a certified Humanist Chaplain with the American Humanist Association.
- Jim’s Website http://www.jimpalmerauthor.com/
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- Jim’s LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/jimpalmerauthor
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Human beings having a human experience quote:
The Humanist Society
“Waves” track written and produced by Makaih Beats
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NOTE: This transcript is AI produced (otter.ai) and likely has many mistakes. It is provided as rough guide to the audio conversation.
David Ames 0:11 This is the graceful atheist podcast. Welcome, welcome. Welcome. My name is David and I am trying to be the graceful atheist. I'm excited about today's episode, as I'm finally getting the opportunity to discuss the topic I'm most interested in, and that is humanism, or what I call secular grace. It is ultimately about answering the question, how do we live life well post deconversion. Rather than looking backward, it is looking forward to learning to thrive as a human being. Today's guest is Jim Palmer. Jim is an ordained minister receiving his master of divinity degree from Trinity Divinity School in Chicago. After serving several years as the senior pastor of a non denominational church. Jim left professional ministerial life on a quest for more authentic spirituality. And He has authored five books about this journey. In addition to writing speaking and his spiritual direction practice. Jim is an adjunct professor in the areas of ethics and comparative religion. He's the co founder of the Nashville Humanist Association, and is a certified humanist chaplain with the American Humanist Association. Jim's first five books chronicle his deconstruction and a search for an authentic spirituality. As I mentioned in the show, Jim is a humanist who's written an awful lot about Jesus. He's currently completing his sixth book, which will have a more secular humanist perspective. I'll have links in the show notes for Jim's online presence and his books. Jim has a way with words. Let me give you a couple of quotes from his perspective. Quote, many people tend to equate morality, ethics, spirituality, goodness, with religion or belief in God, while a humanist sees these as innate and inherent human characteristics and interests, and quote, quote, whereas atheism is more of a position, disbelief in the existence of God or gods, humanism is more of a practice living a meaningful, ethical, responsible, altruistic, spiritual life. My conversation with Jim is wide ranging and seems to cover a number of different topics. I have a plan going into these interviews, but I like to have that conversation unfold naturally. And that takes place here, as Jim and I think, really make a connection with one another. My only disappointment is that we did not get have more time to get into the history and philosophy of humanism. Maybe Jim will be willing to come back a second time. A couple of notes, Jim's mic was clipping a little bit. I haven't been able to completely fix that. So I apologize for the audio quality. And lastly, you might hear my dog jasmine in the background bark at one point. And ironically, that turned out to be Jehovah's Witnesses at my door. So irony wins the day. With that, give you Jim Palmer. Jim Palmer, welcome to the graceful atheist podcast. Jim Palmer 3:09 Hey, David. Really looking forward to our chat today. David Ames 3:13 Yeah, fantastic. I you know, I've spent the last few days kind of going through your blog, and I think you have a really, really fascinating story. I'd like to get into that. And in fact, you know, the podcast is often about the people that are that are experiencing doubt or deconstructing their faith or, or D converting entirely. And, and so the focus I like to focus on is is faith transitions. And and oh, boy, does it sound like you went through a few of those. So I'd like to start with Can you just tell us about what you know where you came from religiously, spiritually, and, and where you are now and how you got to where you are now. Jim Palmer 3:53 Okay, well rewind the story of my life to freshmen in college after growing up in a really traumatic, difficult volatile childhood and youth that went off to college. And in college in the Student Union Center. One day I happened to run into a guy who was a campus director of Campus Crusade for Christ. And I was not particularly religious person I grew up loosely Catholic. My mother was an alcoholic. My father left our family when I was young. But every now and then I went to Catholic mass until I had a choice not to go and quit because I just never saw really the relevance of, of God and church for my life. But I went off to college, I met this individual, the Campus Crusade for Christ director, we became friends, and I made the decision to become a Christian. I saw it as a possible way of finding meaning and purpose in my life, maybe healing from some of the chaos of my early childhood and got very involved in that organization. And that's kind of where it all started, I became a student, the student president of our campus ministry, I went overseas and did summer projects with Campus Crusade for Christ. I almost went on staff with the organization after graduating from college. But a gentleman moved into our college town and started a church and I got involved in that. And he the pastor, the guy who started the church, encouraged me to go to seminary, I went to seminary and moved to Chicago got an M div at Trinity Divinity School, while I was at, you know, one preaching awards, and I discovered along the way that I had some speaking and leadership gifts. And so I got all this affirmation and continue down this track. So I graduated from seminary. And while actually, before I actually graduated, I accepted a position as a pastor on what at the time was the largest Christian Church in North America. It was in the suburbs of Chicago. And that's where I got my hands on ministerial training, and then eventually left my position there to start and lead a non denominational Christian church in the Nashville area, which I did for several years, until I had my own crisis of faith. David Ames 6:20 Right. Like, I like that I like that word crisis of faith. That's, that rings a bell at it. Yeah, go ahead. Jim Palmer 6:28 The crisis of faith. For me this had to do with the cognitive dissonance that resulted from week after week, month after month, year after year teaching and preaching, outstanding bulletproof evangelical theology. And yet, noticing that the problems of people's lives, persistent unhappiness, depression, broken relationships, and other kinds of, you know, wounds and people's lives going on healed and a lot of brokenness and hurt and suffering in some David Ames 7:12 events by the church. Right? Well, ladies, Jim Palmer 7:17 for sure, it took me a while to realize that I was complicit in some of that suffering, or at least the inability to deal with it effectively. So I then took a look at my step back and looked at my own life. And it was also true in my own personal life, despite all that good theology and upstanding biblical teaching, there was brokenness, lack of peace and joy, and then inner suffering in my own life. So Right. to kind of make good all right long story shorter, I decided at that point that I wanted to leave my ministerial career and try to figure out what if any of this I still truly believed and wanted to hold on in my in my life. And so I resigned my position in the church. And at that point, made a break with my my Christian background, my Christian tradition. Okay. That's what I started writing. I started blogging a little bit about my journey out of religion and a publishing house contacted me, you person and editor at a publishing house, have read my blog and said, Have you ever thought about maybe writing a little bit of your story about leaving ministry and faith and what you discovered and so on and so forth? And then that's kind of what got it started in terms of me writing a little bit more about my journey. David Ames 8:39 Okay. Do you think that it that there are more of us who were in ministry, who have since you know, found that it lacking in some way or another it seems to me like you just can't shake a stick without bumping into people who were, you know, pastors or preachers or missionaries or what have you? Is there something special about that? Is there something special about getting an MDF like yourself, that leads to deciding that it it's maybe not all true? Jim Palmer 9:11 Well, there are after I wrote the first book, divine Nobodies, I was really one of the the biggest surprises were how many people contacted me who were actually still in ministry could identify with my own misgivings with what was happening within the church and in my my role in it and so on. And in a lot of us, we would say, Jim, I'm with you. But if I if I said any of this stuff, in my actual church, I would be fire I would be let go of it. And, and then later, I ended up speaking at an event and became a member of something called the clergy project. I don't know if you've ever heard of it. David Ames 9:52 Yes. And in fact, that's has come up on the show a few times. I very much a distance supporter of it. it, I've never felt quite like I, you know, meet all the criteria to get in I was I was youth pastor for like two years very briefly and moved on, you know, and then D converted, you know, like 20 years later. So it just, you know, although I very much feel sympathetic, and I think they do great work. So yeah, tell tell us, please tell us about Well, Jim Palmer 10:22 well, the clergy project is basically an online community, a private online community, for people who are currently in ministry, they hold a professional ministerial position, that have come to the point where they no longer hold on to the beliefs that they are responsible to represent as a clergyman in their church or their denomination, or their religious community, and the challenges and struggles of when that happens, and the transition out and things like that. And I do a lot of individual work, a lot of spiritual direction and personal development, coaching and so on with people who have been in ministry and left and then they kind of had to start over. Yeah, with what, what they want to do in life. You know, there's a lot of people out there with him. divs. Exactly. And, you know, Hey, okay, now what, you know, yeah. To answer your specific question about I don't know, I think, though, is that when it seems to me that a person with an M div, you know, they have, they've constructed a theological belief system that works for them, and what they're wanting to do with it, in life and in their career. But I think that what I've seen is, as they continue on in life, and they start to experience their own suffering, maybe they go through a divorce, maybe they have a tragic loss, you know, and so, everything that sounded right, when they were in seminary and seemed right, when they were teaching it as a, as a pastor or a church leader, the reality of life sometimes then, can can be what disrupts their confidence in the answers that they were were given. And in most seminaries, you know, theology isn't exactly generally an open minded pursuit of truth, right, you know, it's at least theology is usually has to do more with conduct, you know, developing your, your, your basis and your defense have an already determined position that you have. And when life starts poking holes, in that, you know, that belief system, yeah, and I, you know, I, when I, one of the things I did after ministry was I did some human rights work and traveled the world working cases of forced child prostitution and child slave labor, and those experiences definitely challenged, you know, a lot of my deeper theological beliefs about you know, God, the existence of God, in a whole slew of doctrines related to the existence of God David Ames 13:38 is, you know, I don't know about your experience, but you know, if you travel especially, and you meet people from different cultures, with different religious cultural backgrounds, the the doctrine, the idea of this is the one and only way is maybe the first thing that goes away that you lose, right? So it seems to me that many of us, on this side of faith have, you know, took on universalism as a kind of a stepping stone. Before we before we maybe had a final faith transition. Is that was that the case for you? Jim Palmer 14:12 Well, I think you're right, that whatever religious tradition a person has, generally, they're kind of born into it, you know, it's not rocket science. If you know, you're you're born in Tennessee, the the likelihood of you being a nominal cultural Christian is very high. If you're born in India, you're born in the Middle East, you know, so it's not like we choose we kind of almost far culture determines for the most part, our initial belief, belief system. And so I think for for myself, I went through a phase is, for lack of better, you know, interfaith the interfaith phase. Yeah, David Ames 15:05 yeah. Yeah, Jim Palmer 15:07 yeah, I did a lot of interfaith work in the city, I have a friend who's an imam at the Islamic Center in Nashville. I kind of reached across a lot of different religious traditions, friends with some of the leaders at the behind temple, here in Nashville. So I know I've spoken at times that the Universalist that you Unitarian Universalist Church here in our city, I know the woman who's the head minister there, she's very sharp individual and and so I went through some involvement in in that respect the interfaith but I didn't, I didn't really stay there. But there's a lot of, there's a lot of positive things that could be said, for people who take more of an inner faith approach to religion in the world, right? I mean, we can all be divided and hate each other and kill each other because we're represent different religious traditions, or we can try to identify the common denominators that we all agree on and try to create a world where we can coexist with peace, harmony and some constructive relationship, you know, David Ames 16:24 right, right. And today, would you refer to yourself as a humanist? Jim Palmer 16:29 I would add, and I think that, that what compels me about the idea of humanism, is that it, it identifies both the solutions, the problems and the solutions that we experience in our world, as human ones, and, and on the merits of being a human being with the skills, tools, capacities and abilities that we have, that that we're capable of creating a world that works for everyone. And it doesn't necessitate a, a any belief in God or divine intervention or supernatural means by which to achieve that, you know, and that's one of the things that I really see a lot with the damaging impact of religion is sometimes had in people's lives is that there's a tremendous diminishment of a love of prayer, human beings, natural skills and tools and abilities to live in ethical, meaningful, fulfilling, compassionate, productive life, you know, yeah. David Ames 17:53 I think you just just recently tweeted the UN, I'm probably going to have you quoted, but you know, we are humans having a human experience, not, you know, not spiritual beings having a human experience, right. Talk to me about that. What does that mean to you know, our, Jim Palmer 18:09 you know, there's these things that are, that are these phrases and axioms and so on, that are so common, and one of them is is that we're spiritual beings having a human experience, spiritual beings having a human experience, you know, and I think part of the idea is that the really, the, the, the extraordinary part of that, really, is that we're a spiritual being. Like, that's really the most important thing and you know, we happen to be having a human experience. And even if you reverse it around and say, Well, I'm a human being having a spiritual experience. I guess my point is that why have we even delineated, humaneness and spirituality is some twos Thea, you know, separate, and exclusive categories. So well, what about I'm just a human being having a human experience. And the human experience includes things like the experience of love, the expression of compassion, that living a life of meaning, being a person of virtue, experiencing the awe and wonder of a remarkable universe, filling yourself connected to all of life and in a deeply rich way, you know why? That's what it means to be a human being. So I don't think we need the added piece of either the supernatural. I mean, I get that usually in the general definition of spiritualism, it's the non material. So and I get that, but I think that sometimes the impact of religion here has to to deeply divided the sacred and the secular and divided up the world in this way. You know, the spiritual stuff? Yeah, the sacred spiritual stuff is you go to church, you you read scriptures, you participate in religious practices, and that this is really this spiritual and sacred stuff. And the secular things are like everything else. David Ames 20:15 Right, right. Yeah. So you know, I. So again, one of the other reasons for the podcast is for me to get, get some education and become a little less ignorant. And I, you know, I think you've been doing this a while, you've got a lot of experience, you've written several books. One of the hardest things for me post deconversion, which happened in around 2015, for me, is just the language. So, you know, I think that it's a human need for, let's say, quote, unquote, spirituality. But that word spirituality is so misleading, right? And that words like Soul, and I can't think but, you know, these ideas that are that religion has tried to own for so long. And then we find ourselves with a more naturalistic perspective, let's say, you know, so how do you do you? Are you comfortable using those words? Do you redefine them some way? How do you how do you handle that? Jim Palmer 21:18 I think that you're right, that language is a real challenge. When it comes to religion, spirituality, anything that's somewhat abstract, because thinking, you know, basically, human language is a social technology that we created in order to cooperate and function to function effectively together as a species. Yeah, so it works really well, if I refer to this thing I'm here I'm holding in my hand right now is a coffee cup, because I can say that this is a cup, and roughly anybody that hears that word, although they're going to envision a different kind of cup, we're, like, we basically know what we're talking about a cup or a chair or a table, but when you start using language, to describe more abstract things, is when it really becomes a bit problematic. Let me just take the word God. Yeah, you know, basically, there's one way you could look at it, which is to say, basically, God is a word, God is a word, it is mainly Gristick marker that we all agreed was going to indicate a an ultimate reality, that is beyond comprehension, and understanding, like, we're going to use the word God to refer to that thing. That is that falls into that category. And the problem is, to some extent, is it even though that, so we say that the word God is a marker in language to refer to an ultimate reality we can't really comprehend. But then people run in and they start defining what it is, you know, I mean, in a way, that doesn't make sense. You can ask any person, really religious person, tell me about God. And one of the first things you're gonna say, Well, you know, God is infinite. He's unfathomable. The human mind can't comprehend the magnitude of God, you know, the highest mind cannot. And yet, then we run out. And we create a theology and doctrine and creeds defining exactly what God is, you know, so. So it's, that's why I don't, I'm not particularly fond of the word God. And I'm not really fond of most spiritual religious language, because I've just learned that people already got a predetermined definition and an understanding. So what makes it more difficult is did I try to be more descriptive of the thing I'm trying to talk about without slapping like these religious words on it? David Ames 23:56 Right. Right. Right. And I that's what I think the term God is the most dangerous term in existence, right? Because almost literally, every single person as they hear that word has a different conception, even within the same faith tradition of what it actually means. And so it's, it's the most misleading term that we can use. It is that then the Jim Palmer 24:21 other terms we try to plug into it aren't all that great in the end there because even if we decide we're going to call God universe or source or all these things we come up with, you know, like, I think that the mind can't be trick it still knows you're talking about. It's, it's whatever one word we find to plug into. It's not perfect, because it's hard to get away from the conception that this thing that we're referring to is something that is transcendently separate and different from what I am. And so whenever we refer in to try to refer to something that's describing a transcendent reality, the words kind of evoked this idea of separation. I mean, because if I call something source, you know, like, okay, it's the Okay, then it's the source and I, unless I'm gonna call myself the source, if I'm calling the ultimate reality thing to source, then it's still somehow different or separated from who I am. David Ames 25:35 Okay, and so do you have? So I hear you that you don't use that term, but do you have a, a, I just want to be clear where we're at? Like, do you have a conception of God that you do accept, like, an idea like you throw the term source around us? Or is there something that you do identify as, as external to yourself in some way? Jim Palmer 26:01 Well, it with respect to God, you know, if you run through all the options, Okay, number one theism, okay, that's one option, you know, which I don't subscribe to. There's other options like deism pantheism pantheism. I mean, there's, there's a lot of different you know, God is everything or God is in everything or God, you know, there's the kind of just becomes over the spectrum of definitions or conceptions about God, you know, there are a whole lot of, of different options that one can choose from, I'm not really a fan of deism either because it's basically, okay, there is a God and that God is the first cause. And then he kind of stepped away whatever happens happens currently, right? So, I think that the reason why I was compelled by humanism is a humanist perspective doesn't really need or require any, you know, a, a, a definition or an interpretation to somehow squeeze something like a god into the picture. Unknown Speaker 27:20 Right? You know, Jim Palmer 27:21 like in the humanism approach, is that light, the meaning and the fullness of life doesn't necessitate the supernatural, the divine or a belief in God. Okay. So that's why I don't do okay. Now, but if you were to, but that's a little different from saying, if you were to ask, okay, I think William James has a very loose definition of religion. When one spot is talking about that, you know, to kind of paraphrase, there is a non material, transcendent reality or mystery that seems to be at the heart of things, and I don't know what it is or what to call it, but I find that when I align myself with that thing that I find, you know, harmony and we'll be David Ames 28:11 okay, okay. Jim Palmer 28:12 Okay. So then the question would be, well, what, what thing are you talking about? Exactly? Well, you know, this comes back to, I think, the perspective of humanism, which is that, why why can't that thing be? Your, your ability to, to make your own meaning in life? Why isn't why isn't that thing, the embracing and practice of virtue? Why isn't that that thing, the ability to appreciate the non material aspects of life, love, beauty, well, being peace, compassion, solidarity, you know, these are all non material Abraham Maslow talked about that self actualization was on the top of his hierarchy of needs, and talked about peak moments and peak human experiences and the full actualization of your human possibilities and potentialities, I view all this as being an aspect of the human journey, the human experience. David Ames 29:20 Exactly. You know, I so, I think that religion and you know, Christianity in particular has a kind of a negative view on it, you know, if you're a Calvinist it's a total depravity concept but like, you know, a negative view of of humanity and so when we come out of religion sometimes I think carry that with us and I'm one of the things I I personally appreciate about humanism is saying that this human experience my my connecting with you right now, this conversation that we're having, and we're recognizing and one another similar experiences and recognizing the humanity in one another, that is approved found deep and meaningful experience. That's the human experience and that my love for my family and my love for my friends that the or that I feel when I when I, you know, go hiking in the woods, all of those things are part of nature and and ourselves as human beings and that we don't need to make reference outside of that. So that's the way I think. Jim Palmer 30:25 Yeah, I think that you're, you really put your finger on something that too often religion ends up disparaging the, the inherent value and worth of the human being, you know, so Okay, so there's a doctrine of original sin, right, that you're actually born into this world as someone with a sin nature, okay, so that's strike one, then you have people that you know, there's there's no all kinds of Biblical verses, it can be, you know, used to perpetuate a view of the of the weakness and the frailty of the human being you know, I'm How many times have I heard, the I am weak and he is strong, you know, the, that I'm not really capable within myself, to guide and lead my life forward in meaningful, you know, ethical fulfilling ways, you know, this is where, where God comes in, you know, or the, or the misused verse about how the heart is wickedly. deceitful, is is a verse, that's all the so I do see a lot of people who come out of religion who have are very underdeveloped. They've not developed the the human tools that are available to them, that they naturally have to create a life of meaning and purpose and fulfillment, and they have all kinds of self sabotage Oriole thoughts. And so a lot of times, I will, in some of the work I do with people that mean, you know, religion stirs people up on how they need to have a good relationship with God. I think when you're transitioning out of religion, the focus becomes how to cultivate a, a meaningful relationship with your self. Okay. self confidence, self reliance, self awareness, self acceptance, self love, I mean, there's all kinds of ways you have to pretty much start over in terms of how you relate to yourself, self trust. So I see that a lot, you know, when people are kind of going going through that phase, otherwise, you know, because you can easily switch your dependency on one thing to another, you know, without ever learning what's available to you purely on a human as a human being. David Ames 33:14 Right? So we've touched on it briefly here, but you you kind of do coaching for people that maybe have come out of religion with some religious trauma, let's say, How would you describe that? Like, you know, what are the some of the key things that you often have to talk people through? Jim Palmer 33:31 There's a definitely a, a spectrum. I do spiritual counseling with people who have been damaged or traumatized to their experience in religion, and there's a range of that the clinical term RTS, or religious trauma syndrome is the phrase that's been used more and more in clinical terms in terms of dressing people that have been psychologically and emotionally and spiritually damage to their involvement, you know, in religion, and I think that there is of course, there's toxic religious indoctrination. And we've talked about that a little bit already. The way a very shame and fear based approach to life is sometimes the way religion derails a human being. And it's very difficult to to get past that a, you know, like a lot of people that are have have kind of left their religious involvements, they still carry that fear, well, what if I'm wrong? What if when they have the wrong one, and so the shame and fear are two of the most damaging things that happen in people's lives who had that kind of religious experience? shame me Being that there's something incurably wrong with me. And, and fear is that that I always need to be afraid of what could happen. And so that when a person, when a person changes there, when they leave their religious beliefs, and they start deconstructing, and they leave churches, it destabilizes everything. For a lot of people. First, the D and D stabilizes your identity, right? Because a lot of a person's identity often is based on their religious belief system, their social network, was revolved around their religious subculture, their religious belief system, their closest relationship, marriage friendships, revolved around their religious belief system, all their answers to the big important existential questions, why am I here? Where am I going, what happens when I die? All that had nice answers attached to them. So once you, you know, start sailing away from that, then it's all destabilize. So it can be such a volume, it can be volatile, you know, marriage is what I do with my kids now, you know, the existential dread. And all of that kind of gets you loneliness for people who don't know who to talk to. And, and so it's something that is very volatile and difficult to work through, but you can, and there are steps to doing it, and you don't have to do it by yourself. And it's not gonna all happen at once. And, but it happens every day, you know, people work through it. David Ames 36:49 Yeah. Man, yeah, I totally recognize recognize a lot of the things you've just described. But you know, the, or the just lost what you felt was your beauty or your best friend, your closest confidant, you know, this, this internal thing that was, you know, gave you an entire sense of being and purpose and, and, and, you know, comfort. And all of a sudden, you no longer think that that is something external. And at the same time, if you if you talk about this fact, you're going to lose, you know, the community around you possibly even friends and family, depending on how bad things are. So, yeah, I think, Jim Palmer 37:29 well, and it just takes a while. I mean, eventually you realize that there actually are a lot of people that are right, where you're at who can appreciate and accept you where you're at, you know, it's the whole world isn't your, your previous Christian religious subculture, but it takes a while to start establishing new connections with other people. Like, for example, a lot of times when people were in this phase, I might encourage them to to Okay, look and see what meetup groups are in your city. Yeah, yes. Because a meetup group, you know, I mean, there are secular humanists, atheists, you know, agnostic, non spirit, I mean, there are a lot of groups that you can check out, to start maybe getting connected with people who are fine with where you're at, they're not gonna have a problem with what you believe or don't believe about God. The other thing too, though, is that I think that we are a little bit perhaps a victim of Western civilization who is insistent upon working everything out conceptually in our mind. So a lot of people will go through this incessant can, you know, I need a new and improved version of God, I need a new and improved version of this and they just roll it over in their mind and they're like, you know, the mind is a concept generating machine. And yeah, you know, I remember out of your saw the movie Forrest Gump, but there's that scene where he's run and run and run. And then finally, he just gets to this point where it's like, Okay, I'm done. David Ames 39:01 I'm done running. I, you know, I just want to bring up I read your blog, it sounds like you're a runner, I'm a runner as well, I find, I find so much of, you know, I don't know, just quiet time when I'm running. And I feel so much better after I do that. And so every time I see Forrest Gump, and he says, I just felt like running, I start, I start weeping, because that means something so deep to me, and that the grief that he was experiencing, and that and that, you know, running gave him some peace for that. Yeah. Jim Palmer 39:40 Yeah, I learned there times when I mean for me, so basically, I use that analogy to say, I came to a time where I was like conceptualizing, conceptualizing working over my mind. What's the new belief? What's the new thing to plug in? And then finally, which is like, I'm done. I can't do this anymore. I'm tired. Yeah, this constant you know, like And isn't necessarily like how much of this, you know, is just helping me love people more? Is this connecting me into the present moment? Is this allowing me to enjoy the world that I live in? Is this actually improving and bettering my life? Like who says I have to figure it out and come up with a nice, detailed belief system about something, you know? And I've read about this in one of my books, okay, like, if I go enjoy the sunset, am I is the experience of the sunset going to be heightened if I can explain it, or if I can develop a sunset theology? about it, it's not in fact, it's probably going to, but so I think that outside of religion, I found a lot of fulfillment and very human things. One of them was running, you know, I started marathons and ultra marathons along as one of runs on in 35 miles. I started in the art, I realized that I really enjoyed abstract art. Yeah. And enjoy being outside in nature and in and so I know that for a lot of people, because religion determined what they could or couldn't, couldn't do what they should or shouldn't, like, they don't even you know, like, when I in my life after religion course, one of the modules, I give the person a whole list of questions to help them determine, you know, what spirituality means for them. But the question is, like, what, what brings you joy, what centers you in yourself? What makes you come alive? And a whole slew of questions that are just, you know, designed, they're simple and practical questions, not these big, theological, right, or existential ones, it's the same thing with the meaning of life where you know, it. If I were to say that life is meaningless, some people would be get a bit upset and think that that's really dark. And it's hopeless, and it's not realistic and all this stuff. But, but the other way to look at that is that that's really entirely hopeful and inspiring, because what it means is that you have the freedom to cultivate the meaning that matters to you, you can determine what matters most to you in life, and then you can cultivate a life that reflects that, you know, there's not like someone telling you, it has to be this. Right? So saying that there's a meaningless life is meaningless. It's not saying that there's no meaning. It's just saying that you're the one who has the opportunity to create, determine and cultivate it, as opposed to religion telling you what it's supposed to be. David Ames 42:44 Right. I like to say that the you know, the universe may be indifferent, that humanity is not right. We are the meaning makers, we make meaning. Jim Palmer 42:55 Yes, and, and so I think that the, it takes time to make that transition out of religion, I think sometimes, it's it's more practical, daily, simple things, and less, you know, this kind of gnashing of the brain to come up with better answers to the existential questions of our origin and what happens when you die. And, you know, I just read a book by Becker called The Denial of Death, Ernest Becker. And one of the things he says in his book is that the affinity whereas Freud, saw sexuality as sort of the the, the fundamental problem that leads to so much neuroses, Becker says, no, no, it's really the terror of death. And what that represents, you know, the finality of it, you know, the, the becoming, facing the creature leanness, of our, of our existence as human beings. And so I think that one of the reasons why people are very attached to religion is for example, religion, supplies, answers to the things that people are most fearful of, or the things that they want to build their security around. Yeah, David Ames 44:21 I've noticed lately I want to do an episode on grief. I plan on doing that, but the episode on grief, but even just our cultural touchstones, if you look at Netflix, and just count the number of movies that are about seeing a loved one after death in some way or another, right, somehow transcending that barrier of death. It's so much I feel like so much of religion is the psychological defense is a natural, normal human response to losing someone that you love so dearly that you can't fathom, not having them with you. Jim Palmer 45:00 Yes, I'd think that what I see though that sometimes there are ways that religion lead can lead a person off the hook from embracing life fully. You know, if, if the downside of having this sort of certainty of an afterlife, it's kind of like the backup plan, whatever happens in this life, it's you know, I mean, how many Christian people have you heard say that? Well, you know, even the Bible verse about how the your struggles now are minuscule compared to the reward in heaven and this kind of thing, right? You know. So who was it was in Marx that said, the Religion is the opium of the people, the basic idea was that the proletariat or the working man could experience in just conditions in the world. And they, they would be tolerant of it, because on Sunday morning, the preacher would woo them into these dreams of a future heaven. And there was a passivity that would come to set in, you know, like, why, why can find my conditions now, when I can expect to have a reward in the future, if I will just tolerate these a little, a little further is the same thing with apocalyptical kind of teaching, you know, if I, if I believe basically, it's all going to go up in flames, then like, what do I really need to be all that worried about the Earth at the climate David Ames 46:36 change? Jim Palmer 46:39 It's all going to, you know, go through a nuclear meltdown in the end and start over, David Ames 46:46 right? Yeah, no, I yeah, I think eschatology has really dangerous especially we're we're now seeing this in the United States political system, just the the kind of policy that gets generated based on some aspects illogical. Theology is terrible. Yeah. Hey, I do want to circle back just a little bit. So again, I think people that have gone through these faith transitions. First thing they do is they get online and they see just these terrible angry people. Yelling, yeah. So you know. So when I say 2015, I realized, man, I know that I no longer believe I don't, I don't believe what do I do now? Right. And so, you know, I started reading books, I started getting online. And really what I was looking for was community. But the first thing you see is everyone else going through the same kind of grief, anger phase that we all kind of go through, it's a real natural part to kind of lash out at our former faith. But what can we do as humanists to try to step into that gap? Right, so that the, the the baby not a theist, or however you want to describe them, but the, you know, early phases of that deconstruction deconversion that they can find, you know, a more positive community that's not just in that angry phase. Jim Palmer 48:17 Yeah, I remember that. I wrote a blog post. It's been it's a long time ago, but I reposted every now and then which was something like, the the five mistakes I made during, in my deconstructing of religion, and I, but I introduced it by saying that mistake is probably the wrong word, because a lot of this just going to happen, it's even a necessary part of the process. But you have to also, it's something there's more on the other side of it, you know, as opposed to getting getting stuck in it. And one of the things one of the mistakes that I made is that I shifted one fundamentalism to another right, you know, like I was a Christian fundamentalist from the standpoint that I had absolute certainty about a certain Christian theology that I that I would argue tooth and nail over and, and and in that sense, I was a fundamentalist, but then I just switched sides and became a fundamentalist in a different way, which was, you know, having my absolute certainty and superiority and my combativeness against religion. So, you can make, it can be a religion, religion can be a religion, whether you're for it or against it, you know, like you can make a religion out of either and so, the, which as you said, it makes complete sense, okay, if you take a lot of the cases of people that, that, that I've been I work with, if you gave 1020 3040 years of your life to religion, and it dominated everything in your life, and you discovered that not only is it Not true. But it basically determine your trajectory in life and all kinds of ways that you now see your harmful, you're going to be pissed. Yes, you know. And it's, and you're in for time, you're, you're, I mean, it's likely you're not going to see one shred of, you know, goodness that has anything to do with religion. And your your only thought is that I can only hope that religion will be totally eradicated from the face of the earth. And as much as I can help that happen, and I'm all in. And that's completely understandable, you know, during a phase of the deed of deconstruction, you know? But then, for me, I guess just my own path. I started discovering Well, there's a few things first, my particular experience of religion isn't the same as everybody else's. Okay, so that's number one. I mean, there are some people who actually have been part of some religious community or religious tradition that was more accepting or loving more, you know, less. So not everybody had my experience, it wasn't as bad or fundamentalist. So I mean, take, for example, if you had gone to a Unitarian Universalist Church, your own life, you know, like, that's a religious community, religious tradition, or religious experience, but it's not gonna be the same in terms of perhaps it's, so I realized that, then I had realized, well, and I'm also like, you know, basically believe in the freedom of religion, right? So I can't really go around and like, insist that religion be completely eradicated from the face of the earth, because if people want to follow religion, then that's their choice to do that. And where I would draw the line, and this, what I do is I tell people, I'm not against religion, I'm against the misuse of religion. Now, even though I don't practice religion, I don't come out and say, did no other human being can or should, but I would I do stand up and confront religion where I think that it's doing harm in the world. Right. So I think that the shift between, it's almost like, I think part of the goal is to no longer make religion your reference point, either for it or against it, find another reference point and, and to me, humanism provided that reference point, or it's one reference point that I mean, it states that it doesn't hold to a belief in the supernatural as a way of defining itself, but other than that, then it sets off on a more positive course, to live a meaningful and ethical, fulfilling, productive life, you know, and I think that sometimes, you don't want to you, it's not a good trade off. For you to switch from years and years and years of a bad religious experience. And then the whole next stage of your life is nothing more than just being angry about it. Like either way religions still guide you, you know, yeah. So, you know, to sort of to come to a different place. That's why I started doing a lot of personal development with people one because I realized they didn't have the tools to do that, because of what religion did. And because I realized that people would often get stuck in the armpits that religion part of it. Yeah. And you're, and the thing is you're describing is true in general than in a lot of social media. You know, it's very easy to find people that are mad about something, right. Like, that's, you know, whether it's Twitter or Facebook, it's yet and can be a little more challenging to find groups of people who are learning to cultivate a new way of living their lives, you know, after religion, something a little more than just the victory all of of ating religion. Yeah, David Ames 54:23 I find that, you know, I have to stop myself from that first reaction, right? There's a famous XKCD cartoon where the character saying, Oh, wait, I'll be there in a minute. Somebody has said something incorrect on the internet. There's this sense that we have, like, somebody said, something that's not exactly right. I have to correct them. And no, it's not your job. You don't have to do the letting go of that, I think is actually a huge part. And so the question I posed You go ahead. Great. Jim Palmer 54:56 Well, let me just say real quick, a big part of what I think I do in terms of my social media presence is that I'm not. I am. I will publicly take issue with a lot of things I come across in terms of religious mindsets, and, you know, so it's bad, but it's only a part of how I understand who I am in the world. Right? No, it's, and that's one of the things that really attracted me to you. Is that my involvement in humanism, then, you know, I got in the secular community as a whole. I did find it sometimes the what what's commonly referred to and usually it's a pejorative reference isn't new Atheism, with you know, which tends to be the more combative and demeaning sort of approach towards religion, you know, like, like, for example, we're gonna Yeah, I mean, it can get pretty bad. Oh, yeah. You know, so David Ames 56:09 no, and, in fact, a huge premise of why I want to do this podcast is, if you want the hardcore, anti atheist, you know, religious people are stupid, you can find that everywhere. Right? But the, what is missing is, if, if that isn't you, what would have what's what is there for us, that is, a huge portion of why I want to do this podcast is let's talk about, you know, it is a part of the human experience to have that religion is a human invention. And that is somewhat natural, you could say, right, and observe it and talk about it, we can describe our experiences of having been in it and coming out of it. And I love the theists in my life, right? That included my family, my very, very good friends, college, college friends, I love these people, why would I? Why would I be attacking them? And, and more importantly, I think there's a perspective of that religious people are stupid somehow. Well, I can't say that. Otherwise, I'd be saying that I was stupid. I'm the same person, I have the exact same intelligence as I did four years ago, than I do today. And so it's not about intelligence, right? It's so much more about culture, it's so much more about, you know, how, what your family was, like, all of those things, Jim Palmer 57:31 your your, ya know, and all kinds of other underlying factors that would lead to a person being religious, even if they've got a PhD in astrophysics, or whatever, you know. Now, to be fair, I will sometimes switch on to religious channel on TV, just because, like, I have to, like, I don't know, it's some weird form of entertainment or something. Well, I think, to these people still believe this or like, this is actually happening. So that said, are ways that I take on religion Full Frontal sort of like, confrontation, where I believe that it's, you know, being toxic in people's in people's lives. But yeah, the reason why I thought a year is so important is that when I just seen the grace for eight years, I thought, okay, that's, you know, someone who's going to create spaces, where, where people can dialogue and converse, on honestly, and vulnerably. You know, but but, but not have to be a, a combative environment to, to explore and talk about, you know, these kinds of things, because I still think that the greatest defense do things Christians and atheists have in common is that the greatest defense for their, for their positions, in my mind, is their morality or their ethics or their goodness. I mean, the reason why we're so upset with Christians is because they're hypocrites. Okay. That's one of the reasons Sure, and why and what and so, I think it's the same thing with atheists. I mean, if you see an atheist out there being disrespectful, being an asshole, you know, like, being superior, demeaning and diminishing, other people like, that's the, you know, like, that's gonna end up being what discredits who they are in the world. David Ames 59:31 Right. Right. You know, so, let me let me try to segue here. It brings up an interesting point for me. I think the thing that originally attracted me to Jesus, and this happened for me personally, in my late teens, was his sense of attacking self righteousness. Right? So he was he was going after the people of his day, the religious leaders of his day, who had the form of spirituality or whatever you want to call it. And, and yet, we're, we're practicing hypocrisy today. You know, I often say that the Evangelicals of modern day are really the Pharisees of that time. And I said that when I was a Christian, I say that. But now as an atheist, I see the exact same kind of mentality in atheism, right? There are times when, when it's, it's this certainty that I am absolutely right. And you are wrong, and I'm going to correct you. So the segue is this. So you are a humanist, but you're a humanist who writes about Jesus a fair amount. And I'd like to talk, I'd like you to talk a little bit about how you understand Jesus, maybe the New Testament now, is that something that you still find meaningful at all? And just let you go? Jim Palmer 1:00:52 Yeah, I think that, um, well, there's a lot of layers to this one layer is that did as a matter of historical fact, was there Jesus. Okay. And, of course, there's some disagreement on it. But for just for the sake of the purpose of this podcast, let's say that the, the, the, it seems to tilt in the direction of the fact that there was a historical individual, who we identify as Jesus who actually lived. And, and after that, we virtually know almost nothing very little. Okay, so let's just say that just for the sake of this, David Ames 1:01:34 I don't want to get down into the dark, dark hole. Jim Palmer 1:01:40 Right, so then you'd have to say, Okay, well, then the only thing we really know about Jesus, mainly, I mean, except for the obscure thing here or there by one or two other church historians, is what it says in the gospels, which are roughly, you know, at least three of them roughly about the same story, you know, give and take a little bit, and then John, which is a spiritualize version of itself. You know, it's the reason why I think that there are times when I feel like that there's not that we can deal with Jesus, that we don't necessarily have to totally demolish and discredit Jesus, in the sense of one of the reasons why that you just said, is that Jesus seemed to provide a meaningful path of being an individual, he can look at a religious tradition and confront the things about that tradition, that are detrimental and affirm the things that are, you know, constructive and good. You know, Jesus was a Jew, and he took on his Judaism, that ultimately, you know, got killed. And, but he also affirmed it or explained it in more detail, you know, like the Sermon on the Mount, you say, Don't murder, I say, don't hate you. And so I see, then there's the whole religious or these, you know, archetypes that Jung had several and others have talked about this. So, to what extent is Jesus represent something that human beings almost universally, first, Jesus symbolizes something that human beings universally connect with? Is that possible? You know, I wrote a blog post. Also, there was like, you know, fifth, I think it was other like 15 ways that Jesus is relevant, regardless of what you're doing, whether you're a Christian or an atheist, here are 15 ways that Jesus is irrelevant. So like, for example, and this even gets into how you want to take the Bible so you can take the idea of, of Jesus, this idea of him being some mix between divinity and humanity, which actually historically, I think kind of got blown into out of proportion in a way that even Jesus would be surprised by but as a as a symbol of self actualization. For example, you know, a person coming into the full, the full awareness and full expression of of who they are, you know, a person who was compelled to stand in solidarity with the victimized with the marginalized. A person who spoke truth to power in this, you know, religion, to the political establishment of his day, you know what, so in that sense, I see that the Jesus can have non religious be viewed as meaningful in these ways that don't have anything to do with the religious context. In fact, you know, there's books, I read two of them by the same book title entitled Christianity without God, which are two books that were written by people who spoke of the fact that, like, even the Jesus himself didn't even believe in theism, the way that the Christian church is, has made it indeed, made it into and that so it's so I see Jesus in that sense, I see Jesus as somebody who represents and symbolizes something that human beings instinctually are inspired to or compelled by. And just like, I would see relevance in you know, whether it's Martin Luther King, Jr. or Gandhi, or, you know, any, any, any, no, the Buddha, any number of people that the represents something meaningful meaningfully for human beings. David Ames 1:06:25 Yeah, I think, you know, I think one of the things that I've learned, and with your educational background, you probably know, much better than I do. But is that these questions about how do I find meaning? How do I find happiness? Are all you know, I mean, this is not Jim Palmer 1:06:44 nothing new under the sun. I haven't come David Ames 1:06:47 up with one new idea, you know, to add to this conversation, either religiously, or from a naturalistic perspective, and that we have been trying as a species to answer these questions since the beginning of time, right? The Greeks, you know, with this idea of kind of a civic religion, or you know, that with ethics with having a you know, like the, the, the Chinese with Confucianism, you know, like, just, this has been around a long time, Jim Palmer 1:07:17 including Jesus robbing, preferred, this isn't the first time somebody in history was sort of the Divine man savior. The, I mean, once you start poking around a person comes to realize that this story of the origins of the universe in the Bible aren't exactly unique to the Bible, that the idea of, of a god man, Messiah who saved the world isn't unique to the Christian belief system. So these are, you know, which is maybe why they represent these archetypes because they're reoccurring themes reoccurring people now suddenly get asked, but why do you think Jesus stuck the way he did? You know, like, I mean, it's hard to avoid the fact that out of all the, you know, billions and billions of human beings that that have lived, you know, how is it that Jesus has endured? You know, if you take 2000 years out of the totality of 200,000 that human beings have, and there's all kinds of reasons why we could talk about where a person might, you know, could explain that my view of the Bible is a little, I'm not sure that I'm like, this is something that I'm going I would, you know, go to the mat on in terms of my understanding the Bible, let me put it this way. I think that, that this, honestly could be giving the Bible more credit than it deserves. And I, and I acknowledge that. I'm not sure it is, but it could be. So what I what I can think of the Bible. Or maybe I'll put it this way, a, to me a high view of the value of the Bible. It's a non traditional kind of Orthodox Christian view would be good or something like this. The Bible tells a story about humankind's relationship with the transcendent humankind's relationship trying to navigate and be in relationship to or with that non material, transcendent dimension to life, that we ascribe the word God to. And, and the the value of the Bible is it tells this this story of that evolution and relationship. Part of that story is like really bad. Part of that story is people running around and rationalizing going into parts of the earth and completely exterminating you know, groups of people rationalize it somehow that God told me to do this, right. It's part of the story in the Bible. It's still the story, right? People still do this to happen and crusades happen in all kinds of ways where we still commit that error. So no, there is There's no god that told people to go into some country and wipe out people for His glory. There is no god that told him by smash baby against rocks, there is no God who killed the guy who slept when he was carrying, you know, the Ark of the Covenant, none of that stuff happen the way that it was explained it was explained the way it was for a useful purpose. But a what you did that's part of the storage humankind's relationship with God, all that kinds of stuff that we do, but the story can also be beautiful. Yeah. You know, like the book of Ruth, like, you know, the you know, Naomi loses everything. And with with no obligation, Ruth gives up about everything to help her right. And I had Hebrew by Dr. McGarry in seminary, and one of the things that I learned in that Hebrew class is that the Hebrew word there's a word that's used to describe Ruth and the only other time the word is used in the Bible is to describe God Himself. And it's the word hesed, which means loving kindness. Yeah. So, you know, that's a beautiful story. Sometimes we're like that sometimes we are willing to come alongside people in their suffering and sacrifice our own comfort and well being to stand in solidarity with another person and help them and in those moments, that is the best example of anything that we can point to in refer to his transcendent or ultimate reality or even God. Yeah. So I think the Bible is all of that, you know, it will, that it's not to be taken into a story. And it does put the onus on the individual to have some discernment. Yes. David Ames 1:11:56 What is? Yeah, what's, what are the lessons we're supposed to learn from this? What maybe what not to do in many cases? But yeah, Jim Palmer 1:12:03 you know, like, like Paul wrote, Mozu, you know, I mean, Paul wrote most of the letters in the New Testament, but you gotta say, Are they okay? He, Paul is writing letters to churches answering questions, trying to figure out how does it work to be a Christian in the context of our culture, but it was cultural, you know, like it had to work in their culture. Yeah. So, I mean, to see women wearing head coverings to church are taking seriously that they can't be pastors or that they need to submit to their men, or they're spiritually, you know, like, these are, in my mind cultural aspects of the evolution of understanding these truths, but they're not sacred. David Ames 1:12:43 Right, right. Well, I think that's the that's the point, right? As a humanist, we can take in the stories of the Bible and derive some value from them, but without being obligated to do the apologetics, right? To make them literal, or to make them binding in some way that you know. So we can we can find that value in the same way that we can, in other historical writings and other Yeah. So that, so I'm cognizant of our time, and I want to give you a chance to just tell the listeners a little bit about your work, how they could reach out to you. You've written five books have maybe maybe briefly tell us about those and then tell us a little bit about your coaching and how people can engage with you. Jim Palmer 1:13:28 Yeah, I. So I've written five books, divine nobodies is the book where I share my initial deconstruction of my faith, and what were the factors that led to my deciding to leave my ministerial career and my Christianity. And once I started getting letters, and noticing that people were getting stuck in the anti religion kind of mode, I made the decision that I needed to write a follow up book that was describing my initial attempts of figuring out what it meant for me to live a meaningful life after religion. So my next book wide open spaces, is a book where I tell the part of the story is I stumbled forward trying to figure out life and meaning outside of religion. My third book has been Jesus in Nashville. And that book was my so I deconstructed all my Christian theology, except I didn't know quite what to do with Jesus Himself. And so I devoted a year in my life to test a theory that I started to have about Jesus, which was there's absolutely no difference between Jesus and me that that the claim that Jesus was more than me is not true. And or that I'm more than I think I am. Either way, whatever Jesus was, I AM, okay. Okay. So I spent a year of my life kind of plowing into that which was, it was highly controversial. My publishing house which I published my first two books, cancel my book contract they accused me of, of heresy and and said they could not publish the book. So because I wrote the first my first book contract was written with a with a Christian publisher, and they were little, they were okay with divine nobody's ever getting kind of nervous with wide open spaces. And when being Jesus came out I was like we're done. So that was being Jesus in Nashville, then the next book after that was known some of the edge which was a book about my journey of address addressing the root cause of my own suffering, which I was not able to resolve in my previous religious framework. And in that book, also kind of disentangle what it is particularly about Christianity that prevents people from really resolving the root of their own suffering and living a life of fulfillment. And then, the very last book I wrote is called inner anarchy, which was my last attempt to give a alternative understanding of what Jesus meant outside the Christian religious framework and understanding. And I just finished my manuscript of my sixth book, which is how to have a great day without God. A, the subtitle is a non religious guide to living life. Well, that's probably the book that's maybe the more humanist non secular discussion. Okay. So, you go to Jim Palmer on Amazon, you can find any of those books, I have a website, Jim Palmer author.com. And I, like I said, I do I do a lot of spiritual direction and personal consulting with people who are deconstructing their faith going through a faith crisis, trying to figure out all this stuff we've talked about on the, you know, after religion, I've got a life after religion course that you can do, you know, also online, which is, walks people through the steps of addressing more the depths of our religious indoctrination in church. Religious damage, addressing that on a deeper level. And so you know, I'm on Twitter, I'm on Facebook, you know, I guess Jim Palmer author.com, you can find it pretty much about anything there. You know, it will give you the links to my Amazon or the course or anywhere else. I'm on very cool. Social David Ames 1:17:33 media. So yes, excellent. That's fantastic. Yeah. And I, you know, I've, Jim, I've really appreciated this conversation. And I felt like, we could have done this for four more hours. Maybe if you'll consider it some other time, we'll have you back on. This was really, it's been a lot of fun. I appreciate you coming on the podcast, Jim Palmer 1:17:53 you I'd be happy to come on anytime. I also appreciate you and who you are for other people in the world. And so you know, it's, I'm inspired and hopeful knowing that there are people like you that are you know, taking that approach of being the graceful atheists creating spaces where people can explore humanism and a secular approach to life, that without it just being a complete, you know, like, I hate religion parade. David Ames 1:18:27 Exactly. Yeah, I'm trying I in fact, I started my podcast by saying, My name is David. And I'm trying to be the grace radius. Because it's aspirational, right, like I haven't gotten. I'm figuring it out like everybody else. So Well, Jim, thank you so much, and we will talk to you a bit later. Jim Palmer 1:18:45 Okay. Thanks for David Ames 1:18:54 some final thoughts on the episode. I hope you enjoyed my conversation with Jim Palmer as much as I did. We could have talked for hours. There was so much that I wanted to get into about humanism and Jim's faith transitions from deconstruction to becoming a secular humanist chaplain. I feel like there's lots more on the table there. Maybe we'll have Jim back at some point in time. There'll be lots more to say about humanism in future episodes as well. I do want to point out that Jim is a life coach specifically for people who have D converted for those people who have deconstructed their faith and find themselves in need of someone to be there along the way. So I highly recommend that you get in touch with Jim if you are looking for some support. I'll have links in the show notes for all of Jim's online presence. If you want to get in touch with Jim, you can find his website at Jim Palmer author.com. I'll also have links to his books on Amazon. In our interview, we do bring up the clergy project again. That seems to be a common theme. I'll have links to the clergy project. And I also want to bring up just one correction. In my previous episode, we mentioned the humanist celebrants and the American Humanist Association. And the American Humanist Association has corrected me to point out that their adjunct organization that endorses celebrants and chaplains is called the humanist society. And so I will have links to the humanist society. For anyone who is interested in exploring, becoming a humanist Chaplain themselves. I want to thank Jim for coming on the podcast and sharing his considerable insight. And I hope it helps you on your journey of discovery of what it means to be a human being having a human experience. Time for some footnotes. The song has a track called waves by mkhaya beats, please check out her music links will be in the show notes. If you'd like to help support the podcast, here are the ways you can go about that. First help promote it. Podcast audience grows by word of mouth. If you found it useful or just entertaining, please pass it on to your friends and family. post about it on social media so that others can find it. Please rate and review the podcast wherever you get your podcasts. This will help raise the visibility of our show. Join me on the podcast. Tell your story. Have you gone through a faith transition? You want to tell that to the world? Let me know and let's have you on? Do you know someone who needs to tell their story? Let them know. Do you have criticisms about atheism or humanism, but you're willing to have an honesty contest with me? Come on the show. If you have a book or a blog that you want to promote, I'd like to hear from you. Also, you can contribute technical support. If you are good at graphic design, sound engineering or marketing. Please let me know and I'll let you know how you can participate. And finally financial support. There will be a link on the show notes to allow contributions which would help defray the cost of producing the show. If you want to get in touch with me you can google graceful atheist or you can send email to graceful firstname.lastname@example.org You can tweet at me at graceful atheist or you can just check out my website at graceful atheists.wordpress.com Get in touch and let me know if you appreciate the podcast. Well this has been the graceful atheist podcast My name is David and I am trying to be the graceful atheists. Grab somebody you love and tell them how much they mean to you. This has been the graceful atheist podcast Transcribed by https://otter.ai