Alice Greczyn: Wayward – Spiritual Warfare & Sexual Purity

Adverse Religious Experiences, Authors, Bloggers, Book Review, Deconstruction, Deconversion, Humanism, Podcast, Purity Culture, Religious Abuse, Religious Trauma
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My returning guest this week is Alice Greczyn. Alice has written a new memoir called Wayward: Spiritual Warfare & Sexual Purity. In it, Alice tells the harrowing story of growing up in an Evangelical family that attempted to live by faith. They moved from place to place believing the “Lord would provide.” Alice describes it as being “homeless.”

Alice came of age under the oppressive sexual and purity mores of the “Kiss Dating Goodbye” era. She tells the story of being shamed while on a YWAM mission trip to India for being “flirty.”

And that’s I think the greatest mind f*** of Christianity as a whole: these awful feelings are called love. They’re done in the name of love. My wires of love and shame and fear and guilt and self hatred were so crossed and it took me years to even see that wiring.

As an adult in her 20s, in a desperate but final act of faith, Alice tests God. God fails. And Alice begins the difficult process of letting go of faith. This is a dark time of panic attacks, depression and self-harm.

When we’re told God is love, and love feels like this horrible, self-hating guilt complex, what is love, how can we recognize good love?

With the help of secular therapy and the discovery of the term, Religious Trauma Syndrome, Alice began her recovery process. She studied the science of faith, neurotheology, and began to understand herself and those around her who still believed. In this new freedom, she rebuilt her life reclaiming her autonomy and discovering what real love feels like.

And again it [understanding neurotheology] alleviated the pressure. God wasn’t ignoring me. There was nothing wrong with me. I wasn’t broken. I wasn’t this chronic sinner who was just born defective and unable to feel the love of God because I didn’t have enough faith. It’s simply to be a matter of science and that’s how most things are to me.

On top of being an author, Alice is an advocate for those questioning their faith. Her organization, Dare to Doubt, is a resource for those who are no longer satisfied with their faith tradition’s explanations and demands.

Yet this demographic [millennial “Nones”] is also resilient. We are as brave as the martyrs we were raised to be. We are battling the spiritual war we were trained to fight. We’re just not on the side of religion, and believe us—no one is more surprised by this than ourselves. We are condemned, prayed for, and loathed as much as we are feared. But persecution was once our fuel. Our skin is thick with the courage to fight for truth as we see it, and where we once saw through dogma-colored glasses, we now see through the lenses of relativity, reason, and the validity of our own experiences. It is easy to dismiss us as bitter. It is understandable to write off our deconversions as desperate attempts at individuation and rebellion. It is compassionate to ask us why we left, instead of praying for us to rejoin.

From Wayward


Wayward: Spiritual Warfare & Sexual Purity

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Alice’s first appearance on the Graceful Atheist Podcast


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“Waves” track written and produced by Makaih Beats


NOTE: This transcript is AI produced ( 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 to the graceful atheist podcast. My name is David, and I'm trying to be the graceful atheist. I want to thank my latest reviewer on the Apple podcast store. Irish heretic. Thank you so much for rating and reviewing the podcast. Please consider subscribing to the podcast wherever you get your podcasts. Special thanks to Mike T for editing today's episode. One of my favorite aspects of the podcast is when people write in to me and tell me their stories. The last week and a half or so I've received three just incredibly poignant emails from people who are in the middle of or long past a deconversion process and finding the podcast lets them know that they are not alone. That is, ultimately the entire point of what we are doing here is to say that many have gone before you, you are not alone. This is normal. This is human. Let's remind each other that we are not alone. I wanted to mention here that on the blog, gracefully I now have a number of book recommendations and the links for those books are using the Amazon affiliate program. So if you happen to be interested in any of these books, and you buy them after clicking on the link on my website, I'll get a little bit back from Amazon, which will go to the production of the podcast. On today's show. My guest today is Alice Greczyn. Alice has written a new memoir called wayward it's a harrowing tale of growing up in an evangelical family that was attempting to live by faith being led by the Lord, which in Alice's words ultimately meant they were homeless for much of her growing up years. Alice grew up in the 90s under the influence of the book, kiss dating goodbye. There was a tremendous amount of sexual repression and idealistic views on courtship, dating, sexuality. And in her memoir, she goes through with just heart wrenching honesty, telling her story of growing up in that environment. As you're about to hear, Alice is an incredibly inquisitive intelligent person. She has since done a lot of research in neuro theology. And it's fun to be reading the book and she's telling a particular story, and her current self breaks in to point out the science of the situation. It ends with a lot of triumph, and ultimately, Alice's dare to doubt organization that helps people going through faith transitions. I highly recommend the book wayward it is an amazing book that is gripping. My understanding is that Alice has a limited number of signed copies available. If you are interested in a signed copy, you can go to Of course, I will have the link in the show notes. attentive listeners may recognize Alice's name. She was on the podcast way back in July of 2019. So if you enjoy this episode, you should go and look that one up as well. I'm very proud and excited to give you my conversation with Alice Greczyn.

Alice Greczyn, welcome to the graceful atheist podcast.

Alice Greczyn  3:59  
Thank you. It's such a pleasure.

David Ames  4:01  
So you have the dubious honor of being the first repeat guest. So you're back to the Oh, yay. Yay. Yeah, that

Alice Greczyn  4:11  
is awesome. What an honor.

David Ames  4:12  
Yeah. And you've written a book called wayward and it is absolutely amazing. You know, again, I get asked often to read books, and some of them are good, some of them are bad. But this was ripping. It made me blush. It made me want to scream out loud. I recognized myself. I felt paternalistic, like protection for you. Just just a range of emotions, but that is all down to your writing ability. So my first question to you, Alice is, is there anything you cannot do?

Alice Greczyn  4:47  
Thank you very much. I can't I can't sing or play music at all. I feel like I feel like I do a lot of things and I feel pretty confident that I can teach myself almost anything But I don't know if you if I put a little bit of power into it. But But music No. But thank you, I really appreciate your your kind words. I mean

David Ames  5:10  
a lot. So you are human,

Alice Greczyn  5:11  
after all, Oh, yes, very sorely human.

David Ames  5:15  
Just in case anybody doesn't know. So Alice has had a successful modeling career successful acting career, she started the dare to doubt organization that helps people transitioning through faith transitions, with lots of resources there that's dare to So you've just done an amazing number of things in your life. And now you are an author? No, I

Alice Greczyn  5:36  
am an author. And I have to tell you, as soon as I got my first shipment of hardcopy books, which just came in the mail a couple of days ago, my my boyfriend was asking, what's the part that I was looking to the most about actually getting to hold a physical copy of my book in my hands, and I thought about it and I said, being able to speak about this in past tense, because for so long, I've been writing a book or working on a book or in the middle of publishing a book. And now I get to say, I wrote a book, I'm an author. So it's a pretty fun feeling.

David Ames  6:09  
So I'm gonna start with the the title wayward is such an evocative, single word. Tell me what that means to you and why you chose it as a title.

Alice Greczyn  6:18  
Thank you. So wayward. For those who grew up reading the Bible. They may remember the wayward woman frequently mentioned in the book of Proverbs. And she's mentioned as in painted and very much the light of a harlot as a scandalous, scantily clad woman who stirs lust in men. In some verses, she's made out to be like she's married, and she's cheating on her husband and seducing men. In in the churches that I grew up in, though, I mainly just heard the wayward woman talked about as symbolic of everything that I was not supposed to be everything that women were not supposed to be, you are not to be sensual, you are not to be beautiful, you are not to be free. You are to be submissive, subservient, and chaste, and duty bound. And so for me, when I was thinking of titles for my book, wayward was a working title for a long time. And I always assumed that a publisher would change it, because I'm reading writing blogs, they're like, don't get attached to your title, you know, but, but my publisher loved it. And then I also came up with the subtitle, which is a memoir of spiritual warfare and sexual purity, and wayward, you know, in a secular sense waver, it also has connotations of being willful, of being rebellious of being, like a wayward child like a who just won't listen won't do what's expected of them. And so I liked that people who grew up with in religion would recognize it, possibly from the biblical references to the wayward woman. But I also liked it because it, it still says something to a completely secular reader of like, oh, it's, it's I like that it's a singular word. That hasn't been overused in the book market, because I did a bunch of research. And yeah, that's, that's how I came up with it. And that's what it that's what it means to me.

David Ames  8:08  
Awesome. You start off the book, talking about just the nature of a memoir and human memories. So you kind of acknowledged that this is your story, or your telling of the story, which includes a lot of your family. So yes, it's talking about that, like what what is it like to start to write a memoir and acknowledging that, you know, memories can be valuable?

Alice Greczyn  8:29  
I'm really glad you asked that actually, because as someone who reads memoirs, a lot all sorts of memoirs, I feel like there's not a whole lot that I can find anyway, about memoir, authors talking about the complex journey of writing a memoir, specifically how it relates to your loved ones that may appear in the book, whether their names are changed or not. And I did change quite a few names in wayward. So later on in my book, without giving away too much, I definitely get into a more neuroscientific look at faith and the effect of faith on the human brain. And some feedback that I got from earlier drafts was that it kind of seemed a little out from left field, like, Oh, why, why are we in a science book all of a sudden, but for me, understanding the science of mystical experiences truly was crucial to my healing and making peace with my religious past. And so I felt like having something at the beginning of the book, that is sort of a nod to neuroscience, where I talk about, you know, memory is fallible, and it changes as we need it to changes as other people influence it, and share their stories of what happened. And I mean, we've seen this, we see this happen all the time. And, for example, when there's a crime and police interview, say nine witnesses to the crime, people tell different stories, not because they're making things up, but because that's how their brain internalized it maybe the person was wearing a red jacket, but someone said no, it was blue. No, I'm pretty sure it was orange. Right? Memory really is some objective and there's so much to be explored. But I wanted that disclaimer there at the beginning because A, as I'm sure, as I'm sure you can imagine any listener or other writer can imagine, writing a memoir has definitely dredged up a lot of family stuff. And it's not been easy. Negotiating this venture with the people that I love, I am still close to my family. Unlike a lot of other memoir writers in my genre, my family and I are not estranged, I'm still very much in touch with them very close to them. And that made it a lot harder, it'd be a lot easier. In some ways. If my family had disowned me. And I don't say that my life would be easier. I want to watch my words here. But the publishing of this memoir would be easier. I understand now why people wait until their parents die, or they've been disowned before they publish a memoir. But there's so much love between my family and I. And despite how difficult it's been at times, they've remained very supportive. And I do try to make that clear. But that disclaimer there at the beginning is for them, but also for myself, and also for anyone who reads memoir, because I think myself included, it's very tempting to take an author's perspective as the cold hard truth, forgetting that this is the cold, hard truth to this person. Some things are objectively verifiable, like, where did we live in this year. But some things are not like someone's tone of voice or how I interpreted they meant for me to feel when they said something to me. And I wanted to I wanted to make clear that I take responsibility for how I interpreted things, whether it was things pastor said, my family said, the music I listened to, you know, this is how this is my narrative of what happened. And if you ask anyone in the story, very narrative, what happened, it will be different. And I feel like stating that upfront. I hope that does a service to memoir as a genre, because we all know of famous memoir, authors who have gotten busted for making things up. And yeah, part of me wants to cover my own ass and be like, disclaimer, I'm not saying this is the truth for everyone. But yeah, I think I think that that's what's beautiful about memoir, too, is it does ride that line between fact and fiction, and storytelling, and that little tiny, it's only like one paragraph or two long, I think there on the on the first page, I just wanted to own this as my recollection. And that way, people can just take everything that I say with a subjective grain of salt.

David Ames  12:28  
I just appreciate it like for me, I think we've talked about before, you know, the honesty is such a rock bottom and authenticity. And I just saw that throughout the book, as you were working to convey what you honestly felt and how you were honestly responding to the events around surrounding you. And as you say, you were still owning all of that you weren't, you weren't blaming other people. And I just really appreciated that. I try not to thank you. One more compliment. And then I want to talk about that neuroscience for a minute. Yeah, we got back in touch in discussion about Sasha Sagan. And actually your writing really reminded me of her book in one particular way. Very eloquent prose, you're wrapped up in the story. And then you'd have these moments where you would modern, Alice would break through. So you'd be describing, you know, the charismatic church worship event, and then you'd break through kind of modern? Well, neuroscience says that, that reminded me so much of Sasha. So very good compliment to you that I think your writing is great is a huge, all of that, including the storytelling and the kind of modern skeptic in you coming through, it was just amazing.

Alice Greczyn  13:41  
Thank you, that is a huge compliment. I really appreciate that.

David Ames  13:46  
So to talk about neuroscience, so it's kind of starting at the end a bit, the book kind of ends in, you know, semi triumphant, you're talking about taking control of your life back and we're gonna get to this in a minute, you know, handling the trauma after both your experience growing up in Christianity and then leaving that faith behind and and just you know, the physical problems that that you wound up having. But it ends triumphantly a view, discovering how you're going to seek meaning in your life, how you're going to have purpose and ultimately ends with a dare to doubt reference, which I just loved, I absolutely adored. Thank you. What are some of the things that you've learned from the study of neuroscience? I think you dropped the term neuro theology as well. What are those things? What have you learned from those things?

Alice Greczyn  14:34  
Oh, man, I feel like if first of all if I if I went back to school and did life over again, I honestly feel like neuro theology would be a field that I would deeply explore as much as my non mathematically inclined brain could. But yeah, I love it. So for those who don't know, neuro theology is sometimes defined as the neuroscience of spirituality or faith, my working definition for in the book And how I how I use it. It's the neuroscience of what are collectively called mystical experiences. And the way that I grew up those mystical experiences were called the Holy Spirit. So my, my background for most of my childhood was in charismatic Christianity, which is very emotive, very falling to the floor, being slain in the Spirit rolling around shaking, praying in tongues, prophesying, massive outpouring of laughter and crying, like it's a very, very demonstrative expression of Christianity that, that people will say is, is Spirit let, and I faked it. I think I talked about this before on your podcast, I faked it because I would go up to receive prayer and people would put their hands on my forehead and you know, pray over me in tongues and in English, and nothing would happen. I was hurt when I was really little by a pastor finally just like pushed me over, and it really hurt my neck for for a while. And not to mention, like psychologically traumatized me, because it left me with this complex of what's so wrong with me that God won't touch me himself that this man had to literally push me down on a flight of stairs because I wasn't falling over in the Spirit. And so to prevent anything like that from happening again, I decided that I needed to fake it. But caveat, I don't think everyone was faking it. I think a good number of people were, but later on in my book, when I am learning about the neuroscience of it, I'm like, What the hell was that? Because if not everyone was faking it. And I don't really think they were like people like my parents. What, what was that? And I learned that, that what I grew up being called being slain in the Spirit, or the holy, the Holy Ghost, was called so many things by other cultures, other religions in various times and places. Kundalini Yoga might be one of the more widely known parallels to it, where there's similar symptoms of entering basically a trance state, feeling electricity in your body. Speaking in tongues, you know, or glossolalia I don't know if I'm pronouncing that right. But yeah, and, you know, being touched on on the forehead, the third eye, like there's, there's so many others, like in Christianity, we would never say the third eye because that would be demonic. That's so Hindu derived. But you know, in other cultures there, there are these ecstatic trance states. And I call them soberly induced mystical experiences, because an acid trip is also a mystical experience, but obviously not soberly induced, you're ingesting a chemical substance or, or a plant derived substance. So I really needed to understand for my own well being and being able to move forward, what the Holy Spirit was what soberly induced mystical experiences were. And spoiler alert, we don't know, guys, we don't really know exactly, why is the human brain capable of doing this. But what I did learn was enough to put my mind at rest, that whatever this was, was not unique to Christianity, it did, it was not a testament to the power of God, it was not a testament to the truth being found only in Christianity, and furthermore, charismatic Christianity. And I think that, that that understanding, being able to see brain scan images of, say, Buddhist monks who are meditating or nuns who are chanting, and a lot of the research that I did outside of the book, because I only wanted to devote one chapter, but just in case it was too sciency. For some people, even though I know I know, a lot of others will really like it. It really brought me a level of peace, to be able to just see it. It's like, oh, no, this is not mystical at all. This is just chemicals firing off in our brain. These are just meetings of neurons. And what I learned is that oxytocin, serotonin and dopamine play a significant role in, in getting a person to an elevated opiate state. So there's there's several researchers that I quote in the book, and one of them is Dr. Michael pur singer, who has since passed away. But his work was really influential to me in understanding the the high of getting high on Jesus, which is totally possible. For some people. I don't think that everyone and I say this from my own experience, and also from talking to many other people who grew up like me, not everyone's capable of this. And we were taught that that meant that there was a sin in our life that was blocking us from feeling God or that we just didn't have enough faith. You are always the problem in Christianity. You are the center, it's up to you. And you know, God would have a miracle for you if you just had faith, but you have to be ready to receive it. And it's like, not everyone's wired for that, for whatever reason, whether it's genetic, I delved into a lot of the the genetic arguments for faith and also why some people genetically just aren't hardwired to be inclined that way that brought me a lot of peace to because, again, it alleviated the pressure of like, there was nothing wrong with me. God wasn't ignoring me. There was nothing wrong with me, I wasn't broken. And I wasn't this like chronic sinner who was just born defective, unable to feel the love of God, because I didn't have enough faith. It's simply to be a matter of science. And that's how most things are to me. And if not science that we can understand today, then then inspiration for the tools that we need to develop to understand them tomorrow. And in the future, I think that nothing can be I don't think that there's anything that needs to remain on. No, I think it's just a matter of time and tools. That is my opinion.

David Ames  20:31  
You know, it's interesting, I think my experience fell somewhere in between, like, I had some real charismatic experiences, you know, feeling of warmth, you know, breaking down in tears, and just feeling a, you know, presence. I was also always kind of an outside observer to myself, and recognizing when I was kind of faking it, and when I wasn't, but the thing that I really related to, as you were describing, kind of the charismatic experience is that there is almost an addictive quality of chasing after that experience, so that your experience with the Toronto Blessing and your parents experience and the charismatic experience in general often can devolve into chasing that feeling chasing that experience. And you've just described quite eloquently the science behind why that might be the case, the hits

Alice Greczyn  21:19  
of God or the Holy Spirit or whatever, whatever version of that you find and whatever your practice is, it is neuro chemistry, it is replicable. And it can become addictive, because it taps into the same part of the brain as drugs and sex like it can easily be it puts you in a new fork state. And there usually is a cutting down when you have a bunch of these neurons firing off just like when you when you might do a certain drugs say there can be a come down. And I remember seeing it a lot as a kid, like we go to these conferences or a revival, like, you know, a week long this or a weekend here. And I feel like my parents would just be on this high for like a week after when we got home. And then there could be a crash and who's to say what that crashes in my child mind. All I know is what I observed. Like I can't, I can't say for sure what my parents reasons were, but for the ups and downs of everything that I that I saw as a kid, but But it made a lot of sense to me learning about that, because I do think that a lot of people, like you said they keep chasing after that feeling because it supposedly it feels really good. I never felt it. Okay, all right. But it does seem like it feels really good. The closest that I came to feeling that and I wrote about this in the book was when I was 13. And I went to a friend's youth group meeting. And I cried there while my friend was praying over me. And I was crying because of the words that she was saying, and her prayer, the things she was saying made me feel so seen. And I was in such a lonely, depressed place. That it she saw me, not God she did. But in the language of God, and because I I grew up seeing people cry under the touch of God, I decided it must be God touching me through her and seeing me through her. And so because I was crying and so it made me feel like oh, God's really touching me because I'm crying. And it's like though I was just on an endorphin high and and my heart was just cracked open by confession and all of these other things and you're logically speaking, there's a lot mass hypnosis plays a large role in this too, and priming ourselves for those open, transformative mystical experiences. And I wouldn't go so far as to say that pastors and worship leaders are deliberately trying to hypnotize crowds to orchestrate mass cognitive experiences, as Dr. Peter Singer would say, but that is often the result. And I think I think music plays a very deep role in that because who hasn't been to even a secular concert and found themselves in sort of an almost like group hypnotic trance stay of just feeling good and everyone's swaying and raising their hands? And yeah, it's, it's a, I do think it can be addictive and easy to lose oneself.

David Ames  24:18  
So I feel like we would be doing a disservice to the book if we just focused on the hard science because there's so much humanity in the book, I think a theme that just comes through very strongly is the loneliness you experience as your parents moved you about from place to place and you refer to many friends throughout the time and you there's just a sense of, and don't take this the wrong way, but its sense of desperation, like you need that connection to that friend comes through. And then you mentioned when a friend prays for you and you're breaking down crying because that is an expression of love or stranger or somebody you just met. A young person, your same age, prays for you and expresses actual care and you Do you are breaking down? Because that's what you need. And then all the way at the end with the hindsight of the human connection that you were longing for it was it was that what you needed? Was that intentional? Or is that just so hardwired into the story? I don't think

Alice Greczyn  25:22  
that was intentional. But I'm glad that that translated, no. And I would not disagree with that I desperately needed human connection as as do we all and for those who don't know, like, in my book, yeah, my, my family moved around constantly, as I was growing up, and I was homeschooled my whole life. So I was always moving from one place to another, never really being able to have friends for very long. And I do think that ought to be all about sciences is explaining the how the what is is human connection, is love. Really, ultimately, I think, and it's, it's interesting, because today, especially working with dare to Tao, and in a lot of the secular spaces that I that I've that I've found years being one of them, humanism is such a recurring theme. And I remember somewhere in my book, towards the end, I like I write that people would say I'm anti humanist. And it's because I just don't think humans as a species are innately good. I just, we could all end tomorrow, and I'd be fine with that. Like, I could see us very much as we're just a virus on planet Earth taking up and not giving back a whole lot to Earth. But, you know, I that's like, there's so many ways to dive into that angle. And I do I, well, there's part of me, that very much sees it that way, I don't feel anti humanist because the other thing that I also write is, I think we I think most of us who are able have the choice to die, we always have the choice to kill ourselves. And when we don't, whether we consciously choose not to, or we just can't, it's never even crossed our minds, there's an act of choice to be here. And I think for me, I was very conscious of that choice. Because when I lost my faith, I lost my sense of meaning I lost my purpose, as many of us do. And I did not find comfort in in, in what I've come now to be known as humanism. At first I have now because I had to put a different lens on it in order for it to resonate deeper with me. But I think that in making that choice to stay alive, and in seeing ourselves objectively is just this, this primate animal that's just wired for connection, we just want to be loved. We want to be accepted. We want to be part of the clan, we want to cuddle, we want to have sex we want to eat, we want to feel good, we want to help each other. Those traits of humanism, I can totally get behind like those the love. And that is what keeps me wanting to live. Sorry if that sounds like Tanger does. In fact, I've

David Ames  27:45  
written down two quotes, if I can, if it's okay, yeah, yeah. For me, the key to happiness lay and wonder, instead of sending my mind into an answer lists, spirals trying to find out the meaning of life, maybe I needed to rephrase my quest as that I'm looking for meaning in life. And a little later on, I was taught to deny the pleasures of the flesh, I came to realize that the physical and material world I was told to fear and abstain from was the very thing that made me want to live, I think, right, that leapt off the page to me, like, that's exactly what I find is kind of the problem with many religions, not all of them, but like it is that it is denying the humanity the things that make us human, are the pleasures of the flesh as it were, like, and so when you're denying yourself all of those things, you're missing out on the goodness of life.

Alice Greczyn  28:32  
Yes, I 100% agree. I think it's, um, and I find this in non religious spiritual circles too. Like there's that that adage of we're a spiritual being having a human experience instead of we're human beings having a spiritual experience. I very much disagree with that. I don't, I don't believe in spirits. I don't believe in souls, I view that as a synonym for what I would call consciousness. And I'm inclined to suspect that consciousness is a product of the brain and that when our brains die, consciousness does, but I don't know, I'm open. You know, it's definitely a field that I that I like to explore. But again, I think, I think embracing my humanity and my flesh really was the antidote to my depression. Because there's so many years of hard wiring of us being taught to deny your flesh, you know, lean not on your own understanding, deprive yourself of pleasure, because pleasure is sinful. And it can lead to temptation of all sorts, whether it's the temptation to overindulge and drink or food or sex. And I spent so much of my young life living for the afterlife, as as did most of us, you know, that the afterlife, the spiritual plane is so much more important than this one. And that was, in my opinion, deeply, deeply, wrong, deeply harmful, and when I lost my faith I had to refine that in myself, I had to rediscover my flesh, I had to re reacquaint myself with myself with my body with my senses. I also right, right after I lost my faith and on wanting Lee became an atheist. I gave God a test. And he failed. That That same week, not even maybe a week or so later, I write that I, it was almost as though I lost my senses in a literal, in a literal way. My sense of smell was the only thing that I remember that I still had. But like I couldn't, I felt so numb. Of course, I could still hear things but like I didn't, I felt so removed. I was in like a dissociative out almost out of body state. And I had to relearn how to connect with myself. Because Christianity, for me, basically taught me how to be very disembodied how to not trust my gut, how to not follow my instincts and not use my mind and definitely not to indulge or gratify my flesh. And just because we don't believe in something anymore, as most of us know, does not mean that it leaves our body that doesn't leave our nervous system. And so, it was both exhilarating and terrifying to, to learn how to be in my body. Yes. Yeah. It's something that should be so basic. But it's, it's difficult. And I think I think a lot of it would be hard to explain to people who don't know otherwise. You know, it's like, how do we articulate that? That journey? Like what has it been like for you, I'm sure you've had moments where you've needed to reconnect with your body and learn how to listen to yourself and gratify yourself without pennants or guilt or shame. You know, it's such a, such an individual journey that I'm sure it's different for everyone. But I candidly share mine.

David Ames  31:49  
Yes, there are definitely parts that made me blush. For anybody who's a believer who might be listening to this, it is deeply honest, it is not sensational, for sensational sake, it is expressing what it is like to grow up, you talk about hitting puberty, getting your period, masturbation, you were deeply influenced by kiss dating goodbye and trying to navigate relationships. You have this idea of your future husband and protecting that in some way. And the part that really made me want to scream was that you mentioned the scene, you're on a missions trip with YWAM. And your friends are accusing you of being flirtatious. And I thought, Oh, just the negative peer pressure. And and again, the denial of just being a person of regular human being. We've kind of avoided things so far. But like, let's talk about what were some of the things that you later recognized as religious trauma from Marlene, what else book? What were some of those experiences for you that that were traumatizing

Alice Greczyn  32:54  
that that instance you just mentioned definitely was is one of them. So I was 15 when I went on a mission trip to India, through YWAM Youth With A Mission for those who don't know, they have like a teenage almost like teenage mission summer camp, sort of program called Mission adventures, or at least they used to this was in I believe it was the year 2001 Because 911 happened shortly after that. So 2001 I'm 15 We go to India and I'm a full on purity ring wearing like good little Christian girl never held a boy's hand never kissed a boy like totally saving myself and my future husband and write in letters, the whole the whole thing. I dressed very modestly and especially modestly in India, like we weren't allowed to show our shoulders, we all had to wear like baggy pants and long skirts. And three of the other kids who were in my youth group who were on the mission ship with me. One of them a guy basically confessed his feelings for me and wanted to get to know me better. And I was like, Oh, I don't date but thanks very awkwardly in my very inexperienced, blundering overly formal way. But then it came out that I was struggling with feelings for another guy in the youth group on this on the same mission trip. And I would have never acted on these feelings. Even if he liked me back. I wouldn't have dated him because I was I was waiting but I was I was wrestling with so much guilt over even having a crush on this guy.

David Ames  34:22  
You're 15 Yeah. Yeah. Is that

Alice Greczyn  34:30  
so normal? So number my hormones are raging and like I Yeah, you know, like I'm, I it's, it's totally normal. And I've been having crushes since I was like a little kid. But I in the in the book, I knew I focus on this one crush because he was probably the most significant crush that caused me the most. I caused myself the most guilt over it but but yeah, I so you know, I have feelings for this one guy, Zach. And but this other guy Luke likes me and I I don't want Luke to know that I like Zach, because I'm so mortified that even like him to begin with, and long story short, it all comes out. And then these three kids on the mission trip basically say that I've been flirting and sending mixed signals and distracting all the men in the whole team by by with my flirtatiousness. And I was so not a flirt guys, like I, I wasn't I was so and they they give instances like for example, on a bus ride from New Delhi up north to this other place, it was like an eight hour bus ride, the air conditioner broke. And it's so hot, it's like August in India. And I had these pants that would zip off into cargo shorts, like the long kind. These were not cute, sexy little convertible pants. These were like REI, like baggy, just you know, camping pants that were like long cargo shorts. I zipped off the lower half of my pants, guys. andalas scandalous. And furthermore, I put my feet up on the bus seat in front of me, which I was accused of doing it on purpose so that my legs will be right in front of my seatmate who happened to be a dude. And I was accused of trying to get him to notice me by like flaunting my legs in his face. And it could not have been further from the truth. I was so hot. I was just trying to stay conscious and cool off anyway. And like they were long cargo shorts. I was not like rolling them up all the way to my hips or anything like that. But and even if I had been so what right? But yeah, like thing instances like that. I just felt so I still to this day, like I'm flushing right now my body thinking about I don't think I've ever felt more ashamed than I did in that moment when those three kids were calling me out. And I don't think that they were consciously trying to come down on me and make me feel ashamed. I think that they were exercising what the Bible says to do, which is for Christians to call each other out on their sins and hold each other accountable. So that, you know, one black sheep doesn't ruin the whole flock at cetera. And I think, of course, it's ironic that this the shame conversation comes on the heels of one of the guys confessing his feelings for me. But it yeah, like I mean, there you go with like, victim blaming rape, culture, all of that stuff. It's always the girl's fault. She should have done more to guard her modesty.

David Ames  37:17  
And then here the religious layer is saying there's biblical precedent for saying this kind of thing. And totally and that's on that's laid on top of you your responsibility for the boys purity in some way or another, which is absurd and ridiculous.

Alice Greczyn  37:33  
Totally. And I ended up going to each male on that team and apologizing to them with a pastor accompanying me because God forbid, I believe.

David Ames  37:42  
Yeah, yeah, that also had me screaming. Yeah. Yeah, that just felt like again, I apologize for the paternalistic aspect of this but a sense of protectiveness for you. We're kind of friends we're internet friends, right? We don't really know each other. But we're, we're internet friends. And, you know, so I have a I've legitimately feeling like the pain that in the shame that you would feel and here's a female pastor, someone who should have known better, who is walking you around having you apologize to a set of boys and I just, I guess what I'm trying to say. Allah says, My heart was broken reading this book for you. And it just the downside, the negative side of purity culture isn't something that I personally experienced. And so when I read something so honest and forthright the way that you have written this, my heartbreaks, not just for you, but for many of the millennials that we see these days who are coming out of religion, Christianity, specifically down that purity culture, and of course they're traumatized. Of course they are.

Alice Greczyn  38:49  
Your Empathy means a lot to me, I've noticed I'm getting like watery eyes. I'm, I appreciate that and No apology necessary for any sort of paternal looking out for instincts that you have or felt. No, I hope that it resonates with people who went through things that were similar because I know I've found so much catharsis in reading other people's stories like that, like Linda Kay Klein's book pure, all about purity culture, from an evangelical Christian perspective, I was just sobbing all throughout that book reading story after story like mine, and far worse. And the shame is so so. So scarring, and I know of course, boys and men struggle with with shame to you know, like, it's, there's more hard data on how it's affected women in the long run. Maybe because physically, we we manifest more physical symptoms of it, but it's, it is absolutely debilitating. And I do hope that it'll help someone else know that this didn't just happen to you. So so many people have their own story of how they were shamed, even if not on purpose, because the true mindfuck of it is, is it's not called shaming someone. It's called love. Have and the woman youth pastor who was escorting me as I was apologizing to these men and boys. She was so it was it remains a little bit confusing but she was so gracious and reassuring to me like oh, don't beat yourself up about this, you know, like I had way more to repent for when I was your age and you know like I'm so impressed by what a godly young woman you are, like all of that, like it's like, but yet she was escorting me with this and and I was still doing I wouldn't say she made me do I honestly and I write this in the book, I honestly can't remember whose idea it was, it could have even been my own because I felt so bad. But surely an apology was necessary. Because if I've been this, this whore of Babylon and everyone's seen it, but me, then surely I need to own up to it. And she was there as like a chaperone figure who was reassuring me and like, comforting me and handing me tissues and telling me not to beat myself up. But they're with me doing this. And that's I think the greatest mindfuck of Christianity as a whole is these these awful feelings are called love. They're done in the name of love and my wires of love and shame and fear and guilt and self hatred were so crossed and it took me years to even see that wiring and I probably could have written a lot more about it in the book too but you know, had I had to cut it down to a book sellable size but but yeah, there's there's there's so much about and I think that I think it's something that I know I've seen a lot of X religious people struggle with are those wires and I write about in the book later how how that wiring affected my whole views on marriage on child rearing, because when we're told God is Love, and Love feels like this horrible like self hating guilt complex, what is love? How can we recognize good love? That's not to say that I didn't know good love. I did. You know, my parents deeply loved me and I I've had friends who have deeply loved me, but I had to, I had to relearn love, in a secular sense. And it was my secular friends as I was still a Christian, that showed me that that made me feel what it's like to feel just accepted. I never felt accepted in Christianity, because you're never good enough. You can't be accepted because you're wrong or sinful. And my secular friends when I was like, in my late teens, and I was living in Los Angeles, like, it was so discombobulating because I felt what I thought could be actual love. But it was not coming from a god source at all. And that was confusing, but also eventually incredibly liberating, because it made it made love accessible to me. It made love real to me. I didn't have to feel God to to know love. And that was huge for me.

David Ames  42:59  
One other aspect that comes out is you mentioned Luke already. But Luke, later in the book expresses a bit more than just some feelings. You want to tell a little bit of that story?

Alice Greczyn  43:10  
Yes, so Luke was one of the guys in India on the mission trip who, like he just said, confessed his feelings for me. And ended up being part of the night of shame, I'll call it. And fast forward two years later, I moved out to Los Angeles to because I believe God's opened the door for me to pursue an acting career. And I turned 17 A month after I moved to LA, because I was homeschooled, I'd already graduated from high school. So I was basically a very young adult. And I was here on my own, after my mom and siblings went back to Colorado and love to be here. And Luke, from Colorado, ends up coincidentally, in Los Angeles at the same time as me, and he was three years older than me. So I'm 17. He's 20. And he moved out here for something else and had family here. And we because I didn't really know anyone else in LA, he didn't either. We just became really, really good friends. And I reiterated to him at some point that, you know, like, I did not date we were definitely not dating, I could not have been more clear. And I didn't really feel like he was trying to date me. I thought we were just hanging out as friends. But I always felt such a burden to like beat boys over the head, making it crystal clear that there would be no misunderstanding, I wouldn't have to have a night of shame. Again, this is nothing. I mean, nothing. This is just platonic as platonic guests.

David Ames  44:36  
So I have teenage daughters. Yeah, they are objectively beautiful. And we have this conversation a lot, right? Like they want to have male friends. And, you know, I'm telling them from the boy perspective, you know, yeah, it's good that you are just as clear as you possibly can be. But it's a burden, right? It shouldn't be on them. It shouldn't be on you, but it is

Alice Greczyn  44:56  
it is and the grace that I can extend toward that In a secular sense as well, is we're just animals we're hardwired to, to breed and may and and, you know, at teenagehood, like most of us are already in our reproductive years. And I think that it's pretty natural for especially societally speaking for boys to be the pursuance. And therefore girls to bear the burden of having to clarify like, Nah, I don't, I'm not leading you on, I just want to hang out, you know, or, like, Y'all go to prom with you, but just as friends, you know, whatever it is. So yeah, it's a sucky burden. But I could I could just be like, well, it could just be one of those things in life. I don't know. I had that. Maybe it's just what I tell myself. So it feels less awful. Totally be that. But yeah, I. So yeah, couldn't have been clearer that you know, still saving myself for my future husband. And long story short, one day out of the blue, he, he, he's just like, God's show me or my future wife. And I just, I, I believed him completely, because who would make up something like that? And we both know, the world we came from, we both went to the same church, we both know the purity culture. And it's just not uncommon in that world for God to reveal who spouses are. And I've come across one question that people always ask, especially if they did not grow up, like me was like, essentially, in a graceful way, like, how did you fall for it? Like, why would they like clearly this guy is projecting his own motives and using God as a way to get you? I disagree with that. I think that I think that there was genuinely a part of him that genuinely believed that we were supposed to be together and that it was God's plan. Like he was a very godly young man, a great guy, a great friend. I loved him dearly, just not in that way. I did not. I was not attracted to him. I didn't feel romantic feelings for him. And I would guess that he did for me, but I would not say that he used God to cover up his ulterior motives. Like, I would think that would be false.

David Ames  47:00  
I think you're being kind but okay.

Alice Greczyn  47:03  
Yeah, maybe it was next. Maybe it was next. But I think I think he did believe that. And he came out one day, and I just went along with it. Because I think another thing that's important for people who, who have not yet read the book, or heard me on your other podcast episode, like I, just to make it again, clear, God never spoke to me. God always led my life through what he told other people, God spoke to my parents. God spoke to my friends, God spoke to my youth pastor. And I just by the time I was 17, I just gotten used to that I just gotten used to God never touching me. Never slay me with the spirit, never giving me a word, you know, or really putting something on my heart like I, I just accepted that for whatever reason. God didn't talk to me directly. Maybe he might one day, but patriarchy is a big deal in evangelicalism. And so God led my life through my dad. And it made total sense to me that God would lead my life and talk to me through my future husband. So that that for anyone who's wondering is why I went along with it, because it just wasn't surprising to me that God hadn't told me anything about marrying this guy, because God just didn't tell me anything. Period. And again, this was a very dear friend of mine, and I knew the sincerity of his faith. And I, I just was like, okay, and I thought it was also a very, I was struggling so many feelings of betrayal, not just from him as a friend, but also just I felt like God betrayed me because the promise of purity culture, right is that you you do all the right things, you save yourself. And then when God does lead you to your future spouse, it's going to be this epic love story that's like far exceeds your own fleshly imagination when you when you let God write your love story as the purity culture book by Eric and Leslie ludie stated, you know, he's God's going to reward that faith, he's going to reward your obedience. And so I thought that God's revealing of Luke being my future husband, it was jarring for so many reasons, but one of the main reasons was, but I don't have feelings for him. How can this be the epic love story that I was promised? I did everything right, God, I held up my end of the bargain. How can this be? And I felt like the answer that I told myself was, oh, well, this must be the fact that I don't love him that way, but have to marry him It must be God teaching me not to be shallow you know, it's shallow to want to be sexually attracted to someone it's shallow to that I'm that I don't care from that way and you know, it's it's or it's because I'm I couldn't stop masturbating. And so God's punishing my sin by making me marry someone that I'm not sexually attracted to like, that's what I that's what I thought. Yeah. And so I there's a way to justify everything. But that was my line of thinking. And yeah, that's, that's that.

David Ames  49:54  
So you know, stop me if I'm giving too much of the story away, but I also was cheering when your mom kind of sat you down and said he really challenged you. You know? Are you sure? Are you really, really sure. And you kept giving the answers you thought she might want to hear. And she kept pushing until you kind of told her the truth. So good for her man.

Alice Greczyn  50:14  
Yes. Oh, gosh, I know, I know, I'm if it had not been for my mom says. So here's the thing, guys, listeners or people who haven't read it yet. It wasn't just Luke, who was saying that God showed him that we were supposed to get married. My dad and Luke's mom also said the same thing. So there's an external confirmation of God's will, which was crucial to the whole courtship of purity culture, the external confirmation, especially from godly elders, like parents, affirms that you're on course with God's plan and not your own flesh. So my mom, however, did not hear from God that I was supposed to marry Luke. And yeah, she sat me down. And she could tell I was deeply unhappy. This was about two months into arbitrable a month or two into arbitrary level. And I, she could just tell, I lied to her. And I was like, No, I'm happy. You know, like, this is what you know, of course, I'm happy. He's a great guy, you know? And she could she's like, Are you sure though, like, and and I just crumbled into tears. I couldn't hide it from her anymore. And I'm so grateful that she, that she essentially like disobeyed what appeared to be God's plan, and gave me that out. And I also would like to say here, and I say this in the book, my mom had stopped going to church. By that point, my, she had already begun her own deconstruction at that point, although she would not have used that term. But that was also why I didn't trust her right away. It was because like, well, she's off the wagon, totally using her to tell my flesh what it wants to hear that I don't have to marry this guy. And so I still struggled. But ultimately, and it's not spoiling anything like I'm I'm not married, never have been I didn't end up marrying him. I broke it off. And it was the most terrifying thing I've ever ever done to this day.

David Ames  52:00  
Yeah, I think that's what what struck me is you write about it being the most disobedient, you would have ever been to God, that you felt so strongly that that confirmation from your dad, his mom, and he himself that you were disobeying God by, by not having feelings by deciding not to marry this person.

Alice Greczyn  52:23  
Yes. So So I think for sure I had I was, I believed at the time that I was a sinner just by being born, but also because I did struggle with things like lust, like, I don't know, just micro sins, nothing over like stealing, but just, you know, pride, whatever, whatever it was. And so I disobeyed God, sort of, you know, in my own heart and in private, but never in such an overt way, where it affected someone else's life, at least not that I'm aware of. And I felt like, it was so scary, because I wasn't just disobeying God's plan for my life, but his plan for Luke's life. And so I just, I thought, for sure, like, really, really bad consequences were going to happen because I was told, I was taught that God never punished us for our sins, He just allowed consequences to happen, which is the same fucking thing. So it's just semantics. Bottom line, when you go against God, bad things happen. And so I felt like for the first time in my life, I was deliberately and consciously stepping outside the umbrella of God's protection through my mind knowing deliberate sin of not going through with this plan, therefore opening myself up to Satan and all the hell that he would wreak on my life. And I, I was just waiting for it. i There was about like, a year after I ended my betrothal, where it was just what I now know is like major symptoms of religious trauma. But at the time, I just thought I was just waiting for Satan to get me and I it was anxiety, it was self harm. It was like disordered eating. It was it was self violence, it was just true mindfuck I would just I would be driving somewhere and I would just forget where I'm driving and just be crying on the side of the road, I was just waiting for the road to open up and swallow me whole and an earthquake as punishment for my son. And it sounds so weird to say now, but I genuinely believe that, that the consequences of my son would come and get me and I would I was gonna have to, to accept it. And you know, nothing bad happens. Of course, nothing bad happened. I moved on with life and eventually, but that was the turning point of my faith. That was where my deconstruction began, I would say was when I ended my betrayal. I was still a Christian for three years afterwards. But I was a different type of Christian I was starting to explore more liberal Christianity and I wanted desperately to believe that there was still God and he was still a God of love, and forgiveness, and I started focusing on those Bible verses. Was that told me what I wanted to hear that God was real all of my faith hadn't been a total waste my life did still have meaning and purpose and God but it was just a different type of God not the must obey me type of God it was the live your life Ecclesiastes sort of God

David Ames  55:17  
dearly love Ecclesiastes. Oh,

Alice Greczyn  55:19  
I do too. I still do I think of it as a very interesting philosophical book on like, what is the meaning of life? Nothing. It's all just smoke it spit into the wind. Like, it's like an ode to hedonism that for some reason still did not manage to get edited out of the Bible. But yeah, I was more I very much wanted to believe in God, just the Ecclesiastes version. And then even that just I couldn't hold that up anymore eventually.

David Ames  55:57  
You hinted at it earlier, you have kind of a moment of testing God. And one of the things I find fascinating about the vicious cycle of Christianity in particular here, but But faith in general, is by saying that you can't test God. You feel bad for doubting for wanting proof wanting something. So can you tell the story about the spice rack and kind of testing God a little bit?

Alice Greczyn  56:24  
Yes. So okay. So I, I reached a point I was 20. And my boyfriend at the time had sort of like innocently asked me like, Oh, why do you still believe in God anymore? And I was just stumped. And horrified at my stump Ignis, just like I don't know, I felt like I attributed to like, Oh, I'm just flipping out, because I feel put on the spot. But his question just, I couldn't shake it for weeks afterward. And we were watching was trying to watch this documentary called Jesus Camp. And it was so triggering to me, I couldn't make it even 10 minutes into the film, I had to stop it. And it brought up all this anger of like being ignored by God, because I saw these little kids doing what I used to do as a kid like having their hands in the air and crying all these grown ups were praying for them. And maybe some of them are knocking them over. I don't know. But it just, it was really triggering to me. And I was like, I need to know if God's real I can't, like I just couldn't shake it. And so one day, and you'd think something like this would would require like a big elaborate plan of like, how am I going to, like, I would have thought that I would have put a lot more thought into

David Ames  57:34  
it while being fleeces and things like that. Yeah.

Alice Greczyn  57:38  
I feel like I would have made something ceremonious about it or just, I don't know, but I just couldn't shake it one day I was just washing dishes at my sink, just totally mundane. And it was like a hot sunny afternoon and, and I just couldn't wander anymore. I was like, I just I have to test God now. And I had all these Bible verses screaming through my head about do not test the Lord your God. And I was like, I God if God's there he he's gonna get it. If he's really this God of love. He's totally going to have compassionate understand this is not coming from a place of pride or arrogance. This is coming from the most humble place of desperation of God, I want so badly to believe in you. You please, please, please make yourself known. It was not coming from a hottie like oh, yeah, of God's real do this. It wasn't like that it was it. I could not have felt more vulnerable or broken or desperate. And, and I figured, you know, even though it was wrong to test God, if he was really the God of love that I had believed him to be, he would understand and His grace and mercy would cover over any disobedience that that I was committing. And there was a spice rack on my counter. And I just happened to look over it and I was like, oh, man, like I just knew what my test had to be because my test had to be God. If you're real you need to knock over that jar of cinnamon. Because I need I need I needed God to know that like, he couldn't prove himself to me in a way that he chose it needed to be a way that I chose because I knew how slippery My mind was into making anything proof of God like I didn't want to hear my neighbor's doves and think like oh yeah, that's God answered me I didn't want to all of a sudden have a breeze blow through the window and be like, Oh, that's God answering me he does exist I could not afford that type of self convincing faith anymore. So and like you know, it's just a jar of cinnamon you know, this is the this is the God who's done so much more than that, you know turn people into whole pillars of salt and part of Oceans and you know, like all of that so I was like, This just has to be it and I waited and waited just my eyes glued to that jar summit and of course nothing happened and then I bargained with God you know the stages of grief I was in the bargaining stage like okay, it can be it can be another spice you know, knock over cumin knock over nutmeg, like any Okay? doesn't just just any any of that. And eventually I just realized just accepted like, nothing's happening. And it's it was such a weird, disquieting feeling of this slow admission for me of just like, holy shit. Like, there's no one there like, I'm, I'm just talking out loud, like, like, I'm just no one's listening. I just felt like I'm like a little kid talking to an imaginary friend and just all sudden realizing, Oh, they don't exist. And I but I and I felt like strangely, nothing, right? And that there's that numbness that I was talking about earlier, it was just sort of this like, like, I shouldn't be feeling so many feelings, like God was my whole life. And all of a sudden, he doesn't. I know, he doesn't exist. Like, I should be feeling more about this. And I couldn't. And the feeling caught up with me later.

David Ames  1:00:51  
Yeah, yeah, let's get to that. I just want to react to that really quickly. You've expressed something there that I've been trying to express about that those early stages. And I talked about the absence of a sense of absence, well said. And what I mean by that is, shouldn't it feel like something is gone. But the point is, it was never there to begin with. So you've just expressed something that I feel is really deep about the process of deconversion of recognizing, nothing has actually changed? Yes.

Alice Greczyn  1:01:23  
i It's like, how do you grieve someone who didn't exist, you know, when when a loved one dies in front of you or not even in front of you like, there, there can be a certainly a delayed reaction, but like that, it's like they were here, and now they're not. And that is very tangible. That is very obvious. But when you never felt or heard from God to begin with, and all of a sudden, it switches your mind is like, Oh, well, then that just means he's not there. It's like, but I've for 20 years, like been, or 21. I think it was 21. At this point. It was just it was just confusing, sort of. And yeah, I think you actually articulated just now better than better than I could, you know, it's the what did you call the absence of, of a sense of absence? Yes. And it was just the area's thing that I didn't. I didn't reconnect to my feelings again, until a week or so later, when I caught myself praying out loud out of habit. And I just like, froze, like, what, what am I doing? There's no one listening. And that's when the grief hit me. And it was just a spiral from there, guys for the next couple of years.

David Ames  1:02:32  
Yeah, so you talk about the process of trying to find a maybe not overtly secular therapist, but someone who wasn't going to be, you know, either new agey or Christian. You know, somebody who was going to actually help and you eventually do find that, but do you want to just talk about, you know, what did help you through what was very difficult time? It wasn't all sunshine and roses after your deconversion Oh, no,

Alice Greczyn  1:02:58  
I would have like Starbursts have fun and freedom and exhilaration sprinkled between like debilitating psychological trauma. I began having really bad panic attacks, that at the time, I didn't correlate to my loss of faith at all. I just thought I was going crazy out of nowhere, for some reason, because, and in large part in retrospect, I think, I didn't know about religious trauma, then I never talked to any other ex Christians. There, the internet wasn't what it is today, where you can just search a hashtag ex Christian and find a whole community. This was before, before Twitter and everything so and honestly, even if those things had existed, I would not have explored them. Because I think I would have been too afraid of people who were anywhere close to that world. I was so triggered by just the word God, it it like it wasn't even until a couple years ago that it wouldn't make me like flinch inside i since since doing dare to doubt I've, I've had to talk about God so much. And hear about God so much. So I feel pretty totally neutral about it now and good like I can, I can talk about this from a positive place. But for a long time, I just I just wanted to forget it. Honestly, I didn't, I didn't want to have any more power over my life. And so I think that was another reason I didn't attribute any of my post faith, depression, suicidal ideation or other struggles to my loss of faith, because that would be an admission that God still had power over me in some way, even though I no longer believed in him. So yeah, I it was really hard for me to find a therapist that I could that I felt I could trust. I've said before that I think I think that, at least in my experience that might be partly because I live in Los Angeles, which was a very woowoo spiritual kind of city. But I think therapy and ministry have a lot in common. I think the people who are drawn to pastor ship or minister professions, like therapists and counselors are people who genuinely want to help people. And so I think that there's a My experience a lot of overlap between the spiritual community and the psychological health community. And it was, if I felt spiritual vibes or saw spiritual books or a fucking crystal in the office of a therapist, I was like, no, no. Like, like no offense, but no, I because I in therapy you need if you're trying to get the most out of it, you need to be vulnerable, and you need to trust this person. And it's not to say that spiritual therapists are not trustworthy, they just weren't for me where I was at, or even Christian therapists, for that matter, you know, like, wherever, wherever you whatever is helping you grow. Like that's, that's your journey, you know, but for me and mine, I couldn't trust anyone that graduated from a Christian university, for instance, I would Google this shit, I would like look up, like, where did they go to school? You know, like, well, what is the Pepperdine stance? Oh, they went to Pepperdine? Nope. You know, like, it's like, I don't I don't care if it's because they have a good Psychology program. If their value system mentions God, nope. So I needed to know that I if I was going to go to therapy, it needed to feel very safe. And I did eventually find that with my therapist, it was very safe. And I was in therapy for three years, a little bit off and on, but mostly on following my deconversion, I probably would have still stayed in therapy, except I ended up booking a job that took me out of town for a long time. And then I was feeling a lot more level than and not to say that I haven't gone back to therapy at different points in my life. Since I have I am a big advocate of therapy, I totally understand why some people have an aversion to it. I think it's a because I've come across those therapists that I did not feel were a good fit for me. And if those were the only experiences with therapy I had, I probably be very anti it. But anyone who's wondering if therapy can help them. It's up to you. But I would advocate for just keep trying. And that's part of the reason I made dare to doubt is because I wanted to make it easier for people to find therapists, especially secular therapists who have who understand religious trauma, because I think, and again, you mentioned Marlene Brunel. And I certainly read about her work in my book, she wrote this book leaving the fold. And she is a therapist who is ex Pentecostal. And it's part of her mission now to help other therapists recognize signs of religious trauma and to be able to help them help their patients because I think it's natural for a lot of even secular therapists to recommend spiritual practices like meditation. I know many people who get a lot out of that, and I didn't it felt too much to me like prayer.

David Ames  1:07:33  
Yeah, I I'm a huge skeptic, as well on that, on that front. And one of the things I think you capture in the book, and you said this on our, our first episode together, you said, you stopped being good at fooling yourself? Yes, I couldn't lie to myself anymore. God, that's so good. And I feel the same way. Like, it is the seeking after an altered state. Now, if you're gonna, you know, if you want to get high or go get drunk, or what have you, fine. But, but there's, there's still an element of that spirituality where you're seeking some altered state. And for me, my humanism is about experiencing the humanity right, and not trying to be something other than human. And yes,

Alice Greczyn  1:08:16  
I just know, I just felt that in my body when you said it's like, yes, we don't need to try anymore. Right? We can just be yes. Yeah, no, because you're so right. I think that's part of that's the nail on the head of why spirituality doesn't really hold much of an appeal to me, like if the if there's a practice involved. Not only does it mildly, at this point, but it still does trigger me a little bit. And I'm like, Oh, this is my quiet time. I'm sitting down to meditate, you know, that it triggers me a little bit and like a prayer throwback. Not only that, but like it's not, I can, I can accept that. Some things aren't instantaneous. They do require a discipline and a practice before you start seeing the benefits of it. Anyone who's ever tried to work out regime knows that. But the difference between a mental exercise and a physical exercise, my muscles are sore when I work out, I know it's doing something. I don't know anything's happening. If I'm just sitting there, trying not to think and observe my thoughts of like, it's just a mindfuck. To me, I'm like, no, no, I don't I don't think this is for me. It's just not for me. But you know, Sam Harris is one of the most renowned atheists that we have. And he is a huge advocate of meditation. And I've done some of his guided meditations, thinking like, oh, maybe this one will, you know, feel safer to me and it definitely feels safer. It's just an i It's just still not something that I like to do on a regular basis. But I've just accepted that to me. Going for a beautiful hike, or cuddling with my cat and basking in the sun is so much more fulfilling. It's being in my body, it's being in my senses, because meditation is they say, you know, the number one thing, usually for a beginner in meditation is to focus on your breath. And in some ways that is very much like be in your body, but it doesn't work for me. Great for you. if that's helpful to you, but

David Ames  1:10:01  
yeah, and it might sound like we're bashing on that, but I what I like to say is you're an experiment of one, what works for you is a part of this self discovery process. And you know, if meditation is meaningful and valuable to you, that's fantastic. I joke about all the time that running for me is very meditative. You know, that's my thing. You know. So whatever works for the person is really where they should totally totally.

I do want to end just on a bit of the the triumphal bits that I mentioned. So you, you began, dare to doubt. I wanted to read you one more quote from this, you're talking about the millennial experience and to contextualize that often is the people who grew up with the kiss dating, goodbye and a lot of that spiritual purity burden. You say, Yes, this demographic is also resilient. We are as brave as the martyrs we were raised to be. We are battling the spiritual war, we were trained to fight. We're just not on the side of religion. And believe us, no one is more surprised by this than ourselves. We are condemned, prayed for and loathed, as much as we are feared. But persecution was once our fuel. Our skin is thick, with the courage to fight for the truth as we see it, and where we want saw through dogma colored glasses, we now see through the lens of relativity, reason and the validity of our own experiences. It is easy to dismiss us as bitter, it is understandable to write off our deconversion as desperate attempts at individual individuation and rebellion. It is compassionate to ask us why we left instead of praying for us to rejoin just just it's amazing. Allison's just totally beautiful. Thank you. Thank you. I appreciate that. So I've been talking to Alice Greczyn and her talking about her new book wayward, which should come out February 2, if I'm not mistaken. And this episode, if everything works out, right, we'll be out the day before. So I will have links in the show notes for your new book. That's exciting. How else can people reach you?

Alice Greczyn  1:12:11  
You can follow me on Instagram at Alice Greczyn it's just my name. I'm assuming you'll have a link where people can see the the Polish spelling of my name. So Alice Greczyn and then you can also find me on Twitter at Alice food. And check out dare to doubt two, if you're someone who's been deconstructing David, the graceful atheist is on their dare to is a resource site, just Yeah, featuring different resources for people from different backgrounds. Right now. There's there's several different religious backgrounds that I have resources for if you're in the middle of deconstructing from any of them. But yeah, check out the book. And David, thank you so much for having me on here. Again. Always a delight to chat.

David Ames  1:12:51  

Final thoughts on the episode? Well, my first thought is go buy this book. It is absolutely amazing. It is available on Amazon. I will have links in the show notes. And on my website. It is available on Alice's website, As well, from our conversation, I think you've got a really good feel for just how incredibly intelligent, passionate and articulate Alice is. And the book represents that as well. As I was trying to hint at the overwhelming feeling that I personally had while reading it was just a protection for Alice and feeling aggrieved and angry for her. But in the book, she does not come off as bitter in any way. This is a person's reflection back on an entire lifetime of the experience of growing up Evangelical, experiencing the negative sides of that environment. And then slowly but surely overcoming that. There are many difficulties along the way, including self harm and suicidal ideation. So this was not an easy process for Alice, which makes the book all that more poignant and powerful as she tears out her soul to tell you her story. I also want to encourage everyone to check out dare to that is Alice's organization that is helping people go through faith transitions. She has a tremendous number of resources there. She has been much much better at that than I have. No matter which faith tradition you are coming from. She has resources for you, and that includes lots of non Christian religious backgrounds. I want to thank Alice for being on the podcast and for sharing. So powerfully her story and the book with us. As always, one of the main drivers for me is about honest V and self honesty and Alice represents that so, so well, I wish Alice all the best luck with the book, I hope that all of you listening will go out and buy it. And I hope to see more books from Alice in the future. Thank you, Alice. As I mentioned at the top of the show, I have just been amazed at some of the emails that I've gotten of late of the stories of people going through difficult deconversion processes. I just want to thank you for listening. I want to encourage all of the listeners as a community to have each other's backs. I am interested to hear from you if we need to provide some kind of online space for communication amongst the listeners, I have thus far been hesitant to do so based on the fact that virtually every podcast in this space has its own community, and I am not a particularly good community organizer. What I'd really be interested from hearing from you all is if there's someone who would be willing to admin, say a Facebook group or some other online group that would allow people to communicate with one another that would be able to do moderate and basically own that I'd be very interested in hearing that. Please get in touch with me graceful We will continue to have some exciting episodes coming up, including my conversation with Mayor Simka and my conversation with Troy. Representing y'all means all as well as many others, so please look forward to those upcoming episodes. Until then, my name is David and I am trying to be the graceful atheist join me and be graceful human beings.

Time for the footnotes. The beat is called waves from MCI beats links will be in the show notes. If you'd like to support the podcast, you can promote it on your social media. You can subscribe to it in your favorite podcast application. And you can rate and review it on pod If you have audio engineering expertise and you'd be interested in participating in the graceful atheist podcast, get in touch with me. Have you gone through a faith transition? And do you need to tell your story? Reach out? If you are a creator, or work in the deconstruction deconversion or secular humanism spaces, and you'd like to be on the podcast? Just ask. If you'd like to financially support the podcast there's links in the show notes. To find me you can google graceful atheist. You can google secular grace, you can send me an email graceful or you can check out the website graceful My name is David and I am trying to be the graceful atheist join me and be graceful human beings

this has been the graceful atheist podcast

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