This is the three year anniversary of the Graceful Atheist Podcast. Thank you to everyone who has listened and participated. Special thanks to Mike T and Arline for their work on the podcast over the past year.
This week’s guest is Ryan Mulkowsky. Ryan grew up Independent Fundamentalist Baptist. He made a “profession of faith” when he was nine years old and was reading Christian apologetics before he was twelve. By fourteen, Ryan was “licensed” by the church and started teaching the kids.
However, Ryan’s mental health suffered during adolescence. Whether at home, school or church, no place was safe for him to grow and change—strict dress codes, young-earth creationism, white-centered history books and virtually no sexual education.
“I constantly felt like anything that was happening to me was because I was a sinner or because I was depraved or something was wrong with me.”
Ryan went to one university that was even more conservative and strict than his high school, left and graduated from another with a degree in apologetics. But Ryan knew he wanted to be with people.
“I realized that the majority of the apologists have this disposition. They have zero interest in talking to people. They just like to debate, and they just like to lecture.”
Soon Ryan was introduced to healthcare chaplaincy, and for the first time, saw people up-close in great physical and emotional need. He was also introduced to other religious faiths—Buddhism Orthodox Judaism and progressive Christianity.
“That’s when a lot of my beliefs started disintegrating and dissolving and coming apart was when I was a chaplain and a resident.”
Ryan is a now a secular humanist, married with a family and working as a grief coordinator for Hospice. His life has both meaning and purpose without religion. He is living out secular grace by providing comfort and peace in some of humanity’s most vulnerable moments.
“That’s where the beautiful stuff is. That’s where the human, raw, real, unfiltered but so damn beautiful and sacred stuff is.”
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“Waves” track written and produced by Makaih Beats