Taylor Yoder: In the Trenches of Deconstruction and Deconversion

Atheism, Autonomy, Deconstruction, Deconversion, ExVangelical, Podcast, Purity Culture
Listen on Apple Podcasts

This week’s guest is Taylor. Taylor grew up in a small church in a small town, surrounded by Christianity. She had family devotions at home and a private-Christian-academy curricula at school.

By twenty-one, however, she moved out and stopped attending church completely. Her “personal relationship with Jesus” was more important than church-going. 

While watching a loved one live with cancer and then face death, Taylor’s faith gave her hope and meaning, until it didn’t. Depressive episodes came for a while and Taylor knew she needed to get mentally healthy. 

Once her head was “out of the fog,” and she began reading the Bible again, she was shocked at what she read. It had been there all along, but now she could see. “[People said,] ‘Well you just need to dig deeper in the Bible.’ It had the complete opposite effect.”

Now Taylor has let go of many childhood beliefs. She doesn’t have all the answers. but she has peace—a peace that hasn’t come from supernatural help but from doing her own inner work. She is her own savior, no one else. 

Links

Instagram
https://www.instagram.com/skeptical_heretic/

Recommendations

Watching online debates

Encouraging myself rather than praying

You are Your Own by Jamie Lee Finch

Genetically Modified Skeptic

Religion for Breakfast

#AmazonPaidLinks

Quotes

“I feel I am currently in the trenches of deconstruction and deconversion.”

“While digging deep to heal my trauma, it got really hard and it is strange to say, the happier and more at peace I became with my healing the more I doubted my faith.”

“This is such a hard time for me but I have found that talking about this out loud is very helpful to me,
as I can not do that often since every single family member I have is a serious Christian.”

“It felt like I really didn’t have to deal with [death and grieving] because I was given this idea that life is just very temporary and the big part of life is going to be after we die…”

“The second I started healing and unpacking stuff, I had the motivation to really look into my faith and my religion and start asking questions…I was like, Wait. I did this on my own. I helped myself, and that’s the only reason I got better.”

“[People said,] ‘Well you just need to dig deeper in the Bible.’ It had the complete opposite effect.”

“Well, that makes sense why [Christians need apologetics] because some of the stuff is awful.”

“I started looking at my earthly father versus my heavenly father, and I was like, The stuff that God is doing and threatening to do, my dad would never do to me.”

“[Not having to have all the answers] gives me the opportunity to keep learning about stuff and also learn from my experiences.”

“Taking all my morals and thoughts from the Bible stopped me from growing as a person.”

“I wasn’t willing to give up my true morals and values just to stay part of that community.”

“Religion really pushed me to be critical of myself…and I was doing that to others.”

“I can mess up as a human without it being this inherently evil thing. I can just mess up and make mistakes and that’s okay.”

“For me, if the Bible wasn’t correct, everything else was just done for me. Whether there was a god or not didn’t really matter…”

Interact

Heather Wells interview mentioned in Taylor’s interview:
https://gracefulatheist.com/2022/11/06/heather-wells-trustworthy/

Join the Deconversion Anonymous Facebook group!

Deconversion
https://gracefulatheist.com/2017/12/03/deconversion-how-to/

Secular Grace
https://gracefulatheist.com/2016/10/21/secular-grace/

Support the podcast
Patreon https://www.patreon.com/gracefulatheist
Paypal: paypal.me/gracefulatheist

Podchaser - Graceful Atheist Podcast

Attribution

“Waves” track written and produced by Makaih Beats

Three Yous

Blog Posts, Deconstruction, Deconversion, Secular Grace, Thought Experiments

Imagine a genie walks (floats? sidles?) up to you and says, “See that guy over there? Yeah, the 80-year-old that looks like he’s having a great time. If you say yes, I’ll make him sad and lonely, riddled with guilt, obsessing over the past. So, shall we?” How would you react?

Assuming you react with disgust or shock, why is that? Seems obvious: It would be awful to do that to someone.

Or try this: someone walks up to you on a playground and says, “See that mom over there? She used to yell at her kids, like super angry stuff. You should go over there and tell her to undo it.”

That’s also inhumane, but why? Again, seems obvious: she can’t do anthing about it. Plus, she’s doing better now. It’ll do a lot of harm, and what good would it do?

Now imagine the 80-year-old guy is your future self, or the mom is your past self. We do those things to ourselves all the time. We beat ourselves up over the past, even though we’re doing better. We shortchange ourselves now, laying the foundation for sadness and loneliness in the future.

For that reason, I like to think of myself as three different people: past Jimmy, Jimmy, and future Jimmy.

With past Jimmy, I try to be kind. An arm-over-the-shoulder, kindly uncle to my past self. Sure, past Jimmy screwed up, but he knows it, and he’s working to do better. Plus, you see how much progress he’s made? Cut him some slack, present Jimmy!

With future Jimmy, I try to be kind. I invest in friendships, knowing that friendship is key to human flourishing. I try to do healthy things, knowing that future Jimmy is the one who’s going to pay for today.

In the end, all we have is right now. The past is unchangeable and the future is unknowable.

I like how James Clear put it, though he’s coming from a self-help perspective:

Be forgiving with your past self.
Be strict with your present self.
Be flexible with your future self.

Being forgiving with your past self sounds pretty healthy to me.

– Jimmy

PS – I literally speak in the third person about past and future Jimmys. (Jimmies?) Try it! it’s weirdly helpful.

Bryan: Ex-Apologist

Atheism, Bloggers, Critique of Apologetics, Deconversion, ExVangelical, Podcast
Listen on Apple Podcasts

This week Arline guest hosts, interviewing Bryan the Ex-Apologist. Bryan grew up in a deeply fundamentalist church. Not only did they believe they were the True Church…they were the Only Church.

Bryan spent his teen and young adult years preaching, evangelizing and heatedly debating others. He was convinced he had all the right answers and other people needed those right answers. He sees his younger self as a “jerk for Jesus.” 

Realizing he was wrong about a single theological issue, he began to wonder, How do I know what’s essential and what’s not? If there was absolute truth in the world, Bryan was determined to find it. 

He has come a long way from the fundamentalism of his youth, and you can find his current counter-apologetics research and writing at The Ex-Apologist blog.

Links

The Ex-Apologist blog
https://theexapologist.com/

Email
TheFormerChristianApologist@gmail.com

Quotes

“There are a lot of denominations who refuse to believe they are a denomination. They want to believe that they are The Church that Jesus built. They are the special ones.”

“This was my conditioning. I really inherited these views from my church family…but then I took it to another level.”

“Even my parents saw me as radical.”

“I wanted to save souls, and I thought debating was a great way to do that.”

“I was a ‘Jerk for Jesus,’ because I thought that’s what I was supposed to be doing.”

“Just within our church group…I documented over a hundred different issues that people divided over. Just within our group!”

“I love studying…I absolutely love geeking out on everything I can!”

“…I was still not treating the Bible within its context, because what I started realizing was, I’m not a Biblical complementarian…the Bible teaches a much harsher complementarianism than just about any view…”

“If there’s a god, why would he leave such thin, house of cards type evidence…”

Interact

Join the Deconversion Anonymous Facebook group!

Deconversion
https://gracefulatheist.com/2017/12/03/deconversion-how-to/

Secular Grace
https://gracefulatheist.com/2016/10/21/secular-grace/

Support the podcast
Patreon https://www.patreon.com/gracefulatheist
Paypal: paypal.me/gracefulatheist

Podchaser - Graceful Atheist Podcast

Attribution

“Waves” track written and produced by Makaih Beats

You Can’t Change the Past

Blog Posts, Deconversion, Philosophy, Purity Culture

Forget everything else. Keep hold of this alone and remember it: Each of us lives only now, this brief instant. The rest has been lived already, or is impossible to see.

Meditations 3.10 (Hays)

One of the hardest things about deconverting is coming to terms with the fact that there’s so much time already spent: time spent doing what now seems like a complete waste; time spent not doing the things that seem to actually make up a life. So frustrating. Such a waste. Why did purity culture have to happen when I had youth and energy? Why did I spend that youth and energy building up hangups and trauma around sex? Why don’t I know how to have friends?

It’s like Plato’s allegory of the cave was somehow tangled up with that urban legend about waking up after a party, missing a kidney. Or does that metaphor only work for me?

And it’s harder the later in life you deconvert.

One of the most helpful things I’ve found is to accept that the past is gone. Nothing I can do about it, nothing I can do to get it back.

Easier said than done.

First, why is it helpful? If I know I can’t do anything about the past, I can shift my focus on the present moment. The present moment is something I can do something about. Sure, I can learn from the past, but when it comes to making choices, what matters is the here and now.

Even better, if I accept the past as unchangeable, I can be kind to myself, cutting myself some slack for the road ahead.

A thought experiment to take away: What if you were dropped into your current situation? What if you were unceremoniously plopped into the body, memories, life, history, and family of someone else in this situation? What if you knew it wasn’t your life? What would you do? Would you do anything differently? Would you feel differently about the past? How?

– Jimmy

PS – I asked one of these new AI programs for a suggested title for this post. My favorite: “From Kidney Theft to Puritan Lessons: Surviving Unappreciated Time.” …success?

Rachel Hunt: Recovering From Religion

Deconstruction, Deconversion, doubt, Podcast, Secular Therapy, Volunteerism
Listen on Apple Podcasts

This week’s guest is Rachel Hunt. Rachel is both the Support Group Director and an Ambassador for Recovering From Religion.

From her RFR bio, “Rachel is a motorcycle-riding ballroom dance teacher from rural Texas. Married with two adult children, Rachel has a strong interest in psychology, philosophy, and communication, in addition to the creative arts and home improvement. She was raised in Christian Science but drifted off as a teenager. She explored Scientology, Law of Attraction, and a variety of Protestant churches before settling comfortably into atheism.”

Rachel shares her personal story and how Recovering from Religion is serving people all over the world.

Links

24/7 RfR hotline: 84-I-Doubt-It (844-368-2848 )
https://www.recoveringfromreligion.org/#rfr-welcome

Recovering From Relgion
https://www.recoveringfromreligion.org/

Secular Therapy Project
https://www.seculartherapy.org/

Quotes

“It is because people in religious communities are taught to suppress them [doubts] or hide them.
Everybody around you could be doubting but you will never know it because they are afraid to show it to you.”

“What I find, the more I do this, is that people just need someone to listen and not judge and not tell them they’re wrong.”

“The more I learned about science and evidence and developed my critical thinking skills, the more I realized: This just doesn’t make sense.”

“[Religious people] will sell you the snake oil to what ails you. They know what people want and need, and they’ll just promise it. They have absolutely no evidence that they can provide it, but that doesn’t stop them from promising whatever you want.”

“A church shouldn’t be the only place you can go where people are nice to you.”

“Critical thinking is a just thing that people lack, even in general society. But religious organizations…[they] really consider faith and childlike gullibility to be virtues…”

“[At Recovering from Religion,] our job is to meet you where you are and to help you get to where you want to go…”

“Changing the way you think doesn’t automatically change the way you feel.” 

“Refusing to have boundaries and refusing to respect that your body needs…autonomy. It’s almost like taking the doors off of your house and telling yourself that it’s your responsibility to let anybody who wants to, to walk through and take whatever they want. It’s damaging.”

“As bad as all these issues are, just having someone to talk to—who understands and may have experienced something similar—is so healing. So soothing.”

“You can self-gaslight.”

“The reasons to believe are so ephemeral. They’re all social and behavioral.” 

Interact

Join the Deconversion Anonymous Facebook group!

Deconversion
https://gracefulatheist.com/2017/12/03/deconversion-how-to/

Secular Grace
https://gracefulatheist.com/2016/10/21/secular-grace/

Support the podcast
Patreon https://www.patreon.com/gracefulatheist
Paypal: paypal.me/gracefulatheist

Podchaser - Graceful Atheist Podcast

Attribution

“Waves” track written and produced by Makaih Beats

It takes time

Deconstruction, Deconversion, Hell Anxiety, Religious Trauma

Say you’ve realized you no longer believe, gone through some of the typical stages of deconversion, and are ready to move on with your life, when, Whammo! You’re blindsided by some old feeling from your previous life.

“Why do I still fear Hell?” “Why am I still afraid of being Left Behind?” “Why do I still feel guilty when I stay home from church?” “Why do I still feel guilt around sex? I’m a grown-up, for crying out loud.”

This is one of the hardest things I’ve found day-to-day about being deconverted. I don’t believe any more, but my body doesn’t seem to have got the message.

There’s a lot I can say on this topic, but number one is this:

It takes time.

It takes time to deprogram what took decades to program in the first place. It takes time to get used to who you are today and who you are becoming. It takes time to figure out how to navigate a world where you don’t have a book (or a publishing industry, church, etc.) telling you how to think. It takes time to find new art, new music, new friends, new habits, and new…everything.

I don’t say these things to be overwhelming, though I know from experience it can be. For now, I hope you can be patient with yourself. Be kind. You’ve been through a lot, and it’ll take time.

It’s been several years since I realized I no longer believed, and I can tell you: it gets better. There’s a wide, wonderful world of truly incredible people, experiences, places, ideas. This whole world is now open to you.

– Jimmy

Troy and Brian: I Was A Teenage Fundamentalist

Atheism, Deconversion, ExVangelical, Podcast, Podcasters
Listen on Apple Podcasts

This week’s guests are Brian and Troy of the podcast, I was a Teenage Fundamentalist. They interviewed David at the end of 2022, and now it’s our turn to hear from them.

Brian and Troy “used to be loyal Christians megachurch leaders. They’re not anymore.” Their parallel stories are fascinating, as we are given a glimpse into their past lives and the Pentecostal movement in Australia.

Today, Brian and Troy’s “honest and often hilarious podcast peeks behind the curtain at the weird, the worrying and the sometimes traumatic world of Evangelicals and Pentecostals.” This is a great episode that you won’t want to miss! 

Links

Website
https://www.iwasateenagefundamentalist.com/

I Was A Teenage Fundamentalist podcast
https://pod.link/1558606464

Twitter
https://twitter.com/WasTeenage

Facebook
https://www.facebook.com/TeenageFundamentalist

Facebook Group
https://www.facebook.com/groups/3188989997871128

Link Tree
https://linktr.ee/iwatf

YouTube
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCs0jrFsxPsg7rGNfgqzAGug

IWATF interviews David from the Graceful Atheist Podcast
https://pod.link/1558606464/episode/f8067a71cf74f38205420663954fceaf

Quotes

“I say, ‘I started to deconvert,’ but I think I had started to deconvert the day I joined…because as you’re studying, as you’re looking into it all, you come across these issues, these contradictions…”

Troy

“I would say I felt accepted [in the church]. I would say it was absolutely conditional…on me behaving and conforming. But I was happy to do that at the time as long as that meant connection.”

Brian

“Bit by bit, I just started to think, This just isn’t actually true. But I didn’t want to come out and say it.”

Brian

“When you’ve been in Christianity for so long. When you’ve operated in such a confined environment…[and then] you open the floodgates and start to use some of your brainpower, sometimes it can become a scary place for people.”

Brian

“Anyone can tell their story. There’s such a power in human connection. There’s such a power in sense-making and story-making in our lives.”

Brian

“Pentecostalism is a very small slice in Australia, but it’s a very influential slice of Christianity.”

Brian

“I would bet there are more ex-Pentecostals than there are Pentecostals.”

Troy

“[In] most of the progressive groups, most of these progressive denotations, there are very few converts. It’s mostly refugees from conservative theology who…end up there.”

Troy

Interact

Join the Deconversion Anonymous Facebook group!

Deconversion
https://gracefulatheist.com/2017/12/03/deconversion-how-to/

Secular Grace
https://gracefulatheist.com/2016/10/21/secular-grace/

Support the podcast
Patreon https://www.patreon.com/gracefulatheist
Paypal: paypal.me/gracefulatheist

Podchaser - Graceful Atheist Podcast

Attribution

“Waves” track written and produced by Makaih Beats

Come to the Edge

Blog Posts, Deconstruction, Deconversion, Secular Community, Secular Grace

Come to the Edge 

by Christopher Logue

Come to the edge.

We might fall.

Come to the edge.

It’s too high!

COME TO THE EDGE!

And they came,

And he pushed, 

And they flew.

The edge—the brink, the threshold, the end. The edge is where you may, with one false step, plummet to your death. The edge is where uncertainty lies, and that’s terrifying. 

When we get to the edge of nearly anything, our limbic system kicks in and screams, “You’re about to die. Stop! Turn back!” We want to run away. And if staying alive is our highest objective, perhaps we should. But is there not more to life than simply surviving?

If I leave christianity, where will I go? 

If I keep asking these questions, who will be there to answer them? 

If I no longer have faith, what will I have? 

The thing is: you don’t know. Everything about standing at the edge is uncertain. But, if you’re honest with yourself, wasn’t life uncertain back living inside the fences?

Still too much outside your control. Now, at least, you can acknowledge that truth and move forward. Do it.

Do it, scared. 

Do it, full of doubt. 

Do it, seeking help along the way. 

But do it, move forward toward the edge. Let yourself be pushed and then fly. You may be pleasantly surprised at the trip. 

–Arline

Evan Clark: Atheists United

Atheism, Communities of Unbelief, Humanism, Podcast, Secular Community, Secular Grace
Listen on Apple Podcasts

This week’s guest is Evan Clark. Evan is the Executive Director of Atheists United. Evan grew up in a partially religious home, but at six years old, the idea of a god didn’t make sense to him.

He attended a Christian liberal arts college and was able to start its first atheist group. Since then, he’s gone on to create many humanist communities.

In this episode, Evan explains why atheist spaces in the US differ from spaces in other more progressive countries, why community is not the only thing people need, and he shares some of Atheists United’s upcoming projects. 

Quotes

“‘Why do you need an atheist community?’ It’s not about atheism; it’s about atheists. Atheists are people, and people need community.”

“In the US, we don’t fix homelessness with our government. We don’t fix hunger with our government. We don’t provide healthcare to all of our citizens, and so what is the most powerful, most well-funded institution, outside of government, that then steps up?…religion.”

“There’s something unique about the humanist perspective that we can offer the world.”

“To be a ‘Philosophy Bro’ is abnormal. To sit and ponder literally everything while things burn around me? That is a privilege upon a privilege.”

“There’s so much more value from what I can do…getting atheists together and doing good work and providing transformational spaces for them; rather than being the one who fixes bad ideas of other people.”

“You stay in an organization, and you become active in an organization…when it transforms you, when it’s something that helps you grow as a human being.”

“Humanism starts from the idea that magic isn’t real. It’s a naturalist world…God and gods aren’t things that matter to our universe. We are these small little homo sapiens on a small planet, in a small galaxy, in an unbelievably massive universe.”

“The story of the universe and the idea that you can solve problems…and understand your place in [your community] and figure out moral and ethical problems. I think that’s more beautiful [than religion] because it’ll always improve based on new evidence and experience.”

Links

Atheists United
https://www.atheistsunited.org/

Atheists United Studios Podcast Network
https://www.atheistsunited.org/au-studios

Interact

Join the Deconversion Anonymous Facebook group!

Deconversion
https://gracefulatheist.com/2017/12/03/deconversion-how-to/

Secular Grace
https://gracefulatheist.com/2016/10/21/secular-grace/

Support the podcast
Patreon https://www.patreon.com/gracefulatheist
Paypal: paypal.me/gracefulatheist

Podchaser - Graceful Atheist Podcast

Attribution

“Waves” track written and produced by Makaih Beats

More confident than you think

Deconversion

You are probably more confident than you think.

I recently heard a friend, a fellow deconvert, talking about how she’s not very confident, and my jaw fell open just a little… she always seemed confident to me. Pretty sure she wasn’t saying, “I’m never confident in any area of my life,” but still: Why did I feel the disconnect?

People have different abilities. It’s common for someone like me–one who spends most of his time in his head and sometimes making music–to be in awe of a dancer, creating beauty in a way I couldn’t with my stilted clumsiness. Similarly, I think you can have different levels of confidence in various areas of life.

In this case, my friend was talking about having the confidence to speak up in a conversation where an authority figure (A pastor, I think.) was throwing his authority around. I think I under my feeling of disconnect. It seemed like she was shortchanging herself. She had stared down the reality that what she had believed for a big chunk of her life, realized it was bogus and, more importantly, she had done something about it.

Facing reality can be hard, hard, hard. Why not stay with what’s comfortable? Why not avoid the realization that we’re wrong about some things–that we’re not the center of the universe; that the cognitive dissonance we’re feeling will be explained when we get to Heaven; that God isn’t answering our prayers?

So, be encouraged! Don’t sell yourself short. Even if you can’t face down an apologist and call his bluff; even if you don’t speak out for justice in all situations, you are probably more confident than you think, and that’s a significant step toward reconstruction.