My guest this week is Geoffrey Wallis, author of A Voice From Inside: Notes on Religious Trauma in a Captive Organization. Geoffrey is Physically In but Mentally Out (PIMO) of the Jehovah’s Witnesses. After recognizing the religious trauma and the cognitive dissonance he was experiencing he found help through therapy. He remains within the Watchtower organization because it is a “captive organization” which enforces shunning by family members and friends.
My guest this week is David. David is the son and grandson of pastors. He does has have good memories of growing up in the church and he credits his parents with restraint. As an adult, he became more fundamentalist. He was a Southern Baptist and went through a very strong Calvinist phase.
It seems like that if an all knowing god was to inspire the writing of the most important book ever in the history of mankind it would have been something that would have been preserved to where we could look at the originals and it would have been something that was consistent. And I don’t see that.
David taught apologetics classes. He delved into apologetics to qualm his own questions. But teaching apologetics on topics like the Trinity led to more doubt not less. It was a re-read through the Bible where he began to recognize the god of the Bible is not a loving one. The full implications of Reformed theology began to have horrifying implications.
We you are deconverting like I did, I was weeping before the lord asking him to give that belief back to me and he didn’t.
Ultimately, David deconverted and now calls himself agnostic. Today David is the co-host of the That’s Questionable podcast.
It’s amazing how much more peace I feel on this side of the decision than on the other side.
My guest this week is Daniel Kelly, the new co-host of When Belief Dies. Daniel began as a Charismatic Christian, moved to an Orthodox Christian church and eventually was at a Bible church that preached through every verse in the bible.
Daniel was a dedicated Christian working in a Christian non-profit helping those with disabilities. His mother had MS when he grew up so he was focused on helping his family through difficult times and did not always get to be a kid.
I believed I had to be perfect and I had to be helpful to everyone in order to be valuable.
Daniel’s feminism and belief in the humanity of the LGBTQ community, led to moral objections to some of the harder Biblical passages that do not uphold the humanity and full autonomy of everyone. His serious investigations into theology and the Bible were some of the early seeds that led to deconversion.
The grief Daniel experienced leaving the faith and the loss were profound. He lost his faith, his community, the health of his relationship and on top of that the pandemic hit. He was isolated and alone. He experienced “Hell Anxiety” and worried he was a “vessel of wrath.” The first year after deconversion was one of the most difficult of his life.
He made it through and today he is the co-host of the When Belief Dies podcast. He is building healthy relationships and restoring family relations. He is experiencing the freedom to love people unconditionally.
One of the most difficult things about deconstruction, deconversion, etc. is feeling alone. It’s terrifying not only to go through a full blown metaphysical and existential crisis, but to do so knowing that the people who are supposed to love you the most can’t or won’t accept you as they once did.
My guest this week is Vanessa. She describes herself as “born into a large family of fire and brimstone preaching, bible beating, in-tongues-speaking Christians in the Pentecostal Church of God faith tradition.” Her father, her grandfather, and her great grandfather all were pastors of her home church.
My full break from faith came in the form of rage when it hit me that I’d never had parents – I’d only had pastors.
She began to doubt at a fairly young age and discovered she no longer believed in god in her college years.
As a non-believer she married her believing husband. Recently being unequally yoked has become a discussion point as they negotiate how to raise their daughter. Vanessa is grateful she can be present for her daughter in a way she did not receive when she was young.
We discuss unequally yoked marriage, secular parenting and post-traumatic church syndrome.
My guest this week is Travis. Travis documented his deconstruction on the blog measureoffaith.blog. There Travis has documented his journey from a questioning but dedicated Christian to a doubting agnostic. He delves into the apologetics that were supposed to give him comfort but which ultimately led to loss of faith.
This is one of the more emotionally raw episodes. Travis opens up about his grief at the loss of his beloved father. His dad was an example of faith well lived and it had a profound impact on Travis. We discuss what secular grief is like after one no longer can be comforted by belief in life after death.
I have been feeling a little conflicted putting this information out there that can potentially help people lose faith because it was so important to someone like my dad. It makes me question whether I really want to be a participant for taking that away from someone.
These days Travis feels like he has said what he needed to say on the blog. His compassion and empathy is evident in that he is more concerned with caring for the people in his life than endlessly debating apologetics and counter-apologetics.
My guest this week is Amy Rath, the host of the NoneLife podcast. NoneLife is dedicated to all those who check “None of the above” for a religious category and who do not feel comfortable being categorized any other way. The podcast is inspiring us all to do good in the world and to live an ethical life.
I’m Amy, and I’m a “none.” A what? Well, it took a lot of searching for me to find this term, but it fits perfectly. A “none” is someone who doesn’t belong to any particular religion. There are likely as many reasons for being a “none” as there are individuals, so we’re a hard group to label. Nones might be atheists, agnostics, former-members-of religions, humanists, etc. etc. etc.
Amy grew up a dedicated Catholic and was “all in.” In her late teens and early twenties she felt better “just not believing in anything.” In 2019 she discovered the term “None” as in “None of the above” and had a sense of “coming home.” “Finally there is a name for what I am.” She had found her people.
Amy is a shameless heathen who tries to remember that it’s rewarding to be nice to others. She’d prefer not to create a cult, but don’t test her.
Amy started the NoneLife podcast so that others could discover this sense of finding themselves sooner. She has become an important and inspiring voice for Nones the world over.
The concept of celebrating an ethical life absent organized religion has been on my mind for years.
If you are interested in producing music for the Graceful Atheist Podcast, the sound I am looking for has a strong baseline and beat with gospel church organ, potentially with R&B or Gospel vocal samples. Here is a playlist to inspire you to Gospel R&B Beats. Get in touch.
I begin every streaming interview with a question, “hi, can you hear me?” Never has an affirmative answer to such a mundane question been so profound as it was with this week’s guest, Caroline Schwabe. Caroline had progressive hearing loss and eventually could no longer speak on the phone even with hearing aids. Almost by accident, she was referred to a Cochlear implant program in Canada during a routine hearing test. January 28, 2018, was her last deaf day. She has been on a three-year journey of rediscovery after receiving a Cochlear implant.
Along with her husband, Andreas, Caroline co-hosts a podcast called My Beautify Cyborg about her Cochlear implant journey. It describes the hopes and fears leading up to surgery and the joy and rediscovery after turning on the implant. Caroline’s gratitude and joy is infectious and comes through in each episode.
Caroline and Andreas had experienced major disappointments and hurts from the Church. At the same time she was going through the implant process, both she and her husband were slowly leaving the Church. If not a full blown deconstruction, they have been asking very hard questions and wrestling with the answers. This episode is unique in that there are two parallel stories: one of regaining hearing and one of questioning one’s faith.
Podcasts have played an out sized role in Caroline’s rediscovery of hearing and language recognition, including this one.
My guest this week is Arline. Arline became a Christian in early adulthood. She went to a Christian college where she met her now-husband. Her faith tradition was a severe version of Calvinism. She taught complementarianism. The roles allowed for women and complementarianism were not a good fit for Arline’s inquisitive personality.
Years later I realized that [complementarianism] was a very new thing and I was so angry because I had been taught it was this Bibilcal idea. So in my mind biblical means it has been around for thousands of years. No, it was like 1987. What is this?
Her husband went through an emotional deconversion first. Arline did not take this as well as she would now like. Alongside this was the long slow deterioration of her mother’s health. She slowly began to deconstruct. First by exploring other versions of Christianity. Eventually exploring other faith traditions including meditation from a Buddhist perspective. In short. she was letting her curiosity and intelligence explore all the areas of interest that were previously prohibited.
Here’s the succinct version: Christian fifteen years, since college. Super loved Jesus, the Bible, church, all the things. Tried my darndest to be changed by the Holy Spirit. Happily married to super Christian guy from campus ministry. He slowly (felt suddenly to me!) realized he had to be agnostic because god of the Bible is a monster. Sent me on a two-year spiritual meandering. Finally caved and am now figuring out what atheism looks like for me.
In the end, for her own personal intellectual integrity she admitted to herself she no longer believed. She has since discovered natural human habits that have helped her far more than her faith ever had.