Mark Landes: Military, Deconversion and Humanism

Bloggers, Deconversion, Humanism, LGBTQ+, Podcast
Click to play episode on anchor.fm
Listen on Apple Podcasts

My guest this week is Mark Landes, a former Army officer working toward becoming a humanist chaplain. Mark grew up in the United Methodist tradition. He went to West Point, became an officer in the Army and hoped to become a chaplain.

It is surprisingly easy to not act on your hormones with a person of the opposite sex as a gay male when you are publicly declaring that you are not having sex before you are married due to your Evangelical Christian faith.

Mark’s army career is a fascinating tale in itself. He was stationed in West Berlin shortly before the fall of the Berlin Wall. Then during the Gulf War, he volunteered to go to Kuwait and experienced the first air raid of the Gulf War. Mark was also a gay man in the military, before the time of “don’t ask don’t tell,” when there were witch hunts to remove gay military members. He was investigated and removed with an “other than honorable” discharge.

I felt like I was letting down god, my family, my school.
Everything was being taken away from me.
It just seemed like my world was coming to an end.

Understandably, Mark went through time of deep depression. To make matters worse, when he returned to the states, he joined a 12 step group that was in effect group conversion-therapy. It is during this dark time that Mark began to question the reality of god. Through a years-long process, Mark deconverted, eventually admitting to himself he no longer believed.

I was holding on to the promise that god could help me, god could be there for me, and when I tried to speak to him, I didn’t get anything back, and that is is actually when I realized that what I had been doing this entire time is just talking to myself.

Mark has since become a humanist celebrant and has tried to get a Masters in Divinity to become a humanist chaplain. During the process, he began his “theological anthropology” which led him to tell his story. He now wants to get a Masters in Pastoral care and is hoping to create an “institutional chaplaincy” in the business world. This humanist journey began with him asking the question, “how can I make the world a better place?”


Eventually, I saw everything I did to go to West Point, become an Army officer, get a master’s degree in computer science, and rebuild my life was not supernatural, but the result of my hard work.

Mark’s Blog
https://humanistchaplainjourney.blogspot.com/

Captain Cassidy
https://gracefulatheist.com/2019/10/17/captain-cassidy-roll-to-disbelieve/

Sasha Sagan
https://gracefulatheist.com/2020/02/06/sasha-sagan-for-small-creatures-such-as-we/

Interact

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

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

Support the podcast
Via Anchor.fm and Stripe
Via Paypal: paypal.me/gracefulatheist

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Attribution

“Waves” track written and produced by Makaih Beats

Thanks to Logan Thomas for the new Graceful Atheist Podcast art work

Sara: Deconversion Anonymous

Agnosticism, Atheism, Bloggers, Deconversion, ExVangelical, Humanism, Podcast, Secular Grace
Click to play episode on anchor.fm
Listen on Apple Podcasts

This week’s show is a Deconversion Anonymous episode.

When I lost my faith, it felt like I lost my voice, too. I am a musician from a home of musicians.

My guest this week is Sara. Sara is “a musician from a home of musicians.” She grew up in an Assemblies of God church in a “vibrantly faithful home.” She spent her teen years in a “cool” Southern Baptist Church. She then spent some time in Acts 29 churches and Reformed theology. To round things out she attended a Presbyterian (PCA) church.

Sara started having doubts in college, but she was able to ignore them for some time. They eventually wore her down. Parenthood was the last straw. She realized she loved her son more than God loved anyone. God’s “hiddenness” was neglect that any parent could recognize.

They needed my free labor and I needed to be needed.

I was used to being needed.

Sara had been a worship leader. This usefulness kept her in the church longer than she would have otherwise. It also contributed to her deconversion as she saw what church was like “back stage.”

They said my voice was “clearly anointed by the Holy Spirit.” I went away thinking “no, I just spent four years and $60,000 learning how to manipulate you with it.”

Now Sara writes on her blog, Former Protagonist, about her deconversion experience. She is also exploring Humanism and loving her family.

Links

Former Protagonist Blog
https://formerprotagonist.blogspot.com/

Interact

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

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

Support the podcast
Via Anchor.fm and Stripe
Via Paypal: paypal.me/gracefulatheist

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Attribution

“Waves” track written and produced by Makaih Beats

Jason: Deconversion Anonymous

Atheism, Critique of Apologetics, Deconstruction, Deconversion, Deconversion Anonymous, ExVangelical, Humanism, Podcast, Purity Culture, Unequally yoked
Click to play episode on anchor.fm
Listen on Apple Podcasts

This week’s show is a Deconversion Anonymous episode.

My guest this week is Jason, the son of a pastor. He grew up in the independent Christian Churches, an offshoot of Church of Christ that allows music. He grew up doing “sword drills” and was a devout teenage believer. He participated in Bible memorization contests. He became a musician and participated in worship bands for years.

In Jason’s young adulthood he began to question his own interpretation of the Bible. Why was bad language bad? Why the limited role of women in the church? How could a loving god send people to Hell? Eventually, the disparity between the idea of a loving god and the reality of the world and the suffering of innocent children led to his deconversion.

Anything you do with the bible is interpretation.

Jason’s wife is still a believer though they both deconstructed from Evangelicalism and started participating in an Episcopal church. They are making an “unequally yoked” relationship work based on love, equality and mutual respect.

Links

Captain Cassidy interview
https://gracefulatheist.com/2019/10/17/captain-cassidy-roll-to-disbelieve/

Roll To Disbelieve
https://www.patheos.com/blogs/rolltodisbelieve/

Interact

Deconversion Anonymous
https://gracefulatheist.com/category/podcast/deconversion-anonymous/

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

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

Support the podcast
Via Anchor.fm and Stripe
Via Paypal: paypal.me/gracefulatheist

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Attribution

“Waves” track written and produced by Makaih Beats

Chris Highland: Friendly Freethinker

Authors, Bloggers, Deconversion, Humanism, Naturalism, Podcast, Secular Grace, Unequally yoked
Listen on Apple Podcasts

My guest this week is Chris Highland. Chris is an author of over a dozen books, he was a Protestant minister for 14 years and an Interfaith (collaborative, open-minded, inclusive) chaplain for 25 years. Currently a Humanist celebrant, he has a B.A. in Philosophy and Religion from Seattle Pacific University and an M.Div. from San Francisco Theological Seminary

The more I interact with freethinking humanists and atheists the more great opportunities I see for building connections rather than breaking them down.

My highest compliment to Chris is that he has been doing Secular Grace for most of his life.

A revival of goodness and graciousness!

Chris shares his love of nature and beauty. We discuss humanism, nature and loving believing spouses.

I am a follower of Beauty

Links

Friendly Freethinker Blog
https://chighland.com/

Clergy Project
https://clergyproject.org/

Why I am not an angry evangelical atheist
https://www.patheos.com/blogs/rationaldoubt/2019/02/why-im-not-an-angry-evangelical-atheist-part-1/

I’ve never felt “called” to be an “atheist evangelist”. I don’t feel the need to convert anyone to my viewpoint or use all the mocking memes out there to prove what a great apologist for atheism I can be.

Do we have to choose between aggressive religion and aggravated atheism?
https://www.patheos.com/blogs/rationaldoubt/2021/05/do-we-have-to-choose-between-aggressive-religion-and-aggravated-atheism/

I don’t see religion going away, so I think it’s much more productive to find ways of working with those faith communities who are open to it, and those seculars who are open to it, than complaining about them top score AAA points or RRR points.

Books

Interact

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

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

Support the podcast
Via Anchor.fm and Stripe
Via Paypal: paypal.me/gracefulatheist

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Attribution

Additional music
Dakar Flow – Carmen María and Edu Espinal

“Waves” track written and produced by Makaih Beats

Travis: Measure of Faith

Agnosticism, Bloggers, Critique of Apologetics, Deconstruction, Deconversion, Humanism, Podcast, Secular Grace, secular grief
Click to play episode on anchor.fm
Listen on Apple Podcasts

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.

Links

https://measureoffaith.blog/

Interact

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

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

Support the podcast
Via Anchor.fm and Stripe
Via Paypal: paypal.me/gracefulatheist

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Attribution

“Waves” track written and produced by Makaih Beats

Amy Rath: NoneLife

Agnosticism, Deconstruction, Deconversion, ExVangelical, Humanism, Nones, Podcast, Podcasters, Secular Community, Secular Grace
Click to play episode on anchor.fm
Listen on Apple Podcasts

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.

Links

Website
https://nonelife.org/

PechaKucha presentation
https://www.pechakucha.com/presentations/practicing-decency

Interact

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

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

Support the podcast
Via Anchor.fm and Stripe
Via Paypal: paypal.me/gracefulatheist

Podchaser - Graceful Atheist Podcast

Attribution

“Waves” track written and produced by Makaih Beats

Reverend Bones: Escape From Heaven

Atheism, Deconstruction, Deconversion, ExVangelical, Humanism, Podcast, Purity Culture, Religious Trauma
Click to play episode on anchor.fm
Listen on Apple Podcasts

My guest this week is Michael, AKA Reverend Bones. Michael is an Australian singer/song writer whose latest album Escape From Heaven is about his faith transition out of Evangelicalism.

Sex, Drugs and Rock and Roll?
I only did one.

Michael talks openly and honestly about how purity culture affected him and the religious trauma it produced.

I entered a period of 18 months or so of really profound depression which verged on suicidal ideation. One of the things with Christianity, I call it the Nihilism Nazgul …

Michael is now a climate activist and anti-purity culture activist. Michael uses his TicTok presence to speak out on these topics as well as the need for separation of church and state.

Links

Website
https://www.reverendbones.com/

TikTok
https://www.tiktok.com/@reverend_bones

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

Spotify

Interact

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.

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

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

Support the podcast
Via Anchor.fm and Stripe
Via Paypal: paypal.me/gracefulatheist

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Attribution

Music by Reverend Bones from Escape From Heaven

“Waves” track written and produced by Makaih Beats

David Ames: Graceful Atheist interviewed by Sam and Daniel

Atheism, Critique of Apologetics, Deconversion, Humanism, Naturalism, Podcast, Podcasters, Secular Community, Secular Grace, secular grief
It me.
Click to play episode on anchor.fm
Listen on Apple Podcasts

This week I am being interviewed by Sam and Daniel from the When Belief Dies podcast. The focus is on what I have changed my mind about since beginning work in the secular community. We discuss the following topics:

This episode is a sister episode to Daniel and me interviewing Sam on When Belief Dies. Both episodes are dropping at the same time. You can see me in the YouTube version interviewing Sam.

Music

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.

Corrections

There were several places in the episode where I forgot names. I’ll mention them here.

It is Tim Sledge who talks about “exceptions to the rule of faith” in his book, Goodbye Jesus.

It is Carolyn Golden, Psy.D. who discusses attribution and schema on the Life After God podcast
Episode: How and Why We Believe
https://lifeaftergod.org/059-how-and-why-we-believe-part-1/

Brian Peck is quoted multiple times. Here is my interview with Brian:
https://gracefulatheist.com/2019/11/14/brian-peck-room-to-thrive/

Links

When Belief Dies
https://whenbeliefdies.com/
https://linktr.ee/whenbeliefdies

Interact

My Deconversion Story

Telling my deconversion story on Voices of Deconversion
http://voicesofdeconversion.com/home/2017/11/22/027-david-ames-part-1-jesus-tells-his-mother-to-stop-drinking-her-dramatic-conversion-impacts-david-grace-was-foundational-as-a-christian-became-a-youth-minister-hes-now-the-graceful–wmm4s

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

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

Support the podcast
Via Anchor.fm and Stripe
Via Paypal: paypal.me/gracefulatheist

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Attribution

Photo graphic design by Logan Thomas, Beyond Belief

“Waves” track written and produced by Makaih Beats

Michael Marvosh: Conversations That Matter

Agnosticism, Atheism, Authors, Deconversion, Humanism, Naturalism, Philosophy, Podcast, Podcasters, Secular Grace, Spirituality
Click to play episode on anchor.fm
Listen on Apple Podcasts

My guest this week is Michael Marvosh. Michael is the podcast host of Dead Man’s Forest and is working on his book Reality Knows the Truth: The Art and Artifice of Being Human. Michael and I discuss what it means to be human and the human experience of spirituality.

Michael tells us his deconversion story that he no longer sees as deconversion. He describes his rediscovery of a rational spirituality.

I feel simultaneously connected and alone and that is part of being human.

Michael and I hit a broad range of conversation topics including having conversations that matter, models vs reality, A.I., Death Cafes, vision quests, blind spots and podcasting.

It was truly a conversation that mattered.

Links

Contact Michael
mm@michaelmarvosh.com

Website
https://www.michaelmarvosh.com/projects

Dead Man’s Forest
https://www.deadmansforest.org/

Reality Knows the Truth: The Art and Artifice of Being Human 
About Rational Spirituality–a way of looking at the world with a balance between ancient wisdom and modern reason.
https://michael.ck.page/d36a3d2338

Death Cafe
https://deathcafe.com/

Interact

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

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

Support the podcast
Via Anchor.fm and Stripe
Via Paypal: paypal.me/gracefulatheist

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Attribution

“Waves” track written and produced by Makaih Beats

Mike T: Deconversion Anonymous

Atheism, Deconstruction, Deconversion, Deconversion Anonymous, Humanism, Naturalism, Podcast, Secular Community, Secular Grace
Mike T.
Click to play episode on anchor.fm
Listen on Apple Podcasts

This week’s show is a Deconversion Anonymous episode.

My guest this week is G.A.P. editor, Mike T. Mike grew up in the South and went to a Catholic church. Everyone in the South went to one church or another and this was just in the background for Mike. After a charismatic Evangelical friend encouraged him he began to explore charismatic churches. The big draw was the opportunity to play music, his life-long passion.

Later in life, married with kids, he had normal financial stresses in his life. When he compared the reality of both his life and the life of those around him to the promises of his more material success oriented faith tradition he could not help but question. When a financial advisor suggested he hold off on his charitable giving, the mandated tithe, he expected consequences. Those consequences never occurred. Things were not adding up.

[after stopping tithing]
And that was another thing, everything I had been told didn’t happen.
So I just started wondering, well, what else am I missing out on?

His first mistake was doing research on evangelists that would come to town. These fantastical claims must have generated news stories somewhere, right? His second mistake was re-reading the bible (and Bart Ehrman). Eventually, he discovered science and new way of determining what is true. His faith fell apart.

I prayed and I prayed and I never heard anything.
I wasn’t trying to get out of it all together.
I was trying to hold this thing together.
I didn’t want it to go this way.
I didn’t wake up one day and say I am not going to do this Christian stuff no more.

Mike is the editor of the Graceful Atheist Podcast. Beyond editing, Mike wants to start a local community for those who are going through doubt, deconstruction and deconversion. Music continues to be the great passion of his life.

Links

Clergy Project
https://clergyproject.org/

Interact

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

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

Deconversion Anonymous episodes
https://gracefulatheist.com/category/podcast/deconversion-anonymous/

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Support the podcast
Via Anchor.fm and Stripe
Via Paypal: paypal.me/gracefulatheist

Attribution

“Dawg Biscuits on the Moon” and “Restless Regions”
John Monson and the Galaxy Brothers

“Waves” track written and produced by Makaih Beats