Eli: Transition and Deconstruction

Adverse Religious Experiences, Autonomy, Deconstruction, ExVangelical, LGBTQ+, Podcast, Religious Abuse, Secular Grace, secular grief
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My guest this week is Eli Fuhrmler-Wheeler. Eli grew up going to Awanas at an Evangelical Free church. Eventually, he attended an Assemblies of God church and spoke in tongues. His parents forbade him from going to that church and “of course I felt they were keeping me from the gates of heaven and pulling me into hell.”

Eli’s childhood was traumatic in many ways. He experienced sexual abuse, neglect, his mom was very sick her whole life, her boyfriends were abusive, his father had an antisocial personality disorder, and he lived on and off in foster homes.

Eli sought the comfort of drugs and alcohol. He discovered he was a lesbian. He was told he was going to hell by his family.

As an adult he began a relationship with his now wife. At 30 he realized he was a man and began transition. Eli has faced rejection by family and some friends. However, his gracefulness through it all has won some of them over.

[Rather than show grace, why not be angry at those who have not shown you grace?]
That wouldn’t teach anybody anything.
It wouldn’t teach me anything and it wouldn’t teach them anything.

Eli deconstructed from Christianity through the years. He has explored various world religions including Norse Heathenry and various mystic traditions.

Transition and therapy have given Eli the wholeness he deserves. Eli and his wife show unconditional love for one another. This is the relationship that Eli has experienced grace for himself.

Links

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

Religious Trauma Institute
https://www.religioustraumainstitute.com/

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Thank you for nominating the podcast for the People’s Choice award in the Religion and Spirituality category
https://www.podcastawards.com/

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

Suandria Hall: My Choice My Power

Adverse Religious Experiences, Deconstruction, Deconversion, Podcast, Race, Religious Abuse, Religious Trauma, Secular Community, secular grief
Click to play episode on anchor.fm
Listen on Apple Podcasts

My guest this week is Suandria Hall. Suandria is a trauma informed counselor specializing in faith transitions. Her practice, My Choice My Power, is online and she offers mental health counseling to residents in Colorado and life coaching sessions online, by phone, and email for anyone.

What is more important to me than anything is being honest and being authentic about who I am and who I choose to be in this world.
While pretending for a moment seemed easy.
I really had no concept about how much I was about to unravel.
Once I make this choice to say this out loud that I don’t believe this any more. What does that even mean?
But I took a leap and I started to say out loud that I don’t believe this any more.

Suandria tells her story of being groomed for ministry in a very Charismatic community with rigorous honesty. In her early adulthood she began to question and eventually deconverted. She had a positive experience with a therapist who “held space” for her shifting faith positions. She then went on to become a secular counselor to help others through the same process.

What they are looking for is someone who doesn’t force any type of spirituality in the practice.
They just want to show up and say let me just talk through some stuff.

We talk about the power of parents to influence children. And the damage that can occur when parents pass that responsibility on to an invisible god.

The child learns that the love the adoration the loyalty the devotion
that a mother and a child would share with each other is now shifted.
So now god becomes the number one.

Her approach to counseling is trauma informed and acknowledges Adverse Religious Experiences and religious trauma. She helps people going through the process of deconstruction and deconversion while being open to all faith positions.

Trauma is when our bodies our systems becomes overwhelmed, flooded with emotions, flooded with bodily sensations.
It gets stuck.

Links

Suandria’s Counseling Site
https://www.mychoicemypower.com/

Twitter
https://twitter.com/mychoicemypower

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

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While these points may be a part of your thinking about religion or harmful religious experiences, they are not the foundation of religious trauma. WE ARE TRAUMATIZED when our central nervous system (movements, bodily sensations, thoughts, speech, memory) is… • overwhelmed, altering the way we process and recall memories (Van Der Kolk) • unresolved or incompleted responses (Levine) • overstimulated repeatedly and cumulatively, usually over a period of time and within specific relationships and contexts (Courtois) In plain terms, religious trauma is when your ability to respond and create or experience safety is interrupted by TOO MUCH ENERGY unable to release or complete within religious context. In even plainer terms, your brain & body says "Hey, it's time to take care of yourself and here's the blood flow, chemicals, and hype to do it", but you don't because your religion has taught you to obey, stay silent, trust others (God, the Word, leaders, the group) instead of yourself. You live over stimulated, ready, and "ON" which can look like anxiety, fear, tension. Compliance dampens the discomfort. Examples and potential effects: I want to meet other people outside of our community/beliefs. NO–they are dangerous, sinful, will lead you astray. Obey. Must tow the line to maintain relationships and community acceptance. Kept away from people, cultures, and beliefs unlike yours. Can perpetuate social issues like racism and inequality based on ignorance. I want another my path, explore my interests. NO–stay in God's will. Doubt your ability to make decisions. Limit education and opportunities. Blocks creativity and exploration. Wait for someone or something else to guide you. Hyper-spiritualized decision making. I'm curious about sex and sexuality and want to have ownership of my body. NO–your body is not your own, submit and obey, in heterosexual marriage only. Struggle with intimacy, sexuality, and sometimes even routine health screenings. —– Even when you KNOW you can make another choice you don't because YOUR BODY reminds you that you can't. This is trauma work. This work isn't anti-religion. This work is pro-human experience. #sundaymorning

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Adverse Religious Experiences series
https://gracefulatheist.wordpress.com/category/adverse-religious-experiences/

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

Full show notes
https://gracefulatheist.wordpress.com/2020/10/18/suandria-hall-my-choice-my-power/

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

Attribution

“Waves” track written and produced by Makaih Beats

Leighann Lord: Very Funny Lady

Atheism, Authors, Humanism, Podcast, Podcasters, Secular Grace, YouTubers
Click to play episode on anchor.fm

My guest this week is Leighann Lord, comedian, author and podcast host. She has traveled the world doing comedy and has been on VH1, Comedy Central and HBO. She has co-hosted on Neil Degrasse Tyson’s Start Talk Radio and on CFI’s podcast, Point of Inquiry. She hosts her own podcast, People With Parents. She has written two books: Dict Jokes and Real Women Do It Standing Up.

Leighann went to Catholic school growing up and is now a humanist activist. Leighann was awarded the 2019 Humanist Arts Award for her work as the New York City face of the African Americans for Humanism outreach campaign sponsored by the Center for Inquiry.

[First attending humanist gathering]:
I had my discovery and my sincerity.

We talk about humanism and what it can add to the conversation about race in America. Leighann handles my naivete with grace and elegance while still pointing out the world is a complicated place and racism is a persistent problem in America.

What [BLM is] doing, I believe is the work and ideal of humanism.
Which is human beings realizing that they have a stake.
You want to light a candle? That’s great we still going to have to get in here and do this work.
And to me that is humanism.
Human beings trying to be better humans.
Actually doing the work.

Leighann’s podcast, People With Parents, deals with the role reversal of taking care of elderly parents. It is also a raw and real look at grieving the death of parent. We discuss secular grief and the need to be more public about grief as non-believers.

[Regarding grieving a loved one] Everyone is there for you week one. And most of them are saying the absolute wrong thing.
So while you are trying to grieve you are also busy being angry.

We geek out about comedy and how it can let truth sneak past our defense mechanisms. Leighann shares her top five comedic influences. She talks about first seeing Marsha Warfield on stage, “I didn’t know we did this. Which tells you the power of role models.”

Leighann’s comedy specials which are available on YouTube, Spotify, Pandora and Amazon Prime have much to say about living in 2020 though they were recorded a few years ago. They cover race, religion, sexism, sex, wealth disparity, and the lack of education in the current administration.

You realize nobody changes their opinion or even starts to hear your side when your finger is in their face.
That’s just not how humans work.

Links

Website
http://www.VeryFunnyLady.com

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

Twitter
https://twitter.com/leighannlord

People With Parents Podcast
http://www.veryfunnylady.com/people-with-parents-podcast

YouTube
http://youtube.com/c/LeighannLordComedy

Books
http://tinyurl.com/LeighannsBooks

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

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Support the podcast
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Via Paypal: paypal.me/gracefulatheist

Attribution

“Waves” track written and produced by Makaih Beats

Dave Warnock: Dying Out Loud

Atheism, Communities of Unbelief, Deconversion, Humanism, Podcast
Click to play episode on anchor.fm

My guest today is Dave Warnock. Dave was an Evangelical christian for almost 40 years. Many of those years were spent in ministry in one form or another. Dave decoverted around seven years ago. His deconstruction and deconversion cost him close family relationships. But he has found love, affection and support in the non-believing community.

In early 2019 Dave was diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease), which is terminal. Rather than be overcome with grief, Dave began to talk honestly about dying as an atheist and living your best moments while you can. This became what is now known as “Dying Out Loud”. Dave is on a “world” podcast tour spreading his message of secular strength and hope even in the face of dire circumstances.

Quotes:

“Dying out loud is really living out loud.”

In regards to the fear of punishment and hell:


“It ain’t real let it go.”
“Its gonna be OK, listener, it is gonna be OK.”

“We don’t remember days we remember moments”
“Life is a collection of moments”
“Wait, goddammit, wait. This is a moment. Don’t miss it.”

“Carpe the fucking diem!”

“I am more interested in the quality of my life than the quantity of my days.”

“The human connection is beautiful to me. It never ceases to amaze me how beautiful that is”

Links:

Dave on Facebook
https://www.facebook.com/DaveWarnock.DyingOutLoud/

Dave’s Patreon:
https://www.patreon.com/dyingoutloud

Dave’s Dying Out Loud at First Unitarian Society of Minneapolis
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wYLQu5A4h5Q

Clergy Project
http://clergyproject.org/

Interact

Send in a voice message

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

Attribution

“Waves” track written and produced by Makaih Beats