when faith is stripped away

March 5, 2009 at 2:21 pm 5 comments

three_stooges2_2How would we answer the question, “What do you think about God?” in the seconds after recovering from a concussion? That would be enlightening, to hit someone over the head and ask them that as soon as they came to. Or the idea of using an effective truth serum. Or what would we become if our faith were stripped away?

For me, when my faith was stripped away from me, I just became who I was before I became a christian. Give or take, hopefully a bit more mature after almost two decades of aging. For some, when confronted with dissonance in their conservative faith, they struggle with what to believe about the faith, or the church, or the bible, but they don’t ever give up their belief in God through the process. Not me. I didn’t have that default position. When my faith was stripped away I completely called into question God’s existence. I admit that is my bias, but I can’t change that.

I am regularly amazed to see people who deconvert from conservative christianity who grew up in the faith and tradition. For me, it is very natural to return to who I was. I also have the secular family I was born into, who embraced me as a christian, but who I fit in with so much better now. I have experienced some separation from the faith community and church I was part of, and feel a real loss there. But I am so impressed by those to whom deconverting means leaving a whole lot more behind. Leaving religion can be hard on so many levels.

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skipping small group faith and the secret admirer

5 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Mike aka MonolithTMA  |  March 5, 2009 at 3:03 pm

    I’d rather not be hit on the head for your research please. ;-)

    I’d try the truth serum though.

  • 2. atimetorend  |  March 5, 2009 at 3:07 pm

    Yeah Mike, that’s funny! Maybe I was thinking of getting hit over the head with a bible…

  • 3. The Rambling Taoist  |  March 5, 2009 at 4:53 pm

    That last sentence is so very true. In fact, leaving behind ANY belief system or ideology is hard. And I think you pointed to the main reason — social relationships.

    When any of us join a belief-based group, we immediately adopt a sort of “us v them” mentality. This separates us from the mass of humanity and solidifies group identity and cohesion.

    Each time someone falls away from the flock, some members will shun the person because they’re seen as no longer “enlightened”. Others won’t outright shun, but it’s obvious they no longer feel as comfortable with you as before when you were one of “them”. And the person leaving also will have a lot of trouble socializing with the old crew because we now see many of them as drowning in their delusions. :)

  • 4. Lorena  |  March 7, 2009 at 3:50 am

    I was always a God believer, always. So leaving the faith for me meant going into completely uncharted territory.

    I can’t even start to tell you how traumatic it was. I’ve been writing my story on my blog for 3+ years and I am still at it.

    I suppose that if I had to pinpoint the worst part of it, that would be all the misconceptions about non-Christians that I had. I thought they had constant pre-marital sex, drank like fish, swore freely, hit the pub every Friday, and had–basically–no conscious.

    So it was a horrible shock when I realized that many were as starched and moral as the religious. I was used to hanging out with folks whose belief system was more-or-less homogeneous. But I when hit the non-Christian world, I realized that each person had a personal belief system of some sort–not necessarily religious–and that I could not stereotype them at all. Darn! I had to go through the difficult process of getting to know them individually.

  • 5. atimetorend  |  March 8, 2009 at 4:37 pm

    Lorena, that is very true. While I have felt a need to rebuild a lot in my life, it isn’t as comprehensive a world that needs to be rebuilt. For me it wasn’t a shock when I realized those things, it was more like I didn’t need to pretend any longer that there were such differences. It is great you are doing the hard work of rebuilding your beliefs.

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