Fugitives from Fundamentalism

The Musings of Adult Missionary Kids (MKs) & Former Born-Again Believers

Archive for the ‘Reflections & Memories’ Category

Adieu

Posted by Clamence/The Chaplain on January 4, 2012

Hi everyone,

I wanted to write all of you to share some final thoughts about my secular life, my connection to the world of evangelical Christianity, and to explain why I will soon be leaving my role of co-adminstrator and contributor to this blog.  The epistolary form thus seems most appropriate; consider this a goodbye letter.

Let me start with the beginning of the journey that brought me to the creation of this blog. When I was suspended from a Christian college for missing too many early-morning, weekday chapel services  (and after having already completed 2 1/2 years of my education), I made a pretty clean break with my Christian beliefs. It took a few more years to get to my Devil’s Heart Experiment, but for the most part I had little contact with church-going Christians and thought about religion very rarely. This period was followed by the completion of my undergraduate and graduate degrees at a secular state university–again, I was only occasionally immersed in a Christianity-drenched setting.

However, that all changed with the emergence of the MySpace social-media application. One day, as I was browsing, I discovered a MySpace discussion forum devoted entirely to the Baptist, Missionary-Kid boarding school I had attended for three years in high school. The site consisted mostly of ICAers who were about a decade younger than me, but there were also quite a few people from my generation. My first contribution to the forum addressed an ongoing discussion about abortion. I wrote an even-handed and calm analysis of the arguments used to justify the pro-life and pro-choice positions. As the discussions went on over the next several months, I began to waste more and more time each night after work (or even at work) writing these endless rebuttals, explanations and defenses of my views on a whole slew of issues. Those writing marathons became increasingly fueled by bottles of wine and growing frustration, as my posts became more and more incredulous and aggressive. I was actually naive enough to think that providing a full deconstruction of Christian arguments and evidence would show MKs like me they’ve been living their lives based on falsehoods about the nature of reality. Crazy, right? I didn’t realize, at that time, most Christians don’t care about the evidence, or how meaning gets constructed through rhetoric and argument. It’s obvious to me now; I should have remembered that faith (belief without any evidence) is considered a virtue in their belief system–it has to be to perpetuate the belief in the make believe. Eventually, I went on a drunken rant where I insulted the intelligence of the folks I’d been debating, and I left the discussion group for my mental health.

I started this blog when I left that MySpace group. At the time, I discovered I was good at discussing and writing about Christian beliefs from an ex-Christian viewpoint, and it just seemed natural to continue what I had started. As it turns out, this is not a life-long mission for me. Rather, it is a process, and it is not an endless one. I’ve reached a point now where I have nothing new to say, as I feel like everything there is to say about the falsity of Christianity has been said. I needed to write about it to reason it out for myself and to test my arguments for leaks and holes. It’s been fun, but now I want to transition back to that time in my life when there wasn’t so much negativity (i.e. Christian ideas) floating around in my head. I want to be able, once again, to see a news headline related to Christians and to think, “Who gives a fuck?” Even debunking Christianity is a form of immersing yourself in it, and I want to wash that religion right out of my hair. Fortunately, I’m mostly bald, so I don’t anticipate any problems.

My plan within the next few days is to transfer all 119 of my posts to one of the other administrators on this site, so they will continue to exist. I’d like to especially thank Ann and Paulo for working on this blog with me from the very beginning and for writing such great posts and comments. Thanks as well to Jerry, prb3, dsc01, Noraa and Jester for acting as contributors and for writing such thoughtful comments and posts. Finally, thanks to you lurkers out there (JN!) who also made significant contributions to our discussions through your comments.

Best,

Clamence/The Chaplain

Posted in Big Things, Reflections & Memories | 9 Comments »

Bearing the Burden…

Posted by dsc01 on December 14, 2011

I’ve mentioned before that letting go of theism lifted a weight from my shoulders. It certainly did. Believing the unbelievable is an unbearable burden. Carrying constant guilt weighs a person down. But that doesn’t mean that disbelief doesn’t come with its own burdens to bear.

I am fairly “in the closet,” as an atheist, for a number of reasons, the primary one being the likely loss of my job, should I ever come out too publicly. However, whenever I can, I strive to be brutally honest–amiable, to be sure, but wholly unapologetic.

Now, my totally reasonable terror of losing my livelihood is ample evidence of societal discrimination against atheists. That’s only aggravating. The discrimination becomes a burden when it hits closer to home.

Recently, my wife and I were uninvited from an extended Thanksgiving celebration that we had been looking forward to. The bearer of the news, one of my best friends, ever, was pretty irate, but he had to keep the peace with his sister-in-law, who expressed annoyance at the invitation of non-family members. You know, in the grand tradition of the first Thanksgiving, which was about familial insularity and not communion with people one usually didn’t associate with (/sarcasm).

Eventually, it came out that my family–my wife and I, that is–was the specific problem. The aforementioned sister-in-law to my dear friend doesn’t trust us wicked atheists around her children.

And there is the burden. It’s one thing to be able to feel righteous indignation about discrimination in our society. It’s another thing to be barred from a family gathering (and I do consider this friend to basically be my family) because one is an atheist.

That’s pretty rough. And it’s a bunch of bullshit. And it hurts.

But that’s life, after all.

Posted in Rants, Reflections & Memories | 7 Comments »

Leaving the MK fold

Posted by Ann on May 14, 2011

There were many times as a child in a boarding school for missionaries’ kids when it felt a moment lasted an eternity…a very dark eternity alone. Other times I remember laying in the complete darkness of my boarding school room, feeling alone. As a child time seemed fluid. A few days felt like months. And I didn’t sense God, although my mind would reach for one. I only felt the darkness. Think Victor Frankl. Maybe why the idea of hell has no power over me now. There is such a thing as hell on earth. I do not think anyone deserves this…why can’t we be a’ight with people dying and becoming dust, their bodies returning to the universe they were born into?

I read a whole lot of books as a child (many many religious, and many many otherwise). Maybe partly how I escaped the indoctrination. When I read religious writing now, it sounds utterly empty to me. It is the spiritual that has more depth to me now, and even there I find “spiritual” writing little consolation for knowledge of my impermanence. After 20 years of my life in boarding school, private Christian school, a private Christian college, then with a dad who was a pastor, it was as a young adult, away from religious indoctrination, I discovered what it means to live. I will never go back. I am fully willing to accept the possible condemnation of people living with my old beliefs, and if hell is anything like boarding school, then a good God (if such a thing existed) wouldn’t send me there anyway–no doubt whatsoever. I am not afraid. And I do not wish hell on another living person, although I think the world is a better place with some people dead.

I was not wounded by fundamentalist beliefs themselves (simply ideas), but by the isolation and abuse in my childhood produced by the people whose behaviors were encouraged by these beliefs. And of course, the horrible cognitive dissonance they produce in me once I was infected by them. To live an authentic life is to live a better life. To do otherwise would mean living untrue to myself. My mental health has never been better, it seems mostly outside factors are the ones I have to buffer. It may be a good analogy for the religious to think of people like me as dead to religion and the idea of God, but alive to life. To just give us up to God and pray for us instead of attempting to bring us back to old ideology. It is not as if I did not study it fully for a very long time. I am rejecting your faith with full knowledge of what you believe. I find these beliefs to be wrong.

It is kind of strange knowing how people view you when you leave the fold. I remember the days of trying to bring people to the fold myself. But when you understand the illogic of the brain, you understand humans. I continue to hold much respect for the human experience.

Posted in Reflections & Memories, thoughts | 2 Comments »

Denying evolution is lying

Posted by Ann on March 12, 2011

My father is a charismatic preacher. He has an ability to convince people to trust him implicitly. Maybe my years of interacting with him contributed to my desire to research the operations of the brain, to study the science of psychology. Much of what he says doesn’t make practical sense. Yet his ideas were pushed on me as truth. I was ordered to follow his rules (and my mother’s) based in these ideas in order to live in his home as a child, as are most children living under the rule of parents. At the same time, something always seemed off, not only about my parent’s fundamentalism, but also their perception of the world. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Cognitive Science, Faith vs. Evidence, Reflections & Memories, Science, Testimonies | Leave a Comment »

Atheist females, atheist mks

Posted by Ann on October 11, 2010

I’m kinda lonely. Is that okay to express publicly? I’ve got a lot of friends, but I only know one atheist female personally, and only a couple of atheist males. The one atheist female I know says she didn’t grow up in an openly religious home. It just came to her one day that God was a superstition for kids. She says a guy in one of her classes off-handedly said to her, “If you really think about it, there is no God.” Jean says she thought, yeah, that makes sense. And that was it for her.

As an MK, with very religious parents, the transition was not so easy for me. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Reflections & Memories | 29 Comments »

My first and final Facebook discussion on religion

Posted by Ann on September 5, 2010

A couple of days ago I had my first discussion on Facebook with “liberal Christians” about their religious beliefs. Somehow I had developed a belief that liberal Christians would actually be able to see through the irrationality of fundamentalism in a way fundamentalists can’t. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Dialogues, Faith vs. Evidence, Liberal Christians, Reflections & Memories, Science, Testimonies | 10 Comments »

The Rapture is nigh

Posted by Ann on May 1, 2010

When I was in middle-school my parents sent my sister and I to an all night moviethon at our church while we were on furlough from the mission field (a one year break spent in the States raising financial support). We brought our sleeping bags and the church provided the popcorn and drinks. It was a “lock-in”, meaning the doors of the church were locked and we were not allowed to leave until the next morning when our parents picked us up. For the next several hours we were subjected to what can only be described as a totally terrifying and gruesome series of movies based on the idea of The Rapture as interpreted from the book of Revelation. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Little Things, Reflections & Memories | 3 Comments »

Is Fundamentalist Christianity an Addiction?

Posted by Jerry on January 17, 2010

I grew up in the south and went to college in the Bible belt states, but having been away from that culture for so long, I sometimes forget how deeply ingrained the cult of Jesus really is among many communities, not just in the south, but throughout the US. Occasionally, meeting or hearing from someone reminds me of this phenomenon. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Links, Reflections & Memories | 17 Comments »

Crutch Evolution

Posted by Clamence/The Chaplain on December 2, 2009

As far back as I can remember, the Christian communities I have been a part of have always been sensitive to the charge that their religious beliefs are a crutch for the emotionally weak. Even before I had heard a non-Christian make this assertion, I heard it introduced and rebutted in a Christian setting on numerous occasions. I have always wondered if the Christian hypersensitivity to, and fixation on, this charge was indicative of a truth within it. However, I eventually decided that all humans need crutches, so it seemed like a meaningless claim. Also, I know from my own observations and discussions with Christians that, as individuals, they believe for different reasons. Or maybe a better way to put it would be to say that they are drawn to, or kept in, Christianity by different approaches to the religion that focus on different aspects. For some, it is obvious that the emotional fix they get from worshiping and singing is something they are addicted to and could not live without. For others, who might even look down on those who make “spiritual love” to Jesus in church, it is the unassailable logic of the NT story and the Bible’s explanation for how the world and humans function that appeals to them. Essentially, people find in religion what they are looking for in the first place. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Big Things, Dialogues, Reflections & Memories | 10 Comments »

I’m better than you.

Posted by thejest3r on September 2, 2009

The missionaryAnyone else ever look back on their childhood and realize that many parts of life were heavily influenced by a completely unjustified superiority complex? Maybe that sounds a little harsh, but recently I’ve been curious about how growing up as a missionary kid changed the way I looked at the world around me. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Little Things, Reflections & Memories | 15 Comments »

Worlds Apart — Science and Faith

Posted by Jerry on August 12, 2009

Please let me introduce myself as a new contributor. My name is Jerry and I live near Santa Fe, NM. When I found FFF, I really could relate to the stories I read, so I contacted Paulo who encouraged me to join in. Thanks, Paulo. Here’s my story: Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Reflections & Memories, Testimonies | 6 Comments »

(Un)belief

Posted by thejest3r on August 3, 2009

AmazonAllow me to briefly introduce myself as a new author on this site (btw, thanks to Paulo for contacting me and inviting me to post).

My name is Brandt. I live in Chicago, and I am originally from Brazil, where my parents are missionaries with New Tribes Mission. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Reflections & Memories, Testimonies | 3 Comments »