…on The Camels With Hammers Show tomorrow at ~3pm Eastern! Watch us stream live at my YouTube page (and don’t forget to subscribe to the page to keep apprised with all new video clips). I will post the full video of our interview here on the blog afterwards and then make shorter clips.
I also have gone through and made more manageable clips of older episodes of The Camels With Hammers Show. If you scroll through my videos on my YouTube page you can see shorter clips with titles that can guide you to what most interests you about my interviews with people like Harvard Humanist and Patheos blogger James Croft, the group of young predominantly UK bloggers The Heresy Club, the thoughtful students of St. Cloud State University’s Secular Student Alliance, former Christian preacher Jerry DeWitt, and my openly gay then-Benedictine-monk John “Bede” Hazlet. (This week, John left the monastery. When I am at liberty to discuss publicly the circumstances, I hope to.) So, check out clips!
Finally, in preparation for my interview with Vyckie Garrison of No Longer Quivering, which is a fantastic hub for helping (primarily) women escape Christian patriarchy and which is the blog that launched Libby Anne’s Love, Joy, Feminism career, read my interview with her from a year ago. Here’s what she had to say there about how she deconverted through a correspondance with her atheist Uncle Ron and what she think it says about how to go about helping women suffering from spiritual abuse out of their predicament:
In our letter writing, I did not feel that Ron was directly challenging my Christian beliefs – he never got into a tit-for-tat apologetics debate over the truth/reality of my religious experience. Instead, he asked a lot of questions and showed a genuine interest in understanding what I thought about the various issues and why.
This was an opportunity for me to start thinking again. It forced me re-evaluate all of my presuppositions and to take a more objective appraisal of my fundamentalist assumptions as I tried to anticipate how my explanations would sound to an unbeliever – my brain was in a whirl of activity as I tried desperately to make it all sound as logical to my uncle as it did in my own mind. The only “problem” was that I realized that my “logic” only made sense so long as I confined all my thinking to the narrow worldview of absolute biblical fundamentalism – a mental constraint which Ron did not share and it wasn’t long before I began to think outside the box too.
But the thing that most confused me and totally threw a wrench in my whole fundamentalist paradigm is this: my atheist uncle is a genuinely nice guy. I fried my brain trying to figure out how that could be possible. I’d been convinced that no man can be good without God (my “Big Guy in the Sky” god, to be precise) – and yet, Ron is a good man. That fact totally did not fit with everything I believed about “Truth” and Faith and the nature of God and humanity. In the end, it was our friendship that won out over my ideology.
So to answer your question … (✿◠‿◠) … no, I don’t believe it is effective to “confront” a fundamentalist via debate and argumentation – but it is possible to influence True Believers and jump-start their thinking processes by the sort of compassionate, non-judgmental person that the fundamentalist can relax and be real with. If a Quiverfull Christian were to admit her struggles to her “like-minded” circle of friends, the whole company would be obligated to engage in a the-Lord-works-all-things-together-for-good dialogue of faith, trust and obedience. Most likely, she’ll stick with the smile and skip the guilt-inducing ritual.
If you are honest – without the need to justify or rationalize or pretend – it will be a huge relief and a nearly-impossible-to-resist opportunity for a fundy to open up and be real too. If she can admit to you that sometimes she feels like sassing her husband – and you don’t make her feel like she ought to be ashamed for even thinking such subversive thoughts, it won’t be long before she’ll tell you things you would never believe would enter a fundamentalist’s head!!
Don’t beat her up with her imperfections – her own heart and mind are already doing plenty of that – not to mention her fundamentalist friends who are her only “support system.”
Quiverfull believers are human – and as Brian McClaren states, we are all people in a predicament – only fundies can’t admit their personal predicaments because it’s a bad witness. So they smile and they tell you they’re okay and everything’s good.
Don’t feel like you have to “witness” to a fundamentalist the way she does to you, but do point out when you take pleasure in the good things in your life.
It is true that when challenged on their narrow-minded views, fundamentalists will interpret such “persecution” as evidence that they truly know the mind of God and are righteously doing His work. But it is also true that some will listen and a few will change.
Read the whole interview.