Self-Selected  – to Join the Resistance

Self-Selected  – to Join the Resistance June 21, 2018

Editor’s Note: This young man would have been become a member of The Clergy Project, if he had ever completed his seminary training.  Instead, he got a law degree, and went to work for conservative causes – for a while. Now he’s on fire for “human progress and dignity” as he puts it.  And just in time, given the Trump administration’s abhorrent policies on the Mexican border.  I hope we’ll be hearing more from him, here on the blog and in the wider world.

===============================

By Luke Douglas

I was chosen by God.

Not in any vague or subjective way: The Creator of the universe revealed his inerrant Word in the Bible, laying out the literal historical and scientific truth of the cosmos and then called me, the foot soldier of the homeschooling movement, to conquer the social and political institutions of America and save western civilization from Satan and the left, virtually identical though they were.

The world where I grew up was not one where compromise was encouraged, and certainly not one where dissention was taken lightly. If anything, the most striking trait of the rigidity was not any sense that I was controlled or coerced, but more that there would be no reason to think any other way.

The simplicity of the whole thing was airtight with its internal consistency to the point that questioning any one part of it was nonsensical under the weight of the rest. The universe was 6,000 years old. All living things existed within unchanging created “kinds,” and the history of the ancient world all took place after a worldwide flood sometime around 2,300 B.C.

We didn’t just tacitly acquiesce to this reality in the absence of contrary evidence; my family devoured creationism from conferences to books to alternative guidebooks and tours of the national parks to interpret geological and paleontological features in light of Noah’s flood.

Then, of course, creationism never exists in isolation. LGBT+ people were, per our most respected thought leaders, “sodomites,” for whom the Bible demanded the death penalty, along with those who committed blasphemy, including those who adhered to false religious, such as Islam or even Catholicism.

It may be easy for an outsider to imagine these ideas on some survivalist compound in Wyoming or Mississippi, but they weren’t. I grew up in deep blue Oregon, less than an hour’s drive from the Portland International Airport. If the recent national election hasn’t tipped you off, fundamentalists are not just in eastern Kentucky or the Oklahoma panhandle. They’re sitting beside you at Chile’s. They’re your coworkers and neighbors, and many of them live in a subculture you might not even know how to see.

Plugged into the right political machine, the zeal of God’s commission to take dominion over society has enabled the hostile takeover of nearly every institution of American democracy.

I fell in love with politics the first time when I was fifteen. I volunteered for the California Proposition 8 campaign, which amended the State Constitution to define marriage as one man and one woman. It passed.

I showed an early knack for public speaking and writing, activism, politics and the culture war:

  • When I was sixteen, I approached my pastor and told him I was interested in teaching and eventually preaching, so he coached me on how to study the Bible in depth and preach it according to its original meaning.
  • When I was seventeen, I started getting invited to speak at conservative rallies and conferences as a rising star for the new TEA Party movement that was sweeping the nation’s politics.
  • At eighteen, I moved to northern Virginia for my first full-time job at a consulting firm raising money for major Republican organizations and campaigns.
  • At nineteen, I earned my Bachelor’s degree and went to a conservative Christian law school on a full-ride scholarship and worked as a legal advocate for theocratic values.

I’ve seen exactly what’s on the inside of the religious right because I was there. I know exactly what they want to accomplish in this country because I helped them implement it. I have felt the fire to take dominion over this wicked world in the name of Christ because that fire burned in my heart.

How does a person escape this black hole of cognitive dissonance and self-reinforcement? How can you teach yourself to doubt, to question and ultimately to look your own identity in the face and say I was wrong?

Seeing through the propaganda wasn’t so simple. The process of reorganizing everything you think you know and eliminating the many, many things you believe when you discover they are false was a very long and gradual process. It’s hard to pinpoint a moment when the doubts began, but in many ways it began in the very core of who I always was: a questioner.

I was raised to examine everything in light of the Scriptures to see if the things people taught me were accurate. Sooner or later, that core principle had to take the next leap to examine the Scriptures themselves to see if the Bible was true. And so I did.

I visited churches of different Christian denominations in search of some core version of Christianity from which I could amputate all the baggage I had grown to doubt, and eventually explored the services of other religions entirely.

I dropped out of my part-time seminary program to shift that academic energy into philosophy, from Thales of Miletus on up through Bertrand Russell. I explored the great thinkers of the world’s intellectual history and quickly found myself discovering real science, which I continue learning as I become aware of how much my creationist education missed the mark.

All this left me living a troubling double life. On my own time, I taught myself science, philosophy and history in a way that brought the world around me into focus. While in my professional life, I was promoting a world that looked increasingly as though the enemies of the enlightenment that I worked for might just win some victories that would be hard to reverse.

In the summer of 2016, organized hatred and bigotry were so deafening that I couldn’t bear being an active part of it. My own sampling of comparative religions had left me cynical that any of them had “the one true” answer, or that such a search was even possible. My reading had taken me to Stephen Hawking and Richard Dawkins, the final nails in the coffin of my longtime struggle to hold onto faith. I finally snapped.

I was in a Chick-fil-a in central Texas where I was working for a Republican state house campaign. My fiancé was in S. Korea for the summer doing missions work, so I had very limited ability to discuss my journey with her in real time. I remember vividly the instrumental Christian music that the restaurant was playing, so cleverly that a non-believer needn’t be offended by the cultural tropes of Christianity, but a believer would immediately recognize them.  My head filled in the words to the songs, dredging up every memory I had of fundamentalist sermons, pseudo-scientific talking points and the thousands of King James Bible verses I had committed to memory.

I lost it.

I dropped my book, went into the men’s room, hid in a stall and bawled my eyes out. I finally admitted to myself that I was an atheist, a humanist and a progressive. Everything that my old worldview had made clear to me about my place in the universe and the purpose of my life was gone. My family and friends would be devastated. While adrift on a sea of chaos, I left my fiancé a voicemail telling her all this and begging her not to leave me as her Bible said she must.

Now the fire that I felt for the triumph of the Gospel burns again, because I feel that fire for human progress and dignity. I channel it today into helping people who are still finding their way out, and advancing the message of curiosity and critical thinking that our world so desperately needs, assuming we value the progress we’ve made since the enlightenment.

With all the skills and insights I gained as a professional conservative activist, I now lend my time as a full-time progressive activist. From that pathetic breaking point in a bathroom stall, I decided that my honor was not for sale, whatever the price may be. I know that in this wave of totalitarian fundamentalism, there is no compromise, and we have no recourse but to defend our democracy against all the fear and hatemongering of the dark ages. And if they insist on declaring war upon all humanity, then we will stand beside our fellow human beings and cast at the feet of the tyrant the mandate of all nature: evolve or die.

===================

Bio: Luke Douglasis a political consultant, progressive activist, writer and rabble rouser. Since leaving fundamentalism and a political career for the religious right, he has been outspoken about his journey to secular humanism. Catch him reading history, science, or philosophy, or on Twitter @Propter__Hoc.

>>>Photo Credits:  by Michelangelo – wikimedia commons. Creation_of_the_Sun_and_Moon_face_detail.jpg#/  https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Nuremberg_chronicles_f_11r_1.png#/media/File:Nuremberg_chronicles_f_11r_1.png ; By © Nevit Dilmen, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=12214419

 

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  • Maura Hart

    a narrow escape! kudos

  • chemical

    Luke Douglas:

    From that pathetic breaking point in a bathroom stall,

    Oh, I know that feeling. For me it was like being locked up in a cage your entire life. Except you weren’t locked up — you could have left at any time, if you had just opened the door. And the amount of freedom you feel is staggering. Really, this moment wasn’t in any way pathetic — rather, it comes from the realization of who you really are and how you have been living a lie your entire life.

    Welcome to the real world.

    • Linda_LaScola

      Welcome to you too, Chemical. My own departure from liberal Christianity was smooth and even exciting, so I especially appreciate the courage and pain of people who leave conservative faith.

      • chemical

        I was Catholic myself, but I abandoned the religion about 19 years ago. I don’t remember the exact date, but I do remember the event that triggered it, and it was in a high school classroom.

        • Linda_LaScola

          what was the triggering event?

          • chemical

            I can’t remember the exact details, but what I do know: My senior year of high school, in an English literature class. I was discussing a somewhat difficult science topic with the girl sitting behind me — I can’t remember what it was, or even why it was being discussed in the first place. The girl behind me was just not getting it and said “Well, that’s why I’m religious”, like if you’re religious then you don’t need to know anything about science.

            At that point I looked at her and thought, “What the hell?” and it all clicked. I had a lot of doubts about being Catholic before that, but that line and attitude was basically an admission from a religious student that in religion, knowledge about anything else isn’t worth having.

            A moment later I said back to her, “And you are why I am an atheist”. That was the first time I admitted to being an atheist to anyone, including myself.

          • Linda_LaScola

            Thanks – fascinating – especially because it happened in a Catholic high school, where I know science, including evolution, is taught. Still, you’re saying that in your experience, religion is an excuse for not understanding science.

            I recall a friend who went to Catholic school saying that they were taught that God started the universe with the big bang, then evolution did the rest. That sure simplifies things — as long as you don’t wonder why God didn’t step in sooner and speed up evolution so Jesus could come sooner to save us from Hell. I suppose some Catholics have become atheists that way too!

            All I remember about that from my Catholic upbringing, attending public schools, was that I learned about evolution from teachers who happened to be Catholic and that the subject was never mentioned in Church. Why would it be? Evolution and other scientific issues had nothing to do with religion, which was all about following the rules of the church — not about interpreting the Bible.

          • chemical

            Actually, no. That happened in a public high school, completely secular.

            I also attended CCD once a week at the local church. If you don’t know, it’s basically Sunday School for Catholics, except in my case it wasn’t held on Sundays. They only taught religious topics, but when I was in high school they went into culture war topics, too, like sexuality and abortion.

          • Linda_LaScola

            Oh, public school — that makes more sense! She could have been fundamentalist, like Luke, our blog writer.

  • Luke, thank you for sharing. Like you, I was raised in fundamentalist evangelical Christianity, but unlike you I was send to fundie Christian school rather than homeschooled. We were taught found earth creationism, and Bible was a class. My schooling was before the days of hard core training of kids to go into certain fields in order to change the landscape of America as you were trained. It must have been exciting to be a trained culture warrior for Jesus!

    Being free of all that is amazing. Your life is yours to follow your path rather than being owned by Jesus. The process to leave fundamentalism and them Christianity in general is long and paimful, but it is worth the struggle to be free. It is great that you are able to use your skill set to fight for progressive valies, and your experience on the other side is invaluable in understanding what you are up against. Good luck to you!

    • Luke Douglas

      It’s incredible the measures conservative Christianity has been taking to perpetuate itself in both the homeschooling and private schooling scenes. I grew up in a whole culture of student government, mock legislatures, and organized debate training with the explicit purpose of training us to go out and change the culture. I remember a few weeks of mock “Congress” where we learned parliamentary procedure and practiced by passing resolutions amending the Constitution to ban abortion and marriage equality. Ironically, most exvangelical former homeschoolers I know were the ones who were most active in the civics and debate scene.

      • I moved to a more liberal part of the USA, switched to progressive Christianity for awhile, and left Christianity about a decade ago. So I am out of touch with that scene except for occasional visits to family in TN . I graduated from high school in 1988 so the exhortation was to go to Bob Jones or Pensacola Chrisyia College. A handful did. Most went to a more liberal Christian college and a few of us went to secular universities . There wasn’t a cohesive network of this type of training. Honestly, this is scary, and I would afmkte it if it weren’t so damaging to so many people’s rights and freedoms. Now I will look more closely at some former classmates’ social media – some are homeschooling and I see a correlation with that and “prepping”.

        • Luke Douglas

          Prepping is a very interesting phenomenon to study alongside fundamentalism. My family is definitely into that, and it really makes sense when you think about their worldview. 1) almost all social and economic progress since the Enlightenment is evil, so 2) the prosperity afforded by the industrial and post-industrial world must be deceptive since it is based on evil, ergo 3) the prosperity of our modern economic system is temporary and on the brink of collapse. Not to mention the persecution complex of fundamentalism that feeds naturally into ideas that complement prepping.

          • True. Plus, depending on where they fall regarding the eschatological timeline, they may feel it is necessary to be ready for out and out chaos, especially if they think they must hide to escape persecution. (Not sure how they expect to escape infrared technology though). Don’t you love Jim Bakker’s buckets of grub? It is funny, but I am sure he has a lot of gullible followers who stockpile those in their bunkers.

    • ctcss

      The process to leave fundamentalism and then Christianity in general is
      long and painful, but it is worth the struggle to be free.

      While I can see that leaving fundamentalism is probably a good thing, wouldn’t the need for one to leave Christianity largely depend on the approach to Christianity being taught? Personally, I can’t see why I should wish to leave my particular Christian sect and to be free of it because I consider what it offers to me to be helpful, not harmful. Plus, in my sect, people are free to stay or leave as they come to their own conclusions about it. Religion (or lack thereof) is a rather personal choice, after all.

      • The need to leave Christianity varies from person to person. I have friends who were raised fundie who are perfectly happy in progressive Christianity. For me, I stopped believing in God and the divinity of Jesus, so I had to leave entirely.

  • Maine_Skeptic

    “I finally admitted to myself that I was an atheist, a humanist and a progressive. ”

    Best epiphany ever at a Chick-Fil-A.

    “While adrift on a sea of chaos, I left my fiancé a voicemail telling her all this and begging her not to leave me as her Bible said she must.”

    So are you in a miserable marriage, or did she toss you aside like a science book at a megachurch?

    • Luke Douglas

      Neither, actually. We talked through it and have had similar journeys, though not identical or at the same pace. In the end, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

      • Maine_Skeptic

        “We talked through it and have had similar journeys, though not identical or at the same pace.”

        It sounds like you have good taste in partners. I’m glad neither of you had to be a casualty.

  • Maine_Skeptic

    “…I have felt the fire to take dominion over this wicked world in the name of Christ because that fire burned in my heart…”

    Been there. Burned that. Maine Skeptic via Texas Evangelical discipleship church, here.

    So how are they spinning your deconversion? Are you:

    A. Hurt by a past experience and taking it out on Jesus?
    B. Under demonic influence?
    C. Evil incarnate, denying Christianity so you don’t have to have a conscience?

    Back in the day, when I was rejecting all that’s holy and good, I got through by blending into the background. It was easy to do, since my former community was working hard to pretend I’d never existed. Something tells me you’re not very good at blending into the background.

    • Luke Douglas

      It depends on what you mean by “they.” Many old church friends and family are spinning it as A, convinced that if I had been exposed to a more moderate Christianity I would have stayed. My immediate family, by contrast, immediately went to demonic deception when I came out. They had been expressing concerns about “the deceiver” for years over the fact that I was reading Aristotle, so it was no surprise.

      • Maine_Skeptic

        You seem upbeat and confident, but I’m sorry you’re going through this. I’m not sorry you’ve awakened, mind you, but it’s not easy having your relationships scrambled this way.

        I said I got through by blending into the background. That was a tactic for avoiding constant conflict, but what really got me through was the enduring sense of relief I felt. For years, I’d been living with ever-increasing levels of cognitive dissonance. It was liberating having curiosity without having anything to prove.

  • ElizabetB.

    Wow.
    Powerful story.
    Powerful pilgrimage. Quite a testament to your mind.
    Thank you so much for sharing it and for your energy and insight in our dire challenges.
    Thanks.

  • wonderer

    Thank you Luke,

    I found that very inspiring. Although I’m a preacher’s kid, it sounds like the level of indoctrination I experienced was much less than your own. I’m so glad you were able to break free.

    You said, “…in many ways it began in the very core of who I always was: a questioner.”

    I can relate to that well. I’ve been a regular atheist poster at William Lane Craig’s forum under the screen name “wonderer”.

    Blessed are the wonderers, for they shall see through the BS. 😉

    • mason

      Of the hundreds of deconversion stories I’ve read on the Clergy Project it’s clear those making their way out of fundamentalism, usually as an Evangelical, have a far far more difficult experience and transition than liberal believers. Most fundamentalists have suffered Religious Trauma Syndrome and can experience PTSD, https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/4c9c6efa1be186e2bd0dbb06a50f5c164c896357055fb6b6a6af1ba9dd2cae92.jpg whereas this appears to be a non-existent phenomena among ex-liberal Christians. Christianity-Lite is clearly not the mental and emotional damaging social virus that Evangelical fundamentalism is.

      • ctcss

        Christianity-Lite? Honestly Mason, that’s rather condescending. You seem to be both despising fundamentalist Christianity (Christianity-Heavy?), and yet somehow elevating it at the same time by seeming to characterize all other Christian branches as mere wannabes.

        How about simply acknowledging that there are lots of different approaches to Christianity, some of which seem more helpful and some of which seem less helpful?

        I would not want to be a fundamentalist Christian for anything, simply because that variant seems to discourage deeper thinking and has a lot of harsh concepts that strike me as being rather unhelpful. On the other hand, I do enjoy belonging to my particular branch of Christianity because I find it to be one that encourages deeper thinking and expresses what I believe to be helpful concepts. But I in no way consider it to be Christianity-Lite simply because it is not based on the harsh concepts found in fundamentalism. Ours are just different concepts, but they are in no way lacking in complexity and nuance.

        People are free to choose whatever religion (or lack thereof) that strikes them as being helpful. But just because they have not chosen fundamentalism does not mean that they have chosen something that is lesser or watered down.

        • carolyntclark

          your two examples sound exactly like Heavy and Lite…Greater or lesser % alcohol, very much like greater or lesser % dogma…….forbidding deeper thinking vs.encouraging deeper thinking. Lite = Diluted with water or logic.

          • ctcss

            Hmmm. Still sounds like dumping all because of some. Look, alcohol and dogma I can see as being similar in concept since they both might be seen as causing distortion in one’s thinking. But encouraging deeper thinking is the opposite of causing unneeded distortion in one’s thinking. Which, to me, is a much different kind of concept than the purely negative example of greater harm (more alcohol and/or dogma) vs lesser harm (less alcohol and/or dogma).

            Basically, you are couching both as potentially harmful because they both contain “poisons”, whereas deeper thinking is on the positive side of the scale, at least as I would understand it.

          • Linda_LaScola

            Maybe Christianity-pleasant-and-meaningful vs Christianity-awful-and-harmful?

          • mason

            Exactly

          • mason

            ctcss …”But just because they have not chosen fundamentalism does not mean that they have necessarily chosen something that is lesser or watered down.” You couldn’t be more wrong and probably can’t relate to what you haven’t experienced. Even Linda, who has spent a great deal of time and focus on the subject of fundamentalist vs liberal Christianity posted above, “Thanks to the clergy study and this blog, I have much more understanding of what ex-fundamentalists have gone through.”

            What you call condescending I call correctly identifying. Christian Evangelical fundamentalism causes severe emotional and mental trauma; Liberal Christianity does not. Evangelicalism is like heroin and Liberal Christianity is Red Bull when it comes to severity and damage caused.

            “You seem to be both despising fundamentalist Christianity (Christianity-Heavy?), and yet somehow elevating it at the same time by seeming to characterize all other Christian branches as mere wannabes.” Despising, yes … elevating it? Just what have I said to imply the liberal, other branches, are mere wannabes? You must be projecting that you feel like a wannabe compared to the hard core true believers?

            Am I anti-Evangelical fundamentalists? Yes. Anti-liberal theists? No.

            My purpose is to do all I can to create awareness about all the harm and damage Evangelicals do to credulous children and vulnerable adults. Why you choose to make https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/d67b10296430f211afb91ea8ad645b6e3e07cf791c58273d370f334f4e38d36f.jpg non-sequitur statements designed to deflect from what I’ve clearly stated, makes you sound like a baiting troll.

  • Illithid

    Never had a faith to break free of, never mind an all-encompassing one like this.

    You and others who’ve done it fill me with admiration for your honesty and courage.

    • mason

      So how did you escape being fitted with the chains of irrational religious belief as a child?

      It’s great that you understand the courage and grit of those who have the will power and self honesty to make the intellectual, emotional, social trek out of religious fundamentalism darkness. Many who were indoctrinated as children are as crippled as a bird whose wings were broken in the next, and will never fly or truly see the world.

      • Illithid

        My mom married a man who was Not Catholic, thus she was shunned by most of her family. My dad didn’t give much of a hang about religion. I went to Methodist church with Grandma (dad’s mom) sometimes when I stayed with her some summers, but didn’t pay much attention. Got proselytized by some suited teens in a mall one day when I was 13. Tearful Sinner’s Prayer and everything. But praying seemed like talking into a dead phone. Started reading the bible. Lots of stuff I knew was factually wrong, and more that was morally horrifying. In two weeks I was an atheist.

        • carolyntclark

          ” But praying seemed like talking into a dead phone.” EXACTLY ! that’s what finally did it for me…many years later.

        • mason

          Hmm … so you escaped the attempts of put you in mental chains … bravo! Geez … a teenager isn’t even safe in a Mall from the Evangelical cultists today. Like wolves stalking the vulnerable.

          Dead phone … that’s perfect. After I became an atheist I realized I could use the same meditative state I’d go into (trying to talk to a non-existent God of ancient Jews on my dead phone) and just meditate and focus.

  • mason

    Luke, “It’s hard to pinpoint a moment when the doubts began, but in many ways it began in the very core of who I always was: a questioner.”

    Ah yes, that eternal kryptonite of Evangelical propaganda … questions. 🙂 Also being a natural questioner, under the Baptist indoctrination that questions and doubts were the voice of Satan, I suppressed any serious consideration of what doubts or questions I had; questioning other things was permitted, but not all the contradictions, absurdities, and God sanctioned genocide taught by the Evangelicals I was surrounded by.

    At my first exposure to the blood atonement saga and some guy mostly naked nailed to wood and suffering for ME, I experienced revulsion at age five. It took me until 25 years later to recover my natural integrity, questioning, and revulsion at the sheep herder myths I was bullied and threatened into believing.

    Your story makes me feel hopeful that there may be many more like you in the US to expose the absurdity and abusiveness of American theocratic Evangelicals.

    • carolyntclark

      Your Evangelical description makes me think about the different kinds of holds religion can have on our Christian psyche.

      Rather than the browbeating guilt, shame, fear in your church, my Catholic experience was romanticized love, comfort, compassion,
      for the personal redeemer that loved and suffered for me. I experienced not revulsion at the sight of the crucifix, but a sense of devotion and desire to comfort and make amends…a heartfelt emotional response.
      So much so, that I entered the convent to give back 100 %.
      In retrospect, both religions push different manipulative buttons to a fabricated tale.

      I can understand your experience being similar to PTSD, a response to trauma of religious O.T. angry God, fire and brimstone punishment.
      In contrast, my aftermath was more like the Stockholm Syndrome, a fond, affectionate attachment and loyalty to the fictitious savior.

      It’s interesting comparing notes.

      • ctcss

        In retrospect, both religions push different manipulative buttons to a fabricated tale.

        Your heartfelt sharing is much appreciated. I agree, it is interesting to compare notes with others to see how it is that each have arrived at their current positions.

        However, is it really entirely fair to characterize a church’s efforts to make their case as pushing manipulative buttons? Also, would you have phrased it that way if you weren’t currently regarding Jesus’ ministry as a fabricated tale? I realize that our respective theological backgrounds have a number of differences, but given that any number of human beings have led lives that are admirable, and which might give one aspirations to try to do more good in their own lives as a consequence of hearing of another’s inspired and selfless endeavors, why would the narrative about Jesus’ efforts make you feel that you were being manipulated rather than simply being informed? Why needlessly poison the well by disparaging its contents?

        From my own experience, it too often seems that human history and people’s responses to its incomplete or biased nature are often missing out on the full story and thus coming to less than helpful conclusions. In many ways, do we not all fall victim to manipulations, whether of others (for example, Donald Trump’s repeated and too often believed lies about those whom he wishes to vilify or to elevate), or our own mental manipulations to justify our comfortable preconceptions about those whom we love, or conversely, distrust and fear?

        The Bible is obviously an incomplete document compiled by fallible humans. But unless one is falling for the line that it is a complete work of fiction meant only to entertain rather than to inspire deeper consideration of the nature of the need (and actual occurrence) of redemption and healing in human lives, is it truly fair to characterize it all as mere fabrication, rather than realize that there may be far more to its content than the mere black and white of its collected and preserved text? The humans who made the effort to collect and edit it may have been fallible, but does that mean that they were also seeking to willfully deceive others, or that they were wholly foolish in what they valued and were trying to discover on their own paths? Aren’t you possibly letting cynicism rob you of the ability to appreciate good wherever it may found?

        And no, I am not trying to get you to return to the fold of Christendom, either of mine or anyone else’s. I just get worried when I see hurt and the resulting cynicism rob people of the possibility of discerning good. It would be one thing if our every human thought were paragons of excellent wisdom, logic, and correct conclusions. Sadly, that is not the case. We are all seeing through a glass, darkly, and only by persisting in our individual efforts to seek and to understand do we actually have a chance of arriving at a useful endpoint.

        All the best.

      • Linda_LaScola

        It sure is. I have fond memories of attending mass – except for the sermons — they were short enough, but unlike the rest of the mass, they were in English!

        Thanks to the clergy study and this blog, I have much more understanding of what ex-fundamentalists have gone through.

      • ElizabetB.

        Thanks so much for the descriptions, Carolyn…. I keep wondering what kind of language would make it possible to express humanistic views and evoke that same or comparable “love, comfort, compassion…. fond, affectionate attachment and loyalty.” So far I haven’t come up with, or heard, anything I like! Kahlil Gibran maybe comes closest….

        • ElizabetB.

          Rabbi Waskow’s “Breath-Prayer” is interesting … ” ‘Ruach Ha’Olam’ (‘Breathing Spirit of the world’) instead of ‘Melech Ha’Olam’ (‘King of the world’) and ‘Yahhhh’ (simply a breathing sound) instead of ‘Adonai, Lord.’ ” https://theshalomcenter.org/node/222

        • carolyntclark

          but then, a lot depends on the receiver of the message. For some, the gentle Lamb of God, Good Shepard, Matt 5 and Matt 25 Jesus, may be too schmaltzy.
          There is a taste for power, smiting the enemy, vengeful King.

          • ElizabetB.

            Excellent point!!
            Ok, I guess I am looking for the (I’m trying to remember how Mason described my leanings when I first encountered RD — something like “rainbow bunny foo foo”)
            version : )
            Good to be aware that’s the case! Thank you!!

          • carolyntclark

            I see you as an unquenchable searcher of what is true. Hoping that just around another corner is the answer.

          • ElizabetB.

            Carolyn, what an extraordinarily kind thing to say! so appreciated.
            Actually, that’s what I appreciate about RD — people are committed to fact to the extent it can be ascertained, are listeners, open to entertaining new points of view.

            “The Answer” — in college (when we know everything) when my mom said that “we can never know these things,” I’m embarrassed to say I did tell her “I want to be the one who puts the last piece of the puzzle in” : ) YIKES Sixty years later, I would love to be someone who helped a little bit getting us all a little closer to understanding It All : )
            Gratitude

  • FreshLA

    @disqus_1fnFCTKdjf:disqus Thank you for your article! I could relate to a lot of your story. I used to rub shoulders with a lot of evangelical power brokers in DC too. I even worked on an initiative with the ADF. It is SOOOO NIIIIICE to be on this side of things now. Best wishes friend!

  • Liz

    Love this. I’m currently walking the same road, reevaluating everything I believe and have been taught. Plus trying to figure out what to do with my life now I’ve left my abusive husband and my life as a “submissive-wife-and-mother”. I relate to your story so much. And I think crying in the bathroom is an entirely reasonable response to realising your whole life and worldview has crumbled around you, not pathetic at all.