Creating a New Future After Faith
Since starting Life After God I have had a number of clarifying experiences—moments in which the vision I originally articulated for this organization teaches me something I didn’t see as clearly at the beginning.
For example, it is clearer to me than ever before that there are at least two distinct but intimately related projects that Life After God is deeply invested in.
First, and the one I’ve spoken the most about for the past five months, is the need to support people after they’ve left the comfortable shore of their former ideological community. Pushing off from the shore into the open water can be frightening and unpredictable. People often feel, quite literally, adrift and alone. Two years of corresponding with and coaching people in this phase of their religious transition has confirmed my own personal experience that this is a time of isolation, uncertainty, and confusion for many people.
Secondly, and something I will give much more attention to moving forward, is pointing to a new shore—a new place of relative confidence and security. Indeed, in the current social and intellectual climate, there is no land in sight just yet. Perhaps there won’t be for some time. With the exponential growth of people pushing off from the shore of religious institutions into the uncertain water of the ‘nones,’ many sociologists and philosophers are guessing at the vague outlines of the new shore. But let’s face it: this is uncharted territory. We don’t know the new terrain we are headed for. So—and here I have to break with the metaphor—we are in the process of creating that new land ourselves, together.
Simply put, Life After God is not just about the work of supporting and resourcing people as they turn away from the religious dogma and practices of their past. It’s also about helping people and communities turn toward a new way of being together in intentional ethical community—after God.
This is why I am so excited to welcome John Dehlin to the leadership team of Life After God as a member of the Advisory Board. John has been listening to the stories of religious turmoil and trauma, in the Mormon dialect, for over 10 years. Along the way, he has processed his own deconversion, completely changed his career, earned a Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology, and built an enormous international community of marginal and former Mormons. His podcast, Mormon Stories, is permanently on the iTunes leader board for podcasts in the Religion/Other category.
Prior to going back to school, John worked seven years for Microsoft and 3 years for MIT as the Director of their OpenCourseWare Consortium.
I spoke to John on episode 22 of the Life After God podcast about his journey and our vision of collaborating together. I hope you’ll check it out!
What does this new partnership mean?
The new collaborative relationship between John and me—between Mormon Stories/Mormon Transitions and Life After God—is the first step in the development of a deeper dialogue about what we are building for the formerly religious. What sorts of communities and resources are needed? How do we assess the real needs rather than imposing solutions from a previous framework on this new opportunity? Who is not at the table and how do we continually join with new communities as we create a new future?
I invite you to join me in welcoming John to Life After God and, more importantly, to join us in the exciting and meaningful work of creating a new future after faith.