Monday, July 11, 2016

Guns. Drawn.

I’ve previously stuck to themes related to leaving Christianity on this blog, but occasionally I have thoughts about other things I want to write about and share. Not to mention, it’s been awhile since I’ve posted anything. So, as they say on Monty Python: "And now for something completely different."

Earlier this morning I was reminded of another senseless act of gun violence that took place just outside of New York City over in New Jersey. A couple of grown men (I won’t say what color their skin was because that wouldn’t be politically correct) decided to settle their differences by blasting away at one another. One of them was left dead in the aftermath. Apparently he had openly disrespected the other one to some of his friends. Naturally, when the authorities started investigating the shooting, everyone who was present said they saw nothing. Eventually a grand jury indicted the killer for murder, but he fled the arrest warrant.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Messages in the Sky

The initial inclination for me typically is to roll my eyes at the kind of stuff where Christians see messages in the sky specifically for them. Don't misunderstand. I'm not trying to ridicule anyone here, especially someone who is dealing with loss. But I often wonder if by embracing reality, I'm missing out on living in a perceived world in which people I loved who are now dead can communicate with me by making abstract patterns with tiny water droplets resting on condensation nuclei (read: cloud shapes).

Even when I was a Christian, this sort of folksy approach to religion completely eluded me. That's probably because I thought through this stuff when I was about six, not long after my grandfather died. Adults around me were talking about how my grandfather was looking down on me from heaven, but I had already concluded that wouldn't jibe with the religious paradigm from which I was working. Besides, six-year-old me much preferred the idea that grandpa was far, far away in some other dimension where he couldn't see me, particularly when I waited longer to seek out a bathroom than my disproportionately-undersized bladder could handle and accidentally pissed my pants. Fourteen-year-old me preferred the idea that my dead grandpa couldn't see me for different reasons.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Christianity: It's Toasted!

In the first episode of Mad Men, the guys at Sterling Cooper ad agency are meeting with Lucky Strike and looking for a viable pitch for their ad campaign. The cigarette company is faced with the problem that they can no longer tout the safety of their product and they have no way to distinguish themselves from their competitors. Things are going south and Sterling Cooper is about to lose its biggest client until Don Draper steps in: 

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Post-Apostasy Correspondence Saga: My Exchanges with Church Leaders

Warning: this post is long. Specifically it's about 26,000 words long or about 44 printed pages. I thought about breaking it up into a few different posts, but that wouldn't really fit my purpose. I'm mainly just looking for a place to dump this on my blog, so here it is. I apologize that after almost a year without posting I'm marking my return with something like this, but I had a recent, unexpected, and encouraging phone call from someone from my past that brought all these events to mind and prompted me to do it.

A few times on this blog I've alluded to the response my wife and I received from the PCA church we were active members of at the time of our deconversion. Outside of work and home, it was pretty much our world. I've also mentioned that not a single person from that church remained friends with us in any meaningful sense. At least one former good friend stated he would never set foot in my house or even meet with me in person until we repented. Others unfriended us on Facebook. A couple of my wife's friends seemed to be willing to at least correspond, but they said they needed some time first. That was three years ago.

I saved nearly all of the correspondence we received during that period. I've been hesitant to share much of it on this blog, but I recently had a conversation with someone who was privy to some of the things that were communicated to the congregation of the church by the session of elders in the aftermath of our departure. Based on that person's recollections, it would seem the elders told the congregation not to interact with us lest we poison them. In light of that unsurprising revelation, I've decided to publish the exchanges I had with the elders, the details of which they no doubt withheld from the congregants. I've redacted names and places. Mainly I'm excluding them so people performing Internet searches on those specific names won't end up getting linked here.

In retrospect, now three years removed from these exchanges, I think it was a mistake to allow the elders and the senior pastor in particular to control the narrative fully in the way we did. If I had to do it all over again, I might be tempted to avoid phone conversations, stick strictly to email interactions, and then cc everyone in the church directory on the entire exchange so they could see for themselves how it all went down. Something like that had briefly crossed my mind, but I never seriously considered it. At the time I didn't want to risk burning bridges, nor did I want to fit into the narrative of being out to deliberately hurt people. In the end, the elders were going to burn plenty of bridges for us so it didn't really matter.