Yesterday (Wednesday)

Back in the office from my vacation.  I do no work but instead write all those damn blogs that you people have been reading.  Your encouragement and the number people just reading my story means soooooooo much to me. Thank you one million times, thank you.

I got home from “work” and my wife bought some steaks and asked if I want to BBQ.  Sounds good to me!

Her: “There is a position open at the local Opportunity Council for a full time case worker that helps homeless vets.  I know you weren’t thinking of quitting tomorrow but I just thought I’d bring up that job.  I’d much rather see you in a helping position than being the cliché ex-pastor real estate/insurance salesmen.”

Me: “That does sound interesting.  I hope the pay is decent. I don’t get why we feel that people who work with the poor should be poor themselves.  I’m not quitting the church for a $30k job.”

The website doesn’t list salary.  I’m still thinking of applying, but I can’t list any references.  Who am I going to ask to be my reference?  No one even knows I’m quitting!

I think I’ll create my resume anyways.

big-hero-6.34102We ended the night with the family on the couch watching Big Hero 6.

Yesterday was a good day.

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25 thoughts on “Yesterday (Wednesday)

  1. I have read all your blog posts in one sitting and I am rooting for you and your family.
    I was lucky, I have been an atheist since I was 10. when my catholic priest, seeing that I wasn’t doing very well at my catechism, told me to sit in an empty room praying to God and ask him to show me the way. I came out of that room convinced there was no God, or if there was one, he was not too concerned about us humans. For all intent and purposes then he did not exist. I have since refined my position a bit but I could never comprehend “faith”. I had my first communion to make my grandparents happy and that was my last time in Church, except as a tourist.

    I married an atheist, but we only realized we both were non religious after we married. Religion was not an important aspect of our marriage.

    27 years later this atheist has been taking care of my wife’s failing health for the past 10 years, at least, while many of my religious friends have divorced, usually for fooling around or trying to acquire a newer model.

    Just to tell you where I am coming from.

    I was always interested in stories of deconversion not so much because I can sympathize, but because the mind of the religious has always fascinated me. Especially when they struggle with their newfound atheism. I’d like to tell them that it’s really not that bad at a personal level. You don’t get a license to rape and pillage. Morals are important to me and most of my atheist friends. Often the same morals most Christians manage to follow, like don’t murder, don’t rob, etc. But I have the freedom to accept those different than me with a clear mind without filtering through my religious outlook.

    When gay marriage was still taboo I never understood why so many people were against it. Today I still wonder why the now minority is so threatened by same sex marriage.

    My lesbian neighbor never rang my bell trying to convince my wife to leave me for another woman and I never got the memo that now that it’s legal I should marry a man.

    Yet, so many struggle with guilt, punishment, hell… fear of death.

    Atheists fear death too. I fear it because I won’t see my spouse and my daughter anymore. I’ll miss a lot of good movies and I won’t be able to keep up with future technologies. But by then I won’t care anymore.

    I wish I could sit down with your wife and kids and talk to them. If there is one thing I found objectionable in your posts was the way you broke the news to her. I would have preferred a more gentle approach, but I also understand you were not in the kind of mood for gentleness. You wanted the punishment that comes with from refuting not just your god, but your wife’s very foundation for her life. By telling her that way, you assured yourself of a good scolding that part of you figured you deserved.

    But you don’t.

    try taking your wife through your journey. What was your mental process. You can mention the starving kids and the persecuted Christians, but we both know those are only a small part of your deconversion. The biggest part is that the veil of faith has lifted. Probably helped by the bible itself.

    Anyway, sorry I am writing too much and making assumptions here. If I am wrong, I am wrong. But I still hope that your family stays in one piece. It’s worth fighting for. But your wife needs to fight too. You can’t do it alone.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I don’t quite understand your critique of my method’s of telling my wife. I wasn’t aiming for a scolding or for shocking. I just wanted to tell her. Yes, she does want to know my mental process and I have shared some of it with her. Honestly though, I’m still processing my lack of faith and I don’t feel like pushing her into it as well. My wife has always commented that I knew the bible better than anyone she’s ever met, I just don’t feel like taking the bible away from her.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I suspect I wasn’t clear in my post. I didn’t mean that you should have taken her through your mental process to try to make her follow your path. Not at all. I was actually more concerned about the shock that she might have suffered by having her Christian husband come out as pretty much the antithesis of everything she believes. She must have wondered what happened and why. She might even have suspected she was a part of your deconversion, or that at least she didn’t do enough to support you.

        In other words, my concern was for her mental well being and the health of your marriage rather than a missed chance on your part of creating another atheist. I hope that’s clear.

        Another thing that occurred to me while reading your posts was that you obviously need at least some part of your life to remain solid. You need an anchor, and your wife is a prime candidate for that role.
        I feared that by coming clean with your wife abruptly she could have overreacted and made your situation far worse than what it is.
        You obviously know your wife better than anyone else and you put a lot of thought in how to break the news to her. I can only marginally relate to your struggle and it is not my place to judge your actions. I just hope that both of you can remain happy in your marriage and I wish you both the best.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I think you’re on to something. We did have the conversation about how she was trying not to see this as her fault. “I keep thinking that maybe if I was a better pastor’s wife…” I am trying to reassure her that this is not her fault.

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  2. Man, this is tough.

    I’ve been an atheist most of my life, but I can understand how hard it is for those to lose faith.

    Just in case you haven’t come across them, here’s some others who have gone through what you have.

    A whole series of Youtube videos on someone’s path to deconversion.

    https://www.youtube.com/user/Evid3nc3

    And this is Julia Sweeney’s Letting Go of God.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ok, I’ve heard of this! I think she was featured on NPR for this. I haven’t watched the video yet (being 2 hours long) but I’ll need to check this out. Thanks for sharing.

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  3. I just wanted to say that you are really selling yourself short when it comes to your qualifications. Yes, your knowledge base is very specific, but a typical pastor’s skill-set is very transferable. Consider what you do: public speaking, crisis management, community outreach, professional writing, event planning, time management, team management, budgeting (if in charge of church finances)… the list goes on. Sit down and write down everything you actually do and you would probably be pleasantly surprised.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Hi-I found your blog through Hemant.
    I was raise Southern Baptist, converted to Catholicism after having kids now am an Athiest. Luckily, I married a lifelong Atheist who was very patient.
    I listen to a lot of Atheist podcasts to help me on this journey and your plight reminds me a bit of college-aged kids who cannot tell their parents for fear of losing their support. It is often suggested that they don’t tell them.
    So, worried about money if you quit your job? Then don’t quit. I am currently a Cancer Biologist not working in my field because I don’t want to move. It is more important for me to keep my family in the area, than do the work I love. Ya, there are days that I am sad, then there are days that I go for a hike or watch my kids with their friends and I am totally happy. Find a way to Pastor that keeps you in your job, maybe take some night or online classes in secret but keep working. Now that you know the truth, the job is just a job. Do what is expected, say the platitudes, repeat old sermons.
    Of course, this is all easy for me to say. I just really want to be supportive and let you know there is a huge community out here. We have good and bad suggestions, just like the Christian community ;).
    I know it seems overwhelming, but to borrow a line, it does get better. I have never felt so happy as when I realized that I am never going to get possessed by a demon, or haunted by ghosts or burn in Hell. My life is more fulfilling. I donate money and volunteer not because I hope to make God happy but because it feels good and it is a choice that I make. My kids are also Atheists and they are sweet, kind to their friends and spend their Sunday mornings playing rather than being tormented (as I was) by the guy yelling and pounding his fists at the pulpit. I think how wonderful it would have been if my ol’ Preacher had come out as an Atheist, it would have saved me so much time, fear and money.
    Keep writing, keep an open dialog with your wife. Show your wife you can lead the family without worshipping a magical sky fairy. Show her your decision doesn’t have to be hers. I cannot imagine what my husband was thinking when I had the kids baptized Catholic, but he just sat back and was patient. No arguments, just support. It took years, but I came around on my own.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I have never repeated sermons. They are always so, stale. Even as an atheist I try to write fresh material. Until yesterday, or technically Thursday. My mother’s day sermon was a 98% repeat from my 2011 mother’s day sermon. I didn’t want it to be that way but something came up. I was at the office late when my wife called to tell me my youngest kid just threw up. She said “I know you’re trying your best to still preach well, but can you use last years sermon because I need you at home right now?”

      So I dug up 2011’s sermon and didn’t take more than 5 minutes to look at it. “This will work.” and I headed out.

      Preached it Sunday…all the mom’s crying and thanking me. Damn, must have a good sermon in 2011 too.

      Liked by 1 person

    • I was a Southern Baptist to R.C. convert too! I have no friends who are actually that same mix. My website is catholicismontherocks.blogspot.com would love to chat sometime!

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  5. Hi I was browsing through your posts. I can feel some of the pain and tension you must be experiencing. Like you I just found my faith crumbled and I have just extracted myself from involvement in Church leadership – a process I found incredibly painful. In fact I couldn’t bring myself to tell my friends and colleagues I no longer believed – I just told them I couldn’t do it anymore – I couldn’t be involved in church leadership (they have probably concluded I have had a mental breakdown).

    But my situation is so much easier than yours as I was not employed by the church, so my financial security was not on the line. So if I found so painful, it must be doubly so for you – you have my sympathy.

    I really miss my faith, life so much simpler then – but I doubt I could ever be confident in the Bible again – once I seriously considered it might not be divinely inspired I could never look at it the same way again.

    Liked by 3 people

      • Only guys (and gals!) in your situation can ever really know what it feels like to be going through this – but thanks to your incredibly detailed, raw and honest blog, we can at least perhaps try to gain a sense of understanding as to just how difficult and painful it is for you. This has been one of the most emotionally charged blogs I’ve been privileged enough to read online and I thank you for sharing so much with us all.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. I think one important thing for you to know in this stage of your life, is that you’re not alone in what you’re going through.

    There’s an entire community that is able and willing to offer support for you in your transition. The organization is called The Clergy Project, their website is clergyproject.org and their mission statement is, quote: “The Clergy Project’s Mission is to provide support, community, and hope to those current and former religious professionals who no longer hold to supernatural beliefs. – http://clergyproject.org/atheist-nonbeliever-clergyproject/

    Perhaps your wife could get the support she needs from this community as well.

    I wish all the best to you in your life.

    – An atheist from Finland

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  7. I am a former minister. I went to seminary after college, was ordained in 1981 and served in the Presbyterian Church (this one very conservative) until 1995 when I left my last church and then 1997 when my credentials were revoked for “inactivity”. I considered myself a conservative, born-again Christian from the time of conversion in 1970 until I finally acknowledged I no longer believed any of it, probably sometime after 2000 or so.

    Thankfully I had already transitioned out of the church as a means of employment. However, I remained in the closet due to relationships that would be impacted seriously by acknowledging I no longer believed. I finally came out to some extent in 2003 or 2004 my spouse. So, I know some of what you are experiencing.

    What I can say is that from within the Christian box of belief atheism is anathema. Outside of it, it’s normal; entirely, completely, totally normal and rational. What withing the box is a spiritual crisis, is just another human transition, a matter of maturity, growth and the willingness to continue to ask questions, learn and inquire of life. It is part of the quest which is woven into our nature, the quest to understand and to find the BEST answers to those questions; the best answers our current state of knowledge allows. There is nothing wrong with you, there is something VERY right with you. You are among the few who are willing, even as an adult, to change their minds when presented with new information; one of the few to whom the truth really IS important.

    It DOES mean significant and gut wrenching changes in your life. These changes are largely due to the unwillingness of others to ask the hard questions and accept the answers. It is largely due to fear of change, for the desire for the security of the familiar and comfortable, even if it is an illusion. That is their issue, although it does have a significant impact on you. However, you can navigate them. You are much stronger than you think you are. You have set your food on a road to freedom.

    You are not alone in that journey. What needs to be done, you will have to do, but you are not alone.

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  8. I just finished reading the last of your posts with one overarching thought, “Aren’t you making too big a deal about this?” I certainly understand the difficulty involved in changing professions, but nothing in what you’ve written indicates that you really enjoy your present job anyway. Surely, too, you will find it painful when members of your church who you thought were your friends shun you on hearing the news, but that will just mean they weren’t really your friends to begin with. You’ve already discovered that the two or three friends you’ve come out to didn’t freak out and indeed, were supportive. It sounds like your wife is coming around too. All you need to do after getting a new job is just to continue living your life as you always have, you lose nothing by leaving the church. Morality is not Christian, it’s just human, and fully and simply encapsulated in the Golden Rule without the need for superstitious adornment. If you miss the music and fellowship, join another church and just don’t discuss your lack of belief. As you’ve already noted, it’s probable that most other Christians don’t really believe either. Remember how quickly you recovered after learning there was no Santa Claus? This is the same thing.

    Do guard against one thing, though. I don’t think “professional atheists” contribute much good to society. As you already know, atheism is not a belief, it’s the absence of belief, so there is really nothing to promote. Richard Dawkins may be entertaining as he flaunts his atheism, primarily to antagonize theists, but he doesn’t really do the lot of atheists much good. The much better approach is that of Bill Nye. He doesn’t promote his atheism, he promotes science instead. It’s science, not atheism that is the polar opposite of religious belief. (By the way, I don’t count the Freedom from Religion Foundation or Openly Secular and similar folks as professional atheists. The first group opposes government imposition of religious beliefs and the second helps people like yourself adjust to the loss of belief, both worthy goals.)

    So, relax, it’s no big deal, and best of luck and adventure with your new career.

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    • Yeaahhh, maybe take some time reading the other comments. I can appreciate that you’ve never been in my shoes and so don’t perhaps understand my situation. And I also thank your for encouraging me to look forward and see this as a benefit, but trust me, it’s a big deal.

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    • “Aren’t you making too big a deal about this?” I don’t wish to be antagonistic here, but have you even read all of the posts that came before this one? I don’t think he could have been any more clear in explaining just how painful and difficult this whole process has been to him. I can’t begin to understand what it’s like to be in his shoes, but having read his posts I can see the pain this is causing him. Compassion and understanding are what’s needed here, not a criticism of how one has gone about trying to navigate their way through a life crisis.

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  9. I left Christianity many years ago, so I do know some of what you’re going through. But it took years to come out to my family members. You must have more courage than I did. I still remember that wonderful feeling, like a mountain of weight being lifted from my shoulders. There is a forum for ex Christians, perhaps you’re already a member. Your experiences would be extremely helpful. Ex-Christian.net

    Liked by 1 person

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