Emotional Validation, Swearing, and Good Advice

the-historical-origins-of-6-swear-wordsI’m in a slight calm right now.  TBWSNBN hasn’t pushed in a couple of days, she even “liked” my wife’s post with a pic our kids (which angered me to the point of gaging).  None of the job prospects have gotten back to me. And things are pretty normal around the church.

I’ve received a lot of support from you guys the last few days and I’m very grateful.  One atheist blogger took the time to send me an email both to show support but also to point something out.  If Christians stumble upon my blog they’re likely to write me off, not just because of the swearing but also the name calling.  The blogger totally understands how therapeutic it is to just let all the anger out through posting.  They even mentioned that it’s probably not that big of a deal.  But based on their personal experience, I’m just giving Christians excuses not to take me seriously.

Hmmm, I think the blogger is right.

So much of what I write is really just for me to get support from you.  Yes, that is totally selfish, but other than my wife, Mark, and now my sister, I don’t have people I talk to regularly about this.  And my sister and Mark are the only other people who can completely support me.  I think Mark is even a little bit envious (though not in a bad way) that I’m getting way more support in this journey than he got.

I think every person needs emotional validation, especially when facing life changing circumstances.  You, my readers, have given me the courage to keep becoming more open about my atheism.  I’ve been talking with my wife this past week about a plan to come completely out of the closet.  Obviously this is not desirable for her, but I don’t want to pretend forever.  I’m hoping that 6 months to a year after I step down from the church, I can then be completely openly secular.  Realize, that before I wrote this blog, I never intended to be completely out.  But with your support I believe there is actually great value in being openly secular, because as you did for me, I want to do publicly for those who are like me.

But I don’t want my blog to be just about me.  The idea of actually engaging the Christian community with my “testimony” is something that I really want to do.  I want to let cultural Christians know that it’s ok if you don’t believe anymore.  It’s ok to be an atheist.  I want Christians to see that those who know the bible the best, are leaving faith behind regularly.  I want to change the dynamic and relationship between the Christian community and the atheist community.  To do that, I might need to swear less.

Besides, I don’t want to embarrass the TCP or people like Linda LaScola who have been so kind in encouraging people to read my blog.  So I might go back to edit some of the past posts to reduce the profanity.  But for future blogs, I need to feel like I can still communicate with you EXACTLY how I feel.  I had been using swear words precisely because of their offensive, provocative, and emotive qualities.  I wanted you to feel the hate mixed with fear as it poured out of me.  While writing many of those “raw” blog post I was feeling the emotions WHILE writing them.  I was red faced, I was angry crying, I wanted to punch something, I was yelling.  I don’t want my writing to miss any of that.

Looks like I’ll just need to be more creative in my writing.

Either way, thanks to all of you for your support during the last week.  You all make me smile when I am in despair.

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22 thoughts on “Emotional Validation, Swearing, and Good Advice

  1. I so appreciate your language! It’s what makes your story authentic and relatable for me. I understand your thoughts in this blog though.

    I just stumbled upon your blog recently and read everything in an afternoon. I gotta say, I’m proud of you for exploring your beliefs and not robotically living unhappily. This seems like it could be a deal breaker for many, but your wife seems awesome in this, even though I know she’s struggling too.

    You asked for help a post or 2 back. I’d be happy to help.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. You know that you have my support, and the support of so many of us. I understand your desire to, “bridge the gap” – just be sure that in doing so you don’t lose that part of you that one day read the bible and thought, “Bullshit!”

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I would say that 90% of the times, profanities are not needed. However, there is a good 10% where nothing else will do. Profanities allow us to express certain feelings in ways that “regular language” sometimes can’t.

    Plus in my experience a lot of Christians swear like sailors.

    My suggestion would be for you to revise your past writings and eliminate those passages where the profanity is gratuitous. But if there are places where not using the profanity waters down the meaning, leave it. After all, this is your story.

    I also suspect your use of profanities is not a new development caused by your secularism. I doubt you regularly weaved 4 letter words in your sermons (although it would have been fun if you did) but I have a feeling you did not shy from the occasional reference to self inflicted sexual acts when the subject deserved it.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. I think I was a good Christian, and as an atheist writer I have this overwhelming need to bridge the gap and show both sides what they are missing. Sometimes I’m too nice, and other times I am a sarcastic bitch. As a writer you will never feel more successful than when you manage to put into words exactly what you mean. You want the reader to get it just the way you do. Occasionally you will get it right and never want to speak of it again.

    You may automatically adjust your language according to who you are really making your current point to. I think it is obvious in my writing when I am talking to Christians and when I am talking to atheists, even if I am talking to both 🙂 I find your story very relatable. You are doing something right, so don’t over think it!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I’ve been gone from the fold now for 54 years, so none of this is new, but I have to agree with the writer who said to tone it down. When you put something in writing, or say something in public, you take one hell of a risk. Just ask The Donald. I woke up at 3:30 the other morning, thinking about you, got up and wrote a long response. Don’t know if it would add anything to the main point, that we can’t influence if we offend. If you were nice before, you should continue to be nice, or else you give the believers reason to think that non-believers have no sense of morality or decorum. I try to make it hard to them to find fault with me unless they use more imagination and distortion than facts.

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    • First off, thanks for thinking about me. It’s touching to think that a complete stranger was awake at 3:30 in the morning considering how best to help/encourage me.

      Secondly, I agree with the “sense of decorum” and not giving your enemies too much dirt. But as a pastor, that’s how I’ve always had to live my life. Repressing anger (and just about every other reaction) in public is my national pastime. It actually feels weird to swear so profusely in these blogs, it’s foreign to me. Yes I do swear in real life, even around some board members, but it’s usually pretty mild. But just the sense of freedom that comes from being able to say whatever the *heck* you want is kind of intoxicating.

      For a lot of pastors who deconvert, there is the sense of “I need to do everything I was repressed and prevented from doing while I believed.” I’ve chatted with a few who express this sexually, going to bed with whomever they can. Me, to profusely swear occasionally on an anonymous blog seems to do the trick.

      I hope my anger and resentment will subside and this will become less and less. It still doesn’t feel natural to me to be this angry and I’d like to return to my “normal” state soon.

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  6. I don’t mind the swearing, but I was taken aback reading some of your earliest blog entries with bitch and fuck here and there. I remember thinking to myself, “Is this is a genuine pastor talking? How does he get away with that?” By the way, this is my second comment. I’m a fan and applaud your blog. Brave man, you are. I don’t mean to sound scolding.

    Like most kids, I was taught that swearing was wrong. As you might guess, I grew up in a Christian fundamentalist home and was “saved” before I was old enough to know what it meant. My siblings and I tried substitutes like darn, heck, and son of a gun. These, too, were disallowed. Neither of my parents used swear words, even in anger. Although the main argument against swearing was its inherent sinfulness to take god’s name in vain, the more sophisticated answer had to do with being a good Christian example to others.

    I’m 61 years old now. I’m a staunch atheist of many years. I even see the utility and fun of swearing. What would comedy or movies be without it? But this is not about me, and I’ve gone on too long. The intended take-away here is that swearing sometimes takes away from the message and can bring your integrity into question. If your message is primarily to us heathens, we get it. If people have grown up with it, they won’t even notice it. But if you want any of the faithful to pay attention, it might come off as a little harsh.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Having been involved heavily before – Elder and chairman of Consistory – I know how churches can be a political reality in microcosm….I’m so thankful not to have to keep up appearances anymore. People can be callous as they participate independently..Something they cannot do when there is more at stake, such as in a job, and relationships that can affect their standing ..both professionally and financially. I sure wud get the hell out of there soonest. Remove everyone from having a power position over you..They in effect are your employer.
    I am concerned you are not being as effective in your job search as you could be….Don’t you have Unemployment Insurance?…So you can extricate yourself from one situation, and look for a replacement full time…Anyway, if I can offer anything that may help you in your job search, let me know…It was my specialty, although retired now.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Not that I fundamentally disagree with you, but doesn’t it tell you a lot when even us atheists have this elevated idea of clergy as more moral, more trustworthy and so forth?

      Incidentally, that’s how some truly hideous people have been able to get away with some pretty nasty behavior leveraging that innate feeling we have in our society that a religious person, and especially a member of the clergy or a pastor couldn’t possibly behave a certain way.

      My wife being somewhat sick and confined to her bed for long stretches, watches a lot of Discovery ID, or as I call it “Murder & Mayhem TV”. Aside from the programs that exclusively focused on clergy members and pastors, there are a lot of cases involving those groups where their crimes are just as nasty as anyone else’s.
      Yet, by and large these people tend to be initially discarded as suspects unless they confess outright or are actually caught holding a bloody knife over their victims.

      In reality, as one quickly learns with a bit of research, they are just people like everyone else. Some good, some bad, most mediocre.

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  8. I am a Christian and have been reading your blog for a while now. And no, I don´t mind the language! It seems appropriate when I read of the way some people treat you and you are in a time of your life with a lot ot tumoil and changes. So it can help to let off steam verbally. Better than giving people a punch in the mouth!
    And whie I´m here – et me say that I Support your path – go and follow what you see as the truth! It NEVER is good to pretend to be a Christian – if you don´t really believe it is best to get out. This is my only Problem: your not being truthful to your congregation. I do understand that there is a lot that keeps you from leaving at once, but I don´t think this Situation should stay much longer. So I do hope you get a Fitting Job soon and are able to leave.
    Hermann

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    • We all hope the same for the good Pastor, but having been in the position of being the sole provider for a growing family while living paycheck to paycheck, I tend to be more inclined to giving him (and anyone else in the same situation) a big pass for at least a reasonable amount of time. In our post-bourgeois economy that may be a while unfortunately.

      Even as an atheist, I wouldn’t feel as charitable if you believed that he was being remiss in his duties as a pastor.
      While his “spiritual stance”, honesty and moral fiber are important in his job, I don’t think his current problems are affecting the way he is tending to his flock.
      Naturally, I cannot know for sure, but I have been in plenty of positions where my heart was no longer in it, to the point where I would wake up in the morning with a knot in my stomach and on the verge of throwing up, yet I was able to fulfill and even exceed my job requirements.

      PNF everall seems to be a very good, caring man. If he had confessed to not caring about his flock any longer or worse, then I would feel less charitable. But by all accounts he still cares a great deal about his congregation, he even still loves his job, apparently. He may have lost his faith, but not what made him a good pastor.

      I am inclined to give him a wider berth than I would give other people in the same predicament. I don’t know if from a Christian POV you can sympathize but personally I feel that he needs to try to make this transition with a little drama as possible for everyone involved, including his family.

      Maybe Christians can look at it as goodwill that he has built over the years, but while I hope that he finds himself out of this situation as quickly as possible, I would hate to see him blackmailed into it. For everyone’s sake.

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      • Thank you for your kind words. While I’m obviously biased, you paint the picture of how I see myself. I’ve lost faith but I still care about the people and I still do the job both well and faithfully. While I don’t like the concept of being an unbeliever as a pastor, it would be repulsive to me to use my status to degrade or negate my congregations faith. One of the biggest consequences to being potentially outed is that I won’t be able to hide that I’m an atheist. I have long toyed with not coming out publicly at first because I know how damaging to the church and people’s faith it will be. My church will be more negatively effected if I get outed publicly than if I manage to back away slowly. Unfortunately TBWSNBN doesn’t see it that way.

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  9. No swearing in this post and you made your point without any dramas. 😉

    Writing for an audience is obviously important, and there is no problem with editing your text to suit the people you think will be reading this in the future. Earlier posts were written with a certain motivation. There’s no problem with retooling those posts with a new goal in mind.

    Cheers
    Shane

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  10. Is this blog for you and the conversation you want to have with the world, or a blog for PR purposes – because atheists should check their behaviour in case religious people don’t think we are nice?
    We’re not a monolith. Some atheists are dicks. Some atheists are the most beautiful humans you could meet on the planet. Same goes for religious people.
    You’re going through something very painful you didn’t choose for yourself.
    As a result of this thing you’re going through that you didn’t choose for yourself your humanity recognises this is causing consequential suffering to those you love most dearly now, your family, and likely the same down the road to your congregants.
    Compounding this pain is the culture you live in.
    You recognise that even though you didn’t choose to change your mind the consequence of doing so will result in a social cost to you if you express it publicly and to those you love – Relationships potentially lost, or changed; being ostracised and judged by the prior “in group” for disloyalty; having to leave your home and possibly the town you live in; the end of a career and income you bagan in good faith; etc, etc, etc.
    It sounds to me as if that’s something deserving of getting angry about and letting a few swear words rip. Anyone offended by someone expressing such justifiable anger and frustration through the use of words that bring you relief should check themselves first in my opinion. The quickest way your justifiable anger will dissipate will be by your fellow humans where you live acting with more humanity (humanism) than judgement and vitriol.
    Anger is common in newly de-converted religious people. This will pass once these social cost consequences have been dealt with. In the mean time let it rip. It seems to me that if reading your swear words are the only consequence people who aren’t going through what you are suffer then they’re infinitely better off than you.

    Angry rant from me I know, but I can’t abide this desire to suppress your need to express your emotions how you see fit. If this blog is for you then let it be you.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Carl Sagan is known for stating that “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.” The same could be applied to how one conveys emotion… “Extreme emotion requires extreme language!” Words, like tools, should be chosen by how well they work. If you need to drop an F-bomb, drop an eff’in F-bomb!

    Having just said that, do keep in mind the audience and what you hope to gain from this “relationship” of writer and reader. There are other seekers out here going through the same thought processes, the same doubts and fears, the same anger. Some are farther along the road but for others the emotions are still raw. I would never advise editing or toning down your previous work as they are a testament to your journey, but in the future, perhaps the strong words won’t be as necessary as reason replaces faith as a comfortable companion.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. don’t know if you are aware, but given the comments on all your posts you are well and truly loved and supported thru this. don’t despair. it will get better

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I love swearing. But I also know that it isn’t always appropriate – and those are exactly the times when I’m most inclined to use it! Lol! I also really like creatively volatile outbursts and always appreciate a well thought out explosive rant, mixing some good hard cuss words with the lesser known insults found in the likes of Shakespeare! If you ever feel the need to just string together a collection of really foul outbursts, safe in the knowledge that the recipient won’t be offended, feel free to DM me a catalogue of filth and outrageous ire over on Twitter and I promise I won’t bat so much of an eyelid!

    Liked by 1 person

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