About

I became a Christian at age 18

I truly believed, went into ministry, and lived a life of faith.

One day I discovered I just couldn’t believe anymore.

This blog was written right after that happened.

25 thoughts on “About

  1. Hey.Twenty years ago, I was right where you are, brother. And like you, a friend talked to me and said it was important to take care of the business of keeping the family out of poverty. He said, “Stan, remember the all important reason you do this work… for the MONEY!”

    Our friends were right. I stayed with it and tried to force myself to believe. However, I really wish that when I was your age, I decided to do what it took to find another career–go back to school, start over in another industry, something…. but instead I threw myself back into the ministry. I wish I had spent those years working toward something else, when I had the time and energy–I know you don’t feel like you do, but you have more than you think now and there’ll be less of it later.

    You can do it. Hang in there.

    Stan

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    • I’m still trying to figure out what the hell else I can do. I see plenty of $15/hr jobs, which won’t keep my family out of poverty. And why do all ex-pastors end up in real estate or insurance?

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      • Probably because real estate and insurance are sales jobs, where you can earn beyond what your level of professional or vocational education would otherwise allow…if you’ve run a church, you’re probably self-disciplined, charismatic, and able to get people to believe. All valuable traits in sales.

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    • I can see the natural shift into counseling, but the only other ex-pastor I know that did that had to find yet another job. I WISH I was good enough for IT work. As far as authorship, that’s part of the reason I’m starting this blog. My speakings skills have always out-paced my abilities with the written word. I’d much rather present and speak on something than to write it out. I’d like to change that, so I’m writing. Thanks for the read.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Hi. It sounds like a degree in psych would be right up your alley. You can do all your bachelor’s and master’s studies online discreetly while keeping up appearances :). These are good degrees for those of us who have the drive to help while keeping secular.

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      • I have a BA in psychology. It does absolutely nothing in the job market. Even a master’s is useless unless you get licenced, which requires a lot of interning. It’s something I’ve considered, but I have neither the money nor the time.

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  2. It seems to me that your anguish would be lessened by the logical flow from atheism to nihilism. I don’t see how it can lead to anything else. Well…you could just completely ignore questions of purpose and meaning, as those who uphold atheism without nihilism do. Don’t think I’m being snide…I really do feel for your situation, and I hope you find some peace. I also hope those in your church aren’t misled much longer because of your decisions.

    I personally can’t accept such a path just because of tough questions regarding the Bible. The notion that there may be things I don’t understand about God–that I can’t completely explain everything he has done and said–doesn’t shock me. Sure, I’ll keep trying to unpack the issues you raise. I’ll keep looking for answers, even though I know I won’t find them all. Recognizing that I can’t completely understand God seems to me more acceptable than not believing in God.

    If you’re still at the point where you want to believe, I’d suggest checking out Ravi Zacharias. And if it means anything at all to you…I’ll be praying for you.

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    • I do appreciate you saying you’d pray for me. I don’t believe in prayer, but the sentiment of sympathy is well received.

      It appears you don’t understand much of atheists or atheism, which is itself understandable. I did not choose or decide to be an atheist, it wasn’t a decision I made. I lost the ability to believe. I lost trust and faith in God and the Bible. I did not want to lose it, it just wasn’t there anymore.

      I was once like you, trusting in God even though I didn’t understand him (as portrayed by the Bible). Atheism didn’t make sense to me and it wasn’t a road I was interested in, especially after seeing another ex-pastor take that road. But therein lies the misunderstanding; atheism isn’t a thing. Atheism isn’t a belief or a philosophy. Atheism is simply one answer to one very specific question: “Do you think there is a god or gods?” The answer “probably not” is the totality of atheism. Atheism is nothing more than that one answer to that one question. Nihilism may be one consequence to the “well, what now?” response to answering “probably not”, but nihilism isn’t a foregone conclusion and being a nihilist isn’t the same as being an atheist. But as repulsive as nihilism is to some people, not liking something doesn’t make god magically exist…unfortunately. Funny thing is, I used to say the same thing about hell.

      Listen, it’s not the parts of the bible that I don’t understand that I have problems with. It is precisely the things that are plain and clear that make me doubt the bible’s authority and veracity. I am well versed in apologetics. Honestly, I will probably check out Ravi Zacharias. I only know him by reputation. But after a history of renowed apologists failing to convince me of anything, the out look is bleak.

      Yes, I still want to believe. Heck, I want to win the lottery too. But wanting doesn’t make reality…unfortunately.

      Thanks for the read, I appreciate you taking the time to respond.

      Liked by 1 person

    • “you could just completely ignore questions of purpose and meaning, as those who uphold atheism without nihilism do”

      Yes, Jeff, this is very snide, as well as shallow, inaccurate, and probably just wishful thinking on your part. As I’ve moved from being an evangelical to being an atheist, my purpose in life has not changed: to love those around me, to enjoy life and make the most of every precious moment I’ve been given.

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  3. Just wanted to stop by and say hi. Ratamacue brought your blog to my attention. My deconverion period was long an agonizing. You seem to have come a long ways in a very short amount of time, but then again,when I started questioning and during my deconversion period, I wasn’t aware that there were support groups on the internet. I went through it completely alone. Never in a million years would I have thought I’d end up being an unbeliever.

    Hope you have a nice weekend.

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    • I think the final stages of my deconversion have happened quickly, but it’s also been a long time coming. I’ve always had doubts. There were several times in the last 19 years I gave up on faith, I even told the girlfriend I had before I met my wife that I wasn’t sure if I believed anymore. That was 12 years ago! Usually my doubt manifested with a search for “the real truth” , better theology, or the “right” church. 3 years ago I gave up thinking there was a right church. Last year I gave up thinking there was a right theology. So when my existential crises hit last October, I was primed to lose my faith.

      Thanks for reading my story, and your encouragement. Hope to hear from you soon.

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      • I can relate to your journey, although I don’t think I always had doubt. I was rather devout — primarily because I resonated with the love message. However, like you, I came to realize there was no church or denomination who had the “truth” or a better theology. There was no “right” church. There are over 41,000 Christian denominations/sects, all claiming they have the “right” truth and the other 40,999 don’t.

        What really sent up red flags for me was that no pastor or elder could answer my questions. They gave pat answers in the form of scriptures. The more I studied the Bible, the more red flags I got. They told me to not lean on my own understanding and that god’s thoughts and ways were higher than mine, One thing was certain — I had a higher moral/ethical standard than this god — a god who clearly knew little to nothing about the world “he” supposedly created. Thanks for dropping by my blog and for the reblog. 🙂

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  4. I certainly feel for you. I appreciated your chaplain story in another post, since I was a chaplain for many years and listening/being present is the center of that role, in my mind and experience.

    Anyway, regarding next steps. . .it wasn’t particularly easy but since leaving faith my chaplaincy skills have blended fairly well with other non-profit work where I can, at least in my own mind, practice what I call Secular Chaplaincy (see my blog, http://www.secularchaplain.wordpress.com). I now manage some housing units for independent seniors, teach in a local community college and write books and blogs. No doubt. . .seriously, no doubt. . .you will grow your own brand of “secular ministry.” I truly wish you well.

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  5. Hi. I found your blog through the Friendly Atheist. Most of my family isn’t super-religious, but I was raised Catholic and attended Catholic school through 8th grade. I realized I was an atheist in my early 20’s, but I didn’t really “come out” since I hadn’t participated in church for a long time, and I doubt anyone was very surprised. Reading your posts really put things in perspective for me — I am so fortunate to have a family that loves and accepts me even if they don’t always agree with me or feel comfortable about my views. I can’t imagine how hard it must be to try to explain this to your loved ones and have them react in a less-than-positive way. Stay strong and remember: you’re not alone. Things will get better with time.

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  6. Thank you for your sharing, I empathize and I have gone through the change from Christianity. I was never a pastor but I see some parallels that all atheists face and they are in no way easy. I look forward to reading future posts. Thank you again and in case you haven’t come across this one, I find it inspiring, look up “The most astounding fact” by Neil Degrasse Tyson. To hear him speak with such excitement inspires me.

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  7. I completely relate to your comment “I just stopped believing.” It’s happened to me, a Christian for over 50 years. I wrestle with it even now. The supernatural images are unfathomable to me, as is prayer to change circumstances. No vending machine God exists for me. It’s a loss of community. Now to find a replacement!
    Thank you for honesty.

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  8. Hi–what great, honest, clear words on your blog! I, too, am a pastor–very liberal, perhaps nearly unitarian, though that’s not the denomination of the church I pastor. I spent almost a decade in Japan with mainline mission work and encountered some very stale Christianity over there, which encouraged me to dig deeper into the spiritual resources available to Japanese, had Christianity never arrived. What I found out that there’s a pretty rich tradition of Zen. I also discovered that, believe it or not, many Christians began practicing Zen and have made it a part of their basic theological approach. Sr. Elaine MacInnes and others (Ruben Habito, Hugo Enomiya-Lassalle–who was at the Hiroshima catholic church when the bomb fell & later returned to build the Memorial Cathedral for Peace & become a zen master, etc) are all examples of people who found their spiritual lives by “losing” them to the way of unknowing via Zen. But this is not alien to the apophatic tradition in the west either. If I I say I have “faith,” it is faith in this unknowing which always brings us back to connection & compassion–and so I remain a “person of faith,” in the ministry, in that way. Just my own story–you’ll discover and live your own. But best wishes on the journey. Peace.

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  9. Whoops! Should have written “What I found out about was the rich tradition of Zen” I’m not a writer either! 🙂 Shalom.

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  10. You should totally look into being a Unitarian pastor! I’m a Bible school graduate who spent a few years doing evangelical missions work. I then spent a year living in Europe and started viewing Christianity in its proper cultural context and BAM! Atheist!

    I went through the stages of grief as I processed “breaking up with Jesus”. This was 10+ years ago. For the past few years I’ve been attending an awesome Unitarian church (No God required!). It’s basically church ritual, minus the made up shit!

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  11. JJ, I’ll echo what someone else said: you might want to consider the Unitarian church. They are very inclusive – some are Christian, some agnostic, others atheist, others even other faiths, etc.

    As for me, I stopped being Christian about 6 years into our marriage – my wife was upset. Religion was a VERY central part of our relationship. I’ve “come out as atheist” to her only a few years ago. But we are still going strong – married almost 30 years – because we’ve allowed each other room to grow & change. We don’t expect each other to be the same people we were when we married as young adults.

    I know this is a very trying time for you and your wife. But stay strong, continue to be a loving, supportive, & respectful husband. I’m hopeful that you two will grow closer to each other because of this!

    Max

    Liked by 1 person

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