Feedback discussions - Christopher
although no longer able to believe, he finds himself still drawn to religious ritual and is looking for a suitable community to share with.
We also discuss how unpleasant it is to be dealt harshly with by hardened atheists not emphasising with the difficult nature of a transitionary state.
We also discussed other matters not related to leaving Christianity - that's what the <snip>'s are for...
To: Steve Locks
Sent: 06 October 2001 20:52
Wonderful website indeed. Very informative without being heavily bashing (thank you for showing a reasonable degree of compassion). I am still in the midst of turmoil on this subject. I discovered Ingersoll's writings about 5 years ago, and since then I've been traveling away from Christianity.Initially, beginning about 5 years ago, I put away attending church. As of late I have been once again attending Methodist church services but, although I am moved (and always have been) by the beauty of ritual and procession, find myself unable to give assent to the required "beliefs". A friend has suggested I try attending a Unitarian church, as I would then find myself in the comapny of numerous persons on a parallel journey to my own. There is also a Buddhist temple here on Staten Island, NY, USA which I have visited, and enjoy without analysing too deeply any doctrinal stances thereof.
It has been more tumultuous and lonely than I envisioned, this departure from Christianity. Virtually nobody that I know wishes to discuss these matters. The people who will usually act as though I'm quite mad for expressing my honest thoughts, doubts, yearnings, etc. I see the matter fundamentally as seeking to be as honest as possible and seeking the truth of the matter.
At any rate, all the best to you. Any thoughts on this will be received with much appreciation. Thank you for your time.
From: Steve Locks
Sent: 07 October 2001 13:38
Subject: Re: Wonderful
Thank you very much for your kind words. I think you have diagnosed what you need very well yourself, in that the most stimulating and helpful approach for those in a transitionary state is to talk to fellow travellers. I know of others who have found the UU's to be what they want too. At least they should be pretty laid back.
I would also recommend the writings of Don Cupitt and others at the Sea of Faith http://www.sofn.org.uk/. Unfortunately their website appears to be undergoing technical difficulties at the moment, but I have just written to them about that, although the "what's new" pages are working. What I like about Don Cupitt is that he takes religious feeling completely seriously whilst recognising it as a human emotion and doing justice to the full depth of people's religious feelings. He is not to everybody's taste, but others have found that his writings have saved their sanity as they were drawn powerfully by religious feelings but could no longer accept the supernatural doctrines.
Above all though I would recommend joining a lively discussion list like the "ex-tian" mailing list http://www.infidels.org/electronic/email/secular.html#ex-tian There is a wide cross section of people there and although there is plenty of "fundie bashing" there can also be much mutual beneficial growth when people open up about how they feel. From my experience they are particularly happy to discuss the pain and pangs of being in the transitionary stage.
I would also recommend getting hold of Laski's books that I mention at http://www.users.globalnet.co.uk/~slocks/mybooks.html Like you I was and still am moved by the non-verbal parts of the service, the music, imagery etc. (I still sing in choirs that occasionally sing for services as part of our repertoire). Laski's books delve deeply into these feelings across a wide range of human experience. They were classic studies in their time ('Ecstasy' in 1961, followed by 'Everyday Ecstasy' in 1979). Laski interviewed people who had such experiences across the spectrum from religious believer to atheist, as well as mining literature for reports of such mystical moments and wrote a fascinating account of her findings with some masterful analysis and intriguing ideas. I have a very small summary at
but there is a better review at
The other book that helped me was "Tongues of Fire" that I mention on the same page. Indeed I think being able to take these responses and feelings out from church ritual freely and fully into the wider world is one of the major benefits of loosing a religion. Numinousness no longer becomes restricted to one's religious life and as someone at the Sea of Faith wrote recently: "In a world where the supernatural is natural and the divine is human, the sacred and the secular are one. As we secularise our faith, so we also sacrelise our lives."
Having ones world view rewritten can be tough indeed, but in the long run I don't know of anyone who hasn't said that they feel a whole lot better for it.
Occasionally people beat themselves up, feeling they must have been stupid for being "duped" for so long, some getting quite depressed about it (see the quote beginning "I had a rather abrupt intellectual crisis my last year of college" at /feedback/henry_quon.html). However there doesn't seem to be much limit to the intelligence of the people who are duped for a while, so I encourage people not to feel so bad about what some feel were wasted years. Just consider the likes of ex-Christians like Don Cupitt, John Dominic Crossan, Gerd Lüdemann, Michael Goulder etc. (available via my site) all of whom are top brains and yet were very committed (supernatural believing) Christians for a large part of their professional lives before they deconverted. Also a major change of world view gives an enormous drive for research and a fascination with what is going on, and it is not unusual for a new deconvert's personal library to quickly double in size!
So reading a lot (and diversely) is something I would recommend too. It worked for me anyway, and for others during my time on the "ex-tian" mailing list. My recommendations can be found via http://www.users.globalnet.co.uk/~slocks/study_res.html and you may also like to see what they have to say at http://www.losingmyreligion.com/
I hope that is helpful,
Best wishes in your journey,
To: Steve Locks
Sent: 09 October 2001 21:19
Subject: Re: Typo
Thank you so very much for replying. Your words were helpful, and well received. I had previously run up against some very abrasive, even nasty individuals in my quest to establish a freethought dialogue. In one instance, a well known American freethought author who, after I had purchased her book had actually sent me her business card along with an invitation to visit her website and conatact her via e-mail subsequently cut me to the quick when I submitted a respectful, inquiring e-mail concerning freethought matters. I politely replied to this confusing e-mail by letting her know I was disappointed and bewildered and that I was on a difficult journey departing from Christianity, much as she recounted regarding herself in her book. She then responded by stating very firmly that she had no time for "mindless, repetitive chatter". Interesting to note how her tune was different when I had thrown some "filthy lucre" her way in exchange for her book.
At any rate, your communications are always welcome. Thank you for showing sensitivity and compassion in these matters. I have already ordered a book by Marghanita Laski from a site on the internet. I look forward to much reading, which I love anyway. Thank you for the reading recommendations.
From: Steve Locks
Sent: 14 October 2001 11:18
Subject: Re: Typo
I'm pleased you found my email helpful and I'm sure you'll have some
fascinating evenings in pouring over Laski's writings :-)
I'm sorry to hear some have been curt with you, there really isn't a good
excuse for that, especially from those who should have known better and
ought to have been able to empathise with your situation. I have had only
2 unfriendly emails from acerbic atheists. I tried to hold a civil
conversation, but they were too keen to jump down my throat at the
slightest perceived misunderstanding and became abusive, so I just left
them to it. It's very sad really, but at least they don't threaten me with
everlasting torture or go to the extremes that the poor Ontario
Consultants on Religious Tolerance have to take on the chin!
Who was the American freethought author you mentioned? It's one thing to
say she's busy, but quite uncalled-for to dismiss your plea for help as
"mindless, repetitive chatter!" Shame upon her!
Regarding the SoF website being unavailable, I received the following
Yes, there's been a problem in trying to shift the site from one ISP to
another. Hopefully as soon as the new site is set up (shouldn't be long,
depends on how quickly they can do the transfer of the domain name) it
will be running again. Please check back in 7-10 days. Many apologies
for this temporary glitch....
To: Steve Locks
Sent: 14 October 2001 17:51
Thank you for your insight and information.
The American freethought author I was referring to is Judith Hayes, author of "In God We Trust (but which one)", and "The Happy Heretic". She is, in all fairness, a brilliant, witty author. However, my experience of communicating with her via e-mail (at her invitation) was very unpleasant. I found her to be very rude, cutting, and dismissive. This was unwarranted, as my very few communications with her were always very respectful.
I visited your link to the Ontario Religious Tolerance site. Those poor folks have endured some vicious backlash indeed!
I did an internet search for John Remsburg, author of "The Christ" written in 1909. I have read some of the pages from the book on different websites, and it is fascinating.
I look forward to receiving the Laski book. Thank you for writing, and I look forward to hearing from you again, Steve.