Note: This post was originally on a now-defunct blog of mine, called faithedout. I closed that blog and imported all of the posts to this one.
What’s This Blog?
Some of us know what it’s like to reach out through the darkness at the end of a day, begin a habitual bedtime prayer, and for the first time admit that it’s been a long time since we’ve sensed anyone or anything there.
Some of us have burned with devotion for our particular theological construct, only to watch it irreparably crumble under the weight of reality.
Some of us are hiding our true thoughts and feelings from everyone, including ourselves.
Some of us would rather have a root canal than go (back) to church (and some of us keep doing it every week anyway).
Some of us have been badly bruised by religion. Some of us are tired of theological debates in any shape or form, and yet still drawn to pursue God, whoever or whatever or if-ever that may be.
Some of us are faithed out, and this is a place for us to talk about it, to “out” ourselves, to own both our faith and our doubts.
Only some of us are faithed out. Many – probably most – of the people in my life are confident and fairly certain about their particular take on faith. Many of them are evangelical or post-evangelical Christians, and some are non-religious. They are people I respect and love, and they inspire, encourage, and teach me, regardless of our agreement on any particular point. They are welcome here.
But I want to be very clear up front that this is not a place for those who feel certain about religion to try to convince the rest of us. I’m speaking to both believers and non-believers. There are plenty of other places for that to happen, and this is not one of them. Honesty and respectful debate are welcome here, but not propaganda or one-sided diatribes. This is a place to think out loud, not shout out loud.
This is a place for those who are worn out on religion, whatever their particular experience has been with it; but who still hope or at least consider that there may yet be some meaning, intelligence, information, being, presence . . . something – beyond, behind, within, underlying, throughout . . . somewhere . . . somehow.
How’s that for a defining statement?
Who’s This Blogger?
My name is Julia, and I grew up a conservative Christian, in independent fundamental Baptist (IFB) churches throughout the Eastern and Midwest United States. My father worked in various pastoral and Bible college positions, while my mother worked office jobs to help fill in the always-meager income of a husband in “full-time Christian ministry.” (Then she steeled herself for the yearly Mother’s Day sermon where she was reminded that truly godly women stayed at home with their children.)
So much about my life at home and in church and Christian schools was very good. I’m grateful for the positive values that were modeled for me, faithfulness to spouse and children being high on that list. I didn’t experience physical, verbal, or sexual abuse; compared with so many people, religious or not, my childhood was truly charmed.
I attended three different Christian colleges and graduated from the last one with a degree in music. I met my husband Nathan in a Bible study and married him in 1998. I’m a singer/songwriter and he’s an engineer and multi-instrumentalist who arranges, produces and records the music we make together. We have two school-age children. Over the course of our 14-year marriage, we have researched and discussed and changed our minds on all sorts of issues, including gender equality, political and economic ideologies, environmental issues, theology, evolution, and gay rights. We don’t agree about everything, but we share a common background in conservative Christianity and a common vision for “human flourishing.” Nathan holds onto a hope in the kingdom of God as ultimately redemptive of all creation, and I have my doubts. (I suppose he does too – they just surface more often for me.)
My adult life has largely been about healing from the major abuse I did suffer in my childhood – what some have labeled “spiritual abuse.” I learned early on that my destiny was in the hands of a “loving” but apparently capricious and violent God, one who loved me so much he killed his son for me (because my sin made me detestable in God’s sight, and only a perfect human sacrifice could appease God’s wrath); and that if I didn’t accept this “free gift” of the dead but risen son, I would suffer in torment in hell for all eternity. I learned that especially as a female, it was important for me to learn and follow the rules in whatever context I happened to be at the moment, to do my best to please everyone around me. I mostly succeeded at doing this, but discovered in my young adult years, especially early in my marriage, that I was miserable, afraid and ashamed of sex, and barely aware of my own personhood. I recognized that it could kill my marriage and maybe me if I continued to live this way.
For most of my life, I’ve held on to a belief in God. The past couple years, I’ve tried to hold my beliefs and ideas with a lighter grip, trusting that the best life will be found in the solid light of reality, not in complicated attempts to deny the plain truth. I am grateful for my current faith community (a small group that honors and draws from the Christian faith tradition), where I can be open with my doubts and questions, and where no one feels compelled to provide solutions or fix me.
I’ve endured some restless dark nights of the soul, but these days I am feeling more at peace with my loss of certainty about God and “eternal life,” and more inspired to live the life I have been given for all its worth. I am still amazed every day by the intensity of beauty and tragedy that exists everywhere life exists. Though I barely resemble the “believer” I was at one time, I often find the teachings of Jesus to resonate more deeply with me than they did in my days of religious fervor.
Some of my evolving faith-and-doubt journey can be traced through the “faith and doubt” blog posts at my other blog, juliabloom.wordpress.com.
Who Are You?
Now, tell us about you. And please, share this blog with others you think may be interested. It’s my hope that we can build a safe place here for conversation. Maybe your story has some commonalities with mine, maybe not (though I come from and know best the conservative Christian tradition, this blog is open to people from any – or no – faith tradition). Maybe you’re at a similar place in your journey, or maybe you’ve arrived at a very different place. It’s your story, and you are welcome here.
If you want to join in but are afraid of “going public,” feel free to make up names and email addresses when you submit comments. This “coming out” process is not easy, I know.
Of course, you’re welcome to simply read and keep your thoughts to yourself, if you prefer.
Peace to you. And thanks for visiting here.
Hey Julia, thank you for your honesty and courage. It is hard to come out, isn’t it. We who simply believe in myth and beauty and love, and long for connection, have been raped by American fundamentalism’s fascination with scientific certainty. I confess it is part of my personality, a personality I share with American culture in general, to feel insecure apart from expert certainty. I still draw succour from the Bible largely because of songs like Psalm 44, “We did nothing wrong, yet you sold us in the meat-market–and didn’t even try to make a profit!”
Hello djvardell, thanks for reading and commenting! You’ve brought up a point that could be at least a whole blog post sometime – the irony that American fundamentalism is indeed fascinated with scientific certainty, and yet it is well-known for rejecting some of the most incontrovertible findings of serious science.
Glad to have you here at the table 🙂
Love the name of your new blog, very clever! Since reconnecting with you and others from, you know, that time of happiness and insanity, I always find myself asking, “where is he/she really at?” Like so many of us, I tend to make projections based on my own bias, but perhaps in your case I wasn’t so far off. Maybe at some point on your new blog I will “sum you up” for everybody…kidding Julia, though I may be tempted to sum myself up and stick my middle finger up at the…wait wait wait…you requested civility and you were correct for doing so. Doubters must be exponentially more civil than true believers, as we are such a minority and are generally associated with the worst criminals in society, rapist and child molesters etc.
So, fellow skeptics, be on your best behavior! Men skeptics, sip your whiskey slowly, and refill it only infrequently! Adopt a posture of tolerance, and resist the urge to uppercut your cocksure Limbaugh/Coulter lovin’ Super-Christian brother-in-law who talks really loud at the family get together about “market based solutions” and how Jesus would be in favor of increased deregulation and who always wears this smug, dimwittedly confident, leader-of-the-men’s-bible-study expression on his face as he invokes the wrinkled relatives to “join him in a word of prayer.” Wimmin skeptics, I mean women, no no no I mean LADY skeptics, fold your hands! Keep your knees tightly together and point them demurely off to the side while you state your views with delicacy and reserve…keep your back straight! And be sure your voice rises at the end of each statement lest you be thought unfeminine? Make sure your makeup is nicely fussed over? Your shoes are sexily painful? You are shaved cleaner than a 9 year old girl? And LADIES, should you find the idiocy of male monotheism (of whatever version) leaves you feeling cold and less than human, keep your dissent properly suppressed and take it out on the furniture next time you find a can of Pledge in your hand, which would be Wednesday since that is your scheduled cleaning day.
Sorry for all that. I am lately in the throes of Salman Rushdie, I may accept him as my lord and savior, I’ll decide after one more book. Anyway, he’s got me feeling rebellious. Haven’t talked books with you in like a year Julia! Anyway, look for me to come and mess up your blog from time to time….
Aw, Nnox, you can’t mess up this blog anymore than I’d let you! And if I could be summed up, I wouldn’t be writing this stuff. Thanks for reading and spouting . . . I mean commenting 🙂
I don’t always agree with you, in fact, I wonder how an intelligent person such as yourself could possibly have your political views, 🙂 but you write very well, and I appreciate your honest expressions about religion.
On that note, I greatly enjoy your posts, they are spot on to my way of thinking.
Kelly – it’s great to hear from you! And thank you for the clever compliment 🙂
Count me in. Julia and I had similar upbringings, variations on the Fundamentalist theme. Until very recently, I kept the door to Christianity cracked open in case I needed to make a quick reentry. But I’ve come to the point where I can’t believe that there’s enough redemption to balance the excesses I’ve seen. That’s a hard thing for me to say, because I know some wonderful Christians, some of whom have probably saved my life. On the other hand, I’ve also seen some hideous stuff. There’s still a part of me that hopes I’m wrong, at least about the redemption part.
I’m not in a hurry to jump on new answers, either. Which leaves me here in the Big Uncertainty, finding it’s not the wasteland it was rumored to be.
You can learn more about me on my blog, too (although I haven’t felt much of a need for it lately).
Hey Jodi – I think I’ve mentioned this before, but you rock. Glad to have you here.
Hey guys. Please check out the newly release ReKnew manifesto from Greg Boyd. Definitely along the lines of what you are wanting to dialog about. See point 2 for Faith and Doubt topic but really all of the points are in the realm of faithedout.
Thanks Brent! It’s encouraging to see more people talking about this stuff and building communities large and small, virtual and physical, where people can feel safe to say what they’re really thinking and wondering.
I am a former evangelical who has plenty to answer for.
Hello Coemgen. You are most welcome here. Would love to hear more from you if/when you are ready to share.
Although addressing Women’s Ways of Knowing, this extended quotation seems to apply easily to the intellectual and spiritual journey of both men and women growing up in fundamentalist cultures, and eventually finding the courage to articulate new levels of consciousness: Silent women have little awareness of their intellectual capabilities. They live–selfless and voiceless–at the behest of those around them. External authorities know the truth and are all-powerful.
At the positions of received knowledge and procedural knowledge, other voices and external truths prevail. Sense of self is embedded either in external defintions and roles or in identifications with institutions, disciplines, and methods. For women in our society, this typically means adherence to sex-role stereotypes or second-rung status as a woman with a man’s mind, but a woman nevertheless. These women seek gratification in pleasing others or in measuring up to external standards—in being “the good woman” or “the good student” or “the successful woman who has made it in a man’s world.” A sense of authority arises primarily through identification with the power of a group and its agreed-upon ways for knowing. As we have seen, however, an outcome at the position of procedural knowledge is the acquisition of the power of reason and objective thought, which provides women with a sense of control and competitive potential even though, for some women, real-life opportunities for exercising their authority may be hard to come by. Access to subjective sources for knowing are absent or lost at the positions of received and procedural knowledge. There is no sense of an authentic or unique voice, little awareness of a centered self.
At the position of subjective knowledge, quest for self, or at least protection of a space for growth of self, is primary. For women, this often means a turning away from others and a denial of external authority. Although the belief that truth is private and subjectively known often results in a sense of private authority, there is no public voice or public authority. Women at this position usually feel strongly that they “know” but have few tools for expressing themselves or persuading others to listen.
To learn to speak in a unique and authentic voice, women must “jump outside” the frames and systems authorities provide and create their own frame….Constructed knowledge begins as an effort to reclaim the self by attempting to integrate knowledge that women felt intuitively was personally important with knowledge they had learned from others….weaving together the strands of rational and emotive thought and integrating objective and subjective knowing. Rather than extricating the self in the acquisition of knowledge, these women use themselves in rising to a new way of thinking: “You let the inside out and the outside in.” pp. 134-135
Thanks for posting this. A lot of this rings true for me, both as a fundamentalist and as a woman; and in people I have observed in fundamentalism as well. This quote, I assume, is from the book Women’s Ways of Knowing? (http://www.amazon.com/Womens-Ways-Knowing-Development-Anniversary/dp/0465090990)