Posted by: Jim | May 22, 2012

Delays

No question about it, delays are merely excuses. So here are my excuse: my work is sending me to Korea. I’ll be there for a week, and while it will be very enjoyable to see a foreign country and learn more about my company, the timing could not have been worse for the release of my book. I would have needed that initial week to do my initial marketing push. So, I’m using the time to do yet another editing pass and a proofread.

“Zealot” should be published in Mid-June, and “Songs of the Deconverted” about a week after that.

나중에 봐!

It’s going through it’s final proofreads, but for the most part it is ready.

However, I don’t want to publish until my novel is also published. This book of short stories will be my primary tool for marketing the novel.

Another nice cover by Brian Sasville, though!

 

 

Posted by: Jim | April 23, 2012

Afterword

Marlene Winell has agreed to write the afterword to my book of short stories that will be published soon called “Songs of the Deconverted.” This is exciting news, as she is who coined the term “Religious Trauma Syndrome” or RTS. RTS is essentially the through-line of my short stories, as it follows the story of Andy. Andy’s story vaguely mimics my own.

“Songs of the Deconverted” should be published within a month.

 

Posted by: Jim | April 20, 2012

Information Bubbles for the Deconverted

When listening to political rhetoric on Facebook or talk radio, I can always tell when someone is intrenched in an information bubble. All blame is placed 100% on Republicans (or Democrats), and Republicans (or Democrats) always <fill in the blank> or never <fill in the blank>.

Listen to yourself. If you hear yourself say things like this, you’re probably in an information bubble. And deconverted Christians can also be prone to this. They can blame everything on their old church or pastor, and they can make sweeping condemnations about Christians. I know because I used to be very guilty of it, and even now will sometimes slip into those attitudes.

A good practice is to always do your best to understand why Christians have chosen to stay on the path they are on. There are many. It also helps to understand the origins of religion in society, and the origins of the god-meme. Not only will this help you have a more even-handed opinion and attitude toward them, but will also allow you to more deftly debate them should the occasion arise.

Posted by: Jim | April 18, 2012

Belief as a Means to an End

Last night my significant other pointed out something about Chemtrails. For those of you who don’t know, the Chemtrails conspiracy theory purports that mind-control agents are being tossed out of jets at high altitude. The evidence of this activity is the “mysterious” white cloud you see behind jets as they pass overhead. Whether you believe the theory or not, once you hear it, you never see contrails the same way.

But the point made was that if people really believed the Chemtrails conspiracy, why aren’t they wearing gas masks? If the mystery gas is a mind control agent or a poison, wouldn’t it behoove us to protect ourselves? If they really believed it, wouldn’t they take action? Yet they don’t. I’ve yet to see a single believer in the chemtrails theory wearing a gas mask or even a dust mask to protect themselves.

Why?

The answer is that they don’t really believe it. However, by convincing themselves that they believe it, they can accomplish some other goal that appeals to them. For the Chemtrails folks, it makes them feel good to have “inside knowledge,” or to have another reason to believe that the government is evil. By believing that the government is evil, it exonerates any number of other things the believer might do, like lying on tax returns. “After all,” the justifier may claim. “They’re lying to me, why shouldn’t I lie to them?” Belief is often just a means to an end.

So people can claim to believe things that they don’t really believe. The same holds true with religion. People can think they believe that I will go to hell when I die, but if they really believed it, and they gave two shits about me, they would be working day and night to convince me to accept Jesus as my savior.

But they don’t.

It’s not because they don’t love me (how could they not?). It’s that the actions required to really believe actually outweigh their own conviction. It’s tough to wear a gas mask day and night, and if you wore one to work, everyone would think you were a complete kook. And they would be right.

But they’d be a kook whose conviction I could respect.

Posted by: Jim | April 10, 2012

Evolution and Religion

Rick Warren has a special place in my heart. He is the flag bearer of the dying church. He chips away at the foundations of his own faith, builds bridges to contradictory faiths, and burns bridges that lead to reason. He’s commercializing and politicizing his movement. Whether it’s a conscious effort or not, Warren is trying to get Religion to adapt and survive.

It sounds like a conspiracy, but this is a perfectly natural progression. The same principles that apply to evolution also apply to complex systems like religions, villages, and even nations. Those that survive are those that adapt to changing circumstances, and the survivors pass on their new, stronger traits to their offspring. It would serve deconverted people well to understand this concept, because it explains how so many people get caught up in crazy belief systems. The answer: the belief system was custom-designed just for them. Think of it this way. A few hundred years after the death of Christ, there were a myriad of Christian sects that varied far and wide from each other. Some of them practices complete celibacy and are no longer around. Some of them came up with the idea of hell, and found greater success because they were more easily able to control their believers. The salvation through grace concept was also a winner because it spoke to deep human needs. Eventually, the more successful religions gobbled up their competitors, and adopted the more “catchy” concepts, and complex doctrines were born. Having a complex doctrine is another winning idea, because it makes a religion seem like something you should immerse yourself in to understand. Those who come to realize that one must accept contradiction and irrational ideas are the ones who succeed. There are too many “evolved” concepts to list that have made Christianity the winner it was … for centuries.

One of the ways religions adapt and change is to maintain a certain flexibility in its tenets. Christianity, for as much as it seems to have a rock solid foundation of beliefs, is actually amazingly amorphous. What Christians believe today is drastically different from what Christians believed only 70 years ago. This happens because the more progressive arms of Christianity tend to move into the information bubble of the majority. For example, one hundred years ago Christian churches with white congregations in the American South tended to complement the concept of segregation. By appealing to the confirmation bias of the followers, the followers gained a subconscious need to invite the entire religion into their information bubble because they could rely on that religion to confirm their belief in segregation. When those churches began to inch away from racist ideals, it was only because their congregations were. Churches have always used the Bible to confirm what their congregations needed to have confirmed. Thus the benefit to having a vast, incongruous, incomprehensible mess of text to call your divine scripture. You can use it to confirm the biases of just about anything.

Warren is simply continuing the trend. He wants to take the elements of Christianity that contradict the right-leaning sensibilities of the majority of believers, and skew those elements to become more appealing. In this interview, Rick Warren morphs Christ’s teachings into Republican talking points. He’s saying that feeding the poor robs them of their dignity. He elevates the burdens of a follower of Christ to the level of macro-economics. It’s not about feeding the poor, it’s about jobs. It’s not about promoting charity, it’s about promoting fairness.

This might explain why his is one of the biggest churches in the nation.

Posted by: Jim | April 6, 2012

Aaaand We’re Off

I’m back.

I’m starting to self-publish a lot of my old stories, as well as my new novel. I realized it might be a smart thing to rekindle this blog as a means of maintaining my social network. It’s been a few years since I’ve left, and I think I’ve satisfactorily rearranged my position on a few things.

I’ll be focusing as much as I can on the deconversion experience. I may also update progress on what I’m publishing. You can see all that in the right side-bar.

It feels good to be back!

Posted by: Jim | November 29, 2011

So, here is what happens when you stop blogging.

You squeeze out a novel.

It took a few years, a few rewrites, and I’m still not completely finished. But at some point in 2012, my novel “Zealot” will be published. If you know me, or my blog, you can probably guess what this is about.

I’ve started another blog about it here.

Ciao!

Posted by: Jim | September 3, 2009

Final Blog Post

After a few months away, thinking, I’ve come to some conclusions regarding this blog.

My overtly stated purpose was simply to confront society with the danger that religion is posing to us all (which I still ardently believe.) But beneath that purpose was a subconscious impetus, which has since moved into my conscious and I will freely state it now: I wanted to convince Christians that faith is a bad choice.

I feel certain that I possessed some psychological underpinning that drove me to “fix” the flaw in other people that I deemed to be a simple error in thinking. The journey out of faith for me was emotionally traumatizing but intellectually simple. I spent 20 years of my life believing and trusting in God as a divine “friend,” believing in the ultimate reward of eternal life, believing that I was a horrible sinner at my core, believing that society was being corrupted by Satan, and believing that it was my duty to risk life and limb to salvage the eternal souls of other people.

Then, I accidentally learned how to think (mostly by reading books, attending college, and talking to other thinkers.) The doubts I confronted gave me the courage to start thinking correctly and honestly. Once I did that, my faith dried up, shriveled, and fell off me like a scab.

The damage of realizing that my faith was a huge lie will probably stay with me until I die. I have no desire for your sympathy or sadness because even at age 13 my choice to embark on a misguided life of faith was mine, and I take responsibility for it. But I realize now that perhaps my desire to “save” other people from this fateful decision was really an attempt to heal myself of the aforementioned damage.

While attempting to heal myself by helping others, I learned that many Christians do not think that intelligence is a virtue. They eschew logic as flawed. For them, science is suspect, and facts lead to deception. For them, the only way to find knowledge is to embrace ignorance. Their choice to remain blissfully attached to a cancerous, iron-age philosophy is not the result of a lack of intelligence, but merely a fearful abandonment of intellectual courage.

Though I resisted it for some time, the meat of the matter is this: people of faith are not fixable by any external means. Those to be fixed will, as I did, fix themselves. My erstwhile subconscious goal was futile, and so I will now officially stop.

“It is useless to attempt to reason a man out of a thing he was never reasoned into.” – Jonathan Swift

Posted by: Jim | July 17, 2009

BRB

Taking a break.

In the meantime, here’s something to listen to:

http://www.archive.org/details/ptc1978-11-18.flac16

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