Deconversion Extended: Additional Chapters for Rise & Fall

imagesSo the book is advancing rather well. For various reasons that I won’t bother expounding upon, I had set the editing of my second draft on hold for a good several months. And then, after finally picking it up again at the turn of the new year, I finally finished the revision last week.

But as excited as I was and as boiling over with accomplishment, I knew right away that something was missing. Something Big.

You see, that original draft ended with events in the fall of 2012. The final chapter featured my long-awaited acceptance of disbelief. I had finally come to the point where I could accept and embrace my atheism. And with that acceptance, the curtain of my deconversion story closed. And the book was finished.

Until I realized that it wasn’t.

What I’m trying to say is that my deconversion story didn’t really end in the fall of 2012.

It’s taken me all the way until now to realize this, but in reality, my deconversion story continued for almost another two years.

How is this possible? you might wonder. Isn’t one’s deconversion simply the point at which they stop believing and their initial conversion reverses? And if this was finalized in the fall of 2012, then how could it continue for another 18 or 20 months???

Well, what I would now suggest is that the full process of deconversion may be a bit more complex than simple mental ascent. I would suggest that my deconversion actually includes several months of painful and hard-won emotional recovery. It includes months of trying to reconstruct all that I thought I had lost because of my faith. It includes a period where, believe it or not, I was convinced I no longer had anything worth living for, where I simply endured each day by looking forward to one binge of excessive indulgence after another. It was the very real need I felt to completely reconstruct my understanding of morality & ethics and purpose & meaning. It was me trying to discover who I was apart from my intense commitment to Jesus, trying to decipher the Real Me from everything else that had fallen away. It was my attempt to reignite my passions and dedications in the midst of a dearth of suffocated emotions.

These are not things that resulted from my deconversion. No, I think these are elements of the actual deconversion itself. Leaving religion behind is rarely as quick and easy as a post-Christmas department store return. And for some, it’s more like waking up to discover you’ve been in a decades-long coma that has stolen the majority of your now-much-older life. And it seems that in reality, the full deconversion experience is the process or realigning one’s entire life apart from religious belief. And in case it hasn’t been made clear yet, this is never as easy as we all wish it was.

Now, thankfully not all deconversion stories are as turbulent as mine. But wherever one finds herself along this continuum, it may be helpful to realize that the journey can take awhile. And my theory is that the more strongly one allows her own sense of personal identity to become intertwined with religious faith, the further her process of deconversion will extend beyond a simple acknowledgement of non-theism. It’s also the more sticky, turbulent, and chaotic it can all become. And the more it benefits from the voice of others who have likewise traveled such pathways.

Maybe the exact length of my deconversion matters. Or maybe it doesn’t. Maybe I’m just playing games with semantics and it doesn’t matter what we call it.

But one thing is clear. I have some more chapters to add.

I’ve already added two. They feature the full and gritty extent of those uneasy years that followed. But I’m not stopping there. I’m now adding a bit more on the beauty that has followed, on the freedom of thought, on the overflow of joy, and on the refreshing downpour of community that I’ve found in The Clergy Project.

And these may be the most important chapters yet. What began as a project on my own deconversion has now developed into a celebration of a Story Much Bigger Than My Own.

It’s also turned into one I’m that much more excited to share with everyone.

So until then, Tchau!

book-swap-11

 


Photo Credit: Typewriter. http://centrum.org/wp-content/uploads/writing.jpg

Book swap. http://www.onegoodthingbyjillee.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/book-swap-11.jpg

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10 comments

  1. Dutch Thomas · · Reply

    Personally those chapters would be the primary reason for me to buy this book.

    Let’s face it: Most of your target audience will already be convinced of atheism; so it can be good for them to read your story (I would definitely want to read it) but it won’t be, to use the Christian term: ‘transformational’. You don’t need to convince them of anything I guess, just tell the story. Maybe I completely miss the point of your book so far, so correct me if I’m wrong…

    However the story of what happens after the deconversion has that transformational potential – you are three years ahead of me (a freshly deconverted missionary) yet everything is still fresh in your mind. Reconstructing identity will take me some time as well, and I could definitely do with some good advice and real life experiences!

    So keep up the good work!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Dutch!

      Yeah, I know what you’re saying. You read enough deconversion stories, and after awhile they all kind of start to sound the same. Of course, I’d love to think mine is different (haha..), but that said Linda LaScola has observed that mine features something her research hasn’t identified in any other deconversion story, so we’ll see how that plays out….. But as far as my big point or reason for writing, my primary audience is the non-evangelical, and my primary motive is to depict the inner workings of the evangelical mind and what it was like to walk step-by-step through the deconversion process. I’d like to think that my story has a little something for everyone. I’m sure evangelicals themselves would gain something from it. And there might be something to be gleaned from a psychologist’s standpoint. But the target is helping non-evangelicals understand where we come from and what it looks like when we leave. Of course, this can look very different for each person, but mine is one story to add to the pile!

      And I think these subsequent chapters will play very well along these lines. One thing I’ve also heard about other deconversion accounts is how quickly they drop off at the end. Hopefully mine will serve to fill some of that gap…

      Thanks again, Dutch. It’s good to see you on here! :))

      Like

  2. Dutch Thomas · · Reply

    Hi Drew!

    Yes I believe there is a real place for your story, especially coming from the evangelical side. I know all too well how they make sure you view everything in your life from the context of faith.

    Didn’t want to say they all sounded the same or something :-). I am actually addicted to reading those stories right now.

    So I would love to read a much more detailed biography of someone leaving the faith, and how that works. Just trying to say that adding those extra chapters will, on top of being a “very interesting read”, also be “transformational” or some sort of “self help” book for others going through the process!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I really appreciate your support, Dutch. That’s the thing about these stories. In some ways they can be so similar and yet so different all at the same time. And YES! they do get addicting, don’t they!?

      But it’s so true, that hearing how others have navigated this journey really does help us ourselves. When I first came out as an atheist, I hadn’t known of any other pastors in this situation. I thought I was all alone. And then I found the Clergy Project and that’s what was transformational for me. Seeing that others were going through the same things gave me a real sense of hope for the future. I’d like to think we can all help supply that same sense of hope to one another. :))

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  3. Richard Moore · · Reply

    “They do get addicting, don’t they?” I de-converted over 40 years ago so you must be right. But part of the reason is trying to help others going through the same pain that you felt. But there is a moment in this process where you feel the weight of the world lifting from your shoulders and you are free at last. You never forget that.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Seriously, Richard! It’s unlike anything else I’ve ever experienced, that moment when you’re free of trying to force a reality that cuts against everything you’re actually experiencing. That moment when you finally embrace what you already know to be true. That moment when you just walk away from it all and refuse to feel guilty about it. When you call out the cognitive dissonance you’ve fallen pray to and begin to live in the light of real truth!

      It’s great to have you here, Richard. I’m wondering if we’ve met before, as you’re name looks very familiar. But I’m glad to hear you’ve had forty years of freedom! Thanks for stopping by to say hello:)

      Like

      1. Richard Moore · ·

        I’ve been coming here for a while. Watching your video I could tell that you’ve experienced the incredible AHA moment. All I need to do is think of it and I get shivers. It never goes away.

        At the time I was so scared of being trapped again that I immediately began studying Evolution. There was no Internet in ’72 so I haunted the library. It was a good inoculation. I’ve posted a few times at Pastor No Faith. I know that I’ve seen your posts there.

        I loved the video interview and look forward to your book.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Thanks again, Richard. Do you have a blog or anything? I love seeing what others have to say about the journey out…

        Like

  4. Richard Moore · · Reply

    I don’t have a blog but I post frequently at http://www.ex-christian.net. Lots of great testimonies there. I check in several times a day to see the new discussion topics. New ex Christians have lots of questions. You can search out my user name, Qadeshet.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. […] And I like to give a big thank you to Drew Bekius.  He’s the Communications Chair for the Clergy Project (which means he’s an atheist ex-pastor).  Drew checked in with me immediately after finding out.  It was just so great to talk to someone who’s been in my shoes.  Other than my sister, he’s the only one who knows me as “John Jameson” the blogger and who I really am.  He’s finishing up a book which tells his story, and I got a sneak peak at it. You’ll want to buy his book! […]

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