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Archived Letters

Friday, February 27, 2009                                                                                       View Comments

Trying to leave, but still have doubts

Hieronymus Bosch's Ascent of the Blessed depic...Image via Wikipedia

A letter from Siarhei

Hi guys,

only few days ago I have started to seriously consider leaving my faith and I am trying to get as much info as possible now to help my mind and ease my doubts.

Just wondering,
1) how did you dismiss the stories about demon possession/exorcisms. I've hear a ton of them in my years in church, and even from close friends and their relatives, so they are not lies. Is there another explanation to "demons" obeying the name of Jesus, and coming out of people with screams, laughs, and other weird stuff?

2) The Resurrection story- why did disciples were willing to die if they knew it was all a lie?

3) What about miracles of healing, provision, etc.?

4) What about people with near death experience who claim they saw Jesus, Hel, Heaven, but other claim they see their past lives, which is a case for reincarnation.

Thanks,
Appreciate your answer as I am at the beginning of my journey.
S.V.

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Wednesday, February 25, 2009                                                                                       View Comments

Losing My Religion: How I Lost My Faith Reporting on Religion in America-and Found Unexpected Peace

Hello.

I wanted to tell you that my memoir, "Losing My Religion: How I Lost My Faith Reporting on Religion in America--and Found Unexpected Peace," is available now in bookstores and on Amazon.

I'd be honored if you'd buy this book and forward this announcement to your friends to help spread the word. I also have a calendar up on my website so I can see if I'll be coming to a town near you.

I also wanted to share with you just some of the glowing reviews of the book.

From the Christian Science Monitor:

"Lobdell is a gifted writer. Avoiding the disparaging polemics that often characterize the debate between nonbelievers and people of faith, he turns his own story into a fast-paced, engrossing tale, one that is sure to be popular with nonbelievers, but deserves to be read by Christians as well."
A starred review from the Booklist:
"Lobdell's spiritual journey fascinates, not least on account of the irony of his trajectory from agnosticism to belief to atheism while covering religion. It's a story that may raise eyebrows among believers and nonbelievers alike."
From the National Catholic Reporter:
"The book is a complex and compelling account of his loss of faith while he was delving deeply into religion in America as a journalist."
From Malena Lott of Bookgasm.com:
"Lobdell's memoir is heart-wrenching and honest, something all great memoirs should be."


From Wendy Scholl of LibraryThing.com:
"Losing My Religion" isn't a recitation of the many evils of organized religion. It isn't a push by the author to abandon God. It isn't even a memoir so much as it is a love story, a tale of love found and love lost."
From Michael Shermer, publisher of Skeptic magazine and author
"This is the most intellectually honest and emotionally courageous book I have ever read, and it's a page turner from cover to cover. The new atheist community will embrace it, of course, but I think all Christians owe it to themselves to read [it] ... Lobdell is willing to go where few religious believers can. To find out where that place is you must read this book."
From Renee Hoffman of Amazon Vine:
"This book is a required text for any religious scholar, theologian, faith seeker or skeptic ... or any student of religion, humanity and the growth of human spirituality ... A reader with a heart, a soul and a mind will identify with Lobdell's challenges, and while one may not agree with the outcome, the reader leaves the text with a renewed respect for those who have been forced to face the sins of organized religion and the doubt that we all face in a religion-imbued society ... And for the first time in a scholarly and personal work, Lobdell gives atheists a soul."
From John Loftus, former pastor and author of "Why I Am an Atheist":
"William Lobdell's new book ... is a page turner from start to finish. As a former religion reporter for the Los Angeles Times he knows how to write in ways that make us feel and think what he does, every step along the way. [His book is] the most extensive deconversion story I had ever read."
From Barry Minkow, senior pastor of Community Bible Church in San Diego:
"There is one theme to Bill Lobdell's book and he uses the famous 'if-then' proposition to prove that theme. That is, 'if' God exists and has transformed the lives of people-especially we church people 'then' we should see Jesus like evidence of this transformation in the lives of professed followers."


George P. Wood, senior pastor and reviewer on Amazon Vine
"It is an engrossing and quick read. As a Pentecostal pastor, I recommend reading this book as a spiritual discipline. Christians can be too smug in their beliefs and too self-righteous in their actions to see the incredible evils that are taking place right under their noses within their own churches. And if the church doesn't live according to the Bible, why should it expect anyone else to?"
Danielle Pagani of LibraryThing.com
"Before I started this book, I expected it to be very biased and heated, because almost all persona accounts of religion seem to be. What I found instead was a logical and restrained story of Lobdell's spiritual journey and that was endlessly refreshing."
Thank you!
Sincerely,

William Lobdell
www.williamlobdell.com

RELATED LINK: http://exchristian.net/letters/2008/07/losing-my-religion-how-i-lost-my-faith.html

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God's Lonely Feelings

From Paul Nichols

I'm 23 years old, about a week away from my 24th birthday. Recently, I have had serious doubts about a God existing with all the terror and pain that is visible in our world. In my heart, I knew that if there was a God, he or she probably wasn't someone I would want to be around anyways. Anyone who could watch the brutality of this world and not do something about it when they could is not my ideal God.

I remember watching a documentary about September 11th that my girlfriend said was terrific, and it was. However, while watching the film I started to feel the same pains that my original doubts brought to the surface. So much unnecessary death and why? Because the hijackers believed that what they were doing would bring them many virgins in the heaven they were seeking. The thought made me cry uncontrollably, which was very embarrassing in front of my girlfriend.

The problem that persists for me after the realization of a world without a God is my utter mortality and the feelings of both lost hope, and, that nothing really matters. In the end, I will die, along with the people that I love. A hundred years from now no one will even know that I existed, that I loved, and that I died. A thousand years from now our civilization as we know it will be completely gone, only mentioned in a history book about the ancient world (that is, if we haven't already wiped ourselves off the face of the Earth through war or some other reason).

These thoughts make it hard for me to be happy on a daily basis. Things that once made me happy do not have the same effect they used to. Shows that I used to watch I sometimes cannot watch anymore as I see the stars age before my eyes. Knowing that the world that I know is always changing and that the people that I love, my grandparents, parents, and others will all face death, and that someday so will I.

I'm terrified of being with my girlfriend who I plan to marry because even if I marry her and we grow old together (the perfect love story) one of us will still have to face the world alone. One of us will bury the other. It is a cruel truth that I find hard to look past.

I also find it hard to believe in atheism as well because to do so would mean all my beliefs are true, in essence, that I don't matter and neither does the life that I live.

I don't know how to find happiness and I'm worried that I never will be able to find it. I need help in having a different perspective of my life. I want to look at it as a gift rather than a curse but it becomes harder every day.

Can anyone give me some advice?

Sunday, February 15, 2009                                                                                       View Comments

Which one of us is sane?

Evolution of stupidityImage by the mad LOLscientist via Flickr

A letter from Mr. Incognito

I just need to get this off my chest. My situation now is that although I lost faith 18 months ago, I’m still with the Christian girlfriend whom I met 9 months before my de-conversion. Although she’s pretty liberal in some ways (and pretty), I’ve just had an argument with her over the evils of Creationism and have realised possibly the main threat to our relationship, and it‘s not simply religion: I get angry about being lied to, while she doesn’t!

She thinks I should stop being angry and bitter. ”Anything for an easy life”, she likes to say. “Anger rots the soul” (to which I replied it didn‘t seem to do Jesus any harm…). I’ve just successfully managed to get her accepting evolution again after a two year lapse (the lapse was due to a famous English proponent of pseudo-science), but now to my complete dismay she tells me she has no problem with other people still believing in young-earth creationism - “people can believe what they want - it helps them prop up their beliefs”. Is she right????! Am I going mad? I try and tell her about the lies creationists use and their unethical indoctrination of children but she’s just not bothered!

The truth is, I am quite angry and bitter about all the many lies told for Jesus, since they personally changed the way I lived a massive chunk of my life (including relationship-splits and depression) - I think anger is a reasonable and justified response.

Or should I just get over it??? (I’d like to add I don’t believe in bitterness without action - I believe it’s OK if it motivates me to influence/educate others).

I do find myself less sure about our future together. There’s now much less of a reason to get married (as far as I’m concerned anyway) and I even find myself wondering if I should now be setting myself free and finding someone-else - someone who understands my…. not just apostasy but… pretty much hatred for religion (does this utterly limit my options I wonder??!!) Or just someone who suits me a lot more, now that I don’t have to be with a Christian? (sounds incredibly harsh but I’m just being honest).

But of course the flip-side is that we suit each other in a lot of ways, I care so much for my girlfriend etc etc (often I feel I need her due to the history we’ve shared, especially as she has a hard time of connecting with the average na├»ve, ‘yes pastor’ Christian). But all this has affected my feelings for her. Plus if we stay together and marry it’s going to be tough - I personally worry about not agreeing on how to bring up our kids, or what she’ll tell them about God etc. I believe that even private religion can really mess up peoples’ lives. Should I be worried?? What are peoples’ opinions on letting my possibly future wife take my kids to church every Sunday? She says she wouldn’t force them to go but… I just get scared about indoctrinating kids in rubbish that’ll haunt them forever.

“Have a doctor come and visit us and tell us which one is sane.”
-- The White Stripes

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In the end, logic always wins

Luthern churchImage by Allie's.Dad via Flickr

From Roger

Like all others here, I am joyous to see that this site exists.

The religious influence in my life was very minimal. My parents had us go to a Christian, Lutheran church until we reached a certain age to make our own decisions (basically, we stopped going before my teens). Additionally, I was very fortunate since the pastor at that church was very non-opinionated and open minded. If it weren't for him and his attribution that human kindness is inherent in all of us regardless of spiritual affiliation, I would have a deep seated hatred of religion beyond the ability of logical reason and understanding. He was very good at not always preaching, saying god, lord, Jesus in every sentence, or a constant thump of the Bible.

Why, you may ask, am I talking of this pastor so much? Well, it turns out that one person that attended that church often, sexually abused hundreds of kids, myself included. He was a devout Christian, crucifixes plastered everywhere, religious radio stations in constant play, and a virtual wallpapering of bible propaganda as far as the eye could see. I will not elaborate on the many assurances, various excuses, and 'copy and paste' bible references quoted, however, I will say that he, like many others, excused himself from 'sin'. As he saw it, what he was doing was the will of god.

So, if it were not for that pastor, I would have a greater disgust of religion than I already do. And I don't feel that I would able to see the many sides of the religious argument. But in the end, logic always wins, and I see no reason for religion except as a nostalgic sense of what people once believed.

By the way, I don't declare myself as atheist, agnostic, or anything for that matter. I'm a human living my life to the fullest extent that I am able. And I praise all those who have moved on beyond the superstitious cultism that is so heavily forced on us daily.



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Sunday, February 08, 2009                                                                                       View Comments

Some questions...

A letter from sueetness

This is officially my first post - having accidentally briefly told my story on someone else's thread.

Since having reconnected with someone who is 'trying to save me' and having never in my life been religious, I find myself looking for signs. Like I want the answer to come to me, as I hear it comes to others through some event that makes them see that they NEED to accept Christ into their lives.

I do believe what happened to Jesus. I do believe that he was executed on a cross and I think it's a terrible story and one that happened to many people back in the day when humans were uncivilized savages with no minds of their own. When the ones who took power and control led Hitleresque regimes. I believe he was an amazing person who did have a mind of his own and whose dying wish was that no one should suffer as much as he.

I haven't read the bible. I have seen MANY people who claim to be Christian, doing terrible things - almost like they've been given a license to be cruel, because they will be forgiven.

I was okay where I was at, and always felt blessed in knowing that I wasn't a higher power, but in control of my own life. I had a handle on what was in my control and what wasn't and I lived with that. I felt that I was blessed with many fortunes and sometimes things were terrible, but I felt balanced in my thinking and beliefs. Then, I ended up living with a (non-practicing) Christian, alcoholic, and my life began to nose-dive almost immediately. This man went from being almost evil to being kind and loving, and back again and it became very confusing to me.

Now fast forward many years to meeting up with an old friend, who has since become a reverend and him 'praying for me' to repent my sins and become one with Jesus and God. So while my life has become pretty miserable, and I've lost that equilibrium I once had, you might see how I'm really vacillating. I'm feeling a pull from what seems like the lifeboat to save me versus living this disrupted life. YET - I was plugging my way through, comfortable in my own personal beliefs, until I got into this situation.

Am I this sinner who needs to be saved? Or am I this normal person, trying to lead a good life, but getting caught up in a bad situation? I've never been perfect, but I don't know anyone who has.

Even though I've made the decision and told the reverend that I have chosen not to 'be saved', I've still got that nagging feeling that the reverend has now given up on me as I have chosen to live my life as a sinner. I never thought of myself that way before. I've made some terrible mistakes and choices, but haven't we all? Isn't that part of just having to find our way in this world? How is it that some people say they've been given this insight into the world beyond, and we're supposed to believe that - sight unseen?

Sorry if this sounds disjointed. Any thoughts on this would be most appreciated.