Deconverts - What part of Christian culture do you miss the most? Is there a worship song or hymn you find yourself humming? Do you miss the after church coffees and potlucks? Do you get sentimental about an author or children's book?
I realize there is plenty to NOT miss, but for those who were in the faith longer than out, I'd be very happy to hear about the cultural soft-spots you have since leaving the faith.
Interesting. I found dating within the christian community (the more hard-core circles) like pulling teeth and very disappointing on o so many levels. I guess I've always been attracted to the bad boys who never showed up in church - or were their own brand of christian bad-boy within the church. Either way - I can't say I miss that part.
I was raised Episcopal. The church we attended was "High Church", meaning lots of ceremony, very formal, with incense and ringing of bells. I miss the "smells and bells", and the pre-1979 liturgy which I knew by heart from hearing every week. I miss the sense of reverence I had as an acolyte.
I miss the pot-luck dinners where I could eat food cooked totally differently than how my mother cooked it. Always something strange, like frog legs or casseroles with unexpected food combinations.
I miss the kindness of the occasional strangers who would take pity on me for my abusive father, when everyone else would just turn a blind eye and pretend nothing was wrong.
I grew up in a small town in the southern United States. I miss sitting in 'our' pew as a family every Sunday. I started doubting as a teenager and was never a part of a church community as an adult. Although I have moved away from my hometown, I still live in a small town in the southern United States. People who attend church have access to all the latest information on who is sick, who is getting married, divorced, having babies, etc. I guess I miss being 'in the know' about what is going on in my community.
@Vyrnon: This is a superior question in my view. Knowing what people miss the most may be a cue - it seems to me - of the kinds of things that the Atheist community ought to do in order to: 1) encourage new recruits and 2) keep those that are newly deconverted.
I have debated this issue much in my own mind, but because I was never 'neck-deep' in religion, I can't confess missing a single thing about it. In many ways, I see this as a deficit in my effort to recruit others into the kind of skeptical-, critical-, logical-, rational-, evidence-based thinking that helps people liberate themselves from the shackles of religious dogma.
For those that responded: I'd be curious to know whether the Atheist community has at least made any progress in fulfilling these lost needs / desires and what we could do to ensure that they are sufficiently satisfied.
I've had this discussion with fellow deconverts in the "real world." My main concern is that there is not much social community - no real life interaction - that can tempt a believer on the edge from leaving the built in support group of christianity. Because of that, I continue to search for and reach out to deconverts within my community. For those who left the faith, especially hard-core faith, you're faced with a free fall where no one really cares - other than the people who are in the faith and want you back. Emotion is everything. Fellowship is everything. True - plenty of us experienced hypocritical BS within the faith, but for those who experienced deep friendship and community and love - I ask atheists this all the time: what do atheists have that compares to Christ's eternal Love? Logic and Reason doesn't always cut it. Emotional and psychological support needs to be there for those who are deprogramming. Show Love - not creepy, carrot-stick love, not because you want them to leave their faith behind, but because they need to see that there is Love, Health and Happiness outside of Jesus. Solid Ground includes Logic, but don't forget to "minister" to the psychological and emotional.
On top of it, many hard-core believers who leave, such as myself, shun anything that resembles the cult-like groups that we left. It was very hard for me to want to believe Anything, much less feel as though I wanted to even identify with a community of non-believers. It took years of being on my own before I was willing to reach out to other deconverted people. I'd hate to recreate the exclusive club/cult scenario I left. So - though socializing is Very Important it is often a double-edged sword for those who have left. It's hard to want to be a part of any community when one has learned to question everything that is supposedly real.
In this case - visibility of groups of deconverted people - not just atheists who know nothing about what it means to Believe - but deconversion groups HAVE to make themselves visible. When they are ready, they will come... as much as they feel comfortable. I almost see it as a calling - to create a real-world support system for people to receive non-judgmental help from former believers to help them find Solid Ground. Deprogramming is not a quick-fix Logical debate. It is an ongoing interaction of re-learning to trust, re-learning to think, re-learning boundaries.
Also - Please visit www.de-conversion.com - that site is doing wonders for people looking to share their story and find like-minded people.
Sex and Love. There are some awesome love songs in the faith. Ironically - the "In the Garden" song was a song that even my atheist grandpa liked enough to ask that it be sung at his funeral. I have a special fondness for the song myself... along with many other gospel hymns. I remember making a secret decision about what hymn I wanted sung at my funeral. Ironically, it still fits my point of view - It is Well With My Soul.