November 18, 2017

Ask Chaplain Mike: Dealing with Those Who Hold Views I Used to Hold

By Chaplain Mike

After this morning’s profound and personal inquiry, this afternoon I thought I’d tackle a shorter question. In some senses, it’s not any easier. I have found as a chaplain that it is sometimes easier to help people face death than it is to help them sort out life. It can get pretty complicated.

Today’s Question:
A friend in ministry asks,

How do you deal with and interact with people who still hold the views that you used to hold, especially those who take the “my way or the highway” position?

Dear Friend,

Well, since I have been through several different changes in my life concerning “views I used to hold,” I could answer that in a variety of ways. But I’m assuming you are writing in the context of what you read on Internet Monk, so I am interpreting your question in terms of my former journey through non-denominational evangelical church life.

By and large, let me say first of all that my exodus from evangelicalism as a system of practicing the faith had little to do with the people I’ve known in our churches. I had mostly good relationships with parishioners and coworkers. As for my part, I was never doctrinaire as a pastor, leading to the kinds of “my way or the highway” schisms you ask about. I always thought it was more about the people and discovering with them what the Bible teaches than it was me pronouncing settled law from the pulpit or lectern. Oh yes, I went through my “pronouncement” phases, but fortunately the wise ones simply waited me out until I saw more light.


Another one of God’s gifts was putting me into churches and settings that were, for the most part, non-doctrinaire communities.

It didn’t start that way. I graduated from a strictly dispensational Bible college, with professors and mentors that tolerated little deviance, especially from the system of theology Scofield made popular. That seems so long ago now as to almost be another lifetime. I’m sure some of those profs and some of my fellow students would probably not appreciate where I am today, but I don’t have much contact with them, to tell the truth.

By the time I left Bible college, I knew I needed broadening. I reasoned that my time there (as a fairly new Christian) had given me a good grounding in a particular stream of theology as well as some good study skills, but now it was time to leave the spoon-feeding behind and explore things on my own. Seminary provided that in a wonderful way, though the school I attended was very much in the conservative evangelical world also. I still treasure the Biblical education I received there though I’m no longer part of its culture. What has changed the most for me is my ecclesiology and eschatology, and I believe these changes grew directly out of the fine study habits I learned in seminary, though I’m sure some of my profs would disagree.

While in seminary, I pastored a small church that was affiliated with a fundamentalist group. Certain people there did not trust me and even did some hurtful things, casting aspersions at my motives as a shepherd. That stung, but for the most part I just let it go and eventually moved on. The majority of my pastoring years were then spent in non-denominational churches that were, to be honest, not very interested in serious theological study. That is true of a majority of churches in our area. This is a family-oriented, church program, moralistic culture. And since, for most of those years, I wasn’t a senior pastor, I served primarily as one of the program directors.

I guess what I’m saying, friend, is that as I’ve grown and changed, I’ve mostly just moved on, like ministers do, into new settings. The former relationships are there, but mostly we are living in our own worlds, following what we think God has called us to do, and there isn’t a lot of give and take between us on “our views.” I know that I confound a few of them sometimes, and some don’t know what to do with me, but I have few past friends or partners who have the attitude you mentioned—“My way or the highway.” Nor do I toward them. Frankly, as I said, we are mostly just living in different worlds right now. When we do talk, it’s mostly about our families, our work, our communities. We’re friends and neighbors and old acquaintances. The ones who scratch their heads and wonder about me probably always did, and they just figure it’s Mike being Mike, always the enigma.

My experience in hospice chaplaincy has helped me a great deal when it comes to facing others who disagree with me. It is a given that hospice workers must learn to relate to all kinds of people and to exercise kindness and patience as they try to communicate with folks from all different backgrounds and in a variety of situations. I have learned that the wisest course is almost always to go in with eyes and ears open, mouth firmly shut. Show genuine interest in the other, no matter how different or even repulsive their situation or viewpoint might be. Find some element of common ground. Acknowledge and affirm whatever is praiseworthy. Don’t focus on areas of disagreement and get into arguments. In hospice, it is really true: life’s too short.

I know I don’t always appear to be the gentle lamb I am (!) when I’m writing or moderating on Internet Monk. I would guess I’m somewhat like Michael Spencer was in this regard. We write more strongly than we come across in person. Perhaps people say of me what they said of the Apostle Paul: His letters are weighty and forceful, but in person he is unimpressive and his speaking amounts to nothing.” (2Cor 10:10). I would imagine most people who are busy running churches and “running around in evangelical circles” probably aren’t paying much attention to what I say. If they begin to do so, and some start throwing darts in response, stay tuned and let’s see how I’ll deal with them then.

Thanks for asking,

Chaplain Mike

P.S. You might want to ask Ken Ham what he thinks.

Comments

  1. The headline says “dealing with former partners,” but I don’t see anything here about that. Did the titles get mixed up with the wrong articles or something?

    • You’re right, the title was misleading. So I changed it.

    • cermak_rd says:

      I saw that original title and had the thought, oh, I never contemplated the possibility of exes getting involved toward the end of life. I suppose it probably happens.

      When we lost our mother, the sibs and I were standing up front by the casket during the visitation (as is common in the theological tradition of which Mother was part). When our father walked in…I think we were all shocked. I know my sibs faces certainly showed it and mine probably as well. My parents went through a difficult divorce (long ago prior to the days of no fault) and hadn’t had much to say nice about each other either before or after. I, ever the irreverent one, had to murmur… “dear goodness he’s come to see if she’s really dead.”. At least it broke the moment of shock.

  2. Your comment about showing genuine interest is very valuable. People notice when you’re faking attention to attain some other goal, but even very large rifts can be overcome by genuine friendliness.

  3. “…eyes and ears open, mouth firmly shut.”
    Oh the scriptural references that could be cited to support that position? Quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to wrath…. Even the fool, when he keeps silent, is accounted wise…..in quietness and confidence shall be your strength……… Be still and know that I am God…. the storm passed but God was not in it…..
    Life really is too short and we can be sure we will not pass through the gates of the kingdom in the midst of defending some thesis or another.

  4. A post script – You don’t really have to deal with “my way or the highway” for a protracted period of time because if you sum up the courage to do it your way in quietness and confidence, they will stop dealing with you and then the dealing is done. You’ll be on the highway.

    • In my experience it depends upon the people you interact with. Some I finally had to ask to leave me alone.

  5. I have a companion question – for anyone. How do you deal with people who toss the “Judge not, lest you be judged too” back at you if you dare question/critique any pizzazz/circus/growth oriented aspect of the evangelical subculture? (Like the critiques presented here at iM) I have friends who refuse to reflect on anything within their churches or the broader evangelical wilderness and prefer to deflect any hint of dissension by using the “judge not…” or the “God is unlimited in His ways/means” or the “that’s leftist/emergent” lines. I try not to be argumentative about it, but it’s really disheartening because they come across as gullible lemmings willing to swallow anything coming down the fad pipe if it is spun the right way (or brings in enough people or hypes emotions enough). I’m afraid if the apostle Paul were writing to these people today, they’d burn his letters because of his penchant for loving critique, exhortation, and rebuke. (That IMO Paul engages in frequently in his letters to the early churches)

    Final reiteration of the question: What to do with the evangelical anti-quality control (or anti-discernment) bunker-mentality attitude?

    • A verse I like probably too much is “examine everything, hold fast to that which is good” 1Thess 5. You can’t hold fast to that whcih is good unless you’ve made a judgment that it is, in fact, good. The bible has a word for someone unable, or unwilling , to make any judgments: a fool. The bald truth is , we all make judgments, your friends just don’t like yours.

      gregR

    • Michael Spencer wrote a classic essay on this “judge not” push-back called Talk Hard: The Role of the Critic in Evangelical Christianity.

      Since I’m not allowed to include a link, if you type “Talk Hard” (make sure to include quotes around the 2 words or it won’t work) into the internetmonk.com search field, it should come up.

      Of course, the essay mostly gives me some comfort that I’m not the only one and not going crazy rather than giving me ability to make the situation different, but…

    • Fundegeliclaism in the mega church environment is classic groupthink at it worse. With the excpetion of the die hards who always patrol for heresy…most people swallow whatever their pastor says to them. In many ways they have forfeitted their noodle and let someone else think for them.

    • Andrew:

      I am not sure you can do anything. If people are not ready to receive some of your thoughts they won’t. There are lots of people around who can’t handle people doubting or questioning the established order (whatever their order is, religious, political etc).
      And maybe it is not our place to provoke them to think. I have chosen to focus on a smaller group of friends who I can be real with and ask questions. When I get confronted with the ‘don’t judge’ mantra I first check my heart to see if I am being too harsh. If that is not the case than I realise the person has likely been made insecure. And some people choose not to think.

      BTW Eagle, you often mention what you call Fundegeliclaism I guess you mean by that Fundamentalists, because certainly not all Evangelicals fit in that category.
      I come out of a Pentecostal past, and certainly it was painted as if we were the sum total of Christianity. It was only later that I realised we were like the kid who found a quarter and held it up close to his eye and said ‘Wow – its so big it covers the sun!”

      There are thousands of very thoughtful Evangelicals out there. I found an author Phillip Yancey helpful, He wrote a book called Soul Survivor – How my faith survived the Church in it I began to discover that Christianity comes in many flavours.

      • David L says:

        “And some people choose not to think.”

        The older I get the larger I think this group is.

  6. Thanks for the informative and helpful personal notes. I know from personal experience when I’ve had shifts of view that it’s very easy to fall into the trap of being hardest on those whose views I until recently shared…I guess whether it’s a “good” things or not depends on the spirit in which dialogue occurs and whether fellowship is maintained at all. Some of my wife’s former Christian friends will lilterally no longer speak with her due to certain shifts of view she has had.

  7. My two best friends are a minister and his wife from the church at which I no longer attend the Sunday AM programs. Over the past couple of years I’ve definitely developed different opinions about things that I once held as absolute (and that my friends still hold as absolute).

    After some heated debates, I finally realized that it is not my role to prove my point of view. Now I just avoid these kinds of conversation altogether, and I have on occasion actually said “can we please talk about something else?” I see no need for a pointless debate which might damage a relationship that is infinitely more important to me than winning an argument.

    • cermak_rd says:

      This has been my approach when dealing with my in-laws. I value our relationship, so I just try to steer the conversation away from issues of politics (where we’ve always disagreed) and religion (where we have come to disagree). I am not always successful in this endeavor so sometimes I just let her vent and ignore the content of the diatribe.

      King Henry was allegedly quoted to say (and probably didn’t) that Paris was worth a mass. I tend to reflect that family peace is worth a little bad-faithed evangelism.

      • David L says:

        The problem arises when a relative will NOT let an issue or issues fade into the background. Make it tough for the family to get together.

  8. In my particular case this has been a difficult situation to contend with. Prior to my loss of faith all my friends, etc.. came from my church or Christian ministry life. I mostly avoided friendships “of the world” because I was afraid they would influence me negatively. WTF was I thinking?!? They all came from Campus Crusade, the fundegelical empire on Leesburg Pike in the D.C. area, etc.. I used to hang our with them, have dinner, got to a movie, and fellowship. I was a very social person. Then my faith started to fall apart…people didn’t know what to say in regards to the Pharisacal experiences I found myself dealing with. Others became disturbed by the questions I started to ask. As they started to pull back I became filled with anger and rage and had some angry conversations with a few people, some angry email conversations, etc.. Their way of looking at things I just didn’t see any more. Worse…I’ve looked at some of the emails and letters I wrote during that time when I was a brainwashed, drink the Kool-Aid fundegelcial and wonder, “Where did that come from?”

    But anyhow I pretty much lost all my contacts and friends. Some wanted nothing to do with me, and others I had to sever the ties. They wouldn’t leave me alone and their only purpose to interact was to evangelize me. One individual who I burned my bridges with started to scrutinize my other beliefs, when I was having faith difficulty, he asked me, “What do you believe about creationism in 6 days?” And then needlessly I found myself fighting him on creation issues.

    One of the few evangelicals I still talk to does so because he feels guilty over what happened to me. When I started asking my intense spiritual questions through email while he was in Africa as a missionary he didn’t know what to do. He ignored me for a while and after he came back he told me that he thought I’d get through this phase and that he didn’t realize what type of hole I fell into. But he has a difficult time talking to some of this stuff but he still wants to hang out and talk.

    When that common ground gave way, a lot of those relationships were lost. So I’m 37 and I feel like I am starting life all over again. The difference is that now most of those friendships come from work, a couple of clubs I am involved with, etc…

    But that was a good question….

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      They all came from Campus Crusade, the fundegelical empire on Leesburg Pike in the D.C. area, etc..

      Probably well over the 80% critical mass where Groupthink becomes Doubleplusgroupthink becomes Total Conformity and Beware Thou of The Mutants.

    • “brainwashed, drink the Kool-Aid fundegelcial”…Eagle, have you ever reflected it may not be your viewpoint, but your insulting demeanor that has caused the rift? I feel attacked by a good amount of your posts.

      • My apologies if you are offended. In my experience I ran into a number of people who felt a need to defend anything and everything that came out of evangelical Christianity. There were no mistakes, it’s perfect, and oh by the way…if you are having problems its you…because faith works, God is true, and the Bible is to be trusted. Fundegelicals, like the Mormons I once knew, have a way of putting it back on the person and blaming the person. It’s not the Christian faith Eagle, it’s you. You need to do this, and you need to do that. And oh by the way you also need to believe xyz, etc.. On and on it goes. Add that smirk arrogance and its repulsive. Why are Christians the most arrogant people around I wish I knew.

        One of the things I do like about agnosticism is that one can show more grace, and love than one can encounter in Christianity. In some of the circles I move in I hear people talk or reveal stuff that no one would dare to talk about in a church setting. They do so with people still showing love, still befriending, and still embracing. I just finished the chapter in Philip Yancy’s “What God is God?” where he talks about how he wishes he were an alcoholic because alcoholics can find more grace, community and love than they can within the church. It was a beautiful chapter and pretty damning on church culture.

        And I am not suggesting that agnosticism has all the answers. At this point in my life I just don’t know. But in fundegelicalism (a blurring of fundamentalism and evangelicalism…) all the certainty and pomp is just aggravating.

        Am I like this with most Christians? I’ll be honest I am difficult with many. And there have been a couple who have come to me, apologized and have been quite humble. Do I talk caustically to them? Not as much…the reason why is because I respect their approach. Not only have they admitted how they were wrong but they show some neat humility by demonstrating that approach. It’s unique and I have to admit it take balls to do that…and that’s why I respect them. The sad part is that they are few and far between. When someone identifies themselves as a Christian, missionary, pastor, etc.. in my mind my red flag goes up and I’ll be highly suspect, more on my toes and cautious around you then I would a co-worker, etc…

        I don’t know where I am going to end up. I’ve been through 3 religions over my life. But I’m attracted to the posts I see about grace here. And though I identify more with agnosticism I feel uncomfortable with agnosticism. Yet I can’t get any resolution to some of these doubts, or let go of past experiences. Right now I am only open to a few Christians and I talk with them. I view most of Christianity to be cancerous and I’m afraid some will view me more as a “project” and goal of converting…but without any long term interest or love. And I’m not going to be a trophy in someone’s case. But I like the posts here at the IM. I like the fact that there is discussion about issues that I wrestled with that I could not bring up in the churches, Bible studies, small group, men’s retreats etc.. And I like the fact that I can interact with others and pose questions from the safety of my kitchen. But if you’re offended my apologies.

        • Thanks, Eagle. It’s not that I was offended, just that I’ve read a few dozens of your posts about how we evangelicals are arrogant, repulsive, graceless, cancerous, aggravating, etc, and, to be frank, it’s getting tiresome. I realize you have been hurt, so I don’t want to jump on you, but you may not realize how your words are received by others.

          I must admit, however, that I haven’t walked your road, and so don’t want to judge you. I have wrestled with my own doubts, and can’t condemn yours. I hope you find the truth, or at least as close to it as we humans can.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          It’s not the Christian faith Eagle, it’s you. You need to do this, and you need to do that. And oh by the way you also need to believe xyz, etc.. On and on it goes. Add that smirk arrogance and its repulsive.

          Eagle, the last time I got that reaction from someone, “the Christian faith” had nothing to do with it. It was a Mackinista reaction when I upgraded my home system from Mac to a PC years ago (i.e. Apostasized.) Said Mackinista was preaching in the late Nineties about how Apple would wipe out Microsoft by the Year 2000. When pointed out that this didn’t sound realistic, his face would purple, his veins would bulge out, and the screams of “MAC IS THE SUPERIOR SYSTEM!!! DIE, HERETIC!!!” would begin. I call it the “Apple Akbar!” reaction.

          It doesn’t need to be a religion per se to have its Fundagelicals.

          • David L says:

            Yep. As a fan of Macs in general I sigh deeply when the “obviously system xxx is better” discussion comes up. My ongoing advice to anyone in general is to buy the computer that makes them happy. Them. Not their brother. Not their office mate. Them.

            There’s a reason we folks in computer science call certain topics RWars. Religious Wars to those not in the know. Facts mean nothing. It’s all about faith. 🙂

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        “brainwashed, drink the Kool-Aid fundegelcial”…Eagle, have you ever reflected it may not be your viewpoint, but your insulting demeanor that has caused the rift?

        Daniel, when I hear Eagle’s “insulting demeanor”, I read it as someone who’s been on the receiving end of a severe burn job. I recognize the symptoms because I’ve been there.

  9. Headless Unicorn Guy says:

    I have found as a chaplain that it is sometimes easier to help people face death than it is to help them sort out life.

    I have heard that a lot of suicides don’t actually want to die, they just can’t take living any more.

  10. Headless Unicorn Guy says:

    I guess what I’m saying, friend, is that as I’ve grown and changed, I’ve mostly just moved on, like ministers do, into new settings. The former relationships are there, but mostly we are living in our own worlds, following what we think God has called us to do, and there isn’t a lot of give and take between us on “our views.” I know that I confound a few of them sometimes, and some don’t know what to do with me, but I have few past friends or partners who have the attitude you mentioned—“My way or the highway.”

    A few months ago, Christian Monist (who comments here as J Michael Jones) switched churches for much the same reason. Unfortunately, his former church DOES have the “My way or the highway” attitude on steroids.

  11. S.J. Gonzalez says:

    I am going through such a transition right now.

    Many of my friends from my old church have become enamored with the New Calvinistic movement. I, though Reformed, have a lot of Catholic tendencies. I believe in justification by faith alone and in the Real Presence, I just don’t like using the language of transubstantiation, but whatever.

    N.T. Wright has also become one of my favorite authors, and well, that’s a no no in those circles.

    I also have other friends that come from a strong fundamentalistic background, opposed to traditional expressions of Calvinistic theology. Young Earthers too. I am an Old Earther, so…

    … I’m stuck between a rock and a hard place.

    What I do is not so much argue but try to show the validity of my view, and then try to live a genuine Christian life to show that yes, you can be a Christian and have different views. Pietism seems to be the thing that unites the Chruch in America, though I don’t know that’s a good thing.

    And Eagle, I’ve read many of you descriptions. I did not know that it was such a long time ago. It sounded like you were describing my experiences of two to three years ago. I’m 21 going on 22, and it still happens. I’m sorry that has happened to you. I’m still recovering from that hard edged fundamentalism, always thinking in either/or and never both/and.

    Thankfully the Lord Jesus doesn’t want us to have right doctrine, He just wants us.

    • … I’m stuck between a rock and a hard place.

      but that rock is only, say, ~6,000 years old… 😉

    • S.J.

      I looked into Mormonism in 1995,1996
      Drifted around trying to find some answers 1997-1999
      Became a born again fundegelical 1999 and stayed one until 2009

      Some of these experiences happened over the years, but I was largely brainwashed. But things started to head south in 2006, and accelerated south from 2006 until 2009. In 2006 I learned what my fundgelcial minister who I used as a reference hoped I would lose my job to teach me a lesson about sin. In 2008 I discovered my 7 year accountability partner from a fundgelical ministry lived a double life while I was having to contend with having the shit kicked out of me by tthe church. In 2008 one of my friends came out as being gay, which also challenged my thinking. My doubts started to grow in 2008 where I broke away and sunk into a short depression over theology conflict in the late summer of 2008. In 2009 I returned to church but was having problems. Life was not going the way I was taught or expected. It felt like my faith was slipping away. In the summer of 2009 was when I attended my last regular church service and the fall of 09 was when I threw away a good chunk of my Christian material. From 2009 until today I’ve been evangelized, had people pull away and my social network fell apart. I’m not kidding when I say this….I can go through my cell phone and see phone numbers there of people who want nothing to do with me, or who I last spoke to well over 2 years ago. I should just delete them but I’m hoping things will change.

      • S.J. and these situations happened in many different envirnments. This happened in a para-church ministry, mega chruch in DC, other churches I was involved in, and a work place Bible study led by proud Baptists. These situations are part of the Christian culture and I don’t think one will ever escape them.

        On Saturday evening I swallowed enough Mylanta that enabled me to try an evangelical church in the DC suburbs. I was disappointed with what I saw, and noticed on the web site that over 1/3 of their doctrinal statement dealt with how the rapture would happen and how the tribulation would play out. I wanted to puke when I saw that….

        Sometimes I just don’t know where to turn.

        • Eagle:
          I relate to some of what you are talking about. My best friend and I became Christians at about 17 and got deeply involved in the more fundamentalist wing of Evangelicals. There was both good and bad. I would say that we met Christ, but the problem was he was too much like us. What I mean is that our concept of God was so messed up that we were unable to see Christ for who he is.
          We got involved in scientific creationism and many of the things our movement was into, as well as a pentecostal emphasis.
          Really, it bred in us an arrogance and a know it all attitude. And I will not blame others for it. We were young. So we went to university and studied science. My friend did medicine, and I did computer science. The young earth stuff was shot right out from under our feet. And we rightly asked: If fundamentalists were wrong in this what else is there they were wrong in?
          That started a chain of events that lasted years. For me from 1989-2000 I came to a point where I was agnostic. I had always had doubts, but no safe place to discuss them. My best friend also threw the faith out the window.
          Slowly I made my way back, throwing lots of junk out. One of my big problems was I was a rationalist and had to understand everything.
          Fast forward to 2 weeks ago. I flew to a nearby city to see my friend, we are now both in our 50s. I have not seen him for years.
          He is agnostic, still hurting. I told him that he had been more Jesus to me than Jesus was. he had accepted me and given me friendship. He really was the hands of Christ in my life.

          A big part of my liberation has been to separate pain I felt from God. And if that pain comes from Christians or your parents, it is really hard. Mine came from a parent.

          He has lived in deep pain some coming from his Christian past.

          This is raw, but here is the email I sent him:

          As always, our time together provoked me to think about life. So often people around me don’t challenge me or provoke me to thought. It is refreshing when you do.

          I have discovered that one of the biggest themes in my life has been rejection. My mom, my sister, other people, God. Years ago you told me you felt set apart for special damnation, when we were kids I laughed at that one, and then went on living my life as if it was true. If you would have asked me I would have denied it because of course I was a brand new creation, or so thought I was. The result was toxic, like the Strontium 90 the environmentalist said was in the milk. About 19 years into my marriage on an anniversary holiday I announced to my wife I didn’t think she loved me. I was living out my rejection in spite of all evidence otherwise.

          It was after that I began to undergo the profound healing of which I only told you a small part. In it I was able to commit someone who hurt me to her grave and I became a compassionate caregiver in her last few days. The monster had died and all I had was a poor old broken lady who had been so hurt in her childhood that she had little to give. As part of that process I discovered that somehow, the monster had been the lens through which I viewed God. If He loved me or not did not matter, that was my reality.

          The Anglican communion liturgy has a wonderful prayer, it has been going through my mind for days:

          We do not presume to come to this thy Table, O merciful Lord, trusting in our own righteousness, but in thy manifold and great mercies. We are not worthy so much as to gather up the crumbs under thy Table. But thou art the same Lord whose property is always to have mercy. Grant us therefore, gracious Lord, so to eat the flesh of thy dear Son Jesus Christ, and to drink his blood, that we may evermore dwell in him, and he in us.

          He knows that we are but dust.

          No matter what has gone on Eagle, He is bigger than it.

          Peace

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          I was disappointed with what I saw, and noticed on the web site that over 1/3 of their doctrinal statement dealt with how the rapture would happen and how the tribulation would play out. I wanted to puke when I saw that….

          Only 1/3 of their statement? You missed the heyday of Hal Lindsay in the Seventies, when the Bible had only 3 1/2 books: Daniel, Revelation, the “nuclear war chapter” of Ezekiel (the 1/2), and Late Great Planet Earth (which superseded the other 2 1/2). Looking back, it had all the symptoms of fanboy tunnel-vision obsession. And End-of-the-World choreography OCD has a long (and not too noble) history, from Montanus in the 2nd Century to “5/21/2011” Camping and the “Third Eagle of the Apocalypse (It’s Prophesied Guy)” denouncing Camping as a False Prophet because ITG’s YouTube videos preach the TRUE Date.

          Anyone know of any one-way super-saver fares to Ponyville?

  12. I think one of the hardest issues here is the tendency to look down on those who have views we have rejected. Our natural human pride thinks that because we have moved past their views, they are not as smart as we are. In fact, many commenters on this blog show a much more respectful and deferential attitude toward non-believers than to those that old views the commenter has “moved on from”.

    • Ouch.
      We suffer from ex-cigarette smoker syndrome!
      Good point

    • I agree by and large. If you are led into a new chapter it can always be done with grace. Some of those same people may be back in your life in years to come and that sure makes it easier to reunite but regardless of that, it is His way to season all of our language at all times.

  13. *hold

  14. Eagle

    I have found that it is very difficult for some people to handle when you have doubt or walk away. They have no grid for it. And if you start to ask questions they can’t handle, it is simply too awkward.
    So rather than say ‘I don’t know what to say’ they may ignore you.

    Not everyone knows how to handle difficult questions. My wife once said that living with me was like being in an earthquake zone (this was some years back when I was an Agnostic). I cannot shut my mind off. Jst the other night we were talking about it she said ‘your mind is always going….’ and I replied that the only time it slowed down is if I got drunk (I don’t so that as alcoholism is prevalent in my family).

    My thought is rather than going back to a church that discusses the rapture or is more fundamentalist, try to look for something where they are not afraid of the mind. I would think there would be something in the DC area, you just need to find it.
    I could never go back to a good old premillenial rapture, born again, non-charismatic (or charismatic) bible believing church that has a 20 point statement of faith that locks everyone else out.

    I am involved in an Anglican fellowship and a contemplative group and it is truly good. I know there are churches in the DC area, it is The Anglican Church in North America and can be found in google.

    Be warned they are a liturgical church, and it may take awhile to click into the way they think. I have found that I do not have to put my mind away.

    Best to you in your searches

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      The original Western-Rite Liturgical Church was what worked for me. Liturgical Churches have a much longer history — “Been There, Done That, Got the T-shirts” — and have demonstrated staying power.

  15. I think of the old saying “honey draws more flies than vinegar”. Yet, when talking with some religious individuals who assume that I once held the same views they hold, or with some religious individuals who do not know of my past views but believe that I should hold the same view that they hold today, I am given a vinegar bath if I do not agree with their interpretations and understandings of all things religious, biblical and political.

    Vinegar baths convince no one, but cause most people to move away from those holding the jugs of vinegar, and sadly, often away from the Jesus they claim to represent.