IN TWO MINDS:
The Anatomy of a Christian Hate Letter
Introductory Letter of the Seven Page Series
this letter was written by Brian Worley
I have been on both sides of the Atheist and Christian "fence". From my perspective, it is rare that you find a person from either viewpoint that truly understands the other person's mindset. Many think that they do, but they are mistaken. I will give you an example of what I mean. Watch and observe whenever these two opposites interact. You can feel the tension and often feelings of anger are expressed in frustration. With a few exceptions, it appears that most Christians and Atheists have a certain "mental picture" of what the others viewpoint is that is incorrect. This is why I have named this series, In Two Minds.
I have been thinking about this problem for a long time now. Not only is this a personal problem, it is an issue that needlessly divides society. And no, I am not going to be able to solve this by myself. It is a daunting task to attempt, but I do have hope that progress can be made. Someone asked the proverbial question, "How do you eat an elephant?" answer: "One bite at a time."
This is an introduction to a forthcoming series of letters between myself and a well-respected psychologist and former evangelical, Valerie Tarico. Valerie is a Seattle-based psychologist and author that has written about the beliefs and psychology of Christian fundamentalists (The Dark Side: How Evangelical Teachings Corrupt Love and Truth). She holds a Ph. D and has been in practice since 1987.
I, Brian will share personal experiences from both friends and family, and the website. Most of my adolescent years were spent in the beautiful mountains of Western North Carolina (WNC), in the Asheville area. It is part of the so-called "Bible belt area of the USA". The famous writer, Thomas Wolfe who penned the novel "You Can't Go Home Again" lived there and wrote about it. The evangelist Billy Graham also lives in this area. Life is different there, partly due to religion that hangs heavy in the air.
Now, I can relate to what Thomas Wolfe had written about his home in a letter to his sister Mabel. He writes:
I think you are wise in wanting to get out of Asheville. I have known what happened to it for years, but I had a good chance to sum it all up when I went back last summer. It is a ruined and defeated town, and it is full of ruined and defeated people. If you think that I am happy about this, you do me an injustice. After all, it was my town, I was born there, and some of the people I care for most on earth still live there. But I found out last summer that you can't go home again, and now I know why . . . . I am going better places, and I invite you to come along . . . . Did you ever read a story of mine that came out about a year ago called "I Have a Thing to Tell You?" Well, I have a thing to tell you now: that is you can't go home again, but there are other places you can go. So why not try to find them? (1)
Now Asheville is a great town! If you get a chance to visit, by all means do so. Since I have moved away from my (WNC) home, I have desired to maintain relationships with family and old friends. I have had little success and, frankly, a man shouldn't have to try that hard to make them work! I am in my 40's now, and have been an ex-minister for seven years. The problem that is in between us is, you guessed it... .religion! I have left my fundamentalists religion and this really makes most of my family and friends very uncomfortable. If I didn't initiate contact with them, we would not speak at all. Personally, I think that it is terrible that friends and family do not speak to each other on the account of divisions due to religious beliefs.
As I have said, this is the introduction to a series of forthcoming letters. Check back because additional letters will be posted as they are completed. We (Valerie and I), hope that this will be helpful to you! Maybe you know of someone that could benefit by reading this, if so pass this on to them!
1. Thomas Wolfe to Mabel Wolfe Wheaton, May 10, 1938, in Elizabeth Nowell, ed., The Letters of Thomas Wolfe. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1956.
Brian Worley Ex-Minister.org December 2007 All rights reserved.