A Progressive New Paradigm with a Jekyll & Hyde Approach

Brian Worley

[Revealing  Ex-Minister's Organizational Thinking]                 

The idea behind Ex-Minister is that those whom once felt "the calling to the ministry" need to be busy working for causes we believe in. Our dropping a faith-based lifestyle for one grounded in reason shouldn't sideline us, but it does challenge us to be creative. Finding a place where us "ex's" can exercise our "acquired skills" becomes a challenge outside the framework of a church base. Simply put, there hasn't been a convenient place thus far for us to land at! Society pressures you into silence and relegates your talents unto the dustbins as reward for your discovery! 

A clergyman's career is very frail; their degrees and ordinations have little value outside of the church. One bad move (i.e. affair, divorce, loss of faith) can disqualify you whereas a church member doing the same probably keeps their employment. This all goes with the territory, but where can an ex-minister go once they lose their faith? The following are the standard alternatives:

1)    be open and face the consequences

2)    ignore the voices of reason and thus disengage you and your church from the world  

3)    hide your feelings, stay within the church knowing that you are  proclaiming something      that  you don't believe in   

4)    leave fundamentalism for a more liberal brand of faith or social gospel 

The founder of Ex-Minister knows the territory well having left the faith over 10 years ago. Upon discovery (that the Bible/faith wasn't what it was represented to be) I was torn, perplexed and felt I was "played" for a fool, which angered me. I felt as if I had uncovered one of the world's greatest secrets but was shocked to learn that the faithful weren't receptive to what I had learned. This combined with my training to communicate messages to the public gave me a new mission.

Truth was that this knowledge has always been around, but it was a new discovery for people like myself. As the years have passed, the anger has faded enough to be enabled to think straight again about my former world. I've watched as former Christians and the birth of "new atheism" movement has gathered plenty of steam within the last few years. Many are angry and react destructively to the point where it clouds their vision, a number of them want to kill religion! I don't think we should and here's why. 

If we could should we seek to destroy religion? 

The big question is, what is it that upsets some people so much upon discovery that the Bible isn't a divine guidebook but merely a book of literature?  Should our misinterpretation of literature warrant the destruction of religion? Should we turn upon the teacher (religion) after having completed its lesson? These deep questions deserve some serious investment of thought! 

Pure religion correctly taught excels upon teaching such things as character, compassion and commitment. Frankly, many people approach religion to partake of benefits while forsaking it's lessons and are oblivious about ever giving anything back to show gratitude. Their rumps at one time frequented the pews (or even were behind a pulpit) but still they fail to fully grasp things.  

 Wasn't it you (former ex-Christian) that was the sinner who came forward for some "unmerited favor... i.e. grace" from the God of the Bible? You wanted forgiveness, a hell proof life insurance policy and perhaps a mansion! (You took something without having to pay for it... hopefully you learned gratitude and were inspired to give back to others?) Bottom line is that you were responsible for your reasoning facilities and for buying into the scheme! Go ahead, say you were lied to; but it doesn't alleviate your responsibility for acceptance. This is a tough pill to swallow in the realm of personal responsibility!

Sure, the intellectual aspect of religion is pure bunk; but seriously would you have been brought to the point of recognition of your own bad deeds (especially effecting others) without thinking that those actions would not be overlooked by an on looking God that demands retribution for those that ignore the threat? Whereas the intellectual aspect of religion is pure bunk, pure religion has great value in developing character and compassion. These traits are important and benefactors of these via religious instruction should not resent their personal or societal significance. Most don't recognize the significance of such traits as integrity, character or compassion until they are conspicuously absent!

A Society Without God 

Having been raised in a highly religious culture (USA) combined with an adherence to faith has helped to shape the character and compassion of many a man. Most non-theists couldn't bring themselves to admit this. Something peculiar happened though when we moved to a country (Latvia) where religion was basically banned for roughly a 50-year period. I don't want to badmouth Latvia, but there is little nice I could say about the character and compassion of their people today (collectively speaking.) I am not a sociologist, but I have found myself asking how they got to be this way? Certainly parents, teachers and other mentors could and should be teaching youth these traits but someone needs to teach them first! In hindsight, one of Latvia's best teachers (religion) was shunned and I strongly suspect that its 50 years absence was a major contributing factor in the make-up of this undesirable society. This has convinced me that religion plays an important role in our world and that it would be an ill conceived idea to root it from society!   

I suspect that most American, British and Canadian atheists would take issue with my observation; you can come and talk with me about it after you have spent 2-3 years living amongst pagan Latvians like I have! Latvian society would be an excellent and rare laboratory for sociologists to study, be careful what you wish for dear atheist friend!

Pin the tail on the donkey!!! 

There are both good and bad elements within religion and plenty of "chameleons" amongst their ranks. Although there are thousands of Christian sects, we can simplify Christianity by pointing out that basically there are two types of Christians. You have the troublesome Fundamentalists contrasted by a Philosophical or Cultural (PC) Christian whom are basically good people. Non-theists should correctly distinguish between these two and approach them accordingly. 

The Fundamentalists are fighters and push their agendas. I came from this background and know that reason is the most effective means to approach them with. You must know and be able to use the Bible extremely well with them!  They take things literally and until you debunk their faith they will still continue to fight! I don't consider the PC crowd troublesome; they themselves seem to be embarrassed to be associated with their Fundamentalist sibling rivals.

Uncovering the "Jekyll & Hyde" Mystery With a New Paradigm

At this point, Ex-Minister takes on a differing direction. What an attentive pastor knows about the flock is that too much emphasis upon doctrine and theology bores a congregation! It puts the sheep asleep! Haven't we noticed that atheists often know the Bible better than Christians?

The problem with preoccupying ourselves upon matters of "another world" and the energy expended towards debunking the underlying concept is that it takes us away from building humanity. 

Level headed Christians have this saying that one could be "so heavenly minded that they are of no earthly good." Ex-Minister has a similar admonition to the bulk of non-theists that "it isn't wise to be spending so much time chasing theological constructs that distract us from focusing upon more important earthly good projects." However, I like the idea of having dedicated specialists like Robert Price & John W. Loftus laboring & debunking faith. 

Ex-Minister despises fundamentalism, they are obstacles in the path of societal progress! Where non-theists err is by failing to distinguish Christianity's split personality and largely treat Christians as if they're all Fundamentalists!  Lets challenge fundamentalism and warm up to and work with PC Christianity! (this being the new paradigm in a nutshell!)

Having the Common Good in Common 

Sure we have philosophical differences with PC Christianity, but you probably won't see them picketing abortion clinics or fighting stem cell research. They are relatively harmless! Quite frequently you will see them reaching out to help the underprivileged, poor, needy and working for human rights. They are good citizens, it would be foolish to oppose them or to lump them in with the fundies! Progressive people need to understand and work with those Christians desiring the common good! 

PC Christians get fed a diet fortified with the good things of the faith-based lifestyle and are challenged to plant seeds for a future harvest. As we know, doing good deeds is rewarding and produces a natural high. Ex-Minister recognizes PC Christians to largely be "do gooders" or as Ted Tuner has said "bright spots in our world." We need to progress beyond the perceived need that we should change them. 

Certainly, we differ upon what lies behind our motivations to be "do gooders!" So what! What screws everything up is one of the following bad ideas that serve to derail the common good:

1)    all good deeds must be from the same motivation source

2)    the misperception of tainted association

3)    the vanity of wanting sole proprietor glory

We don't need to agree, and we certainly don't need to fight against people of faith whom desire to attain the common good.

Ex-Minister as a humanist organization would rather trumpet reason and not be distracted from our pursuit of the common good with unnecessary strife. Ex-Minister prefers to build humanity rather than fight theology. We recognize that most saints and secularist share the same common desires; we just differ on the best way to attain them!

Unfortunately, a number of individuals that leave the faith desire to wage warfare against it. Suddenly those that were once allies quickly become adversaries in the "god wars." We don't understand this type of thinking. People of faith shouldn't be viewed as our enemies but as co-laborers for the better world that we seek. 

I've seen the other side of John Lennon's "Imagine" song; this is why Ex-Minister's ideas and organization need supporting. There is no way that secular/governmental personnel could fill the void if faith were suddenly absent from our world! Our world would "feel the pain" and many unfortunate folk would greatly suffer! 

I don't want Ex-Minister's perception to merely be a combative organization bent upon manipulating people out of their faith. We are happy that their faith works for them and that it makes them better people! Most men and women enter into the ministry in hope of making an impact in our world. Now that were out, our eternity begins now!

 

Brian Worley   Ex-Minister.org     October 12, 2009    All rights reserved

 


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