Sometimes it seems important to others who are hostile towards anyone who even offers a platform for a presentation of mythicist arguments to label them as extremists or weirdos, the evidence being that some of them once belonged to “an unusually weird religious background“.
For what it’s worth, in my own case, my formative religious years were in a relatively liberal (we were allowed to play cards and dance) Methodist church. I did opt to spend too many years in a religious cult but was eventually renounced by that cult. My sin was that I was always seeking to understand and question a little more deeply — no problem with that so long as it is kept private — and that this eventually led me to compile a bibliography that I posted (snail mail) to multiple scores of fellow cult members. That bibliography was a list of sources that members could turn to in order to learn “the other side of the story” about our cult.
You see, members are protected from information that helps them understand the full story of what they are a part of. I made it possible for many to locate that information if they so wished.
For my efforts I am proud to say that I was publicly denounced from pulpits throughout Australia as being “in the bond of Satan”. I am told that members were instructed to burn any letters from me or hand them in to the ministry unopened.
So what did I turn to?
After my departure I decided to try to turn my lost years into something positive. I placed a small advertisement in the local paper inviting anyone else who had been a cult member to join me in some sort of informal “talk-it-through” “support group”. I had read much about cults, the psychology employed, the experiences common to so many of them, and found some very helpful professional literature that offered guidance on rebuilding one’s life after the experience. A small group of us came together from various backgrounds — most of them were ex-Mormons (though one turned out to be still regularly attending the Mormon church). What was therapeutic for us, I think, was coming to see that not one of us was alone, that our experiences were not unique. That was an important step to regaining self-respect and a clearer understanding of what we had been through.
Beyond diversity, enriched by diversity
My religious life after that was essentially a return to my earlier Methodist outlook, which was fairly bland. Only this time I felt quite at home attending Baptist, Anglican and Roman Catholic church services. I liked the variety. The specific formats and differences were beside the point of what I felt “true religion” to be. I think, maybe, I even enjoyed the differences like someone fascinated by the diversity of human cultures.
It was only afterwards that I eventually moved to atheism. And quite a bit later still that I even heard of the Christ myth theory.
Attention to issues of this world
I became much more interested in social activism. This often involved us working with local churches — and I came to respect the contributions of certain local Catholic leaders in working with a bunch of socialists for social and political justice causes. It was a time of political polarization in Australia and the rise of an extremist politician who was fanning racial and anti-Muslim prejudice. One of my responses was to contact the state leader of the Muslim community and to begin to arrange a series of public information sessions so that people could hear from Muslims themselves what they believed and what they were really like.
So . . .
So when scholarly mud-slingers resort to their labeling of me as an ex-cultist or such, as if that defines my outlook or mind-set ever since, I can only smile at their ignorance and misguided efforts to so label me.
I did not move from cultism to “mythicism”. That is an ignorant misrepresentation and nothing but an attempt to poison others against Christ myth arguments by means of a well-known logical fallacy.
If you are interested any further in how an “ex-fundie” might think, do read Tim’s post, How I Escaped Fundamentalism — 5 Myths about Ex-Fundies. One of the major points I share with Tim’s thoughts is how my past wayward religious experience has taught me humility — and just how easily I can be so wrong. So when I hear anyone today talking rhetoric I am very keen to keep my ear open for the evidence for their claims and what they say are “the facts”.
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