How Leaving Wonderland Was Born
I have always loved Alice in Wonderland since I was a child. It was, and continues to be, one of my all time favorite books, Disney movies, and video game series (Madness Returns).
Recently, I was drawn back to the idea of Wonderland when I began critically examining my christian faith. Wonderland is magical, mysterious, and awe inspiring – very much like how people often view god. However, Wonderland is also confusing, turned upside down, where left is right and right is left and nothing makes sense.
“If I had a world of my own, everything would be nonsense. Nothing would be what it is, because everything would be what it isn’t. And contrary wise, what is, it wouldn’t be. And what it wouldn’t be, it would. You see?”
If you are familiar with the story, you know that the novelty of Wonderland eventually becomes frustrating and even frightening for Alice. She tries to find her way, but all ways are the Queen’s ways. She is put on trial in the Red Queen’s court, where rational thought is treasonous. In the end, Alice escapes by waking up and finds herself back in the quiet and stable reality of the conscious world. Wonderland is left in her dreams where it belongs. I view my departure from the faith as very much the same type of experience. The wonder and mystery was amazing to me at first until more and more things simply didn’t make sense. Mystery became nonsensical. Stories and rules I was reading directly conflicted with our present day morality or even things we know to be true about the observable world. I was supposed to blindly believe the authority of the Bible, of pastors, of men even at the expense of my own peace of mind. I finally reached a place where I just couldn’t do that anymore. I had to ‘wake up’, if you will, and leave Wonderland behind.
I will always love Alice’s Wonderland, but I believe that it is a world that belongs in books, dreams, and imaginations rather than asserted as reality.
Why did you end up writing about religion?
My field is communication, dating, & relationships. I teach college courses as a part time adjunct and work occasionally as a dating coach, matchmaker, relationship advisor. So, why did I take on a side project about religion? I think it is actually my communication background that makes the church and religion I once subscribed to feel so . . . violating. While not explicitly, I was taught to set aside my own inclinations about what was right and wrong in order to explain away cruelties in the Bible, political actions I didn’t agree with, and to trust that we knew the truth despite clear observable evidence to the contrary. I feel like I lost years of my life being told to that my relationship with god was one of master/slave, shepherd/sheep, parent/child, that obedience and faith are virtuous. Once I broke free of what now seems like a prison of the mind, I felt compelled to challenge others to examine their own faith critically.
Why share this publicly?
I began Leaving Wonderland as an anonymous blog to mark this journey from faith to reason before I was ready to be transparent with friends and family about it. Writing out my thoughts allowed me to gather courage while I was working through biblical inconsistencies or coming to grips with misogyny in the church. As my husband and I hinted more and more in conversation with loved ones, it just seemed so silly to have to keep such a monumental lifestyle and perspective shift a secret from others. Naturally, we were met with shock and backlash not only directed towards us but our kids were being told by classmates that they were going to hell. I was surprised at how much animosity there still is towards atheists (although it makes sense when I think about my perceptions of them when I was a believer). It wasn’t long before I was ready to go public as an apostate. I began tackling difficult religious, political, and women’s rights topics online as a matter of principle and I was surprised to find such an overwhelmingly positive response. People I knew began to privately share with me their appreciation as I engaged with combative people about difficult topics. Many who shared with me were not able to publicly talk about their own departure from religion because they were not ready to face the inevitable backlash. Some also told me it was helpful to see my dialogue online instead of only two opposing approaches when controversial topics arose. Somewhere in between avoidance and combat is the middle ground of civil discourse.
I went from being a devout christian -> agnostic -> humanist -> secular humanist -> atheist -> antitheist all in a period of about 3 years. I have lost friends and loved ones for coming out of the atheist closet, so this blog will hopefully help to normalize ‘atheism’ so that others can realize that they are not alone. We are many and we are growing.
Be a part of the reason revolution!
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