From Fundamental Evangelicalism to Orthodox Christianity to Atheism
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02-12-2012, 12:54 PM
RE: From Fundamental Evangelicalism to Orthodox Christianity to Atheism
Hi since the post has been some what resurrected I would like to add that my wife and I are former orthodox as well (both antiochain and oca). My father was originally a Lutheran pastor and then my immediate family converted to orthodoxy when I was six. So I have always considered myself 90% cradle since well it is really all I remember growing up. My wife and I met our freshmen year of high school and she converted to orthodoxy about a year later. We are high school sweethearts proud and loving every minute of our experiences together. We took the faith seriously though I have always been a skeptic at heart. The skeptic dictionary was one of the few outside sources I would read and enjoy. Though at times the publication did make me questions things it was only a small part of my de-conversion. Things became very intense when I graduated from college and took a job down in the south (U.S.) and we joined an extremely small mission church. The regular attending congregation was about ten to eleven and that is with my wife, our three children, and myself. Since our choir was small we practiced at least once a week in addition to our regular typica on Sunday (its a laity service when there is no priest is available). Our priest lived two hours away since we could not afford a permanent one and he traveled over once a month to serve vespers and liturgy. In addition we also would serve typica for all of the feast days, during intermittent times of the year classes would be held, and during the advent and lenten season heavy services with many hours of practicing (individually and in group) the music and chanting for the specialty services. There was also the many maintenance activities of the church we had to attended to as well. It was certainly over whelming at time, but many of the activities I enjoyed and we became very close friends with the other parishioners.

We were driven at first to make this a success not only for our church but in our own personally lives as well. This intensity lasted for about three and half years. During witch I went into a religious psychosis. I was fighting, fear, doubt, and skepticism. As taught I thought fasting, constant prayer, regular attendance of the services, and reading of scriptures in combination with study of orthodox theology would eventually win over my faults and I would find theosis (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theosis_%28...ology%29). I never expected theosis as to the degree the saints were have said to achieved, but just a small piece of the paradise of union with christ while still on earth.

I went a little crazy trying to achieve this while at the same time my skepticism grew worse because nothing makes a skeptic at heart a full atheist faster then actually reading the fucking bible. Its fucking nuts. I thought though that my skepticism, doubt, and aversion to the scriptures was related to my passions which is often reinforced, (http://www.suscopts.org/literature/liter...&ucat=11&) and that I was often told by several priests that orthodox apostates (not in regards to me personally at the time but just in general discussions) above all sects of Christian apostates would be the most harshly judged.

Anyways it was all very complex and my wife was having a hard time as well with both similar problems and I am afraid to say that in our many years together and experience in the orthodox faith across several churches mysgony is alive and well. We had just become apologetic toward this attitude. I hate putting that out there with out explaining the situations, but unfortunately the events are too close to us and too personal to retell at this moment. May bee someday with the passing of time and if we become more personal to this forum I will be willing to share more. We are very new to apostasy as of Labor day 2012. With being extremely close to the church members, living in a small religious community and having a very religious immediate and extended family of whom we were God parents to some it has been and is still an extremely difficult transition. It is hard to explain to them that I am both relieved that I am no longer religious but at the same time would never have chosen this for myself, and or for my family.

When we were first coming out as atheist it has been tough to find others on line who are orthodox apostates. Google searches don't bring up much. I don't think many leave orthodoxy. It is a very captivating religion and because of its very direct history to the church fathers it is easy to write off other denominations as straw many Christianity. We never judged people with in other denomination but we considered that they held only half truths and not the fullness of Christianity. Though every faith makes the same proclamation in my view orthodoxy is the closest experience to ancient Christian church. I have learned since leaving the faith that the personal experiences with in any denomination are quite similar and very real. As an orthodox I believed others out side of the faith were only able to experience a superficial sense of God and Christ and not a full deepness or a true theosis. I was quite wrong and realized many of the arguments against Christianity from former protestants were true, valid, and not the straw man fallacies i once considered them to be.

I am glad to find here on TTA forums there are other former orthodox. Its not as lonely now.

I am no longer fighting my inner demons. We are all on the same side now.
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02-12-2012, 12:57 PM
RE: From Fundamental Evangelicalism to Orthodox Christianity to Atheism
Hey! I was Eastern Orthodox, too (and kinda proud of it... Weeping though mostly because it was relatively rarer, well, not in my country, but most other places).

I still like our monasteries and the singing. And the smell of incense.

"E se non passa la tristezza con altri occhi la guarderĂ²."
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02-12-2012, 04:51 PM
RE: From Fundamental Evangelicalism to Orthodox Christianity to Atheism
(02-12-2012 12:57 PM)Vera Wrote:  Hey! I was Eastern Orthodox, too (and kinda proud of it... Weeping though mostly because it was relatively rarer, well, not in my country, but most other places).

I still like our monasteries and the singing. And the smell of incense.
The same for me as well. There are many of the traditions of the church I am missing. The music was wonderful and I enjoyed singing and chanting. Iconography is beautiful and we have packed all of our icons away. Our walls were so bare that we had to go out and buy new art. The paschal (easter) service was exciting and I loved eating afterward at two in the morning. Both christmas and pascha are going to be very weird for us this year. I know we could still technically enjoy all of these, but the closest orthodox church for us, other than the mission church which we really do not want to go back to, is hour and a half away. We are also still so close in time to having left that we really needed to separate ours selves from all of it. So in time maybe will put some of our favorite icons gifted to us from family and friends back up and attend an occasional feast day service for nostalgic value. I don't know since this is just all so new.

I am no longer fighting my inner demons. We are all on the same side now.
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02-12-2012, 07:11 PM
RE: From Fundamental Evangelicalism to Orthodox Christianity to Atheism
Thanks for the info and the welcome Smile
(29-11-2012 05:29 PM)Erxomai Wrote:  
(29-11-2012 04:07 PM)Audrey Wrote:  Were you raised Orthodox, or like the original poster were you raised Protestant? (I was raised Orthodox.)
Hey Audrey,
I'm not Orthodox, but my screenname did happen to come from an Orthodox priest. Lecture_preist


Malleus doesn't post a lot so he may miss your question. From what I remember, he grew up Orthodox, finished seminary to become a priest and then finally found atheism.


He's married to Leela. She's an active poster so if you see her around, I'm sure she'd be happy to let Malleus know you're here.


Most importantly, welcome to TTA.
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02-12-2012, 07:23 PM
RE: From Fundamental Evangelicalism to Orthodox Christianity to Atheism
Thank you for sharing your story. This website is pretty much the only place I found via google search that had former Orthodox.
I was raised OCA, my family attended a Greek church for a year, and I attended an Antiochian church in college. I see that you mention reading the bible and misogyny as being 2 things that led you to become an atheist. In my case, a major thing was having atheist friends and being sick of being told by my family that I could not associate with such people, when in fact they were more honest and loving than the Christians in my life. I also read a lot of atheist books/websites and realized that the arguments I had for my beliefs were full of logical fallacies, realized I had never experienced God in any sense, realized that the bible was full of contradictions, violence, sexism, etc, and that the church had an uglier history than I previously thought (pogroms in Russia, scandals in the US). That's the short version of my story.
I'm glad to find other former Orthodox because I am curious. When I read the stories of former Protestants/Catholics, I can't connect. We didn't have the same beliefs, so the arguments that changed their minds didn't work to me.
(02-12-2012 12:54 PM)mrba1979 Wrote:  Hi since the post has been some what resurrected I would like to add that my wife and I are former orthodox as well (both antiochain and oca). My father was originally a Lutheran pastor and then my immediate family converted to orthodoxy when I was six. So I have always considered myself 90% cradle since well it is really all I remember growing up. My wife and I met our freshmen year of high school and she converted to orthodoxy about a year later. We are high school sweethearts proud and loving every minute of our experiences together. We took the faith seriously though I have always been a skeptic at heart. The skeptic dictionary was one of the few outside sources I would read and enjoy. Though at times the publication did make me questions things it was only a small part of my de-conversion. Things became very intense when I graduated from college and took a job down in the south (U.S.) and we joined an extremely small mission church. The regular attending congregation was about ten to eleven and that is with my wife, our three children, and myself. Since our choir was small we practiced at least once a week in addition to our regular typica on Sunday (its a laity service when there is no priest is available). Our priest lived two hours away since we could not afford a permanent one and he traveled over once a month to serve vespers and liturgy. In addition we also would serve typica for all of the feast days, during intermittent times of the year classes would be held, and during the advent and lenten season heavy services with many hours of practicing (individually and in group) the music and chanting for the specialty services. There was also the many maintenance activities of the church we had to attended to as well. It was certainly over whelming at time, but many of the activities I enjoyed and we became very close friends with the other parishioners.

We were driven at first to make this a success not only for our church but in our own personally lives as well. This intensity lasted for about three and half years. During witch I went into a religious psychosis. I was fighting, fear, doubt, and skepticism. As taught I thought fasting, constant prayer, regular attendance of the services, and reading of scriptures in combination with study of orthodox theology would eventually win over my faults and I would find theosis (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theosis_%28...ology%29). I never expected theosis as to the degree the saints were have said to achieved, but just a small piece of the paradise of union with christ while still on earth.

I went a little crazy trying to achieve this while at the same time my skepticism grew worse because nothing makes a skeptic at heart a full atheist faster then actually reading the fucking bible. Its fucking nuts. I thought though that my skepticism, doubt, and aversion to the scriptures was related to my passions which is often reinforced, (http://www.suscopts.org/literature/liter...&ucat=11&) and that I was often told by several priests that orthodox apostates (not in regards to me personally at the time but just in general discussions) above all sects of Christian apostates would be the most harshly judged.

Anyways it was all very complex and my wife was having a hard time as well with both similar problems and I am afraid to say that in our many years together and experience in the orthodox faith across several churches mysgony is alive and well. We had just become apologetic toward this attitude. I hate putting that out there with out explaining the situations, but unfortunately the events are too close to us and too personal to retell at this moment. May bee someday with the passing of time and if we become more personal to this forum I will be willing to share more. We are very new to apostasy as of Labor day 2012. With being extremely close to the church members, living in a small religious community and having a very religious immediate and extended family of whom we were God parents to some it has been and is still an extremely difficult transition. It is hard to explain to them that I am both relieved that I am no longer religious but at the same time would never have chosen this for myself, and or for my family.

When we were first coming out as atheist it has been tough to find others on line who are orthodox apostates. Google searches don't bring up much. I don't think many leave orthodoxy. It is a very captivating religion and because of its very direct history to the church fathers it is easy to write off other denominations as straw many Christianity. We never judged people with in other denomination but we considered that they held only half truths and not the fullness of Christianity. Though every faith makes the same proclamation in my view orthodoxy is the closest experience to ancient Christian church. I have learned since leaving the faith that the personal experiences with in any denomination are quite similar and very real. As an orthodox I believed others out side of the faith were only able to experience a superficial sense of God and Christ and not a full deepness or a true theosis. I was quite wrong and realized many of the arguments against Christianity from former protestants were true, valid, and not the straw man fallacies i once considered them to be.

I am glad to find here on TTA forums there are other former orthodox. Its not as lonely now.
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02-12-2012, 07:25 PM
RE: From Fundamental Evangelicalism to Orthodox Christianity to Atheism
Hi! Were you raised Orthodox, or like the original poster were you raised Protestant? (I was raised Orthodox.)
(19-03-2012 04:16 PM)BibleName Wrote:  Hey, just kind of wanted to add my name to the "ex-Orthodox" people. At one point I wanted nothing but to be an Orthodox priest and had been ordain as a Reader, in fact (still am, I suppose, technically). It's definitely been a journey.
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02-12-2012, 07:27 PM
RE: From Fundamental Evangelicalism to Orthodox Christianity to Atheism
I was so proud of it too, I thought we were so much better than Catholics and Protestants (embarrassed face)
If you are ok with sharing, what led you to stop being Orthodox? (If I am interpreting your post correctly, you said you are no longer Orthodox.)
(02-12-2012 12:57 PM)Vera Wrote:  Hey! I was Eastern Orthodox, too (and kinda proud of it... Weeping though mostly because it was relatively rarer, well, not in my country, but most other places).

I still like our monasteries and the singing. And the smell of incense.
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02-12-2012, 07:28 PM
RE: From Fundamental Evangelicalism to Orthodox Christianity to Atheism
I hope I am not spamming this thread, I'm still trying to figure out how this website works.
(02-12-2012 04:51 PM)mrba1979 Wrote:  
(02-12-2012 12:57 PM)Vera Wrote:  Hey! I was Eastern Orthodox, too (and kinda proud of it... Weeping though mostly because it was relatively rarer, well, not in my country, but most other places).

I still like our monasteries and the singing. And the smell of incense.
The same for me as well. There are many of the traditions of the church I am missing. The music was wonderful and I enjoyed singing and chanting. Iconography is beautiful and we have packed all of our icons away. Our walls were so bare that we had to go out and buy new art. The paschal (easter) service was exciting and I loved eating afterward at two in the morning. Both christmas and pascha are going to be very weird for us this year. I know we could still technically enjoy all of these, but the closest orthodox church for us, other than the mission church which we really do not want to go back to, is hour and a half away. We are also still so close in time to having left that we really needed to separate ours selves from all of it. So in time maybe will put some of our favorite icons gifted to us from family and friends back up and attend an occasional feast day service for nostalgic value. I don't know since this is just all so new.
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02-12-2012, 10:51 PM
RE: From Fundamental Evangelicalism to Orthodox Christianity to Atheism
(02-12-2012 07:23 PM)Audrey Wrote:  Thank you for sharing your story. This website is pretty much the only place I found via google search that had former Orthodox.
I was raised OCA, my family attended a Greek church for a year, and I attended an Antiochian church in college. I see that you mention reading the bible and misogyny as being 2 things that led you to become an atheist. In my case, a major thing was having atheist friends and being sick of being told by my family that I could not associate with such people, when in fact they were more honest and loving than the Christians in my life. I also read a lot of atheist books/websites and realized that the arguments I had for my beliefs were full of logical fallacies, realized I had never experienced God in any sense, realized that the bible was full of contradictions, violence, sexism, etc, and that the church had an uglier history than I previously thought (pogroms in Russia, scandals in the US). That's the short version of my story.
I'm glad to find other former Orthodox because I am curious. When I read the stories of former Protestants/Catholics, I can't connect. We didn't have the same beliefs, so the arguments that changed their minds didn't work to me.
Hello Audrey I am still learning how to use this forum as well.

Just to answer your questions quickly as I am already up past my bedtime (I don't see a yawning smile face so just imagine one here). Like many to recount the reason and process of my de-converison would probably take a small novel and was a very complex ordeal and to say it was mostly those two things, would be inaccurate. However I never read much atheist literature. I had my own preconceived notions on what atheist thought based a very few small snippets of information I would occasionally read. I did like Pen & Tellers program Bullshit pre-atheism but would skip over the more religious themes of their shows unless they where about bashing the catholic church or held views toward fundamental Christianity I already agreed with. Go figure lol. As I also stated I was an advent reader of the skeptics dictionary. http://skepdic.com/ . I had no problem with skeptical investigation it was just awhile until it turned inwards on my faith. So it was not until things really started to fall apart before I started reading atheist literature and that is when I really started to see the rest, contradictions, violence, etc.

The misogyny affecting my wife, and really is more relevant to her de-conversion, I was blind to for the longest time which really disturbed me since my wife and I are very open and communicative with each other. The problem was we were lying to ourselves and could not be truthful to each other.

I experienced the same type of feeling at first that the arguments were not for us and they were countering straw-man Christianity. I used to say to my self that If I were not orthodox I would have been an atheist a long time ago. Orthodoxy is rooted deeply as the ancient Christian faith and has had two thousand years of practice subverting logical thought. I was told I could not find God through any logical means but that he was found through prayer, fasting, sacraments and becoming dead to this world so that i could be alive in Christ. This is all wrapped together in the beautiful traditions of iconography, liturgy, and etc... I really wanted to believe. This is something protestants and catholics (Byzantine aside) do not experience so I thought that their relationship with Christ had to be superficial. Listening to former evangelist preachers such as Jerry Dewitt, Dan Barker, and Seth I found that this was just not true. The experience was different but I found in the way they describe their former faith was no more a superficial experience then mine. This is where I was able to relate and they were just as likely to say they would have been atheists sooner if only they had been another denomination. We like what we like.

I also realized that all the arguments are necessary because every ones denomination is real to them so even if it didn't directly apply to me (which in many cases they still did I would just redefine God as needed) they were still useful. For example believing that snakes and donkeys spoke in the old testament. I never literally believed this. In one of the last classes I attended we were taught its not whether the old testament is accurate historically but how it is applied to show the prefiguration of Christ and what that means for us (this is how much of the violence, if not Gods justice, and laws are rationalized because christ is gradually revealed through the old testament and this is the purpose of reading OT scripture) So then it is allegory. So my belief is based on the allegory of a snake and donkey magically talking. So basically it is not real and this reasoning can be applied to any myth. It was small stuff like this which I allowed myself to think which eventually compounded.

Hope some of this at leasts makes sense. I look forward to further correspondence. Well anyways its getting late really need to get to bed and no I didn't end up answering this quickly. Oh well!

I am no longer fighting my inner demons. We are all on the same side now.
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03-12-2012, 02:54 AM
RE: From Fundamental Evangelicalism to Orthodox Christianity to Atheism
(02-12-2012 04:51 PM)mrba1979 Wrote:  The same for me as well. There are many of the traditions of the church I am missing. The music was wonderful and I enjoyed singing and chanting. Iconography is beautiful and we have packed all of our icons away. Our walls were so bare that we had to go out and buy new art. The paschal (easter) service was exciting and I loved eating afterward at two in the morning. Both christmas and pascha are going to be very weird for us this year. I know we could still technically enjoy all of these, but the closest orthodox church for us, other than the mission church which we really do not want to go back to, is hour and a half away. We are also still so close in time to having left that we really needed to separate ours selves from all of it. So in time maybe will put some of our favorite icons gifted to us from family and friends back up and attend an occasional feast day service for nostalgic value. I don't know since this is just all so new.
I still have a couple of icons around the house. Can't say they bother me too much. To me they're just a piece of art. Hey, about half of the music I listen to is religious (mediaevel, rennaisance, baroque, gregorian chants) - doesn't bother me either. They are just expressions of the beauty that people are capable of and no god has anything to do with it.

I never did use to go to service, so this I don't miss. I did enjoy going to light a candle and the peace, coolness and twilight of the church, but I can find those things elsewhere (not too keen on going to a church anymore). And our monasteries are so beautiful mostly because they were built in the mountains, to avoid persecution by the Ottomans, and seeing as I love nature, it's not wonder I like them.
But yeah, I think people need time to get comfortable with their newly-found atheism and see religious works of art as just this - harmless works of art.

(02-12-2012 07:27 PM)Audrey Wrote:  I was so proud of it too, I thought we were so much better than Catholics and Protestants (embarrassed face)

If you are ok with sharing, what led you to stop being Orthodox? (If I am interpreting your post correctly, you said you are no longer Orthodox.)
I think in a way we were better. Not so fundamentalist (or maybe I just didn't know about it, because I was kind of self-taught religionist).

Why I stopped being religious? Well, who knows exactly... I sometimes think the god part of my brain just clicked and got switched off.

The longer version is that there were a lot of things I couldn't accept about Xianity (or any religion for that matter; I mean, how can the salvation of your immortal soul be dependent on where you were born? And what about those people who were born before Xianity - are their souls doomed forever, just because they were born too soon), stuff that didn't make sense and just this tiny kernel of doubt that I think I've always carried inside me, that finally exploded into a huge popcorn of reason Wink

(And I actually was thinking about going to a monastery... I know, I know [Image: th_smiley_emoticons_selbstmord.gif] )

"E se non passa la tristezza con altri occhi la guarderĂ²."
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