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Using ‘fact based’ data to inform ‘faith based’ investments

 
wadejacklin
 
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wadejacklin
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21 June 2018 23:19
 

Like many white English South Africans, I was baptized into Catholicism.  It was just a ritual for me then. The most outstanding memories related to my Catholic induction was one, that I wet my pants waiting in a long line for my first holy communion, and two, that my grandmother gave me a silver necklace to commemorate my wet pants ‘walk of shame’. 

It was only after coming to Australia in my early teens that I was exposed to a religious group that aggressively demanded something of me, my time.  The practices of this group have never appealed to me and that is largely why I never became a ‘card holding member’. I was interested in the offering - everlasting life, peace on earth etc, but just could never get past the ‘faith’ bit.  A story no matter how compelling is ultimately nothing more than that.  Extrapolations based on the majesty of the universe came the closest to something tangible, but still fell short as ‘proof’.  I have spent countless hours in conversation with family members who see it differently.  What I recently realized is that I was attempting to ‘play the ball’ rather than ‘the man’.  The ball in this metaphor is the underlying premise of belief.  Every religion, cult, and organized group has a ‘ball’ and their mission is to ‘play it’.  I defy anybody to come out on top (whatever that might mean) when talking with someone about a deeply held religious belief by focussing on discrediting or challenging the basis the belief.  Sam Harris does a pretty good job of ‘ball based’ dialogue but I think even he would agree that his predominant feeling in such conversations is frustration.

It only recently occurred to me that there is another way to reconcile faith-based dilemma’s. Just play the ‘man’.  And by ‘man’ I mean the organizational sponsor of the belief.  The wonderful thing about the internet (as it has existed to this point) is that you can pretty much audit anything.  Simply look into any religious organization and there is plenty of ‘fact’ based data to inform your decisions about ‘faith-based’ investments.  Now I am not saying that there is not one or perhaps more than one ‘right ball’ out there, just that I am not interested in playing that game.  If I find an organization that is the physical embodiment of the ‘faith-based’ beliefs it proffers than I might just be up for a game of ‘ball’. 

Remember that talking about ‘the man’ as a means of challenging someone else’s belief will put you back in a ‘ball based’ dialogue. Any fact can be re-contextualized to support the dominant belief (eg, the internet is a part of this evil system and information on it cannot be trusted for this reason).  A key psychological process that is encountered in ‘ball based’ dialogue is that of ‘cognitive dissonance’.  This is a self-reinforcing loop that cannot be disrupted (see the book: ‘Mistakes were made, but not by me’ for a great overview of cognitive dissonance).  So the ‘man’ over ‘ball’ decision can only provide you with a personal victory that cannot be applied easily if at all, to change the minds of others. 

There is no such thing in my view as a perfect organization.  And there are certainly some organizations that provide a very skewed cost/benefit proposition.  My personal view is that many religious organizations offer a positive cost/benefit proposition. The benefits include but are not limited to:
- Social connection
- A framework through which to simplify otherwise complex realities
- A shared value system
- A context in which to meet your next girlfriend or future wife
- A great networking opportunity
- Great life council and advice
- People that can be trusted more so than random strangers

Sometimes you can be part of a system that has very dysfunctional parts to it without being overly affected by them. I love Bikram Yoga. I, however, do not believe that it is the cure for all that ails me, or that putting my head between my legs can “give me as much rest as eight hours of sleep”. I understand that Bikram himself might be the Harvey Weinstein of Yoga, and at the same time,  that his many reported failings did not stop him from putting together a great Hatha Yoga dialogue and adding heat - genius! His capacity for reported sexual exploitation is not something that needs dissuade me from the yoga practice that bears his name.

The things on offer that come with a very hefty price-tag are those things that you can only lay-bye for later.  The currency paid now is often a small fraction of that offered in the future.  For example, a religion might offer ‘everlasting life later’ but require you to give a proportionately small amount of this time up front - like most, or all of your available time in this life.  Wealth based cults offer outstanding financial prosperity in the future, but generally require you to pay a small fraction of this limitless wealth up front - like all of your current available assets. 

I think the one thing that we are inclined to pay an unreasonably high price for is ‘certainty’. The idea that ‘we just do not know’ is difficult to accept.  I would rather tolerate uncertainty than foreclose on a ’faith-based’ story, no matter how completing that story might seem.

I offer this selection in the hope that it might help others to more quickly discriminate between ‘ball’ and ‘man’ based dialogue and to realize that you can unstick yourself from needless anguish by making this clear distinction.

[ Edited: 21 June 2018 23:43 by wadejacklin]
 
LadyJane
 
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LadyJane
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22 June 2018 06:28
 

It sounds like you are embarking on one of the most difficult transitions in life where you feel the need to shed the shackles of a belief system while still maintaining amicable relationships with those who’ve yet to share your view.  Hang in there.  It’s fairly likely they never will.  That doesn’t mean you should abandon the trip, of course, whatever discomfort you may be feeling it pales in comparison to living with the understanding that there are plenty of things we do not know and pretending questions have answers, when they don’t, is quite the enduring human deception.  The great and pervasive invisible magic of ze gods.  Instead of jamming the pieces to fit in order to provide some sort of false sense of satisfaction, for the inquiring mind, there’s always the option of finding solace in the domain of the unknown.  We continue to chip away.  And everything is temporary.

The comfort and familiarity of a community can be enticing although for some of us it’s simply not enough.  And sometimes that feeling of comfort is overrun with the desire to search for the truths we were never told.  We were busy memorizing the pieces that were jammed to fit.  Even when they didn’t.  And when questioning these belief systems invites punishment, of any kind, it seems clear that something is rotten in Denmark.  It’s definitely a clue anyway.  You can’t shake the facts the same way you can shake a belief system.  It’s just not that sturdy.  This makes conversations next to impossible and go round and round. 

And although these groups can offer some of the things listed above the trustworthy factor is still up for grabs.  The downside is the illusion of righteousness which often leads to abuse and corruption.  After all, beneath all the costumes lie regular human beings capable of horrible things.  With a very misleading cloak that provides a cover.  Like the police.  And when we play the game we enter into an arena within which the unbeliever has no leverage.  Where we are looked upon as heathen second class citizens lacking a moral compass. 

I like your use of metaphor.  That’s why we must always keep our eye on the ball.  Coz down with the man.

Welcome to the forum.

 
 
hannahtoo
 
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hannahtoo
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22 June 2018 08:13
 

Yes, it is a hard adjustment when the veil is lifted.  Luckily there is a whole world of things to talk about with religious people besides religion.  I’m still learning how to navigate, but it’s gotten easier.  Granted, it is hardest with family.  No one should look down on another person for going along with ceremony at times to keep the peace.  After all, isn’t peace a higher calling than faith?

Not sure if focusing on “the man,” if I understand your metaphor, would be the best strategy.  My Christian friends would just say that humans all fall short, but God is still perfectly right.  If we try to apply the strategy to a political party, we realize that we can support core tenants without supporting the actions of all the professional politicians with the affiliation.

[ Edited: 22 June 2018 08:17 by hannahtoo]
 
LadyJane
 
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LadyJane
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23 June 2018 07:16
 

It’s funny how keeping the peace almost always involves silencing atheists for fear of upsetting the religious.  You rarely see it the other way round.  The imposition is on the unbelievers.  The courtesy is a one way street.  When acquiescing to superstition means compromising your integrity it seems like a pretty good place to draw a line.  And when the affluent are too timid to speak up then the poor and downtrodden suffer the indignities, of everything that myths demand, in contrast to what they claim to uphold.  We’ve seen it to death.

 
 
hannahtoo
 
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hannahtoo
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23 June 2018 08:27
 
LadyJane - 23 June 2018 07:16 AM

It’s funny how keeping the peace almost always involves silencing atheists for fear of upsetting the religious.  You rarely see it the other way round.  The imposition is on the unbelievers.  The courtesy is a one way street.  When acquiescing to superstition means compromising your integrity it seems like a pretty good place to draw a line.  And when the affluent are too timid to speak up then the poor and downtrodden suffer the indignities, of everything that myths demand, in contrast to what they claim to uphold.  We’ve seen it to death.

When the situation involves a single atheist within a religious family and/or community, it’s really hard to choose estrangement over discretion.

 
LadyJane
 
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LadyJane
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23 June 2018 08:37
 
hannahtoo - 23 June 2018 08:27 AM
LadyJane - 23 June 2018 07:16 AM

It’s funny how keeping the peace almost always involves silencing atheists for fear of upsetting the religious.  You rarely see it the other way round.  The imposition is on the unbelievers.  The courtesy is a one way street.  When acquiescing to superstition means compromising your integrity it seems like a pretty good place to draw a line.  And when the affluent are too timid to speak up then the poor and downtrodden suffer the indignities, of everything that myths demand, in contrast to what they claim to uphold.  We’ve seen it to death.

When the situation involves a single atheist within a religious family and/or community, it’s really hard to choose estrangement over discretion.

Estrangement seems rather extreme.  Are those the only options?

 
 
EN
 
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EN
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23 June 2018 11:24
 
LadyJane - 23 June 2018 08:37 AM
hannahtoo - 23 June 2018 08:27 AM
LadyJane - 23 June 2018 07:16 AM

It’s funny how keeping the peace almost always involves silencing atheists for fear of upsetting the religious.  You rarely see it the other way round.  The imposition is on the unbelievers.  The courtesy is a one way street.  When acquiescing to superstition means compromising your integrity it seems like a pretty good place to draw a line.  And when the affluent are too timid to speak up then the poor and downtrodden suffer the indignities, of everything that myths demand, in contrast to what they claim to uphold.  We’ve seen it to death.

When the situation involves a single atheist within a religious family and/or community, it’s really hard to choose estrangement over discretion.

Estrangement seems rather extreme.  Are those the only options?

Just let people believe or not believe what they want.  That’s what I do.  Generally, I get along with everyone. Generally.

 
hannahtoo
 
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hannahtoo
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23 June 2018 14:39
 
EN - 23 June 2018 11:24 AM
LadyJane - 23 June 2018 08:37 AM
hannahtoo - 23 June 2018 08:27 AM
LadyJane - 23 June 2018 07:16 AM

It’s funny how keeping the peace almost always involves silencing atheists for fear of upsetting the religious.  You rarely see it the other way round.  The imposition is on the unbelievers.  The courtesy is a one way street.  When acquiescing to superstition means compromising your integrity it seems like a pretty good place to draw a line.  And when the affluent are too timid to speak up then the poor and downtrodden suffer the indignities, of everything that myths demand, in contrast to what they claim to uphold.  We’ve seen it to death.

When the situation involves a single atheist within a religious family and/or community, it’s really hard to choose estrangement over discretion.

Estrangement seems rather extreme.  Are those the only options?

Just let people believe or not believe what they want.  That’s what I do.  Generally, I get along with everyone. Generally.

Well, it depends on what is meant by “compromising integrity.”  Would it include an atheist attending Easter or Christmas services with a spouse?  Or “keeping the peace” in a political discussion involving religion with extended family?  Is it wrong to be a stealth atheist?  Certainly the spouse would know.  But maybe one’s leanings need not be widely shared?

 
LadyJane
 
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LadyJane
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23 June 2018 14:51
 
EN - 23 June 2018 11:24 AM
LadyJane - 23 June 2018 08:37 AM
hannahtoo - 23 June 2018 08:27 AM
LadyJane - 23 June 2018 07:16 AM

It’s funny how keeping the peace almost always involves silencing atheists for fear of upsetting the religious.  You rarely see it the other way round.  The imposition is on the unbelievers.  The courtesy is a one way street.  When acquiescing to superstition means compromising your integrity it seems like a pretty good place to draw a line.  And when the affluent are too timid to speak up then the poor and downtrodden suffer the indignities, of everything that myths demand, in contrast to what they claim to uphold.  We’ve seen it to death.

When the situation involves a single atheist within a religious family and/or community, it’s really hard to choose estrangement over discretion.

Estrangement seems rather extreme.  Are those the only options?

Just let people believe or not believe what they want.  That’s what I do.  Generally, I get along with everyone. Generally.

Although, maybe you wouldn’t know one way or another what people are actually thinking.  Imagine if they are doing what Hannah said and clam up on the topic to avoid the possibility of a confrontation.  Thinking they’re keeping the peace while the silence can be easily misconstrued as agreement.  Which still leaves something I don’t understand.  When you can’t be honest with your friends and family, what kind of relationships are you fostering?

 
 
EN
 
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EN
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23 June 2018 15:01
 
hannahtoo - 23 June 2018 02:39 PM
EN - 23 June 2018 11:24 AM
LadyJane - 23 June 2018 08:37 AM
hannahtoo - 23 June 2018 08:27 AM
LadyJane - 23 June 2018 07:16 AM

It’s funny how keeping the peace almost always involves silencing atheists for fear of upsetting the religious.  You rarely see it the other way round.  The imposition is on the unbelievers.  The courtesy is a one way street.  When acquiescing to superstition means compromising your integrity it seems like a pretty good place to draw a line.  And when the affluent are too timid to speak up then the poor and downtrodden suffer the indignities, of everything that myths demand, in contrast to what they claim to uphold.  We’ve seen it to death.

When the situation involves a single atheist within a religious family and/or community, it’s really hard to choose estrangement over discretion.

Estrangement seems rather extreme.  Are those the only options?

Just let people believe or not believe what they want.  That’s what I do.  Generally, I get along with everyone. Generally.

Well, it depends on what is meant by “compromising integrity.”  Would it include an atheist attending Easter or Christmas services with a spouse?  Or “keeping the peace” in a political discussion involving religion with extended family?  Is it wrong to be a stealth atheist?  Certainly the spouse would know.  But maybe one’s leanings need not be widely shared?

People should be honest with each other, but not “in your face”.  People should know generally what your stance is. If that affects your relationship with them, so be it. I have gay family members and I have Trump supporters, too (not to put those in the same category).  While I’m straight and not a Trump supporter, I can still get along just fine with those with different orientations, beliefs and views.  You know some areas to avoid, but it doesn’t help to hide your basic world view. I don’t like being at war with people all the time, so I look for common ground and try to avoid the land minds. Unfortunately, I still step on them from time to time, but when I do I try to mitigate the damage and move back to peace.

 
EN
 
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EN
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23 June 2018 15:09
 
LadyJane - 23 June 2018 02:51 PM

Although, maybe you wouldn’t know one way or another what people are actually thinking.  Imagine if they are doing what Hannah said and clam up on the topic to avoid the possibility of a confrontation.  Thinking they’re keeping the peace while the silence can be easily misconstrued as agreement.  Which still leaves something I don’t understand.  When you can’t be honest with your friends and family, what kind of relationships are you fostering?

I try to create an environment where people can discuss issues, disagree, and still be civil.  This may be a bad example, but I’m a Downton Abbey fan (apologies).  Even though I disagree with the class distinctions portrayed in that show, I’m struck by the frank conversation that takes place around both the servants’ and the lords’ dinner tables.  They disagree about a lot of things. But generally, either dedication to service (downstairs) or dedication to family (upstairs) keeps it all together, even though at times it gets shaky.  I agree that it is not much of a relationship if there is no honesty.

 
hannahtoo
 
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hannahtoo
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23 June 2018 15:31
 
LadyJane - 23 June 2018 02:51 PM
EN - 23 June 2018 11:24 AM
LadyJane - 23 June 2018 08:37 AM
hannahtoo - 23 June 2018 08:27 AM
LadyJane - 23 June 2018 07:16 AM

It’s funny how keeping the peace almost always involves silencing atheists for fear of upsetting the religious.  You rarely see it the other way round.  The imposition is on the unbelievers.  The courtesy is a one way street.  When acquiescing to superstition means compromising your integrity it seems like a pretty good place to draw a line.  And when the affluent are too timid to speak up then the poor and downtrodden suffer the indignities, of everything that myths demand, in contrast to what they claim to uphold.  We’ve seen it to death.

When the situation involves a single atheist within a religious family and/or community, it’s really hard to choose estrangement over discretion.

Estrangement seems rather extreme.  Are those the only options?

Just let people believe or not believe what they want.  That’s what I do.  Generally, I get along with everyone. Generally.

Although, maybe you wouldn’t know one way or another what people are actually thinking.  Imagine if they are doing what Hannah said and clam up on the topic to avoid the possibility of a confrontation.  Thinking they’re keeping the peace while the silence can be easily misconstrued as agreement.  Which still leaves something I don’t understand.  When you can’t be honest with your friends and family, what kind of relationships are you fostering?

I struggle with this.  I’m very honest with my family, though I have a pretty small family!  With friends, I tend to be a pleaser, except for those few people with whom I am very close, which is a small handful of women.  However, I believe it’s possible to have fun companionship with other people who don’t know all about me.  I just hold my thoughts from time to time.  They probably think I’m still Christian.  I used to be in Bible study with them, but stepped back.  We still have a lot of heart to heart talks about family life, and occasionally politics.  I kind of feel divided about these relationships, but am afraid to rock the boat.

My husband is a good role model for me.  He’s a Christian, but never brings it up unless asked specific questions.  I was married to him for over ten years before I found out he still held on to the Christian faith from his childhood.  Boy was I surprised!  He just never wanted to argue about religion.  It is personal to him, and he doesn’t feel like he needs to attend church.  His father was like that too.

 
Jan_CAN
 
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Jan_CAN
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23 June 2018 15:39
 
EN - 23 June 2018 03:09 PM
LadyJane - 23 June 2018 02:51 PM

Although, maybe you wouldn’t know one way or another what people are actually thinking.  Imagine if they are doing what Hannah said and clam up on the topic to avoid the possibility of a confrontation.  Thinking they’re keeping the peace while the silence can be easily misconstrued as agreement.  Which still leaves something I don’t understand.  When you can’t be honest with your friends and family, what kind of relationships are you fostering?

I try to create an environment where people can discuss issues, disagree, and still be civil.  This may be a bad example, but I’m a Downton Abbey fan (apologies).  Even though I disagree with the class distinctions portrayed in that show, I’m struck by the frank conversation that takes place around both the servants’ and the lords’ dinner tables.  They disagree about a lot of things. But generally, either dedication to service (downstairs) or dedication to family (upstairs) keeps it all together, even though at times it gets shaky.  I agree that it is not much of a relationship if there is no honesty.

I think it’s important to be honest and upfront with our friends and family about our beliefs.  To not be apologetic in our atheism and not allow others to put us on the defensive.  This can be done without animosity and in an accepting manner.  Sure, there might be some heated discussions, but this can be part of the fun in healthy relationships.  Just have to know when it’s time to lighten up, someone tells a joke, and all is well.  (I don’t find it at all hypocritical to attend church weddings and funerals, or Christmas Eve service to please a husband, but do not kneel or participate in communion/eucharist, although I’ve been known to sing a Christmas carol on occasion.)

(I’m also a Downton Abbey fan – great series with a lot of lessons about the class system, which I think was even worse than the show indicates overall.)

 

 
 
LadyJane
 
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LadyJane
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24 June 2018 05:58
 
hannahtoo - 23 June 2018 03:31 PM

I struggle with this.  I’m very honest with my family, though I have a pretty small family!  With friends, I tend to be a pleaser, except for those few people with whom I am very close, which is a small handful of women.  However, I believe it’s possible to have fun companionship with other people who don’t know all about me.  I just hold my thoughts from time to time.  They probably think I’m still Christian.  I used to be in Bible study with them, but stepped back.  We still have a lot of heart to heart talks about family life, and occasionally politics.  I kind of feel divided about these relationships, but am afraid to rock the boat.

My husband is a good role model for me.  He’s a Christian, but never brings it up unless asked specific questions.  I was married to him for over ten years before I found out he still held on to the Christian faith from his childhood.  Boy was I surprised!  He just never wanted to argue about religion.  It is personal to him, and he doesn’t feel like he needs to attend church.  His father was like that too.

That sounds deeply dysfunctional.  The only thing anyone can be expected to be is themselves.  This can only be accomplished when we know who that is.  Leave open the possibility that your friends will not judge you lest they be judged and give them a little credit.  What’s the worst that could happen?  If they’re fine with it–great!  If they’re not–they probably aren’t worth knowing in the first place.  The more likely concern at this point would be the reaction to the deception.  You placed yourself in a position that risks being exposed as a fraud.  And your friends may start to wonder what else you’re not being truthful about.  Another thing you seem to not be considering is the possibility they too are having doubts about their faith and an honest conversation could be the catalyst for change.

 
 
hannahtoo
 
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hannahtoo
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24 June 2018 07:32
 
LadyJane - 24 June 2018 05:58 AM
hannahtoo - 23 June 2018 03:31 PM

I struggle with this.  I’m very honest with my family, though I have a pretty small family!  With friends, I tend to be a pleaser, except for those few people with whom I am very close, which is a small handful of women.  However, I believe it’s possible to have fun companionship with other people who don’t know all about me.  I just hold my thoughts from time to time.  They probably think I’m still Christian.  I used to be in Bible study with them, but stepped back.  We still have a lot of heart to heart talks about family life, and occasionally politics.  I kind of feel divided about these relationships, but am afraid to rock the boat.

My husband is a good role model for me.  He’s a Christian, but never brings it up unless asked specific questions.  I was married to him for over ten years before I found out he still held on to the Christian faith from his childhood.  Boy was I surprised!  He just never wanted to argue about religion.  It is personal to him, and he doesn’t feel like he needs to attend church.  His father was like that too.

That sounds deeply dysfunctional.  The only thing anyone can be expected to be is themselves.  This can only be accomplished when we know who that is.  Leave open the possibility that your friends will not judge you lest they be judged and give them a little credit.  What’s the worst that could happen?  If they’re fine with it–great!  If they’re not–they probably aren’t worth knowing in the first place.  The more likely concern at this point would be the reaction to the deception.  You placed yourself in a position that risks being exposed as a fraud.  And your friends may start to wonder what else you’re not being truthful about.  Another thing you seem to not be considering is the possibility they too are having doubts about their faith and an honest conversation could be the catalyst for change.

Maybe.  Have you ever lived in an place where most of your friends were deeply Christian, and you’d been also, but then given up your faith?  A statement like, “they probably aren’t worth knowing in the first place” seems unnecessarily dismissive.  But yes, I’m being deceptive, if you consider not talking about faith to be deception.  They know I dropped out of Bible study and turn down invitations to attend church with them now.  Probably have inklings.  I admit it is not 100% comfortable, but I accept that there are some issues these friends and I just don’t discuss.  However, we still talk about many other things dear to our hearts, like our children, marriages, our aging parents, and the challenges of growing older ourselves.

Do you have friends that you avoid discussing certain issues with?  Not your best friend, but some good friends?

 
LadyJane
 
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LadyJane
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24 June 2018 08:24
 
hannahtoo - 24 June 2018 07:32 AM
LadyJane - 24 June 2018 05:58 AM
hannahtoo - 23 June 2018 03:31 PM

I struggle with this.  I’m very honest with my family, though I have a pretty small family!  With friends, I tend to be a pleaser, except for those few people with whom I am very close, which is a small handful of women.  However, I believe it’s possible to have fun companionship with other people who don’t know all about me.  I just hold my thoughts from time to time.  They probably think I’m still Christian.  I used to be in Bible study with them, but stepped back.  We still have a lot of heart to heart talks about family life, and occasionally politics.  I kind of feel divided about these relationships, but am afraid to rock the boat.

My husband is a good role model for me.  He’s a Christian, but never brings it up unless asked specific questions.  I was married to him for over ten years before I found out he still held on to the Christian faith from his childhood.  Boy was I surprised!  He just never wanted to argue about religion.  It is personal to him, and he doesn’t feel like he needs to attend church.  His father was like that too.

That sounds deeply dysfunctional.  The only thing anyone can be expected to be is themselves.  This can only be accomplished when we know who that is.  Leave open the possibility that your friends will not judge you lest they be judged and give them a little credit.  What’s the worst that could happen?  If they’re fine with it–great!  If they’re not–they probably aren’t worth knowing in the first place.  The more likely concern at this point would be the reaction to the deception.  You placed yourself in a position that risks being exposed as a fraud.  And your friends may start to wonder what else you’re not being truthful about.  Another thing you seem to not be considering is the possibility they too are having doubts about their faith and an honest conversation could be the catalyst for change.

Maybe.  Have you ever lived in an place where most of your friends were deeply Christian, and you’d been also, but then given up your faith?  A statement like, “they probably aren’t worth knowing in the first place” seems unnecessarily dismissive.  But yes, I’m being deceptive, if you consider not talking about faith to be deception.  They know I dropped out of Bible study and turn down invitations to attend church with them now.  Probably have inklings.  I admit it is not 100% comfortable, but I accept that there are some issues these friends and I just don’t discuss.  However, we still talk about many other things dear to our hearts, like our children, marriages, our aging parents, and the challenges of growing older ourselves.

Do you have friends that you avoid discussing certain issues with?  Not your best friend, but some good friends?

I currently live within a highly conservative and Christian Postal Code.  And it doesn’t deter me from conducting myself as the person I am.  And it doesn’t require me to hide who I am.  Nor does it compel me to force my views on others.  I don’t allow it to hinder my ability to get along.  There’s a difference between becoming friends with people you meet at church and forging friendships through a bible study group you voluntarily join as a mature adult.  Where the sole purpose of meeting is to discuss scripture.  When we don’t share our views honestly we confine things to the closets of secrecy forever.  When I encounter people that disingenuously portray themselves in ways they know aren’t real I have no problem dismissing them.  They aren’t worth knowing.  I have no way of knowing who I’m dealing with when they have no idea who they are.  That would require mind reading skills that I do not possess.  There’s no reason to avoid certain issues with friends when there’s ample opportunity to explore and embrace the similarities and the differences.  That’s what friendship means.  Where it’s give and take.

 
 
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