I had a very eye-opening conversation with my mom recently.
We were talking about my marriage to my ex, and she asked me if her hunch was correct that I’d have married him anyway if my parents hadn’t given us permission. (You see, in our iteration of purity culture, even as a 22-year-old adult, I needed my parents’ permission to marry.)
I thought a moment and answered honestly: yes, I would have still married him. Then I clarified, “I honestly thought I had to.”
“You didn’t get that from us!” Mom responded in astonished confusion. “You don’t have to marry someone just because you slept with them.”
Let me state up front: that’s an entirely true statement. I agree with it 100%.
And yet it was my turn to be shocked.
Because that statement flew in the face the entire narrative of my first 20+ years of life..Read More
What kind of foundation forms a lasting friendship, then? I mean, friendships are a pretty personal thing. There’s lots of aspects that are difficult to pin down, usually including compatible personalities, shared experiences, outlooks on life, mutually enjoyable activities, etc. I think those things are a given, no matter whether you’re a conservative Christian or not. But in my experience, the ingredients that point to longevity seem to be a pretty equal mixture of mutual admiration, respect, and trust. The Christian friends I have now who have been friends of mine for years weren’t my friends just because of our once-shared faith. We became friends through discovering and indulging in shared interests, sure, but we did it while demonstrating respect for each other’s individuality and personhood. Our personalities do click, but we also work hard to be empathetic, trustworthy, respectful people. We care about each other, what demonstrably makes each other’s lives more meaningful and fulfilling, no ulterior motives.Read More
It’s really rather rare for people to ask me why I deconverted from Christianity. Like, really rare. It’s far more common for them to assume they already know, whether they’re talking to me while they’re expressing this assumption or not. However, in a single week, I’ve had two separate unaffiliated people ask me a variation of the same question about the role fundamentalism had in my deconversion. Of course, I’ve been trying to figure this out for myself on a less-specific scale for the better part of two years, though much of it has been in my own head. Perhaps it’s time for me to work out of my thoughts here with you.Read More
As I’ve stated before, Bob Jones University habitually created spiritual mountains out of circumstantial molehills. We were to strive for perfection in every aspect of life, and anything less than that was an offense to God and the administration.
There’s a saying from the founder of the school…well, I mean, there’s honestly a bajillion sayings from the founder of the school. They’re so revered that they are literally engraved in plaques in every classroom across campus, and you can even buy a book filled with his quips of wisdom. But one saying in particular was quoted quite a bit when I was there: “It is never right to do wrong in order to get a chance to do right.” On the surface, and especially when I very first arrived on campus, I agreed with this 100%.
Again, I’m faced with the difficulty of explaining a subculture when some of my audience has never experienced it, and some of it may think there’s nothing wrong with it. It’s difficult to know where to begin or how to explain things that I intuitively learned through various circumstances, other than to talk about the various circumstances that taught me that sometimes, it’s good and right to do “wrong.”Read More
The atmosphere and its complete permeation of BJU dorm student life is important because of the necessary isolation it engendered. There was simply no way of knowing who was following the rules because they believed them to be right, and who was just trying to keep their head down long enough to get out as unscathed as possible.
Not without opening yourself up in ways that could have pretty serious consequences.
That made it all the more precious when people would accidentally let slip that they were a normal person trying to get by, just like me. These moments were quite rare, but absolutely sacred — memorable if for nothing else than the brief solidarity they brought.Read More
What started as a survival tactic to escape the paranoia that Bob Jones University instilled in me turned into a confident determination to control as much of my life as possible. It revealed my independent spirit, and for that I am thankful.Read More
I thought that the hardest thing about being at BJU was going to be just learning how to follow an amazingly ridiculous set of rules — and frankly, I thought I had that covered. I grew up in a conservative Christian school where BJU groups visited for recruitment purposes. I was usually one of the good kids, so I thought BJU was going to be a college-version of my high school. No big deal.
Boy, was I wrong.Read More
One of my favourite art teachers of all time died yesterday evening after battling cancer for just over a year. I was fortunate to be able to communicate the following to him before he died, but I wanted to share with everyone else as a tribute to him.
Here’s to you, Mike Slattery, enthusiastic artist, kind-hearted soul, best of men.Read More