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Change your bookmarks

I’m not usually a fan of compartmentalization, so I’ve become more and more uncomfortable with the compartmentalization of my blogs: Leaving Eden as the serious, long-winded one about my Christian college experience and reasons for deconversion, and peaceful atheist as the lighter, calmer chronicle of my post-Christian exploits.  (Don’t you just hate the expression “post-Christian”?  Me, too.  I really loathe it.)

So I’m merging them into one.  Soon I’ll copy the entire Leaving Eden archive to peaceful atheist.  I’ll continue to write the more serious, discussion-generating posts about my deconversion that I’ve been writing here, but they will be posted on peaceful atheist.  At first, some things will be double-posted; eventually I’ll blog only at peaceful atheist.  I want to rectify the brisk tones I’ve used on Leaving Eden while preserving the discussion and continuing to answer questions about my atheism on peaceful atheist.  I know that Leaving Eden gets a lot more traffic than peaceful atheist, so I hope you’ll all follow me there.

You can now email me at peacefulatheist@gmail.com.  I’m going to continue to protect my internet anonymity, but if you are a Wheaton student or alum, or a frequent commenter, I will probably tell you who I am and friend you on Facebook if you email me.

Finally, thank you to everyone who has read, commented, and linked to Leaving Eden, especially over its long hiatus this year.  My journey wouldn’t be what it is without you.

Wishing everyone a peaceful new year,

Lily

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depression

Friendly Atheist has a post about a guy who works at a Christian university and became an atheist while he was there. He still works there, and hasn’t come out as an atheist to anyone, including his wife, who also works there. His story is pretty sad.  He also now has a blog where he’s telling his story: Closeted in Academia.

A couple of comments mentioned that depression would be highly likely if he were to stay at his present job and stay in the closet. That was definitely true for me. I was depressed during my last year at Wheaton. From the time when I began to seriously doubt the veracity of Christianity, I grew more and more miserable while I was at Wheaton. Around the time I first started thinking that I might be an atheist, I realized that my misery had turned into depression and was spiraling downward very quickly. I knew that I wasn’t going to be able to recover completely until after I had left Wheaton and could be honest about myself, but I had to somehow keep myself from falling so deep that I would be unable to recover.

So I went to the Wheaton College Counseling Center and began to have weekly sessions with a counselor. It was pretty miserable. The counselor kept giving me books with Christian approaches to dealing with depression. I didn’t read them. It was not very helpful, but just being able to talk to someone, even someone who patronized me and pissed me off, was enough to keep my depression from getting out of control. It didn’t get any better, but it didn’t get much worse.

My relief from depression wasn’t immediate, but it started happening in small steps as soon as I graduated. The misery of being silenced for so long made me determined not to hide my atheism once I left Wheaton. A friend said to me once that my journey of deconversion took a lot of strength, and once I had used up all my strength in keeping quiet, it would be time to take back that strength and use it to speak out.

Even a year after graduation and nearly two years after becoming an atheist, I am still recovering from the effects of having suppressed my true beliefs for such a long time. And as I recover more and more, I’m gaining more confidence in making my true self known. I’ve come out to a few more people, and now I’ve taken the (somewhat laughable) final step: I’ve come out on Facebook. Ever since I began having serious doubts, my Facebook profile has remained silent about my “Religious Views”. If I were a Christian, it would not have been silent. This small step for me marks the end of my acquiescence to fear.

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prone to wander

Throughout my years of being a Christian, I worried a lot about falling away. I often voiced this fear to my close friends and mentors during my first years in college, and all of them told me that it would never happen given the strength of my faith.

“Come Thou Fount” was my favorite hymn, because of these last lines: Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it / Prone to leave the God I love / Here’s my heart, now take and seal it / Seal it for thy courts above. I used to lie awake at night, begging God to prevent me from leaving him.  I prayed fervently, in anguish, in tears, for God to strike me down rather than allow me to turn in disbelief.

At the time I didn’t think that I would ever become an atheist. My fears had never considered a premeditated, conscious choice of disbelief; I never thought that atheism would be palatable, only that Christianity would seem unpalatable. In my head, the only method by which one might leave Christianity was seduction by secular culture, by becoming so enticed by various indulgences that faith would be forgotten.

It is quite easy to wander away from God.  But I do not believe that anybody becomes an atheist by accident.  On the contrary, it’s an absolutely excruciating process that is far better avoided, if matters of ultimate truth are not of ultimate importance to you.

Life is unpredictable.  Three years ago my greatest fear was that I would turn my back on God, but I never, ever, even considered the possibility that I would no longer believe in his existence.  I say this because I know how hard it is for a Christian to understand the reasons for deconversion.  There was a time when I would not have accepted any of the explanations I am currently giving.  I would have said that anyone who deconverts is either wicked, or never was a true Christian to begin with.  So I’m asking my friends and readers to be more understanding, accepting, and trusting than I was.  To those who have done this already, thank you.

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new blog: peaceful atheist

I like to write, and most of my writing only seems suited to blog material.  So I’m starting another blog to write about a multitude of things that don’t quite belong on this one.  I want to keep the focus of Leaving Eden fairly specific, so if you want to read whatever I feel like writing about the mysteries of everyday life, join me there.  (There is no special significance to the name “peaceful atheist” other than the fact that ‘peaceful’ and ‘atheist’ are both adjectives that describe me.)

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pretty damn awesome

I just wanted to report, in case any remaining readers were wondering, that my post-Wheaton life is pretty damn awesome. I live on my own in a great town that I love exploring. I have a secure job at a non-profit, which makes me poor but not in danger of being destitute. My work gives me a lot of freedom to be creative, and the satisfaction of knowing that I’m doing some good in the world. Even more important, it gives me health insurance. And I have plenty of free time to devote to personal pursuits, like eating babies.

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hail and farewell

Drumroll, please…

I graduated from Wheaton College this month. Yes that’s right, I’m “free”. I’ve known for awhile that I was going to graduate early. That’s why I stayed at Wheaton after becoming an atheist.

You’re probably expecting me to divulge some personal details about myself now that I have my Wheaton degree. But I’m not going to give a big reveal, and I feel bad about that. I probably owe my readers at least a portion of my life story, for staying with me and enduring my annoyingly vague and anonymous blog. But I’m not actually a blogger or an internet person, so that’s not going to happen. And now that I’m out of Wheaton, I can go back to what’s actually important in my life instead of keeping a disproportionate focus on my lack of religion.

The truth is, I’m really sick of this blog. I’m sick of talking about being an atheist. Frankly, I don’t really care anymore that I’m an atheist. While I was at Wheaton it seemed like a big deal, and it probably was there. But now that I’m slightly closer to the real world, I just don’t think it’s that important whether you’re an atheist or a Christian. It’s definitely not important enough for me to keep up a blog about it.

Thanks for staying with me, and thanks for your comments and discussions. I’m going to keep this site up here for now in the hope that it might help some other Christian-college-student-turned-atheist who goes online for hope that they aren’t alone. I won’t be approving any new comments, but I will be checking the blog email address every once in awhile.

Well, that’s it.  Peace.

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Frequently Asked Questions

I decided to take a break from finals to answer some of the questions that have been inundating my email and comments lately. I’ve answered them in a separate FAQ page and made it a permanent fixture on the blog. It only includes the questions that I get asked painfully often, and/or have the most obvious answers, so I really hope I don’t have to add to it. At any rate, any comments asking questions that are answered in the FAQ will be deleted from now on.

As always, you’re welcome to email me with any questions/comments.  If you email me, please specify if you want something answered on the site; otherwise I’ll just answer things privately, unless I get something often enough to add it to the FAQ.

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