The next retreat is  April 10 – 13 in Orinda, CA (SF Bay Area). Friday 7 pm – Monday 2 pm.   Contact us for more information and to register.Orinda retreat home deck  Begin with booking a free 20-min. consultation using the “Schedule an appointment” button on this home page.  We can decide together if the retreat is a good idea for you.

A Journey Free Retreat weekend is a chance to come together in a small group with the shared goal of taking steps to recover from harmful religion.  It  provides a safe place to process experiences with the support of others who understand.   The 3 day program includes presentations, discussions, and guided activities to facilitate both intellectual insight and emotional growth, providing a leap forward in one’s personal development.  Getting through the fear, grief, anger and stress isn’t easy but you don’t have to do it alone.

Together we:

•  Share personal stories.

•  Examine the effects of religious indoctrination.

•  Discuss the process of recovery and take important first steps.

•  Support each other in releasing toxic beliefs and reclaiming our lives.

•  Learn strategies for dealing with family.

•  Make new friends and build lasting connections.

•  Enjoy meals, music, and fun in a safe, relaxed atmosphere.

Read more: Retreat Information

Journey Free Program Fee Information

Retreat Video

 

Reclaimers1, you are the pioneers. Reclaimers discard their confining religions and free their minds from the cages made in churches. I support you, I help you, but most of all, I salute you. Because it is clear to me after many years of bearing witness to the soul-wrenching work that you do, when I have seen and heard tears and sobs and anger and fear, that you are the ones among us in our world that are birthing yourselves. Most of it is quietly achieved, because you are so ahead of the times that there are not enough words to describe what you are accomplishing. You yourself do not really know.

To understand what you are achieving, let’s try to grasp the context. We live in a world that is only partially scientific, only partially rational. Zealous believers are still performing exorcisms. Faith healing is commonplace, along with other “signs and wonders.” People believe in the “power of prayer” or that an entity called God will change the laws of nature if asked properly. A majority think that they have souls that will continue after they die despite no evidence. They cling to visions of a blissful existence and fear eternal punishment. The legal system is a simplistic treatment of people as guilty or not, which deals out retribution. A shocking number of people are comfortable with ignoring the findings of science and willing to risk the future of the species because they trust in a supernatural solution for the earth. The most powerful nation on earth deals death from the sky unprovoked on other peoples and makes claims about “just war.”

That is, our culture still has one foot firmly planted in the Dark Ages. Most of the unchurched are also unquestioning. It may be true that they have escaped the nightmare indoctrinations of hellfire and basic depravity, and they may have “self-esteem” and sleep well. But they have also not been forced awake. They have not been like reclaimers, jolted rudely and painfully awake and torn away from everything safe and familiar. No, people do not do the hard work that you are doing if it is not required. It is too taxing, too terrifying, too all-encompassing. No one would willingly enter this wind tunnel that seems to have no end.

We live in a world that is only partially scientific, only partially rational. Zealous believers are still performing exorcisms. Faith healing is commonplace, along with other “signs and wonders.” Reclaimers, you who devoted yourselves or were children in the folds of a religion that owned your soul and governed your very breath, will know about this transformation. It is no gentle thing to have the ground give way until there is no where to stand. You have lost yourself, lost the others you thought you knew, and lost your way. It is not exactly the same for everyone. But this much is true: each of you must create your life. You have had much taken from you and it must all be reclaimed: your identity, your will, your thinking ability, your feelings, your trust, your intuition, your sexuality, your creativity, and much more.

The creation of your new life is large, and more than you expected. You are giving birth and you are the parent. There is overwhelming joy along with the responsibility. There is no more outsourcing to “god” and no more talk of being dependent or helpless or bad. There is struggle and there is wonderful discovery. There are questions that are basic and big and tough: Who am I? What am I doing with my life? What is life all about? All of the questions humans have ever asked.

I respect you because I see you rethinking everything and rebuilding everything. You used to have all the answers because they were handed to you and then enforced until you could recite them in your sleep. Now you are working on getting them out of your head. You are stripping away everything familiar even though it hurts because it’s worth it. You have opted for integrity over false safety. There is so much stripped away you are not only naked, your skin is raw.

What a grand endeavor! What heroes! How great it would be if everyone did this complete questioning of everything they ever knew and started over. Perhaps our culture would make more progress inching out of the Dark Ages. And you, reclaimers, are doing this radical transformation with little help and sometimes with real opposition from the surrounding culture. It would be nice, but you are not escaping from a harmful religion into a healthy, evolved, nurturing society. The personal revolution and evolution that you are accomplishing (if you go all the way) will put you ahead of many who have never needed to question.

And that means that you will have wisdom to share. It will take some time, but you will find your place, and others will benefit from your hard-won life experience. You will be an “elder” in the best sense of the word. You live here now, on Planet Earth, and we need you.

1″Reclaimers” are those who have deconverted from religion and are reclaiming their lives.
 

Here are some “testimonies” to give assurance to those wondering if it is a safe and good thing to leave one’s religion.  Enjoy, and please add your own!

 

“Re-examine all you have been told… Dismiss what insults your Soul.”

– Walt Whitman

In the South Pacific, “cargo cults” sprang up as religions with people longing for the return of white gods in their ships with amazing stuff – their cargo.  It sounds quaint and innocent enough, just as hoping for Jesus to come back after 2000 years is quirky but “whatever gets you through the night,” right?  But what is the real cost of having millions of people holding to a belief system with a decidedly magical view of the universe?  The consequences may be hidden and far-reaching, personal and societal, even global.  Certainly we have increasing evidence that individuals are harmed by mental and emotional trauma often unrecognized.

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A GRAPH Childhood Indoctrination color

Factors in Childhood Indoctrination in Fundamentalist Christianity

From this graphic, it should be clear that a child in a fundamentalist Christian environment faces a powerful array of factors influencing indoctrination. Many of these techniques are quite deliberate, such as keeping children at home for their schooling to control what they learn and don’t learn.  The primary goal of sincere Christian parents is to pass on their faith, not help their child develop critical thinking to make a fully informed decision about religion.  Christians do not present their offspring with literature on all the religions of the world and make field trips to temples, churches and mosques to help them decide.  Yet in their theology they claim that “accepting Jesus” is a personal choice of free will and only those who reject God’s free gift of salvation will go to hell.

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Julia is a reclaimer who lives in London.   She is contributing poems to an upcoming anthology called “Happy Heretics:  Tips for Recovering from Harmful Religion.”   She is writing a memoir about growing up in a strict evangelical family and also a novel.  She recently performed a number of poems, including the one below, and sent me this link.  She is a great writer and you can get her humor even more when you watch the video.  And be sure not to miss the poem about Lot’s wife at 6.22.

                                                               “The Visiting Speaker”

But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me serve alone? Luke 10:40

Typical. The minute there’s a man about the house

she’s off, leaving me to get on

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Ever really thought about what the doctrine of original sin does to a person’s sense of self-worth and capability?  I collected these Christian sayings and letters and made this video.  Have a look. (Click on title)

Christian slogans and degraded self-worth

I deserve nothing

 

“Religious Trauma Syndrome: How Some Organized Religion Leads to Mental Health ProblemsHands holding cross

Groups that demand obedience and conformity produce fear, not love and growth.

Continue HERE for the article from March 25, 2013.

 

Based on the new Journey Free 2013 Calendar, a new virtual group dedicated to personal development is forming.  This will be especially relevant to folks recovering from religious indoctrination, but will not be limited to “reclaimers” or focused on religious material.  Rather, we will be addressing important and liberating ideas each month, and practicing alternative ways of being. 

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At this time of year it’s hard to avoid dealing with the differences you have with your family.

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