LeprechaunBy Marlene Winell

At this time of year it’s hard to avoid dealing with the differences you have with your family. If you are a “reclaimer” (reclaiming your life after being religious) who has been raised in a religious household, holiday times can be very uncomfortable when other family members are still devout.  Having worked through these issues with many clients, here are a few guidelines that might be helpful.

I’ll start by suggesting you write in a journal, starting now and continuing through the holidays. This can help you sort through jumbled thoughts and emotions, stay on track with how you are trying to handle things, take care of yourself, and learn.  There are exercises here to prompt your thinking.

In general, if you plan to be with family at this time, it helps a great deal to approach the holidays with a high level of consciousness.  In other words, don’t just blindly go home for Christmas, hoping it will be fine.  What do you really expect it might be like?  This refers to both external factors and how you will feel.  What experiences have you had so far with your family?  What have you found to work or not work in getting along?  Write something about this in your journal.

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With the upcoming holiday season, here is the collection of 8 articles Valerie Tarico and I wrote on the subject – An e-book at Amazon for just $2.99!

Heretic Holidays

Contents of Heretic Holidays

 

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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