To: All Mar-23-94 01:34:04 Subject: 'Walk Away' ha

---
Master Index Current Directory Index Go to SkepticTank Go to Human Rights activist Keith Henson Go to Scientology cult

Skeptic Tank!

From: Fredric Rice To: All Mar-23-94 01:34:04 Subject: "Walk Away" has Dan Barker! Walk Away, the newsletter for ex-fundamentalists, has in its Fall 1993 issue a description by Dan Barker of his loss of faith. It is highly interesting as he touches upon so many HolySmoke issues that we see every single day whereas the fundamentalist -- as Dan Barker was -- never sees; never sees until they step aside and are, as the article is titled, "Losing Faith." Going through the lengthy article, I was impressed at the number of issues of which the non-fundie HolySmoke participants take the fundamentalist to tasks for. Though it goes into personal history which I find highly interesting, I thought that I would simply type in just a bit from the start of the article -- what is needed is a text scanner or -- even better -- several requests to "Walk Away" for ASCII versions on files. From: Fredric Rice To: All Msg #1179, Mar-23-94 01:51:38 Subject: "Walk Away" has Dan Barker! Walk Away, the newsletter for ex-fundamentalists, Fall 1993. Institute for First Amendment Studies, Post Office Box 589. Great Barrington, MA. 01230. Losing Faith After nineteen years of preaching following his "calling" at age fifteen -- including work as a missionary, ordained ministers, associate pastor, touring evangelist, Christian songwriter, and performer -- Dan Barker "lost faith in faith." This is the story of his dramatic journey from devout soul-winner to one of America's most prominent freethinkers. By Dan Karker. ... It was as if there was this little knock on my skull, and something was saying, "Hello! Anybody home?" I was starving and didn't know it, like when you are working hard on a project and you forget to eat and you don't know you are hungry until you are really hungry. I had been reading the Christian writers (Francis Schaeffer, Josh McDowell, C. S. Lewis, etc.) and really had not read much of anything else besides the bible for years. So, not with any real purpose in mind, I began to satisfy this irksome intellectual hunger. I began to read some science magazines, some philosophy, psychology, daily newspapers(!), and began to catch up on the liberal arts education I should have had years before. This triggered a ravenous appetite to learn and produce a slow but steady migration across the theological spectrum that took about four or five years. I had no sudden, eye-opening experience. When you are raised like I was, you don't just snap your fingers and say, "Oh, silly me! There's no God." The first timid steps away from fundamentalism were more traumatic than the huge leaps that came later. When you are raised to believe that every word in the bible is god-inspired and inerrant, you can't lightly change your views on scripture. For example (I'm embarrassed to admit this now, but it was a big deal back then), I used to believe that Adam and Eve were literal, historical persons. The bible said they existed, so they existed. I could have no true spiritual fellowship with someone who thought otherwise because to doubt god's word was to doubt god himself. But I got to thinking that there are parts of the bible that are obviously metaphorical. Jesus's story about the Prodigal Son, for example, is just a story. It doesn't matter if the Prodigal Son ever existed as a real person. Jesus told the story to make a certain point. The message contained within the story is what is important, not the literal truth of the story itself. --- * Origin: The Skeptic Tank, Holland, tilting at windmills (1:102/890) From: Fredric Rice To: All Subject: "Walk Away" has Dan Barker! Walk Away, the newsletter for ex-fundamentalists, Fall 1993. Institute for First Amendment Studies, Post Office Box 589. Great Barrington, MA. 01230. Dan Barker's Last Sermon The last time I stood before a congregation as a minister was during Christmas week of 1983. I had flown up to San Jose for meetings in one church, and after that I drove over to Auburn, northeast of Sacramento, to do a Christmas concert for a young, growing congregation meeting in a public school building. The arrangement was for the Auburn church to provide my plane ticket back to Southern California. They had made a hoopla of the occasion, and as I entered the building I saw that they church was packed with townsfolk. Before the meeting, I met in a side room with the pastors and other leaders of the church, and we all held hands in a circle and prayed for god's blessing on the concert. They were especially excited because there was a man in the audience who was in church for the very first time. The man's name was Harry, and he was the town atheist. Everybody in town liked Harry. He was a respected businessman who would give you the shirt off of his back, but he wasn't a Christian. Harry had reciently remarried, and his new wife had become born-again, and she had finally convinced him to attent church with her for the Christmas concert because Harry loved music. It wouldn't be like sitting through a boring sermon. They were all praying that Harry would be influenced by my ministery that evening, and that Harry would turn his life over to Jesus Christ. They laid hands on me and prayed loudly that god would instill a very special blessing on my ministry. I was dredding the concert. I was hating myself with every ounce of distain. As I walked up to the large grand piano that was sitting under the only light in the auditorium, I tried to scan for Harry, though I had no idea what he looked like. They were all seated in the dark, and the effect was that I was singing to a faceless congregation, which meant that I was singing to Harry, in my mind, and to Harry alone. I went through the motions and sang my songs, thinking how utterly stupid they were, and how ridiculous I must be sounding to Harry. Between songs I did my patter, tiny sermonettes that tied things tgether. It was one of the most difficult things I have ever had to do in my life. It took the most tremendous effort just to get the words out, words that I no longer believed. It can still make me cry to think back on that moment. At a couple of points I just stopped talking, deadly silent, blank as a new sheet of paper. The audience must have thought that the Holy Spirit was moving in my soul. I somehow managed to fall back on showmanship and willed myself to continue. At one point near the end of the concert I almost lost it. I was singing some of my particularly dumb lyrics and almost stopped right in the middle of the song to say, "This is crap." I wanted to turn to the audience and say, "Harry! You are right. I'm sorry. There is no god, and this is mumbo-jumbo nonsense." But I avboided that dramatic possibility and got through the concert somehow. They weren't going to give me my plane ticket until after the meeting. Afterward, certain people were invited over to the pastor's home for Christmas refreshments. Harry and his wife showed up. I guessed that this was supposed to be my opportunity to "lay it on" to Harry and convert him to Jesus, but I didn't talk to Harry all that night, except maybe to shake his hand. I was so ashamed of myself, so embarrassed at how we were treating this man, singleing him out like he had a social disease. I sat near the Christmas tree and Harry sat across the room in an armchair, and I avoided eye contact. How I was wishing that he and I could just get together and talk. I don't know if I would have liked Harry or not. I don't know if he would have had anything profound to say, or if he would have even cared about my dilemma. But I respected the man immensely. He had the courage to be different in a hotile religious environment. Sometime during the little party the pastor spoke up and said something about how nice it was for all of us to get together to celebrate the birth of the savior, and Harry immediatly said, "Not all of us." He was fearless. He seemed proud to be identified as an atheist, and happy to be an independent thinker. I never preached another sermon again. --- * Origin: The Skeptic Tank, Holland, tilting at windmills (1:102/890) From: Fredric Rice To: All Mar-23-94 02:20:20 Subject: "Walk Away" has Dan Barker! Walk Away, the newsletter for ex-fundamentalists, Fall 1993. Institute for First Amendment Studies, Post Office Box 589. Great Barrington, MA. 01230. Blood Brothers, A song by Dan Barker When I was four years old, I had a little friend names Joshua. Whenever I was alone, He would come over to play. Cookies, cartoons, and punch -- He liked all the same things that I liked. Cheerios and milk for lunch, butterflies, balloons, and kites. (Chorus) We were blood brothers, pals forever we were as close as we could be. Nobody else could see him, but he was real to me. Whenever I was sad, I would send Joshua a letter. He never wrote me back, but he'd always come right over to play. I'd never been to his house, but I knew exactly where he lived. His Daddy was Oh, so nice to let us have fun every day. When I was five years old, I just got so busy with schoolwork, many new friends to get to know -- Joshua moved away. Sometimes I miss him so -- we had such good times together; but I knew he had to go. It works out much better that way. We were blood brothers, pals forever. He was my very best friend. Nobody else could see him. I now know he was just pretend. Now that some years have passed, I can look back and smile at my childhood. At the times when it hurt to grow up, like when Joshua moved away. (R)1984 Dan Barker

---

E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank