Dealing with our SDA Families - Part 1

S1:E7
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01:03:23
February 25, 2023
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Full Transcripts, resources and more: hell.bio/notes

Santiago reads the letter he wrote to his parents about leaving the church and faith behind. Ami, Abby, and Alex talk about dealing with family who are still in the church. They talk about issues with the previous generation, as well as issues with raising kids and the next generation.

Resources mentioned in this episode:

Coming Out Atheist: How to Do It, How to Help Each Other, and Why - by Greta Christina

Have a story to share? Write to us, send a DM or voice message on Instagram, or leave a voicemail at (301) 750-8648‬. We take your privacy seriously: Privacy Policy

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Credits: Abby and Ami, creators of the Seventh-day Atheist Podcast • Music: Hall of the Mountain King Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com) • Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License

Episode Transcript

[00:00:00] Santiago: Welcome to Haystacks and Hell, an ex-Adventist podcast where we tell stories about growing up Seventh-day Adventist, leaving faith behind, and building new, fulfilling lives.

Coming Up: How I Told My Parents I Left Faith Behind

[00:00:16] Santiago: Hey everyone, welcome back to Haystacks and Hell. I'm your host Santiago, and today we're talking about dealing with family as an ex-Adventist. But first, I want to say thank you for making it this far if you've listened to all the episodes. And a special thank you to the folks who have shared their stories on our website, everyone who's left a rating or review, and a big shout out to the very first person who donated the other week.

[00:00:46] If you're enjoying the show, some of the best things you can do to support it are leaving a rating on Apple Podcasts and Spotify, leaving a like on YouTube, and last but not least, donating. I promise I'm not going to drag this out like a call for tithes and offerings, but financial support of the podcast is greatly appreciated. The hosting and software used to make this podcast isn't cheap. So if, and only if you can easily afford it, please consider donating. You can give a one-time or recurring donation at hell.bio/coffee and you can also become a patron with specific perks at hell.bio/patreon. With that said, let's jump into the show.

[00:01:36] Later in this episode, you'll hear Abby, Ami and Alex talk about their experiences dealing with their parents and families and telling them that they were no longer Adventist. Abby talks about telling her parents abruptly in an email and I actually tried telling my parents over email too. Like many other millennials, I was still living with my parents at the time, even though I had a good job and was financially independent, because I was trying to save money.

[00:02:08] So when I left on a trip, I wrote and rewrote an email draft until I finally got the courage to send it. You'll remember from the very first episode of this podcast and the last episode where I interviewed my brother about growing up Gen Z and Adventist, that he stopped believing years before I did and told our parents about it.

[00:02:33] So I really wrestled with the idea of telling our parents that I also didn't believe anymore. Because I didn't want to put them through the pain of having yet another child leave the church and faith behind. After a lot of back and forth, staring at my laptop and writing and rewriting, I finally hit send on the email. This was just a handful of years ago and the subject said, "Dear mom and dad." My dad read the letter while I was still on the trip, but it must have gotten buried in my mom's inbox because she never saw it.

[00:03:13] My dad replied saying that he was sad and he knew I put a lot of thought into my beliefs and into the letter, but he just didn't have the heart to tell my mom. He said that she would be devastated even though I'm an adult with my own beliefs. He asked if I'd wait until I got back home to talk about it in person, and I agreed.

[00:03:36] But it didn't happen immediately when I got back, because I kept trying to find a quote unquote "good time" to sit my parents down and read the letter. I was also still listening to and replaying an audiobook I've mentioned before called Coming out Atheist by Greta Christina, which I highly recommend.

[00:03:59] Several weeks or months after I got back home, very similar to how my brother did years earlier, I asked my family to come to the living room and said I had something important to share. I asked my parents to please let me finish everything I had to say, and then I'd be happy to answer any of their questions.

[00:04:20] So now, I'm going to read to you the same letter I wrote and read out loud to my family. I've only made a few small edits to protect my brother's real name and other identifying details about our family. So, here it is.

[00:04:36] Santiago (Narrating): Dear mom and dad, I love you. We should say that more often, so I'm beginning with this reminder. I am thankful for your love, energy and sacrifices. The beliefs and values you've instilled in me have made me the person I am today. While I've grown and come a long way from the little boy I once was, I'm still essentially the same person you raised me to be and I'm grateful for your belief in me.

[00:05:08] Please remember everything I wrote above as I share something that has brought me a new sense of freedom and inner peace. I do not believe in God anymore. I can't point to one specific date or cause, as this was a gradual and very personal realization.

[00:05:30] Before I say anything else, know that I still believe in treating others as I want to be treated, doing good to others, and being a peacemaker. Despite what we're often told, it is possible to be a moral human being without believing in a higher power. After seeing the chaos of this world, reading about genocide in the Bible directed by a supposedly loving God, and witnessing the gradual decline of my grandma while she pleads and prays for healing or an end to her suffering, I can no longer believe.

[00:06:13] Even if the Abrahamic god did happen to exist, I do not believe he would be loving or deserving of worship. When you closely examine doctrine, it's clear that human beliefs and cultures created and shaped all religions, including the writing, translation, and Christian definition of the "Word of God." It is perfectly human to believe in a higher power, heaven, and hell, but I cannot and do not believe in them anymore.

[00:06:48] So, what do I believe? The term agnostic atheist fits best. I don't believe in any divine being, but I also believe that humans cannot definitively prove or disprove the existence of a higher power. With that said, I'm still the same person you raised me to be. I realize we may never see eye to eye, and that's okay. I do not expect you to embrace my beliefs. However, I do expect you to respect me and accept me as I am.

[00:07:26] After seeing how we all reacted to Miguel's deconversion, I know this will be very difficult for you to hear. I still fully believed during that time and personally experienced the agony of imagining my little brother being "lost" forever. But I now take comfort in the fact that there is no compelling evidence for this. And even if it was true, Adventists believe that suffering is only temporary and God will wipe away all tears.

[00:08:01] Speaking of Miguel, please do not question him about my beliefs. He knows about them now, but this was an entirely personal realization for me. Nobody, neither he nor anyone else, tried to influence or convince me. In fact, Miguel and I have slightly different beliefs.

[00:08:23] Despite the pain I know this will bring you, I decided it is best to share the truth because I don't want to maintain a lie. Our family has a bad habit of hiding things from each other. We avoid discussing anything we fear will cause conflict, which creates unnecessary secrecy and stress, and we can do better.

[00:08:48] Also, I'm not ashamed of my beliefs, especially since I now have a greater sense of inner peace. That may sound paradoxical to you because we've been taught that true peace can only come from the Christian God. In reality, I've found that faith and religion can create immense turmoil and inner conflict. Aside from unsuccessful attempts to know "God's will" or worrying about facing his judgment, there are so many conflicting views, even within a single church.

[00:09:26] For example, I spent a lot of time reading about the issue of women's ordination and realized there are decent people on both sides of the debate, and both have interesting arguments backed by scripture. The same could be said for views on music, dress, and anything else influenced by human culture. Ultimately though, none of these debates really matter. No longer believing makes that so apparent and this realization has brought me greater clarity and peace.

[00:10:01] With that said, I do not plan to widely share my beliefs. I may choose, at my own discretion, to tell certain people, but as of today I have no specific plans. If you insist, I will continue to join you in family worship as long as I remain in your house, but I do not plan to attend church regularly and they will definitely not participate in any leadership capacity.

[00:10:31] I respect your right to believe and worship. There are positive aspects to faith and being part of a church community, and I do not fault you for wanting that. I just ask and expect that you respect my right to not believe. I will not engage with lectures or attempts to change this. I do not take this lightly. It is something I've thought about deeply, and it's now a part of who I am. You might be wondering, 'Where did we go wrong? Or what could we have done better?' Please don't feel like you did anything wrong. If anything, I'm grateful for everything you did right.

[00:11:17] In summary, I now identify as an agnostic atheist. This was a gradual and personal realization which has brought me greater peace. That said, I still believe in treating others as I want to be treated, doing good to others, and being a peacemaker.

[00:11:37] Please do not question Miguel about this. Neither he, nor anyone else tried to influence or convince me, and we don't share the exact same beliefs. Also, please keep this between us. While you and Miguel now know about my beliefs, I will decide if and when it's appropriate to share with others.

[00:12:00] I'm willing to join you for family worship while living in your home, but I will not attend church regularly. I also won't engage with lectures or attempts to change my beliefs. They are now a part of who I am. Just as I respect your right to believe and worship, I expect that you respect my right to not believe, and accept me as I am. Last, but definitely not least, remember that I love you. Your son, now and always, Santiago.

[00:12:37] Santiago: I was definitely nervous and emotional when reading this letter to them. And I remember that pretty early on, my voice got shaky and at one point, tears actually started to stream down my face. I actually choked up and had a long pause before I could say out loud "I do not believe in God anymore."

[00:13:04] Not because I was conflicted about my views, but because I knew that I was actively hurting my parents in that moment. My mom did cut in a few times, but I eventually managed to get through the whole letter in spite of her interruptions, my shaky voice, and tears. My dad was pretty quiet, but he did look sad and surprisingly, my mom seemed to be taking it pretty well.

[00:13:32] She talked about how God was real to her and how nobody could convince her otherwise. When I finished, my dad said something along the lines of 'You don't really know God, because he is a loving God and he's real.' He also said that he would keep praying for me. My mom said that this wasn't a complete shock to her because she sensed that I had been "going away from God." That was actually intentional on my part.

[00:14:04] After I went through deconstruction and deconversion, I would occasionally drop hints and questions into conversations with my family because I wanted to prepare my parents in case I eventually decided to tell them. My mom kept talking about how she doesn't believe that atheists actually exist and how in the end, "every knee shall bow." For anyone who isn't familiar, this phrase is found a couple of times in the Bible and Christians love to quote this to atheists and agnostics.

[00:14:39] My mom started out pretty calm, but as our conversation continued, she started getting a bit more agitated. Even though I told my parents I was going to keep this to myself, because I knew they wouldn't want me to talk about it openly, she talked about how I was going to humiliate our family. Especially in front of other church members and our extended family who aren't Adventists, but have always looked at our family as spiritual and godly.

[00:15:10] She also asked me what specifically God did to me, causing me to blame him or being angry with him. And I calmly explained to her that I wasn't blaming God for anything because you can't blame things on something that you don't even believe in. I reminded her that this was a gradual process for me, and that I couldn't even remember a specific point in time when I stopped believing.

[00:15:39] She said that 'God is love, but he is just, and that's why he's done everything we read about in the Bible.' And I reminded her how I taught the youth Sabbath school class at our church. And just like her and other people at our church, I also used to defend the genocide found in the Old Testament. I specifically remember one lesson where we were reading about child sacrifice and how God commanded the people who practiced this to be wiped out, and that somehow justified it. And then I told her that at some point, I just couldn't keep making excuses.

[00:16:22] She kept talking about how Satan is not stronger than God and that she would keep praying for me and she wouldn't give up, no matter what. She even managed to make a joke that she didn't spank me enough, and we actually did have a laugh about that. Even though now as I think about it, that's kind of problematic.

[00:16:45] At one point, I told her very clearly that if I eventually got married, I wouldn't have an Adventist wedding and that I wouldn't want a religious funeral service either. She asked me what I would do when the Sunday Law comes. And I told her that I don't believe there's going to be one. But even if a national Sunday Law ever got passed, of course as an atheist, I would be against it and I would oppose it right alongside the Adventists and everyone else who also wouldn't want that.

[00:17:20] Then she asked me about volunteering at church with music and other things. Earlier that year, I had told the nominating committee that I couldn't commit to any roles so I was already off the hook. The last thing I remember her asking me is to promise her that I wouldn't join any atheist groups. She said that I would poison my mind even more, and that they didn't have any morals or values and that they were messed up people.

[00:17:53] Unfortunately, this stereotype is still very pervasive among people like my parents, especially my mom. If you're a person of faith, I hope you realize that morality is not only found in the Christian Bible or within religion. And I would argue that morality rooted in empathy is much better than morality based on a literal interpretation of the Bible.

[00:18:19] Anyway, I'm sure for anyone listening, you can probably imagine your parents or family members saying some or all of the things that my parents told me, perhaps even worse things. If you're actively going through deconstruction or deconversion and feel like you have this big secret you have to keep hidden, I don't blame you and you're not alone.

[00:18:44] This is deeply personal and you have no obligation to tell anyone. I only decided to do it because I have a good enough relationship with my parents and they were already starting to see changes in me, and I didn't want to maintain an elaborate lie. And again, I was already financially independent by this point so I wasn't worried about money or being kicked out of the house.

[00:19:11] Thankfully, I saw how they treated my brother years earlier, that they were still kind to him. And so I was never really worried about that. And I recognize that that in and of itself is a huge privilege that not everyone has.

[00:19:29] Before I turn it over to Abby and Ami's episode, I do want to paint a picture of hope, because it can get better. Since telling my parents and moving out, I started dating and found my partner, and we eventually moved in together. I reconnected with old friends from church and school and found out that they had also left religion behind.

[00:19:53] I've also made some new friends. My partner and I have celebrated holidays with my family, and even though my mom still uses the term "living in sin" for unmarried couples who live together, she's actually visited our place and we've had a good time together. If your family is so strict that you can't imagine any of what I've described, I feel for you. It's awful to not have the level of love and support that we feel we should have from our relatives.

[00:20:25] I also want to acknowledge that not everyone's family looks the same. In the U.S., we're so used to the stereotypical 1950s nuclear family of a mom, dad, two kids, and a dog, but not all families look like that. And not all families are made up entirely of blood relatives either. There's a beautiful quote attributed to Maya Angelou that says "Family isn't always blood, it's the people in your life who want you in theirs: the ones who accept you for who you are, the ones who would do anything to see you smile and who love you no matter what."

[00:21:10] If that doesn't describe your family now, I genuinely hope that it does someday. If you have a story you'd like to share around dealing with your Adventist family, or any of your experiences as an Adventist, see the show notes or our website at hell.bio for instructions. With that, I'm going to turn it over to Abby, Ami, and Alex's episode on their experiences with their SDA parents and families.

Abby, Ami, and Alex on Dealing with their SDA Families

[00:21:44] Abby: Hello and welcome again to the SDAP! We just came up with the tagline, which you guys have seen, but we just came up with. By we, I mean me.

[00:21:53] Abby and Ami: [Laughing]

[00:21:55] Abby: And it is "There may not be life after death, but there is life after Adventism."

[00:22:00] Ami: That's good news!

[00:22:02] Abby: We are here again with Alex.

[00:22:03] Alex: Hello!

[00:22:05] Abby: And we are going to talk about dealing with family.

[00:22:11] Ami: Well, dealing with family in the sense of handling relationships with family who may still be a part of Adventism or who may still be involved in some faith community once you have left it. Which is definitely not always easy, and probably a somewhat different experience for everyone.

[00:22:34] Alex: Well, I think it's probably something that people worry about when they're leaving. Specifically, I think that's probably the number one fear, is how your family will react to you giving up your faith. They're worried about your immortal soul, and it's troubling. You don't know how they're gonna react and you don't know what to expect in terms of...

[00:22:54] Ami: You don't know what you might've called down upon yourself.

[00:22:56] Alex: Well, you don't know if they're gonna disown you, if they're gonna, if their love truly was conditional all along, or... Or you, I mean, it's that, I'd say that's, that has to be the single biggest fear for leaving the church, is how your loved ones will react, right?

[00:23:11] Ami: Best case scenario, it's probably a pretty awkward conversation.

[00:23:16] Alex: Best case scenario.

[00:23:17] Ami: Even if they're not angry with you. Even if it doesn't turn into, you know, a break in your relationship, it's probably an awkward conversation, that "coming out" conversation. I've heard it compared a lot to telling your family you're gay and I think it does have some elements in common.

[00:23:36] Abby: And I said this in the first episode, but I'll say it again. One of the things that is frustrating about Adventism is that it feels like you never are done leaving. And the reason for that is that most of us still have close friends and family, very likely our parents, in the church. And even if we've had that conversation with them, it's never completely done.

[00:24:01] Ami: They won't just give up on us!

[00:24:03] Abby and Ami: [Laughing]

[00:24:03] Abby: Because their faith requires them to keep witnessing to you. And even if they don't want to, they have this imperative. And so even if you have that conversation, you have to unfortunately keep having it in different ways and it becomes wearying. But unless you're just gonna be done with your family, you never get to really be done with this.

[00:24:29] Alex: Well, and you know what makes Adventism unique in that way is I think that a lot of other religions, you know, your family might still be a part of the church. And you have to deal with that, however you deal with it, but what's unique to Adventism, at least in how I've seen it unfold with my friends, is that Adventism has a very specific culture to it.

[00:24:56] And we have this system where there's Adventist employers and you went to school with the same people your entire life. So your whole social structure is built around the church. And I think that's something that's unique to Adventism that other, that someone leaving say, you know, a Baptist congregation or a Catholic congregation doesn't necessarily have to deal with their whole world being flipped on its ear in the same way we do.

[00:25:26] Abby: It's like Mormonism, but I can't think of too many other, or maybe, maybe J Dubs, Jehovah's Witness. I don't know of many others that are like that. Even like Jehovah's Witness are small enough, I don't think they have like a whole school system and stuff.

[00:25:40] Alex: I'm not sure that they have a, a health system for example, that, that we train our kids from the time that they're young children that they're gonna be hospital administrators. Like, I don't, I mean, that's something I think is very unique to our, our upbringing.

[00:25:53] That our the, that our church was centered around not just what we did on the weekend, but what we did all day every day, you know, which was interact with people we went to church with and people that, you know, our bosses...

[00:26:05] Ami: We will need to talk at some point about Adventist employers, because I do think that that's a unique thing. The fact that you may have gone to Adventist school, elementary school through college, and then gone to work for an Adventist hospital or something like that. And so you might really have your whole, whole life taking place under this umbrella.

[00:26:27] Alex: Yeah, and I truly do believe that's unique to Adventism. I don't see, I don't see examples of that in other denominations.

[00:26:34] Abby: A Utah Mormon would be the only...

[00:26:35] Alex: A Utah Mormon probably is, is maybe worse?

[00:26:39] Abby: Yeah, there's a whole state full of them. So I came out to my parents very abruptly in an email.

[00:26:47] Alex: You just said it plain, huh?

[00:26:49] Abby: Yep, I spelled it out and I thought carefully about what I wanted to say, and I've always communicated really big things to them in writing because I feel like I can control that conversation. I think my dad responded and he said something like, my mother, 'Your mother and I are of course heartbroken that you've made this decision, but we still love you,' blah, blah, blah.

[00:27:12] And then that was the only direct conversation we had about it for several years. I had stopped going to church a while before that, but I was also moving a lot and in a really intense academic program, so I don't think that alone was much of a clue for them. I, I think they really were...

[00:27:31] Ami: You got kind of a handy excuse for them to, or they had a handy excuse maybe in their own minds to justify your behavior.

[00:27:38] Abby: I think they were pretty blindsided by it, but I... I don't know, I... My family doesn't do well with the soft approach where you just sort of start behaving in a certain way and hope they'll figure it out. Like they don't, I don't know that, that wouldn't have been any better.

[00:27:56] Alex: That fifties generation, the generation that was raised through the fifties, really has the blinders on. And it's something they've orchestrated themselves.

[00:28:04] Abby: And you just, unfortunately, the only thing that gets the blinders off is just a kick in the face. And so we did that, and then a couple, two or three years later, my mother on a family vacation, kind of took a long walk with me and did what I had been afraid was going to happen from the moment I left, which, you know, started, broke down crying.

[00:28:24] Alex: Oh god.

[00:28:25] Abby: Um, said 'I just don't understand why you don't love Jesus anymore' and...

[00:28:31] Ami: Did you tell them in this email, did you tell them that you did not believe in Adventism or that you did not believe in God? Did you take it all the way to 'I'm an atheist'?

[00:28:39] Abby: I don't think I took it all the way to 'I'm an atheist' because I wasn't at that point. I think I just said clearly that I didn't believe in the principles of the Adventist church and I didn't think Ellen White was a prophet and I couldn't pretend to believe something I didn't believe.

[00:28:55] By the time I had the conversation with my mom, I'd had a little bit more time to think and I think what I articulated to her, she was not happy about it, but at least she understood and I talked to her about, you know, some of the things I went through before I left.

[00:29:10] I talked to her about the fact that I had been very depressed and like on antidepressants for a few years before I left, and when I left I was able to stop trying to believe all these conflicting things and you know, was no longer having struggles with depression that I had been have... that I was more mentally healthy.

[00:29:29] Ami: Yeah.

[00:29:30] Abby: Um, you know, and I tried to explain to her that like, 'I live alone and trying to have a constant conversation with a silent, invisible person is psychologically damaging' and that I felt like I was going crazy. And that I can't live like that. And also, you know, said, this is what my conscience, this is where my conscience leads me.

[00:29:50] If there's a God and he's good, then he's gonna have to be okay with me following my conscience. That's gonna have to be enough. And I gave that to her partially as a, as a way to think about it in her own mind. Because they want to get you off the hook, right? They don't really want to keep having this conversation.

[00:30:07] But their religion puts this imperative on them. Like, your blood is on their head if they don't keep... So that was enough for quite a while. But I think we're building to another one of these. Like I think this is gonna keep happening every few years.

[00:30:21] Ami: It probably is cyclical, right?

[00:30:23] Abby: Because you know, for a while they get their head around it and then they're...

[00:30:28] Alex: Well, I think for a while they tell themselves that it's okay for now. And I think they very much think that, that you will come around, that you will, you are on this quest and right now you're kind of at a low point, but later you'll, you'll come back around to it. But when it's been long enough that you haven't come back around to it, you know, the clock's ticking on your immortal soul, 'We have to fix it.'

[00:30:47] Abby: It's true, and "God is leading you home." Like that, in their mind... Like they don't, for, they do not even for a moment reason from the place of like, 'Well this makes perfect sense if all of this stuff is bullshit.' Like in their mind, like it's true, and so God has got you on this journey and, and they'll keep praying and God will, will lead you home.

[00:31:08] And this makes me really sad. It makes me feel bitter and I don't want to feel bitter about, I would rather just leave that experience, take the good things, leave the rest of the experience. But the fact that I can't be happy and have my parents be happy at the same time, that really makes me resent Adventism and I forget that they're standing in a continual bath of this nonsense.

[00:31:30] Like every week they go back to church, it gets reiterated. And that's where I think the cyclical thing comes from. Like, I think that the reason they work back, we, we spin up to another one of these conversations, is that they're continually being fed these ideas. And for me, I'm more or less in the same place, but they just keep getting ramped up, and wound up and wound up and wound up by the culture that they are stewing in. Anyway...

[00:31:57] Ami: Well, it also, being a part of that, of that culture and having it... I'm trying to think of the way to say this. They have, as you say, they have this imperative put on them and they feel responsible for us because we are their children and they can't help that. But I think that it's...

[00:32:19] Abby: And if only they'd raised us right, we would still be in the church.

[00:32:22] Ami: They're looking for the place where...

[00:32:24] Alex: My parents don't believe for a moment that they didn't raise me right, they just think I rebelled.

[00:32:28] Ami: That's not necessarily true, I mean, your mom has said before like, you know, 'What did we do that was...' You know, 'Where did we go wrong? What did we...' How did you end up with this idea that this was, that this had all these negative things.

[00:32:43] Alex: I've just also heard them say 'We raised you better than that' so many times.

[00:32:46] Ami: Well, they have also said that.

[00:32:47] Alex: So many times that 'We raised you better than that.' And I'm like, 'Well, apparently you didn't.'

[00:32:51] Abby: [Laughing]

[00:32:52] Ami: My parents, it's just sad. Like they don't, they don't pick at it. They don't, they're not aggressive about it, they don't pick a fight. We've had a few conversations over the years. I'm certain that I've never said the word atheist to my mother.

[00:33:08] Abby: You know what, when we were in, um, we were overseas recently and she was asking what the conflict in Ireland was about. I was trying to just sum it up really quickly 'cause I, or you know, I didn't wanna break out Wikipedia.

[00:33:19] I said, 'Well, you know, they say that if you are in, you know, some parts of Ireland and they will, you know, people are willing to shoot you over your religion.' And if you say, they'll ask you whether you're a Catholic or Protestant. And if you say 'I'm an atheist,' they'll think for a moment and then they say 'A Catholic or a Protestant atheist?'

[00:33:38] Group: [Laughing]

[00:33:39] Abby: And I made that joke, kind of to insert the word atheist in the conversation.

[00:33:45] Ami: This is the thing we can say without, like whispering or cringing.

[00:33:48] Abby: Yeah anyway, continue.

[00:33:49] Ami: Well, they, um... My mom and I have always communicated well. She's always been someone who is very non-judgmental and willing to talk through things with you. And all my growing up, we had this relationship where I wasn't afraid to ask her questions and I wasn't afraid to talk to her about things. But I feel like there's this point with this that I'm afraid is too far.

[00:34:15] And so I know that part of the reason that we haven't ever just torn the bandaid off completely is because I'm afraid of it. I'm afraid of her being hurt. I know that it hurts her enough that I don't go to church and that she knows that I don't believe, without me coming out and saying, 'No, it's not just that I am not an Adventist, it's not just that I have questions about the efficacy of the Bible, it's that I don't believe that there is a higher power.'

[00:34:44] And I think that that would hurt her a lot, to have that said bold-facedly. My family is big on half truths and winding conversations, and, um, you know, sort of the family myths, the stories that we tell ourselves until we believe them. So, like in our own minds, in the family's collective imagination, each person in the family is like a larger than life hero, you know? And so, yeah so we don't...

[00:35:13] Alex: It's charming when it's not damaging.

[00:35:14] Ami: Yeah, so we don't do that.

[00:35:16] Abby: And that's not part of your myth.

[00:35:17] Ami: And that's not part of the myth. But we're, but my mom, because she had this experience of her husband, you know, leaving the church, struggling with this throughout his entire adulthood and then eventually coming back to the church when I was, you know, in my mid twenties, I think that she expects that that is the path that I and my siblings are on.

[00:35:42] She thinks that eventually we will find our way back. And she clings to that very much. I don't know what the right way to handle that is, but she, um...

[00:35:52] Alex: I don't know.

[00:35:52] Ami: We had a conversation when my daughter was born because my daughter was born and a couple months later my grandfather passed away. And it's this extremely heightened emotional time in the whole family. And my dad says, 'Well, I'm just so, you know, it's just such a comfort...'

[00:36:12] It was his father who had died. And he says, you know, 'I'm just so comforted that we'll all be together again in heaven. And, you know, I know that you guys, it's so important to me that you guys have like the dedication ceremony for Alice.'

[00:36:23] And as soon as he said that, I mean, we were still going to church occasionally.

[00:36:28] Alex: Yeah.

[00:36:28] Ami: But when he said 'You're gonna have this dedication ceremony for the baby' it was like, I heard that horror movie sound.

[00:36:35] Abby: [Laughing]

[00:36:35] Ami: Like it was like a record scratch, like, no! No, we are absolutely not going to do that. And because that was a really big deal to him, I had to have a conversation with my mom at that point and I told her, 'Look, I don't really know what I believe, but I can't go through this dedication ceremony where I promise to raise her in the church and I promise to do all of these things and I dedicate her life to God when I'm not really sure what that means, and I'm not...'

[00:37:10] So she accepted it, my dad never mentioned it again. Then of course, you know, a few years later we kind of have to have, as you say, you know, we have to have another conversation about it. And this is one of the saddest conversations we've ever had. She, um, was there and she was talking about, she's really involved in her church. She teaches, you know, like the early teens Sabbath school. She, um, and she's such a good person.

[00:37:41] Abby: She is, Ami's mom...

[00:37:42] Ami: She's wonderful.

[00:37:43] Abby: The gentlest of our three mothers, I think.

[00:37:46] Ami: She's, she is, gentle is probably the best word to describe her. She's an incredibly gentle, incredibly nurturing person. An incredibly kind person and unselfish in every way, and just...

[00:37:58] Alex: Very authentic.

[00:37:59] Ami: Very, very genuine and sincere, and you know, I hope to be as good a person when I grow up. She, she is, she's a great person and I am close with her. This was, I don't know, maybe five or six years ago now, but she... We were talking and she was telling me about things that were going on with their church and the things that they were doing.

[00:38:23] And she says, um, she's like... And we kind of talked a little bit about my feelings about all of this and how we're not raising our child that way and we're not going to church. And again, it doesn't ever quite come to saying, 'I don't believe in God,' but just, you know, we're kind of talking around it as we do.

[00:38:45] She says, 'I know and I understand.' And she's like, she's like, 'I just sometimes feel, feel sad.' And she says, 'I'm gonna go into church tomorrow and I'm going to get up in front and give this talk about, you know, what we can do to make the church more welcoming to young people and all of this.'

[00:39:04] And she's like, 'And I know the whole time I'm planning it, I can hear Satan in my ear saying, you're such a hypocrite. You're gonna say all this stuff, but not one of your children will be in church tomorrow.' And she says this to me, tearfully, you know.

[00:39:18] Abby: Heartbreaking.

[00:39:19] Ami: And it breaks my heart because it breaks her heart. And you know, and I love her so much and she loves me so much. And I know that she knows that I'm a good person and I know that she is proud of me. I know that your parents are proud of you. Alex will joke that his parents are not proud of him, but it's not true. They, you know, I mean, they know that you are a good father. They know that you are a good person. But they still have this way in which they have to feel disappointed.

[00:39:49] Abby: And that's what makes me bitter and angry towards it.

[00:39:53] Ami: Well, because their friends and the other people in their community have this thing that they can humiliate them with. They can whisper about their children in this, and I know that they do because they did it about my dad when, you know, when I was a kid. I know what that is like. And I hate that I've put them in that position, but...

[00:40:12] Abby: And that's one reason I have not been more public about not being an Adventist. Partially, I just feel like it's nobody's business. But I also feel a little bit like a hypocrite because I don't, there are times when I kind of throttle what I would otherwise say in social media because I know who's watching and I know it includes my parents. You know, at least relatives who don't know the full situation and, and, and things that could get back to my parents' friends.

[00:40:40] And I feel responsible for them being publicly humiliated if I am not in the church. And Adventist community, like any small community, is somewhat of a gossipy place. There's little grudges that get...

[00:40:55] Alex: Yeah, everybody knows everybody.

[00:40:56] Abby: Everybody knows everybody and it shouldn't affect me, especially now, but it does.

[00:41:03] Ami: Yeah.

[00:41:03] Alex: Well, you're still a human who cares about people. Believe it or not, being an atheist doesn't make you not care about people.

[00:41:10] Abby: Yeah.

[00:41:12] Ami: I will say that I appreciate that my parents do not go out of their way to proselytize to me. They don't go out of their way to, um, I mean, you know, every letter that my mom sends to me, 'cause she sends, she sends cards.

[00:41:26] If I spend the day with her, she'll send me a little note the next week saying "It was good to be with you." You know, she's very sweet in this way, but every note, of course, she ends with, you know, I'm praying for you, I love you. And you know, that's the...

[00:41:43] Alex: [Knocking]

[00:41:44] Abby: Alex is here.

[00:41:45] Ami: You're ruining it.

[00:41:46] Alex: Sorry, I'm fidgety!

[00:41:48] Ami: But, uh, I didn't raise you to be like that.

[00:41:51] Alex: Didn't you?

[00:41:52] Ami: No. Anyway, but other than that, you know, she doesn't, she doesn't badger about it. Whereas Alex's parents are a little bit more likely to pick at the scab, I guess?

[00:42:06] Abby: Alex's parents amuse me, but that's because I'm not their child.

[00:42:10] Group: [Laughing]

[00:42:11] Alex: No, they amuse me too.

[00:42:12] Abby: The stuff your mom does is hilarious.

[00:42:14] Alex: She tries to trick me into realizing that God has always been there and that God is, that God is pulling all these strings.

[00:42:22] Abby: There's two sets of footprints, Alex.

[00:42:24] Alex: That there's, that there was...

[00:42:25] Abby: Oh wait, only one.

[00:42:25] Alex: There was only one set of footprints on the beach and it wasn't mine. Like she's, what, what is the most recent thing she's done? It's like she'll...

[00:42:33] Ami: Oh, that, uh, your tonsillitis is an answer to prayer.

[00:42:37] Abby: [Laughing] Seriously?

[00:42:38] Alex: So I had a sore throat for three weeks and I, you know, I go to the doctor and my doctor thinks it's viral, and of course it's not. So that, what she gave me for that didn't help. And then she looks at it again and gives me an anti-inflammatory. And because it's tonsillitis, it's knocked out.

[00:42:52] So she sends me to a specialist, and the day before I go to the specialist, my mom calls and she's concerned and I'm telling her that I'm going to the doctor or whatever, and she's like... She's like, 'Well, listen, I'm going to pray for you and I know you don't do that, but I'm going to do that 'cause I still believe in prayer and I believe that prayer will work and I'm gonna pray for you.'

[00:43:12] I'm like, 'Okay.' You know, I'm, I just, when, when she starts talking about that, I just simply stop engaging. I just, I kind of go silent and I kind of just let her, kind of just let her say her piece and then I'm like, 'Yep, okay.' You know, I'm not, I'm not gonna give her anything. Like, I'm not gonna give her shit about it at that moment, anyway.

[00:43:31] So anyway, I go to the doctor the next day and the doctor says, 'Oh, you got tonsillitis, here's some, here's some antibiotics.' And then my mom calls me the next day and 'How did it go?' And I said, oh, well, 'I have tonsillitis and I have antibiotics.' And she says, 'Oh, what an answer to prayer!'

[00:43:47] Abby: Aghhhh!

[00:43:48] Alex: What an answer to prayer. And she says, because you know, 'I prayed about this and this has been a true answer to prayer.'

[00:43:55] Ami: And you're like, you know, 'I had an appointment with a medical professional before you ever prayed.'

[00:44:01] Alex: It's what she's doing and she's done, there's a few other examples of her, of her trying to, like...

[00:44:05] Ami: She wants to orchestrate a miracle or something that's gonna win you over.

[00:44:08] Alex: She wants it to be an epiphany to me that all of a sudden, 'Oh, that really was God orchestrating this situation' or whatever. And, uh, and she tries to, she tries to sneak it in there like, 'Don't you, don't you see that that was a, that, that was an answer to prayer because I prayed and then the doctor gave you antibiotics?'

[00:44:26] Abby: It's always rife with logical fallacies, these scenarios she comes up with. That's what makes me laugh.

[00:44:31] Alex: Oh man and, you know, and so I, I've never said the word atheist to them. And I think they, I think they probably know I'm an atheist.

[00:44:40] Ami: Well see, I think that atheist is outside the possible options in their minds.

[00:44:46] Alex: Maybe so.

[00:44:48] Ami: We shared this in the Twitter feed, but we had a post from an Adventist family member that's talking about, you know, that she just really hopes that her loved ones will maintain some connection to God. Even though, even though they've left and all of this. And I can't remember the way in which she phrases it, but someone immediately responds on Facebook. One of her friends immediately says, 'Well, I hope you don't mean to say that they've left God. Leaving the church is one thing, but leaving God...'

[00:45:22] Abby: 'I'm sure then she didn't mean that.'

[00:45:24] Ami: Another friend comments after that and says, 'I'm sure she meant to say left the church, not left God. Let's hope she hasn't given up on our Savior.'

[00:45:34] Alex: That is a hell of a thing for an Adventist to say.

[00:45:36] Ami: Oh my god, it's just so...

[00:45:39] Alex: I mean, we were taught that, that Adventism was the one true faith and that, and that you didn't go to heaven unless you were an Ad... Or at least that's what I was raised, that you weren't going to heaven unless you were an Adventist.

[00:45:49] Ami: I hemmed and hawed around it a little bit.

[00:45:51] Alex: No, for us it was very specific...

[00:45:52] Ami: We were definitely the remnant church, we were the...

[00:45:55] Alex: For us, it was very specific. God would not come until everyone had heard the news that the seventh day was Sabbath and made a decision to either go to church on Sunday or to go to church on Saturday.

[00:46:06] Abby: Yeah, we were taught that everyone is responsible for the light that they had received.

[00:46:10] Alex: Right.

[00:46:10] Abby: And so like if people lived before, if they died without hearing about Adventism, then God would judge them according to the light that they had received. But if they had been presented with the truth, then, then their blood was on their own heads, basically.

[00:46:23] And so that's also one reason why it's so hard for parents to deal with people like us leaving the church. Because if I had, if I was a relative that they knew that, um, had never been presented with the truth in a way that I could understand or whatever, they could make some excuse for me and I might still be in heaven.

[00:46:37] But the fact that I was once an Adventist and left, Ellen White leaves no loopholes for people like that. They have to invent a loophole if they're going to have one, because there is none in their mythology.

[00:46:48] Alex: No, no, no, I mean, I think according, according to how the three of us at this table were raised, we are going to hell if it exists.

[00:46:53] Abby: Absolutely damned.

[00:46:54] Ami: For sure.

[00:46:55] Alex: We're damned, we're apostates right?

[00:46:57] Ami: Yeah.

[00:46:57] Alex: I mean, we're lucky we weren't stoned by our family.

[00:46:59] Abby: [Laughing]

[00:47:00] Ami: No, Jesus is right now in the corner with a single tear and all of our guardian angels are waiting outside while we record this.

[00:47:05] Abby: Yeah, Adventism is much more passive aggressive than stoning, you know, it's a single tear.

[00:47:09] Alex: They just, they just try to convince you of miracles later on and hopefully you'll come back to the church, like my mother.

[00:47:14] Abby: Oh goodness. Well, my mom does some of that. The whole, like at one point in our travels, like we had been dealing with some sort of difficulty and after we were done dealing with the difficulty through our own skill and cleverness, like getting ourselves out of this situation, she says, 'See, prayer works!' And I'm like, I'm thinking, 'If you had told me you were praying beforehand, [laughing] that might've worked better. I didn't even know you were praying!'

[00:47:39] Alex: 'I wouldn't have worked as hard if I'd known you were praying!'

[00:47:41] Ami: Prayer, prayer is a thing we need to add to the list.

[00:47:44] Abby: I would've let God work.. I would've stood still and let God work if I had known you were praying, out of a sheer spite, mom.

[00:47:50] Ami: We need to add prayer to the list of topics we need to discuss 'cause that's a thing... That is a, an issue that really broke my brain a little bit when I was in the church.

[00:48:00] Abby: Prayer cover should be discussed. Were you ever told that you needed "prayer cover?"

[00:48:05] Alex: No.

[00:48:06] Abby: During, for a while our church went through this phase where during a sermon, a group of ladies who were particularly outside the norm, these are already women who are somewhat fanatical...

[00:48:15] Ami: I remember what you're talking about.

[00:48:16] Abby: ...would all be in the office, not listening to the sermon, but providing "prayer cover" because somehow God was more active? God was like a...

[00:48:29] Ami: Imagine mages maintaining a magical force field.

[00:48:34] Alex: That sounds, that sounds like a defensive measure against, against demons or something, like we gotta keep the demons outta church, so we gotta, better, better pray hard.

[00:48:41] Ami: Yeah, that's another episode, I guess.

[00:48:43] Alex: First of all, first of all, first of all, I just have to say that I don't think that shit would've flown in my church. People would've thought, probably thought that was nutty, nutty weirdness. Like at the church I went to, they probably would've been like, 'What are you doing,' that's fucking weird.

[00:48:54] Abby: Even my parents thought that was nutty, weird...

[00:48:55] Alex: That's fucking weird.

[00:48:57] Abby: But it happened, it was a thing that happened.

[00:48:59] Alex: Anyway.

[00:48:59] Ami: Well, some of... We get into some fun things every now and then with the extended family, um, my sibs and I. They don't do this with me very much because I don't engage very much, but my sister...

[00:49:15] Alex: I also think they know that you're smarter than them.

[00:49:16] Ami: Well, my sister is also smarter than them, but she's, but she's the baby of the family.

[00:49:21] Alex: She's smaller than them.

[00:49:22] Ami: And I think that because she's the baby, they kind of... She's not just the youngest of my siblings, she's one of the younger of the entire group of cousins. And so I think that they feel free to, I'm sure they don't see it this way, but to bully her a bit with it. And, and she will engage them more than I will.

[00:49:43] So, like a cousin of ours completely unsolicited with no, no warning, no nothing, just mails her this book. So she gets this book in the mail, like gift sent from Amazon with no indication of who it's come from. And it's this Adventist like devotional, memoir kind of a thing? I can't remember the title of it.

[00:50:10] But, she goes on this quest to figure out who sent this shit to her. Because you have to understand she's a huge reader. Spontaneously arriving books is like, this is the greatest treat in the world. A box I didn't expect from Amazon on my door. And then she opens it and 'What the fuck is this?' And so she goes on this quest to figure out 'Who sent this to me?'

[00:50:35] Abby: I hope she reviewed it.

[00:50:36] Ami: She did.

[00:50:37] Abby: Oh, good.

[00:50:37] Ami: She finally, she's like, 'Who sent this to me?' And she's eliminating people. She's like, if it was my mom, she would've sent it to me with a personal letter explaining why she was sending it to me. If it was so and so, they never would've sent it to me, they would've just yelled at me on Facebook, if it was... It finally turns out she posts about it on Facebook saying, 'I'm trying to figure out who sent me this book,' and our cousin finally fesses up that he sent it to her. And he's like, 'I didn't realize that this would be a problem. Like I just, I thought you might like it.'

[00:51:06] And she's like, 'What in our experience makes you believe that I would like this book?' But she's like, 'Fine, fine, I will take you at your word. You sent me this book out of a genuine desire to share with me. I'm going to believe that.' And so she read it and she read it cover to cover, taking notes all the way through, and she wrote him a letter back saying, 'Here are the things that I feel are deeply offensive to my life and belief system. Here's why I feel that you sending me this book was an act of aggression.'

[00:51:42] And then she, but she's like, 'Fine, so here's my response to the book you sent me. I read it and now here is,' and I forget what book she sent to him. I think she sent him Letter to a Christian Nation or something like that.

[00:51:58] Abby: 'I just thought you would like this.'

[00:51:59] Ami: And just like, 'Okay fine, you sent me this book because you thought that I might get something out of it. So here, what do you make of this one?' And course she never heard any...

[00:52:08] Alex: I was gonna say he's not gonna read that.

[00:52:11] Ami: But that sort of, aggressive kind of, I don't know. I mean, I guess there are more aggressive examples of people witnessing to you after you've made it clear that you're not interested in it, but that sort of...

[00:52:24] Alex: I don't have that in my life, fortunately. I just have my mom kind of trying to like say it without saying it. You know, we, she speaks a lot in code about, you know, 'All things happened for the glory of God' and stuff like that. But I don't have anybody like, truly like brow beating me.

[00:52:40] Abby: You guys do have the experience of people trying to steal your child and indoctrinate her.

[00:52:45] Ami: That's true. My grandmother tried to take our daughter when she was about four years old to this passion play that they put on near where my parents live in this, you know, rural area. And they put on this elaborate passion play that includes camels and it's, anyway...

[00:53:05] Alex: All sorts of livestock.

[00:53:06] Ami: Oh, it's just, it's so over the top. But it's also very intense and violent as a passion...

[00:53:12] Alex: There's a crucifixion that takes place live in front of you, that's pretty fucked up.

[00:53:16] Abby: When you think about it, that's really fucked up.

[00:53:19] Alex: Yeah!

[00:53:19] Ami: Our daughter was staying with my parents for a few days. And like I said, she was probably like three or four years old when this happened, probably about four. And my grandparents were visiting and they just sprung that on everyone. Like, 'Oh, we bought tickets for everybody to go to this passion play. I guess Alice will just have to come with us...'

[00:53:41] Abby: And learn the story of Jesus!

[00:53:45] Ami: Full credit to my mom, she immediately called me and she calls me at work and says, 'Look, your grandma bought these tickets. I didn't think you would be comfortable with this.' She's like, 'I know that it's very intense and she's very little.' And she's like, 'If you think that she could go to it, I will take her out during the scary parts.'

[00:54:06] Abby: Credit to your mother!

[00:54:07] Ami: Credit to her for, you know, giving me the option of saying no. But here I am, two hours away at work. And my grandmother was absolutely trying to sneak this by, totally. So I called my brother who was working, you know, closer to them and was like, 'They're taking Alice to a passion play! You have to go rescue her! Save my child!'

[00:54:31] Abby: [Laughing]

[00:54:32] Ami: And anyway, he went and rescued her and she did not go to see a live crucifixion or anything of that sort. But they do try sometimes, in the same way that, you know, family members would kind of take her aside at family gatherings and be like, 'Now, tell your parents that you want a little brother or sister.' You know, they will kind of do the 'Now, wouldn't you like to go to church? Maybe you should tell your daddy...'

[00:54:59] Alex: Like to go to Sabbath school?

[00:55:01] Abby: Fun songs!

[00:55:02] Alex: See the other kids?

[00:55:04] Ami: Yeah, which is always how it's sold.

[00:55:06] Alex: Mm-hmm.

[00:55:07] Abby: If I had a child, my parents would be much more aggressive.

[00:55:10] Alex: Are they, I mean, your brother, I assume, still takes his kid to church and...

[00:55:14] Abby: Yeah um, my brother, uh, is still an Adventist. Um, he's a very liberal Adventist.

[00:55:23] Alex: We call those "Badventists."

[00:55:24] Abby: He's definitely what you would call a Badventist. I think, well, my brother has pretty much said before that he, he believes that Christianity is, is good basically. And it doesn't matter what kind of a Christian you are. Oh, I mean, that it doesn't matter...

[00:55:39] Alex: Wishy-washy belief!

[00:55:41] Abby: Well, he is in a more difficult position. If he decided he didn't wanna do it, he would, the pushback I've gotten would be nothing compared to the pushback...

[00:55:50] Alex: Well, it would probably ruin his marriage.

[00:55:51] Abby: Because it would be a big problem in his marriage and it would be a big problem with, with [Bleep]. He would catch it from both his wife's parent, mother, and my parents over [Bleep] and I'll have to bleep my nephew's name out. Also, gosh, I don't know how much I can say about my brother. I'm gonna, I'm gonna assume my parents are not listening to this.

[00:56:10] Alex: I think you should assume they are.

[00:56:12] Abby and Ami: [Laughing]

[00:56:14] Abby: Well, my brother does a number of things that are, that are, would be considered absolutely verboten to the Adventist lifestyle. But he also lives in part of the country where, um...

[00:56:25] Ami: The church is more liberal.

[00:56:26] Alex: He's one of those "left coast liberal elites," right?

[00:56:29] Abby: Yes, he's one of those left coast Adventists. I never have any problem hanging out with them. They also have like, friends and coworkers who are pretty much atheists and they've grown comfortable hanging around with. So, they've never pressured me to go to church, and their church literally does feed the homeless. Like they go to this downtown church that put, that puts out a big spread for the homeless.

[00:56:52] And when, so one thing that I did wanna say, and this is, this probably has more bearing with my brother than with my parents. I sometimes feel like I'm kind of a coward because when I first left the church, I did not have any kind of an idea that it would be a better life.

[00:57:09] Like I really thought that it might be a worse life. I really thought that maybe religion was sort of, something that we made up because our minds needed it, and without it, we wouldn't be mentally stable. And you know, even if it was totally a human invention, it was one that we weren't meant to see through, you know, we invented it for a reason.

[00:57:27] And so I, I was concerned because my brother and I have always been really close, that I was gonna take him with me. And I kind of knew if I really pushed, I might, could, and I did not want to embark on this experiment feeling responsible for him. I wanted him to make his own decision.

[00:57:47] Alex: I mean, it's just his immortal soul that's in jeopardy, Abby.

[00:57:49] Abby: I know, I mean, what if, and at that point I really was like, 'What if I'm wrong?' Every once in a while, I would say to myself, and like... So I, um, I kind of went out of my way when I first left to be like, 'I'm doing this by myself.' And did not share a lot of my thought processes with him in the way that we shared almost everything else.

[00:58:12] So now that I've been out of it for about seven years, I'm like, 'Oh, this is great, this is a much better way to live. I wonder if I should try to proselytize my brother.' Not because it would be more comfortable if we believe the same thing, but because I think he would be happier and I think he kind of believes this stuff already, but he is in a place that would be less comfortable. To make that shift would be much harder for him.

[00:58:40] And his wife is not a, uh, she is a very, what you would call spiritual person. She was kind of tortured with fundamentalist Adventism growing up, so she's really not a very fundamentalist Adventist at all. She was pretty much abused as a child with Ellen White.

[00:58:57] So, um, she is not fundamentalist in that way at all, but she is one of these people that like, has worship every morning where she like, you know, thinks through all of her fears and hangups and thoughts with a journal to God or you know, whatever. And like you, you know, so like this is part of her psychological, you know, internal...

[00:59:16] Alex: Yeah, she would be so much happier if she quit...

[00:59:18] Abby: I agree, I agree, but she would have to find another way to channel...

[00:59:22] Ami: She would have to meditate every morning.

[00:59:24] Alex: Or she'd have to realize that she didn't need to.

[00:59:27] Ami: I mean, the thing you're talking about, I, I did like, I would get up in the morning and I would read a passage from the Bible and I would sit there and I would write in a journal and I would wrestle with these ideas...

[00:59:37] Alex: Part of it though is feeling burdened that you should.

[00:59:40] Ami: Truthfully, it is, but what I ultimately began to do instead is every morning I get up and I sit here with a cup of coffee and I read a poem, and if I'm good in doing what I'm trying to do as a writer, I sit and, and write a little bit.

[00:59:57] And it is the same, it's the same thing. It's processing my emotions, it's processing and kind of centering myself at the beginning of the day. Not in a spiritual sense, but in, in a psychological sense. And, um, and you could replace that.

[01:00:12] You could realize that who you're talking to when you write this journal to God is yourself. And you could realize that what you are looking for when you read these passages and look for meaning and inspiration, is some understanding of the world around you, which you get from art and philosophy and all of these other things as well.

[01:00:29] Abby: Yeah and my sister-in-law, her hobby is making jewelry to sell on Etsy and the local stores. I mean, she's not...

[01:00:34] Alex: Wow, so she is a Badventist.

[01:00:36] Abby: Oh, they're both, I mean, and, and my, and my brother drinks. Although I, maybe I should cut that out. Um, anyway, and I'm laughing because it's funny.

[01:00:45] Group: [Laughing]

[01:00:47] Alex: I mean, it kind of is funny.

[01:00:48] Abby: When he first started drinking, there was no one else that he could drink with except for me. And so for a while there, every time we saw each other, we had to go out and like not just get a drink, but like experiment, so like...

[01:01:00] Ami: 'Today, we will try bloody marys.'

[01:01:02] Abby: Yeah, today we will try a flight of beers and discover that we don't like any of them. Then we'll drink all of them. Which was kind of fun and kind of silly.

[01:01:11] Ami: I still find that sort of thing fun. I like nothing better than a variety pack of something.

[01:01:16] Alex: Fuck hangovers, that's all I have to say.

[01:01:20] Abby: So yeah, there, but, but see now I think I'm like, maybe I should have tried harder to take him with me. That was before he had a kid, like...

[01:01:30] Ami: Well, but you are also not, you were not then and you are not now responsible for his spiritual journey.

[01:01:37] Abby: I know.

[01:01:38] Ami: And that is...

[01:01:39] Abby: And I was a missionary as an Adventist, so there's a part of me that's, that still just feels guilty if I'm not a proselytizer.

[01:01:45] Ami: Sharing the good news.

[01:01:47] Abby: Sharing the good news of atheism! So I, there's a part of me that...

[01:01:51] Alex: To do a sports metaphor, which I think is really what, what all podcasts should be, is sports metaphor after sports metaphor, you gotta play, you gotta play your own game. You got, I mean, you can't play someone else's game for that.

[01:02:03] Abby: That's true, that's true. And I told, I told [Bleep] at one point, I'm like, 'You know what, I did you guys a huge favor because you can sell all the jewelry and drink all you like, but you're not an atheist.' Because they would've gotten so much more flack for raising [Bleep] the way they're raising him if I had not left the church before they had that child. I wrote them...

[01:02:22] Ami: You ran interference for them.

[01:02:24] Abby: Yeah, as long as they take him to church, they can do whatever the hell they please. And I was like, you should thank me 'cause... [laughing]

[01:02:31] Ami: You're not getting any crap right now.

[01:02:32] Alex: I will say I have found that, that with the kid...

[01:02:36] Abby: And we're gonna stop there. Check back next week to hear the conclusion of our conversation about families and leaving the church. We'll see you then!

Haystacks & Hell Outro

[01:02:43] Santiago: Thanks for listening. If you have a story to share about your Adventist or fundamentalist experience, we'd love to hear it. You can submit stories on our website at hell.bio (that's H E L L dot B I O) or leave us a voicemail at 301-750-8648 and we might feature it in a future episode. Thanks to Abby and Ami for their original podcast audio, and thanks again for listening. We'll see you on the next one!

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