A (slightly) new direction for the ex-Christadelphians Website - Part 1

Having recently become the new editor for this website, I want to provide a high-level overview of my goals for the website, and give some background around why I want to keep the website going and what it means to me. I'll also be looking for some feedback from you that I will use to chart the future course of the website, although you can of course offer such feedback at any time.

First, some personal background...

I probably ventured onto this website no more than 2 or 3 times as a Christadelphian, and even then I don't remember ever clicking further than the front page. Back when I was a Christadelphian or even simply as an agnostic, I considered this blog to be irrelevant to my goal of seeking the truth.

I was somewhat curious about why some people would leave the Christadelphians, but for whatever reason I was always too quick to pre-judge, and it was easier to come up with simplistic reasons to dismiss them than it was to seek these people out and listen to what they had to say.

But as I mentioned above, probably my main reason for avoiding this website is really that it wasn't important to me. What was important was, if I'm honest, reinforcing the beliefs I already held, and I knew I wasn't going to get that from a website like this, and so I spent my time looking elsewhere. I discounted the views expressed here even without knowing what they were. When someone (such as my former self, or many other Christadelphians) already thinks they know what is true, they judge the trustworthiness of their sources according to whether or not the source agrees with their existing views. This is sadly how many fundamentalists approach the world, not recognising the danger in actively producing such an impenetrable echo chamber.

Where we've erred in the past

On the few occasions when I did visit this website as a Christadelphian, I was confronted by the negative and derisive tone of the website. That tone may well have been justified and indeed forgivable given the emotional and psychological trauma potentially experienced by the authors at the time (I don't remember who they were), but all the same it was enough to put me off in an instant, and the impression I had of this website was that of a few bitter folks who had somehow felt wronged by the Christadelphians, but whose experience clearly didn't match my own (so I felt at the time).

Please don't think I'm pointing the finger here, lest I make myself a hypocrite. When I look back at my own blog, exchristovoiceofreason.com, I see the same negative tone show up on many occasions, sometimes in my articles, and especially when replying to Christadelphians who commented. My aim in pointing all of this out is not to set myself up as superior, but rather to acknowledge that many of us suffer from the same weakness, and I am no exception. Very often our knee-jerk reflex to justify ourselves and win the argument fires off far quicker than the calm voice of reason that might seek to understand the other person's point of view and seek for common ground.

It's not just in these interactions either. Many times in life we face a fork in the road where we have a choice to make in how we respond. One path can lead to a new friend, while the other can lead to a new enemy. Unfortunately on the internet the latter path is usually the path of least resistance, whether it be doubling down on our beliefs, or defending ourselves vehemently. It's all too easy to attack the faceless person on some website when we're sitting behind a keyboard. We may win the argument, but we lose a potential friend. To borrow a cliche, we win the battle but lose the war.

At this point I want to reiterate that I fully understand the negativity against religion and I share many similar views myself. There are many ways that we who have left a predominantly fundamentalist religion like the Christadelphians have felt traumatised and harmed by the religion, both in childhood indoctrination and in the various practices enforced on us as we grew older. So I'm not even saying that the negativity isn't justified. In many cases, it is extremely well justified. What I am saying is that that discussion is probably better suited to a different forum, or in other words there is a time and a place. Most of the anger I and others have expressed towards the religion is actually far better directed at our former selves (for not waking up sooner, or for allowing others to treat us badly), rather than the readers or whoever we happen to be responding to. Perhaps there will be some articles on here where such expressions of anger will be appropriate, but in general I think we need to rise above the emotional backlash and think about what we hope to achieve here.

That's what I want to focus on in part 2.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please be nice when writing comments. Thank you.