Deconstruction Part 3 (finally!)


It happened again this week. I ran into a person that attends a church I used to attend. After a couple of minutes of awkward conversation, THAT question pops up. “So where are you going to church now?” The easy way out would be to say the name of the last church I attended on a regular basis. But that feels dishonest to me, misleading to say the least. On the other hand, I didn’t want to get into a long discussion about why I don’t attend church anymore either. In this particular case I answered in the way I do most of the time, “well, we were going to X church after we left W church, but we aren’t going anywhere currently.” Usually that’s enough for each of us to move on.

And so I return to the discussion of my deconstruction from christianity. Why don’t I attend church anymore? I previously wrote about this topic here,, here, and here To recap briefly, a few years ago I began to research nagging questions I had about my faith and god. Ultimately I came to a position called Christian Universalism. Christian Universalism has several different forms, but the basic belief is that God doesn’t do ECT, Eternal Conscientious Torment. It could be that god saves all, as is referenced in the Bible in several places, or that god allows punishment for a period of time before reestablishing the individual to heaven, or it could be what is called Annihilation, which teaches that non-believers cease to exist when they die, so no eternal torment. I’ll say right here that Annihilation never made sense to me.

At this point my wife and I really felt that Christian Universalism was the answer, and we were comfortable with that. But we didn’t stop our research there. We continued to read books, articles and watch documentaries on the history of christianity. The more we did, the more questions we had about christianity specifically and religion in general. Our excitement about finding the “answers” in Universalism faded as we began to see major issues with what christianity taught, and had evolved into over the centuries. The turning point for me was the realization that I no longer was sure that Jesus was god, and that he died for my sins.

Around this time we began to meet weekly with a couple who were having some of the same issues and questions. Coming from the same church background, one of the couple had come to a place of atheism while the other was dealing with the loss of community from slowly leaving church. During this time I briefly slipped into atheism, while my wife never stopped thinking that there was a spiritual world, just not the one we had spent our entire lives in. My wife and I also began to really look at alternative theories about how we came to be.

I didn’t stay in the atheistic camp that long. I do believe there is something beyond what we see now. Rob Bell has a great talk on what he calls Everything Is Spiritual. It doesn’t give answers, just things to think about. And so I find myself at a place that I call being an agnostic with hope. Agnostic because I truly don’t know what the truth is, and “with hope” because I still hope for a loving force or being in an afterlife. Could be god, could be something else. I don’t know. It could be that this life is all there is. My research has shown me what I don’t believe, the holes and problems and blind faith in things that my christian faith had. But research hasn’t given me concrete answers to what is. We can’t have that in this life, we can only guess and follow our feelings. For some, that means unwavering faith in a god we can’t see or feel. For others that means believing that this life is it, we evolved from nothing and we return to nothing. For others there is a belief in a conscientiousness after we die, becoming part of the “force” so to speak.

For me, I’ll continue to pursue truth, without the expectation that I’ll find ultimate answers in this life, and with the hope of a life of some sort after death. I have peace in all of this, the messy business of not knowing. I’ll continue to follow the teachings of Jesus, who I greatly respect even though I no longer believe he was god. I’ll continue to be amazed at the make believe of my former faith. So that’s a summery of my deconstruction, I asked questions, I followed those questions where they led me, I lost my faith, I gained my freedom.

In a future post, I’ll list some of the books and authors and researchers that influenced me during this time of learning. I’m happy to discuss these issues with anyone who would like to. On Messenger is probably the best way.


Saying Goodbye


I haven’t posted in a while. There’s a lot of reasons for this, I’ve taken on several projects, I’m knee deep in the renovation of my home, I’m actively creating art for my Patreon page, I’m involved in a new business venture.

But more than anything I just listed, I’ve been emotionally wiped out by a death in the family. No, it’s not a human family member, thank god. But it hurts like one. Four weeks ago, our beautiful Lab/Husky mix, Koa, was hit by a car. His back was broken in two places and there was no realistic way to save him. Now people lose pets all the time, and we have had our fair share of pets die over the years. Dogs, cats, bunnies, living on a busy road claims it’s victims. But Koa was more than a pet. We adopted him 5 years ago, to help fill an empty place in our home after my mother passed away. At the shelter, while his siblings rushed the cage to bark and get our attention, he sat back and just looked at us. Kris and I looked at each other and said together, “I like that one”.

He was beautiful and gentle and an unbelievable mooch. For the past 5 years he has been our constant companion. He was always part of the family. Nearly a month since he died we still think we hear him at the door, or we’ll have food and think “Koa’s gonna love this”, only to remember he’s not there anymore. We cried when he was hit and we cried when we had to put him down. I’ve cried more often than I care to admit the past few weeks. There has been a dark cloud of sadness in the house.

We will move on of course, that’s what you do with loss. But it’s hard to imagine not still missing him and feeling sad. For my family, Koa’s loss is the latest in difficult deaths. My mother’s passing in November of 2012 was followed by the sudden death of my brother in November 2016. Koa leaving us too soon just continues the sadness we feel.

I don’t have a point with this post, other than I needed to put my feeling into print, to work through the pain. To say thank you to Koa for the joy and companionship he gave us. To tell him we loved him and we miss him.

I Love You #19, A Memory

Screen Shot 2018-08-09 at 10.10.34 AM

Quick story about the concert in the image. Ok, not that specific show, but one a year earlier, nearly the same setlist, etc. At the time I was working and going to art school in Ft. Lauderdale. I was a big fan of the band Daniel Amos, (which had morphed into the name DA, which would eventually morph into da), but I digress. DA was one of the first CCM groups to move into new wave territory musically. They started in the 70’s as a country rock band, moved into Beatle-ish pop rock, and then burst out all new wavey.

I had seen them a few years earlier in the Horrendous Disc Beatle era, and enjoyed it greatly. I was curious to see how they were in full new wave mode live. The show was being put on at a local YMCA and I was careful to get there early, figuring it would be a small venue and seating would be tight. Well it was small alright, maybe 150-200 chairs setup in a medium sized room. Nobody was seated yet and I took my place in the front row, pleased that I would be front and center.

As show time came closer and closer, I noticed there was very little activity. A few people were setup in the back to sell things, and hardly anyone was walking around. A handful of people came and sat down, and I do mean handful. Start time came and there were still only a few of us, less than 10, sitting there. I wondered if the concert would be canceled. But after a few minutes, out they came, doing they’re best to look enthusiastic. I was mortified, I had never been to a show with this few in attendance. For a major CCM band. And so, for the next hour and a half, DA played cutting edge music on a full concert setup, strobe lights, extremely tight musicianship, to 10 people. And I sang the songs at the top of my lungs, embarrassed for them that they had to play for so few. Anyone who knows me well knows I can’t sing a lick, but I did my best, trying to create some kind of crowd feedback.

After the show, I talked to a couple of the band members as they were taking down the equipment. I thanked them for giving us a full effort despite the attendance. They said they were experiencing similar turnouts else where on that tour through Florida, and wouldn’t be using the same promoter again. It had to be depressing for them. But for me, it was a concert to remember, the night DA played almost exclusively for me. I left humming their song “I Love You #19″…

All right!

[Verse 1]
Now if I say it real pretty in a pretty rhyme
Well, does your mind get cloudy? That’s a dirty crime
Does it do things any good to tell you that I’m standing here Because I love you?

[Verse 2]
You say the voice is soothing, got those hypnotic eyes
But man, I wouldn’t want to hand you any alibis
You can blame it all on what you can
But do you see just where I am?
I love you

I had a flash
I saw you crying in the night
I said a prayer
I saw you walking in the night
And you were saying how it all once was
And how your life had changed because He loves you
And then you turned to tell someone who wouldn’t believe you
When you said, “I love you”

[Verse 3]
Now if I find it rough-going in expressing myself
And between the lines it’s coming from somebody else
Don’t you leave it all together, put this upon the shelf
I said I love you

[Verse 1]
Now if I say it real pretty in a pretty rhyme
Well, does your mind stay cloudy? That’s a dirty crime
Does it do things any good to tell you that I’m standing here Because I love you?
Does it do things any good to tell you that I’m standing here
Because I love you?
Well, does it do things any good to tell you that I’m standing here
Because I love you, love you, yes I do
I said I love you, love you, yes, I do
I said I love you, love you, yes, I do
I said I love you, love you, yes, I do
I said I love you, love you, yes, I do, yeah


The Heretic

Screen Shot 2018-07-11 at 8.04.27 AM

A few nights ago my wife and I watched the documentary on Rob Bell called The Heretic. It was a good look at Bell during and after the fall out from his book Love Wins. As I have mentioned previously, Bell is perhaps the single biggest influence in my deconstruction. Watching this film brought back many of the feelings I had as I went through my deconstruction stages. A friend of Bell’s, comedian Pete Holmes, explains in rather blue language many of the stages former fundementalists go through in coping with their loss of faith. It rang so true for my wife and I.

One of the interesting things about Bell is his nonstop energy and drive for knowledge and understanding of the big questions in life. His Everything Is Spiritual talk is fascinating and thought provoking. At this stage of my life I have no answers to the questions, although I do know what I don’t believe anymore. But I’m at peace with that, as Bell seems to be.

If your interested in the questions Bell raises, or that I do for that matter, I recommend watching this documentary. If you have heard of Rob Bell but don’t know what the fuss is about, I recommend this film. If you have questions and you wonder if your the only one having them, again, watch this film. If all you’ve heard is second hand talk about who and what Bell is, watch the film. It’s always best to get info first hand.

I’ll be watching this again soon, and using it to better lay out the questions, stages, etc. that led me to the place I am now, and will share them here.


They Tore The Old Place Down

Screen Shot 2018-06-13 at 8.26.36 AM

Each year for the past 3 or 4 years, I have taken a day to just be alone. I usually pick a place to go that I used to live. I started doing this after my mother died. A close friend told me that I needed to process my feelings, to go somewhere and be still, unaffected by deadlines or other things. And so that’s what I do each year.

This year wasn’t a planned trip. My daughter had come to stay with us for a few days and  I took her to the airport to fly home. I had taken the full day off from work, and she was safely at the airport by early afternoon and I had most of the day left to do whatever I wanted. The airport is only about 45 minutes from a small town that I lived in when I was a kid, one of my many stops along the way, so I decided to head there.

I lived in the tiny town of Castile roughly three years, including 1st and 2nd grade. My dad taught at a small college there. We came to Castile because my dad had contracted a disease that was debilitating him. Formerly a pastor, he didn’t have the energy to be a full time minister anymore. We moved into a small apartment that the college offered, in the building seen at the top of this post. We were upstairs and there were apartments in the down stairs.

I have fond memories of my life there. I had two close friends, Pat and Terry, and we enjoyed the small town and the freedom to roam the village. I especially remember going to a local store after school with Terry and getting a cup of cider. I developed a love of reading there at the town library, and sometimes I can still picture Tarzan in my mind the way I saw him when reading.


The thing I remember the most is the time I spent with my dad. He would be home, physically worn out, basically bed ridden. We would play catch with a beanbag in his bedroom, a simple thing, but to me it was wonderful. He would tell me years later that he felt so bad that he couldn’t do more with me than catch. But I loved those times, I didn’t think of it as being cheated. Those moments are sacred to me.

I went back to Castile two years ago, walked the town, took pictures, talked with people that I probably went to school with, but didn’t remember. And I visited the old building that we had lived in. It was empty, condemned and leaning dangerously to one side, seemingly held up only by one large tree. I talked to some locals and they said the building was owned by an out of towner who hadn’t been there for years.

So now in 2018, I came back to town. I drove by the library, which looks very much as it did when I was 10. I drove past the cider mill and Pat and Terry’s old homes. I drove by the old school I went to, closed for many years and very rundown. And finally I drove to see the old apartment building. A block away I could see something was different, and as I pulled up I realized the old place was gone. A gaping space where the building once stood. It was a funny feeling, like my memories had been whisked away. Bittersweet. They had torn the old place down.

I’m still processing my feelings. The building itself was nothing. But the memories it represented, of the times with my folks, my dad, my early friends, the beginning of the journey, they are very real. It was a simple life, a bygone time. I miss the place.

Momentary Numbness


A brief post about the journey. I have been planning on writing more on my deconstruction/faith journey. This should be Deconstruction Pt. 3. But it won’t be, at least not in the way I planned. Recently I spent a bit of time messaging with a friend and follower of this blog. The topic was the posts I have done on my deconstruction. It was a very good discussion. And it has led me to want to detail my journey in, well, detail. But I’m finding it a bit of a challenge to make the notes I need to make to accurately write about what happened to me.

It could be the things going on in my life at the moment. My recent cancer surgery has left me with some hefty bills. In addition my wife and sons and I have taken on the big challenge of renovating our 221 year old house (yes, that is not a typo, it’s old). Without going into detail, suffice it to say that it is expensive and time consuming and exhausting at times. In addition, I have launched a Patroen page ( to promote my art and raise money for the bills that are pressing. That means spending time creating new art.

Whatever the reason, I’m feeling a little numb these days. The political landscape is driving me crazy, so that probably plays into it. The truth is I have left the religious arena for good. And going back to examine how that happened seems exhausting. When it was happening in a big way there was a rush to it, a feeling both exciting and scary. Now there is a peace, but also a struggle to look back in detail.

I will continue this, I will write in much more detail about deconstruction, but not today. I’m tired of religion. But hey, tomorrow’s another day and maybe I’ll be ready!

The Story Behind A Painting


Here’s a quick post about the rose painting above. I have been notorious for taking forever on my artwork. I drive my wife crazy with my tendency to work on a project, then spend hours looking at the unfinished art, usually with the artwork upside down (it always looks better that way, trust me). And to top it off, I usually give up on it, sure that it is crap, and stick it away in a closet somewhere.

The rose painting has a completely different story. Several years ago, more than I can remember, I got into a pretty good argument with my wife. I’m sure I was wrong, I usually am! At some point she stormed off and I knew life would be emotionally painful until I set things straight with her. Unsure how to make that happen, I decided to paint her a yellow rose. Yellow is her favorite color.

Of course, my normal working time for a project like that would be two weeks to never, and I didn’t have that kind of time. So I started painting and I painted and I painted until sometime in the early hours of the next day I finished it. Nervously I slid it under our bedroom door (from where I had been banished) hoping for the best. I don’t know if it was the actual painting or the fact that I finished something in one setting, but Kris loved the painting, and I lived to see another day.

With a different set of pressures, I’m working on creating art with the same sense of urgency now. I have started a Patron page, and I’m looking for supporters who will journey with me in the creation of new and enjoyable art. Please check out the page, and if you  like what you see, join me.