Q & R: Growing spiritually without family support

Q & R:

I recently finished your book Faith After Doubt and went on your Facebook page for some support. I’m currently having a hard time with my ‘aloneness’ from other friends and family who have more traditional beliefs. It was very disheartening to find one of those people on almost every comment, making your book seem almost political. I was glad to see most people simply ignored him.

I suppose my question is how does one protect themselves from the old lines of thinking where anything new is heresy?You and Father Rohr and Barbara Brown Taylor make so much sense to me, but I wish I had others in my life to help and support my beliefs. My family isn’t critical, they just don’t share them.

Anyway, thanks so much for this book!

Thanks for your note and question. You mentioned my Facebook page … I struggle with how to respond to the comments there, often from people who have no idea how hostile they come across to me and many of my readers. I am a firm believer in “don’t feed the trolls” – especially because some people, who do not attract attention to their own thoughts on their own pages, try to get attention by trolling the pages of others. I occasionally encourage folks to ignore these comments. Some days, I must admit, I think I would be making the world a better place by muting comments altogether. But there would be costs to that … so the fact that you noticed that people were ignoring hostile commenters is encouraging to me.

Regarding your question, I can offer two thoughts.

  1. The four-stage framework I offer in Faith After Doubt might be helpful in understanding why friends and family members behave as they do. To the degree they’re in Stage One/Simplicity themselves, and even more so if they’re in a church with a Stage One ethos, they can’t help but seeing anything new as heresy.  That’s simply where they are now. Your presence in their lives lets them know that there are other ways to be Christian, and even though they may not be ready for that now, down the road, many of them will. You might find encouragement in this regard in the blog I posted on March 8, 2021.
  2. I think it’s important to find some community where you will feel the freedom to speak and think unguardedly. You might be able to find such a place in your area, but if you can’t, I think podcasts are providing this kind of space for many people. You could search for podcasts that have had me on to speak, and you might find some ways that the podcaster is creating community. Homebrewed Theology, The Liturgists, The What If Project, The Church Needs Therapy, and many other excellent podcasts are doing exactly this.

Thanks again for writing.

For folks interested in reading Faith After Doubt, you can order it here.