Fat Girl,

Haikus With Dani: JerkBrain Edition.

By Dani Ward June 21, 2016 2 Comments

There’s a lot going on in my life. I’ve deactivated my Twitter for a little bit. Vulnerability is terrifying, but it’s easier to be vulnerable to an amorphous mass of people than talk to anyone in particular about what’s been happening, even the things that are only happening inside my own head. Therefore, you’re getting more of my depressing fragments of dialogue, this time brought to you by my very own JerkBrain.

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Haikus With Dani: Existential Edition

By Dani Ward May 16, 2016 1 Comment

I’ve been rather existential lately. I mean, I usually am anyway. But back to the “it’s hard to explain in anything except shards of thought” kind of existential. So. The contents of these haikus will likely turn into blog posts at some point. But for now, I serve them to you as the fragments they are.

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Great expectations: basic human decency.

By Dani Ward October 5, 2015 11 Comments

In short: the lowest common denominator in all relationships ought to be basic human decency.

When Christians tell me that it’s not fair for me to expect them not to trample on my boundaries or treat me with disrespect for my autonomy as a human being, all I can hear is, “You can’t expect basic human decency from me or my people.” More than that, I hear, “You don’t even qualify as human enough for us to consider treating you differently.”

Christians? This is a problem.

How will the world know you as loving if you refuse to act lovingly? How can you say you possess the love of Jesus Christ when this is how you treat unbelievers? You claim that you’re no better than us, yet treat us like you’re the Designated Adult and we’re the naughty children you must put back in our places. You insist that for me and other unbelievers (or even liberal believers!) to write and live and share our authentic selves is a direct attack on you, and so you try to control us through silencing tactics and what you must think are counter-attacks. You can’t see the difference between someone being honest about who they are and someone exerting control over a person? How can you not see the disrespect of that? How can you not see the condescension? How can you pretend to be sharing Christ’s love when you refuse to see the image of God in anyone but those who look and think and act like you?

Despite being an atheist, I do think the Bible has a few nuggets of wisdom here and there. And one of those nuggets is this: “Let us not love in word…but in deed and in truth.” In other words, don’t tell me that you love me while showing me that you don’t.

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Of masculinity & abusive breeding grounds.

By Dani Ward June 8, 2015 0 Comments

This post originally appeared on Plymouth Brethren Dropout on May 26, 2014. An updated version appears below. It’s been just over a year since the tragedy at Isla Vista that prompted the original penning of this post. So many things have happened since then that illustrate the points made herein, including but not limited to: the largely…

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Observations about relationships in Christianity.

By Dani Ward May 8, 2015 2 Comments

What kind of foundation forms a lasting friendship, then? I mean, friendships are a pretty personal thing. There’s lots of aspects that are difficult to pin down, usually including compatible personalities, shared experiences, outlooks on life, mutually enjoyable activities, etc. I think those things are a given, no matter whether you’re a conservative Christian or not. But in my experience, the ingredients that point to longevity seem to be a pretty equal mixture of mutual admiration, respect, and trust. The Christian friends I have now who have been friends of mine for years weren’t my friends just because of our once-shared faith. We became friends through discovering and indulging in shared interests, sure, but we did it while demonstrating respect for each other’s individuality and personhood. Our personalities do click, but we also work hard to be empathetic, trustworthy, respectful people. We care about each other, what demonstrably makes each other’s lives more meaningful and fulfilling, no ulterior motives.

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For the well-meaning Christian: humility in listening.

By Dani Ward March 18, 2015 8 Comments

You’ll approach me with why you think I really stopped being a Christian, as if it’s a huge secret that, if you can just crack the code, you could make sure no one would leave the team ever again. And usually, much like this person said, you assume I just didn’t pick the right flavor of Christianity. Or I just didn’t really know Jesus. Or as a recent reader suggested, I just left the bad Christians behind but not Jesus.

You’re taking ownership of my story, mangling it beyond recognition, then insisting I accept your version rather than my own. You’re saying you’re a better judge of my experiences and life than I am. And when you suppose these things about my life and my beliefs, you are being incredibly disrespectful and unloving. Like Cassidy said. it’s like you grew up in a home where smacking someone upside the head was considered loving, and you’re now indignant that you can’t smack me, too.

I get it. I do. I did the same thing. I believed rather strongly that anyone who left the faith was never a Christian to begin with but had been deceived into thinking they were. And I wasn’t shy about this belief, nor did I falter in said belief.

Until it happened to me.

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For the well-meaning Christian: credit to whom credit is due.

By Dani Ward March 11, 2015 2 Comments

I think we really do a disservice to ourselves and the people around us when we attribute the good or bad things actually done by people to the supernatural, or even to some sort of intrinsic goodness like hard work. I don’t begrudge people the comfort they take in believing a divine creator has orchestrated their life to their benefit, or even wanting to believe that bad things have happened due to an invisible malevolent force. I just can’t help but notice how this tendency to credit the supernatural with what man or chance has wrought often serves to create a disconnect between us and our communities.

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For the well-meaning Christian: on showing basic empathy and respect.

By Dani Ward March 2, 2015 15 Comments

I really hope you can hear me out about what I am saying and what I’m not saying here, because I absolutely don’t expect any of you to stop talking about your faith in general. It’s such a huge part of your lives, and it’d be really unfair of me to expect you to keep such an important part of your life to yourself and never speak of it. That’s cruel and disrespectful, and would mean that I don’t really care about you in the first place. To borrow the spirit of the words of a friend, “It’s part of your life — and I like your life.”

This is where it could do you some good to learn a little empathy, learn to put yourself in my shoes for a little bit, so maybe you can learn what treating me with respect actually looks like.

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No more faith: the whys and why nots of my deconversion.

By Dani Ward December 31, 2014 22 Comments

It’s really rather rare for people to ask me why I deconverted from Christianity. Like, really rare. It’s far more common for them to assume they already know, whether they’re talking to me while they’re expressing this assumption or not. However, in a single week, I’ve had two separate unaffiliated people ask me a variation of the same question about the role fundamentalism had in my deconversion. Of course, I’ve been trying to figure this out for myself on a less-specific scale for the better part of two years, though much of it has been in my own head. Perhaps it’s time for me to work out of my thoughts here with you.

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Online as in person: basic etiquette, boundaries, & choosing your own team.

By Dani Ward November 26, 2014 1 Comment

With the advent of social media, I’ve found that such interactions are no longer relegated to holidays and reunions, but are now part of our everyday digital lives. What surprises me more often than not, though, is the attitude with which people approach social media. In recent days alone, I’ve heard that blocking someone on social media is narrow-minded, private walls are public forums where all opinions ought to have equal air time, and online interactions aren’t real life so everyone needs to just calm down.

Perhaps I’m a bit a biased, considering the sheer number of friends I’ve made through online-only interactions, but in my experience and from my observations, online life is real life. It’s an unavoidable part of life in the 21st century, and it amazes me that some seem to think online interactions suddenly stop having meaning because they’re happening on a screen rather than face to face. It’s as if being physically removed from a person gives one license to ignore boundaries and assume a far closer relationship to people than actually exists.

This sort of thing is incredibly familiar to me, having spent 25+ years in a culture that totally ignores boundaries and consent in person (let alone online). This further solidifies in my mind that the same basic etiquette you ought to show to someone in person is how you should treat people online.

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