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Hope after Faith: An Ex-Pastor's Journey from Belief to Atheism Hardcover – June 25, 2013
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The clergyman who sees the light, loses his faith, and realizes that his life's work has been empty delusion faces worse than inner torment. In small-town America he confronts public ostracism, family break-up, and financial ruin. Such was the predicament of Jerry DeWitt. Brother DeWitt has landed on his feet, but many others still wrestle in the closet with the pain. This poignant book will give them strength.”
Dan Barker, author of Godless: How an Evangelical Preacher Became One of America's Leading Atheists
Jerry DeWitt tells a truly remarkable story of an actual faith healing. He healed himself of his faith. Jerry's honest and wrenching struggle to find his way out of the Pentecostal/evangelical house of mirrors is driven inexorably by his true concern: his unfailing love for people. I literally got goosebumps reading this page-turner, and cheered for joy at the end.”
Bishop Carlton Pearson, author of God Is Not a Christian, Nor a Jew, Muslim, Hindu... and The Gospel of Inclusion
My friend Jerry Dewitt is one of those raving lunatics' (spiritual eccentrics) who insists on disturbing the illusion and has thus created a new path for his own soul and continues to evolve. I can hardly wait to see where his bridge takes him and us.”
About the Author
Ethan Brown is the author of Queens Reigns Supreme, Snitch, and Shake the Devil Off. He lives in New Orleans.
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I wasn't raised Pentecostal, but I was raised in a Southern Baptist then Northern Baptist Church (there is a big difference between the two, one is a hell, fire and brimstone version the later is a milquetoast version). My worst memories were of those horrid tent revivals in the 50's where my sister and I stood for what seemed hours on end while the collection plate went around again to wring more money out of some destitute Iowa farmer, people streamed forward to be saved from the fires of hell, while some sweat covered Evangelist waved his bible around telling us to repent or we were going to burn in hell forever and ever. What there is about that type of religion that entices people to follow it, is hard for me to fathom. One has to hate themselves and life in general. By the time it was the Northern Baptist variety, I hated the Baptist religion and everything attached to it so much I never set foot in that church again after I left home to marry. It's taken me almost 55 years to get over it, only to discover a book like this brings back to many bad memories I want to leave buried in my memory. There are large portions of this book are based on the Pentecostal doctrine that I find as distasteful as the Baptist variety. For some who weren't indoctrinated with something similar it might not be quite as difficult as it is for me. I don't blame my parents for it. Unfortunately, society tells people like my parents you can't raise a child with morals without a healthy dose of religion being inflicted upon them. Which is pure BS Christianity peddles. They are like everyone else in business, selling a product. That's about all religion in this country is today.
So I don't know if I can give a fair review of the book. But, what happened to Jerry DeWitt is what I have always imagined happening to a devout Christian that eventually starts taking a honest look at Christianity. He had one of those rare moments that started him down the path to eventual non belief (admittedly it took him a lot longer than it did some of us). At a death of young boy in an automobile accident, a fellow pastor begins to tell the grieving parents God killed the poor boy in order to save him from himself. If he had lived he would have went to college that would have eventually lead him away from God. What a horrible thing to say to parents who have just lost their beloved son in a tragic accident? And only seems to accentuate the overall ignorance that is pervasive in most fundamentalist religions. The only good thing about the incident it started Mr. DeWitt on the long journey through a black religious abyss into the light of day. The same journey a lot of us have made. Even though I was never on any occasion as devout in the faith as he was to Pentecostalism. I and my sister always questioned from the time we were children and had a difficult time buying any of it. Most of it made little to no sense. It relied too much on superstition, myth and the supernatural. There was always that nagging doubt there about the existence of a God and the implausible biblical stories. That has only grown over the years.
But, I will say this. It's given me new insight into a religion that is far darker than Southern Baptists. So my childhood could have been far worse than it was. The Pentecostal's were too much even for my ultra religious Father. We went to their church once, and our family never made a return trip. They were too much for even him. My sister and I still talk about that experience marveling there was something worse than what we had forced upon us. But, all told, it's been an enlightening book I cannot say I am sorry for having read. That's why I gave it such high marks.
By the time I was 18 and joined the military I couldn't wait to get away from religion - though I did foray into Christianity for a time as a means to open my social circle when I was stationed in a small town in Arizona for 3.5 years.
Jerry's story is engaging - I don't consider myself an emotional person so many of the parts of the book where he discusses his deep anxiety and emotional distress with his journey that lead him away from religion, I didn't directly relate with. However having been raised in a religious home and having made my own spiritual journey that lead me away from religion as well, I felt very connected to the story.
Its funny that he discusses his leans toward humanism because I too feel that I've never been a very religious person, but definitely felt a connection to humanity and being a good person for the sake of being a good person (not for fear of eternal damnation or promises of heaven after death).
Well done Jerry. Well done indeed.