In the two years since my graduation from my conservative Christian college, approximately half of my friends have reaffirmed their faith: they’ve joined churches, volunteered in youth groups, and read the Bible in its entirety. Other friends have left their faith for something different: agnosticism or atheism. I find myself between the two camps, mostly intrigued by the latter. This is explored in the following four pieces.

1. “The Health Effects of Leaving Religion.” (Jon Fortenbury, The Atlantic, September 2014)

The intersection of spiritual and physical health differs from person to person. Where one person finds solace, another finds isolation. The author shares the emotional experiences of the former faithful post-deconversion.

2. “Mother of God.” (Laura Cok, The Toast, September 2014)

According to her pastor mom, Laura Cok is going to hell.

3. “Building a Christian Home Inside Atheism.” (Dean Roth, Patheos, September 2014)

In order to regain the fellowship intrinsic to his religious upbringing, the author and atheist founded Beyond Faith, a support and fellowship group for ex-Christians: “It’s okay to be an atheist who still has a soft spot for their religious past self, and that I can chase some of those Christian traditions and experiences in a secular way that’s meaningful and positive.”

4. “How Does It End?” (David Burr Gerrard, Guernica, September 2014)

Scott Cheshire’s past as a child preacher intersects with his current writing in unusual, apocalyptic ways. In this interview, Cheshire discusses the power of literature, growing up a Jehovah’s Witness, and the writing process for his novel, High as the Horses’ Bridles: “From the beginning, I wanted to write a novel with a hole in it—at least that’s how I referred to it. It was the only way I could articulate the problem, because faith does not fall away in a day—and sometimes reluctantly or not entirely at all.”

Photo: Fusion of Horizons