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Understanding My Writing Methodology

writing a letter

There’s a method behind the madness.

I have been blogging since 2007. When I first started publicly writing, I was still a Christian — barely. By then, my theology had moved leftward, so much so that I was no longer an Evangelical. Still Christian, but not “that kind of Christian.” In those days, my writing attracted Fundamentalist Christian critics such as Ken Silva, Preacher Boy (John), and others. These keepers of the Book of Life were convinced that I wasn’t a True Christian®. Eighteen months later, proving my critics right (in their small minds, anyway), I left Christianity and declared I was an atheist. My wife, Polly, also deconverted.

Whether as a Christian or an atheist, the focus of my writing has always been the same:

  • To help people who have questions and doubts about Christianity
  • To help people who have left Christianity

The content of my writing has remained constant too: telling my story — my journey from Evangelicalism to atheism — and critiquing Christianity. Five years ago, I added the Black Collar Crime series, focusing on Evangelical preachers’ sexual misconduct (and other criminal behavior).

I do my best as a writer to stay in my lane. I am not a philosopher or a scientist, so I typically don’t address these subjects. It’s not that I don’t know anything about these things — I do. However, I choose to focus on what I know well: Evangelical Christianity and the Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) church movement. My unwillingness to be all things to all men irritates some readers. Some atheist readers have stopped reading because I am not atheist enough or don’t write enough about atheist issues. I do, on occasion, write about these subjects, but they have never been my focus.

My writing style is an acquired taste. I will leave it up to readers to decide if that taste is fine wine or a $5.99 bottle of Boone’s Farm. Using my fifty years in the Christian church and twenty-five years I spent in the ministry as a backdrop for my prose, I write from an Evangelical perspective. I write from an insider’s perspective, someone who knows the secret handshake and where the bodies are buried. Because I write this way, first-time Evangelical readers often think I am a Christian. Oh, the shock and outrage when they find out I’m on Team Satan®. I have received emails from Evangelicals filled with praise, only to receive another email from them, upset that I am an unbeliever. Cognitive dissonance sets in. “How can an atheist know or say anything of value about Christianity and the Bible,” they think. It’s as if the moment that I left Christianity, decades of reading, study, and knowledge magically disappeared from my mind. I went from being an expert on these subjects to someone who doesn’t know anything. Of course, such thinking is absurd. I know what I know, regardless of my belief on the existence of God.

When I write a post on, say, “salvation by grace” or “being filled with the Holy Spirit,” it is not that I believe these things to be true. I don’t. I write from an Evangelical perspective. I know my writing has an “Evangelical” vibe, but remember my aforementioned purposes: to help people who have questions and doubts about Christianity and help people who have left Christianity. I want to draw Evangelical readers in, hoping to get them to critically and honestly examine their beliefs. I want them to see me as an insider who knows where they are, speaks their language, and understands their experiences.

Thank you for reading my writing. Your love and support are greatly appreciated.

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 64, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 43 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

You can contact Bruce via email, Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube.

Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.

17 Comments

  1. Avatar
    Karen the rock whisperer

    Bruce, I like your writing. You are a person with a story to tell. If I wanted your opinion on X, and I was your next-door neighbor, I’d mosey on over and ask. And even then, you’d be absolutely right to tell me you’re busy and don’t have time to think about X. Lots of people don’t seem to get that we all have only so many hours in our lives, and a limited number to spend dealing with other people’s interests.

    Keep writing and telling your story. I have learned so much here, and look forward to learning much more.

  2. Avatar
    BJW

    Glad you keep going with what you know. I wonder if the fundies/evangelicals think you now know nothing about the Bible, because the precious holy spirit is no longer with you? I seem to remember having that type of attitude decades ago.

  3. Avatar
    Sage

    Your writing style is an acquired taste? Well, lets just say I do no view it as Bug Light, if you know what I mean.

    I found your blog after I had deconverted but enjoyed the content and insight you provide, plus that we shared some similarities in our journey to freedom. You put into words some of the things I experienced, discovered, and learned in my own deconversion.

    I also enjoy someone who irritates evangelicals. Seeing their reaction to you and your response is enjoyable. You are also honest and forthright in your writing which I respect.

    And then there i that whole Santa thing…..

  4. Avatar
    William

    I like your niche. A lot of atheism stuff imo often miss-understands Christianity. You have a comparatively unique perspective to write about it in a way that understands Christianity, not just the bible, but Christians.

  5. Avatar
    Obstaclechick

    You do a great job of showing where you came from, both personally and theologically, and where you are now. You speak “Christianese” which may be confusing for some readers, but it shows your authenticity. No “Two Corinthians” for Bruce! Your writing fits a certain niche that is helpful for a lot of people. If someone doesn’t like it, they aren’t forced to read it! 😃

  6. Avatar
    MJ Lisbeth

    Bruce, if your writing is an “acquired taste,” I am addict: I was hooked from the moment I found your blog!

    Although I didn’t spend nearly as much of my llfe in Evangelical churches as you did, your accounts resonate with me. Part of that has to do with the conservative Roman Catholicism in which I was raised and later experiences, such as teaching in an Orthodox yeshiva.

    But most important, you speak the truth, with complete integrity. As someone who has paid for living my truths, if I say so myself, you have my respect and admiration.

  7. Avatar
    Tammy Schoch

    Yesterday I listened to the first several podcasts by Christianity Today on Mark Driscoll (“The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill”). My life in the 1980s and 1990s was moving in similar circles so I found it interesting, from a sociological and cultural perspective. Even though I’m agnostic now. I thought it might be too much but it wasn’t at all. I get it – we’re experts in various microcosms of life.

    • Avatar
      Bruce Gerencser

      I don’t curse very much. Since December 2014, I have written 3,630,062 words. Swear words?

      Shit-745 times
      Fuck-627 times
      Damn-468 times
      Asshole-188 times
      Motherfucker-19 times

      (I did not include the word Hell since I usually use this word in a religious context>)

      All told, I have used 2,047 swear words in my writing. Out of 3,630.062 words, 0.056390221434234% of the words have been curse words.

      As you can see, I don’t curse too much. Besides, how would we define too much? I use curse words in my writing sparingly and on purpose. I suspect that the real issue is that you don’t like swearing; that if you had your way, I wouldn’t swear at all.

      I spent much of my life in a religion that policed language. Now that I am free from that religion, I am free to say what I want. I know I have lost readers because they don’t like my infrequent use of curse words — which they, as you, wrongly assume is something I do all the time.

      Thanks for commenting.

      Bruce

    • Avatar
      Sage

      It has always been interesting to me that the group of people who like to police curse words are the same group of people that argue against anything they see as “politically correct” and demand people use words and language they deem appropriate.

      Mirriam-Webster defines politically correct as “conforming to a belief that language and practices which could offend political sensibilities (as in matters of sex or race) should be eliminated.” Many christians will bitch (oops, another curse word) against political correctness, claiming it limits free speech or their religious freedoms. In other words, they want to be free to refer to gay people in derogatory ways, or refuse to use proper names or pronouns for non-binary and trans people, or use derogatory terms or references for other religions, and in some cases make derogatory and bigoted remarks to other minority groups.

      I do no understand how being respectful of others is so hard for christian or why they think respectful language is somehow ungodly. They are told to love their neighbor, care for the lost, refrain from judging, and put others first – in other words, respect others. But instead they constantly judge and show bigotry and hate toward non christians, all the while demanding others respect them. Authoritarian much??

      Peter, if I ask you to use they/them pronouns and refer to me as Sage, will you will you get bitchy (oops, there it is again), claim you can’t do that (as if it some horrid sin), then proceed to use masculine or feminine pronouns and call me by birth name? Then, when I tell you that you are a small dicked, transphobic, whiney bitch bigot, who can take your hate, and your fucking god, and your shitty hypocrisy and shove it up your ass (oops a lot more there), will you take offense at my offense?

      Until christians as a whole can learn to respect people who are not christian, I will not give one single fuck (oops… again) about respecting a christian opinion.

  8. Avatar
    Troy

    Maybe the atheist community is what is an acquired taste? afterall it took you 50 years to acquire it. I’m glad your unique perspective is out there for those midway along the journey of our life, who wake to find themselves in a dark wood, for they had wandered off from the straight path.

Want to Respond to Bruce? Fire Away!

Bruce Gerencser