Guest Blogger No 1: Laura Talley

October 28, 2010

I’m sure you all get sick of my voice so we’re incorporating some guest bloggers. We’re hoping for a few a month and we’re starting out with Laura Talley, creator of the blog Redheaded Skeptic. Laura started this blog after she ended her marriage to Baptist minister. Now she’s an Atheist. Her blog is fun and interesting and I would encourage you to check her out. Laura…

LT: Life is never a straight line. It seems we often go the hard way to get to our goals, if we ever make it there at all. Someone did the math on the Bible story of Moses leading the Israelites out of Egypt into the Promised Land. They wandered in the desert for 40 years on an eight-mile line from point A to point B. That’s how I feel at times.

Five years ago today, I was a conservative Baptist youth minister’s wife finishing up my psychology degree and preparing for motherhood and a life of serving at churches alongside my husband. Today I am married to another man, I have a 4-year-old daughter, I am working on pre-requisites for medical school and I am an atheist. You never know where life is going to take you. I am in the last place I ever thought I would be.

To explain how I got here is like explaining how the Israelites wandered in the desert for so long. Full of twists and turns, and not all of it seems to make a lot of sense.

I married my now ex-husband at the age of 20. While we worked at a Baptist church, we also attended school. Bob (a pseudonym) attended his theology classes and we discussed them when he arrived home. Learning about the different theological theories sparked my curiosity and I began doing my own research. I became more moderate in my theology over time, and from moderate to liberal. By 2007, it was quite clear that I no longer belonged in a Baptist church.

When we graduated, we moved to a tiny town in the middle of nowhere with our infant daughter. The isolation from family and friends while caring for a new baby in a miserable marriage in a church where I felt I could not express my opinions led to a severe depression, but no one saw me fall and no one really cared as long as I still attended church and put on a spiritual face. No one, that is, except a friend of mine from college who had moved into general region to attend law school about an hour away from where we lived. When my marriage finally ripped apart, I stayed with the friend while my fundamentalist family showed no support.

Away from the conservative strangle, I delighted in attending a Presbyterian (PCUSA), and later Episcopalian (liberal) church. But I found that the questions I had while a Christian didn’t go away just because I liberated myself from an oppressive situation. I kept exploring and found that I no longer believed any of it anymore. A year after I left my ex-husband, I left the church entirely.

Happily ever after doesn’t usually come all at once. For me anyways, it’s coming in pieces, often more slowly than I would like. In 2009, I married Steve, the friend I stayed with after leaving my ex, and the friend who has stayed with me despite the enormous amount of baggage I brought to the relationship. He saved my life. We have struggled through school together, and he finally graduated from law school last spring. We moved from Fayetteville, Arkansas to the Little Rock area, where I will hopefully begin classes for medical school next spring. It’s not perfect, and it never will be, but it is getting better. It may not come all at once, but for me, this is happily ever after. Or, to carry the Israelite theme all the way through, this is the Promised Land. Now I just have to build my house. . .

4 Responses to “Guest Blogger No 1: Laura Talley”

  1. Dan King said

    (DISCLAIMER: I’m a Christian.)
    Wow… interesting story! I definitely understand the pain you experienced through all of this.

    I do have one question though, and I ask with the utmost respect. In fact, I may just need to read more of your blog to see if I can find the answer to this. From reading this (and other things on your blog), it sounds like you turned away from God because of what people did (or didn’t do). It may be a response best suited for another post, but I’d love to hear more about your GOD reasons for turning away from the faith, not your PEOPLE reasons. Again… not to challenge you, but I’m just interested in understanding…

    Thanks! Great post!

  2. marg said

    Laura, (and then “ThumpMe”)

    I’m very sorry you’ve had such a negative experience. My father was the preacher of a few fundamental Baptist churches as I was growing up. I know how legalistic they can be and how hard it can be.

    I would like to encourage you to not turn your back on God just because those people misrepresented Him. (If that’s what happened.) And keep asking your questions and searching for truth. God is big enough to handle the challenge.

    “Thumpme”, I’ve been reading your posts since someone Tweeted about your interview with…was it Pastor Mark? I read some of your older posts, too. I’ve enjoyed reading your non-judgmental, non-hostile responses to what you have read. I was impressed that you saw the Bible’s relevance to this day and age.

    I don’t mind reading a guest blogger from time to time, but I hope you will write as well on those days. I “tuned in” to listen to you…


    • thumpme said

      Well thank you.

      I’m not going to lie, sometime it’s a tough read but other times it’s a great story and it can be pretty funny, which I always enjoy. I think my next project may be churches. I hear all of this stuff about Baptists, Catholics, etc. and I have no idea what the physical experience is like. Could be interesting.

  3. marg said

    ThumpMe: :o) Yes, trying out various churches could be pretty interesting.

    And yes, sometimes the Bible is a tough read but other times it is a great story…and pretty funny.

    My experience has been that reading the Bible is a lot like mining. As you dig into it, you get flecks of gold here and there and every now and then a priceless gold nugget. It has also been my experience that a verse I pass over one day, holds a gold nugget the next.

    Since you said you “have no idea what the physical experience is like”, I would like to give you a word of warning: not all Baptist or Catholic churches are the same. You can’t go to one, experience it, and think you know what all of them are like. Also, you can’t necessarily tell them apart by their names. In other words, just because you attend one First Baptist church, you won’t be able to know what all First Baptist churches are like. You could keep busy for probably a whole year just attending the wide variety of Baptist churches! :o)

    If you decide to do that, I will enjoy reading your comments on that experience as well.


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