The journey of UNlearning


“And then one day, like Forrest Gump abruptly being done with running, I was suddenly done deconstructing my Christianity. DONE! I just fell dead to it. If I had to have one more theological discussion I was going to either commit a violent crime, start smoking, or become a Six Feet Under fan.

I didn’t care anymore. I knew I was supposed to care…I still didn’t. These were the really big, important litmus-test God questions that you should have the right answers for. I still didn’t care!

Something shifted inside of me. The best way I know to explain it is to say that I didn’t need to have answers anymore. It wasn’t necessary for me to arrive at some defined set of concrete and conclusive beliefs about God in order to keep living life or even be at peace or content inside. The big theological questions became increasingly irrelevant and felt more like a distraction. I was more interested in ground truth―the stuff you need to know on location in your life in order to navigate the twists and turns of daily human existence.”

– Jim Palmer, Notes From (over) The Edge


“Previously, my old way of thinking was always pushing to control, regulate, contain, protect, tame and systematize spiritual realities. God was defined by a creed, Church was squeezed into a 501c3, and unconditional love…well…had conditions. I talked a lot about “becoming like Christ” and asked “What would Jesus do?” but it never occurred to me back then that the answer might involve an entirely different way of thinking and living that would necessitate breaking from with my religious tradition, even if it was “Christian” one.”

– Jim Palmer, ( interview)


“As my spiritual journey continued I expended tremendous effort trying to fit my experience of God into the language, concepts, and practices of my previous religious life. It just wouldn’t fit anymore. Jesus himself warned, “You can’t pour new wine into old wineskins.” This is but one of many Jesus sayings that I previously managed to gloss over.”

– Jim Palmer, Wide Open Spaces: Beyond Paint-by-Number Christianity


“One of the big questions I came to on the journey was whose interpretation of scripture is right and who’s to say? This question never really occurred to me during my 25-year odyssey through evangelicalism. Back then, there was no other interpretation. It was understood that there was only one interpretation―the right one, which was ours. Outside of my particular Christian sub-culture, I discovered many different views and interpretations of the Bible, stretching all the way back to the earliest days of Christianity.

In Wide Open Spaces I wrote about discovering for myself a reliable way to discern and determine truth. Jesus taught that the distinguishing characteristic of truth is that it brings freedom. I found this thing deep inside my gut that would tell me so. You’ve heard the phrase of how something can have “a ring of truth to it.” What part of you detects or experiences that “ring?”

I dubbed it as my “freedom filter.” Here’s how it worked for me. Whenever I was presented with an opinion or view of interpretation about God, my “freedom filter” would test it by asking, “Will this lead to freedom?” If the answer was “yes,” I went with it. If the answer was “no,” I didn’t.”

– Jim Palmer, Notes From (over) The Edge

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