A while back I came across this interview of two well-known YouTubers (Rhett and Link, from Good Mythical Morning) who talked about becoming agnostic. I remember noting that they used the word “deconstruction” in a place where I would have used “deconversion.” Fast forward a year, and I see many references to deconstruction of faith. I don’t know if Rhett and Link have moved the conversation towards deconstruction, but I have noticed there is a meaningful difference between deconversion and deconstruction.
Deconstruction can include people who still hold religious belief.
The focus of deconstruction is a critical view of religious beliefs. They don’t necessarily have to be abandoned under such scrutiny. People can look at a belief they hold and decide that it needs to change.
Anyone who has or previously had a deeply held religious belief can recognize the weight of what’s going on. Deconstruction appears to be a gentler way of discussing beliefs that are tied to strong emotions and a person’s belief in reality. Getting a person to even hold a mirror up to those beliefs is exhausting, let alone getting a person to look in that mirror.
Deconstruction can still draw the ire of the zealous.
In the above interview, Rhett and Link discussed the negative reactions they received just for coming out as agnostic. Look through the comments section, and you’ll see people of Christian faith talk about how they shouldn’t judge these two for their beliefs – as if their beliefs were something in need of judgment. Moreover, you can search YouTube about their deconstruction process and find more than a few videos of people trying to refute the issues they raise.
I can’t say I’m surprised by the reaction. There is always a negative response from some Christian communities when famous people talk about leaving the religion behind. It’s because leaving the faith is a pretty big deal. People are openly talking about turning their backs on a deity they believe is very real.
Nonetheless, I think it’s a positive step when people can find ways to be more honest with themselves and others. If talking about deconstruction gets people to be more accepting of others, then it’s a conversation worth having. Who knows? Maybe people might become more accepting of godless atheist heathens like me.