Reading Time: 5 minutes So, the celebrations are upon us to commemorate good ole Jesus and his rather miraculous (and dare I say imaginary) birth. Well, he may have been born, but not like that. But enough of that. Or maybe not. I have two rather decent suggestions with which to fill your stockings (Christmas, not underwear).
Reading Time: 5 minutes

GiDlogothumbThe last day of the year seems like a good time to do a retrospective, and since everybody else is doing it, I thought I’d look back over the last twelve months and pull out the top ten most widely circulated posts in case you missed any of them.  Of course, just because these got passed around the most doesn’t necessarily mean these are the best of the best (so far), but it does mean something that these struck a nerve with a bunch of folks.
This would also be a good time to stop and once again express my appreciation for the people who helped “signal boost” me this year so that I could link up to a wider audience by joining the Patheos world of bloggers in August.  It was a refreshing change to be helped up by others, especially considering my past experience as a Christian writer in which everyone whom I asked for help just took my request as an offer to ghostwrite for them or to do grunt work on their own projects.  In my personal experience, the atheist writers and celebrities I’ve met have been much more charitable than their Christian counterparts.
Now without further ado, here are the Top Ten Most Popular Posts from Godless in Dixie in 2014:
1. What I Learned about Atheists from God’s Not Dead.  My review of the movie on the day of its DVD release went viral.  I contend that this movie so despicably misrepresents atheists as hollow two-dimensional villains that any Christian should be ashamed of it.  More Christians than you might think agreed.
2. Anti-humanism: How Evangelicalism Taught Me the Art of Self-Loathing. First published several months before joining Patheos, this article clearly touched a nerve because it got circulated even more than anything else I wrote after moving to the new, wider platform (with the exception of the one above).  I explain how self-deprecation lies at the root of the Christian faith.
3. Why Praising God in the Storm Should Make Your Stomach Turn. After a tornado ripped through my state, the mental gymnastics the faithful went through to somehow thank God for the destruction made me sick, so I fleshed out the implications of the theology behind what they were doing. Also pre-Patheos.
4. Why Even Nice Atheists Are Offensive to the Faithful. While I personally favor diplomacy over firebrand atheism, I explain why the mere act of openly admitting your non-belief angers people.  In that sense it doesn’t really matter how nice you are, they’re upset that you said anything at all.
5. It’s Not Me, It’s You: Children of Christian Narcissists. Deanna Boudov’s portrayal of how religious parenting can both hide and nurture narcissism was a wildly popular guest post both before and after the move to Patheos.  Her follow-up post was equally well-received.
6. How to Love an Atheist (If You’re Very Religious). In response to a Christian friend’s lament that I’ve written so much about how not to talk to atheists, I offer ten tips for how to treat atheists with love and respect for their own personal boundaries.
7. An Atheist’s Defense of the Historicity of Jesus. This one got spread around a lot, too, and not always favorably.  In all fairness, it’s far from a thorough treatment of the subject, but I address what I feel are facile dismissals of too much scholarship (secular as well as sacred) and explain why the stories about Jesus come from an earlier time period than many people seem ready to admit.  Doesn’t mean he was magic, folks.
8. Why I Reject Hell and Why You Should, Too. I spell out seven reasons why the notion of Hell needs to go away, plus I throw in an explanation for why Pascal’s wager sucks.
9. What Leaving My Religion Did for Me.  After reflecting a bit on life after becoming an atheist, I list eleven benefits which I see I’ve received.  This one got picked up by TIME and republished on their site.
10. Why I Broke Up with Jesus. A bit of a tongue-in-cheek explanation for why I quit believing.  When you’re in a relationship with an invisible person who only speaks via mediators who aren’t even addressing you, well, you’re not really in a relationship with anybody then, are you?

Honorable Mention

Besides the articles that rose to the top by virtue of sheer traffic, I’ve also heard from a number of friends that certain posts have meant a lot to them personally. Among those which have meant the most to friends who have written are these:
How Toy Story Illustrates When I Lost My Faith. Few things illustrate what it’s like to leave your faith as well as the movie Toy Story.  Buzz Lightyear learns that he’s not an elite intergalactic space ranger but a kid’s toy, and he must learn to see himself and what he’s about in a new light.
Your Love is Toxic. In this piece I discuss four ways of loving which aren’t really loving at all: shunning, withholding, crusading, and giving gifts with strings attached.  Those of us who have disappointed friends and family by leaving our faith have endured these forms of “love” far too many times.
We Are not Broken. My challenge to my progressive Christian friends, who are trying so very hard to make their message a positive one, but who cannot seem to let go of a persistently low view on human nature.
If you’d like to see more articles, you can access the archives here.  I’d also love to hear from you if you feel like I’ve left out the one that meant the most to you.  Feel free to comment below and tell me what you’ve read here that stuck out to you or helped you in some way but hasn’t been mentioned here yet.  I’d love to hear from you.

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Neil Carter is a high school teacher, a father of four, and a skeptic living in the Bible Belt. A former church elder with a seminary education, Neil now writes mostly about the struggles of former evangelicals...

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