Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Fundamentalism, Part 4: Fright

Even misguided cult leaders think they are doing what is right.

These preachers thrive on conflict and drama - preaching about the scariest underbelly of the world draws the timid sheep in closer to stick by him. And then associating even innocuous fun with evil drives a greater wedge between his sheltered sheep and the proverbial wolves of the world. Hallmarks of an abuser (insecurity needing fulfillment from adoration) - isolate your victim from friends and family.

Lately the Pentecostal fringes have been getting a light shined on their fear mongering tactics.

Extremism has no place in any faith. Many Christians are embarrassed that extremists like this man try to speak as representatives of the faith - except those still trapped and blinded in these denominations rush to defend his vitriolic words. Can we please realize this is just another example of hatred in the style of the Westboro Baptists?

You know, I wonder, how do extremists get started? It's fright. They are so afraid. So fearful in their own hearts of the world out there. It's a scary place, fraught with danger and misunderstanding. Afraid of losing the people they need, afraid of being left alone, afraid of rejection, and so they grasp at their families like trying to hold water in their fists. People that dress and act and speak differently are frightening when you live in isolation, protected from outsiders.

This is why I feel it is dangerous to isolate children and put them in churches where they have no exposure to the rest of the world, church schools to protect their innocent eyes - from what? From love and the joy of life on this earth? Fundamentalists see exposure to the world as something to be feared and so they limit their exposure and hide away in their own communities, so the problem compounds upon itself.

On the other hand, technology makes it increasingly difficult for such extreme isolation to work effectively, and you get kids like me that learn to think for themselves, study the love in religious texts, and rebel against cultures of judgement and wrath. Naturally this leads to many in the religious fringes to reject and fear technology. Television was banned, going to movies, many types of music - when caught with my radio tuned to the local rock-n-roll station, my clock radio was taken away for three years (I got it back for my 16th birthday).

We make our children afraid
Power and drama in end time scenarios
Excite teens by building tension
Pander to tribal instincts of fear - the boogie man is out to get you if you don't behave
Look at the hell scaring films of the 80s

Are Muslim fundamentalists doing this to their youth too? They're due for their own protestant-style reformation. Or has Islam already had a reformation and it's just the conservatives hanging on by their teeth that are being all apocalyptic and shit, wooing in disillusioned youth? I can't speak to that side of the aisle but I sure would like to know. I only tangentially know a couple of Muslims, certainly not closely enough to talk about religion.

Kids in many churches of the 1980's were subjected to book and record burnings. Heavy metal music enthusiastically gave the finger to religious fear-mongering and flew the flag of demonic symbology laughing all the way to the bank at the frightened Christian parents.

Humanity has been throwing rocks at the "other" guy for eons. Spiritual leaders continuing this practice after so many centuries is simply shameful, but it happens here in the west just the same as it happens in the east. Mad men lead naive followers down paths of hatred and annihilation.

There are frustrated Muslims that are fighting for sanity even as they are misunderstood and vilified. We Christians have our nut jobs too, but ours are not getting condemned as strongly in the news, because it's a little too uncomfortable to think that we might have a stick in our eye.

Fear isn't just a religious thing, it's a cultural phenomenon. Jon Pavolvitz wrote yesterday about fearful Christians and for all but one part I see his point (as a libertarian I object to his anti-gun line and find liberals being fearful of guns hypocritical, but there's plenty of hypocrisy on both sides to go around). I wasn't afraid of gays for my kids, but of straight adults. I was afraid Christians would make my kids afraid of God.

I took my kids out of the church to protect them from being afraid of God like me. I was raised terrified that my parents and everyone were going to disappear and leave me behind. I knew I wouldn't make the rapture because I was bad. I was rebellious and wanted to do my own thing and I hid my enjoyment of "sinful" things. I wouldn't do without my "sinful" behaviors because I knew by natural law in my mind that what I enjoyed wasn't harmful to anyone, not even to me, that it was just "sinful" because the church said so. I was so afraid the rapture would strand me, yet that wasn't enough to change my behavior, because in my heart I was doing what felt right: my natural spirituality overruled my taught spirituality. I didn't want my kids to feel that terror in the night, or to feel awful about themselves, so I protected them from church.

I myself obtained my concealed carry permit because I felt such powerlessness and grief at the news of the Pulse night club shooting. I know that fundamentalist beliefs can be the root of much mental anguish; although I opened my eyes when I was age 12 and began turning away from fear of god, I know that many others do not awaken and are suffocating under that torment of their souls.

If such an incident were to happen in my vicinity and I did not have a way to put an end to such fanatical madness, to protect "sinners" in the line of fire, I would have so many regrets. So yes, I carry a gun.

When a man can be so sad and tormented with guilt over the natural desires of his heart and soul (the FBI did not find corroborating evidence but the allegations are numerous), yet religion has made him feel compelled to destroy all those who share such desires, I wish that all the beautiful souls there at Pulse would have been armed (caveat - designated drivers only - not drinkers) and could have stopped his self-destructive eruption much earlier.

I pray that people being compelled or inspired by power hungry maniacs in extremist factions to commit atrocities will begin to wake up, to grow emotionally mature and their edges will soften and join the human race.

It make take centuries, but I yearn for the progression of love and peace. The more we accept others, the less we have to fear, as they become part of our family, the family of the human race. Even in insular communities, each person is a marble that can touch the person adjacent, thus spreading warmth and compassion as much as we can.

Failing that, I suppose the apocalypse is coming after all.

No comments:

Post a Comment