Butterfly Cauldron

Sunday, September 13, 2009

The Nightmare of Christianity

This post rings very true to me. My family was Southern Baptist, not Pentacostal and I attended public schools, but the treatment of children strikes a cord in me. And, while I wouldn't blame Christianity alone for Murray's actions, having grown up in a similar atmosphere I cannot deny it had a profound effect. As a therapist who attempted to help him said:

During the brief moments in which Sanchez allowed Winell to speak, she attempted to explain the obvious, that Murray's destructive actions were influenced at least in part by what she called "a crazy-making system that has all sorts of circular reasoning. It's got bottom line rules like, 'Don't think, don't respect your own feelings in any way.' Small children are told they're going to burn in Hell. And if it doesn't work for you...[you are told that] it's your fault."

You cannot destroy a child's sense of self, that core of humanity that keeps most of us from lashing out and destroying others in our grief or pain or fury, and expect that child to grow up into a fully functional adult. Most of us who escape this particular hell DO end up functional, but damaged. So very, very damaged and, unless you move far away from those initial communities, we are not allowed to speak of that damage. I tried to address my damage with my mother. She acted as though I were attacking her, personally. Because her experiences were different than mine and she cannot conceive of anyone having any other reaction than she did. That I did threatens her in some way and that cannot be allowed to stand.

Until the fundamentalist Christian movement acknowledges the fact that its teachings can be profoundly damaging, people like Murray are going to continue. Likely, they won't be so explicit about killing because of Christianity. Possibly, they won't even realize it themselves. The indoctrination is so thorough that it works on a subconscience level. They feel angry or worthless or powerless or are filled with rage and they cannot tell you why. But when you're told from the time you are a small child that you are worthless and deserving of going to Hell, what other reaction can you truly expect?

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posted by Zan at 5:34 PM


I hated to feel this way, but I felt like I kind of understood why he thought to do it. I understood the anger, anyway.

Tonight I happily prattled on about watching our hockey teams instead of going home for Christmas. (Just got the tickets to make that happen.) I won't deny that I'll enjoy it lots. But mostly we're going to Detroit and Pittsburgh instead of Florida because my wife has so bravely and patiently endured being surrounded by that "crazy-making system" every December, and because things seem to be getting crazier, and because both of us deserve to spend our money and time off having fun together for once.

I am amazed at what a radical notion this still is for me--not that she deserves it, because I want to give her everything, but that I do, too! That those trips back home are also hard on me, and that my pain also counts! I thought I was a grown Pagan woman who owned her pleasures and didn't feel that kind of guilt anymore.

No, there will always be scar tissue on your soul. My wife understands it now, having seen what I grew up around. Most people who didn't have exposure to conservative Evangelical Christianity won't get it. So we have to explain it to them, once we've finished explaining it to ourselves.

12:49 AM  

Exactly. The whole article I was nodding and understanding the whole way through. I'd never do it myself, but I really understand that anger.

And I'm still angry, on his behalf. Because even in this huge cry for understanding, for validation of his pain, he's being cast as demon possessed or as an example of why not to go out into the world. Not as a call to examine and reform practices that are damaging and soul-destroying. That makes me want to cry.

And Emmy and I are going to have to figure out how to handle the holidays too. Once we move away, it'll be easier, I think.

7:06 AM  

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