The shameful residual background memory...
"....and so his God became more merciful, more loving.
In our day Jehovah has been outgrown.
Now ( preachers ) talk, not about Jehovah
( one of the Old Testament names for God - editor ),
but about a God of love, call him the Eternal Father,
and the perpetual friend and providence of man.
But, while they talk about this God of love,
cyclones ( hurricanes ) wreck & rend,
the earthquake devours,
the flood destroys...
still the tireless reapers in the harvest fields of death...
As Christians changed their God,
they have according changed their ( emphasis on what is in the - editor ) Bible..."
the son of a US Presbyterian minister, in "The crime of superstition"
Some time ago, I caught part of a radio conversation.
An older minister was refering to memories of his own father's preaching.
Respect for childhood ministers and youth leaders,
deceased elders and denominational leaders,
and particularly one's own minister parent/s,
can be a huge influence on a minister's own life, beliefs & preaching,
particularly in hierarchically stuctured denominations
where respect for those in authority is " built-in to the structure "
to an extent that would be quite alien to those from the " Congregational " tradition.
Similarly, great respect for " The Holy Bible, The Word of God "
is very strong in some segments of the Church,
even if ministers have studied it's origins & makeup
and creatively interpret various passages.
These " respectful " attitudes and memories form part of the " background "
to a believer's and ( especially ) to a minister's life , thoughts and attitudes.
Ingersoll, writing after the US Civil War, may have seen a big move to preaching about a "God of Love"
but my experience in 1960s / 70s was that
" fear of God " was still seen as a virtue and necessity,
was present in some preaching,
prevalent in printed matter still readily available
and would have been a dominant influence on the ministers and ministry students of the day.
It remains so even these days in many denominations.
The first funeral I attended, in my teens, was of an unbeliver,
the husband of a church lady.
The minister's loud, repetitive and lengthy sermon
was very firm and definite about eternal damnation.
I do not remember if there was a appeal " to be saved" at the funeral,
but there were plenty of these appeals throughout my time with that church.
Their offical name for the evening meeting was the "Salvation Meeting"
and as ministry students we were taught that an appeal should be made for " sinners to be saved.."
Times were changing, a little, - it was the 60's after all
people were being better educated,
the whole world was thinking more, ( and more analyticlly and critically ) about so many things,
even the most inward - looking would have been affected to some extent.
for these types of people from my generation, at least,
the background would have to have included "hellfire & brimstone".
Impressionable children were taught "Fear of God" from such an early age.
Just today, I saw a Tweet
" I'd rather not find out after death that I should have believed ".
It is shameful that the orgins of the " Hades/Hell " fantasies,
banishment ( being cast out of the town ),
burning pit ( Volcanos ) etc, etc
which were well known to ministers
were not explained to congregations.
Raised a Methodist, Ruth Green, after reading through the whole Bible in her early sixties,
and being shocked by much of it, wrote :
" "I am now convinced that children should not be subjected
to the frightfulness of the Christian religion.
. . . If the concept of a father
who plots to have his own son put to death
is presented to children
as beautiful and as worthy of society's admiration,
what types of human behavior can be presented to them as reprehensible?”
- The Born Again Skeptic's Guide to the Bible (1979) Freedom From Religion Foundation.
Even more reprehensible is terrifying children into "salvation"
by teaching eternal damnation as "true".
In "Good" Friday worship both are combined,
in some churches with extreme, calculated emotionality.
Children are not JUST told "all these things are true"
by "Divinely installed and guided" authority figures respected in their main social circle;
but are FORBIDDEN to QUESTION from the vital EARLY STAGE of life,
at the time when we need to learn the cultural & practical 'rules'
to ensure our acceptance into society and physical survival.
* ( more on this aspect below )
It is very dishonest to allow this " Fear of God " to remain.
Most ministers cringe at the thought of some past preachers' errors and styles.
Excessive respect for the past inhibits the core responsibility of any teacher :
to only convey what is an honest, independant, factual assessment of what is really true.
They've softened it all to " believe & go to church " " God is Love "
but the residual legacy is one of fear.
Not correcting and eradicating this error is shameful.
Robert Ingersoll put it well, so long ago :
"Eternal punishment is eternal revenge,
and can be inflicted only by an eternal monster.
is infinite cruelty,
To worship an eternal jailer hardens, debases, and pollutes even the vilest soul."
Jerry DeWitt became a non-believer after more than twenty-five years of Pentecostal ministry.
Quote : " DeWitt's transition from true believer to total skeptic took 25 years.
It began, he said, with the idea of hell.
How could it be, as he had been taught and ( he) preached,
that a loving God would damn most people to eternal fire?
"This thing called hell, it began to rock my world," he said.
From there he read about universalism
— the idea, scorned by most fundamentalist Christians, that salvation is universal,
and all people will be restored in their relationship with God without any action on their own part.
After universalism, he discovered the idea, supported by some neuroscientists,
that God is actually our inner dialogue.
"I went from God loves everybody to God saves everybody to God is in everybody," he said.
"When you come from where I come from
… it's not too long before you are" at the American Atheists convention.
His new beliefs ... were put to the test when a friend in crisis asked him to pray with her.
"I could not do it," he said, as the hall grew quiet.
"At that moment my conscience outweighed everything else in my life.
… No matter how much I loved her,
I knew the best hope for her situation was a good medical staff
and I wasn't going to pretend there was anything better for her than science and reason."
quoted from http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/religion/story/2012-04-30/pastor-lost-faith/54651274/1
Retrieved Dec 10 2012
After time as executive director at Recovering From Religion,
he is promoting his book "Hope after Faith" available in June 2013 http://hopeafterfaith.com
"You are an intelligent human being.
Your life is valuable for its own sake.
You are not second-class in the universe,
deriving meaning and purpose from some other mind.
You are not inherently evil
- you are inherently human,
possessing the positive rational potential
to help make this a world of morality, peace and joy.
[ Dan Barker,
"Losing Faith in Faith" ]
“Nothing is grander than to break chains from the bodies of men inscribed on Robert Ingersoll's gravestone at Arlington National Cemetery
— nothing nobler
than to destroy the phantoms of the soul."
On degraded self-worth
and detrimental nature of this shameful teaching
by a psychologist raised in fundamentalism
who became a "Jesus Freak"
and later "Left the Fold" after realizing the errors :
"..Christianity is not just a cognitive set of beliefs.
It is a worldview that completely colors reality.
It works on a deep level of the mind through metaphors, images, and tacit assumptions.
The Christian worldview is a closed, irrational system
which is taught to small children who can’t and don’t question.
It is transmitted like a virus down through generations
and supported in the larger culture.
[ my comment:
It underlies even VERY liberal Christianity,
whose often well educated adherents might cringe at the so called "crude Fundamentalists".
The MERE EXISTENCE of these "watered down" churches
conveys the message "Christianity is supported by many + so I should not doubt".
Often Fundamentalists instil the view
"we are more true to God - i.e. BETTER THAN - than they are !"
So it stops their adherents from seeing that
they are a VERY small minority
when the whole world population is considered.
end of my comment. ]
( " >>> <<< " are my additions )
The images present in Christianity can help with understanding it's power
- >>> not the words but the images, <<<<
which in the human brain are more connected to >>> emotions <<< than language.
Children and adults alike process information
and act on it more easily and quickly when
using symbols and metaphor rather than language.
>>> This becomes unconscious,
so an all-encompassing system like Christianity
can easily become a lens affecting one’s entire view of life.<<<
Picture these images:
• A powerful male God
- creator, hater of sin, destroyer with flood and fire,
demander of blood sacrifice,
– the symbol of authority and power
• >>> A kneeling subject,
– the symbol of shame <<<
• A bloody torture and execution of an innocent man on a cross
- the symbol of guilt
• An evil, dangerous Satan, lurking and stalking
with his demons throughout the world
– the symbol of terror
• The world as a battlefield with a mighty fight between good and evil, the Christian wearing the “armor of God,” and life as war – the symbol of struggle.
• A heavenly afterlife with mansions and streets of gold,
being with God, where the “lion lies down with the lamb”
– the symbol of ultimate contentment
• Jesus’ return in force, with armies of angels,
ready to slaughter and win the Battle of Armageddon
– the symbol of vengeance and justice.
• >>> Burning hell fire with people screaming in pain,
lost for eternity, separated from God
– the symbol of fear..." <<<
See also https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M-5gogT3lLM
Christian slogans and degraded self-worth
"These are genuine signs and letters made by sincere Christians.
Is it any wonder Christians have to "witness" so much?
(to feel ok about themselves)
and are so depressed ( the "gospel" doesn't actually work see ** below )?
the message of original sin is poisonous.
Teaching it to children is child abuse
and preaching it to anyone is emotional abuse."
Viewer comment :
"These slogans were pounded into my head day after day as a child"
Damage to child :
Retrieved April 8, 2014
Resources for recovery : http://journeyfree.org/
Some follow-on reading :
Origins of "God sent His Son to die.."
A glimpse into the world in NT times
Have a look at "Heavenly Dreams"
Richard Dawkins puts it well here...
What makes more sense - "The Fall" ?
This is how religious understanding has changed
as people understand the world more accurately,
but we forget that
"the whole idea was wrong to begin with..."
About " the "gospel" doesn't actually work " my pages :
These people were sincere and devout
as were these
and so are these dedicated followers in our own times.