Friday, August 6, 2010


I want to dig a little deeper into an issue I explored in Buzzverses and Word Games

The "buzz" is a powerful thing to a vulnerable heart and mind. When they get out of line, just buzz 'em, and once again you'll have a dutiful little subordinate, albeit a damaged one. For subordinates who desire to live for Christ, whether in a larger group setting like a church or in family/cultic family settings, each buzz can, and usually does, leave them with less of an identity, less of a true view of scripture (if it's used for the buzz), less of an understanding of the nature of God.

Less. Period.

The buzz does, however, keep the mind malleable, and to those who lord over others, it's the perfect mind control tool. Craft the buzz words, phrases, and verses carefully enough, with precise repitition, and you'll get the desired response every time. That response becomes ingrained into the buzzee - the natural reaction to the buzz. Seemless, stealth mind control and thought reform.

I have an uncle who was in the Merchant Marines in WWII. While he doesn't mean it in an indicting manner, he's described Jump School as "a big brainwashing session." From the time he arrived, everything was aimed at getting his mind suitable for the moment he'd be in the plane and the light would turn green. All he heard, over and over, was that when that light turned green, he was to jump without hesitation, because to fail to do so would be failure as a man, would be failing his buddies jumping before and after him, would be letting down his country, and he'd be lower than a dog. He'd be shamelessly booted out of the Merchant Marines, probably limited to some honorless form or branch of service where his cowardice and failure would be evident to all. 

When the big day of his first jump arrived, he stood in the plane cold, numb from the waste down, in utter fear of jumping, more afraid of it than he'd ever been of anything, heart racing, then the green light came on - and he jumped without hesitation. His mind had been effectively buzzed and conditioned, and the green light provoked the desired response. His mind lost his own identity and took on the identity given to him by his instructors.

As my relationship with my ex-fiancee progressed, and I began to see more and more how her father and mother had used scripture and religious terminology/phrases to achieve this same kind of mind control on her and her sisters, ranging in age from 19 to 26 at the time - grown women. It would make me furious each time I witnessed it. Proof-texts of verses like 1st Corinthians 6:20, "...for you were bought at a price..." were used to throw a wet blanket of guilt over them all when they had nothing to feel guilty about. Pleasing the Lord became an impossible standard. 

The buzz that troubled me the most, though, was in situations where the family members would be going their separate ways at the same place, such as when they would all enter the same Wal-Mart or grocery store. Before they could spread out, her father would turn to them all and say, "Remember, you represent the King. Act accordingly and don't behave in any manner that's unbecoming your position." You could see the constraint and needless guilt wash over their faces. The visit to Wal-Mart became another potential failure in their long list of failures. It made me want to use my head as a wrecking ball on the nearest wall, or, that is, at least the part of me that didn't want to wop him upside his head and tell him to stop doing something so stupid and cruel to his grown daughters.

To many people, this probably seems like a harmless thing to say. My question is, if he's done the job he should as a father and pointed them to the Lord all of their lives, why does he constantly have to remind them that they're under a heavenly microscope?...creating the impression that every time they fail the Lord He either sits above them anxiously desiring to give them a spiritual whuppin', or, He is so disappointed and heart-broken that He backslides and writes a country song based on their personal treachery. For a young woman who is vulnerable, indoctrinated to be co-dependent, socially naive, way behind emotionally, and yearns for acceptance and unconditional love, that's a heavy load to bear. Every natural desire and impulse becomes a potential means for disappointing the Lord, every moment of happiness gets measured meticulously to see if it's sinful and rebellious. I mean, the God who promised to never leave or forsake them could potentially leave and forsake them if they don't measure up! 

How can they possibly come to understand love?

Constraint rather than liberty - "...Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty." What their father was doing to them was very clearly not something inspired by the Lord. The Lord gives and desires liberation from our old, sinful nature and the associated guilt. Their father desired to control their behavior, even in absentia, by bringing them back to their sin nature while disguising it under the cloak of their spiritual royalty and his own duty as a "godly" patriarch. The Lord offers liberty. Dad offered constraint. Their identity in the Lord payed the price for the continuance and reaffirmation of their identity in dad.

Constraint rather than freedom. One of the best passages on spiritual freedom in Christ is John 8:31-32...

"...If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free."

Some translations use the word "set" instead of "make". This is one instance where I believe the KJV translation to be the more accurate one. The Greek word is "eleutheroo" which means liberated, freeborn. That denotes a creative, or re-creative, process from the ground up. To "set" something is to merely change it's location. Any human can "set" something. To "make" something is a creative process, which requires a Creator...something only the Lord can do in the heart of humanity. An example...

If you went to a prison, found the meanest, coldest, most hardened thief, and you "set" him'd better guard your wallet. On the other hand, if while in prison this same hard-hearted thief is remade, his heart softened, his spiritual wiring redone, he's "made" free, freeborn and liberated, he has a good chance at being a productive member of society again. True freedom is found in his re-creation, not in his location.

Constraint rather than abundance of life - "...I have come that you might have life, and have it more abundantly."

If you plant a seed in a jar, no matter how much you nurture it, water it, feed it, care for it, no matter how many holes you poke in the top of the jar or how often you sit it on the window seal to get some sun, the plant that results from the seed has been defined by you from the second you planted it in the jar. It will never, ever exceed the shape of the jar. Even the most powerful light in our solar system, the sun, can't alter the parameters set by your jar. It can shine through the jar and offer nourishing warmth and light, but the jar prevents the seedling from growing toward the sun, which is it's natural inclination, by erecting a barrier that says "That's far enough. I can't control growth beyond this point."

Constraint. Whereas, Christ offers liberty, freedom, abundance of life, and identity, allowing one to realize that being "bought at a price" isn't a buzz, but an identity in liberating love.


  1. Hey! You posted this early. I was still in bed. Great post! I've never viewed "constraints" this deep before. This has opened me up in a confused....yet positive way. :)

    Does your ex have brothers? I was wondering if they were treated differently.

  2. Looking at your story and using my "Big Picture" and KISS method of understanding God, the Bible etc. Here is what I see.

    When Adam and Eve lived in the Garden, they didn't need the ten commandments or the 2 greatest commandments because they already knew how to live.
    Once sin entered the world, things went downhill fast. Cain killed able and felt guilt. A few generations later Lamech killed two people and bragged to his wives about it.

    Jumping ahead, God established a nation and gave them the ten commandments (among other things)

    The nation kept falling into sin, getting into trouble, repenting, rising up again to serve God then the cycle would start over again.

    During one of these cycles God prophesied through Jeremiah:

    Jeremiah 31:33 "This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time," declares the LORD. "I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.
    34 No longer will a man teach his neighbor, or a man his brother, saying, 'Know the LORD,' because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest," declares the LORD. "For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more."

    And so Jesus came, paid the price so we could accept Him in our heart and receive the Holy Spirit.

    No longer are we to have to depend solely on an outward law, but the law would be in our hearts, like Adam and Eve, who just knew how to treat each other without the 'outward' law of the Ten commandments telling them how.

    What this father did to his daughters was to continually subject them to the outward law, thus hindering the inner working of the Holy Spirit to teach them and write the law on their hearts.

    Instead of allowing the girls to develop this, he crippled them, not allowing Christ to be formed in their hearts.

  3. Note: I made my last comment in a hurry. Had to get somewhere. So I wanted to come back and make sure people understand that I totally agree with Lewis's take on the situation he observed.

    I just know that there are usually many ways to look at things. Even the Bible comes at certain ideas from many angles. I was just throwing another one in for the sake of discusion.

    And I'm sure Lewis and I haven't covered it fully. There are other points of view that haven't been expressed yet. I'm sure there are people who have had God minister to them certain verses and such that would add to this conversation that I could learn from. I'd really like to hear from them.

  4. "What this father did to his daughters was to continually subject them to the outward law, thus hindering the inner working of the Holy Spirit to teach them and write the law on their hearts.

    Instead of allowing the girls to develop this, he crippled them, not allowing Christ to be formed in their hearts."

    I think that's a pretty doggone good synopsis, Mara, and in patriocentric settings, I believe it's far more the rule than the exception. The dynamic doesn't really work without it. Hearts that want to grow toward the Son as He shines on them and compels them, but the walls of the jar of submission they're confined to prevent it. They take the shape of the jar, their earthly father's/authority figure's vision for their life, instead.

  5. Lewis,

    I've encountered this type of constraint with some church groups I've run with. Your WalMart story is similar to what happened when going out to restaurants. Not fathers and daughters, but a few of the hyper-spiritual types had to kill any fun with the rest of us with statements just like that. Liberty stoppers. Not like we were getting drunk and starting a food fight, people were simply happy to be out with other Christians.

    One time we went out to pizza, and got the ambassabor for Christ speech when we sat down. I was such a pot-stirrer I went over and looked at the juke box. Man what a scene. The body language came in some pretty thick dialects. I dropped a quarter in and started pressing buttons. I got the third degree about it when I returned. Fortunately for some of them, it was Christmas and there were actually some traditional hymns available.

  6. "The body language came in some pretty thick dialects."

    Makes me think of Dana Carvey's Church Lady, Steve.

    Sad to say, it's another form of meddling being manifest in the super-spirituality. How dare anyone actually enjoy themselves?! They need to suck it up and be miserable like Jesus intended.

  7. Be careful! Because if you get happy, you just might sin! Or at least do something unbecoming and immature.

    Sigh. Yep. Never stated that way, of course, but that is what I came to believe. Never mind that the immaturity came from not being allowed to express emotions - or actually not knowing how.

  8. This was an awesome post Lewis. This is exactly what happened to me when I was brainwashed. I would "hear" the "buzz words" and have a panic attack.

    My husband did bang his head against a wall, I am sure. But he didn't know what to do about me. He heard the buzz words, and it didn't phase him. He couldn't understand why I freaked out every time I heard them.

  9. Sharon and denim...I can't imagine having to live like that. I'm sorry you guys had to.

    What I witnessed, and what you guys describe, is just constant eggshells. (I think I just came up with an idea there - might see that in another post soon)

  10. Steve and I are friends (and Lewis and I have exchanged friendly emails), so with that fact in mind, please don't take offense to what I'm about to say.

    What is proved by making those with whom you disagree, squirm? What does tweaking people accomplish? Does it provoke change, or does it merely give you the satisfaction of making someone uncomfortable?

    By way of example, let's take the folks who insist that the KJV is the "only true Word of God (quotes used because that is what someone recently wrote me)." In my view, these folks are close-minded, and silly. BUT, shouldn't my love for the Lord trump my aggravation, and, instead, give me a spirit of compassion for people who may be in bondage to the law (because that's what it is)? Or would it be OK to get in their face, and read aloud from the NIV? Do I flout my liberty? Does that provoke them to good works? It's sort of like playing on people's weaknesses, i.e., these people are living by the law, so, hey, let's show 'em how stupid they are.

    What if I know that one of my kids is extremely afraid of the dark, and I think that it's silly, and it also is irritating when I have to get up in the middle of the night to comfort them? Would it be appropriate to lock them in a darkened room to show them that their fears are unfounded? I'm sure glad that the Lord doesn't hammer me every time I show my immaturity. I'm thankful that Jesus had compassion on me, a rebel and an enemy of the Cross, and saved me from myself.

    This kind of stuff isn't, from my perspective, glorifying to God any more than their behavior.

    I don't know, guys. I just don't get it. Maybe it's me, though.


  11. Cathy...It's far more than just a disagreement. Lives are being ruined by what amounts to an apostate gospel. I don't mean inconvenienced. Ruined. Young women live in a form of hiding, at this moment, to escape these systems. Some who read this page.

    "What is proved by making those with whom you disagree, squirm? What does tweaking people accomplish? Does it provoke change, or does it merely give you the satisfaction of making someone uncomfortable?"

    You just described the ministry of pretty much every man of God and prophet in the scriptures. Those of us who feel compelled of God to raise our voices, what choice do we have?

    As far as making these people uncomfortable, my concern is for those they abuse. If it takes discomfort to make the people at the top of the patriarchal food chain examine their lives, to use a southern expression, I hope my writing "makes their tale hurt."

  12. Lewis,

    I was merely referring to Steve's comment, and your ensuing one. From what Steve said in his comment, he deliberately acted so that he would get a response, probably knowing what the response would was amusing to see the body language. To what end?

    I have no issue w/you calling people out who are twisting Scripture.


  13. Cathy, I know you were addressing Lewis and Steve specifically, but I have a take on it.

    I agree that we shouldn't "flaunt" our liberty in Christ at the law abiders just for the sake of it.

    However, I don't see what Steve did as wrong, and this is the reason why.

    There is an "attitude" among the law abiders.

    Ones that believe they are truly, really pleasing God with their standards and laws. And others who think *everyone* should be pleasing God with the same standards and laws.

    And I believe the differences between those two attitudes are easy to pick up on within the first meeting of someone who abides by man made laws and doctrines.

    Those that are doing it to please God, yes, be gentle with them.

    Those who are doing it to please God, *and* having a snooty, elitest attitude towards anyone who doesn't do it like them....I don't see anything wrong with what Steve did.

  14. Cathy and Lewis (Hi Cathy!),

    I need to clarify something here. My comment referring to myself as a "pot stirrer" was tongue-in-cheek. It didn't come across that way, and I guess it changed the tone of my post. I didn't intentionally show them up by going to the juke box, but rather I knew that at Christmas, most pizza joints had traditional Christmas hymns and I wanted to play some for the sake of my party. I was surprised by their reaction, i.e. body language and by the questioning I received when I got back to the table. Since music was already playing, my selections didn't get played for a while. Once they understood that I was playing hymns, things eased a bit. But still, being seen at a juke box was considered worldly.

    One of my kids is afraid of the dark, and we comfort him and leave some form of light on for that reason. I understand what you're saying about making fun of their fears. I think where the point changes is when those who have fears make it a moral absolute that everybody else have the same fears and that it needs to be seen as a spiritual deficiency to not have those fears. When they think of you as a spiritual lesser or a moral deviant because of it, then there's a big problem. When that attitude is the foundation of a whole system itself, it's poisonous and deadly.

  15. "I think where the point changes is when those who have fears make it a moral absolute that everybody else have the same fears and that it needs to be seen as a spiritual deficiency to not have those fears."

    YES!!! That sentence nails it.