Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Fear Ye! Fear Ye!

There's nothing as satisfying (for me, anyway) as cutting through the red tape of emotional and spiritual rhetoric and getting right to the core of an issue. Uncover the motivation and you'll get right to the substance. For instance, want to know what kind of legislator a political candidate will be if elected? Forget the campaign promises, polished speeches, dramatic advertising, and ooey, gooey town hall Americana and follow the money trail. See who might be "investing" in his or her campaign.


As sorry as I am to say this, fear is probably the most commonly used, and most quickly responded to, motivational tool on the planet, and in religious movements, it's usually connected to the money trail. It's powerful. How powerful? Think 9/11...an event founded on fear, inspired by fear, and designed to provoke fear, much of it religious fear. It worked, crippling many aspects of our society for some time, with lingering impairments still apparent today. It had a profound impact on all of us. On that particular day, I was playing on a session in Charlotte. With very heavy hearts, we finished the session, and the drive home was just...surreal. Driving right past uptown at 5:30 PM, hardly another automobile on I-77, and then miles up the highway, as I veered off onto the exit ramp to begin the final leg of my drive home through the hills, listening intently to the radio describing the delayed collapse of the final, 47-story building, I pulled the car over, having noticed the unusual sky. I stepped out and just soaked it in for a few minutes. A crystal clear, Carolina blue sky...and here, under a major east coast flight corridor, not a single contrail. Surreal. I remember thinking to myself, "Let this soak in, cause you may never see this again in your lifetime." A surface illusion of the nearest thing to perfection in a day, when in reality, it was the product of fear, fear that had created chaos on the global scene, turned our financial markets upside down, produced wild celebration in nations dominated by radical, militant Islam, but most significantly, had ripped away the lives of thousands at ground zero.


Fear kills. The heart - the mind - eventually, sometimes sooner rather than later, the body.


I become furiously angry when I see people thriving on fear-mongering. The people at the head of the movements I write about have it down to a science. Scare you, then convince you that they have the perfect antidote for your fears. They need to keep you scared, though, so you'll keep buying their stuff, which means that anytime they think you might not be scared, they'll throw something out about the evil ways of the world and modern society, the "world's system of this or that", the devil's gonna getcha, society wants to consume your children, et cetera, doing their best to lead you to the conclusion that anything other than the product they're selling will lead to death, hell, and the grave, sending you and yours to hell in a handbasket. I mean, there are sooo many things you need to be in fear of as a Christian, right? Live in fear and paranoia to find true happiness in the Lord, right? If you listen to these people, sometimes it sure seems that way.


Sadly, the radical, hyper-fundamentalists I typically write about aren't the only segment of the Christian community profiting from fear.


I'm torn between a chuckle and shaking my head in disgust when I see ministers on television peddling fear. They show advertising within their broadcasts describing their books and dvd series which cover end-time prophecy, the middle-east, armegeddon, and the return of Christ - and in the background, dark and ominous music which coerces you to feel some sense of impending doom. *Cue ominous music* "Buy my latest series!" *music builds* "Perilous times! This may be the most important series I've ever produced!!" *music builds more with low, droning synth* "Run for your lives, church!!!" *music now in an ominous, pulsating frenzy* "The return of Christ is near! Be afraid! Be very afraid!!!!" *music builds to Dr. Kevorkian levels while Lewis lights himself on fire*  "You can buy this package for a love gift to this ministry of $49.95!"


Hmmm. Buying a package of fear with a "love gift". Not entirely sure how the math on that one works, but, anywho...


All while Jesus has this to say about it (from Matthew and Luke)...


"And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars; see that you are not frightened or troubled...Now when these things begin to occur, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption (deliverance) is drawing near."


Unless my eyes are deceiving me, that's hope. Not fear. Speaking of the most frightening times in the history of the planet in terms of hope and comfort? Not fear? That's a novel idea that this Jesus person had. If only He were a part of fundamentalist movements. (<- only half kidding) They say they're all about Jesus, but I don't really like their Jesus. He's kinda scary, actually.


Those at the forefront of the patriocentric movement and it's hyper-fundamentalist kissing cousins are the masters, peddling restaurant-quality fear in bulk while providing ongoing paranoia on the side to keep the fear fresh and marketable. Some who will read this article probably fall into this category. The irony is, they probably live far below the standards of wholesome Christian goodness they mask this market of fear behind, the standards which, btw, they use to keep their demographic in bondage to guilt and shame - on top of the fear. "Feminism is destroying our culture!!! Be afraid!!! Be very afraid!!! Stay emotionally pure you harlots!!! Follow our formulas, breed your own army of SuperChristians, and let's take back this nation for God before the devil kills us all with vile, nasty, filthy, disgusting Feminism and stuff!!! Trust us when we say how bad it is!!! Oh the humanity!!! You mean you would defy God by not buying our products and living this lifestyle?!!! You would defy God!!! Don't you want to be godly?!!!"


I don't care how pretty a bow is placed in it's hair, or how extravagant a denim jumper it's clothed in, THAT'S what's actually being said. Creating a demand, often where it doesn't really exist, then, demanding to meet the demand, because any other way would just be "ungodly". Then, the "patriarchs" who actually buy what's being peddled turn into tyrants of fear in their own right, indoctrinating their children, thoroughly, into a culture of fear that, even upon sometimes escaping, leaves scars that linger for years. Fear, not the intimate, personal love of the Lord, is the motivation used for remaining IN the movement. According to these fear-mongerers, you can't genuinely love and serve the Lord outside of the movement. That should be anyone's first clue that the movement is poisonous, that is, if someone were seriously willing to examine their life and beliefs.


"There is no fear in love [dread does not exist], but full-grown (complete, perfect) love turns fear out of doors and expels every trace of terror!"


...and, as the passage continues, special for some new friends...


"For fear brings with it the thought of punishment..." - Fear brings punishment, and perfected love has no fear in it, which means there's no punishment in it.




Fear has been propogated, and so shrewdly put to use, by hyper-fundamentalism to the point that those who've been brushed by it sometimes have trouble seeing the frequent encouragement in the scripture of "Fear not" as anything more than another command. It's a crying shame. These movements offer a life of waiting for, dreading, and preparing for the next shoe to drop, and that's really no life at all.


The money trail is where you'll cut through the bull and get to the base. Fear is big business, folks. Why is that, you ask? It's simple...


When the dollar bill is king, genuine faith doesn't sell all that well.

19 comments:

  1. Fear is definitely a root of all this. Fear of not doing "God's will" (i.e. whatever they want you to do at the time) because if we don't do "God's will," God will get us! If they were talking about genuine sin, that might be true. God does punish sin, but He is also full of mercy and grace, which is why He chose to take the punishment on Himself if we will let Him. But a lot of these things aren't even close to sin!!! They are five steps removed, but if we don't stay five steps away, we might fall right into the worst sins out there! (according to the fear theory)

    Sigh. God's will is NOT for us to remain in abusive situations!!! And abuse does NOT have to be the worst ever before we leave! Just because it "isn't as bad as it could be" is no reason for enabling the abuser to keep on sinning (genuine sin)!

    (Sorry, had to get that out.)

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  2. Do you think it's possible that some of these folks, deep down inside, really are full of fear themselves because they have had a false conversion and are not truly saved? I think so.

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  3. Love it. Just saw a commercial last night that was such a blatant example of this it had me laughing out loud (couldn't find it on YouTube yet...) Image of a night-vision camera going through someone's house; ominous voice-over: "Whenever you accept a friend request... you're inviting a hacker into your home."

    Wow, I guess I need to pay a busload of money for high-end computer security, instead of just not putting my social security number online! Who knew all my friends were so nefarious?

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  4. "Then, the "patriarchs" who actually buy what's being peddled turn into tyrants of fear in their own right, indoctrinating their children, thoroughly, into a culture of fear that, even upon sometimes escaping, leaves scars that linger for years. Fear, not the intimate, personal love of the Lord, is the motivation used for remaining IN the movement. According to these fear-mongerers, you can't genuinely love and serve the Lord outside of the movement."


    This is SO true! The cult my husband grew up in is notorious for their fear-mongering to keep people in the movement. Constantly predicting when Jesus will return and that they better be in the true church when that happens. Telling people they don't have the Spirit and the only way to get it is in their church. Telling them that they can only go to heaven if they have the Spirit (so you HAVE to stay in the movement because that's the only place you can get it). Telling people that once you've accepted their message, if you reject it, there's a worse place in hell reserved for you when you die. It goes on and on.

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  5. "Do you think it's possible that some of these folks, deep down inside, really are full of fear themselves because they have had a false conversion and are not truly saved? I think so."

    that is a sweeping generalization...in regards to Fear. I live and battle with Fear every day, from a huge part of my life I lived under horrid RA abuse--

    I still have major issues with God, can't even stand the Bible anymore and quit Christianity.

    Is it because I wasn't 'really saved'? No, it was because 1) there is so much in the Bible itself that preys on FEAR that it's not even funny, if not preying on FEAR then it's the Silence of realities, particularly to those who are marginalized, invisible, who Do suffer the pain of hierarchies [not just fundies] and abuse, example: women, under patriarchy that is secular as well as religious, etc.

    Yes Jesus said look up your redemption is near--He also said woe to women,

    I know thousands of women who are so damn scarred and soul split that they don't Give a Damn about redemption--it means nothing, because they know that the evil forces that RUINED THEM WERE CREATED BY THE ALMIGHTY GOD--the Bible says so, time and time again,

    it's like this, a girl is gang raped, do you think she Cares if it's a fundie or a Nazi or an atheist? NO, because it's the same to HER,

    to those who have endured horrific abuse [and the further exploitation by others at OUR expense, ministries, psychology, political agendas, ambition whores, etc] we don't CARE about promises--mixed with threats,

    the threats speak louder Regardless of the reasons given. Those are what we know, what we remember,

    and when the FRUITS of the entire 'belief' system has been PROVEN EVIDENT of witch hunts and tortures of thousands of women, slavery, genocide, all in the name of GOD, JESUS, etc., when there has been rampant class privileged at the expense of 'savages' and 'those people over thhhhheeeeerrrrreee who don't Believe like WE special ones do' and that whole Snow Monkey 'in crowd' mentality that can speak about those defect monkeys who will scream in tortured hell for eternity while professing LOVE [and we All sin] and not even BLINK AN EYE OR WINCE BECAUSE THEY HAVE ZERO EMPATHY

    can we Blame those who struggle with FEAR when they are constantly reminded and triggered at WHY the knew fear in the first place?

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  6. Fundamentalism is NOT the root problem, it is the Symptom and the End Result of a more sinister problem that begun years and years ago--

    one that is seriously flawed, one that the adherents Refuse to honestly look at lest they also question their delusions and one that has sadly, been protected by the iron bars of LIES for so long,

    that it's not, How did this happen, but

    WHY DOESN'T IT HAPPEN MORE?

    So is it because they are not saved? Whose to say on that one, is it because they have adhered to a doctrine/belief system that was Flawed to begin with, that in the beginning was the creation of a tree of death, put in the area of two who like children, did not know the end result--the same creator who created the Serpent,

    and then the deaths of those who dared to step out of line--

    even Grace, after the four gospels is loaded in the Pauline Gospels with FEAR,

    work out your salvation with FEAR and TREMBLING,

    women saved If,

    the language in of itself, to those who know and live with the soul damage/splitting of horrendous terror via abuse/Ritual Abuse [RA, for RA in Egypt],

    it's the same--authority and the abuse of power,

    can we break through it, sure we can, but interestingly enough,

    those who Do break out of and get FREE from it,

    do so, by Rejecting all forms of threat, coercion, SOUL AND SPIRITUAL RAPE, and hell doctrines, who choose to be FREE from the terrorism called

    RELIGION.

    Because those who know that level of evil, know full well, any threat/force to love or else,

    is not love, it's just fear, clothed in a lie, of manipulated love, like romance, like flowers given to you after you've been beaten and raped, told that it's for your own good and that you are loved in the end of all things...

    yea, Right.

    I do believe in Jesus, just not the Bible in it's entirety, to me it IS the fruit of that death tree, a bit of truth wrapped up in a lie, candy, with a nice pretty death coating.

    jane

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  7. Good post. It reminded me of Bill Gothard's teachings on demons. Years after my family quit attending his seminars, it dawned on me how idiotic it was for someone to teach that Christians should be fearful of demons. If anything, it should be the other way around!

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  8. Fear was the basis for nearly all my parents' decisions. Living with that is emotionally devastating. God walked me out of that chronic fear in my early 20's, but that doesn't win back the many years that I failed to live in the present and enjoy the people God put around me because I was so afraid of the world and the future.

    Grace

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  9. Oh my! I have long stated that fear is the bane of parenting teens. Fear is the one enemy that is so hard to defeat because it sounds like a friend-so concerned for your well being! Great post, again.

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  10. I think fear is humanity's natural, fallen way of relating to God. Jesus came to set us free of that. But it's so easy to bring the fear right along with us-- especially when it's being shouted from the pulpit and peddled on the Internet.

    But the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was not a death tree. I think it was good, and there would have been a time and place when they could have eaten it. But not then, and not in that way. It became death to them when they believed the serpent's lie that God was holding out on them, that God had selfish motives, that God wasn't really out for their good.

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  11. Good point, Jenny. What you said is at the root of the whole Halloween debate amongst Christians. Is it a Christian holiday or a Satanic one?

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  12. Kristen...I agree. I believe the same principle should be applied to the idea that the scriptures would be a source of fear for anyone. I see the misappropriation of the scriptures as the cause of fear. The same kind of twist that the serpent put on God's original words to man is now being put on God's words since - BY man.

    I can see women who've been victims of the scriptures, i.e., had them used to beat them down and punish them, being afraid of the scriptures, but the blame belongs with the men misusing the scriptures to constrain and build bases of power.

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  13. Agreed, Lewis. When humans use God's name to build human power, that is "taking His name in vain," and breaks that commandment far worse than any mere curse word ever could.

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  14. True story~I feel like I'm coming out of the matrix, only it's a "Christian" one. "Onward", I say to myself daily, "onward, weary, abused in my own camp, overcomer".

    Thanks for sharing~

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  15. Scott: To be honest, I can't say much about Halloween because I no longer trust the sources (both pro and con) that I was exposed to. Whether a holiday is Christian, pagan, or secular would depend not just on its origin, but also on who's celebrating it, how, and why. That goes for Christmas and Easter too. I don't celebrate Halloween, Jewish holidays, or Kwanzaa. However, I understand why other Christians choose to celebrate them and would never accuse them of sinning just for that.

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  16. LOL, well I didn't celebrate Halloween last year, because I started getting sucked into that whole FEAR legalism dogma,

    but prior to that, I did, but I had knowledge of the many roots [because I am a survivor of RA] so I did my own little twist with it,

    one year, we made this witch out of one of those tall Barbies, put it on the roof stuck in a pot, LOL, with a trash bag, she was hilarious looking, anyway this huge wind blew her off the roof, hat, garbage bag cape and all, most hilarious thing we ever saw, the children still laugh about that one,

    then the next year, her leg was broken so we strapped her to a pole [light pole] and made her look like she crashed into it, like a drunk witch or something,

    funnier than ever. Last year because well, she kind of got recycled too many times and was ready for the landfill, we had more fun those years,

    I did have boundaries though, the children couldn't be anything violent or demonic, and anything we made for the yard was All homemade/recycled, and comical--I think we made fun of the holiday more than anything else,

    this year we are just doing a harvest yard, children are older and going with a different theme, anyway for ME personally it was a kind of 'taking back' because for years when I was younger I had to deal with the fundie demon behind every trash can/submit to abuse and deny the destructive triggers that were a constant, due to the horrid abuse I knew growing up, both in occultism, masonry and Religion,

    so I hated all of it. FEAR, the whole Nazi thing with Fear,

    so I took back. I just got tired of can't do this, can't do that, devil this, devil that, but oh, if you are raped and abused then That's the will of God,

    and all that other sicko misogynist garbage.

    Christmas I love, and yes know the history there too, there was a real Saint Nickolas though who handed out toys, the holiday was based on a Roman 'children's holiday, then it died out,

    then got revived again when the greedy capitalists felt 'guilty',

    there is evil present everywhere, there is also good, the thing about all of them though,

    mass consumption [sucks] and the whole gore of Halloween, those things ARE spiritual, but they are Spiritual every day--if we buy blood chocolate made by children who are beaten,

    it's not any holier than carving a pumpkin--know what I mean,

    I think it's far more important to be concerned with our Daily actions, consumption that really ARE feeding into the demonic, horror, and yes,

    sacrifices.

    When we can get focus on Those things--the real Devil,

    we might be getting somewhere.

    Love,

    Jane

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  17. So if you Do celebrate Halloween or Harvest or October beg from neighbors holiday this year,

    try to get FAIR TRADE chocolate--the more we purchase, the more the demand will grown

    and less slave children [due to low status of women, stupid archaic family planning laws that coerce women, no girls actually, into forced rape marriages and trafficking/sex slavery]

    getting beaten to death for harvesting chocolate/cocoa...

    or hand out something else, that is really far more important. Hand out Fair Trade info, educate, do something good, overcome evil with good [hey think I'm going to go with this this year],

    and don't do like our cool hippie neighbor did, LOL, he went door to door, got candy, then he handed that out to the neighborhood children,

    hilarious, he was crazy like that, got to hand it to them though, Resourceful.

    Jane

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  18. Great post Lewis. Yes, fear is a big manipulator in the Fundy camps.

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