Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Language of an Addict

In my last piece on Christianese, I talked a bit about what I believe Christianese to be and about a couple of phrases that make me all warm and fuzzy. You guys chimed in with some other good ones in the comments.

What I want to look at in this piece is the correlation(s) between the Christianese language and religious addiction. From Paschal Baute's "Symptoms of Religious Addiction", my personal least favorite symptom...

Magical thinking that God will fix you/ do it all, without serious work on your part

Such a litany of Christianese phrases apply to just this one symptom. Among them...
  • Just give it to God
  • If it's God's will, it'll all work out
  • In God's timing
  • In God's providence
  • It must have/must not have been God's will 
In my opinion, 99% of the time, every single one of those statements are used in BS fashion. Those statements are thrown out when professing Christians (usually religious addicts) are either too lazy, spiritually or otherwise, to take action on a matter, too afraid to take some kind of action on a matter, or simply don't know what to say about a matter so they go with something all spiritual sounding. It all points to varying degrees of religious addiction.

{Be warned - I'm gonna speak in extremely pointed fashion in this piece. It's late, and I'm in a rambling state of mind, so bear with me.}

Wake up call people - God's will in your individual life, whatever it may be, doesn't just magically happen on its own. At some point, people have to act. The whole idea of "God's will", as promoted by much of Christianity, is spiritually lazy and irresponsible. It's one reason I unrepentantly loathe the "quiverfull" concept. It's a spiritually lazy idea used to create a shallow facade of spirituality. That facade is designed to mask the true intent - to do MAN's will and outbreed the cultural opposition. The Quiverfull doctrine starts out with a quiver chock shull of fit and goes from there.

I'm pretty sure it's "God's will" that I eat to sustain my body - but God isn't gonna spoon-feed me when I can go into the kitchen and make a sandwich on my own. I'm pretty sure that it's "God's will" that we pay our bills, but that doesn't excuse us from dragging our rear-ends out of bed and going to work.

This applies to the cultic/thought reform side of religious addiction, too...After several weeks of reindoctrination at the hands of some religious addicts and snakes, my ex sent me an EMAIL (yes, an email - three years ago yesterday, in fact) to end our relationship. Her email was very religious sounding (much Christianese), made little sense in light of all that had transpired (they had completely reinterpreted the events of the recent past for her), and I had little doubt that they'd made her mind mush. I shot an email back to her which told her, paraphrased, "Read what you just wrote to me, and tell me how I'm supposed to see that as anything other than you being a mouthpiece for ***** and ******* (the people who were reindoctrinating her)." Her response - "Even if ***** and ******* had an agenda, don't you think God could bring me to you if I were supposed to be with you?"

There's so much spiritual, intellectual, and emotional deficiency in her response that it could serve as exhibit A in a masterclass on religious addiction and thought reform, and what those things do to a malleable mind. I mean, "Even if"? "Even if"? These people were/are uber-Imbiblers and patriarchals. This removed any possible or reasonable doubt that she was in a poor mental and emotional state. They'd beat her down to the point that a snake could've bit her a dozen times before she'd even realize something might be amiss. The next line is the one that really killed my soul, though, and gave me the true glimpse of what they'd done to her. How was it that she expected God to "bring her to me"? A magic carpet? Celestial Amtrak? Was God gonna send Gabriel to grab her by the arm and whisk her across the continent? Was God gonna hypnotize her, silence all of the poison around her, and cause her to see and think clearly?

What she was doing was being spiritually lazy. Yes, I know she was just trying to survive. I have empathy for that and don't judge her for that. What I DO judge her for, however, is saving her own "life" at the expense of mine - and using the name of God vainly to do so. Even if she were repentant, only with supernatural help could I ever forgive that. If that makes me a terrible man, so be it.

The fact of the matter is, "God" had provided her with a plane ticket (and would've provided another at any time), "God" had provided someone on standby less than an hour from where she was holed up, ready to pick her up and get her away from there at a moment's notice. God provides opportunities to act. It's up to us to act upon them and quit using God as an excuse for our own lack of responsibility in making right decisions. She heard from a lot of people while she was there, but God wasn't among them. She did what people told her to do, and then, at both God's expense and my own, blamed it on God. That's a pretty sorry thing to do.

QF parents...If you've already got enough kids to fill up your own zip code and struggle to give them any reasonable quality of life, and more important - struggle to give them the individual attention and love they deserve as your children, passing that responsibility off to other children - first of all, shame on you for being so irresponsible. If you don't believe in birth control, then keep your freakin' pants zipped up and stop having sex rather than continuing to be so irresponsible and passing the buck for your recklessness and stupidity to God.

God is not your celestial bellhop, He's not gonna do Vulcan mind-melds on you to force you to make right decisions...and He should never be your freakin' excuse. Such religious drunkenness.

Try getting off your bumpkin and taking appropriate, responsible action when it's called for. Try discernment on for size. Learn to distinguish between things that only God can control and things He places within OUR power to control (where MOST things we encounter in life actually settle) based upon opportunity. Stop expecting God to wipe your nose and change your diaper. If God's given YOU the ability to handle something, stop trying to give it back, blaming Him for crappy outcomes that are your own fault.

How sad it is that we'd often rather take a toll road which serves as a detour around the right thing than to distinguish, accept, and do the right thing - when the only meaningful thing the right thing will cost us, in the grand scheme, is our effort. Love God. Love each other. Nothing else really matters. If that isn't "religious" enough for you...

Religious addicts can't get a high from doing the right thing. It usually isn't religious enough, and the effort involved usually pulls them farther away from their next swig of the bible. So, they "give it to God" and "trust in God's providence" to enable themselves to remain next to the liquor cabinet.

Pretty pathetic way to live.


  1. Oh boy! Yep. This is what I called Spiritual Pixie Dust.

    'leave it at the cross' instead of dealing with things so you can move on in a more healthy manner.

    They also like to accuse others of NOT having enough faith if you attempt to help others. Its saying - you need to be lazy and neglectful with us or you are labeled the enemy.

  2. People do often take this "God's will" stuff too far. I mean sure God cares about the details of our lives but He doesn't micromanage us. He leaves us much freedom to make our own choices, such as how many children to have.

    I know I used to think of God somewhat as a magic 8 ball...He knows the future so naturally I wanted His guidance in every detail of my life and would get frustrated at His silence.

  3. I think you've hit on the #1 problem with the Quiverfull movement's eschewing of birth control: they assume that God will do everything for them, and fail to consider that God might actually want them to act on their own using the tools they have.

    I used to lay out a "fleece" before the Lord when making big decisions, just like Gideon did in the Old Testament. If it was snowing when I woke up in the morning, I would make one decision, and if it wasn't, I would make the other. It snowed, and I believed that was God telling me which choice to take. How arrogant I was!

  4. JimBob and Michelle Duggar. Nuff said.

  5. There's the other side of the coin too- where people do their own thing without waiting for God's will. Like people who become pastors or go and start some kind of ministry and work their butt off to "do a great work for God". God may have had soemthing for them to do and it may be totally different than what they decided to do- but they are so busy trying to "get off your blessed assurance and go out and do something for God" that they can't even hear the still small voice saying, "Be still".

    I'm not arguing against your statements, just pointing out that doing it all on your own and then expecting God to be on board isn't right either. As usual, the truth lies in the middle, not in the extremes.

  6. Quiverfull is very odd this way. Its members (and especially the women) are supposed to "give their wombs to God" or whatever the phraseology is-- but the amount of responsibility that is heaped on these women afterwards has to be seen to be believed. They are responsible for their kids' salvation; I kid you not. That's why all the "dare to discipline" and abusive parenting techniques. They are responsible for all the housework, the homeschooling, the cooking-- and many times all labor-saving devices are denied them as "ungodly." They are responsible for their husband's success or failure and for how said husband treats them. If he's not doing so well in business or if he is neglectful or abusive, it's because the wives aren't being submissive enough.

    When these women pass off tasks to the older children, it's because they literally cannot make there be enough hours in the day to fulfill all the responsibilities that are heaped on them as wives and mothers. When they neglect the homeschooling, it's often because their bodies are so weak from constant pregnancies and nursing that they literally can't concentrate well enough to teach.

    They do their best to get it all done, usually by completely neglecting the one person they feel least guilty about neglecting-- themselves. They may employ more magical thinking to hope that somehow the bills will get paid, the kids will get educated, and so on-- but it's not out of laziness.

    Usually I agree with you, Lewis-- and I do agree that magical thinking is destructive-- but "shame on you" doesn't help. The absolute last thing these women need is more shame. They eat guilt for breakfast, lunch and dinner, with a baby on board, another at the breast and spoonfeeding two more, while the older children serve food to everyone else.

    "Give God your womb" is magical thinking. But the worst magical thinking goes like this: As a woman, you were designed to bear as many children as your body can carry, and you were designed to be able to care for them all, teach them through high school level, cook and clean and sew for all of them, run a home business to help support them, and still have time to be a sex goddess in the bed every time your husband demands it. And if you start to think about how tired you are, you're just being selfish. And if you start to think about how you really can't manage, you're just lacking in faith.

    Please, let's give these women some grace. God knows how desperately they need it.

  7. Kristen...I think "shame on you" applies to those, male and female, who choose to live this lifestyle and continue to recklessly reproduce. I think it needs to be said. I'm totally for giving them grace - when they stop making reckless decisions for their children.

    I realize many of them have been brainwashed into this lifestyle, but the same is true of the men involved.

  8. nolongerIFBx...That's where discernment has to play a role in our lives.

  9. I'd like to add one more thing, just to provide a non-Christian perspective. In my opinion, it's not just the thinking described in this article that is no more than "magical pixie dust," ALL religious thinking is so. It's all imaginary, all made up, and when I hear comments like "leave it in the Lord's hands" or the things nolongerIFBx said, all I can think of is, stop waiting around for some imaginary voice or force, and realize that what you see is what you get, take your life in your own hands, and live it to its fullest. *There is no imaginary friend out there.* Now I know most of the people commenting here, including Lewis himself, are Christians, but I wanted to point out that from a non-Christian perspective, it really is all the same. There are degrees, yes, but from my view it's all based on the same magical thinking.

  10. Lewis, you said:

    "I think it needs to be said. I'm totally for giving them grace - when they stop making reckless decisions for their children."

    I am thinking partly of those women who have stopped "making reckless decisions" with regards to birth control and have left QF-- but they can't put any of their kids back or make there be any more hours in the day.

    I'm also thinking of women still in QF who are not going to hear what you're saying about stopping the magical thinking because all they can hear is more of the same "shame on you" they've heard all their lives and which may very well have pushed them into QF in the first place in an attempt to finally be good enough.

    And I'm thinking of those husbands who went along for the ride because their wives drank the koolaid and became hell-bent on this lifestyle, and they didn't want to leave their wives or try to force them to change their minds.

    I will reserve the "shame on you" to the teachers who got these poor people into this mess and who are raking in money selling them books and materials on it. For those trapped in it, or those trying to escape, I will only say, "You've been duped. Wake up and smell the freedom. We're here if you need our help getting out." Because I think "shame on you" will only drive them away, not open their ears to listen.

    You've got an advantage, not having been raised with shame, never having the deep, intimate acquaintance with it that I have as a child of alcoholics. But then I've got an advantage too, in that I know that life-partner Shame so well; I know his tricks and habits. I've never been QF, but I was in a cultic movement. All I wanted was to please God. I wasn't trying to be irresponsible. I was trying to do what seemed the best way to avoid more shame, by totally giving myself to God in "total commitment."

    "Shame on you" would have been the last thing I needed to hear or could have received any good from. Just sayin'.

  11. Liberty,

    From my perspective, you are privileging your own thinking. When it comes to metaphysical questions, no one has conclusive proof-- and the belief that there is nothing out there is just as much a metaphysical position as the belief that there's Something-- or Someone-- out there. You cannot be entirely certain that your complete reliance on provable physical facts, to the exclusion of all else, is not a form of "magical thinking" too. In fact, I believe all humans are privy to it-- imagining things or relying on things we can't strictly be sure of. We simply have to decide which of those thoughts are actually destructive, and which are helpful.

  12. Interested bystanderJune 22, 2011 at 3:07 PM

    Liberty, I think this is where religious and non-religous people have to agree to disagree. I know that I can not prove God and that there might not be a god at all. I am a scientist so I know about rational thought and the scientific method of viewing the world. But spirituality and belief stand outside this realm. All I can tell you is what a character from my one of my favorite books said (not the exact quote but the correct idea) "I choose to live in a world where God does exist and to live as if he does." That is faith or, maybe, magical thinking. To me the difference matters.

  13. Liberty...I think it's akin to alcohol. A lot of people, both in Christianity and out of it, think alcohol consumption is either wrong or "bad for you" in some way or another, when it's generally neither. It only becomes a bad thing - according to the books of the bible, according to medical/physical parameters, and according to social and legal parameters, when it's consumed in excess.

    The levels of consumption are the key. Regardless of what anyone thinks of drinking, there's a big difference in the person who has a beer or two a day or a glass of wine with supper and the alcoholic who wakes up and starts drinking first thing, with everything about their lives catering to their desire for more alcohol.

    I think faith/religion can be viewed in the same manner.

    Kristen...Like most of my writing, my remarks are aimed largely at the people who are hurting other people - like the parents of many of the readers here, and like my former future in-laws. I can't tone down the tone that needs to be taken with them. What they've done/continue to do is utterly shameful.

  14. Kirsten: "You cannot be entirely certain that your complete reliance on provable physical facts, to the exclusion of all else, is not a form of "magical thinking" too."

    Faith is believing in what you CANNOT see, science is believing in what you CAN see. So, uh, yeah, I actually see a BIG difference there. Also, if I'm "privileging my own thinking," aren't you doing that too?

    Interested bystander - "That is faith or, maybe, magical thinking." To me, they look like the exact same thing. But yes, I agree to disagree - I find that's frequently necessary.

    Lewis - That's an interesting way to put it. I definitely agree that there are degrees, and I OF COURSE don't see your version of Christianity as problematic the way I see Christian Patriarchy. For you, Christianity works as a force for good; when it is abused the way the patriarchy people use it, it is a force for evil. And that's only they beginning of the differences. I guess, following your example, I wasn't saying that I have a problem with anyone drinking alcohol, I was just pointing out that even when consumed in lower doses it is still the same stuff the people getting drunk are drinking.

    Is it sad that I was afraid to mention my lack of belief here, for fear of not being accepted? Isn't being accepting the point here? Isn't leaving ideas such as patriarchy and thinking for ourselves and coming to our own conclusions something that is valued here? Or is there a line drawn around Christianity that cannot be crossed? I would like to think there isn't.

  15. Is it sad that I was afraid to mention my lack of belief here, for fear of not being accepted? Isn't being accepting the point here? Isn't leaving ideas such as patriarchy and thinking for ourselves and coming to our own conclusions something that is valued here?

    You're very welcome here, and thinking is always encouraged ;)

  16. Lewis, I hear you. I'm thoroughly ashamed of some of the things I did when I was in that cult. The people I rejected, ostracized, or otherwise hurt. My flesh-and-blood sister, trapped in an abusive marriage, whom I judged instead of coming alongside to help. The fellow-cult member who was discovered to be gay, was treated like dirt and cast out, eventually to die of AIDS still thinking I hated him.

    Yes, I hurt people. Yes, I was one of the people perpetrating the nonsense. Yes, I thought I was doing God's will.

    Maybe I did need to hear "shame on you." Maybe it would have shaken me out of it quicker. But knowing myself as I was then, I doubt it. I think it would have just made it worse. I don't think, in the long run, that you can fight shame-based thinking with more shame.

    I believe it was the cult leaders who needed to hear "shame on you" -- because they felt no shame; they used shame as a weapon to control everyone else.

    As far as QF is concerned, many of the individual families are run like mini-cults, with the fathers as the cult leaders. Not always; sometimes the men are just along for the ride and wishing they could stop the train wreck without knowing how. But in those families, I agree-- the patriarchs feel no shame and probably do need to hear "shame on you." Your statement was much more of a blanket statement than that, though. Perhaps I'm simply wanting you to clarify who you are referring to in your posts, I guess.

  17. Lewis, I'm so ready for part 15.
    I hope you will finish the story and I hope no one caused you to stop sharing it.

    I read your site because I'm not that "religious" but my children are. This site helps me stay on top of the well meaning decisions my kids make.
    It's nice to hear about real life stories. We can all learn from each others experiences.

  18. oh, Lewis - you break my heart at least once a week.

    but i agree with you - for different reasons, i was treated as so many QF daughters are - i did ALL the housework, MOST of the childcare, by the time i was 16 it was a GOOD day if i got 4 hours of sleep in a row - because i had to get up at 5am to get ready for school, so i'd have time to get my SISTERS ready for school, and then i had school from 7-4, had after school practice until 5 or 6 [depending on the day] and then worked a job until 11 pm, came home and had to clean the ENTIRE house. every day. and do 2 loads of laundry.

    and yes, i'm still pissed about it, and YES i want it to never happen to another child. when you have kids, THOSE KIDS COME FIRST. i don't mean "don't take care of yourself ever" - i mean, if it comes down to something like "if i have another kid, my oldest is going to have to raise it because i have too many other kids" then you should prioratize the ALREADY ALIVE kids. you should NEVER live in a situation where you're 8 year old is making dinner because your 10 yo is doing the laundry because the 12 yo is cleaning the house because the 14 yo is taking care of the baby because the 16 yo is homeschooling everyone...

    the safety, health [physical AND mental] and NEEDS of already alive children TRUMP almost anything else. if you have 4 kids and can't keep up, it's just ABUSE to have more. it's ABUSE to deny children childhood; it's ABUSE to neglect children, for WHATEVER reason; it's ABUSE to expect your daughters to be the mothers of your younger kids [and note how it's NEVER the *SONS* doing this housework and child care...]

    don't get me wrong - i weep for those women, who are so very scared and repressed that they think the ONLY way they can ever be Loved by God is to have 40-jillion babies, even if it kills them and leaves all their other babies motherless. i DO. and they need serious help.
    but at SOME point, their selfishness - and it *IS* selfish, to live this lifestyle, however much it's supposedly about "giving yourself", you aren't just giving of YOU - you are TAKING from those kids...

    isn't it weird that one of the laziest forms of Christianity requires so much WORK [at least by the women]?

    also... how do they never SEE that they're modern-day Pharisees? see that they've replace Grace with Law? how do you READ the NT, especially the Gospels, and NOT GET IT?! not get that Jesus thought EVERYONE WAS EQUAL, that everyone had the same rights, that everyone needed the same Grace, etc etc etc? HOW do they miss the Good Word inside the Bible, and only see the twisted WRONG stuff?

    i wish there was a way to GET THROUGH to them all :(

  19. Anonymous...At some point it'll come. The next segments cover ground that I'm really dreading, so I've just been taking a break from it until I'm ready to write in brute and blunt detail.

    Thanks for reading.

  20. Liberty said:

    "Faith is believing in what you CANNOT see, science is believing in what you CAN see. So, uh, yeah, I actually see a BIG difference there. Also, if I'm 'privileging my own thinking,' aren't you doing that too?"

    Sure I am. *grin* I just wanted to point out that you were too. As for "believing what you cannot see," yes, that's what faith is. I don't think it's the same as magical thinking, though. Magical thinking is closing your eyes to the facts and convincing yourself that what you wish will come true. But I do have logical reasons for believing in God, and I do have evidence that I base it on. Not necessarily evidence that you would accept, but to me, that is beside the point.

    If you believe someone else loves you, you're believing something you can't see or prove. You can gather supporting evidence, such as the way they treat you, but ultimately, you can't see or prove that they really love you. It could be all an act. Their love is something you have to take on faith. Is that magical thinking? I don't think so.

    You also said:

    "Is it sad that I was afraid to mention my lack of belief here, for fear of not being accepted? Isn't being accepting the point here? Isn't leaving ideas such as patriarchy and thinking for ourselves and coming to our own conclusions something that is valued here?"

    I can certainly accept your lack of belief, and I certainly accept you, for who you are, just as you are. And of course you're welcome to come to your own conclusions. But it doesn't come across as exactly "accepting" of my beliefs to call God an "imaginary friend" and say I'm "making it all up." Believe me, I am not closing my eyes to the facts. I just think there is more to reality than information collectible through scientific means. I choose to trust that God loves me. I think I have adequate reasons to believe that. Is that magical thinking? Not from my perspective.

    So-- I accept you, I accept that you believe I'm deep in my magical thinking. I'd just prefer if, as a manner of acceptance of me, you'd not call it that-- any more than I would call your thinking "deliberately closed-minded" or any of the things Christians often say about atheists.

    Sound ok?

  21. "Religious addicts can't get a high from doing the right thing." Your statement makes me think of a recent article about addiction: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5490892