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Teachings That Disempower And Infantilize Spirituality, Part 2

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By Brien Pittman

Read part one

“Do not be mis-mated, or unevenly yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership have righteousness and iniquity? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? Therefore come out from them, and be separate from them, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you” (2 Corinthians 6:14–17).

The big exception to the separation rule expressed in 2 Corinthians is “witnessing.” You are expected to associate with the unbelievers in order to bring them into whatever religion or church you belong to. Many religions even instruct you on the proper techniques for engaging in one-sided forms of communication when recruiting, and it is never a dialogue; there is no effort to listen or share views with any sense of mutual respect. And there is certainly no desire to learn anything, except perhaps the flaws of the other’s incorrect thinking. This embedded mindset of one-sided conversation usually transfers over into social interactions as well.

One-sided forms of communication definitively hinder attempts to form friendships and connections with others and to gain a sense of belonging, which is of paramount importance to daily life.

Disdain for unbelievers can be so deeply embedded that many times we are not even aware of our judgmental attitudes or our preachy one-way communication skills.

I frequently hear sermons about bringing “worldly” people to Jesus or to the “truth.” Ministers, pastors, and elders of all authoritarian religions tell their congregations to avoid any discussions with potential converts. “Do not argue with people. If someone isn’t enticed by “the truth” you should simply move on.” The meaning received is clear and always the same: sermonize, don’t listen. Always assume that if people don’t enthusiastically accept what you’re preaching, it is because they are proud and defying the word of God—or “the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not” (2 Cor. 4:4).

What a handy explanation for any lack of receptiveness. How atrocious is this judgmental and conceited one-sided style of communication?

Releasing your disdain for nonbelievers will become possible as you release this prescribed one-sided and closed form of communication. For when you no longer consider yourself one of the chosen elite, there is no need to look down on others as if they need to be saved. In fact, the human flaws and struggles you see around you might become a valued part of the exciting adventure of answering the call to discover meaning and purpose in your life outside of what has been prescribed for you by your religion.

In the early stages of your departure from a controlling religion, it is very natural to not know what your purpose or individual meaning is. You should rejoice in this fact and rise to the call of enlarged being.

Try to think of it this way: Right now, I may not know the answer to my meaning and purpose, but because of my involvement with a controlling and authoritarian religion, I definitely know what it is not.

Use the unique strengths and perspectives you have gained and be patient and compassionate with yourself as you discover your purpose and meaning. You are now free from the pacifying absolutes and the false meaning your fundamentalist experience implanted or forced upon you. Welcome to the human race and the beautiful, sometimes frightening challenge of discovering your life’s meaning and facing all of the many mysteries that will never have answers.

Your only responsibility is to be the best you possible, first for yourself, then for others. What more wonderful gift could you possibly give to the ones you love, to your community or to the world? Instead of trying to extract the love, meaning and purpose out of others, or worse, let others define you, you can accept the beautiful and numinous challenge of self-individuation.

You are not called upon to have answers to all of life’s inexplicable questions. You are not called upon to save others with those answers, and you are not called upon to look in disdain or judgment of yourself or others.

About Brien Pittman

Brien’s articles for FāVS generally revolve around ideas and beliefs that create unhealthy deadlock divisions between groups. He has received (minor) writing awards for his short stories and poetry from the cities of Portland, Oregon and the city of (good beer) Sapporo, Japan. In 2010 he was asked to present several articles for the California Senate Committee “Task Force for Suicide Prevention” and has been published by online magazines and a couple national poetry anthologies in print form.

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2 comments

  1. This reminds me of the Oil Industry mantra to drill baby drill. Now I’m OK with preach baby preach but as a progressive democratic metaphysical pagan christian (it all works for me and there’s more) to be screamed at that I am wrong for something, does not invite dialogue. So personally I’m also OK with not being the round guy being forced into the square hole. Thanks for the article. Signed, a survivor of the wingnut right. Also I love the idea that at this point in life I can be wrong and still be OK with that.

  2. Hey Charles,
    From one wingnut right survivor to another. Thanks for the comment you progressive democratic metaphysical pagan christian 🙂
    Life has so much to offer, so many great mistakes to make, so much to see and experience and all of it is temporary, and that makes it all the more precious. Cheers to being OK with being wrong.

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