portland independent media center  
images audio video
newswire article commentary global

faith & spirituality

Christian Shame Based Conditioning

The dominant religion influences the surrounding culture in profound ways...for example, as Joseph Campbell described the situation, he preferred Buddhism since it produces a tolerant, diverse and non-violent culture. Similarly Christianity continues to exert an unconcious influence in the lives of those who are influenced by the culture it produced. An attempt to analyze and clearly identify the way this process works...

Shame based conditioning


The struggle



Beginning in 1996 I began a process of struggle, which I referred to as 'church reform'. This was to be a struggle with classic Christianity, a 'liberation struggle'. The battle was waged on two fronts, one external, a struggle with the systems and hierarchies of Christianity, and the second front was internal, and ongoing quest to achieve my own personal liberation, a total, complete form of personal salvation which would consist of eradicating every last trace of theological influence and religious manipulation from my own mind and thus my own life.

Now at the time I thought of myself as being something like the 'vanguard of the left' (to borrow a term). As is typical for those who part of the 'vanguard of the movement' I was convinced in my own mind that I was set apart in that I had 'broken my chains' and thus was fit to lead a great liberation movement. However as the months and then the years went by I noticed an alarming pattern developing in my life. Again and again I would find my thoughts and my inner emotional life gripped by powerful controlling forces, which typically expressed themselves in the form of shame or guilt. I knew that the source of these invasion emotions was external, and I knew that somehow the process of internalizing these feelings was somehow linked to my liberation struggle with churches. My first response was anger, combined with confusion, followed by an ever greater determination to resist. But throughout this bizarre process I found myself questioning the actual process which was responsible for causing this 'fall from grace' to take place, in that I, a member of the vanguard, a religious revolutionary, was constantly finding my mind and spiritual life invaded and conquered by some of the very processes I was determined to resist.

The evil deleterious effects of these things was apparent to me. Most important I could theorize, and correct theory told me that these alien emotions of guilt and shame were illogical, but I learned that theory alone does make for a vanguard, and that logic and reason are actually ineffective weapons, as well as being useless as a defensive shield. Something peculiar was going on, something I did not understand. I knew that I had to resist this process, and prevent the recurring invasive internalization of what I clearly recognized, through the light of reason and simple logic, as harmful oppressive violations of my person.

The limited value of theory and reason
The example of the Book of Romans



Let us use reason to achieve 'religious liberation'.

For example let us suppose that everyone is 'born sinful' and that they inherited this sin from some guy named Adam and his wife Eve. Through the process of passing sperm into a vagina this 'original sin' is passed onto to every human being who ever lived. To quote the classic Christian theology, based on the book of Romans, "through one man sin entered the world" and thus everyone was condemned 'even those who had not sinned as Adam did by disobeying a direct command." "The wrong doing of that one man brought condemnation to so many...the judicial action following on that one man's sin was a verdict of damnation...for the result of that one misdeed was the condemnation of everyone."

Using the light of reason, and relying on simple commonly understood principles of common justice and fairness it naturally follows that you do not damn the human race to hell, based on the condemnation of one 'sinner'. Now the theology of the book of Romans culminates in the call for Right Wing Authoritarian government, class divisions, and the justification of a powerful status quo, the simple reason being that the entire theology of the book of Romans builds up to this climax at the end of the book simply because the book of Romans is a great exposition of the doctrines of the conservative religious right in the early church, of which the apostle Paul was the most prominent exponent.

Romans 13:1 Let every person be obedient to the governing authorities; for there is no authority except from God, and those authorities that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. ... the authority does not bear the sword in vain! It is the servant of God to execute wrath on the wrongdoer. Therefore one must be obedient ... for the authorities are God's servants, busy with this very thing. Pay ... respect to whom respect is due, honor to whom honor is due.

C lassic psychological studies have indicated that one of the defining characteristics of right wing thought is the belief that human beings are by nature evil, and therefore society must be organized along authoritarian lines and the purpose of government is both establish rules and normative codes of behavior, and then ruthlessly enforce those rules, to prevent the chaos that would result from naturally wicked human behavior. This is exactly the position elucidated in the climax of the book of Romans. As well it is characteristic of right wing thought to venerate authority and justify social inequality, and once again it is exactly this position that the book of Romans idealizes in the climax of the book. The entire theology of the book of Romans then is merely the justification for the political system described at the end of the book - a system which will be authoritarian, conservative, and which, as Paul spells out, uses the death penalty to enforce the rules and maintain the class divisions that Paul calls on everyone to accept, lest one be found guilty of 'rebelling against the divine order.'

Now it is also typical of right wing thought to descend into dogmatism, and the end result of this can include that strange process of irrational double think. Here we find all sorts of contradictory and inconsistent nonsense existing in one and the same mind, while at the same time there is this strange denial of inconsistency or contradictions in ones thought.

Now Paul's theology is not best understood from the light of reason. It is not a philosophy, but rather an exposition of religious dogmatism, intended to support the establishment of theocratic dictatorship, the description of this punitive class based dictatorship forming the great climax of the book. Therefore, since this is an ideology which is deeply pessimistic and motivated more by fear than the desire for intellectual consistency, it is not surprising to find the entire manuscript of Romans rotted through with all sorts of intellectual and philosophical contradictions. This is classic double think.

One of the major premises of the book is that 'God wished to demonstrate justice.' It is important to note that God wanted to 'demonstrate' justice. God did not want to be 'just' but rather wanted to 'demonstrate' justice. Paul will elaborate and describe the world as a giant stage upon which a divine being gives an Oscar winning performance as the destroyer of evil, after first creating all the evil, you know, so that there would be evil to destroy, without having evil challenge God's omnipotence, you know, simply due to the fact that it exists (and shouldn't) and thus in this way God will 'demonstrate justice.' This is the theological explanation for the nature of reality in the book of Romans. God is an unchallenged authority, and evil exists because God created it all as part of a dramatic performance.

God first demonstrated 'justice' by damning all of humanity to hell because this one guy named Adam disobeyed his direct orders. Here we can see the doctrine of sin defined from a rigidly authoritarian right wing point of view. (In the book of Romans original sin consists of 'disobeying a direct order from the authorities' Similarly, righteousness is described in the manuscript as 'being obedient to the authorities'). That all of humanity should be damned to the inferno simply because this one guy Adam could not obey his superior officers, is hardly just, and just one of many examples of the glaring inconsistencies in this book.

Later on, Paul will damn people for having sex with close relatives. This will be one of the major themes of some letter he will write to some other church, where some fellow was found sleeping with his mother-in-law, and the discussion of this horrible crime will consume many chapters. Paul's theory in cases like this is that such people should be handed over to Satan for 'the destruction of the flesh, so that their soul might be saved in heaven.' The discussion of this side issue is relevant here, since once again Paul is practicing double think. Not only is that story of Adam a myth, and not historical fact, and thus the very foundational argument of Paul's theology (that of 'original sin') is invalid (as well as being unjust), but as well one must consider that even assuming that the Adam myth was historical, this would involve the start of the human race through what Paul will later damn as the illegal practice of incest, and here is another example of that interesting double think, that curious blindness to inconsistency. Though the so called theme of Romans is 'divine justice' and the summation of the book is the call for an authoritarian right wing dictatorship to ruthlessly enforce the rules, one can see how flexible the rules can be in actual practice. However if one studies the theology of Roman's in depth, you find that 'righteousness' and thus the rules to be obeyed, are indeed flexible, in that righteousness consists of obeying orders. If the orders change from time to time, then you follow the leader. In this way the theology of Romans is profoundly fatalistic.

Now if one assumes that everyone has inherited corrupted DNA through the transmission of Adam's sinful sperm, and that thus everyone is born sinful and everyone is born condemned to hell (classic Christian theology) then it seems to me that the proper course of action is pursue the course of true, legitimate justice, by launching a class action lawsuit for faulty programming and grossly harmful negligence. This class action lawsuit would of course be targeted at the negligent authority, and not at the victims of this faulty DNA code, and given the tremendous harm having been caused by such negligence (what with billions damned to burn up) it would seem to me that the damages won should mount up into the many many trillions of dollars. As well as civil action, there is a good case to be made here for criminal charges, since what we have here is not just negligent manslaughter, but deliberate premeditated negligence, in other words premeditated negligent homicide, and so a long, long jail term seems justified for the malevolent authority responsible for this disaster. But instead of filing for damages, what has happened throughout history is that people have internalized their own damnation, by calling on Jesus to forgive them for their sinful DNA programming, and to bring them 'salvation' from this preprogrammed damnation to the flames of hell which is the dubious gift of every faulty human baby born ever since Adam disobeyed a direct order and thus screwed up the genetic pool thus causing him to pass on sinful sperm.

What we have here is not a logical sensible argument from philosophy but a form of theological dogmatism intended to justify the right wing doctrine that holds that all humanity is naturally evil, and thus in the end this doctrine is intended to justify the right wing authoritarian state. The fact that the supposed theme of Romans is 'divine justice' is just a classic example of dogmatic double think. No one has any choice in the matter of choosing their DNA, and no baby ever had a choice in whether or not they wished to be 'born evil', and certainly arbitrarily causing people to be evil and then damning them for being evil is not justice as anyone else understands the word.

But then justice is not really the theme of Romans. Fatalistic authoritarianism is the real theme of Romans. Now in order to justify the doctrine that humanity is intrinsically evil and condemned from birth (and thus in need of both the controlling influence of Christian salvation and a totalitarian theocracy) it is a requirement that this 'philosophy' incorporate the doctrine that God is evil. In order to justify the authoritarian dictatorship and class divisions, it is a requirement of this theology that God be Almighty and All Knowing, and thus it follows that it was God who created all evil, and in this way the theology of Romans actually provides all the evidence required in a court of law to convict God on charges of evil, gross negligent homicide, and mass murder. This is quite ironic, I think, but it is also a classic example of that blind dogmatic double think which characterizes Pauline thought, and which therefore characterizes that classic Christian theology which I am determined to resist.

In order for God to be 'all powerful and all knowing and in complete control' it is required that one also insist that God was responsible for all the evil in the world, and thus God is also responsible for the damnation to hell. If evil was something that happened in spite of God, rather than because of God, then the authority of God would be challenged. Given the choice between simple justice and a challenge to authority, the book of Romans comes down solidly on the side of authority, even when this means corrupt and unjust authority, and the role of the subjugated believer is to obey orders, even corrupt and cruel orders, without asking any inconvenient questions. Morality then is whatever the authority says morality is, therefore one can condemn incest when the rules change, and tolerate incest when the practice of incest is presented as a commandment from the authority, like it is in Genesis (be fruitful and multiply means 'go and commit rampant incest' in the context of Genesis...this was okay, because it was direct order). Justice is equally flexible in Romans, and to be 'just' and 'righteous' according to the definition given in Romans, is to 'be brought into obedience' (to quote the ninth chapter of Romans).

Since justice is whatever the authorities of the time happen to decide it to be, there is no real justice in the book of Romans, only authoritarianism. For example we are told that God decides before people were ever born, and before they could do anything, either good or bad, who would be saved and who would hated and damned.

Romans 9:11 Even before they had been born or had done anything good or bad (so that God's purpose might stand firm, which is a matter of God's choice,, depending not on human deeds but on the calling of God) she was told, "The elder shall serve the younger." As it is written, "I have loved Jacob, but I have hated Esau."

Here we are introduced to the doctrine of 'grace' as it is understood in the High Theology of the Christ Cult. Jacob received mercy, and was not born evil, because Jacob was the recipient of the 'grace' of God. Jacob did not receive this grace because he was good person and not because of anything that he did, but rather Jacob received this grace because it was the arbitrary choice of God, and Jacob was 'elected' (which means chosen) by God to receive this grace before Jacob was even born and had done anything either good or bad. Similarly Esau was damned before birth simply because this was the arbitrary choice of God. According to Paul, therefore, not everyone is 'saved' but rather only a remnant of the human of the human race is saved, and they are saved not because they 'choose Jesus' or because of any other work or deed they performed, but simply based on the arbitrary decision of God.

Romans 11:5 Today a remnant exists, chosen by the Grace of God. But if it is by Grace, then it does not rest on deeds, or grace would cease to be grace.

Romans 8:28 Everything turns out for the good for those whom God has called according to God's purpose. For those whom God knew before ever they were born, he also ordained to share in the likeness of his son ... and those whom he foreordained, he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

Similarly, we are told that the evil Pharaoh, who was enslaving the Israelites was knowingly put in place by Almighty God. It could not be said that Pharaoh had challenged the omnipotent power of God, by doing evil, but rather that God had created evil and appointed evil as part of what Paul will later call 'a divine mystery'. Even though this behavior is evidence for a gross abuse of power, and a fine example of the violation of the weak and powerless by powerful authority figures, Paul will nevertheless practice that notorious double think by insisting that this corrupted world view represents 'justice'.

Romans 9:14 What then are we to say? Is there injustice on God's part? By no means! For he says to Moses, "I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion." So it depends not on human will or human effort, but on God who shows mercy. For the scripture says to Pharaoh, "I have raised you up for the very purpose of showing my power in you, so that my name may be proclaimed in all the earth." So then he has mercy on whomever he chooses, and he hardens the heart of whomever he chooses.

Now this theology is intended to prop up authoritarianism, at the expense of justice, but nevertheless Paul cannot ignore justice, since it is obvious that his position (that all evil is the result of the action of God) is cruel, abusive and unjust. His 'solution' is to turn to authoritarianism itself as a solution, and like a true dogmatic, to forbid further discussion of the inconsistencies in his own thinking (thus also protecting himself from becoming aware of the queerness of his own double think). Now the obvious question one must ask is how it can be the case that God can create evil and then damn evil to hell, and still be just and good?

Romans 9: 19 You will say to me then, "Why then does God still find fault? For who can resist God's will?" 20 But who indeed are you, a human being, to argue with God? Will what is molded say to the one who molds it, "Why have you made me like this?" 21 Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one object for special use and another for ordinary use?


The theology of Romans is both profoundly fatalistic, and deeply authoritarian, and this demand for blind obedience takes precedence over the supposed theme of 'justice' in the book. Paul's position is that basically you should just shut your mouth and quit talking back. Well so what? So what if God created evil and damned evil to hell. Can God not do anything? Is not God an unquestioned authority? Who are you to talk back to the authorities? Now it is certainly true that God could be an unquestioned authority (and thus a proxy for the unquestioned submission to authority that Paul demands at the conclusion of his convoluted theological rant), but if this is true then God cannot be just. It is true that God can be all knowing, and thus that God knew all about evil and it follows actually created all the evil and suffering on earth, but in that case God cannot be kind, good, and fair. It is exactly this kind of confused double think that permeates the entire manuscript of Romans, and the only solution to such weird double think is to come down either on the side of authoritarianism or on the side of justice. Now Romans clearly comes down on the side of right wing extremism, but for appearances, attempts to make the theme of the book 'divine justice'.

Not content to just tell everyone to shut their mouths and obey divine authority, Paul feels the need to explain why God is so evil. It turns out that God created evil so that God could awe all of humanity by destroying evil, thus causing those who survived the terrible dramatic performance to praise God since they did not get nailed that time themselves. God achieved this Oscar winning performance, by deliberately creating evil (creatures of wrath deliberately created to be destroyed as bit players in the divine dramatic performance).

Romans 9:22 What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience the vessels of wrath that are created for destruction; 23 and what if he has done so in order to make known the riches of his glory for the objects of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory? 24 including us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles?

So the in Romans salvation is arbitrary. One is not 'saved by choosing to accept Jesus' but rather this salvation is an arbitrary choice made before you were ever born. This is what is known as Paul's doctrine of 'salvation by grace, and not by works'. If one was saved by 'making a decision for Christ' then one was saved by doing this work, the work of choosing Jesus, then it follows, as Paul puts its, 'if it were by this work then grace would cease to be grace'. You have no choice, for as Paul puts it, 'it is by the choice of God, so that it might not be based on human deeds.' The philosophy of the universe is profoundly fatalistic in the book of Romans, and who knows which bit actor role you might be assigned in the divine drama. The only thing you can do is to accept authority, learn obedience, not challenge the status quo, and as Paul puts it at the end of Romans, this translates into political life on earth (as on heaven so on earth) and anyone who challenges the earthly authority figures 'rebels against God.' So you can see that the weird abstractions in the theology of Romans have practical applications in everyday life, and support the establishment of the Right Wing Authoritarian system of governance on earth, with Paul advocating the punishment of the death penalty administered by the edge of Caesar's sword as the punishment for all those who dissent or challenge power or attempt to change the social order.

That the Christian Right Wing Theocracy should be supported by such a confused foundational theology is bad enough, but even worse is the doctrine that also follows logically from Paul's doctrine of 'sinful sperm' and that is that the human body is evil. It naturally follows that since sin is transmitted through Adam's sperm, the body is wicked, so not only does classic Christian theology support dictatorship (indeed it was designed to do so, as a careful study of Romans reveals) it also inculcates that peculiar and defining Christian sexual paranoia. Paul introduces the Christian dichotomy between 'the flesh' (evil) and 'the spirit' (good). Paul was not a preacher of 'family values' but if you actually read what he had to say, he was a preacher of lifelong abstinent chastity. According to what he wrote, marriage and family were for those weaklings who could not resist the cravings of the lusting flesh, and for them he grudgingly states that in that case, given their strong lusts, it would be 'better for them to marry than to burn.'

Now as I stated above, no one chooses their flesh, and given how lusting it is, it follows that lust originated with God, and here Paul has nothing to say on the matter. He offers none of his weirded out pseudo-arguments .to defend his doctrine of wicked flesh. Once again, the fact that people have evil flesh would be one more matter to add onto the class action lawsuit against God, and one strong piece of evidence for the prosecution in such a case would be that manuscript of Romans itself, along with a lot of Paul's other letters, in which he strangely argues the case for the prosecution, in spelling out constant acts of cruelty and injustice on the part of God, and explicitly argues the case that it was God who was responsible for all evil and wickedness on earth, since, apparently, God wanted to star on stage and screen as the destroyer of evil, and thus had to fill the world with 'vessels of wrath created to be destroyed' in the final act of that Oscar winning performance. If anyone wants to sue over the evil flesh and all the suffering and violence in the world it is obvious who you want to drag into court given the theological musings of that right wing book of Romans.

Now it is just exactly this kind of mental garbage that caused me to put up such fierce (and ongoing) resistance to the influence of Christian theology on my inner life or thoughts. It is a pile of good for nothing rubbish, with designs on bringing my mind and my body under the control of a right wing dictatorship, and yet, as I mentioned, even though, intellectually I understood through the light of reason and simple common sense that this was true, I still found my inner life being polluted by invasive feelings of guilt and shame. Something was going on, and I was determined to get to the bottom of this mysterious process.



Shame based conditioning



The purpose of the above discussion of Romans (and thus Classic Christian theology - the two are the same) is two fold. First it gives me an opportunity to whittle and hone my argument against that book of Romans, and allows me to take a few preliminary shots at the document in the meantime, and more importantly it allows me to point out that Christian Theology did not triumph in the land, nor did it conquer on foreign soils during the age of Imperialism due to the fact that it carried with it a compelling logic or due to the fact that its philosophy was unassailable. Rather another mysterious process was at work that caused the spread of Christianity, and it is exactly this invisible process I will discuss now.

Now the above discussion of the book of Romans is relevant to anyone who considers themselves an activist, since one must be aware that the struggle for human dignity in a free, and egalitarian society is not a struggle against an oppressive force that was just born yesterday, but rather against processes at work in society that have roots that extend back many many centuries. In the case of western Christian societies there are attitudes and tendencies at work on the unconscious level that go right back to the book of Romans, since Romans describes what became classic Christian theology. To this very day, to be an activist, to resist, to change society, is a crime punishable by being subjected to the sharp blade of Caesar's sword. As we know dissent was a death penalty offense throughout Christian history, and even today, with the grip of Christian doctrine being loosened, people still find themselves getting wacked by that sword when they agitate for change.

Strange how persistent these cultural behavior patterns are, and this persistence of ancient cultural patterns and the effect on the unconscious thought life of humanity goes much deeper than anyone who assumes themselves to be part of the 'vanguard' might always understand. Christian theology has been on a steady decline for the last century (statistical evidence indicates that the decline has been steadily progressing since the beginning of the last century). Now the question I pose here is whether an ideology that has only recently begun its precipitous collapse has, it then follows, immediately lost its grip on the human unconscious. I use the term unconscious here, since the process I noticed at work on my own life was taking place on some strange unconscious level. A strange process of enslavement and re-indoctrination was taking place below the level of my conscious awareness and as I became aware of its effects, this would be followed by feelings of great alarm. I do not like being manipulated in such a subtle way that it takes place without my being aware that its happening. Gross and vulgar attempts at manipulation are better then, because at least then it is impossible to misunderstand what is taking place.

What I discovered is that the persistence of the irrationality of Christian doctrine over the ages cannot be explained logically, since Christian theology is profoundly illogical and nonsensical. The purpose of the above discussion of the central document of Romans was to briefly illustrate this double think and irrationality that lies at the core of Christian theology. Reason and philosophy do not explain the persistence of such irrationality, nor does it explain its continuing, though subsiding, persistence as a force in human society. Christian theology is political in nature, in that, as I attempted to point out, these seeming theological abstractions are just politics concealed (only finally revealed fully at the very climax of the book). But the persistence of Christian theology cannot be explained on the basis of its sound political views, nor can one explain the spread of Imperialist Christianity during the time of European colonial expansion based on the inherent desirability of his sexual hostility or based on the convincing appeal of its internal illogic. Indeed the spread of Christian imperialism involved the destruction of cultures over the face of the planet (among them those cultures where people had lived for the most part naked since prehistoric times had to be modestly clothed, hiding their sinful flesh; those cultures that practiced an enormous variety of sexual and familial relationships had to be destroyed and replaced by the veneration of chaste celibates, and monogamous marriage rituals; matriarchies had to be destroyed and replaced by patriarchies; and the list goes on and on, and it was tragedy that such interesting and natural diversity was destroyed in the process - it can compared to the ruinous destruction of species in the rain forest).

Now what I propose as an explanation for the weirdness of this process, based on my personal struggles, is that Christianity achieved this bizarre success due to its skillful (and probably unconscious) manipulation of certain important aspects of human nature. In addition, I propose that the influence of Christianity extends to unconscious life of entire societies, where hidden influences continue to manipulate and control people to this very day.

It turns out to be the case that truly the Great Law of Human Nature states that, to put it one way, 'You must love neighbor'. To put it another way, 'you must like me.' Similarly I must like you. Nothing so offends a human being as 'not being liked and accepted.' If you want to control or manipulate me, the best way to do this would be to threaten me with 'excommunication'. I will fear your disapproval and the process of subtle manipulation begins. If I remain unconscious of the Great Law and the way in which it controls interactions between human beings, then I will begin to internalize your disapproval, and then the process of controlling my thoughts and behavior will begin.

If I encounter a culture that is running around naked and practicing a variety of sexual relationships, I can begin to 'save their souls' by first disapproving of them, and withdrawing my willingness to accept them. I won't like them if they don't change. They, being human beings, and thus also operating unconsciously according to the principles of the Great Law, will of course be offended, even wounded or hurt, because I disapprove, and naturally they will not want to be violated by being disliked. The process of unconscious manipulation has begun, and hard as it might be to accept, just by employing this simple tactic and persisting, I can destroy an entire culture and replace it with the one I like. I can accomplish this by threatening people with excommunication. As one by one, my numbers slowly increase, the pressure to conform will build unconsciously in all those who remain, until, unbelievably, I will introduce an inconsistent and irrational bunch of nonsense to that foreign culture (while calling the process 'saving souls'). I will devastate the earth by destroying all sexual and cultural and spiritual diversity and my irrational non-philosophy will incomprehensibly spread around the globe.

Or, to use another example, a resistor, such as myself, might appear. I can be manipulated by frowns of disapproval. This technique is particularly powerful when I am facing the large group as one lone voice of dissent. I will not be liked. I will be threatened with disapproval. Yet you must like me, and so therefore I will unconsciously begin to internalize your disapproval. The invisible process of invading my mind with your rubbish will begin, and will continue until I become conscious that something mysterious is taking place, and thus I wake up in alarm, and begin a desperate search for the origins of those strange and irrational feelings of guilt about my sexuality, or my body, or my philosophy.

One process I noticed at work, is where Christian reactionaries attempt to get as many people as possible outside their group to turn against you. So you find that this group is against you (for example the 'mental health community', as happened to me), or let's say, people involved in different organizations in the community are turned against you, and this reinforces the power of the ban, of the excommunication, and that's why religious people spend so much time stirring up troubles against dissenters in the community at large. It reinforces the power of the excommunication, and can be much more effective at destroying your internal defenses.

A similar process can be observed among social activists, where you often hear about coalitions falling apart, or people dropping out and revoking their membership. What was happening for some time before that took place is that the 'I won't like you' form of manipulation was being employed, and eventually, if the threat of excommunication did not produce the desired results, people begin to more actively dislike each other, and if even this escalation is unable to bring about ideological conformity, the result is a drop out or a divisive rift. The people on both sides are wounded, because they were violated because they weren't liked, and the healing process often involves becoming venomous towards their former compatriots. If they are bad people, well who cares about what they think about you, right? Thus a feud begins, and the unconscious purpose of the feud is both to heal over the wounds caused by this form of attempted psychological manipulation and also to resist the invasive thought patterns and emotions of guilt and wrongness that are the residuals of such behavior. Because these residuals remain unconscious, the process of resistance becomes manifested externally in the form of this feud, but underneath it all, is a process of resistance against this form of emotional and intellectual manipulation by means of threats of excommunication.

And so, I would propose, having observed this process at work in both myself, and then seeing it manifested in others, it is therefore the case that even activists, even the vanguard, continue to behave like Christians. Of course, they do not understand that they are expressing an ancient, unconscious Christian behavior pattern. If you asked those activists, or even the vanguard, about these matters, they would insist that they have broken free of the shackles of Christian enslavement. And yet, I ask, after a mere one hundred years of decay, can it really be said that thousands of years of unconscious thought and generations of behavioral training and modification can be so easily undone. Is not the struggle against Christian dogma going to prove to be more challenging and difficult than that ... Certainly I have found this Christian exploitation of 'excommunication' to be surprisingly effective, and it is the central thing one needs to understand to comprehend the spread of something as unfriendly to the human race as hostile Christian theology, and its attempt to set up the totalitarian right wing dictatorship and crush human sexual expression and hide human bodies. A more unhappy and miserable pseudo- philosophy is hard to imagine, and yet this was the victorious ideology for thousands of years, and even managed to spread itself globally during the age of the European Christian Imperial Sword (another fine example of the doctrine of Romans being put into practical effect, Paul not being one to shy away from encouraging the use of the sword, after all, as you can tell by reading his endorsement of that sword near the conclusion of Romans).

Christians continue to manipulate people in just this way, although they remain entirely unconscious of the process. When a Christian uses just this type of 'I don't like you' manipulation and the result is a feeling of shame or guilt in the targeted individual, Christians give it a name - they call that process the 'conviction of the Holy Ghost.' The Holy Ghost was convicting someone of their sinful ways, and in just this way, Christians see the results of their manipulation and these results are then used to reinforce Christian dogma, in that it is supposed to be evidence for the 'continuing acitvity of the Holy Ghost.' Actually its just a base form of manipulation.

One of the big questions I find myself asking recently, is just how deeply the roots of ancient history and custom are spread within my life, and consequently within the lives of those around me (and that would include the lives of the activist and yes, even the vanguard, although if you asked them they might be under the mistaken impression that it was not the case). Certainly more and more people are becoming conscious of Christian attempts to inculcate guilt and shame concerning their sexuality and their bodies (their bodies being fit only for burning and orgasms being crimes worthy of death, more stupid nonsense, and perhaps because Christian theology is so ridiculously far fetched on this point, it is more evident to people). Nevertheless, there are these invisible influences that remain, and that continue to exert an influence over human behavior and society to this day, simply because they are so deeply ingrained in the cultural unconscious that people remain unaware of their existence. It is a fact that the dominant religion influences the surrounding culture in profound ways...for example, as Joseph Campbell described the situation, he preferred Buddhism since it produces a tolerant, diverse and non-violent culture. Similarly Christianity produces a manipulative, culture of domination, class divisions, and intolerant excommunication, and one can see these deeply ingrained cultural patterns manifested in the cultures that have only now begun the healing process which must follow the collapse of Christian Theology.




INDEX



what i believe 07.Sep.2003 12:14

brent herbert

Christians react defensively whenever they perceive an attack on faith (this is a reflexive fear of faithlessness)

Just to attempt to forestall these deep Christian reactions I thought I would point out that I believe in something myself, I just don't believe in Christian Theology...thus this is not an attack on 'faith' as such

what I believe

The lost political message of the Easter Gospel story

Before the Christian age, crucifixion was a political statement being made by Caesar. The meaning of the message was 'I am Caesar. Screw with me and this is how you will be tortured to death.' The entire Roman economy was dependant on the wealth generated by slaves, who were kept in line using the threat of crucifixion (torture). The post Easter meaning of the crucifixion became an insult to Caesar, and the political content of this new subversive message could be described using the phrase, 'Caesar crucifies slaves, but God raises his victims from the dead.' A revolutionary interpretation of the white washed Easter story...

 http://www.awitness.org/journal/easter_gospel.html

a process 07.Sep.2003 16:29

brent

I have been getting some feedback which suggests that
its natural to hate
people do things we don't like but they too are a product of a society, a culture, and it is wrong to see people in terms of a polarity, as being completely bad (or completely good for that matter)
however a world view in which we classify people as those we like and those we devalue because they are to be hated is just a continuation of the hatred and violence in the world today
call me an idealist but I believe that we should 'love our enemies' in a sense...this doesn't mean that you want to spend all your time with them, but hating people won't make the world a better place, and there is something unnatural about justifying stereotyping people as 'bad' and 'unlikeable' because they possess some bad traits...

look, I am an idealist, and yes I do think that people should value human life...this doesn't mean you have to become the 'close friend' of people who are your enemies, but you should not justify devaluing humanity by stereotyping people into catagories (good and evil, worthwhile or worthless) this type of dualism in thinking is a product of christianity as well, where people are defined in rigid catagories (saved and unsaved, lost and found, damned and heaven bound) Christians practice a rigid dichotomy in separating people into catagories


what I was describing here was a process
if you want to test the theory of the 'Great Law' as I call it then try this...
find a little child and tell them 'I don't like you' and then watch them burst into tears
as for adults well by the time people become adults in this fiercely competitive brutalizing world they have already hated and been hated so many times that their hearts have hardened, and so telling some adult 'i don't like you' while it has an effect (everyone dislikes this) they won't burst into tears like a little child...they have been to brutalized, to hardened, they have become used to hating and being hated as a 'natural way of life'...this does not eliminate the effect, but by growing the type of thick skin you need to live in this place, they don't feel it as intensely as children do

you know I discovered as a teenager that one could overcome hostility by refusing to respond to hate, by refusing to play the you don't like me and now I am going to hate you back game

its hard to hate people who refuse to hate you back, and I was able to transform people, or so I discovered ... playing the 'let's hate each other because its natural for us' game only perpetuates hatred while what I did difuses hatred...it can be tough, because I found that people would try to keep hating for a time, but I stuck it out, and the impact was remarkable

now as for the doctrine of 'hate thy enemy' this doctrine does not acknowledge the fact that people do the things that they do for a reason...for example the right wing authoritarian is convinced, through constant brutalization of life, that the world is basically evil and thus they turn to right wing dictators for safety...by understanding that right wing thinking is fear based, one can at the very least make the human connection which prevents those nasty feuds and all the slandering and yelling you often hear (take all the screaming that happens on Indy sites...remember the furious street battles between the left and the right on the streets of Germany during hitler's reign) this is the product of losing touch with humanity, and venting hatred for one's enemy instead of making the effort to at very least understand...

you know when I visit indymedia sites I always think of germany and the vicious street battles between left and right, and I find myself wondering if the day will come when these battles will spill out from the computer screen onto the streets once again

and there is something weird about 'saving the world' and hating at the same time...their is something weird about calling for 'an end to violence in iraq' while perpetuating hatred, ignorance and violence...

people do these things because they accept the myth that 'hate is natural' and because they dehumanize their enemies and thus never gain any understanding of why people do what they do...
actually any small child will show that hate is learned, and that the great law is natural, since this law is strongly at work in children, even if it goes dead in brutalized adults

are you having a conversation with yourself? 07.Sep.2003 17:56

Christian Pastor

Hey Brent, where are the comments or responses you are referring to? Are they being deleted or are you fielding responses in some other forum?
I usually read most of your posts --- they are awfully long.
I just wanted to write and say that the Easter message is definitedly revolutionary --- your interpretation is not since it has been a standard interpretation in many Christian circles for years.
Unfortunately, those circles tend to be viewed as radical by 'mainstream" Christians.
Christianity was definitely co-opted by the culture of the time --- in the early days and today as well.
In the church we call it being in exile in Babylon since during the Babylonian captivity the Hebrew people were seduced by the culture --- unlike the Egyptian captivity where they maintained their religious identity.
In fact it is always easier for an oppressed people to hold on to their separate identity because from that separate identity comes affirmation -e.g. 'the chosen people"
Captivity in babylon is much more difficult because one is caught up with the culture, and begins to realign one's faith in order to fit in.
Reading folks like Stanley Hauerwas, Robert Brimlow, or Marianne Sawicki might give you an understanding of current "revolutionary" Christian thought.
Oh, you might also like Mark Taylor's book "the executed god: the way of the cross in lockdown america"
not recommended for all as it is tough reading.

Any faith story can be co-opted.

PS 07.Sep.2003 17:59

Christian Pastor

I am glad yo indentified yourself as non Christian.
I think it is helpful to readers. It is interesting you spend so much time trying to criticise something you are not part of.
Who or what was your experience with?