Monday, September 21, 2009

How unUnChristian of me.

I can't believe that a month has gone by without me writing something unChristian on this blog. My, how time flies.

I want to say what I think should be obvious to everyone, including Christians themselves, but which I don't think IS obvious to them.

As one is growing up, it is obvious that one knows very little and has to be coached by a mentor or two mentors or more, the more the merrier, I guess.

These mentors, mom and dad, grandma and that smelly old guy, mean older brother and/or sister(s), all seem to collude to teach you that you are you in this structured society and they are them. Generally they will teach you that you ought to listen to them because they know more than you, they can beat you up, and they can 'get you back' for knowing more than them.

We can extend that structure back in time or on 'up' through society in general, it doesn't matter, either way we realise that the older one is, the wiser one is/was supposed to be, and that they are supposed to have some tangible evidence of their wisdom, namely money, property, good advice and the ability to punish you for stepping out of line.

Stretching the notion of the structure or heirarchy back through time leads to the notion of gods, or A God, while stretching it up through society does pretty much the same thing, eventually supreme power is delegated to one or more supreme beings.

How can anyone NOT believe in the local religious wisdom when, here you are, stuck within that heirarchy whether you like it or not?

After all, we're told repeatedly, that we want to grow up like US and NOT like THEM!

One very wise Christian once said, "Give me the child until he is seven and I'll show you the man.", implying that our values are instilled in us, become ingrained in us, when we are quite young, by teaching and by example.

I'm not sure if that same Christian realised that HE ALSO had been 'brought up' to be HIM, that HE TOO didn't have ANY choice about how he turned out?

21 comments:

mac said...

Interestingly enough some folks break away from this indoctrination.
Some of us were raised in christian families and have seen fit to toss those beliefs out, just like yesterday's garbage.

Still, the majority are in to deep, sadly.

Harvey said...

Your observations, which, in my opinion, are right on the mark, are neither un Christian nor antireligious. They are simple observations of sociological truisms that have been publicly recognized for over a hundred years (if not much earlier). In the past, such ideas would have been met with approbation and even persecution or death by the authorities of the time, whose "control" over the masses would be threatened by wide disseminatiuon of these ideas.
In fact, what you describe, in a larger sense, is how humans go from the totally selfish, egocentric beings we all are at birth, to adults who have been adequately socialized (civilized?) within our family/tribe/nation to be able to function among our peers. None of these things would matter in the least if we were destined to spend our entire lives alone; successful adulthood requires the ability to submerge our own desires within the needs of our society often enough that everyone else is willing to tolerate our presence in the group.
Religious indoctrination is, in my opinion, no different than any other system of interpersonal relationships that we all must learn/accept/make our peace with in order to survive.

pboyfloyd said...

I agree with mac, many of us examine our motives and come to realise that our religion is piggy-backing on the natural progression of the socialization of each individual.

We can, and some of us DO shed this idea that religion is at the 'bottom' of it, the majority opinion being, "How can you be fully socialized if you don't have faith/believe as we do etc. ?"

Harvey, I guess I put it in 'Christian' terms because it is 'the one' we're dealing with, here in Christendom.

I think that I was trying to say that it's so obvious, anyone ought to be able to assimilate it and, therefore treat their own life indoctrination with some skepticism while the self-appointed shepherds of society try to 'shoo' us back into the fold of the true believer.

oneblood said...

Except of course the loners, the tough cowboys who know the way it is.

They really show us the way because they've bucked the system, and shouldn't we accept their critique of said system simply by virtue of them not belonging to it.

There he/she is all alone, knowing that society is engendering more of its own b.s. in its children. But it's really the loners, the cool kids, what have you, who know better. They're not going to do what mom and dad say, because it's what mom and dad say.

Then when they discover that there's some veracity to their opinions, dun dun dun dun they become another non-profit prophet...

Yet somehow their message is the same one as the prevailing society. "Dose uddah guys iz stoopid." That's epistemology for ya.

Welcome to Truth, population 0.

pboyfloyd said...

Funny stuff, oneblood.

Maybe the loners, the cool guys, the prophets see through the system where the system goes too far or where another system which is equally adamant concerning their own 'rightness' come into conflict with each other.

Jehova's Witnesses and such shunning blood transfusions because blood is sacred( a conduit to the spiritual, we hear ).

Or the state 'going too far' when it comes to making 'nanny' laws that don't accomplish their intended goals.

Marijuana laws which end up 'lumbering' the kids with a criminal record when it's intended to help kids be drug-free.

Seat-belt laws which are as much about 'taxing' errant drivers with fines as saving lives.

Liquor and cigarette taxes and excise, punishing poor people in the name of the overall health of individuals.(so if you drink and smoke, it's bad for your health twice, once because of the damaging effects of the drugs and again because of the effect on the budget)

GearHedEd said...

Oddly enough, Ian, a couple of people have recently chastised me for (my terminology) "not presenting my children to the 'experts' when they were young enough to have benefitted from their (the experts') expertise.

One of those that scolded me was my mother. But upon agreeing with me that my kids are probably atheists because that's what I believe, then noting that my daughter is still a virgin at seventeen (she has a boyfriend, and is very easy on the eyes: 5'0", 105 lb., 36D, long brown hair and green eyes), while my older sister's daughter (raised by Lutherans in the church every week) has three kids at 25, is divorced from the father of the first two and never married (and never will--he's a douchebag) the father of the third, she asked me,

"Well, how do you explain Jennifer (my niece; not her real name) then?"

Can ya see where this is going? :o)

I told her it was BECAUSE of the religion that Jennifer turned out the way she did.

I told Mom that Jennifer was raised with

a) appeals to an invisible authority figure that doesn't punish people (not the ones who need punishing at any rate) in ways that we all can see and agree are effective,

b) the notion that due to original sin we're all just miserable lumps of shit and ultimately not responsible for our shortcomings because we're well, miserable lumps of shit. But we can pretend to love Jesus and become born-again miserable lumps of shit, and that makes everything OK, and also absolves us of responsibility for our bad behaviors because we're still (you guessed it) miserable lumps of shit.

Whereas I have always treated my kids as people (in the absence of some pastor trying to inform my kids of their "true nature" as miserable lumps of shit that need his "cure"), and appealed to reason (as soon as they were old enough to respond properly to it) instead of appealing to some invisible sky-daddy boogeyman who wants to toss them into a lake of fire if they don't kiss his ass.

My Mom pondered this, looking thoughtful, but saying nothing...

Asylum Seeker said...

As an extension on your ideas about the religious beliefs instilled in kids, Gearhead, the style of parenting may be important (and a reflection of the nature of the belief system involved). Although a lax style of parenting (loose, free, forgiving, where the parent is mostly uninvolved with their children's private lives) leads to some level of "immorality", an overbearing and strict style of parenting (comparable to the Christian God's style of...godding) yields a similar immorality. Why? In overly lax households, kids are their own authorities, and can do whatever they want freely, so a little bit of wrong-doing will be a consequence. In overly strict households, kids have no control, are commanded to do things a certain way, and thus when they are under the impression that the oppressive authority is not ready to punish them for misdeeds, will basically binge bad behavior while they can get a chance.

Treating kids like people, using reason (and being involved) is the key to yielding offspring that have enough of an internal locus of control to not behave in an overly irresponsible manner. This is simply because they realize that such a pattern of behavior is what is best for them and is what they actually want for themselves (and do not act that way simply out of fear or need to earn the love of a parent). Granted, this is all easier said than done, and easier speculated than actually proven to be true....

oneblood said...

No Asylum, you're right on the money. GearHead's example was another semi-appeal to authority...of which there are thousands of examples on both sides of the issue.

pboyfloyd said...

I think that I opened up a huge can of worms here, trying to 'focus on' religion's role in society and society' role on how we percieve ourselves.

We teach our kids what we know, or well, I guess we ought to teach our kids what we know or perhaps we ought to try to hide our kids from what we know. It's kind of a puzzle from that perspective and we, as parents only have one chance to 'get it right'.

How can you teach kids to think for themselves? You can't just leave it up to them to figure it out, on the one hand, but 'drilling them' with that notion is hardly allowing them to do that thing.

Repeat after me kids, you MUST think for yourselves! (repeat a hundred times)

..or..

Here's my jumbled mess of ideas for you to think for yourself with! Good luck with that!

To 'break the chain' you'd have to do it yourself and use yourself as an example to your kids, but it had better not be so radical a break that society regards you as nuts, the kids will see through that.

How to tell anyone(never mind just the kids) that society, our society, is just an indoctrination while explaining that it's really all that we've come up with, all we've got?

Pliny-the-in-Between said...

As a parent I try to be an experiential resource guide and mentor for empathy and critical thinking rather than an authority. The benefit (potentially) of having lived longer is perspective and some sense of how some decisions play out. This seems to be establishing realistic expectations on both our parts. With no doubt as to our love for them, this transition to adulthood and increase in freedoms established from previous successes is hopefully reducing their angst while still protecting them from their inexperience.

Funny how it seems so similar to training residents...

----------
Seat-belt laws which are as much about 'taxing' errant drivers with fines as saving lives.

Can't let that one go unchallenged Pboy!

As one who has championed such laws, the principle goal is not revenue but rather a recognition of the devastating effects we have seen from collisions when belts aren't used. Head injuries are greatly reduced with the use of restraints.

ok, enough ranting - If I could figure out how to leave a comment I would go over and give Mac hell on the helmet law post ;)

oneblood said...

Pliny,

I was wondering about the cross referencing :-)

Pboy,

I don't know, isn't opening a whole can of worms partly what this blog thing is about?

I'm a slightly odd bird, so I have fun being corrected or debating others who do not share my world view...

And I didn't necessarily disagree with you I was just playing Torquemada's advocate :-P

GearHedEd said...

Seeker said,

"...Treating kids like people, using reason (and being involved) is the key to yielding offspring that have enough of an internal locus of control to not behave in an overly irresponsible manner. This is simply because they realize that such a pattern of behavior is what is best for them and is what they actually want for themselves (and do not act that way simply out of fear or need to earn the love of a parent)."

In addition, I let the kids know that I'm human, too, and am not above making mistakes. I even go as far as holding myself up as a (mildly) negative example, in that I dabbled in drugs when I was in my late teens and early twenties. Then, after having lost the full ride to a major university because I was in search of the eternal buzz, I only two years ago in my mid-forties finished my first bachelors degree.

Another thing I tell them is that the cops who come to the schools and teach the D.A.R.E. program use scare tactics to try to keep kids from experimenting with drugs, which may or may not be the best approach, in my opinion. I added to their discussion by telling the kids that the true danger with drugs is that they FEEL GOOD while you're doing them, and that is seductive.

Then oneblood said,

"...GearHead's example was another semi-appeal to authority...of which there are thousands of examples on both sides of the issue."

To an extent, I agree. A semi-appeal based on the negative consequences of my first-hand experience.

oneblood said...

Ed,

May all the leprechauns nearest you laugh at your shillelagh.

:-P

Cause frankly your the type of guy to take your shillelagh out for leprechauns in the first place, so you're deservin of their laughter.

Asylum Seeker said...

Pboy: "To 'break the chain' you'd have to do it yourself and use yourself as an example to your kids, but it had better not be so radical a break that society regards you as nuts, the kids will see through that."

Important point related to this. Parents may directly try to indoctrinate their children into having certain ways of thinking and doing, but society at large will indirectly try to do the same thing. A significant difference in the messages given by both will create problems (i.e. an inevitable rebellion against parental lessons, or a general scorn for greater society and wish for a more isolated existence separated from its influence).

Gearhead: "I even go as far as holding myself up as a (mildly) negative example"

That's not an uncommon practice. Nobody's perfect, and in many ways parenting is about trying to insure that our children learn from our mistakes (as well as from their own, more importantly). This is to say that we want our children to do/be better than we did in any number of ways. Of course, again, the method of insuring that this actually occurs can vary from simple advice to outright trying to control the offspring in order to live through them vicariously.

"I added to their discussion by telling the kids that the true danger with drugs is that they FEEL GOOD while you're doing them, and that is seductive."

Well, drugs aren't just seductive. They are addictive. Difference? Kind of hazy. Think of the drug's seductive aspect as the good feeling that you mentioned, the getting high, the escape from reality, the bursts of emotions or freedom from pain. All very good, very tempting, and not a problem. It is a hook, drawing you in, but always involving your choice and your seeing it as something pleasurable. Addiction (later stages) is interesting, in that the feel good aspect has become irrelevant. You are biologically dependent on the substance and need to take it just to avoid feeling terrible for being in an unaltered state. The seductiveness pales in comparison to the ugliness of addiction, where you have inadvertently created a new biological need for yourself. Drugs are really nothing to mind, nothing to be disgusted with or to fear, until you reach that point, where a drug has gone from a source of recreation to something that the person feels they need to simply survive. It's why, if you must use an illicit drug, you should smoke pot. Some guy on the internet hath spoken.

pboyfloyd said...

Since oneblood seems to have gone on to Crazyland I thought I'd join him for a second before I completely wake up.

(JFK voice), "I..um.. I have shown my shillelagh and the ..um.. leprechauns..um.. have laughed! Ask not..um.. what your shillelggh can do for you.. um, Ich bin ein leprechaun! We will go to the Moon and show our shillelaghs and do the other thing..."

(Bill Clinton voice) "I.. did NOT show that leprechaun my shillelagh!"

GearHedEd said...

oneblood,

The "Ed" part of my handle does NOT stand for 'erectile dysfunction'. My Shillelagh works just fine, thank you, and the leprechauns can go fuck off.

So there.

Stacy S. said...

" In addition, I let the kids know that I'm human, too, and am not above making mistakes.... "

Dang it! Ed beat me to it!!

oneblood said...

"Dang it! Ed beat me to it!!"

You show your shillelagh to leprechauns too Stacy?!?!

Maybe that's what your last video was really about.

Man. My blog world has been turned downside up. I'm almost typeless.

pboyfloyd said...

After reading this over, I've decided that I meant that we all have to go through growing up, the 'can of worms' is the distraction that this topic automatically causes when people start 'making it ABOUT the kids' or their kids, which it wasn't.

Then again, when the topic has anything to do with 'growing up', perhaps parents automatically jump into 'parenting mode', as in, "Yea, but how does what you're saying affect MY kids, who are growing up right as we type here?"

Well, but we're all growing a day older every day and being influenced. Some traumatic event might make us jump on some 'band-wagon' that we'd never have considered jumping on barring that event, and stuff like that.

oneblood said...

Right on the money pboy. I remember my raving lib of an ex-wife becoming all Republican after 9-11.

I wonder how many other libs did the same until Bush invaded Iraq. But more poignantly, how many didn't? We never talk about them, but I bet there are some who had the full conversion experience.

Just as a side comment slightly more constructive than leprechauns, I'm too blastedly cynical to believe anything coming out of a President's mouth.

When Bush said "Iraq..." (and I voted for him), I was just like, "You daddy worshipping bastard."

Which brings this comment full circle doesn't it?

I don't think we're in Iraq because old Dubya is religious. We're in Iraq because of Daddy, and Daddy's bulldog's love of money.

I agree with your anonymous Christian's sentiment. Probably no need to wonder what Dubya was like at age seven.

GearHedEd said...

Me? Growing?

OK. I'll bite. I expect the nukes to start flying within a decade at most. Really. So I'm stocking up on ammo and surplus MRE's.