The first church that I remember going to taught me that God wants worship so absolute that you need to sacrifice your curiosity and intellect to attain His love. God was terrifying and incomprehensible and nightmarishly bigger than us, just like our abusers. If you let Him do whatever He wanted to you, He would still hurt you, but the hurt would be mostly predictable. Just like our abusers. And if you just let go of your “rebelliousness” (read: emotions), maybe it wouldn’t hurt so much. Just like our abusers told us.
I bet you can’t guess who was teaching me these things. I’m not even sure if it was planned or not – an extra layer of conditioning to make us stick around after adulthood. But it is fascinating how Christianity is built to create a version of god in the image of whoever preaches it. It only works if an impossibly selfless person is teaching it. Which basically means reading what Jesus said and deciding how you feel about it. Preachers, as a rule and as a concept, weird me out, though of course there is a lot of trauma tied to that opinion
I suppose, too, that most organized religions have this effect. I just don’t have the experience to call it out.
Currently, my first memory of sa in a church context was accomplished with “you can choose to do as I say or you can choose to be hurt”. I find it fascinating that I was given this choice by somebody who could have easily overpowered me. Teaching me to love them was, in their eyes, best accomplished by making me hate everything else. What does that say about their thoughts about themselves and the world around them?
Humans have to worship something to fight depression, and in some ways nature is the safest thing to direct this energy towards. As long as I acknowledge how terrifying and destructive nature can be, there’s not much room for disappointment. Well, except for getting your heart broken as you watch society slowly killing the planet. So, from that perspective, maybe nothing is safe.
Ooh! I actually want to expand on this! Worshipping nature is, in my experience, a conversation. The Chrisianity that I grew up with mostly taught me to bend myself and the world around me to its rules. Those rules would, in time, evolve into my own version, warped by anxiety. So I would eventually grow to worship a version of myself that I never wanted to be in the first place.
Somebody very dear to me, who I am not ready to identify yet, taught me to listen instead. The only rule is kindness, not just to humans, not just to animals or even plants, but everything. Ask the food how it wants to be cooked, and you’ll create art together. Ask the stones if it’s okay to bring them home, like a type of symbiosis. Ask yourself how you truly feel in any given situation.
I think that you, Lothair, have built something very intricate and beautiful through the religious abuse you experienced. I think that every philosophy is valuable and probably at least a little bit right, from one angle or another. I also think that any worldview that insists that anybody who disagrees will perish and/or be tortured for eternity is…abusive. And I’m glad that you disagree so strongly with that philosophy. It’s just inherently abusive to teach others that the only way is your way, and everybody else is damned. It goes against the very teachings of Christianity themselves. And I do find that somewhat amusing.
We’re currently reading a book series called The Arc of a Scythe. It takes place in a utopian world where humans have become immortal. To curb overpopulation, people named scythes are tasked with assassinating a specific number of humans each year.
The series has, so far, been focusing a lot on the politics present in the scythe community. What started as a sacred, noble, and moral profession has corrupted into something almost commercialized – if not by society in literal form, then symbolically and practically in the largely unknown scythe culture.
Humans do love to commercialize sacred things. I feel this so painfully clearly every day, for reasons that I am not yet ready to expand upon. Suffice it to say that I have been homesick for almost my entire life, and I will likely never get over it.
But what I wanted to say is that I feel like these books make an excellent metaphor for organized religion. Something created with the best intentions begins to rot from the inside out once the people who made it are long dead. That, I believe, is why csa is so very prominent in church settings.
People are often too afraid and too anxious to strike out on their own, to “listen to themselves”, as Katran said. This is why philosophies that prey on others’ fears grow so rapidly. It’s like, as Lothair likes to say so often, The Grand Inquisitor from The Brothers Karamazov. Following evil people feels safe, especially to those who have been abused. The rules are harsh, and that can be appealing when it is so hard for us to trust ourselves.
I feel for the kids growing up nowadays, with impossible beauty AND personality standards shoved in their face. And by people who are lying about how “perfect” they are to begin with. No wonder so many influencers have been accused of abuse. I’m not saying that being an influencer makes one bad. I’m saying that the algorithm on most platforms encourages and promotes a lot of people who don’t believe in the things that they say.
Again, I have followed popular content creators whom I have no issue with. But I also see a lot of guilt-tripping and perfectionism being promoted. Because people are terrified that something is wrong with them, and they will follow somebody who promises to teach them “perfection”.
We even fell into this trap. When writing stories, we were starting to worry more about what would sell than about the stories and emotions we needed to express. And yeah, some amount of skill in communication is necessary. Learning pacing, hooks, how to write likeable characters. Ads for websites, making a thumbnail that will attract attention – none of that is wrong or bad in any capacity. But when it gets to the point of selling your soul for money – that doesn’t help us and it doesn’t help anybody who would read our work.
It’s scary not being perfect, or knowing how to be. What are the rules? How can I just…exist and trust that I won’t get hurt. It’s terrifying. And I even find myself at times wanting to emulate the most desireable aesthetics so that I can feel safe.
Kind of want to jump in with some chaos here. Why not? So…if selling your soul for money hurts yourself and others, how do y’all feel about the fact that we work in a big box store?
Oh my god, why are you like this?
The world and society are very screwed up when it comes to labor. Everybody is doing their best to survive and be happy. I can tell that working retail DOES hurt us. We can’t often believe in our work and it is so awful for our mental health. But most workers are trained to take abuse. The entire system is abusive and difficult to escape, unless you have money before you get started. You can’t blame people for just…living.
I’m not saying that we shouldn’t try to make money a different way. But there is a huge difference between making millions off of people’s insecurity and sacrificing your joints and sanity to pay for food and a place to sleep.
Yeah that’s fair. I just don’t want to be too hard on influencers in general. They’re just trying to survive too, and trapped in their own anxiety up to their eyeballs, I can only imagine.
– Peter Pan
I guess the point is that selling your soul hurts you more than anybody else. Even if you can’t see it.
And if you lie to yourself long enough, you run the risk of losing so much of your inner voice that you DO begin to hurt others.
Lothair is even writing a novel about this concept! Well, at least we’ve discovered the theme of your novel, if nothing else.
Haha, I guess we have been worrying about that for a long time. There are a lot of stories in our head; it’s hard to know how to condense things. We keep trying to accomplish “one huge novel that tells our entire life story” instead of breaking it into various stories from different angles.
But yeah, all of this just overwhelmingly brings to my mind our “guardian”, as we have been referring to her. So I think I’ll end on a song that reminds me of my relationship with/trying to deal with her.