I might post a few “snippets” here and there for the next few days. I’ve had a lot of thoughts that don’t deserve a full post, but seem important enough to mention.
Commenter David said a couple of things I wanted to respond to in a post instead of a comment that might not get read by many people.
I would like to shed a little light on why my friends acted with ‘disbelief’ when you said you hadn’t been hurt by the church. (For those tuning in, I was one of those at the dinner with Hamby. I thoroughly enjoyed it, even though it wasn’t nearly long enough.) It’s simply a reaction, a learned one. We just see people hurt by the church *that much.* We desire to make things right. I’ll vouch for the well-meaning of my friends; they meant no harm in their reaction.
However, when you write in another blog “Fundamentalism can skew our perception of reality to the point of severe dysfunction — which is precisely what it did to me,” I tend to think that the reaction of my friends may just not be too far from the mark. Perhaps their reservations may be justified after all?
It wasn’t until well after I left Christianity that I discovered how dysfunctional I was as a fundamentalist. That’s the real problem with it. We live a certain way, and we don’t know any other way, and we can’t imagine believing anything else. Then when we are either pulled from our dysfunction or dig our own way out, we look back and think, “How could I have thought I was healthy and happy?”
Evangelical and Fundamentalist Christianity teach several things that are absolutely contrary — dichotomously opposed — to our observations of the human animal and human psychology. It takes looking at it from outside the Fundamentalist worldview to see that there are alternatives, and that they are perfectly healthy and self-actualizing.
It’s simply a reaction, a learned one. We just see people hurt by the church *that much.*
It occurred to me last night that of course you would see this a lot! It’s selection bias. When I left the church, it was of no use for me, and I had no reason to return. So I didn’t return. On the other hand, I thought about my step-mother, who was always religious but left the church after being hurt badly. Over the years, she’s returned to church every few months, trying to find a church that suits her — one she believes is unlikely to hurt her again. There are probably a dozen pastors who have all seen her as one of those wounded doves. I would imagine she wants an apology she can believe, so she keeps coming back to see if one is forthcoming. That’s what we do when we’re hurt. We want our offender to make amends.
If you think about it, a few dozen people could give the impression that there are hundreds or even thousands of wounded doves. All the while, except for when churches purge old membership rolls, there’s no indication of how many people leave religion and never bother to mention it to anybody.