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Because my youngest sister and I were once very close, one of the most disappointing realities that I've ever had to accept was her recently "getting saved" and aligning herself with the church. After a recent visit, it soon became clear to me that she is neck deep in a cess pool of ignorance. The last few times that we've talked, literally every topic that I brought up was related to Revelations, and the "end of world is coming" was most often the only explanation given to any matter that I wanted to share with her. She's adopted the signature "It's us against the world" position of a Christian--the "world" being this God-forsaken place with which no Christian should have any part. And of course, she subscribes to the belief that humans are "naturally wicked," and so she walks around with a hostile and distrusting attitude towards humanity and against people in general. "I trust no one, except for my God, Jehovah," was her mantra.

She has completely morphed into the religious zealot that I absolutely detest. This is a nightmare. I have tried numerous times to reason with her. I have told her about worldviews that are very different from the ones being expressed in the church. I have tried exposing her to literature that would broaden her mind, but she is completely unreceptive to any information that challenges her belief sytem. In fact, any information that conflicts with the information found in the Bible is immediately discredited and regarded as mere "man's knowledge," and therefore, it cannot be relied upon.

What is so baffling, however, is that while in college, she took courses in African Religion and was raised in a very conscious home. All of our lives, we were raised to be different, to be critical of information before accepting it on face value, and books expressing different views were always made available to us. So I am completely baffled as to what has drawn her to this nonsense. This past week was a complete disaster; I visited her and we got into a huge argument. The argument exacerbated to a level where it appeared as if she were preparing herself to hit me. I told her that she has become very narrow-minded just before I was asked to leave. So our relationship is in turmoil, and I am very hurt by all of this.

Has anyone here had a similar experience with a family member, friend, or spouse? I would be interested in anyone's advice or suggestion about how to repair my relationship with my sister. I cannot believe this is happening. bang
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Sista Rowe, I have no good advice to offer. I do greatly sympathize. I fear that I may be dealing with a similar situation some time soon. My household was not conscious but my parents were sufficiently apathetic towards religion to allow me (perhaps - probably - unintentionally) the freedom to experiment and make up my own mind. My mother is getting older now and is perhaps facing an existential crisis of sorts - she seems depressed. I notice that she talks more about involvement in the church. It may just be a social thing for her. But there is so much societal pressure these days to go off the deep end. In the movies and popular culture... Even on traditional R&B stations they're mixing in Gospel now. I've been considering some sort of intervention...

I feel for you.
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I can certainly empathize. My mother has always been a Christian since I was born (she grew up in a moderate church). But, she always used to be a very open and somewhat liberal Christian. I even found her reading books about other religions and even Christian Astrology.

But, 2 years ago, she broke her leg and found herself houseridden for several months and dependent upon other people (which was a very humbling and even humiliating experience for my mother because she's always been a very strong-willed and independent woman). Over time, I noticed she watched televangelists more and more often, and she brought up the topic of the Bible more and more frequently. She even got upset when my dad turned away from certain televangelists.

She got "saved" again (she considered her former faith to be "not strong enough") and became "Born Again". It started off harmless (or so it seemed) but over time, she became more and more obessive over watching Black church programs, trying to push us all into regular church attendance, and became more and more concerned about trying to prove the Bible to be "inerrant". She became more and more child-like in behavior (always wanting to be helped and having a child-like slavish adoration of preachers and her image of God).

She even got offended if someone on TV claimed to not be a Christian, and would get upset if someone questioned whether or not something in the Bible was true. It got more disgusting as my mother became noticably more anti-Catholic and eventually stopped considering them to be Christians. She even started referring to them as if they were not Christians. She would say, "Catholics don't seem to believe the same things Christians do." When I said, "Catholics are Christians", she would frown and say, "I don't know, they seem to worship Mary too much and THE BIBLE never said anything about...." She became more and more obsessed with the Bible and wouldn't believe something if it could not be backed up with some Bible verse.


Long after my mother regain motion, she became increasingly more negative towards non-Christians and seemed to believe there was no depth a non-Christian was incapable of. She even considered Christians who don't believe the Bible to be inerrant "heretics". She also became noticably more homophobic and hateful of anything she considered "sin". She accused me and my siblings of being "possessed" if we ever disobeyed, and would pray and lay hands on my little sister if she had problems waking up for school (she considered having a problem waking up to be a sign of demonic possession Roll Eyes).

Recently, she reached her ultimate low when my dad (who is also becoming a Fundamentalist) didn't agree with her on something in the Bible, and it became an argument about marital problems. She started screaming and saying that she was "unequally yoked" from us and started crying about, "If Jesus, the Son of God was persecuted, I should expect to be too! I just try to be a good Christian, and everyone attacks me! That man [Jesus] was pure sinless GOD!!! He died for everyone and the whole world HATES him! Now everyone HATES me!" then she broke out into a disturbing "Dear Heavenly Father" prayer in front of us.


I eventually got her to calm down (after she called me "Satan" for trying to calm her, she knows I'm a non-Christian) and she just sat there shaking and reading the Bible with a disturbing experession on her face (eyes bucked). Since I've been back at college, I've called home almost every day, and she seems to be mentioning religious issues less and less (she used to try to proseltyze something every single day or get into some sort of religious debate of some sort; sometimes if someone on TV said something to make her question her faith, she would talk to us and try hard to refute their comment with Scripture or Church dogma, as if the person on TV would hear it).

I hope her relaxing of dogma is a sign that her Fundamentalism is subsiding (my siblings used to complain to me all the time how my parents would bother them questions about whether they believed in Christ or if they were going to Heaven almost daily). I TRULY AND DESPERATELY HOPE MY PARENTS' (ESPECIALLY MY MOTHER'S) FUNDAMENTALISM IS JUST A STAGE LIKE I WENT THROUGH ONCE.



I HATE RELIGIOUS FUNDAMENTALISM WITH A PASSION, I HAVE SEEN FIRST-HAND THE KIND OF MENTAL DAMAGE IT DOES TO ITS BELIEVERS, AND IF I HAD MY WAY, I'D BUILD A MACHINE TO DE-PROGRAM EVERY SINGLE FUNDAMENTALIST ON EARTH.
quote:
Originally posted by Empty Purnata:
I HATE RELIGIOUS FUNDAMENTALISM WITH A PASSION, I HAVE SEEN FIRST-HAND THE KIND OF MENTAL DAMAGE IT DOES TO ITS BELIEVERS, AND IF I HAD MY WAY, I'D BUILD A MACHINE TO DE-PROGRAM EVERY SINGLE FUNDAMENTALIST ON EARTH.


bow appl yeah

I truly sympathise Rowe and I wish you all the strength, patience and love to endure.

No easy answer here.

It's too personal to go into here, but let's just say, that the 'us vs. them' mentality/disease of Pentecostal fundamentalism has torn my own family and my ex-husbands family apart. My parents have suffered incredibly and my ex has only a platonic relationship with his mother.

Only certain types of people fall under the spell of fundamentalist long-term - however by then a lot of irreversable damage can be done to everyone around them. A bit like acoholics. Blissfully unaware while everyone around them crumbles.
Good luck.
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Originally posted by HonestBrother:
Sista Rowe, I have no good advice to offer. I do greatly sympathize. I fear that I may be dealing with a similar situation some time soon. My household was not conscious but my parents were sufficiently apathetic towards religion to allow me (perhaps - probably - unintentionally) the freedom to experiment and make up my own mind. My mother is getting older now and is perhaps facing an existentiasl crisis of sorts - she seems depressed. I notice that she talks more about involvement in the church. It may just be a social thing for her. But there is so much societal pressure these days to go off the deep end. In the movies and popular culture... Even on traditional R&B stations they're mixing in Gospel now. I've been considering some sort of intervention...

I feel for you.


That's part of how it began with my mother and father. I noticed that they began becoming more involved with the church as their physical bodies started failing them (my dad used to be an athlete and he is ex-military, he always prided himself on physical fitness, but now he is getting overweight and his legs aren't what they used to be anymore; my mother also used to be athletic, but she has put on weight over the years and after she broke her leg, she became depedent; my parents are also showing physical signs of aging such as greying hair).


I guess this caused some sort of existential crisis and pushed them towards the Dark Side. LOL

Now my father is not his usual fun-loving self that he was in my childhood. He's now a workaholic, becoming bigoted and he's often overstressed and irritable. My mother, who was always so sunny and friendly is now confrontative, hostile towards humanity in terms of how she speaks of them, obsessed with images of death and talking about "the end of the world" and "The Rapture", and she is suffering with Chronic Depression and missing alot of work days.


Fundamentalism is DEFINITELY having very real negative effects on them. I have heard horror stories from other people as well how friends or family who become Fundamentalists become very different people and 95% of the time take a turn for the worst.

Is it any wonder that the Bible Belt (the area of the U.S. where Christian Fundamentalism is most present/prevalent), has the highest rate of divorce in the US, and the highest population of people who take anti-depressant medicene?
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Originally posted by art_gurl:
quote:
Originally posted by Empty Purnata:
I HATE RELIGIOUS FUNDAMENTALISM WITH A PASSION, I HAVE SEEN FIRST-HAND THE KIND OF MENTAL DAMAGE IT DOES TO ITS BELIEVERS, AND IF I HAD MY WAY, I'D BUILD A MACHINE TO DE-PROGRAM EVERY SINGLE FUNDAMENTALIST ON EARTH.


bow appl yeah


Thanks!

I'm not so much concerned for myself, I'm concerned for my two younger siblings who are still in grade school. This religious mania is puting a strain on my parents' marriage (I've even heard them treaten to divorce, and they've had 4-hour long arguments several times) and they do it RIGHT SMACK DAB IN FRONT OF MY YOUNGER SIBLINGS.

My little sister who used to get upset about it, now just sits there unphased even when my mom gets in my dad's face. Eek AS A 19-YEAR OLD ADULT, TO SEE A 12-YEAR OLD CHILD REACT LIKE THAT, SCARES THE LIVING SHIT OUT OF ME. That's a definite sign of emotional withdrawl.

I notice that my younger brother often feels ill more often, my little sister has problems sleeping at night, more frequent nightmares, and is developing a deeply disturbing (to me) narccisstic ego complex. Even though she says it half-jokingly, or facetiously, nowadays she often relishes about someday "Ruling the world and having everyone serve me hand and foot".


Whenever I visit home, I always make sure to spend as much time with my younger siblings (13 and 10) as possible, talking about happy things (which they often seem loathe to discuss). I've also threatened my parents to get them couseling if they don't stop arguing (once they even caused me to curse in front of them and I told them "Stop your goddamn arguing!") I notice that my older sister (25 years old) seems to try to stay as remote from my parents as possible. She rarely calls and rarely visits. I think I know why (she can't stand them anymore).


When my siblings leave the house for college, I plan to let them spend some time at my house (I hope to have my own house by then) on breaks so I can talk to them alone and try to help reverse some of the psychological damage done.


(Sigh) jThis is going to sound REALLY irreverent and blasphemous, but as much of a spiritual person as I am, if the Fundamentalist version of the Judeo-Christian God is real, I can honestly say, I hate the motherfucker. He has caused no end of damage to my family (I haven't even told you about the damage my fundamentalist aunts, uncles and cousins have down to their nuclear families).

Mad
As a recovering Fundamentalist, I can understand the attraction. There are both rational and irrational aspects to it. I think that the transition out for me was smother than some because of my rationalist tendencies. For others, however, I think that fundamentalism is about belonging and a felt need for certainty in ones life. It is incredibly difficult for most of us to live with ambiguity and complexity. Its so much easier when everything is black and white.

Just a couple of things off the top of my head that may or may not be useful.

1. How old is your sister? It could be a developmental phase? As a college chaplain, I worked primarily with young adults between 18 and 24. That can be a volatile and chaotic time, so it may well be a stage.

2. Even if it is a transitional stage or phase, in my experience, there is very little that one can do about it IMHO. Again, as a chaplain, I would see the fundie kids, and I wanted to go up and smack them and shout "WAKE UP!!!!" I also had dreams of doing a kind of mind meld where they could experience what I had gone through, and hopefully avoid a lot of the pain.

3. The greatest irony in my own life has been that my once 'heathen' sister and her 'heathen' husband got caught up in a fundie megachurch about 12 years ago. I watched my strong willed, intelligent, articulate sister become a Christian Stepford wife. Even when her born-again husband moved in with his mistress, she just kept keeping on. They are back together, and just as brainwashed as ever. We have gotten to the point where when I visit, we don't talk about religion or politics (she also became a freaking Republican with freaking Bush stickers on her car). I still love her, and want to be in her life, as well as the lives of my niece and nephew.

4. The one thing that I have seen work are instances of cognitive dissonance, when they are confronted by two things that they can not possible hold simultaneously. I have seen it when a fundies sibling comes out as gay. I have seen it when a fundie's spouse leaves them, etc.

Like I said, I don't know if this helps at all. Just my contribution.
quote:
Originally posted by HonestBrother:
Sista Rowe, I have no good advice to offer. I do greatly sympathize. I fear that I may be dealing with a similar situation some time soon. My household was not conscious but my parents were sufficiently apathetic towards religion to allow me (perhaps - probably - unintentionally) the freedom to experiment and make up my own mind. My mother is getting older now and is perhaps facing an existential crisis of sorts - she seems depressed. I notice that she talks more about involvement in the church. It may just be a social thing for her. But there is so much societal pressure these days to go off the deep end. In the movies and popular culture... Even on traditional R&B stations they're mixing in Gospel now. I've been considering some sort of intervention...

I feel for you.


Brother Honestbrother, thanks for replying. This is why I posted my concern in this discussion forum. It would do nothing for me to write all of this in a journal, having received any feedback. So I greatly appreciate your response and sympathy. I hope your mom feels better soon.
quote:
Originally posted by Empty Purnata:
I eventually got her to calm down (after she called me "Satan" for trying to calm her, she knows I'm a non-Christian) and she just sat there shaking and reading the Bible with a disturbing experession on her face (eyes bucked).


Eek After reading your account, which was very entertaining to read, by the way (you're a great writer!), suddenly I don't feel so bad. But you know what? Initially, I did not have a problem with my sister joining the church because she explained to me that she was only attending church to be in a "spiritual environment," and I understand the need that some people have to be in a spiritual environment. The trouble only began when she started regurgitating and reciting all of the rhetoric that is commonly heard out of mouths of Christians (i.e., The world is an "evil" place, the world is "doomed," and these are "the last days.") So when she started to talk like this, an alarm immediately went off in my head. I wanted so badly to slap the sense back into her.
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quote:
Originally posted by art_gurl:
I truly sympathise Rowe and I wish you all the strength, patience and love to endure.

No easy answer here.

It's too personal to go into here, but let's just say, that the 'us vs. them' mentality/disease of Pentecostal fundamentalism has torn my own family and my ex-husbands family apart. My parents have suffered incredibly and my ex has only a platonic relationship with his mother.

Only certain types of people fall under the spell of fundamentalist long-term - however by then a lot of irreversable damage can be done to everyone around them. A bit like acoholics. Blissfully unaware while everyone around them crumbles.
Good luck.


It's comforting to know that I'm not alone in this. I can tell that you've had some emotional experiences with this issue as well. I'm just hoping that she'll come out of it eventually. She claims that she only wants to "build a relationship God," and that "God has personally spoken to her." As a big sister, I've always felt a need to protect my sister, because she was the youngest of four sisters. I feel as if I have failed my mission to protect her from whatever has overtaken her mind. In fact, this afternoon, I took a nap, feeling very hurt by all of this, and had a dream that my sister and I were in an apartment completely surrounded by zombies. Interestingly enough, I was able to walk amongst the zombies without being harmed because they were really after her. So while she peacefully slept in her room, I spent the entire dream trying to ward off zombies by locking every door and securing every window. I even called the police and firemen for help.
quote:
Originally posted by Empty Purnata:
This is going to sound REALLY irreverent and blasphemous, but as much of a spiritual person as I am, if the Fundamentalist version of the Judeo-Christian God is real, I can honestly say, I hate the motherfucker. He has caused no end of damage to my family (I haven't even told you about the damage my fundamentalist aunts, uncles and cousins have down to their nuclear families). Mad


I think Black people would not be going through all of this had we not been separated from our language, culture, and spiritual orientations. All of this divisiveness, confusion, and chaos is just yet another consequence of our being assimilated into this culture. And it's truly depressing. My relationship with my sister, ruined, because of religious differences, but more importantly, her unwillingness to realize that what she believes are NOT universal beliefs.
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1. How old is your sister? It could be a developmental phase? As a college chaplain, I worked primarily with young adults between 18 and 24. That can be a volatile and chaotic time, so it may well be a stage.


My sister is only 25 years old, and yes, she has recently graduated from college and is in search for a job. So your evaluation might be correct here.

quote:
2. Even if it is a transitional stage or phase, in my experience, there is very little that one can do about it IMHO. I also had dreams of doing a kind of mind meld where they could experience what I had gone through, and hopefully avoid a lot of the pain.


More great advice. I too am beginning to have those dreams, except the goal in my dreams is to either protect or secure my sister away from harm.

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We have gotten to the point where when I visit, we don't talk about religion or politics (she also became a freaking Republican with freaking Bush stickers on her car). I still love her, and want to be in her life, as well as the lives of my niece and nephew.


Then you're much more noble than I. My sister and I are not speaking to one another because I can't even have a normal conversation with her. It's like speaking to a brick wall. There is no penetrating her wall of "I Believe What I Believe" and "There's Nothing That You Can Tell Me To Change Thatt!"

quote:
4. The one thing that I have seen work are instances of cognitive dissonance, when they are confronted by two things that they can not possible hold simultaneously.


Can you please elaborate on what you mean by "cognitive dissonance." I do not understand. Thanks for responding, by the way. Your response is really helping me work through this. In fact, all of you all's responses have been very therapeutic. I appreciate all of your replies and welcome any more advice and experiences that others may want to share.
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quote:
Originally posted by Rowe:
I think Black people would not be going through all of this had we not been separated from our language, culture, and spiritual orientations. All of this divisiveness, confusion, and chaos is just yet another consequence of our being assimilated into this culture. And it's truly depressing. My relationship with my sister, ruined, because of religious differences, but more importantly, her unwillingness to realize that what she believes are NOT universal beliefs.


I don't know the answer to this. I should say upfront that I am not a religion-hater. Even as an atheist (or natrualist??) I believe all religions have something wonderful to offer us.
It is SO darn hard and I really feel for you.

All you can do is 'be there' for her.
You cannot blame yourself. It is HER journey. And much as we love people close to us, we cannot live their experiences for them.

I hope your sis can pick up the good things from her religion and carry them into something more meaningful. It is 'easy' for people to 'claim' the dogma without actually living the reality, so to speak.

If only all the 'good intentions' of the world could help those who need it most. Roll Eyes

I've always believed a 'true god' will grant humility and understanding to those who 'believe', not alienate others. If this is not her reality, try to be patient and wait, but be a gentle thorn in her side - the voice of reality.

I feel for you and send good karma your way. Smile
.
quote:
Originally posted by Rowe:
quote:
Originally posted by Empty Purnata:
I eventually got her to calm down (after she called me "Satan" for trying to calm her, she knows I'm a non-Christian) and she just sat there shaking and reading the Bible with a disturbing experession on her face (eyes bucked).


Eek After reading your account, which was very entertaining to read, by the way (you're a great writer!), suddenly I don't feel so bad. But you know what? Initially, I did not have a problem with my sister joining the church, because she explained to me that she was only attending church to be in a "spiritual environment." And I understand the need that some people have to be in a spiritual environment. The trouble only begin when she started regurgitating and reciting all of the rhetoric that is commonly heard out of mouths of Christians (i.e., The world is an "evil" place, the world is "doomed," and these are "the last days.") So when she started to talk like this, an alarm immediately went off in my head. I wanted so badly to slap the sense back into her.


I know what you mean, those were the warning signs with my parents too.

But, as horrific as I just made my parents sound, it's not all that bad all the time. Many days, their religious shenanigans were just laughable in my mind. Like they would get all worked up in a frenzy if they saw two guys kiss on TV. lol It was those egrigious incidents that made them so bad.


But, I'd have to say, my parents, as of late, seem to be getting better. I just had a conversation with my parents today and the topic of religion didn't even come up once! Even when I mentioned the Muslim protests in Denmark. No denigrating comment about Islam or anything! In fact, my siblings seem to be opening up a little more lately, my parents are getting marriage counseling and going to the doctors for help with their old age problems.


I have a feeling (from the last time I was home) that my parents are starting to see themselves more and see how crazy they can look. Either that, or they are starting to have doubts about the dogma they've been fed due to the hypocritical behavior of the religious leaders that fed it to them (they lamented to me last year how many Christian leaders are hypocrites). I also showed them an essay on the parallels of Jesus and Buddha (to introduce them to a broader view of the Divine). I may have helped. Razz
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Originally posted by Empty Purnata:
I also showed them an essay on the parallels of Jesus and Buddha (to introduce them to a broader view of the Divine). I may have helped. Razz


That's a good idea, EP! I have just the book. I can give it to her for her birthday! Or even Mother's Day...

This reminds me of when I was a teenager. Instead of sitting me down for that talk about the "birds and bees", my folks gave me an illustrated book instead. Now I can return the favor....

One aspect of this whole thing that I find extremely disturbing.... Almost every Saturday night I attend an open mic. It's on the West Side of town (read "the poorer black side of town") and I go there and do performance photography. I take pictures of these young poets in action and give them free copies. But I notice how overwhelmingly Christian the people are ... and of the Fundamentalist sort. Even though the setting is secular/non-sectarian people will break out into spirituals at the drop of a hat... But what I find * extraordinarily disturbing * is to hear these young TALENTED people talking about "the end times", "the end of the world", etc. as if it were a fact of life.

Of all the people in this country, we are the ones in most need of belief in the future but the first ones in line talking about "end times" and what's worse is this intense religiosity is being encouraged and supported by the same wealthy white interests that have seized political power in this country.

THIS MAKES ME SOOOOOOOO MAD
Mad
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quote:
Originally posted by Rowe:
Can you please elaborate on what you mean by "cognitive dissonance." I do not understand. Thanks for responding, by the way. Your response is really helping me work through this. In fact, all of you all's responses have been very therapeutic. I appreciate all of your replies and welcome any more advice and experiences that others may want to share.

Rowe, it basically means something that disrupts her nice neat way of experiencing the world. They are really hard to contrive or construct. Some people might refer to them as teachable moments.

It can be as simple as here seeing a loving older sister who functions in the world quite well without subscribing to her beliefs.

I had a fundie friend who when here husband left her and got a divorce, her church cast her out instead of being a support.

What EP mentioned with respect to seeing the hypocrisy of leadership can also do it. But again, there are no guarantees. Fundie defense mechanisms can be extremely strong. I lost an incredibly bright young woman at my college who wanted to become a biologist. You can guess what happened. She refused to accept evolutionary theory. She was an A student, taking organic chemistry, calculus, etc. She left for some unaccredited little Christian institute and I lost touch.

Good luck with your sister.
Wow ... y'all are really scaring me here Eek

Although I have no personal family experiences like what has been written here (my family is very much a "It's your thing, do what you want to do" type and my mom (was) and my sister (is) the hardcore "spiritualists" of the family, but the religion is not Christian ... although the same zealousness to convert is ever present! Smile) So, Rowe, I do sympathize with you, but I cannot offer you much assistance with your dilemma.

However, I did have such a run-in as Kresge has spoken about with a co-worker who is a Christian "through and through." The discussion centered on those who were not "saved" going to hell (or wherever) when Jesus returned to get those who are. She was saying that those who know and don't subscribe to the teachings would not be able to hitch a ride to salvation with the others.

I asked her whatabout those who haven't heard or don't know? She looked very perplexed (as if she didn't realize that such people existed). I went on to explain that there were human beings in very remote parts of the world who had not been exposed to Christianity (at least as of yet), did not know and had never heard the name of Jesus, and so being saved in his name was not an option for these people. And I asked her, were these people also "doomed" in light of the fact that they had not rejected him, they simply didn't know the opportunity for such "salvation" was an option?

Well, that one threw her for a loop. She didn't know how to respond and was honest enough to say so. She said she would think about it, because she found it to be a very good question (which was something considering she had had all the answers before this discussion).

I've never heard back from her on this. And I doubt it has changed her thinking much, as she has probably forgotten about the conversation. But, for at least a brief moment, I think I almost had her mind just a little bit more opened. sck
quote:
Originally posted by art_gurl:
You cannot blame yourself. It is HER journey. And much as we love people close to us, we cannot live their experiences for them. I feel for you and send good karma your way. Smile


Thank you for your words of encouragement. And I certainly do appreciate the fact that this is her journey; however, I don't want my sister to be limited in her thinking either. In other words, I don't want her to walk around thinking that what she is learning in the church is the only message that's out there. I want her to be exposed to other ways of knowing and other ways to relate to others and the world. My sister needs to understand that the world is so much bigger than the church.
quote:
Originally posted by Empty Purnata:
I know what you mean, those were the warning signs with my parents too. But, as horrific as I just made my parents sound, it's not all that bad all the time. Many days, their religious shenanigans were just laughable in my mind. Like they would get all worked up in a frenzy if they saw two guys kiss on TV.


Respectfully Brother EP, I think your parent's situation is a different from the situation being discussed here. Your parents, being much older than my sister, grew up during very traditional times. More importantly, they grew up during times when information was not as nearly accessible to people as it is today. Today, young people literally have at their fingertips information about anything, anywhere in the world. So I cannot figure out why do we still have people who are choosing to remain ignorant, choosing tradition over knowledge during a time when information is in abundance and can be accessed in unlimited ways (i.e., Internet, travel, library, television, media, etc.). With all of this information that we now have available to us, there is no excuse for why YOUNG PEOPLE should choose to remain ignorant. There is no excuse for why Black people especially, considering we are educating ourselves more than ever, should be limiting our thinking and awareness.
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quote:
Originally posted by HonestBrother:
I take pictures of these young poets in action and give them free copies. But I notice how overwhelmingly Christian the people are ... and of the Fundamentalist sort. Even though the setting is secular/non-sectarian people will break out into spirituals at the drop of a hat... But what I find * extraordinarily disturbing * is to hear these young TALENTED people talking about "the end times", "the end of the world", etc. as if it were a fact of life.


Precisely. And this is what I don't understand. It's not uncommon for me to meet people who are well educated, sophiscated in their political views, has two, three, four degrees in a variety of disciplines, BUT as soon as the topic of religon is brought up, their brains turn into mush. Suddenly, the analytical thinker can't think for her or himself. I don't get it?
quote:
Originally posted by kresge:
Rowe, it basically means something that disrupts her nice neat way of experiencing the world. They are really hard to contrive or construct. Some people might refer to them as teachable moments. It can be as simple as here seeing a loving older sister who functions in the world quite well without subscribing to her beliefs.


YES! This describes the situation perfectly. Admittedly, however, I too had joined a church while in college (I've told the forum about my experiences in the church before). Even then, I was skeptical of what was being taught, and I challenged the lead paster quite often. Therefore, I suppose what's really bothering me is that she is not at least questioning what she's being taught in the church. Apparently, she is not even trying to seek out information that would challenge it. But like Sister AG said, I need to simply accept that this is her journey to take.
quote:
Originally posted by EbonyRose:
So, Rowe, I do sympathize with you, but I cannot offer you much assistance with your dilemma. However, I did have such a run-in as Kresge has spoken about with a co-worker who is a Christian "through and through." I asked her whatabout those who haven't heard or don't know? She looked very perplexed (as if she didn't realize that such people existed). I've never heard back from her on this. And I doubt it has changed her thinking much, as she has probably forgotten about the conversation. But, for at least a brief moment, I think I almost had her mind just a little bit more opened. sck


Thanks for sharing your experience! But an even more powerful question that you could have posed to this deadhead is why does she think Christianity is the only legitimate religon in existence?
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In my experience, Rowe, there are two types of fundies. There are those who have a deep reverence for God and the church, but who can put things in perspective, and then there are those like your sister. Those like your sister, in my experience, tend to be quite new to it, and their passions tend to dwindle over time. Like what the others here have said, this is a journey she'll have to let play out. Nothing, and no one, can break them out of it before it's time. I've never known whether there was a particular event or moment that led to the moderation of their views, but Kresge's "cognitive dissonance" idea probably explains it.

What I've seen of it, though, I liken to a locomotive being propelled by a giant slingshot. It starts off down the tracks at superspeed, but as it zooms along, the energy that propelled it begins to dwindle, until finally the equal and opposite resisting forces begin to slow it down, until it finally stops. And the more fiery the fundie at first, the more likely they are to follow this model, especially if they are as intelligent as you say your sister is. I tend to believe that this is because the initial passionate embrace is motivated by some strong emotional need that they feel is being satisfied by embracing the religion, more so than anything else.

I wish I could offer a solution. I do feel for you and I wish you both the best. Same for you EP.
Adding to what Kresge and Vox are saying, I'll offer that I went through my own fundie period as a teen. At first my enthusiasm was boundless but then I began asking questions - being myself that is - and my moment of cognitive dissonance was the realization that the people in the religious circles I frequented placed very low value on reading books that weren't religious - even then they had to be Christian books expressing a VERY specific point of view. It wasn't forbidden just not encouraged. And I was a very curious teen who REALLY liked to read and indulge my curiousity. I could not see anything wrong with reading. Reading is good right? Anyway, that was the beginning of my moving away from the fundie mindset. I eventually read enough material that thoroughly contradicted the fundie point of view lol
quote:
Originally posted by Vox:
In my experience, Rowe, there are two types of fundies. There are those who have a deep reverence for God and the church, but who can put things in perspective, and then there are those like your sister. Those like your sister, in my experience, tend to be quite new to it, and their passions tend to dwindle over time. Like what the others here have said, this is a journey she'll have to let play out. Nothing, and no one, can break them out of it before it's time. I've never known whether there was a particular event or moment that led to the moderation of their views, but Kresge's "cognitive dissonance" idea probably explains it.

What I've seen of it, though, I liken to a locomotive being propelled by a giant slingshot. It starts off down the tracks at superspeed, but as it zooms along, the energy that propelled it begins to dwindle, until finally the equal and opposite resisting forces begin to slow it down, until it finally stops. And the more fiery the fundie at first, the more likely they are to follow this model, especially if they are as intelligent as you say your sister is. I tend to believe that this is because the initial passionate embrace is motivated by some strong emotional need that they feel is being satisfied by embracing the religion, more so than anything else.

I wish I could offer a solution. I do feel for you and I wish you both the best. Same for you EP.


Thank you for providing such an insightful response.
It is true, Christianity is a deep, dark abyss to nowhere.

My own son is wayyyyyyyyy over his head in christian muck. Every since I start spitting out information about HAARP and its connection to the "staged" Katrina catastrophe he treats me as though I were Medusa with the snake hair.

On this one occasion -- which was last week, in fact -- I was sitting in my living room talking to a friend of the family when my son arrives unexpectedly. Now mind you, I have to call before showing up at his house. Anyway, I did not change the conversation/or subject but continued discussing my views. He came over and sat down for a while. When I began to go into the specifics of 'weather modification' he jumped up off the couch spilling my orange juice all in my lap. He did not turn around to see what his self-imposed anger caused but raged out the door--saying he was going to p/u his wife and would return shortly after ranting and raving about how God would not let that happen to those black people.

His mindset is off the charts. When I said, God had nothing to do with this environmentally controlled device--man did! -- I am speaking to the reality of the siutation, period.

He's gone. He lives in a limited world of religion. I live in the world of reality, spirituality and facts!

I feel your pain concerning your loved one, though and understand completely.

Advice: For your sister who thinks religion is a wrap.

Her ability to think, reason, question and investigate are lost in the vice grips of 'blind faith.'

Continue to accept her as she is, because she is your sister -- nothing can change that!

I'm reminded of the prayer of Serenity:

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

Your sister may never come around the the correct mindset but just remember that she is your sister as I remember my son....
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Thank you sister Fine for sharing your experience and advice. However, I am sorry to report that the relationship that I had with my sister has in fact worsened. I no longer speak to her and she no longer speaks to me. It has been this way for weeks now. Oddly enough, I've become quite comfortable with our relationship as it is today. You see I've never been an altruistic "save the world" kind of person. I'm the type of person who doesn't waste my time tyring to convince people to accept information that they are simply not ready to accept, particularly, if this information has been shared with them many times before. I'd rather have a discussion with someone who is ready to build upon the knowledge base that we both share. And considering the information that people have at their disposal today, there is simply no excuse to be ignorant. In my view, whoever is ignorant today chooses to be ignorant.

Growing up, my sister has had at her fingertips information to which many people her age has NEVER been exposed. Therefore, she has chosen to be ignorant and THAT I find inexcusable. Ultimately, there is nothing more that I can do about her mental condition other than to both pity and respect her choice.
I agree with you totally.

However, my absolute commentary is: I'm sure you would not welcome the thought of losing your sister thru death. Though you disagree on spiritual levels [I know] you have a natural love for her...

...as I do for that idiot son of mine.

But you know "Rowe" my contention is: "Let go, let God" -- feel me?

Water always finds its level you'll see...!
It sounds like you all are talking about some kind of radical christian cult. I am a christian but i still believe,along with any other friend or famliy member of mine, that everyone has a right to their own beliefs. This world is full of many different cultures and all religions and cultures should be respected. I have heard of these radical christians who believe that if you dont think and have the same beliefs as they do that you will go to hell or you are affiliated with satan. I personally disagree. I think it's ludicrous to try to convert everyone who doesn't have the same opinion as you.I am sorry about your relationship with your sister. These radicals are giving christians a bad name.
quote:
Originally posted by ebonygoddess:
I am sorry about your relationship with your sister. These radicals are giving christians a bad name.


For sure, but my sister has made it clear to me on several occasions that she is in fact not a Christian. She's a "faithist." Faithist follow The Oashpe Bible (refer to post on The Oashpe Bible written by John Newbrough). Thank you for reading.
I also have had some personal and professional experience with 'fundamentalists. I grew up in a relatively fundamentalist pentacostal home, where messages of damnation, fire and brimstone, no makeup, and sex were used as mind control. I was able to grow out of this line of thinging, and am still working on it. However, I manytimes get into verbal sparring with my mother, aunt and other very dogmatic family members. Currently, I am experiencing a 'conflict' of sorts with a student in one of my speech classes, who is absolutely scary! For all of his speeches, he only wants to speak on the endtimes, Revelation, the evilness of mankind and the world, and how it is his duty to save all of our souls. He is a young white male (about 18-19) and refuses to change his topics to anything but this line of thinking. It's exhausting. I informed him that he would have to reconsider another topic for his speech and he looked me straight in the eye and stated that he could'nt do that, because he did not want to be responsible for souls going to hell. sck I recently had a discussion with my mother about prayer, and how I found that there had been situations in my life, where when I prayed fervently,without ceasing, my circumstances not only did not change, but worsened. She simply stated that it was because I had not been sincere enough. yikes! I think this is a great discussion, because I struggle with my 'christian' upbringing, and 'reality' daily. I'm especially confused as to the role of the black church and the current state of the black American 'community';specifically how if black americans are such 'prayer warriors', why is the 'community' still in such dire straits.
quote:
Originally posted by nayo:
I'm especially confused as to the role of the black church and the current state of the black American 'community';specifically how if black americans are such 'prayer warriors', why is the 'community' still in such dire straits.



"Who Nees A Great Community When We Can Always Go To Church?"

And what's even more perplexing is the more churches a community has, the more crime-ridden the community tends to be. In Washington, DC, a church on every block is indicative of a high-crime area. One explanation for this is that for a long time, moral instruction was the only kind of instruction that Black preachers could give to their congregations, because they themselves did not know how to empower their congregation with the skills, information, and cultural capital needed to become successful outside of the safe church environment. And so the Black Church became, and still is, a place where Blacks can exist without having to meet the expectations of the White majority. But how many churches does a community have to build before its members realize that there is much work to be done on the outside? And more importantly, that there is a LIFE to live beyond heaven and church?
Sadly, even though we might be Christians (we Christians, that is--I'm one), we are neither perfect nor unbound by our culture.

The imperfections run deep. We forget that because of our concentration on salvation and overcoming, to the lessening of our humility. If we would remember that we are to "repent and be baptized,' that we are to "do as I [Jesus is speaking here] say," and that we are yet sinners even though we are saved, we would do a lot better.

The Young White Male, for example, is very narrowly focused and forgets that everyone's salvation is not his responsibility. Even Jesus took breaks, leaving the crowds to go off for a rest. A person with a single idea has a name--obsessive, and an obsessive does no one any good. He needs to learn to expand his mind. I hope that he does.

Our churches are sometimes narrowly focused, too, concentrating on teachings that we can handle and understand easily. Nayo is right abou them being safe havens. A place easily understood is predictable and therefore "safe," and that's the place we will go back to. It's a self-feeding problem. Given enough to feel good but not enough to be uncomfortable will make us feel that that's the best place to be.

We forget that Jesus surprised everyone and often called us out of our comfort zones. Our spiritual gifts are given for others' good, not for our enjoyment.

On the other hand, to ask that the world around our churches is bad and what has that to say about prayer is to misunderstand prayer. Prayer is not primarily to change things. That's our job. Prayer is to change us so that we can change things. The Lord's Prayer doesn't have much in the way of petition in it, does it? not that petition is wrong, but it is not to be our emphasis. We cannot change the world by praying for it. We change the world by praying for us and our obedience to Christ and then going out to do his work.

It's easy to misunderstand prayer if we don't do much of it ourselves. Even when we do it takes a long time to "pray through" our prejudices (in the technical sense of the word, a "pre-judgment") and realize the truth that was always there but which we just couldn't see because we only see what we recognize.

We all are narrowly focused, Christian or not. It's the human condition.
How are things now? Well my sister is no longer trying to convert her family members! That's a good thing. Seeing how her interest was doing more harm than good, she's finally decided to stop being a nusance. But she and I continue to not speak to one another because its really better this way. I cannot relate to someone who subscribes to these beliefs. Anyway, last time I heard, she still has plans to start a nonprofit organization teaching folks about the "wisdom of Jehovih." She's just wierd that way, and I've made my peace with the fact that it's no longer my responsibility to protect her or to decide what path she should take in life. As long as she doesn't approach me with this nonsense, I'm fine with it. Thanks for asking. Smile
quote:
But she and I continue to not speak to one another because its really better this way.


Why is it better? You two CAN'T communicate about anything other then religion? Is it that she won't stop talking about it our that you can't refrain from "saving or protecting her from the nonsense"?

I'm not trying to be funny but I'm curious why if she has stopped trying to convert everyone then what is the problem?

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