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Old 03-18-2014, 08:56 PM
 
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Hmm... I think I have sort of different take. In fact, one of the reasons religion appeals to so many people is because it provides a sense of identity. It does so in what seems like a very simplified, narrow, perspective, but it does provide identity none the less.

I think there's probably some truth to the cliche' that most people 'want' to believe in something 'bigger' than themselves. This is a difficult, complex issue for most of us to figure-out, and it seems like religion offers an easy, but probably erroneous solution.

I think one of the reasons I sort think I understand how someone can become religious is that I don't think I've ever established a definite indentity myself. There's so much complexity in humanity, the world, the universe... there are so many things I'll never know, and there are some things no one will probably ever know with certainty. Religion, at least in some cases, offers the perception of epistomological and emotional certainty that so many persons seem to desire. However, since this perception seems entirely subjective and unverifiable observationally, it seems completely artificial to me.
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Old 03-18-2014, 09:22 PM
 
Location: Northeastern US
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Originally Posted by kayanne View Post
You described life after fundamentalism very well. It was (and sometimes still is) a difficult and emotionally painful experience. Oh, to be able to go back and undo the damage those years caused me and my family.
Yes, but I will say that although I rue my years in the faith as Not My Best Moments, still ... I don't really beat myself up, either.

What was I supposed to do? I was converted at the age of 5 years, 10 months. My parents and 3 (much) older brothers, most of my teachers and mentors and role models, many of my neighbors were all pointing this little kid in the same direction, and I was a compliant child. I also never do anything halfway. By the time I was a teen and knew there was a wider world, that wider world had already been turned into my enemy. It was full of Bad Things like *gasp* rock and roll music, drugs, alcohol, premarital sex and all those other things that I was told the despairing unwashed -- er, unsaved -- masses indulge in to drown their sorrow at being bereft of god. I went from high school to Bible Institute and then right into an incredibly bad marriage at the age of 19. It took working through that experience over 15 years to force me to admit that things were not as represented to me and that I had been the object of a pious fraud, but it had taken basically 15 years to indoctrinate me, too. Then I spent the next 20 years working through all the Real World stuff that I should have been figuring out from about age 15 to 35 rather than from 30 to 50. But .. hey, better late than never. Plenty of people have to reboot and start from scratch, and often for equally silly reasons ... substance abuse, life of crime, etc.
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Old 03-18-2014, 09:27 PM
 
Location: Northeastern US
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Originally Posted by Apathizer View Post
Hmm... I think I have sort of different take. In fact, one of the reasons religion appeals to so many people is because it provides a sense of identity. It does so in what seems like a very simplified, narrow, perspective, but it does provide identity none the less.
I agree. Religion is one of many ways -- and not the most dysfunctional, either -- to limit your self-awareness and avoid dealing directly with reality. So it's a limiting, yet simple identity, and for many people it's enough. It might have been adequate for me, if my life had been more fortunate. In essence, it's an abstraction for dealing with the world that works until it doesn't. Once the abstraction starts to leak, it's not long before it rips apart at the seams. Some people are driven deeper into their faith practice by that, but I was already in quite deep -- there was nowhere to go. I was already praying, studying my Bible, involved in church, and avoiding smoking, chewing, or going with girls that do. The abstraction as presented to me was, mean well and try your very best to do well, and all will be well. Not, "and all will be one CF after another". This gets your attention, and starts you thinking, and to a fundamentalist, thinking is dangerous.
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Old 03-19-2014, 07:11 AM
 
Location: A tropical island
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Originally Posted by mordant View Post
Yes, but I will say that although I rue my years in the faith as Not My Best Moments, still ... I don't really beat myself up, either.

.
I guess I do "beat myself up" over it. I raised my kids in a fundamental Bible-thumping church that tried to suppress every shred of critical thinking skills. Young earth creationism a la Ken Ham. Homeschooled for many years so they wouldn't be influenced by "the world." Limited tv and radio. You get the drift.

When my kids were upper teens, events happened that caused my faith to tumble like a Jenga game. Long story short, my marriage of 25 years ended, my boys wanted to stay with their dad, and to this day I am estranged from my middle son. It breaks my heart. This son said that he feels his childhood was a joke, being raised so strictly fundie, missing out on so many things other kids got to do, then basically Mom decides, "oops, never mind."

I do take comfort in the fact that all 3 boys somehow are successful, intelligent, well-educated adults now, and have abandoned the fundie church.
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Old 03-19-2014, 08:13 AM
 
Location: Northeastern US
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Originally Posted by kayanne View Post
I guess I do "beat myself up" over it. I raised my kids in a fundamental Bible-thumping church that tried to suppress every shred of critical thinking skills. Young earth creationism a la Ken Ham. Homeschooled for many years so they wouldn't be influenced by "the world." Limited tv and radio. You get the drift.

When my kids were upper teens, events happened that caused my faith to tumble like a Jenga game. Long story short, my marriage of 25 years ended, my boys wanted to stay with their dad, and to this day I am estranged from my middle son. It breaks my heart. This son said that he feels his childhood was a joke, being raised so strictly fundie, missing out on so many things other kids got to do, then basically Mom decides, "oops, never mind."

I do take comfort in the fact that all 3 boys somehow are successful, intelligent, well-educated adults now, and have abandoned the fundie church.
That is heartbreaking stuff for a loving Mom, and I am sorry you lost your children over it even partially. It is agony, pure and simple.

The dissolution of my first marriage had much less to do with my budding unbelief at the time than it did with my wife's (diagnosed) serious mental illness. I took the kids and had sole physical custody, so while I had the special challenges of single parenting, at least I had my children. In fact since their mother had zero interest in co-parenting I didn't even have to deal with the unique challenges of a "divided household" and raising them with all those coordination / custody / transition / discipline issues. So in that sense I dodged several bullets -- without even really fully realizing it until years later when I remarried to a woman who had gone through all that stuff with her ex, and compared notes with her.

Still, in all this, one has to keep in mind that life is full of vicissitudes and religion is only one of them. In this complex dance, we make both brilliant and Stoopid moves, and the interaction of so many causal chains may at times even make the dumb moves work out and the brilliant ones come to naught. We have to take it as it comes, and this is they way it came to us.

Also keep in mind that the opposite of love is not hatred, but indifference. Hatred is just disappointed love. Be thankful that your middle son loves you enough to be angry with you. In time I hope that he can take you off your parental pedestal and see you as the human being that you are. It isn't as if you are the first parent on the planet to have been mistaken about something ... and you are to be commended for your dedication to your convictions, however wrong they might have been.
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Old 03-21-2014, 07:46 AM
 
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I really think being an individual is overrated anyway, I mean we are taught in a general sense to be an individual, but humans naturally have a yearning to be accepted, which causes any person to conform to some extent. Religion is a culture in which it is really not ok to think differently from the norm, while each person has their own challenges, unless they are extreme circumstances, it would be preposterous to say that you have had the only experience like such. Henceforth your conformity to a style of living along with the similarity of circumstances would denounce a persons individuality.
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Old 03-21-2014, 09:44 AM
 
Location: The backwoods of Pennsylvania ... unfortunately.
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Originally Posted by HopOnPop View Post
This is hardly unique to religion -- the same question can be raised about many secular groups too (take for example the many vociferous defenders of political parties, candidates, and platforms). Its also a bit of a cultural bias to think maintaining individuality is preferable to being absorbed into the larger group or society. Many Eastern cultures, for example, perceive the Western need for maintaining Individual identity to be one of our general social flaws, often preferring the "going along to get along" kind of philosophy as a much preferred dominant societal norm. Not to say there isn't an extreme point that both Eastern and Western sensibilities would point to as a dysfunction, but I think generally what we (as non-believing Westerners) may see as "losing their sense of self" in religion, is really a quite natural and healthy human impulse.
The irony here is that, in America, we only pay lip service to individuality and personal liberty. A great many Americans actually adore two things that are both dictatorial and fascistic - religion and corporatism.

The bottom line here is that most people are not leaders. They not only follow - they WANT to follow. They desire to be told what to do, what to think, what to wear, what fads to partake in. They will happily be "just like everyone else" while actively believing they are their own person following their own path.

The year after I graduated high school, I fell in with a group of Punks with their purple mohawk hair cuts and "Anarchy" symbol tattoos, listening to the Dead Kennedies and imitating Brit Punk culture. Even though I was friends with them, I never dressed like them or re-did my hair to fit in. I was once asked why that was so, and I responded like this:

"I like you all, you're my friends, but I'm not a Punk. In fact, I'm closer to a "Metalhead," but I don't dress like they do, either. I don't feel the need to put on a uniform in order to be friends with someone."

As for religion, yes, it can strip you of your identity, but only if you let it. I could have let my Punk friends take my identity away, but I didn't - and they were okay with that.

Religion can be a stickier subject though since religious rules tend to be absolutist and applicable to everyone. Some Christians even think their rules should be applicable to non-Christians. It really just depends on how devout one thinks they need to be.
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Old 03-21-2014, 03:28 PM
 
Location: northwest Illinois
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Originally Posted by trobesmom View Post
It sure did mine. I never knew who I was until I put Christianity aside.
Agree. Worship yourself, believe in yourself. NO other intervention is needed!
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Old 03-22-2014, 03:44 PM
 
Location: Maryland
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Over the course of my life; I've had different groups of friends, different jobs, I married into another family, I've joined various groups and non-profits, and yes became involved in a church.

I've tried to maintain my own identity, and sense of self throughout.

Regardless, I am a product of my environment.

Perhaps I may have a different view point, had the course of my life diverged from it's path.

I imagine a set of identical twins raised in different parts of the world, with different experiences from birth. And can't help to believe they would have dissimilar view points about a myriad of things.

It's unfortunate that many people are negatively influenced, and harmed by many groups.

We are social beings. And group leaders have a profound responsibility.
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Old 03-24-2014, 08:57 AM
 
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Default Can religion strip people of their identity?

No more than the army does. It is no coincidence that the Church can resemble a paramilitary organisation and the message hammered home from the pulpit - or more likely, megachurch stage is not 'Believe' (they already do), but the Ten Commandments. Obey. Obey, Obey, Obey. Obey. Obey. Obey, Obey, Obey and Obey
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