Thursday, November 10, 2011

Taking Control of the Mind: The Mindless Christian War on Doubt  Within each of my articles, there has been a recurrent reference to the pestilent Christian fear of “doubt.” When I was a Christian, pastors often reiterated certain somber words about doubt being something that creates a gulf between us and God as if one mere thought could negate nearly everything that we have worked hard, as pious Christians, to “believe” within doubtlessly.

   The Christian religion is comprised of memorable catechisms, liturgies, and prayers to ward away that “nefarious” doubt that tries to eternally separate us from God.  What happens if we paradoxically have an “irrevocable” doubt about God’s existence? Of course, like all morally superior religions, it becomes the only sin to defy Jesus repeated messages about "unconditional" forgiveness. All of a sudden, our uplifting religion suddenly has a dearth of humanity and forgiveness once we venture into the dark regions of Christianity’s twisted condemnations of something as natural as “doubt”

  The biggest conundrum in fundamentalist Christian logic lies with “doubt” being the unpardonable sin. These types of Christians often will separate themselves from this fatal sin and condescendingly speak of the sinner who relied on their own reasoning rather than God’s. Of course, rational minded people will offer a sturdy refutation to drivel like this:”Don’t all of us have ownership over our minds therefore isn’t every one of our thoughts a product of our own thinking? What makes a thought of ours so sacrosanct that we attribute it to God?”

  Oftentimes, this person will be flabbergasted that you dare challenge them with this formidable logic. Therefore, they’ll just rely on their “canned”  theological  ideas that they reflexively use whenever anyone tries to force logic into their blindly-believed beliefs.       Bizarrely, Christianity has a rich history of philosophers who struggled valiantly with the limits of their mind. Doubt was often someone that pressed us into creating more insights about someone. It is an intrinsic part of our synthesis of knowledge.  Why then has the contemporary church, obviously besmirched by the fundamentalist Christian movement, become so deluded into thinking doubt is hazardous to one’s faith? It just doesn’t quite compute.
On countless Christian bookstore shelves, there are a number of books which help Christian regain their minds as if their mind is their adversary in all things. It makes “ourselves” into the maleficent villain that ultimately separates us from eternal salvation.  It causes Christianity to become something quite inane and immoral. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter if you heinously killed or abused others because you just need to have unflinching belief in a number of unproven doctrines.

Karen Armstrong says it best when she essentially describes our current way of thinking of religion as “more focused on belief than practice.” In church, they alluded to charitable acts a few times but the importance is placed on having “unwavering, impossible” belief into something as intangible and unknown as God. How do we know if we’re believing in the “acceptable” God? Which church has the most proper, orthodox beliefs that will insure my passage into heaven?

For this type of Christianity, all morals are trivialized by this stressed lesson that we must believe in the “right things” overall. It doesn’t matter if we empathized with the kindly old lady next door who is close to dying. If she was an atheist, all of her greatest attributes are overlooked by the obtuse God that cares only for blind, orthodox adulation. To these Christians, if compassion becomes a distraction from our own selfish maintenance of belief, we shouldn’t bother helping the needy if it is distracting us from forcing our minds to believe in something that is far too wondrous to crudely believe in.

Christianity becomes coupled with even more convoluted psychological measures. We don’t just have to believe in certain abstruse doctrines. You also must believe in the proper political beliefs and any parts of history that have been fabricated all for the promotion of “Christianity” as some religion that is exempt from the faults of humanity. This doesn’t seem to make much sense either since some of the greatest Old Testament characters are paradoxical, problematic human characters. They “profanely doubt,” and oftentimes forcibly extricate God from their worldview. One of the greatest assets of this God relates with his stubbornness to leave our mental faculties. Even when we clearly deny his existence, he still superimposes himself on nearly all of thoughts. Why would someone who exceeds our comprehension care about our “proper acceptance,” of him?

  One of the forbidden, undisclosed messages of “Christianity,” lies with the fact that God truly transcends us in every sense of the word. When some Christians think of transcendent, they think of “regression.” In their minds, God devolves into something less mighty and easily comprehensible to our doubt-addled minds. The reason that these types of Christians reinforce the fact that doubt is the worst of sins lies with the fact that they feel guilty for manipulating God so he can be harnessed by their ego’s for treachery rather then love. By doubting this “God” of theirs, we are questioning their conduct. They want to  be “God” so badly in order to be viewed as “insurmountable” and “superior” to others around them.

    By escaping the artless prison of contemporary Christianity, I rediscovered God in the wider expanse of my doubt-filled wilderness. Within Thoreau’s
Walden, Thoreau urges people to return to nature “metaphorically” to find truth within our innermost selves. Oftentimes, we trap God into this neglected self. In Nathaniel Hawthorne’s short story Young Goodman Brown, Goodman Brown represents the highly naive, sanctimonious Puritan that is shuttered away from the wild mystery of the woods beyond the cozy, known territory of the small New England hamlet.  Young Goodman Brown embarks on a nightly journey through this woods where he is faced with all his harrowing visions of the universal sins of mankind that are not exclusive to heathens that aren’t Puritans.  

Tragically, Goodman Brown has been indoctrinated into the Puritan belief system so much that the unrevealed chaos and mystery of the universe is far too much for his psyche to handle so he ends up forswearing “God” or “Faith” in the end. The whole story is ambiguous and in the end, we are left with a grim reminder of the danger of an illiterate, thoughtless form of Christianity that refuses to come to grips with the reality of doubt in a chaotic world that surpasses our relative opinions.

How can we reverse this psychological dissolution involved with this form of “Christianity?” Why aren’t we allowed to find beauty in the limits of our feeble ideas of God? It disturbs me greatly that our present forms of Christianity are bereft of the mystery and true struggle of trying to understand this vast, enigmatic universe of ours. We need doubt because it makes us more humble. Moses didn’t approach God with a smug expression when receiving the Ten Commandments as if to boast that he knew God better than God knew himself. Instead, Moses faced God within a diaphanous cloud of “unknowing” where all his many theories as to God’s shape were defied and Moses was left in awed silence.

Our Christianity doesn’t have this silence anymore. It is boisterous and egotistical.  When church leaders reprove us for not doubting, they are effectively diminishing God to their understanding. By chastening ourselves and banishing our doubt, we are expelling God and the wonderful mystery from our worldview.  The colorful music of our imaginative ideas of God are prematurely stopped all for the sake of believing without any realistic doubt in the mind.

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