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Churchs As Community


lighteclectic
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Something Aureliom said in his reply to the blog about the Seed Faith scheme got me thinking. Why do lonely, needy people turn to a church or religion instead of other community organizations? We all know that human beings need community, i.e., friendship, intimacy, safety, etc. (Maslow's hierarchy of needs).

 

So why church? I remarked to a friend the day after 9/11/01 that people would go back to church in droves. People return to what they know, where they feel safe, but what exactly is it that they "know" from a religious organization?

 

I think consensual reality plays a role here -- the belief that a church organization inherently provides some kind of care because this is the message or mission statement, if you will. Even though the reality, upon examination, cancels out any real care (other than legitimate organizations that provide some of the basic needs to the poor and infirm) demonstrated most simply by the eternal penalties assigned to non-believers.

 

Non-religious organizations don't have the same "care" message, and we know that when an organization loses funding the doors will close on us. Those people actually do feel bad when they have to deny service, as opposed to Xians who, when you're out of their particular club, will not give you a passing thought except perhaps to berate you to their peers. But people will trust a church, will believe those doors always open to them, that they are always accepted and "loved" even though we have seen that church-goers seem to have in their ranks some truly petty and uncaring people.

 

Maybe on some level "church" and "god" have been equated with parents that will never forsake and abandon, that always care for us, are always there for us, and so on? Even if you have a bad "caring" experience at one church, it just means that this particular church wasn't "your" church and you'll find where you fit in with another. Pattern is repeated...the moment you fall into disfavor, generally failing to comply with a particular nuanced system in that assembly, you are no longer in the club and nobody cares about you any more.

 

I'm sure there's a clinical name for this type of dysfunction -- but I see the pattern repeated over and over again and people just not getting it. Confirmation bias prevents some from seeing that it's the system/religion itself that lends itself to dysfunction, not the people, per se, who practice it.

 

Far easier to just steer clear and leave them in their misery. Unless you live with them, like I do. :twitch:

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I think it's because when someone is in the ranks so to speak, they do get that feeling of welcome and community. It also gives them a false sense of security. Problem being, once you're outside those walls you realize who there truly cared about you, and chances are it's almost no one - and if they do, most of the time there's some connection there other than the church.

 

Even I'll admit that I always felt welcome in the church - problem was, I knew none of those people really gave a hoot about who I was as a person, no one cared about me outside of that building, and their love and care was contigent on my being in their ranks. So even though I felt welcomed, I knew it was a false welcome and I never aclimated very well - I don't like people who have contingencies on liking me.

 

A lot of people will look past that (or not even notice it), and there is a lot of confirmation bias that supports their thinking. Far too much confirmation bias if you ask my opinion.

 

Why it's an instant community people seek out in times of trouble? Again, I think it's that false security blanket - they're scared, and they want some warm fuzzies and they get them at church. Then, when things are better, most will be gone again because they don't need the fake warm fuzzies anymore. Pretty shallow IMO, but I think that's what it stems from.

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http://atheismisdead.blogspot.com/2009/09/exchristiannet-has-been-xd-part-1.html

This link was posted in the comments section of this post on facebook. Reposting it here so everyone can see it. Maybe people know about it already, but I didn't. Not trying to derail your post with it. Very... interesting website...

 

I guess I am maybe lucky in that I never felt comfort, community or friendship at church. It was really easy to leave it behind.

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Non-religious organizations don't have the same "care" message, and we know that when an organization loses funding the doors will close on us. Those people actually do feel bad when they have to deny service, as opposed to Xians who, when you're out of their particular club, will not give you a passing thought except perhaps to berate you to their peers. But people will trust a church, will believe those doors always open to them, that they are always accepted and "loved" even though we have seen that church-goers seem to have in their ranks some truly petty and uncaring people.

I think to a great extent, a lot of the people who are attracted are the same kinds who you mention above. In other words, shallow. Just as they're too shallow to realize that the "love" they're giving is shallow and mostly meaningless, they're also too shallow to realize that the love they're receiving is shallow and meaningless.

 

Also:

Even I'll admit that I always felt welcome in the church - problem was, I knew none of those people really gave a hoot about who I was as a person, no one cared about me outside of that building, and their love and care was contigent on my being in their ranks. So even though I felt welcomed, I knew it was a false welcome and I never aclimated very well - I don't like people who have contingencies on liking me.

I'd come at what HRDWarrior said from a slightly different angle, which is that that sort of shallow love is easy in that it doesn't demand that the giver of the love take any responsibility for anything deeper than an appearance of caring. It's "love" without work or even real attention.

 

It's like Tang. Just add water and you get an orange-colored, orange-like flavored drink. And if a person's never had real orange juice, they might well not know the difference. Plus, you get a nice sugar rush.

 

Insto-love: Just add church. No effort required on anybody's part. Just as it feels caring but isn't, it also feels personal, but isn't. Nice and safe.

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I could never find peace in a church again. All I see is a collection of deluded idiots, thieves, hypocrites and biggots when I think of the people in a typical church.

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The Fox and the Grapes

Aesop

 

ONE hot summer’s day a Fox was strolling through an orchard till he came to a bunch of Grapes just ripening on a vine which had been trained over a lofty branch. “Just the things to quench my thirst,” quoth he. Drawing back a few paces, he took a run and a jump, and just missed the bunch. Turning round again with a One, Two, Three, he jumped up, but with no greater success. Again and again he tried after the tempting morsel, but at last had to give it up, and walked away with his nose in the air, saying: “I am sure they are sour.”

“IT IS EASY TO DESPISE WHAT YOU CANNOT GET.”

 

Just because we "mostly" didn't get a feeling of community from the church doesn't mean Christian people don't in general get a feeling of community from the church.

 

I would add that all feelings of security are false.

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The Fox and the Grapes

Aesop

 

ONE hot summer’s day a Fox was strolling through an orchard till he came to a bunch of Grapes just ripening on a vine which had been trained over a lofty branch. “Just the things to quench my thirst,” quoth he. Drawing back a few paces, he took a run and a jump, and just missed the bunch. Turning round again with a One, Two, Three, he jumped up, but with no greater success. Again and again he tried after the tempting morsel, but at last had to give it up, and walked away with his nose in the air, saying: “I am sure they are sour.”

“IT IS EASY TO DESPISE WHAT YOU CANNOT GET.”

 

Just because we "mostly" didn't get a feeling of community from the church doesn't mean Christian people don't in general get a feeling of community from the church.

 

I would add that all feelings of security are false.

Or the ex-Christian version (From Ambrose Bierce):

 

A Fox, seeing some sour grapes hanging within an inch of his nose, and being unwilling to admit that there was anything he would not eat, solemnly declared that they were out of his reach.

 

It is also easy to despise what is plainly unpalatable.

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The Fox and the Grapes

Aesop

 

ONE hot summer’s day a Fox was strolling through an orchard till he came to a bunch of Grapes just ripening on a vine which had been trained over a lofty branch. “Just the things to quench my thirst,” quoth he. Drawing back a few paces, he took a run and a jump, and just missed the bunch. Turning round again with a One, Two, Three, he jumped up, but with no greater success. Again and again he tried after the tempting morsel, but at last had to give it up, and walked away with his nose in the air, saying: “I am sure they are sour.”

“IT IS EASY TO DESPISE WHAT YOU CANNOT GET.”

 

Just because we "mostly" didn't get a feeling of community from the church doesn't mean Christian people don't in general get a feeling of community from the church.

 

I would add that all feelings of security are false.

Or the ex-Christian version (From Ambrose Bierce):

 

A Fox, seeing some sour grapes hanging within an inch of his nose, and being unwilling to admit that there was anything he would not eat, solemnly declared that they were out of his reach.

 

It is also easy to despise what is plainly unpalatable.

 

And yet others may find what is plainly unpalatable to the Fox quite palatable, and the Fox may find others disgusting for eating such a gross thing. Yet the others are quite happy with their meal in spite of jeering from the Fox.

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And yet others may find what is plainly unpalatable to the Fox quite palatable, and the Fox may find others disgusting for eating such a gross thing. Yet the others are quite happy with their meal in spite of jeering from the Fox.

 

A response? Wow. Chef, I don't remember a response from you for at least a couple of years, even though I've tried a number of times to engage directly with you, even in direct messages. Now a response?

 

Seriously, I think you're off base, here. The op was asking a real question about why people do what they do and we were discussing it. There was no "sour grapes." Nobody who responded gave any indication that I could see that they were secretly envious of religious people who get comfort from church in times of trouble. And no one was jeering at them. Not even the fox.

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A response? Wow. Chef, I don't remember a response from you for at least a couple of years, even though I've tried a number of times to engage directly with you, even in direct messages. Now a response?

Yes, I sort of remember that message. I didn't know what to respond to it, so I put it on the back burner. Apparently I forgot about it. It must be burnt to a crisp by now. It was something about the Vietnam war? Maybe it is still there, I'll look and see.

 

 

Seriously, I think you're off base, here. The op was asking a real question about why people do what they do and we were discussing it. There was no "sour grapes." Nobody who responded gave any indication that I could see that they were secretly envious of religious people who get comfort from church in times of trouble. And no one was jeering at them. Not even the fox.

 

I suppose that fables are out of date these days, especially Aesop's. Nevertheless it seems to apply to me and I used it to inspire some thinking about the human condition without engaging the OP directly. Perhaps I've read and absorbed too much Zen.

 

This,"I could never find peace in a church again. All I see is a collection of deluded idiots, thieves, hypocrites and biggots when I think of the people in a typical church." (Vixentrox) this, "I'd come at what HRDWarrior said from a slightly different angle, which is that that sort of shallow love is easy in that it doesn't demand that the giver of the love take any responsibility for anything deeper than an appearance of caring. It's "love" without work or even real attention.

 

It's like Tang. Just add water and you get an orange-colored, orange-like flavored drink. And if a person's never had real orange juice, they might well not know the difference. Plus, you get a nice sugar rush.

 

Insto-love: Just add church. No effort required on anybody's part. Just as it feels caring but isn't, it also feels personal, but isn't. Nice and safe." (you) this, "I think it's because when someone is in the ranks so to speak, they do get that feeling of welcome and community. It also gives them a false sense of security." (HRDWarrior) and this, "Maybe on some level "church" and "god" have been equated with parents that will never forsake and abandon, that always care for us, are always there for us, and so on? Even if you have a bad "caring" experience at one church, it just means that this particular church wasn't "your" church and you'll find where you fit in with another. Pattern is repeated...the moment you fall into disfavor, generally failing to comply with a particular nuanced system in that assembly, you are no longer in the club and nobody cares about you any more.

 

I'm sure there's a clinical name for this type of dysfunction -- but I see the pattern repeated over and over again and people just not getting it. Confirmation bias prevents some from seeing that it's the system/religion itself that lends itself to dysfunction, not the people, per se, who practice it." (OP) appearing in Rants and Replies inspired my inspiration.

 

What's the rant here? Perhaps, the damn Church is supposed to be a community, but I didn't experience it as such! #*$%^*(#@!!!!

 

To be honest, I did find real community in the Church. I remained friends with some of the older members until they died. And they did try some reconciliation, but I didn't like the terms. My experience was somewhat different because I didn't leave the church as a non-believer. I didn't loose my faith until about 5 years later.

 

Don't get me wrong here. It was not an amicable parting on either side. There was plenty of dysfunction to go around. I was angry and the church leaders were angry. But all that was almost 20 years ago, plenty of time to put things in perspective. The perspective is -- using your analogy -- it was orange juice while I was in and I was in for a long time.

 

There are a couple of erroneous ideas in this rant.

 

One is that the Church or any community ought not to be dysfunctional. Dysfunction is a concept that I don't like very well because it implies that the ideal is actually obtainable. No community is without its dysfunction. Yes the church often advertises that it is the ideal, but that is largely just our Madison Avenue culture.

 

Another idea is that the church if it is a community ought to be all inclusive. No community can be all inclusive. The biological construction of our social body/mind requires an out group. This very thread constitutes a discussion of why they are out and we are in. "If they want to be in, they must think like us. We know they are them and not us because they like Tang -- God forbid!" I'm not condemning us for doing this. I'm just pointing out that we are doing it.

 

The idea that a feeling of security ought to constitute ideal security is also erroneous. Our biological mental construct causes us to want to be in a group wherein everybody knows your name. We no longer need a group to actually survive, but we generally feel miserable if we are not in one. It is also a human construct to go to group when we are frightened. Part of being a social animal is collecting in the face of a common enemy. The enemy doesn't have to be real to illicit this behavior. We literally can not feel the difference between a real and a perceived enemy.

 

Now doesn't a short fable seem better than all this blathering from me?

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That is a very interesting concept. Chef,...dumb question...what does one do with a person who is an extreme introvert who abhors crowds and is very happy living alone? I do know a few people like that. They read, watch movies/tv, they do things online. One is married, one lives alone and is perfectly happy alone but does not mind chatting or visiting with people of one or two at a time. They are by all standards normal and happy, they just don't like to be around people hardly ever.

 

I remember reading something lately or I heard it on a TED talk that these sorts of folks evolved to be the explorers. This was the guy that would go over the hill and across the river just to get away from people fuss for awhile. On his retreat he might find some new grazing, a better defensive position, or a weak tribe to attack. Or they could sit and fiddle with sticks and stones for hours and invent or manufacture tools and weapons.

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That is a very interesting concept. Chef,...dumb question...what does one do with a person who is an extreme introvert who abhors crowds and is very happy living alone? I do know a few people like that. They read, watch movies/tv, they do things online. One is married, one lives alone and is perfectly happy alone but does not mind chatting or visiting with people of one or two at a time. They are by all standards normal and happy, they just don't like to be around people hardly ever.

 

That is actually me. I would prefer to live alone for the rest of my life, but I do enjoy spending time with friends.

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