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Orwellian Thought Crime And The Christian Worldview


Leo
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It's quite often that you see Christian conservatives referring to George Orwell's 1984 when they experience some kind of thought police or censorship against popular media figures, sports team owners, etc.

But I contest that Orwellian-style censorship of thought has been in effect since the New Testament.

Many Christians criticize us ex-Cs for referring to the Old Testament too much. I don't see any thought crimes mentioned in the old testament, save for coveting, that necessary "evil" of Christo-capitalist economies like the United States of America.

So to break it down to start with, I want to use Orwell's party slogans, and show how they're used all over modern Christianity and specified in the New Testament. I'm citing passages using the BibleGateway.com website, the New Living Translation. I selected this translation because that's the one I used in my final years as a Christian and the primary English translation I used when deconverting.

 

War Is Peace:

 

This is a tough one. I don't have Scripture references on this one, save for the ubiquitous Ephesians 6 Whole Armor of God chapter, which really doesn't play to the Orwellian theme. So Christians will have every right to tear the following down as anecdote or experiential.

But I noticed that in evangelical circles, nothing unites quite like warfare. Pray against the gay club. Pray that God will remove someone from office. Unite, and get behind God's Man (George W. Bush or John Ashcroft being two notable modern examples). War is peace, in the Christo-Orwellian context, because of the energy and solidarity it brings to an otherwise disparate group of people. Reminded me most often of the feminist and vegetarian activists of my youth at college, the Dead Men Don't Rape protests. Don't ask questions, don't critically analyze what the Leadership has presented, let's all be unified.

It's Orwellian, in that it is about power. In the book 1984, O'Brien, the torturer, explained to Winston, the protagonist, that the aim of the Party was Power. He used a rather brutal example: "... a boot stamping on a human face forever." Many modern worship songs and even old hymns are very power-centric.

It's my contention that what I dub the Fallwellian Explosion of the late 70s through the 1980s, and the rise of the Christian Coalition, could not have happened without this preternatural urge for power. If peace is singleness of purpose and unity of authority, then to the Christian, war is in fact peace.

 

Freedom Is Slavery:

 

Philippians 1:1
 This letter is from Paul and Timothy, slaves of Christ Jesus. I am writing to all of God’s holy people in Philippi who belong to Christ Jesus, including the elders and deacons.

Romans 1:1
 This letter is from Paul, a slave of Christ Jesus, chosen by God to be an apostle and sent out to preach his Good News.
There are others like this. Paul, the first Christian apologist schooled in Greek rhetoric, does not say son of Christ, priviliged to be here, Christ's helper. He says slave. Over and over and over again.

It reminds me of the oft-cited socialist cult groups of the late 60s and 70s, in particular Jonestown: "Work makes you free." By work, of course, they weren't talking meaningful employment, but endless hours of drudgery.

Paul is clear: he is a slave of Christ. Your freedom in christ is "freedom" to be a slave to the Gospel. A slave to a one-dimensional existence, where you consider everything else as dung for the sake of Christ. Everything else, and perhaps every *one* else. And let's remember, Paul never met Jesus. I'm talking actually met. Christians will cite the conversion on the Road to Damascus. But for sake of rational argument, we can no more take that literally than we could the hallucinations of some shaman, the winged horse and the angel with Mohammad, and the Angel Moroni with Joseph Smith.

 

Romans 7:25
 Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. So you see how it is: In
my mind I really want to obey God’s law, but because of my sinful nature I am
a slave to sin.
Very instructive is that whole chapter, too long to print here. Romans 7 is the place where he strays from apologetic argument into a personal inner turmoil where our only options are slavery. He doesn't mention being a slave to Christ in that chapter, and the heading of Chapter 8 is usually written something to do with freedom. But that freedom is only to be yet again a slave only to a different master. Perfect straw man argument: Create sin as an idea, whichPaul admits in Chapter 7, (When the Law came, sin revived and I died.) Like a good apologist in other epistles, he stonewalls the question of why have the law to begin with, then, using rhetoric like "let God be true and every man a liar."

So we exchange this prefabricated "sin" existence for one of Grace by the one who designed the construct under which sin existed to begin with, and thereby are slaves to that being.

 

Ignorance Is Strength:

The "I don't want to know," the "We shouldn't pollute our minds with that."

The whole of Genesis 2 and 3, for starters. The knowledge of good and evil has allegedly reduced humankind and all of nature. It would have been better to remain ignorant.

Jesus also states that "I would  have you wise as serpents, but innocent as doves." Some reading I did on Innocent there, did not mean innocent of a crime but innocent or what we would call naive.

Again with anecdote that is fair game to tear apart: Have most of us not seen in churches, the "who knows less" game? You usually see this with born-in-church types who had not had the propensity to wander in their youth. We've all seen the monitoring of movies, television, and best of all books. They even act as Ray Bradbury's Firemen from Fahrenheit 451 at times. You can see the occasional book burning, even a rather expensive one described in the book of Acts. We've all, or at least many of us, been questioned why we were reading some skeptical work, watching some documentary not written "from our world view."

Where the system is weak, ignorance is in fact its only strength.

Faith is no strong tower: The righteous run into it, to defend it, lest it fall down.

 

The following is not a Party Slogan, but everyone knows about it from Orwell's 1984:

Thought Crime:

 

2 Corinthians 10:5
We destroy every proud obstacle that keeps people from knowing God. We capture
their rebellious thoughts and teach them to obey Christ.

 

Matthew 15:19
 For from the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, all sexual immorality,
theft, lying, and slander.

Philippians 4:8
 And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what
is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think
about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.

Colossians 1:21
 This includes you who were once far away from God. You were his enemies, separated
from him by your evil thoughts and actions.

Now the Christian may wonder what could any humanist possibly find wrong with Philippians 4:8? It's that thoughts-obsessiveness. Don't think about it, only think about this. The "don't think about pink elephants" mind game which causes us to only think about pink elephants. Not because we're evil, but because that is how our minds work.

After all, we could as easily say, "Don't think about God's saving work on the Cross." And yep, you started thinking about the Cross, Christ, images from churches, the whole works. See? It's not just those "dirty" thoughts that do this.

The above are just examples of thought control in Christianity. But here are the worst ones:

The Sermon on the Mount. that "innocent" little passage even the most liberal Christians love to pine about.

If you look at someone with a sexual interest you are committing adultery with them. Meet a real adultery victim and see if their heartfelt experience of betrayal matches anything close to the straw man thought crime fallacy. I'm not talking a woman who found a Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition in her husband's car and ran shrieking and screaming to the church about her husband being a pornography addict.

No, I mean someone who has had no idea an illicit 'affair' (betrayal)  has been going on. Someone whose money, time, resources, emotional investment, was rigged in a lie she had no idea was in progress.

Jesus makes fun of such people by comparing their victimhood to someone's thought that he finds a young woman attractive, or she finds someone attractive. I hate it. I hated it when feminists in college would call it thought rape, if they found someone was attracted to them and they weren't attracted to that person. Making fun of real rape victims.

And the New Testament makes fun of real adultery survivors in the same way. I don't know how therapists do it: help these people whose lives have been wrecked, their trust betrayed. Trust is a central part of homo sapiens and other primates' existence, because we are such social species. To degrade this by claiming that someone's thought, fleeting or maybe fantastical, is the same as actual betrayal of actual trust, is absolutely horrific. Sure, it's hard enough to toil under the load of always feeling guilty for being attracted to, or fantasizing about, or curious about, someone. But I would venture, and I'm as red-blooded heterosexual healthy male as any other, that this pales in comparison to how awful it would feel for someone who is an actual survivor of domestic betrayal and then finds out their faith holds someone's private thought and their awful wrteked state as one and the same.

And what about the anger narrative? Some translations say angry without cause, which seems more accurate, but modern ones say angry. Angry thoughts equate murder? Really? Find out what it's like to lose a family member. When I was younger, I had fantasies about working in the forensics field. The excitement, the solving of all these old dead cases, cracking the case. Then I started reading about it from a different perspective. The shattered lives of people. The effects on communities. The PTSD that many in that field deal with in later life. None of that is caused because someone thought an angry thought or two about someone.

Gods and gargoyles, how could we have taken that text seriously? The joke, again, is not on us who get angry once in awhile, or fantasize about maybe choking some fool to death who wronged a family member, then hang our heads in shame and apologize to god for committing murder in our minds. The joke is on real survivors of murder.

A system where thoughts are judged the same as actions is totally without moral excuse.

I can't for instance, burn my finger and then run off claiming that I am equal to the person who suffered third degree burns on half their body.

I had a medical problem with my hand last year, where I had it wrapped for a couple weeks. For anybody, that is a pretty inconvenient situation. For a software developer, that is perhaps even more inconvenient than for some. For someone that's blind, let me tell you, that becomes very inconvenient very quickly. However. There is no possible way I could ever claim that I now understand what it's like to be an amputee. No way ever. The two worlds simply do not collide, and only in the mind of a wannabe-victim would this even occur.

I realize this approach as opposition to thought control / thought crime analysis is different than the normal anti-Orwellian stance, but it strikes to the heart of the issue. Where we have an alleged moral first cause, who cannot tell the difference between fleeting thoughts in someone's mind or even entertained thoughts, and the actions of domestic treachery and betrayal, or Murder One. The mind reels.

I have a guess as to how this slips past modern Christians, even ancient ones perhaps. Domestic betrayals perpetrated by males are statistically rare. Liberal estimates say 30% of relationships have a male engaged in this. More conservative estimates I've seen put it in the mid to lower 20s. Numbers drop significantly as relationships progress, time and expenses and emotional resources get invested. And usually the definition of 'affair' exceeds treachery by quite a bit, and has been manipulated to include more things than your traditional adultery.

Most people aren't directly impacted by murders.

So, you could go through an entire lifetime, Christian or not, and never have a close friend or family member who are survivors of either. It wasn't until I met real survivors of these things that the whole rigged nature of this game came undone.

Quite ironically, ChristoConservative apologists for U.S. Republican policy frequently complain, perhaps justifiably, that government agencies create new rules to justify their existence, when prior need for enforcement was overstated or doesn't exist anymore.

So just being completely cynical here, Jesus learns there aren't that many domestic betrayals per capita anywhere, not just in Judaism. To reinforce the sin / perfection straw man argument, let's just change the definitions around a little bit so more people are found guilty. More people guilty, more prisons. Sound familiar? Is Hell privatized, by the way?

 

It's all pretty Orwellian, and I'm a bit staggered that I even thought my load of constant thought analysis / pink elephant mind games as a young Christian was hard. In the light of real victim minimization in the texts, apparently done so in order to justify the need for more regulations and enforcements.

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Good stuff Leo.  I too wondered about how "if I look at a woman with lust, I've already committed adultery with her in my heart."  In my christian life, I've heard sermons about how even if I just think about hitting someone it's the same as murdering them in the eyes of god.  About how coveting is one of the 10 major sins.  

 

It's not until I could step out of my christian mindset and look at my religion like I do every other religion that it finally made some damn sense.  It's an ingenious controlling mechanism.  The amount of self-doubt that comes along with believing these things is enormous.  The self-doubters then don't have much self esteem; they can't trust themselves anymore.  Who do they trust now?  Their god.  And who speaks for god?  Why church leaders of course!

 

Monotheistic religions = Orwellian fascist governments.

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My pastor started a sermon this week entitled "United". In his first sermon, he talked about how we need to sacrifice some of our freedoms for the greater good of the church. In so many words, he basically spelled out that the church needs to stop thinking for ourselves and start working towards unity and making the kingdom of god untied and moving forward as one. As I listened to him saying all this, I thought about how clueless so many people in my church are that he is basically advocating an Orwellian type system. I found it amusing that he, in trying to stir up his congregation towards a "better life under god", that he was basically instituting mind control and thought control and brainwashing, even though he didn't see it that way.

Now that I am out of the cult, I see things very differently. When I believed, I probably would have taken heed to that sermon and tried my darndest to live that way and be united. But now, I see it for what it really is. For that I am grateful. But my heart goes out to the masses who don't see the truth.

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It's quite often that you see Christian conservatives referring to George Orwell's 1984 when they experience some kind of thought police or censorship against popular media figures, sports team owners, etc.

But I contest that Orwellian-style censorship of thought has been in effect since the New Testament.

 

There is literally no difference between the dystopian, totalitarian world of "1984" and fundamentalist Christianity. 

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This is my view also. We will see if any Christians can respond and tell us what they think.

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I'll give my reaction to the comparison on a few points. I still think like a Christian sometimes and nobody seems to be arguing their position.

 

Freedom Is Slavery:

 

Romans 7:25

 Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. So you see how it is: In

my mind I really want to obey God’s law, but because of my sinful nature I am

a slave to sin.

Take fasting as an example. On those rare occassions where I can summon the willpower, fasting gives me a sense of freedom. It's so nice not to worry about what to eat.

 

So "freedom is slavery" as used in Christianity is very true. If you free the passions then you enslave the higher self. If you enslave the passions then you free the higher self.

 

The following is not a Party Slogan, but everyone knows about it from Orwell's 1984:

Thought Crime:

 

2 Corinthians 10:5

We destroy every proud obstacle that keeps people from knowing God. We capture

their rebellious thoughts and teach them to obey Christ.

 

Matthew 15:19

 For from the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, all sexual immorality,

theft, lying, and slander.

 

Philippians 4:8

 And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what

is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think

about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.

 

Colossians 1:21

 This includes you who were once far away from God. You were his enemies, separated

from him by your evil thoughts and actions.

...

The Sermon on the Mount. that "innocent" little passage even the most liberal Christians love to pine about.

If you look at someone with a sexual interest you are committing adultery with them. Meet a real adultery victim and see if their heartfelt experience of betrayal matches anything close to the straw man thought crime fallacy.

...

I understand the point that actual adultery, actual violence, etc. are harmful to others, and that making thoughts into crimes diminishes the harm to others.

 

On the other hand, the goal of Christians is to transform from the inside. You want to truly love other people instead of simply treating them with love. That way you are a free person expressing the love from within. A monk said there are three stages: slave to God, employee of God, and friend of God. We want to be friends of God. We want to have Godly nature - not just perform Godly deeds.

 

So that's my best argument. smile.png

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That is some food for thought.

Perhaps I had never graduated from slave of god, though perhaps was at times closer to employee of god. Seems like a broken system to me anyhow. Paul speaks of vessels designed for honorable or noble uses, and those designed for dishonorable or ignoble. Some commentators make the case that the dishonorable are the waste baskets or the chamber pots. This is more often than not how I felt.

This idea of a creation who needs to be broken and remade by its creator, and in fact in some Christian circles at least, continually broken. I personally found that to be a pretty awful mental condition to live under. Perhaps the slave can be said to be free of responsibility, except in matters of obedience, but again, for me at least, that was a pretty awful way to live.

We will not do such things with artificial intelligent slaves, we don't do so even now.

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That is some food for thought.

Perhaps I had never graduated from slave of god, though perhaps was at times closer to employee of god. Seems like a broken system to me anyhow. Paul speaks of vessels designed for honorable or noble uses, and those designed for dishonorable or ignoble. Some commentators make the case that the dishonorable are the waste baskets or the chamber pots. This is more often than not how I felt.

This idea of a creation who needs to be broken and remade by its creator, and in fact in some Christian circles at least, continually broken. I personally found that to be a pretty awful mental condition to live under. Perhaps the slave can be said to be free of responsibility, except in matters of obedience, but again, for me at least, that was a pretty awful way to live.

We will not do such things with artificial intelligent slaves, we don't do so even now.

I think I never even made "slave of God"; I was "runaway slave of God". smile.png

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