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I Wanted To Be Brainwashed


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Hi! I’m new here. This seems like a pretty friendly and supportive place to help me through my de-conversion process. Here’s where I’m at right now.

 

Many of you speak of brainwashing. You were brainwashed as children, by your parents and pastors, and in many cases teachers as well. I'm the opposite; I wasn't brainwashed as a kid. My parents are non-religious, didn’t take us to church, didn’t make us pray, didn’t teach us about heaven or hell or original sin or any of the rest. But I grew up in a religious area, and I wanted to fit in. Becoming religious was, for me, actually the one thing I really did as a teenager that came anywhere near “rebellion” against my parents. When I did become religious, I joined the baptist church. It was very convenient. The area I live is very strongly baptist, and baptists love teen and adult converts. They didn’t mind that I hadn’t been baptized as a baby, and that I didn’t know who Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were. They were more than happy to baptize me and teach me about the religion. I’m sure they were hoping to brainwash me, and I was hoping to have whatever experiences my friends were having that seemed so important to them. I wanted to understand, but most of all, I wanted to belong to something bigger than me, something that had deep significance. I think I wanted to be brainwashed.

 

Problem is, my personality is a bit brainwash-resistant. No matter how much I wanted to be brainwashed, it just never really took. I met my husband at the baptist church I was attending, and one of the things that we bonded over was having questions that the pastors and Sunday School teachers didn’t know the answers to, and in some cases discouraged us from asking. We wound up leaving the baptist church together and eventually settling on the Orthodox Church, where we got married. Once again, I tried to immerse myself as deeply as I could manage in the faith and culture of the church. It was a slow process, even slower than realizing I could no longer be a baptist, but eventually I realized that I was performing all this mental work to keep my faith construct from collapsing in on itself. There was no evidence that was helping to support it, it was just me, sustaining it with the power of wishful thinking. It doesn’t matter how many times or how many different ways I say, “Hey God?” The answer is always the same. Silence. My husband gave me a book which said that feeling the absence of God is the beginning of prayer. That we have to persist and go beyond that. That somehow we will meet God on the other side of the void. Well, I tried. I really tried. But these experiences that other people have just don’t happen to me. What finally prompted me to stop thinking of myself as a bad Christian that God just hated for some reason I didn’t understand, and start thinking of myself as not-a-Christian, was about a month ago when I realized that even if I did have a “spiritual experience,” I would simply rationalize it away. I know how often people in the church stand up and “feel the Holy Spirit” when it’s actually just a key change in the music. I know about how being hungry and sleepy in the middle of the night can cause emotional rawness and hallucinations. If something like that happened to me, I would dismiss it as natural, not supernatural, and not relevant to my faith. Maybe I’ve already been doing that, I just haven’t really noticed it.

 

Don’t think that means I never really believed. I definitely did. My beliefs were always slowly evolving, from simplistic evangelical as a teen to a much more progressive, purgatorial-universalist view most recently, but from age 16 until probably about a year ago, I always “believed in One God, the Father Almighty,” and in “One Lord, Jesus Christ, the Son of God.” There were brief times of doubting, sure, but I always attributed it to me. My “prayer life” has always been barren, but nevertheless, I did believe this stuff, and I just thought I was doing something wrong in my prayers. But about a month ago I admitted to myself that the strong feeling I've been having for the past year or so is the truth: that I've been trying to talk to, honor, worship, have a relationship with, love and feel loved by, nothing. It was the same day I realized that if I did have a “spiritual experience,” I would explain it away, that evening I was trying to pray and said something like, “God, why does it always feel like when I’m praying, I’m just talking to myself?” And two words took shape in my mind so clearly, “YOU ARE,” and I realized they came from my own brain, they were emphatic, and this is a conclusion I have been a long time in coming to. So I think this is finally the end.

I’m also going to post in the Ex-Christian Life section about how I’m handling this right now, so if you wouldn’t mind reading over there too, I’d really appreciate it. :-)

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Hello Ginko12, and welcome!  I appreciate your story and relate to a lot of it - the parents who weren't standard Christians, the becoming a fundy partly to establish one's own identity (but of course only PARTLY!), the disillusionment with protestant fundamentalism...  

 

Did you become Eastern Orthodox?  Which one?  I did something similar but went to Rome.  Later, it all faded away with unanswered prayer, contradictions, etc etc ... as you know well.

 

I think your point about wanting to belong to something bigger than yourself is very important.  I also like your point about spirituality coming from you.

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progressive, purgatorial-universalist view 

 

Welcome to ex-Christians !

 

I grew up in a Calvinistic household, but when I became nauseated by the doctrine of the atonement and hell, I found the sermon "River of Fire" -- which made me interested for a while in the Orthodox Church.  I attended Orthodox churches for about six months, but then left as well, due to the fact that I realized through this process that all religions are artificial.  I liked some of the mystical theology, liturgy, icons and sacraments, but it was an adult form of make-believe, which is ok for some people, I guess.  Your children can certainly have a worse environment than the Orthodox Church.  They could grow up Baptist, Pentecostal, or **horrors** Presbyterian.

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I grew up greek orthodox and in college became "born again", believed it to a point without getting radical except for about 1 yr. But between prayers not being answered and seeing too many sunday saints and Monday aints, old testament bullshit, a thousand denominations who read the same text with 1000 different interpretations etc my faith started to wonder. Basically I have resigned myself to the fact that it is nothing but a control mechanism and tool of politicians.

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Prayers don't get answered because there is no one there to answer them. I'm glad you're breaking free.

Welcome to ex-C!

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Hi, Ginco12, and welcome to ExC.

 

The Calvinist view of the religion just drove me nuts. I have a really hard time with their notion of predestination.

 

It sounds like you used your rational thinking to escape it all. I am glad.

 

I hope to hear more from you.

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Ginko12: You said you believe you are "brainwash resistant'. I think that is very possibly true. I was at least partly brainwash resistant in that during my years of Xtianity I was continuously in doubt about one thing or another. Xtianity didn't ever completely pass the smell test for me. Oh, I believed in Jesus, but it was never without a sliver of doubt. The only time it felt right was when I was emotionally involved, as during a compelling sermon or beautiful religious music. But I kept trying and trying to make contact with god, with no success.

 

The question is why do some people become faithful Xtians virtually immediately while others, like myself always have doubts and are frequently questioning Xtianity?  I think we are wired in a way more favorable to one or the other. I don't mean we are genetically predisposed to become or not become a Xtian. But I think some are born much more likely to question things and want to understand fully before accepting a doctrine or belief. Whether this is genetic or a variation of the central nervous system, I don't know. Perhaps someone here has read something about this idea.

 

In any even you are welcome here. I think you will enjoy the candid discussions that we have. bill

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I grew up greek orthodox and in college became "born again", believed it to a point without getting radical except for about 1 yr. But between prayers not being answered and seeing too many sunday saints and Monday aints, old testament bullshit, a thousand denominations who read the same text with 1000 different interpretations etc my faith started to wonder. Basically I have resigned myself to the fact that it is nothing but a control mechanism and tool of politicians.

Υεια σου, ρε Άντιξ, τί κάνεις?  Δεν μου αρέσουν όλοι οι βρώμικοι παππάδες και μοναχοί με τα γένια τους κτλ!  χα χα

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ficino: Yes, I became Eastern Orthodox. OCA. It’s SO great to hear that somebody went through something similar to me. Sometimes I feel very alone in my wanderings, and I guess ultimately I am, but at least you make me feel like I’m not the only one.

 

Llwellyn: We went through a Calvinist phase during our transition from baptist to Orthodox. Glad we left that behind, it is indeed a repugnant view of God and of the universe. Also read “River of Fire” during our journey, it actually scared me more than “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God”!

 

antix: Wow, another ex-Orthodox! I don’t know that I think religion is “nothing but a control mechanism”… it has certainly been used that way, and many religions seem to be intended for that purpose, but I do believe there is more to that with many of them, Christianity included.

 

HappyHeretic, Overcame Faith, Human Being: Thanks for the welcomes! I appreciate your comments and I will definitely be back. Just need to find the time in my busy schedule. :-)

william7davis: I think there is something to what you say. I felt much the same way. I remember being baptist and being expected to be “100% sure” that I was going to heaven. I never felt that way. Then again, neither did my husband, and I don’t think he’s going to follow me in losing faith. I remember reading not too long ago that there was evidence that religiosity/spirituality was a genetically influenced trait. There is more to it than that, I’m sure. My dad always taught me to use my “built-in BS detector.” I think no matter how much I’ve tried to ignore it, it still goes off, and eventually I am forced to pay attention!

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My story has elements in common with yours. Unlike you, I was raised Christian from birth. However, it was a bland Catholic variety, and I did not grow up expecting spiritual experiences. My mom occasionally took us to Baptist services, but I was never moved by them. In fact I pretty much wanted to go home the whole time.
 
It wasn’t until I was diagnosed with depression that I started seeking the Holy Spirit. I tried a Catholic Charismatic service, but I was severely disappointed to discover that it was rigidly scripted in the typical Catholic fashion. You are basically told when to shout for joy and what to shout. I got bigger thrills out of the regular boring Catholic mass! Faking enthusiasm is very uncomfortable to me.
 
(I never considered Pentecostal or other Protestant churches at that time because I was convinced of the RCC party line that they alone had the authority of Jesus, through the chair of St. Peter.)
 
When I moved from New England back to my native Caribbean, I discovered that my old parish had taken on an exciting Afro-Caribbean flavor. In his book Why Catholics Can’t Sing, Thomas Day argues that boring Catholic services is an Irish-American historical artifact, and isn’t necessarily characteristic of the international Church. He seemed to be onto something. Our pastor was tremendously charismatic, the services (conformant Roman Catholic masses, mind you) were exciting, and people were shouting and full of spirit.
 
There was nothing artificial about the charisma in this parish. Yet I still could not catch the Spirit. I saw everyone around me shouting for joy, and I wanted some of that, but the Holy Spirit just wasn’t interested in me.
 
Either that, or the Holy Spirit is imaginary and my brain just wasn’t wired the same as the other churchgoers.

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Welcome to the forum! I think one thing that most people on this board have in common is the resistance to brain washing. There was always something in me that could never quite get into the whole "Just have faith" thing. I was always asking questions and wanting to know WHY, which is I eventually realized that it was all total BS

 

I think that tendency to question and want to KNOW is a key trait that contributes to someone breaking free of Christianity.

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Ginko, you sound too intelligent to be a thumper. Religion doesn't like people that ask honest questions. I was a victim of severe hell fire preaching from older born again friends from early teens until over thirty and it took a few decades to look closely at the big picture and find GIANT holes in the story I was force fed. I now spend a lot of time on religious internet sites returning the favor! Let's just say I am a proverbial thorn in the believers sides. Welcome to reality.

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I am so glad when I hear of someone who can finally see through the BS of all of it.

Personally, this is a series of youtube videos I personally advise to both hardcore Christians and deconverting Christians.

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Welcome.

 

According to a biblical text, the fear of the lord is the beginning of wisdom.

 

Personally, I think intellectual honesty is the beginning of wisdom.

 

You seem to have an innate sense of that honesty.

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I can Identify with your story, My Grandparents were religious but died when I was a young age however If found it hard to make friends and always had a belief in 'Some' God so I joined Christianity.

 

Who the fuck are Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego are they some Arabs?

 

I understand - You wanted the Church to show you something that you believed there might well but unfortunately their biggest attraction is the Secret screen they use to delude people that there’s something behind it.  E.g. they see one side of Pascal’s wager so don’t brain wash you but see it as a real threat!

 

At Christian Union there were these people crying and calling out to God and then there’s me going 'What the fuck is happening here?'

 

God is often not there when we need him but he gets credit when we don’t need him.

A God should not be a hard character to break and communicate with.  Heck if Jesus was a God he spent his ministry convincing people.  So either Jesus was not God or God is not the same as Jesus.

 

One of the most interesting things is a Church will continue to use the line of -It’s your fault you’re not praying / believing / tithing enough!  E.g. it’s a circle where you are always the fault and God is never one who needs to answer.

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Who the fuck are Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego are they some Arabs?

 

My guess is that they were

the men in the furnace in the book of Daniel.

 

 

(checking BibleGateway.com...)

 

[edit]Yep, I was right.[/edit]

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They were people I heard about!  Then again they probably did die a horrible horrible death just the Jews made them heroes. lol

 

Interestingly after reading the story it sounds so much like an irrelevance to the story and probably made up completely.

 

Lets face it why would Yahweh in some cases defend these people and in other Cases let Christians currently in North Iraq get killed.

 

Considering soldiers died while attempting to light the furance and those carying the men one must wonder if the men simply just didnt run away!  E.g how did they end up in the furance if the people were dead?

 

Infact as another person posted - How did the King survive the heat?

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My vote is that the book of Daniel, all of it, is pure fiction (although at least one of the characters was a historical figure).

Over on earlywritings, someone named Ged started a long thread about the historical accuracy and amazing prophetic fulfillment of the Book of Daniel:

 

http://earlywritings.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=662

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Thanks you guys for commenting. Sorry I haven't been back in awhile, you wouldn't believe how busy I am right now. I'm one month into a 4-month period of working, going to school, and parenting. I swore I would never try to do all three at once, but here I am... Only 3 more months...

 

Cousin Ricky: Me too, I hate faking anything, but especially enthusiasm. I have felt the exact same way though, as far as God being interested in other people, but not in me. Interesting about the boring Catholic masses being an Irish-American

thing. I have never heard that before.

 

bfuddled: You’re probably right! And many other people here too seemed to *want* to believe, but were unable in the end. It's interesting to me that some of us were able to "have faith" for awhile, but eventually it all came crashing down. How long can a person suspend disbelief? Apparently in some cases, for years!

 

Bluechipx: Thanks. I’m not really very smart. I do very dumb things daily. Be nice to the poor Christians, remember you used to be one of them!

 

Thinker: Thanks, I’ll check that out when my husband isn’t in the same room as me.

 

Ellinas: Thanks! That means a lot… and it makes me feel terrible about my current fakery!

 

BrotherJosh: Lol, I got a good laugh out of that!

 

themonkeyman: I think Cousin Ricky answered your question… I just meant I didn’t know the Bible stories everyone else knew (and they couldn’t believe I didn’t know them). You’re right that whenever any part of our lives is going badly, it’s supposedly our own fault, but when things are going well, it’s supposedly God’s love and grace and we don’t deserve it. It’s a pretty messed up way of looking at life.

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Sorry - didn't intend to make you feel terrible about anything.

 

Intellectual honesty is a matter of you being truthful with yourself.

 

The need to deal with others - especially those near to you - with a degree of wisdom that may well involve "going through the motions" - at any rate for the time being - is an unfortunate necessity.

 

The two are not inconsistent.  There is no need to feel bad about it.  In fact, it indicates a degree of strength to be able to act the part where necessary.  You are likely to do less harm and achieve a more coherent result by biding your time rather than going in with all guns blazing and hoping that the result might work out O.K.

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