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Open_Minded
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Hello Everyone and thank you for hosting me in the Ex-Christian Life forum.

 

I’ll try to keep this first post short and sweet. Then – as the discussion progresses – please do feel free to ask me questions.

 

As many of you know – I came to Ex-Christian.net to learn more about the impact of fundamentalism on individuals. I’ve a 15 (will be 16 in a few months) daughter with two friends who are getting caught up in a fundamentalist church. You can read the whole story here: http://www.ex-christian.net/index.php?showtopic=5689

 

 

Just a quick update from that thread: Life has settled down for the one girl I was so worried about. She still is not willing to sit down and have any type of in-depth discussion with me. But, she still initiates short discussions with questions and takes reading material. We keep lots of books around, thank you for all of your suggestions by the way. Also, our standard approach when she asks questions about the “theology” she’s being fed in this church is to first ask her how SHE feels. We’re trying to get her to trust her own feelings.

 

 

Before I go any further I want to sincerely thank all of you who have helped me understand what these two girls are dealing with. Since neither one of them is willing to sit down and talk about things in-depth it is very important that I be able to go at communication from an intuitive level. I have to learn how to pick up subtle meanings from their language and I have to learn how to communicate in a way that doesn’t scare them off. Participating in discussions on this board for the past few months has enabled me to do this in ways that you can’t see or comprehend. You may not feel as though you are having an impact, but trust me you are. All of you are.. there are too many of you to thank individually... just please know I am grateful.

 

At this point you’ve taught me so much, and now I’m at a point where I have lots of questions about how it is that individuals free themselves from fundamentalist thinking. That is why I went to HanSolo and asked if I could start a thread here. The questions I have center around gathering up the strength to leave and freeing oneself from the fundamentalist mindset.

 

When I first came here I was amazed that people used words like “deprogramming”. Now, I have a better comprehension of what this means.

 

Over these past months I have learned the following:

  1. That there is a lot of fear involved in fundamentalist churches
  2. That these churches claim the only “True” spiritual experience. This was a very important lesson for me. I knew that they claimed the only “True” understanding of the Bible... but in discussion and reading of posts on this board it has become very clear to me that they claim ownership of “True” human spirituality as well.
  3. That the “worship” is more centered around a particular interpretation of the Bible rather than something that is felt in the heart and soul about “That which is” or the Sacred or the Infinite, for lack of better wording.
  4. Because these churches emphasize that their world-view (Biblical interpretation and accepted ways of spiritual expression and experience) is the only “true” way – they repress individual ability to look at sacred literature, spiritual expression and experience in any other way.
  5. As a result of all this – people involved in these sects have difficulty trusting their own judgment and experience in the area of Biblical interpretation and acceptance of “spiritual” experience outside the confines of their particular church.
  6. This dynamic may extend to other areas of life as well, especially with women.
  7. Individuals are held to this fearful world-view by the constant threat of hell. That there is a continuous fear of hell within, because one never truly “knows” if one is “saved” or not.
  8. Individuals are also held to this fearful world-view by the constant emphasis on evil and the ability of Satan, the devil, devils to get ahold of one's thoughts and invade ones inner life.

Before dumping a bunch of questions on all of you – I would really like to know if I am summarizing things correctly? Have I hit the mark, or have I missed something in my education? Please... before we proceed further with the discussion let’s make sure I’m not misunderstanding the overall experience.

 

Again thank you for your help and patience in this quest. And thank you for hosting me in Ex-Christian Life ... it is appreciated more than you know.

----------------------------

BTW.. for those of you who need more information about my time on this board, following are some links to discussions that were very important to me:

 

The Silly-Putty® Bible, The Catch-22 of a malleable bible

http://www.ex-christian.net/index.php?show...&hl=Silly+putty

 

Leaving Jesus is not Leaving God! – long thread you may want to start on page 7-8.

http://www.ex-christian.net/index.php?show...%20Jesus&st=140

 

The UNholiness of the Bible, In what way is the Bible a "Holy" document? – long thread you may want to start on page 11.

http://www.ex-christian.net/index.php?show...%20Jesus&st=200

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Before dumping a bunch of questions on all of you – I would really like to know if I am summarizing things correctly? Have I hit the mark, or have I missed something in my education? Please... before we proceed further with the discussion let’s make sure I’m not misunderstanding the overall experience.

I would say you've pulled all the pieces together rather nicely. The only thing I would add is from a "positive" side, fundamentalist churches offer a very tight community that is appealing to people. It an insider/outsider mentality. For myself, that was one of the things I missed the most in breaking away. So there is a real draw for people in this regard. But of course - it is artificial because it centers around a common cause, not genuine friendship. If it did, it wouldn't matter if you believed "right".

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The only point I would disagree with, from my personal experience, is that the fear of hell is something that kept me from questioning.

 

My church taught that once you were saved, you were always saved, even if you "backslid". So for me there was no fear of hellfire preventing me from questioning. Rather, it was a profound conviction that my beliefs were the 100% certifiable bullshit-free truth. When you believe that you know something to be true so strongly, it just negates any possibility of questioning.

 

Rather than the fear of hell, I think a far more powerful fear that dissuades christians from questioning is the fear that if the dogma is false, then perhaps there is no afterlife at all, and the only life one has is their existence here on earth. Christian dogma plays up to the human tendency to be supremely egotistical, to the point where we believe our ego deserves to exist for all eternity. To give up that belief requires a certain degree of humility (which is ironic, considering christians preach humility).

 

I would also add that there is a certain degree of self-reinforcing dogma with respect to how a christian interprets the hand of god in their life. If an event is positive, they will interpret it as a blessing from god; if negative, then god must be testing their faith - or alternatively, they must have sinned and strayed outside god's umbrella of "protection" from the devil. It's a heads-I-win-tails-you-lose scenario. The story of Job is often drummed into christians' heads to illustrate this point.

 

Also, I believe that the source of many christians' profound convictions can be traced to their sincere belief in a spiritual connectedness to god. The human mind has a powerful self-desusionary ability, and I know that when I was a christian, I had several moments of spiritual "ecstasy" (which upon reflection were more like mental masturbation... but I digress) wherein I believed that god was touching me in a tangible, personal way that served to convince me that my beliefs were real.

 

The brainwashing works well. For me, the trigger that freed me from it was, ironically, the realisation of the brainwashing techniques that had been employed on me. Once I realised the plethora of teachings that were keeping me from thinking on my own, those brainwashing controls became themselves the instruments of my mental emancipation.

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Looks to me like you've been paying pretty close attention, OM.

 

I'll talk just briefly about #3 and #8.

 

About the worship - you are right on. Whatever you experience - whatever your opinions about things - whatever your deep inner "conscience" tells you - it had better match up with scripture. If it doesn't, then the thought did not come from God.

 

For instance, if you said, "well, I personally don't see what is so wrong about homosexuality. It seems that gay people truly are born that way, how could God punish them for following their natural inclinations?" You'd better not say it out loud.

 

And, there are many many verses about persevering. About guarding your heart, your mind. About the "fact" that Satan will try very very hard to destroy you - especially if you are being "effective" for Jesus.

 

In fact, this belief is so rampant, that I can guarantee you that Christians who come here and are told that we (ex-christians) have peace of mind and are very at ease - believe that the reason why we are so centered and self-assured is that Satan is leaving us alone because we already belong to him. Christians really believe that the bigger "impact" you are making for Christ, the worse you will be attacked, conflicted, and face difficulties that are put directly in your path by Satan.

 

It took years and years of chipping away slowly at the dogma before I got up the courage to leave. And I credit this site with my ability to stay free of religion's clutches.

 

Thank you, Heimdall. Thank you, Dave. What you have done here has changed my life.

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Open_Minded, you have been an outstanding asset to the discussions here at ExC. In a way, I wish that I would have known your kind of Christianity because it is so loving and you've been nothing but kind to everyone here on the boards, yet you don't tolerate jerks and aren't afraid to call people out on their hardcore beliefs.

 

You nailed everything so well in your post but I have to ask....How can such a wonderful, caring person like yourself, take spiritual advice from such a hate-filled book? How do you get past the scriptures on rape and genocide and put the bible as a whole, in good light? Can you help me understand that? Amanda can answer that too because I honestly don't see how you guys can look at those scriptures as allegories.

 

GodFree...

 

First thank you for your kind words. So much of the time I feel like a mouse in a corner. I just read post after post - not feeling as though I can contribute anything of value because I've never walked in the shoes all of you have. But reading helps me understand ... and that is after all the reason I came here. It's nice to know I've made a splash in the pond ;)

 

About your question on the violence in the Bible... you may want to check out the Christianity As I Saw It, versus Christianity as it is Thread.

 

Gweanmead asked basically the same question in post #3 and I answered in post #11.

 

The one thing I learned early on - even before I registered - when I was lurking around the testimonies and other threads - was that you all have experienced an ENTIRELY DIFFERENT CHRISTIANITY than I have experienced. My parents taught all of us children from very early ages that the Bible was not to be read literally - that we were to understand historical context, literary issues, etc...

 

Mom and Dad walked away from Catholism. Dad still considers himself Christian, Mom considers herself a Diest. Mom and Dad could probably relate more to all of your experiences than I can. Because a hardcore literalist approach to the Bible was never a part of my life - I haven't had to struggle with it the way so many of you have had to.

 

I have a deep respect for what I read here, in part because I see my parents struggles in yours. :) I was spared those struggles - as a result I can be a bit more philisophical :shrug:

 

__________

 

About all the other posts... thanks so much. I do want to comment... but I'm going to hang back a bit and let others weigh in. I really want to make sure that I am understanding thiings correctly. So... I want to get as many different perspectives as is possible. :wave:

 

 

 

 

BTW GodFree....

 

If you still have questions, just ask them in the other thread. I'll keep an eye on it and respond to your questions.

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Open_Minded

 

Where is that thread? :-)

 

Thanks, I thought maybe it was linked and I have no clue which area to look in. Is it in the Lion's Den?

 

OOOPS :)

 

Here you go....

 

http://www.ex-christian.net/index.php?showtopic=6248&st=0

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Open-Minded,

 

Were these girls born into their current belief system? I think being born into Fundy christian beliefs makes a huge difference. I was born into that stuff and couldn't question because I thought many of my beliefs were just part of life.

 

It wasn't until I went to college at age 28 that I started to understand that what I assumed to just be part of life was really "socially constructed" by my parents and my "church." I loved that word!

 

I'm 38 now. It took me ten years to really start deprogramming. Or I've been deprogramming for 10 years. It was folks like yourself that helped me through. The hard deprogramming I'm doing now I couldn't do without this site and a few really supportive friends.

 

I think many religions, although have their dangerous sides, also have truths too. The golden rule is a good way to live IMHO. However, when I find my solid legs and pull my locus of control back inside myself, I won't be looking for truths to live by in xianity. Buddhist principles have been helpful. It frightens me so much to think that folks just check in their brains and allow others to take over their lives. Religion sacares me! Religion but me in hell on earth.

 

When I hear of other children in xian fundy stuff, I feel sick. Your list is pretty complete. Corporal punishment is one way my parents made sure their belief system stuck. Violence and fear of violence is one way to always be right no matter the a belief system.

 

This type of violence is hard for others to see because corporal punishment is so normalized in our society. I hope you continue to reach out to your two friends. You could be making a huge difference. Many people like yourself helped me.

 

s

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I think many religions, although have their dangerous sides, also have truths too. The golden rule is a good way to live IMHO.

Keep in mind that they didn't invent the golden rule. Religions like to claim credit for spiritual and social truths, but humans created them out of either need or benefit. We'd still have the golden rule without religion. I'm not sure which came first, the golden rule or social tendencies, but humans are social creatures, and no society can be formed without empathy and cooperation in one form or another.

 

To Open_Minded, I'd add an extra piece to #7. It's not just a fear of hell in the afterlife, but a strong fear of "hell on earth" so to speak. They have fabricated a nice straw man argument centered around the idea that if you leave religion you will automatically become the opposite. More subtle beliefs are centered around the removal of 'blessings', the idea that your life will uncontrollably turn to shit if you reject christ. The more overt ideas are more effective on immature young people, things like "If you reject christ you'll be aimless and have no idea how to live. You'll get pregnant, get addicted to drugs and alcohol, and your life will be empty with no meaning or purpose and you'll just want to kill yourself".

 

These are actually the things that kept me from questioning, fear of losing control of my own life. You wouldn't believe my relief when I learned that if I deconverted I didn't have to become a lying, cheating alcoholic who spent every paycheck on hookers and blow. It sounds silly but it's true. Right is still right and wrong is still wrong, I just use a humanist moral code instead of a religious moral code. It's still centered around the golden rule, only there are no exceptions anymore.

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Were these girls born into their current belief system? I think being born into Fundy christian beliefs makes a huge difference. I was born into that stuff and couldn't question because I thought many of my beliefs were just part of life.

 

Hello Seabiscuit.. Thank you for asking. No both girls have gotten caught up in at a result of evangelism. They seem to target teens :(

 

Helping these girls is very important to me ... it is my primary reason for being on this board. It is the reason I found you all :)

 

I can certainly understand the concern all of you have for them. Please do ask me questions if you need to - but could you ask them in the original thread I started about their situation. I'll keep an eye on that thread and ask questions there. You can link to it here: http://www.ex-christian.net/index.php?showtopic=5689

 

Thanks... I really do want to keep this thread on track ... as I feel I need a crash course in all these things.

 

I think many religions, although have their dangerous sides, also have truths too. The golden rule is a good way to live IMHO. However, when I find my solid legs and pull my locus of control back inside myself, I won't be looking for truths to live by in xianity. Buddhist principles have been helpful. It frightens me so much to think that folks just check in their brains and allow others to take over their lives. Religion sacares me! Religion but me in hell on earth.

 

When I hear of other children in xian fundy stuff, I feel sick. Your list is pretty complete. Corporal punishment is one way my parents made sure their belief system stuck. Violence and fear of violence is one way to always be right no matter the a belief system.

 

This type of violence is hard for others to see because corporal punishment is so normalized in our society. I hope you continue to reach out to your two friends. You could be making a huge difference. Many people like yourself helped me.

 

Thanks for bringing out this aspect... I had been afraid to ask about it ... I didn't want to hit any sore nerves. :(

 

Again thank you everyone... I look forward to other perspectives....

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They seem to target teens

You better believe it. I was actually on both sides of this. First I was on the giving side, trained by a local pastor that has taken his "message," aka his technique. It's called "Dare2Share," no the name, avoid it. The technique isn't really anything new, it is just giving a very, very brief summation of how God came down, sacrificed Himself to Himself because you suck, so if you believe He actually did this, He will let you into His sky kingdom. I'm betting nothing about this is original, it is an effective way to get someone to convert by appealing to their emotions. Luckily I never converted anybody.

On the other side, I actually had someone use this exact technique on me. Hearing like that made me feel bad for all of the times (although not many) that I tried it on others.

The evangelicals act as if teens are a crop to be harvested, and sadly all too often this and similar methods work. One of the first talks I'm having with my teen is going to be evangelicals.

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These are actually the things that kept me from questioning, fear of losing control of my own life. You wouldn't believe my relief when I learned that if I deconverted I didn't have to become a lying, cheating alcoholic who spent every paycheck on hookers and blow. It sounds silly but it's true. Right is still right and wrong is still wrong, I just use a humanist moral code instead of a religious moral code. It's still centered around the golden rule, only there are no exceptions anymore.

 

Me too!!! I am dealing with getting over this fear as I write this!!

 

Thanks for the advice on the golden rule. Figures! "They" are never as original as I gave them credit for :loser:

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One thing that you might want to know is that some forms of fundamentalist Christianity teach that doubt (in the context of religion) is a bad thing and a sin (you probably knew this part), but others teach that doubting religion is a good or natural thing (because it leads to stronger faith). The latter group of Christians, however, only ever talk about doubt as something to be wrestled with and subdued. This attitude about doubt leads to these Christians entertaining religious doubts but never really considering whether their doubts are a sign of serious flaws or untruths in their belief system. Instead they see doubts only as something to be eventually silenced and sacrificed on the alter of faith, rather than a tool for determining truth from lies.

 

This could be an important barrier to communication between you and these people that you're trying to help- anything you say that does not help them silence their doubts may be rejected, since they may believe that doubts exist only to strengthen already-held beliefs, not to help us reconsider them.

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Hello Everyone ... thank you for all your responses.

 

There are too many to answer individually... so... I'm going to focus on the information that really struck a deep core with me.

 

And, there are many many verses about persevering. About guarding your heart, your mind. About the "fact" that Satan will try very very hard to destroy you - especially if you are being "effective" for Jesus.

 

In fact, this belief is so rampant, that I can guarantee you that Christians who come here and are told that we (ex-christians) have peace of mind and are very at ease - believe that the reason why we are so centered and self-assured is that Satan is leaving us alone because we already belong to him. Christians really believe that the bigger "impact" you are making for Christ, the worse you will be attacked, conflicted, and face difficulties that are put directly in your path by Satan.

 

........

 

To Open_Minded, I'd add an extra piece to #7. It's not just a fear of hell in the afterlife, but a strong fear of "hell on earth" so to speak. They have fabricated a nice straw man argument centered around the idea that if you leave religion you will automatically become the opposite. More subtle beliefs are centered around the removal of 'blessings', the idea that your life will uncontrollably turn to shit if you reject christ. The more overt ideas are more effective on immature young people, things like "If you reject christ you'll be aimless and have no idea how to live. You'll get pregnant, get addicted to drugs and alcohol, and your life will be empty with no meaning or purpose and you'll just want to kill yourself".

 

These are actually the things that kept me from questioning, fear of losing control of my own life. You wouldn't believe my relief when I learned that if I deconverted I didn't have to become a lying, cheating alcoholic who spent every paycheck on hookers and blow. It sounds silly but it's true. Right is still right and wrong is still wrong, I just use a humanist moral code instead of a religious moral code. It's still centered around the golden rule, only there are no exceptions anymore.

 

These points were new pieces of the puzzle to me. Thank you. Sometimes the thinking seems so turned inside-out to me. It is difficult for me to get my head around such a mindset.

 

I can understand the social benefit .... like Antlerman said:

 

fundamentalist churches offer a very tight community that is appealing to people

 

Especially for teens without solid foundation... this certainly is a real factor.

 

But the type of thinking you describe above is so out of my realm that it is difficult for me to get my head around....(Shaking head - sense of sadness, dismay)

 

dr_funkenstein mentioned..

 

My church taught that once you were saved, you were always saved, even if you "backslid". So for me there was no fear of hellfire preventing me from questioning. Rather, it was a profound conviction that my beliefs were the 100% certifiable bullshit-free truth. When you believe that you know something to be true so strongly, it just negates any possibility of questioning.

 

I really did not know this.. and it is certainly interesting. But... the vocabulary of these girls is salt and peppered with images of evil, satan, devil, hell ... etc... Fear of evil is a very big part of what they are dealing with.

 

____________

 

As the situation (with these girls) stands now... I am convinced of the following:

  1. Sitting down with either one of them for indepth discussion is probably NOT going to happen anytime soon.
  2. Because they come from a dysfunctional home life - they may feel a need for the social network and stability that they find in this church... so this is going to be a long haul.
  3. Fear of evil, satan, devils is a large part of this.
  4. Brainwashing - as to their roll as females - is another very big factor in all this.
  5. The biggest issue standing in the way of their being able to walk away is trusting themselves - especially in regard to their own spirituality. (This is something I've seen in both of them for months now.)
  6. Our job is to encourage them to think for themselves, to trust themselves and their own experiences.

So.. that leads to the next part of this discussion.

 

How did all of you learn to trust yourself? How long did it take? Especially on a spiritual level, one of the girls - in particular - is very intuitive. She has had what I would consider to be very natural and normal "spiritual" experiences but she doesn't trust them, she thinks they are "from the devil".

 

Neither girl trusts their own theological ability. By this I mean - if they feel uncomfortable with a doctrine they've been taught they don't have the strength to say, "That's BS". And walk away.

 

Both girls feel that they are not qualified to make common sense decisions for their daily lives - they are very dependent on the crap they are being fed and the pastor who feeds it to them.

 

Most of what I've learned here has come from scouting about the board and reading people's stories. Before I registered - I spent a lot of time reading testimonials. Throughout my time here I've just read and read. So.. feel free to tell me your stories of learning to trust yourselves again.

 

What was the process like? When did you feel you could trust a "spiritual" experience and how did this happen? What did it take for you to sever human spirituality from Christian dogma?

 

Again... thank you for taking the time to educate me. I learn from your stories... they sink into my heart and surface again when the girls are around. They help me become more intuitive to the situation. :)

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What was the process like? When did you feel you could trust a "spiritual" experience and how did this happen? What did it take for you to sever human spirituality from Christian dogma?

 

 

O_M,

 

at work - when ever I am involved in working with adoptive parents or foster carers who are struggling to overturn the impact of previous negative and abusive parenting on the children they are now caring for - I usually caution them to see progress in terms of weighing scales - if a child has received two years of neglectful and harmful parenting ... it is likely to take them two years of good and positive parenting to overturn this .... five years may take five years - seven years ... seven years.

 

It is not always an encouraging picture - and of course it's not a simple equation, every child is different, some click into a new way of life and thinking in a matter of months and rarely look back - others still struggle for a lifetime.

 

I have applied this formula to myself occasionally in relation to my fundamentlaist programming - of course the thought of it taking thirty nine years to deprogramme myself and undo the impact of my years of fundamentalism is not a pleasant thought - however that's assumming the deprogramming began when I realised I no longer wanted the title of 'christian' and walked away from church.

 

In all truth I'd been leaving fundamentalism behind for decades but in my case it was bound up with all kinds of other things - apart from the belief system. It was bound up with my relationship with my Father, with my low self esteem, with my family ties, with my history, with my identity, my need for 'acceptance'.

 

In terms of trusting my own spiritual experiences - that is something I still struggle with. I wasn't even aware of how difficult I found this until part of the discussion in the unholiness of the Bible thread. I think for me it's perhaps not unlike having one's heart broken by someone who turns out to be a fraud - it makes it scary to trust your ability to see the 'truth' of anything that looks too similar for a while.

 

Lots of things led to me leaving - access to knowledge outside of the belief system I was in, and the love and acceptance of other individuals who had left or were never a part of my closed community were key to me.

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What was the process like? When did you feel you could trust a "spiritual" experience and how did this happen? What did it take for you to sever human spirituality from Christian dogma?

How long did it take to sever human spirituality from Christian Dogma? Finally do so??? Approximately Eight thousand, two hundred and thirty six days, 4 hours, 26 minutes, and 19 seconds, approximately. :HappyCry: (That's not too much of an exaggeration, sad to say).

 

I think something you said about the girls not trusting themselves may answer something about why I got involved. I viewed myself as greatly inferior in understanding and knowledge to everyone else. They were so confident and well versed in what they said. They had what I was looking for - confidence and knowledge.

 

What led me to break away? Several years of not being able to get past the feeling that what I was seeking spiritually was not there, despite the teaching. That led me to research the claims more closely which exposed their flaws. What led me to be able to do that? Confidence in my own abilities that came as a result of the old adage, "success breads success". Being successful elsewhere in my life made me less dependent on others and I was able to come to my own conclusions.

 

Edit: One thought I forgot to mention that I've have heard here on several occasions that for a lot of people leaving this sort of cult experience is a lot like being a rape victim survivor. I cannot speak directly to this out of lack of personal experience, but thought it might add some value to mention in relation to what may be involved somewhat in the process of healing for some.

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O_M, I don't know if this will help with the girls or not, but maybe...

 

Their faith is completely used up believing in the lies they are told. They need to 'borrow' some faith from people like you in order to break free of the lies. Just be there and they will gain strength and faith from you. Invite some of your friends over when they are there in order to share more faith with them. If they can break a little bit free, like the one girl you mention, then the faith that you share can be applied to what is true.

 

"Faith is the mortar that holds the bricks together." The bricks are concepts regardless of their truth or falsity. You can give them all the bricks you want, but they can't build anything without the mortar...and they have used most of their mortar already.

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You said that one of them is "intuitive." This may be one of her biggest assets, once she learns to trust herself. She will probably have to break herself free if she ever will do so, and while having someone to talk to to sound it out may help (and if her system is so fear dominated, then she may not go the pastor, but to another, probably a peer, that she trusts), both are going to have to do this themselves in the end.

 

If it's any help, I went from Catholic, to non-denom, stripping as many assumptions (and keeping the ones that held, and ditching the ones that didn't), and near the end I encountered a fairly eclectic and random pagan circle and sat in on the ritual, observing and feeling (I literally stumbled across it.) and, in essence, found a better deal.

 

The last part was a key step for me, finding a form of religious thought that clicked with me, finding my truth. Even if they go atheist or agnostic in the end, the girls are going to want some other belief being built before they let go. That should help them in the transition out.

 

I'm not too clear on this, so forgive me if this has been asked before, but how socially dependent are the young ladies on the church that they are with?

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You said that one of them is "intuitive." This may be one of her biggest assets, once she learns to trust herself. She will probably have to break herself free if she ever will do so, and while having someone to talk to to sound it out may help (and if her system is so fear dominated, then she may not go the pastor, but to another, probably a peer, that she trusts), both are going to have to do this themselves in the end.

 

I also think it is one of her biggest assets. I guess that's why I'm questioning all of you about your own ability to trust these types of things - after exposure to extremism.

 

I'm not too clear on this, so forgive me if this has been asked before, but how socially dependent are the young ladies on the church that they are with?

 

Well, I'm not too sure on that one. They do spend time at this church, but they are also in our home on a daily basis. This gives me more hope than anything. I truly believe if they were telling their pastor &/or listening to what their pastor has to say - they wouldn't be in our home. Their pastor would not think our home was a "good" environment. So... I have to believe that at some level they are trying to find another answer. :shrug:

 

What I worry about is their ability to trust their own experiences right now - that is why I've kept coming back to this issue.

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Thanks everyone... for being so upfront with me. I appreciate it.

 

Now I have a more concrete question. It's been in the back of my mind - but I was always afraid to ask. Now I just have to ask.

 

Today it came out in the One Verse at a Time thread that Sub_Zero actually believes Noah's Ark factually happened. He even sent me to a website ... to prove how Noah was able to get pairs of every animal on the ark.

 

Deep down I knew there were literalists out there. But this is the first time I've examined a website where literalists expended enormous amounts of energy to "prove" something as unbelieveable as 2 of every kind of animal fitting on the ark.

 

I have to ask ... did you all REALLY believe this stuff, or did you just not question it?

 

If you were teaching, in the ministry etc... didn't kids ever ask you? How did you answer?

 

I'm sorry if I sound so niave with all this. Sometimes, it feels as though I've found a parallel universe. :)

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As a fundy Christian, I did fully believe the genesis and the Noah story, and all the rest of the stories too. And if there ever was any contradiction or conflict in the text, I would try to find an excuse or explanation to why it was so, but not ever question if the story was true at all.

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I'm not sure how I really viewed the Noah's ark tale when I heard it as I was growing up. Come to think of it, I didn't really believe that he got two of every animal on the ark. There's just no way, unless somethng supernatural happened. I didn't question it, though. I saw one movie about how the ark probably looked and that *maybe* it was found on Mt Ararat. Later, within the past few years, I've seen a TV program that explored the connection between the Noah's ark story and other flood myths and said, "aha!".

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I also did not question it. I guess I didn't understand the enormity of the things that would have had to have happened in order for Noah to pull it off. I really didn't think about it. All I thought about was how wonderful god was to save the animals from the flood. I didn't look to see the consequences of that action either.

 

Like I said about Sub in the other thread. I never saw it because I was looking the other way. Then reality slapped my head around and I saw innocent animals and babies and people struggling in the flood waters and drowning. I saw Noah having to go around the world to gather 2 kinds of every animal and realized that this was impossible and god would have to an evil monster to kill babies and animals like that. And if I ever thought that god could use magic to help gather the animals and make them fit, then why couldn't he just go 'poof' and everything 'evil' would be destroyed or he could just lift Noah and the animals into the air, flood the earth and set them back down.

 

Nope, never saw the serve.

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I'm sorry if I sound so niave with all this. Sometimes, it feels as though I've found a parallel universe. :)

That's a funny thought! Yes, it really is stranger than life. :grin:

 

To answer your question: Sub actually probably holds the key to your understanding the mechanics of this parallel universe. The one thing he says that I agree with completely is that he presupposes his truth. Once you have established through belief that the Bible is accurate, then anything, and everything that you don't understand is your problem, not the Bible's.

 

The thought process went something like this: "This doesn't make a lot of sense to me. I must not understand something. Even if it makes no sense whatsoever, God didn't reveal all the details because that's not necessary. We just need to believe God did it because he reveals it in his Word." Or, "The devil is working on me to doubt God. I can feel him attacking my faith. I need to just trust God and just accept it even if it makes no sense to me. God will bless my faith in him and I will overcome this doubt." Or: "They're always finding confirmation of the Bible stories. People have found 'errors' in the Bible before which were later proven true." Or...and on and on the rationalizations go with every increasing levels of creativity.

 

Bottom line: Accepting the historical veracity of the Bible is equal to trusting God. So to question it too deeply, is just a tad-bit risky, if you know what I mean?

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I'm going to post what I just read from Sub in the other thread to underscore what I just said above with a fresh, still wiggling example: :eek:

 

The reason the Ebla tablets is mentioned by me to prove that the Bible is true in areas that can be validated by modern worldly ways, such as archeology and the like, is because when discovered (1971) it answered critics who attempted to say that the word "Canaan" was not used during the times and did not have a proper use in the early books of the Bible.

 

So you see, for me, since the Ebla tablets said something in reference to the world's real history and was proven right about it, proves to me just that much more that the Bible is right in all other areas that cannot be validated.

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