Wednesday, April 1, 2009

More on Morality

This post has led my thoughts in some interesting directions. There was a conversation that I used to be involved in a lot back in my days of Christianity. It was basically a statement of free thought that, sadly, used the same words and concepts in every single case. The person wishing to expound on his or her free thought would say things to the effect of, "I drink, I watch R-rated movies, and I swear." It was pretty much the same thing every time. As if drinking and swearing and watching Saving Private Ryan makes them interesting. I'm a little surprised to think about it now. It's a weird way of thinking. Sitting around and talking about how great you are because you do the same exact "non Christian" thing that every other wannabe interesting Christian doesn't make you great. It's also weird for outsiders. I was trying to explain it recently to someone who didn't come out of that weird little world. She didn't get it. The question was, in retrospect, obvious. It basically amounted to, "So do Christians think the rest of us just sit around drinking and swearing all day?" It's not that the fundies honestly think that. It's more that it's the logical end result of their mental state. See, if you think morality is based on a list of things to do, you'll divide the world in to people who do what you do and people who don't do what you do. The problem is, if you then further divide the world in to the in crowd and the out crowd, you have to separate it out by who does what. So, by default, non-Christians drink and smoke and have pre-marital sex with puppies or whatever. Speaking, of, part of the reason that all of the, "I'm a Christian but I..." lists are always the same is because they're not actually allowed to do anything interesting. I mean, they can't exactly say, "I'm a Christian but I shoot up heroin," or, "I'm a Christian but I regularly pay hobos $10 for hand jobs" (also, if you've never gotten a Skid Row Special, I highly recommend it. The only thing better than a cheap hand job is the look of self-loathing in the eyes of a bum who was probably an exec with Lehman Brothers back in December), and they can't even say, "I'm a Christian, but, dammit, I just love jacking off." Because, you see, there's sin and then there's SIN. God doesn't actually care about sin, but if you engage in SIN, you're fucked. Actually, in a lot of cases, if you engage in SIN you're fucked if other people hear about it. Because apparently if your friend or pastor doesn't know, then god won't figure it out, either. Fun, isn't it? Rationalization and legalism makes life so much more exciting. I can't understand why people don't go for fundamentalism in droves, really...


PersonalFailure said...

I'm just like you: I drink, swear and sacrifice emus to Darwin.

jessa said...

I know why I went to Fundamentalism: because I was losing my mind. I had lots of delusions about myself and Fundamentalism fit nicely with a lot of those delusions. As to why non-crazy people go to Fundamentalism, that is a mystery.

It was Fundamentalism that taught me "sin is sin". That mindset was awesome for defending my delusions of myself; if sin is sin, than the fact that I ever lied once is evidence that I am a terrible person, as bad as a serial murder/rapist/puppy mutilator. There were therapists who told me they thought my religion was bad for me. Fair enough, but they sort of missed the point.

Anyway, they taught me that sin is sin because I missed the subtext which is what you mention: sin is okay as long as nobody knows about it, and certain sins are okay even if people do know about it but it isn't SIN. It was a while before I got the subtext, but it just made a lot of the other Fundies think I was super-spiritual because I wasn't willing to go along with the sub-text. Somehow, the fact that I actually believed sin is sin prompted some of them to confess that they struggled with actually believing sin is sin, and that they, too, tell lies or listen to Satan's music, but manage not to feel bad at it. They mistook freaking-out-of-my-mind-insanity for Saint-Teresa-spirituality.

Who's insane now?

Geds said...

PF: I prefer coelcanth, myself. They don't peck as hard...

Plus, they're the original Darwin Fish, so I'll bet I get extra points.

Jessa: One of the weird things I learned is that fundamentalism actually does seem to reinforce insane behaviors as long as they look like virtues. I knew a girl in college who would totally flip out, then turn around and apologize because Satan hisownself made her do it. I got in to the habit of avoiding her as much as possible.

However, her friends would regularly affirm her as "an amazing woman of god" and all that random fundie crap. So she just continued being insane.

It always seemed dangerous to me.

It's good to know that you were able to recognize it, though. Seems like that's a good step.

Fiat Lex said...

For the non-crazies, two words: herd mentality! (Which is why I found the name of your old youth group deeply ironic.)

For the crazies, two different words: power trip!

It's like the thin blue line cops have. Everybody outside the line is equally guilty on an emotional level; the only thing that forestalls direct action is that the evidence of so-and-so's guilt hasn't yet been discovered. But it's out there. For people inside the line, they're good, decent, ordinary people. Until one is confronted with evidence of their evilness, in which case they move outside of the line.

It's like the main symptom of Jesus' presence in a person's life is extreme squeamishness. "Eew, I can't touch / listen to / acknowledge the existence of that because it isn't 100% Christian." The whole conversation about how drinking and swearing doesn't automatically make you a 100% evil person is a reaction to the absurdity of that squeamishness.