Faking Religion

At one time or another everyone who is true to their thoughts doubt religious beliefs. I found it surprising to see that even Mother Theresa doubted on a regular basis that God even existed.  The more I studied religious documents including the Bible the more doubt I had as to the beliefs of the variety of religion that I was then a member of.

2018-03-10_10-38-19…according to a recent study in the journal, Society and Mental Health, individuals who consider leaving a faith, but do not, tend to experience more depression than those who decide to leave…

There are good reasons to not underestimate the instability of doubt, says Lack.

“Doubt is often framed in religious communities as showing that you aren’t a ‘good’ Christian or that the devil is tempting you and you are too weak to resist,” Lack explains. “Given that, many people who have doubts either get shamed by their communities when they express doubt or feel shame at their ‘weakness.’”

Source: Does Faking Religion Lead to Depression?

I am just not a person who allows others to think for me.  If you say “Take it or leave it” I will most assuredly leave.  But, at the same time, I can relate to the quote above. For many if not most Christians, their church is also their country club. It is where most if not all of their social life happens.  In that regard, many are willing to just look past things that they really don’t believe in order to stay on good grounds with the club rules.

Ignore the “belief” stuff has a name in Catholicism, it is called “Cafeteria Catholic”.  For them, one of the toppers is birth control.  They say that the vast majority of Catholics in the US practice birth control and just ignore the edict from the church that it is a sin.  But Catholics are by no stretch of the imagination the only cafeteria Christians.

Most Christian churches have a creed that you have to swear allegiance to in order to be a member of that tribe. I’m sure the leaders of the churches take those pledges very seriously but I don’t think most of the member really even think about what they are pledging. To them, the allegiance ceremony is just the right of passage into the clubhouse and its social advantages.

But of course, there are others like me who know they are really not aligned with what they pledge but do it anyway. That fake belief does cause depression until it is finally voiced.  Although I had seriously considered it, I did not leave my church voluntarily. It was only after asking too many questions and voicing “forbidden” thoughts that I was stripped of membership by a very fundamentalist pastor. I would have left myself but I knew the damage it would do and did to my wife.

When I finally was able to come out of the closet with the fact that I had serious doubts about what some Christian beliefs, I felt the tension and depression with that false allegiance wither away.  I no longer had to hide things like being convinced that the earth is millions, or maybe billions, of years old instead of the 6,000 or so as my church demanded I believe.

Politics As A Cure for Spiritual and Social Loneliness?

Most of us can probably cite at least a couple of reasons for the conditions we find ourselves in today. Some blame the Internet, some religious exclusivity, or maybe religious politicization. Others say it is just plain self-centeredness. I don’t suspect that many put loneliness as part of the mix but maybe it is deeper than we realize.

2018-01-08_18-18-38.pngWhen politics is used as a cure for spiritual and social loneliness, it’s harder to win people over with policy or philosophical arguments. Everything is shaped on a deeper level, through the parables, fables and myths that our most fundamental groups use to define themselves…

Trump’s supporters follow him because he gets his facts wrong, but he gets his myths right. He tells the morality tale that works for them.

It should be said that people on the left and on the right who try to use politics to find their moral meaning are turning politics into an idol. Idolatry is what happens when people give ultimate allegiance to something that should be serving only an intermediate purpose, whether it is money, technology, alcohol, success or politics.

Source:  https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/30/opinion/when-politics-becomes-your-idol.htm

I can certainly see some truth in the words above.  It is now a well-known fact that the rural areas of the nation are where most of the Trump voters came from. Many in that area are more isolated than their urban neighbors. Most likely, they are also less educated but maybe that is another story.  Does that make them lonely, it could, especially among us senior citizens.

I have never understood why senior citizens would vote Republican when one of their fundamental goals is to make drastic reductions to Social Security and Medicare? They see services for the elderly as dreaded “entitlements” that need to be eliminated. For seniors to be Republicans is like cutting off your nose to spite your face.  It is widely known that one of Mr. Trump’s primary support groups are people over 65. I think I have some experience with that group.

There are many seniors, including me to some extent, who are isolated from the mainstream.  We spend the majority of our time by ourselves. Some choose, like the current Oval Office occupant, to spend many hours a day in front of the TV. For the most part, they only know the world through cable news networks or probably just one of those networks. Since politics is the major source in their lives they take the topic on as a friend that they no longer have.

I can remember my grandma in the 1950s being obsessed with TV wrestling.  She never missed her wrestling show and would shout and scream at the bad guys on the flickering black and white tube.  No matter how much we tried to convince here that TV wrestling was fake she simply would not believe it. I think the same thing kinda holds for many who are supporting Mr. Trump today.  There are many seniors who have pledged allegiance to him no matter what he may do. That totally misguided faith puts a stain on all of us over 65.

Politics has a place in everyone’s life but it should only be for intermediate purposes and not as an idol onto itself.