Sunday, June 18, 2006

Cults and Conversions

*sigh* At some point, BrownFemiPower is going to get tired of me piggybacking off of her topics but she introduces so many topics that wind up reminding of subjects that I've touched on but never discussed in depth. In Christians can be Radical Too she discusses the radical stance that the First United Methodist Church in Tacoma has taken in regards to soldiers who do not want to go to Iraq. In her comments section, several people admired this particular church's stance but also expressed their feelings about Christianity and other religions as well.

A couple of days ago, I mentioned how my parents are in the process of trying to convert my daughter. That doesn't exactly explain the situation. VanGoghGirl is spending the summer in Dallas, where half of my family relocated to after Hurricane Katrina. She usually spends the summer at my mother's house which allows me to go out of town for internships or vacation or just healing from procedures that I try to get scheduled for that period. She looks forward to it and, during the year, it's a good way to motivate her to behave at school. VanGoghgirl and I lived with my mother and step-father up until she was seven years old and she views their house as home. Spending this summer with my parents was especially important because she hasn't been able to spend much time with them since the hurricanes.

When we were getting her ready to go, she talked about how much she eager she was to go to the congregation that my parents attend. When we lived with my parents, we attended religious services three times a week. Well, when I moved out, we did attend services kind of often but after awhile that wound down quite a bit because I wasn't so mobile anymore. I felt very guilty about it because VanGoghGirl would tell me that she really missed going. Every once in awhile, I'd get it together and take her and she'd be so-oo-oo happy on those occasions. To be honest though, I think that half of the reason I found it so difficult to go on a regular basis was because of how disenchanted I'd become with the religion.

I know this isn't the first post about this topic but I keep coming back to it because I'm still struggling to come to grips with it. Down here in Southeast Louisiana, Catholicism is very prevalent so it's common to hear a lot of jokes about "Catholic Guilt". What I grew up with was much more pervasive than the sort of guilt that might make you give up alcohol or cigarettes for Lent even though you haven't gone to Mass in years. It can be kind of embarrassing to talk about but my childhood religion/denomination is really one of the worse that I've encountered and I've studied many religions over the years. Looking back at how the organization was set up, I really believe that they are really just one or two steps from qualifying as a full-fledged cult. I swear, if ever they start telling their members to move to one state and form a commune, I wouldn't even be surprised.

Though my formal ties to the religion ended years ago, I'm still in therapy trying to deal with the emotional abuse that I was subjected to while I was a part of it.

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