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Wednesday, April 3, 2013
Dennis On: "I Despise Being Bi-Polar - It's Awesome
I believe it was during the great Elijah vs. the Priests of Baal cook off that it was said, "IF God be God, serve him. But if Baal be God, serve him" (I Kings 18). At that time, it appears there were only two Bronze age concepts of God to choose from. There was no room for any third options. It was a simple either/or moment. I suppose it would have been considered in bad taste to speak up and say, "Ummm...we forgot Molech or Chemosh! Can we select one of them?" "No...you can't."
A few years back the Trilemma (derivative of di-lemma which is what the Priests of Baal were faced with, was introduced concerning Jesus as presented in the New Testament. Was He "Liar, Lunatic or Lord?" Of course, the author chose Lord and that was the end of it. As in the OT example of choosing only between the two deities of the times YHVH or Baal we could have added "Legend" to the Trilemma and called it the Quadlemma I suppose.
Religion is plainly designed to comfort the human consciousness that life ends and then what. On the other hand, some can't imagine that there is really nothing more and so insist on finding something that is hopeful or give the impression that any falsehood you believe is better than truth that is what it is. I don't think that way.
This musing is not about picking the correct answer. It is about the dilemma of stepping outside the box of what proved to be limited or carefully controlled information handed out , to myself , in this case on the nature of the Bible and the story of Jesus as presented in the Gospels and interpreted mostly by the one man, the Apostle Paul. I make no bones about the fact that I have lost my faith in faith as Dan Barker experienced in his own evangelical life and wrote the book Losing Faith in Faith. While liberating , it is also a very bi polar feeling that I don't care for, causes all sorts of unexpected emotions and not a little anxiety at times. It is also one of the most lonely experiences I think one can experience save for physical rejection or abandonment. Having had both I can at least compare the emotions and they suck big time.
"I despise losing faith in faith....It's Awesome!"
I have physically lost friends to their loss of faith in faith. All were ministers. Several simply drank themselves to an early death, which is a common out when wanting to escape the thinking, thinking, thinking that loss of faith can produce. One outright committed suicide and I am sure there are others I am not aware of. Having the rug of faith jerked out from under you is nothing to scoff at and is not a light thing. Those in WCG/CGI who provided the majority with that experience, no matter how they viewed it as being "good" or "better" seem never to have thought of expressing any sorrow over the havoc and chaos caused all the way down the line. Even if WCG was "wrong" , the right thing for leaders, falsely so called who come to such conclusions is to leave the organization themselves and not try to swing it to their view come hell, which it did or high water, which also did. The miracle of WCG is not in coming to any Jesus more authentically. The miracle is rather than leaving a faith you no longer have, you hijack the faith and make everyone else leave. Now that's a great trick and it is the trick played by the few on the many in this WCG experience. We're not talking about what is more correct. We're talking about technique.
At my mom's memorial service I sat ten feet from the minister giving the service. Lots of memories, both in that seat and sanctuary and in doing funerals myself. When they sang the tunes that still bring tears to me because of such fond memories and stability back when, I can't bring myself to sing them now. I just held dad's hand and stood there teary while my sisters sang their hearts out. A pretty bi-polar experience for me. Sitting behind me was a former WCG minister and now CGI type looking rather worse for wear in the whole experience. I stood there looking at the same baptismal fount I was baptized in as a baby, sitting next to the woman who carried me up the same isle as that baby to my parents. The pews were the same pews I sat in when my feet would not touch the floor and mom shoved pink mints in my mouth to shut me up. The same table was there where I sat in catechism class asking too many questions and being asked to leave, at 14. It was quite a bi-polar religious experience and lots of time to think about it on the long drive back to South Carolina.
The Wild World Church of God (WCG) taught me a great spiritual lesson that still is a struggle to cope with in the fine art of what happens when two concepts collide...
Personal losses due to the stress and shock of reckless theological change, no matter if it is more or less true, that is not the point, are everywhere to be experienced. There is the "no one is ever again going to tell me how it all is again," stage. In that stage you suffer the bi polar experience of learning well what you failed to learn the first time to be followed by the depression and anger felt that one had to have that kind of stupid experience in the first place. It's easy after that to do more dumb ass stuff doesn't help but is a symptom of this stage.
Marriage falls apart because transitions are messy and being in different books much less on different pages takes its toll. And yes, I accept my own responsibility for it all. New relationships seem doomed until the "can't ya just move on stage" shows up. I found out I was not an easy person to be around or live with and as a result find myself alone again...unnaturally. I met someone from my past who took my heart with "I have always loved you..." but that turned out to just be the first of several sucker punches. I have met a couple people in my life that seemed to fall into that 'soul mate' category. You know the kind that you just seem to have to ask, "have we met before?," or "do I know you?" and have learned that ENFP's according to Meyers/Briggs are good at that intuitive stuff. It also tells us to beware and this is true. Sometimes in life there is NOTHING left to do but have a good laugh! And this is also true.
Someone once said, "Silence is the voice of God," and now I understand what that means. Being silent and alone is getting more acceptable to my nature, but it was and is a very painful experience. Sometimes I wish "I was wrong, I'm sorry, please forgive me, I love you," actually worked, but it doesn't much.
It was enlightening to have Israel Finkelstein, author of The Bible Unearthed, tell me face to face that much of the Old Testament is made up to give a small people an amazing heritage, and as an archaeologist and historian in his own country of Israel finds, no evidence for the reality of the story as presented. In other words, what I suspected, he verified and had the credentials to do it. I know some zealots scoff at the hard work of getting those credentials in the field, but the zealot would not last three minutes in his presence. Dave Pack...maybe one.
They say you can't go home, and this true. I can't un ring this bell of skepticism and knowing more now that I would have wished to know back when so as to make a better life decision. I kid about wanting to have been a paleontologist, but my love of what I thought I was learning back when theologically diverted me over a cliff. I would have made a darn good paleo guy and you'd not be reading these musings from an authority on Neanderthal in Ice Age Europe or the Clovis Culture in America.
Where I currently live can have it's drug selling types too close for comfort. I spent years thinking I needed a home defense weapon. But then I thought that might not be smart because I may have too low a moment and really screw up. Besides, I don't want to be a story in the Journal or have to read from whatever new location I would hope to be in all your comments about it! I don't want Dave Pack to restate his view that "all who oppose me end up dying..." To which I say , "The only reason that is true is that it is appointed unto all men once to die sometime jerk and it's not about you."
This bi polar experience still leaves me with a love of theology. I admire the Bart Ehrman and Dan Barker types who went from faith to faithless within the theological community and get to teach why and get paid for it! The perfect theological position. "Let's study what your Sunday School teacher and probably your pastor never knew or won't talk about." I did get a synchronistic moment while watching Bart Ehrman's lecture on "Misquoting Jesus," and got an email from him right in the middle of it.
Well lots to say about this bi polar feeling about the Faith and the Facts. I'll probably always get teary hearing the old hymns of my youth but not the rather nasty and OT oriented ones of WCG fame. I'll have to watch how much I drink and get used to the quiet which I both enjoy and hate. I'll always read books on the why, when and who of the Bible explained better than the first two times I gave it a go and what the Bible no longer seems to hold over me. I'll be relieved and I'll get anxious. I will forgive and then take it back and wish someone not well in their ventures. Then I will forgive again. I'll move on and get stuck. I'll get stuck and move on. I'll be lonely and love it and lonely and hate it. I'll make friends and lose them. I'll beat myself up and be kind to myself only to beat myself up again and be kind to myself later again. I'll vow to give up Banned HWA and Face Book and go back to them time and again. I'll not care about the Dave Packs of COGdom and I'll spend hours talking with those who agonize over him destroying their relationships and families by injecting his Bronze Age views into their lives.
In short, I suppose being bi polar on all things Spiritual and Scientific along with Faith and Facts is here to stay.
"Chose ye this day whom ye shall serve..! What say you?"
....ok...I chose yes.
I despise being bi-polar...It's awesome!