Friday, June 28, 2013

Why It Is Ok To Become Disillusioned With The Church

Disillusionment has been rampant in Armstrongism down through the decades. With one failed prophecy after another, the death of the apostle, abusive pastors, abusive spouses, ministers living the high life while members suffered, etc. 

1956, 1971, 1972, 1975, 1986, 1996 are all major dates in the COG where the apple cart got turned upside down and people lost hope. 

Now with over 700 some splinter groups people quickly become disillusioned with one group and jump to the next.  Splinter group leaders can't maintain income any more, they cant draw in members that they think should be flocking to them, on and on the list could go.  Its no wonder the COG is filled with thousands and thousands of people with mental health issues.

So what happens when we become disillusioned?  Is it a good thing or a bad thing. 

Disillusionment is.....

The exact moment when a person becomes aware of facts that go against what is believed to be true, they experience what psychologists call cognitive dissonance; it is that tense, uncomfortable sensation that what one sees is so out of sync with what one already believes to be true, that the mind instantly rejects it, even when the facts are plain and indisputable.
We see this happen daily in Armstrongism.  People in Dave Pack's cult and Gerald Flurry's know they are following mentally unstable men yet they sit there and make excuses when they hear things that disrupt their thinking and raise red flags.  That is the only reason Flurry and Pack get away with the garbage that they do.

The experience of disillusionment is one that is common to all.  It is safe to say that at some time or another, every human being has had the experience of believing in something that turned out not to be true.  The initial shock that comes when one’s perception of the world is revealed to be at odds with the hard facts of reality can range anywhere from mild disappointment to a feeling of overwhelming psychological trauma.

Whatever the degree of deception, the realization that one has been believing in a lie is a painful experience, not only psychologically but physically as well.  Like a punch to the stomach, it can feel like one’s breath has been taken away.  And because our beliefs about the world are interconnected with other beliefs fixed in our brains, the destruction of one belief can often lead to a cascade of collapse of many others.
“Nothing is more sad than the death of an illusion.” 
~ Arthur Koestler
When a person is confronted with facts that contradict currently held belief systems, they have one of two choices.  The first choice is to go into denial mode by rejecting the facts as being untrue in order to prop up their chosen belief system and continue living as before.  The second choice is to accept the new data and try and reconstruct a new internal paradigm or map of reality that accommodates the new information, which may mean putting into question all other beliefs associated with the old model.
 Check out the entire article here: The Necessity of Disillusionment


DennisCDiehl said...

It is very difficult to face the reality that one's views are, in fact, ultimately wrong. While it might be true that being dis-illusioned is a good thing, and it really is, for who wants illusions, I find that most people are just fine with illusions. They are comforting, until they are not I suppose.

The ministers I knew in WCG and even as students were not all that academically curious and of course when you go to or belong to a narrow minded church or college, you get just that. That is why I call Bob Jones University here in Greenville a mid life crisis factory.

Most religions are and the chance that one has been born into or is currently in the one true way to be in the whole universe is right at zero.

This is why Huxley's quote here is about my favorite on the topic and one that few either understand or can do.

"Sit down before fact like a little child, and be prepared to give up every preconceived notion. Follow humbly wherever and to whatever abyss Nature leads, or you shall learn nothing."

DennisCDiehl said...

and remember....when these Apostles, Prophets, Joshuas and Zerubabaal's find themselves in the Bible and your head tells you one thing and your stomach the other...the stomach is more likely telling you the truth.

You're thoughts and reasonings can trick you. Your stomach ache is designed to get you moving and out of harms way. It's part of why it takes these guys hours of sermons to wear down your resistance to their ideas or weeks of drama and suspense to say the simplist of crazy declarations. That is working on your head. And it is generally wrong.

I would rather go through the process of being dis-ILLUSIONED than be stuck in a fairy tale.

Anonymous said...

Dave Pack loves to tell his dupes "Imagine ....". It takes a lot of imagination to buy the fairy tales that he is selling.

Byker Bob said...

I didn't know what to call it as I walked off campus for the final time, having just pulled sabbath security to which I had committed and honored in spite of having in reality left the organization several months previously. What I really needed to do is take a long breather, take inventory, reassess everything, and develop a new action plan. Music had always been a big influence in my life, and the opening words to the Jefferson Airplane classic "Somebody to Love" kept playing over and over again in my head, a surreal tape loop from their album Surrealistic Pillow: "When the 'truth' is found to be lies........"

Bottom line is that the human spirit is resilient. The damage done by HWA/WCG was not terminal. Of course it helped those from my era that the prophesied events upon which we had based our entire lives had failed. I have no idea how anyone managed to simply continue in the church as if nothing had happened. But, I understand that humans in their worst state can even commit murder, get up the next morning, and live each new day just as they had prior to the murder.

What I found to be true in a number of cases was that church members simply refused to confront or deal with the cognitive dissonance following 1972-75. Based on their firm belief that HWA was quasi-deity as "God's Apostle", they allowed themselves to be reprogrammed, and regained their comfort level. Apparently, for some, this led to more years of blissful church membership until the death of HWA, long considered impossible until the commission had been fulfilled. But, again, a minor speed bump, and once again many reprogrammed until the time of the doctrinal restudies leading to the so-called Tkach changes, at which time the cognitive dissonance once again raised its ugly head.

The ship that was Armstrongism sank. COGgers are clinging to life rafts, but the cognitive dissonance and the need for reprogramming are becoming more and more intense, refusing to go away. What does one do in the face of increasingly weirder and crueler exploitation by the leaders, who in a comedy of errors have repeatedly disfellowshipped one another? What about the introduction of new nonHWA-approved extrabiblical theories? Who actually accepts as valid the claim to biblical titles such as apostle, prophet, or the taking on of names such as Joshua or Elijah?

The state of the Union in the Armstrong empire is that it's a mess, with extremism and authoritarianism having replaced any semblance of leadership. Totally from an outsider's perspective, it appears that It is becoming worse every day, making it more and more difficult to avoid confronting with, and dealing with it, that is unless your spirit animal is the ostrich!


Head Usher said...

Disillusionment is good for soul. It is the emergence from the cave of denial after a long winter in mental hibernation. It is the repentance from dead works. It is coming clean after engaging in a campaign of self-deceit. It is conceding defeat, and signing a peace treaty with reality. It is the acceptance of that which was, in the first place, beyond dispute. It is agreeing, finally, to learn something, after protesting that you already knew it all, a patently absurd position, which is among the founding conceits of religion.