The theme of this blog is Recovery from Pathological Religion, and I started it for the purpose of telling the story of how I came to be swept up in some very bad things, to process my thoughts and memories of that time, to talk about what I learned from the whole thing, and to record my progress as I move forward and learn to be a healthy human being. I’ve gotten sidetracked from that goal just a teensy bit from time to time, but, I mean, that’s okay. That’s fine. Every once in a while though, I would like to re-center myself in this regard, so that my efforts are maybe just a bit more in line with that original purpose.
What does that mean? Mostly nothing. I only say it as a prelude to a brief comment that I am about to make in response to a lot of crazy shenanigans that I am seeing perpetually flung here and there all over social media (by which I pretty much mean Facebook.)
People say and do all kinds of things in the name of religion. A lot of the time they are not trying to help anyone out. They are trying to benefit in some way, at the expense of others (financially, emotionally, or otherwise.) For whatever reason, I have found myself especially vulnerable to predatory behavior done under relgious pretenses, and I have spent the last few years of my life learning how to stop living in perpetual reaction to it, and to instead live in such a way that I am forever learning and growing as a result of the triggering that happens for me when someone pushes that button. I take the momentum that is generated from that initial reaction when someone says or does something antagonistic, and I use it to do something positive with my life instead.
Now, if someone were to tell you that you should kill yourself right now because the physical world is evil, and is a hinderance to your spiritual progress, and you should demonstrate your enlightenment by shedding this mortal coil and ascending to be with God, you would probably be able to spot the flaw in the plan right away. Curiously enough, there are about twelve billion different ways that people can say that exact same basic thing, but enshroud it with religous ideology to such a degree that the danger goes unnoticed, and the proverbial pill ends up going right down the hatch.
There’s a very basic, simple test that you can use to determine whether or not you should listen to what somebody says. It doesn’t matter how intelligent or spiritual they sound. It doesn’t matter how charismatic or convincing they are. It does not matter how much of the Bible they can quote, or how long they’ve been doing whatever it is they’ve been doing. What matters is the kind of effect they produce on the world around them.
Jesus Christ, speaking about this very thing, said, “You shall know a tree by its fruit.”
If someone leaves a trail of lost, confused, broken and hurting people in their wake, you should stay as far away from them as possible. Period. If, on the other hand, someone’s influence tends to produce love, joy, peace, patience, and things like that in the lives of those who are in relationship with them, then it’s usually safe to say that, whatever they are doing, they are doing it right.
It really is that simple, and I wish there had been a way that someone could have communicated this to me a long time ago, but such is life. We all do what we can with what we have. I share it now, though, in hopes that it might be able to help someone.
Also, there is something else that needs to go here, at the end of this post, in order to properly balance the cadence of the whole thing, or whatever you want to call it. I have no idea what it is, but it’s something, and in lieu of that something (whatever it is) I present you with this little paragraph. I suppose it’s not even really a paragraph. Barely four sentences! It will have to be enough.