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July 26, 2008



It has been interesting for me to go back and process some of the "supernatural" and emotional experiences from past years as a kid in fundamentalism and an adult in a charismatic church. I can easily dismiss the fundamentalist altar calls because of all the emotional manipulation that was occurring. (I'm still proud of the time when the guest pastor was trying to get every teen to go down to make a commitment to be 'pure', and I was the only person who didn't go because of the obvious manipulation from a guy who wanted some big numbers to report.)

The charismatic stuff is harder. No doubt there is emotional manipulation in those circles, too. There is group-think. There is compelling energy in the group's emotions. And maybe that's all it is, the same type of energy at a great concert or sports event, something we might call "transcendent".


I've gotten some mileage in the last couple months out of interpreting claims about "spirituality" through a Jungian lens, where it's about people using unconventional or even idiosyncratic language games to mediate between their consciousness and unconscious. It's helpful for picking up the relationship between the symbols they're using, anyway, and I can usually say what I mean without coming across as tetchy and pedantic.

It only works with live-and-let-live types, though, and others who are self-critical enough not to assume they know automatically what language games are meaningful for other people. "You can't possibly know how my mind is structured" is as ineffective a response as pointing out the holes in their metaphysics. (That's just too disempowering, I guess.)


this is a great post, and deserves a much better comment, but i just need to say, I LOVE ROCK LOBSTER.


i'll start by saying that i like the post. as some one who grew up catholic, was a "converted" to protestant christianity in high school (i had pretty much abandoned faith by that point anyway, that's why i say "converted"), involved myself with a potentially manipulative youth ministry (although i strove to not use tactics that were manipulative as did a number of my coworkers... although there were those who would use those tactics and try to get big numbers) for a number of years, and am now studying to be a presbyterian minister and eventually get a PhD. in history, i would like to say that i do have doubts regularly. but i don't attempt to explain them away. i also don't see them as "necessary" to faith.

i think that i doubt so much that i doubt my doubts. i have just resolved to know that i cannot know anything. therefore, i will fully admit that i go by what i want to be true. that is what i strive for. i try to read the bible and look at church history (good and really bad) and see where i am wrong and see where there is potential that i have stumbled onto some sort of truth.

i do all of that knowing that it could just be a bunch of hooey. i don't really care though. i see beauty in the possibility of the truth and i strive for that.

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