Out From Under the Umbrella

playing in the rain

Waking Up Wackadoodle

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I am not a psychiatrist, psychologist, or a licensed counselor of any description, but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express once. I also know what happened to me. So I’m speaking from personal experience which is altogether subjective and means I have a bias about this particular topic. Therefore you can take the following paragraphs with the whole box of salt or you may just find it strikes a chord. Either way this is my disclaimer that these are my own personal feelings and observations – not that I even remotely think I’m an expert nor have I done any research on the topic.  Here goes:

I was completely convinced as I wrestled with my personal demons about divorce that I was undergoing spiritual warfare.  I obsessed about the wrongs I had done according to God’s Word and as I did I went deeper and deeper into fundamentalism; believing I needed God’s forgiveness and becoming more and more indebted to Jesus for rescuing me.  The farther I went down that rabbit hole the more oppressed, depressed, and stressed I became.  I began praying incessantly, having panic attacks, strange dreams and obsessing over scripture.  I began searching out exactly what a woman’s role was supposed to be according to the Bible and trying in every way to be that; even to the point that I almost went back to my ex-husband to escape the guilt.  I honestly believed the devil (who I believed to be a literal being) was roaming around and he had found me to devour – that he was sifting me like wheat.  I often repeated scripture to myself and prayed those scriptures to God reminding him of his promises to prosper me and not to harm me.  I was, metaphorically speaking, right on the edge of the cliff and a feather could have tipped me right on over.  The more I obsessed over scripture and God the crazier things got.

Then one morning I woke up and thought to myself, “this is insane, you are acting like a crazy person – get a grip, girl”.  I decided that obsessing over scripture was the source of my angst, that spiritual warfare was a lie, and that there was no devil trying to devour me.  The only demon was my compulsion over all things spiritual.  I needed to not think about it for a while.  I put away the Bible, stopped the obsessive prayers, and stopped going to church.  I made an appointment with a counselor and started my journey back to sanity.  Thankfully I did.  Thankfully I could.  That is also when I started to research the claims of Christianity.

Many Christians would say that my relief came because I gave in to Satan. I’ve gone over to the dark side so he no longer needs to “sift” me.  I’ve been devoured.  I now believe that notion to be ridiculous – utter nonsense.  I’ve done a lot of soul-searching and believe the source of my anxiety was fundamentalist Christianity.  My relief came because I woke up and realized that all of this was making me completely bat crazy.  My relief came because there was something inside me that said enough is enough.

Having gone through that, though, I can see where holding the coats of the mob and cheering them on as they murdered Stephen would lead to guild-ridden angst.  I can see how being so zealous in your religion that you would go around searching out insurrectionists to have them arrested and killed could lead a person to enough anxiety that they would have a psychotic break.  Maybe Paul’s encounter on the road to Damascus was a guilt-ridden hallucination.  The mind does all sorts of things to the rest of a person’s body when under such a tremendous burden.  He needed relief.  Maybe his mind provided it.  I think that maybe that kind of obsession, that kind of zealousness might make a person wackadoodle.

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20 thoughts on “Waking Up Wackadoodle

  1. Wow! I cannot imagine what it must be like to wrestle that way with one's indoctrination. You're really something for having the sense to drop that BS like you did.

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  2. Kudos to you for having enough lucidity and inner strength to break away from fundamentalism. I'm glad that you backed away from that edge before fundamentalism pushed you over it.In this post, you've identified the engine behind fundamentalist religion: fear, guilt, and paranoia. The world can do with less of those emotions, and you are clearly much happier without them.

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  3. Welcome to the "dark side"–come on in, the water's nice! And the best part? God's is way more fun here!

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  4. Thanks guys! My purpose in writing this wasn't to break my arm patting myself on the back. The fact is that I shut down rather than breaking. My purpose was to say that all these people who seem like fundamentalist wack jobs were probably at some point regular, normal people. Instead of backing away or shutting down they continued down that path for whatever reason. Honestly I think when you've gotten a certain amount of the way down that road it might be impossible to come back. Just because someone says they've "heard the voice of God" or "seen a vision" does not mean that they actually have. I think that the fear, guilt and paranoia that you speak of, Ahab, can drive you over the edge.

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  5. Guilt is an awful thing that can consume us.One of the things I appreciate about my post-Christian life is that I no longer struggle with guilt over the things I do. (for the most part)Take watching True Blood last night. Great show,Polly and I love to watch it. As a Christian I might have watched it, appealing to my "sin nature" but I would have felt guilty for days on end. Oh my God, I watched a show with nudity, witches, and vampires. Now? I just enjoy the show.Of course to my Christian family and Christian friends a lack of guilt is a sure sign that the Devil has control of me.Ahab is so right about fear, guilt, and paranoia.Bruce

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  6. Why thank you, Sandra. Don't mind if I do. mwahahahahahahaha

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  7. The dark side has better cookies.

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  8. You're not alone D'Ma. A lot of us have been there, done that (as you know) with the whole spiritual warfare thing. I bought it all, hook, line and sinker.

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  9. @Bruce,Guilt really doesn't serve much of a purpose in my life these days. It can drive you stark raving mad. Sandra's right-the dark side is much better.===============================================@Paul Sunstone,What?!? Cookies??? Nobody told me about cookies! ::looks around frantically for the good cookies::=================================================@Zoe,The thing is(as you well know) when you're going through it it all seems so real and so, so, so normal. It's only on this side of it and now looking back that I can see just how bat-shit crazy it all was.

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  10. Many Christians would say that my relief came because I gave in to Satan. I've gone over to the dark side so he no longer needs to "sift" me. I've been devoured. You know, when you're forced to conclude that it's giving in to the Devil that finally provides someone with "the peace that passeth all understanding", you might want to seriously reconsider whether you've take a severe theological wrong turn. ("I just knew I should have taken that left turn at Albequerque…")

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  11. Thanks for sharing, and overcoming! ;-)That is a brilliant theory about Saul/Paul. He is an enigma, for sure. With your description of what you had gone through, I can see how it could be as you describe.I have sometimes wondered if Paul had inadvertently eaten some hallucinogenic food and had that vision. That still would not explain everything, but it is a start.Now, if hallucinogens were somehow involved, wrapping a persecutor's heavy guilt into that equation makes that theory even more reasonable.Yet if the stress was great enough, he could have simply cracked just like you said.

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  12. Since manic and psychotic episodes have so much in common with religious experiences, I think your theory is quite credible. Lack of sleep does that too. Or too much nutmeg. Have you read John Shelby Spong's interpretations of Paul? I too found relief from not reading the bible and going to church. I was suicidal and convinced it was spiritual warfare. It frustrates me to see relatives still stuck in that and blaming themselves and the devil for the pain and paranoia they are stuck in. Even though I can empathize, I still feel angry at them. Why do they continue when it may physically kill them?

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  13. @The Wise Fool: A friend of mine's father was one of the hundred or so scholars who at first had access to the Dead Sea Scrolls, before that access was later opened up. My friend used to pass along this story from his father: Before Jesus, "Christos" was the common name of an hallucinogenic mushroom found in the Middle East. The word then became associated with Jesus.I have not confirmed my friend's story. I'm pretty sure he would not have made it up. But he might have been confused about something his father told him, and so the story might not be true.But at any rate, true or false, I think it's an interesting story.

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  14. @Paul Sunstone: If it is true, that is an interesting coincidence. Hmmm 🙂

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  15. @MM,You got that right! You also know you've taken a theological wrong turn when those offering "helpful" advice are foaming at the mouth and only whirl in long enough to tear you to shreds and then whirl out just as fast.===================================================@TWF,Many people who were religious zealots and lose their faith become militant atheists. If you take away the thing they were obsessive about they find another. My theory is that when the cognitive dissonance of "thou shalt not murder" and cheering on and seeking out people to do just that became too great Paul had to give up strict Judaism. He was a self-proclaimed zealot, remember. He was unable to give up "faith" entirely. Once he cracked under that strain he became equally zealous for his new religion.==================================================@PrairieNymph,I haven't read Spong. Maybe I'll get around to it.I wasn't suicidal to the degree that I would have acted on it, but there were many times I sat crying out to God to just go ahead and kill me. If this was what my life would be like I'd rather just not be here.Why do they continue when it may physically kill them? I don't know other than to say that I think there may be a point of no return. They can't help themselves.===================================================@Paul Sunstone,Hmmm…very interesting story, indeed. I did a quick google search and came up empty. It would definitely be interesting to know if the "Christos" mushrooms were real.

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  16. There seems to be at least one hallucinogenic mushroom native to the area, Amanita muscaria, but I don't know if it ever was called "christos". The thing that makes me most question the story is I've heard the word "christ" traces back to a Greek translation of the Hebrew word for "messiah". The thing that makes me most wonder whether the story might not have some truth to it is that the guy who told it to me was to my knowledge very honest. So, I suspect if the story is not true, then it's because he was confused about something his father told him and not that he was trying to deceive.

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  17. The Hebrew/Aramaic word for Messiah is, in fact, "Masheach" (transliterated). Messiah, as used in English, is actually the resultant transliterated word. I am not aware of any relationship to the Greek "Christos", although my knowledge of Greek is much more limited than Hebrew/Aramaic. Just for your interest.Harvey

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  18. @Paul Sunstone,I'm kind of an optimist in that respect. Even though I tried to check out the story, I didn't assume your friend was trying to deceive anyone. I think it's pretty interesting and would like to know whether it's true or not. This reminds me of a game we played as kids. Have you ever played the gossip game? About six or eight of us would get into a circle. One person would start it out by whispering some "made up" juicy detail in the person's ear next to them. Around the circle it would go, each person trying to repeat the facts. It was always amazing when it got to the last person and was revealed how completely different it was from the original version.====================================================@Harvey,Your input is always welcomed and interesting.

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  19. I think one of the most frustrating things about the Christian perspective on "struggle" or "doubt" is that it really is a conspiracy theory, in every sense of the word.The way to engineer a conspiracy mindset in someone else is to think of every rational reason why they might doubt or dismiss the conspiracy… and then warn them in advance that "this is what they want." No other questions allowed: just a pure warning that "here's what's coming, and you have to stay true."Nothing accomplishes this better than the "you will be mocked and persecuted for following" tactic. You can legitimize anything in the world, no matter how crazy, with this tactic, because lo and behold: it comes true every time. Somehow, the fulfillment of this prophecy manages to impress the minds of the people involved. Furthermore, this is everyone's dream. Everyone dreams of having a special purpose in life, and of fighting for the truth alongside a small minority–fighting for the truth against overwhelming opposition from the greater legions of evil people on all sides, who have weaker convictions, and have fallen prey to the lies and deceit of the enemy.

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  20. @rwzero,It galvanizes in the minds of those who are "persecuted" that what they are following is, indeed, truth. The self-fulfilling prophecy of "persecution" causes people to dig in deeper and hold on tighter to their convictions. Unless, of course, they come to a place where they're ready to make an honest examination of those convictions. That doesn't happen very often, though.

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