I'm a newbie. In fact, I've never belonged to an online atheist group before even though I gave up on all gods many years ago. Having been raised in a radical Christian cult that operated as a closed society like all cults do, I spent a number of years of my young adult life trying to rid myself of the god virus. I have never felt so free as I do now. It was one of the most liberating decisions that I've ever made. Since then, I've gone on to question almost all cultural expectations. They're sneaky little bastards predicated upon myths and fairy tales and more successful at controlling the masses than any laws have ever been.
All that aside, I hope to stumble across a lot of interesting discussions as a new member.
Teresa would you give a few salient examples of what you are focusing on? That is an angle i have not encountered and sounds intriguing. Is it along the lines of gender roles and expectations based on socioeconomic status or what?
Well, since you asked, I wrote a book about my experience growing up in a cult and the difficulty I had fitting into the civilian world once I left and was excommunicated by my family. As I was trying to find my people, a group to identify with, I began to notice that there were lots of requirements that I had to meet before I could be accepted anywhere. All cultures are designed that way, whether it's a subculture, a mass culture, a pop culture, a mainstream culture or a counterculture. Conformity is expected. Kinda of like joining a club. People tend to think that there's only one way to do things, so ultimately, we end up pretty much dressing alike, talking the same, setting similar goals, and accepting the general consensus on most issues. I mean who would marry us or hang out with us if we didn't?
Through the lottery of birth, I got plopped down into the middle of a bunch of religious zealots. We don't get to choose our cultures. Not unlike religion, which is a social construct — marriage, funerals, weddings, holidays, the work world, the idea of romantic love, childrearing, friendships, the American Dream, headhunting, burkas, rules for the oldest son in Korean households, whether we face a wall nodding our heads to pray, how we define fun — there's an endless list of cultural expectations that we rarely even question. Humans tend to think they are creatures in charge of their destiny with free will dominating their decisions but in reality most of do everything pretty much the same as everybody else. Not because there is only one way to do things, there are actually thousands of ways to do anything, but because we often don't even know there is a choice. My book is called Have We Been Screwed? Trading Freedom for Fairy Tales. I've been an outlier all of my life but I'm still discovering myths that need debunking. LOL
Makes sense. You were peculiarly situated to take notice of the cultural norms.
Yes, having grown up in a closed society, upon entering the civilian world, I could choose to be anyone that I wanted to be as long as I could get rid of the god virus in my brain.
It's good to have you with us, Teresa.
It's hard for me even to imagine what it must have been like to grow up in such a coercive environment. I went to Catholic school until grade 9, but my parents were never that serious about it. (When they passed the collection plate, my dad used to say I'll get this, you get the popcorn.) By sixth or seventh grade I'd pretty much decided it was all a crock and that their "teachings" were completely bogus. I can remember a bunch of us young upstarts making the catechism teacher's life hell with snarky remarks about the virgin (sic) birth.
You were one of the lucky ones then. The only thing that could have been better was if you had been raised in a godless home. I contend, however, that religion is such a virulent social construct that no one can escape totally unscathed. It's all around us and can seep into our consciousness if we're not careful. I have been free of the god virus for many years now, thankfully.
Thank you. I escaped many years ago at the tender age of 18. LOL It took me a while to get the god virus out of my head, but I've been virus free for almost two decades now. What freedom!
Were you part of the Worldwide Church of God cult or were they trying to entice you?
That's certainly one way of facing the truth, reading the bible with an open mind. LOL As an empathetic kid, I was keen on social justice. I couldn't make logical sense of cruelty. It just didn't align with my idea of a loving, all powerful god.
Humans by in large do not require things to make sense before they embrace them. If enough people say it's so, most follow.
Thank you! That's good to know. :-)