Becoming Other to Forum, "Everybody Needs Recovery"
I am flabbergasted, as I am also infuriated. Some have asked me to explain exactly what I mean by "Recovery Movement". My answers have not been satisfactory. The Recovery Movement is everywhere and in everything. It comes from 12 step and psycho therapy. Its Motivationalism. And its also from religion.
Charles Bufe said that he felt the 12 step groups would decline as churches would become more accommodating of things like alcoholism. This seems to be so. But I think he meant mainline religion, not the non-denomicantional evangelicals, and certainly not mega churches. If he'd seen that coming, he'd of been alarmed.
Its only because Northern Abolitionists abandoned personal salvation and then agitated and agitated until there were organizational splits, that slavery ever ended in this country.
It was a revival of social conservatism and the use of wedge issues which gained Richard Nixon the Presidency in 1968 and 1972 and prolonged the war in Vietnam. The continuing role of the Evangelicals has heavily influenced our national politics so that we now have massive federal debt, a gutted progressive income tax structure, defunded public schools and higher education, and we still don't have universal health care.
There had maybe been a little bit of organized opposition back in the early 80's, when Pat Robertson and Jim and Tammy Bakker where on television. But in the years since there is nothing, only appeasement. Most people see it all as one big sacred cow and so it's not allowed to criticize it.
I want to write back to my pentecostal recovering alcoholic friend, and I will explain all of this. I want her to understand my objection and also that things don't have to be this way.
But I know that most people are taken in by these Mega Church Pastors. Mainline Protestant Churches dropped down to 40 persons per Sunday in the 1970's. Many have never come back and never will. What has taken their place are these Mega Churches. Clearly to get so many people, the Mega Churches must be doing something different.
To me, it just proves that if you know how to do it, you can get people to go for anything. If only the time and energy put into these sorts of churches could go elsewhere.
So I need now to figure how I am going to write to my friend.
There needs to be some protection for prison inmates here. Otherwise they will feel that they have to go along with it to get favorable treatment by parole boards and from outside activist groups.
This guy's book has sold 10's of millions of copies, and it keeps on going. Notice how many times he uses the royal WE.
"Decade of Destiny"
"What is a Saddleback?"
"What does it mean to be Saddleback Church? I want to explain this to you today. .... S-A-D-D-L-E B-A-CK .... The S in Saddle back stands for second chance grace place. We are a Second Chance grace place. This is a church where people get the opportunity to start over. No matter how they've done wrong, this is a place to get a fresh start, its a place to begin again. Its a place to start over, its a place to be born again. The are the second chance grace place. God has shown us mercy, so we show other people mercy. God's forgiven us for all of our screw ups, so we should forgive others. God cut us some slack, so we cut other people slack here. God has been gracious to us, and so we believe in being gracious to everybody else. This is a place for a second chance, a fresh start.
Saddleback started a ministry over 20 years ago called Celebrate Recovery. Its now used in tens of thousands of churches. Its the official program in practically every state prison system.
Recovery is not simply a ministry of Saddleback, its one of our key values. Its a value in this church that everybody needs a second chance. Everybody needs Recovery. We believe there are really only two kinds of people in the world. There are those who's lives are broken and know they need recovery, and there are those who's lives are broken and deny they need recovery. ... But everybody needs it. ... Because sin has broken everything so everything needs recovery.
I can't take listening to much of this guy. Just transcribing this was really hard. This guy is the epitome of why I find it necessary to maintain a Privacy Firewall around all the affairs of my life, because I reject the Recovery Model and everything else related to it. So I am always at risk, that is until I can stike back.
Since the Evangelicals are never a real denomination, they have to recruit their people anew each generation. I also think this probably does relate to an increased amount of severe alcoholism and drug abuse. I really do believe that many in their congregations are people who have had severe problems.
I have never had the slightest bit of attraction to drugs, alcohol, tobacco, or evangelical Christianity. Always, I have been completely opposed to all, and have tended to see them all as entailing a similar sort of surrender to conformity.
Redress for Wrongs, not Recovery and Religion. Tangible Results, not Therapeutic Release, there is no such thing as Healing without first restoring Honor. wars are won through Strategic Engagements with the enemy, not by Seeking Enlightenment. Victory, not continuing Victimization.
Here I am writing back to a friend who is involved in a group which promotes both progressive politics and Evangelical Christianity. He and I both know each other's views well. A message that I am putting out now is, "Born Again Christianity is the single largest reason why the United States still does not have Universal Health Care." The meaning is that anyone who says, "I am a Christian" is part of the problem and not part of the solution.
My friend is responding to that. His position is that the real problem is Capitalism and how the church lets itself be coopted by that. He also, maybe without really intending to, further advances the Evangelical position that there is a church and some who are inside it and some who are outside it.
So I respond to him, showing the full history of how Evangelical Christianity has worked from the Second Great Awakening, to the Abolitionist Movement, to the Scopes Trial and up to the present. I delineate just how the Born Again Movement was promoted specifically to co opt and oppose the Bohemian themed New Left which arouse out of the Anti-War Movement, the Civil Rights Movement, the Women's Movement, the Gay Rights Movement, and the Sexual Revolution.
I go on to claim that anytime one is supporting conservative middle class values, one is supporting Capitalism.
I go on to explain that the real problem is this idea that there are some who are Christian and some who are not.
I explain that Recovery and Motivationalism are the new mega church means of presenting Sin and Salvation, the same sort of religion which supported slavery. The mega churches must be doing something different, as mainline Protestantism has nearly cratered. Their numbers are so few that they've had to abandon the traditional Protestant set of views in favor of Borg's New Paradigm. Meanwhile the mega churches continue to grow. When their pastors speak, nearly ever sentence contains the Royal We.
I also introduce the idea that Born Again Christianity works in a manner similar to addiction to drugs or alcohol.
I respond to his claim that there is a church and some in it and some out of it by challenging the Biblical interpretation upon which it is based. I explain that the Bible arose out of a contemplative tradition. Those who preach otherwise, Protestants, are full of it.
I go on to explain that I will not legitimate the Born Again Movement by calling it a church. Their claim that there are some in and some out I find patently offensive. I don't grant it any protection under any doctrine of religious tolerance, Sacred Cowism, or Live and Let Live.
I mean what I say about church services based on some version of the Divine Office, scripture only, and prescheduled on a calendar. I mean what I say about the abolition of all sermons and preaching too.
Their Pastor used to shout out things like, "You are confused? In the End Time Satan wants you to be confused." He said that saying such things was a way of taking back the Evangelical Language. I respond to this too.
Drawing spirituality from the Bible does not actually require belief in an objective theism, or anything else either. At some level in the text which follows I am calling for a Divine Office based Liturgy, even though for myself I don't really need such.
**************, thank you for your thoughtful reply. I agree with most of what you say, but not all of it.
I take particular note of:
It is said that there was no institution in America that supported slavery as powerfully as the church.
By the same token, the church today is the number one supporter of the status quo, including poverty, lack of health care, war, unemployment, capitalism, etc.
And yes its just like you say, the abolitionist movement did come from inside the church, polarize it, and ultimately destroy slavery. We agree on so much.
But then, as history marched forward, the abolitionist movement developed inside the church, polarized it, and the church ultimately became the institution that destroyed slavery.
In light of this though I would probably put it a bit differently. The kind of religion which emerged in the early 1800's, known as the Second Great Awakening, emphasized personal salvation. This is the only kind of religion which ever had much of a following in the states which practiced slavery. Its a kind which always supports the status quo.
Today personal salvation is often couched as Recovery, or packaged as Motivationalism:
video, "everybody needs recovery"
The premise is that alcoholics drink for no particular reason except their own failings, people are only unmotivated due to their own short comings, and whatever difficulties people have are really just due to their own sinful nature. Of course this sort of religion always supports the status quo, as it gets people to submit. Mainline Protestantism has dropped down to 40 people per Sunday. But the new 3000 seat mega churches preach Recovery and Motivation and they continue to grow.
In the North something different developed, a focus on societal reform, and then finally a focus on the elimination of slavery. Garrison called upon people to be Perfect. This meant to have no contact with the money from slavery. Bankers, brokers, and shipping companies in the North were all profiting from the slave run cotton industry. In 1861 they had their best year ever.
Abolitionists agitated and agitated. They were not supporting the conventional religious understanding. They were agitating against it. Christianists always say that one should not judge Christianity, that its all to be one big Sacred Cow. So the fledgling Abolitionists were doing exactly what Christianists are least likely to do, attack religion. They were doing this for decades, when there was no reason to believe that they could ever prevail in their own lifetimes. This is an example of faith, not the belief systems of those who say they are Bible Believing. That later is more like idolatry.
Eventually splits developed in each of the major Protestant denominations. These same splits are still there to this very day. While no longer regional and no longer recognizably racist (Bill Cosbyish), the same sort of religion which supported slavery still operates today. It promotes personal salvation, motivationalism, recovery, and the political and economic status quo. The way it does this is by promoting Christian Identity.
Chrisitianist groups are not self policing. The last thing most of them want to do is to criticize other Christianist groups. I sat and listened in horror to *************** as he gave a voice of approval to Gene Scott of the University Cathedral in Los Angeles. This is a guy who used to say that you needed to call in and pledge money each week, otherwise during the week you would likely have trouble with Satan.
A key point was the 1925 John Scopes trial. In the eyes of most of the nation the Evangelicals were discredited, as people who were trying to read Genesis as a book of science. And so the movement receded from public view.
You speak of the real issue being Capitalism. Well for as long as we have had an industrial age middle class and its conservative values, we have had a counter movement generally known as Bohemianism.
After WWII the United States got swept up in Anti-Communism and began to resemble the fascist nations of Europe. But under the surface a bohemian counter culture was fermenting. Eventually concerns over Civil Rights, the War in Vietnam, Women's Rights, and Gay Rights came to center stage. What emerged was a Bohemian themed New Left.
In conjunction with this arose the "Jesus People" movement. Though there were still areas of opposition, it did have a great deal of commonality with the New Left, and so this was to be expected and it was welcomed.
It was at this same time that Richard Nixon unveiled his 1968 bid for the Presidency. This entailed two main strategies, which were closely related. First was the Southern Strategy, the idea that because Lyndon Johnson signed the 1964 and 1965 Civil Rights Acts, it would now be possible for a Republican Presidential Candidate to win in the South, even though in state and local elections it would still be some years before Republicans were winning. So his campaign included thinly veiled racist messages, like law and order. White racist Southerners would have no where else to turn, as the Democratic Party had committed itself to the end of officially sanctioned racism.
The second strategy was similar, it was to use socially conservative wedge issues. One was abortion. Though this was still before Roe v Wad, abortion access was starting to open up as ideas about sexuality and women’s rights were changing. Nixon and the Republicans promoted the new anti-abortion movement. The idea was that they could peel Roman Catholic voters away from the Democrats by shifting the attention to this sort of an issue.
Roman Catholics have usually been a swing vote, and at that time no one had ever won the Presidency without also winning a majority of the Catholic vote. But that vote would usually be pro labor. At the same time, in a cultural sense, Catholic congregations harbor a great deal of conservatism.
Richard Nixon was no stranger to this tactic of trying to peel off votes in small numbers to make the difference in critical places. As Vice President under Dwight Eisenhower, Nixon began the Republican Ethnic Outreach Foundation. In each of the countries of Eastern and Central Europe, in the Baltic States and in some Republics of the Soviet Union, there had been fascist groups set up modeled along the lines of Hitler's SS. These groups worked with the SS in the rounding up and killing of Jews.
One such was the Hungarian Arrow Cross:
Nixon and the Republicans arranged to bring such persons into this country and to grant them US citizenship in huge numbers, to “offset the Jewish vote in major cities.” Nixon was bringing in people who should have been serving life sentences as war criminals.
Here is a very good movie about just one such case:
Here is one Valerian Trifa of Romania. He used to preside over throat cutting contests, to see who could kill the most Jews.
Richard Nixon personally sponsored Trifa for US Citizenship and let him use the address of his California law practice. As Vice President he arranged for Trifa to give the opening convocation to the US Senate.
Some of this surfaced in the 1988 G. H. W. Bush Presidential campaign as some of the same people were still running the Republican Ethic Outreach Foundation and their backgrounds surfaced.
By playing on Anti-Communism Nixon was able to bring such people in. By working with the likes of New York’s Cardinal Spellman he was also able to use this to peel away some Catholic voters.
The second wedge issue turned out to be the anti-war movement itself. Because many, generally associated with religion, hold socially conservative values, Nixon found that he could run against the anti-war movement itself and this bohemian themed New Left.
Nixon ran claiming to have a plan to end the war, but it was a plan which had to be kept secret. Turns out that all the plan was was to expand the scale and scope of the carpet bombing while trying to negotiate.
That war would continue for another 5 years. Nixon needed it and the anti-war movement to win the next election too. When it finally did end, the terms were the same as what were offered in 1969 and before, that the US was to just pack up and leave.
Its important to understand this because it is out of this that the modern Born Again Movement emerged, and every Republican Presidential Campaign which followed would use Nixon’s tactics.
As Nixon was going down he tried to rally support. He went to the one place where he still was not hated, the states which had practiced slavery. He called upon the Silent Majority, meaning those who did not protest against him or the war.
In the years which followed the Evangelicals came back into the foreground. But this was not the Jesus People movement, this was Jerry Falwell, and he took Nixon’s term and changed it to “Moral Majority”, meaning that the rest of us are somehow immoral. Mostly his movement focused on homophobia.
Without Jerry Falwell and his Moral Majority, Ronald Reagan never could have gotten elected.
Jimmy Carter had said in a 1976 interview that he was Born Again. Where he was from everyone said that, and it seemed harmless. In the years since he has seen that it is not harmless and he now says that he regrets having said it.
Remember then in 1984, running against Walter Mondale, when Mondale tried to talk about universal health care, Reagan said, “There you go again.”
You might also remember in 1988 Jerry Falwell was running around the floor of the Republican Convention passing out copies of his comic book, Magic Mike. This tried to link Michael Dukakis with things like bestiality.
You might also remember that that was the year that Pat Buchanan said that we are having a “culture war”. This is exactly the term that the Nazi’s used in campaigning against liberalism in their rise to power. In his book Buchanan makes it clear that just like his father he supports the Nazis and believes it a mistake for the US to have acted against them.
1988 was also the year of Pat Robertson. Again at the Republican Convention, Robertson said that Michael Dukakis was a L-I-B-E-R-A-L. He was trying to make liberal into a dirty word. The meaning was that Michael Dukakis and liberals are not Real Americans. These are the same otherness tactics used in the McCarthy Era and used by the Nazi’s.
Robertson went on to say that Dukakis was a Card Carrying Member of the A-C-L-U. This was also an allusion to the McCarthy Era. He was trying to say that Dukakis was a Card Carrying Communist.
Not too long after it was surfaced that key passages in Robertson’s book had been copied verbatim from the protocols of the John Birch society. Robertson would soon fade into the background, but the damage had already been done.
G. H. W. Bush had seemed like a dark horse. The fact that his father Prescott and Prescott’s father-in-law George Walker had been the largest financial contributors to the Nazi Party outside of Germany did not help. The fact that Bush had spent his entire adult lifetime working for front companies for the CIA, toppling democratically elected governments around the world did not help him. In 1976 the Senator Frank Church Committee was exposing the CIA. Most of what we now know about it comes from there. William Colby was letting too much out. So Gerald Ford replaced him with someone who could conceal, someone from the Nazi Party linked Petroleum Wing, someone who knew where the bodies were buried, Bush.
Bush had been a dark horse. But he just kept talking about liberals and about the ACLU, about who was not a Real American, and waving flags. Membership in the ACLU swelled. But Bush won a landslide.
Dukakis only won 6 states. But he also won something else one would not have expected. Dukakis won a majority of the Roman Catholic vote nation wide. The one who really took notice of this was Bush Family aide, Karl Rove. He saw that for the first time in US history one did not need the Roman Catholic vote, as there were now enough Evangelicals.
The 1992 and 1996 campaigns were about Family Values, again a code word for various sorts of exclusionism and judgementalism, and based on reactionary social conservatism. I could write at length about these campaigns, but I think at bottom what happened was that Clinton learned how to speak to Catholic audiences and was able to split the Catholic vote from the Evangelical vote. In America this usually is a forumal for victory. Hillary was doing the same thing in her 2008 primary campaign. Her Catholic supporters were somewhat more conservative than the main block of Obama supporters. Once she had to conceed, Joe Biden was tapped to pick up where she left off.
Kevin Phillips had been a Nixon staffer and he is still a Republican. But it has all gone too far for him.
In the year 2000 and 2004 elections, how people voted correlates to regular church attendance better than it does to any other social demographic. It correlates better than do race, income level, education, or where someone lives.
The bulk of the support for the Iraq War was coming from ultraconservative religionists: Protestants, Jews, and Catholics.
I was surprised to find that there are people active in **************** who do not like your group, they do not like your political activism. I won’t repeat their objections because they are non-sensical. These people are flaming nut cases. But they are what you find when religion focuses on personal salvation, on recovery, and on motivationalism. These people have all the lines too. There is no relation between religion and politics. What they do is not religion because its just the Bible. Their church is not Protestant because it does not protest against the Catholic Church.
The Evangelical Movement is often targeted at alcoholics and drug addicts. These are often people with very little of a stake left in this world, people who have little to gain by supporting the status quo. Well there is one thing. If they can believe in Recovery and Salvation, believe that it was all their own fault, then they don’t have to face their own repressed pains.
I have never been attracted to drugs, alcohol, tobacco, or Born Again Christianity. To me they all look and feel like systems of idolatry for the purpose of gaining the approval of a group. As such, I have always instinctively felt revulsion over them.
I feel now that these things can all be the same for those who embrace them. Born Again Christianity gives people a replacement denial system, a replacement addiction.
So what then is the central problem which makes it this way? As I see it it is the attempt to draw a line to delineate who is a Christian and who is not, who is a Believer and who is not, who is Born Again and who is not, who is Saved and who is not, and the list could go on and on.
The Evangelical Movement seems to draw this most directly from Paul’s Epistles. But there are themes like this which run through every single book of the Bible. The issue then is how do you understand it.
In the mega churches today they seem to like to take small excerpts, or even single verses, and use them as admonitions, moral prescriptions, or motivationalisms. But the entire Evangelical Movement has always done things like this, and it seems to have early on become a trade mark of Protestantism.
I am opposed to church sermons in any liturgical context. It doesn’t matter who gives them or how learned they are. I am still opposed to them. I am a Sermon Abolitionist.
Like I tried to tell *************, I like to read the Book of Psalms. Every sentiment which is expressed there, I also feel. I don’t feel only the sorts that are used by preachers to try and whip a group into a state of intoxication. From the God is Great’s, to the motivational talks, to any other sort, I am opposed to sermons.
One does not have to read the Bible as a story of White Hats versus Black Hats. One does not have to take the point of view of the narrative voice. Once does not even have to accept theism.
The Bible was written by people who had deeply entered into contemplation with its earlier sections. So much of it is self criticism. Likewise the New Testament is a criticism of the Old Testament. And even though the cannon has long been closed, you find in writings of saints and mystics a criticism of the New Testament.
The Bible emerged from a contemplative tradition. Its not the other way around. So the way to best appreciate the Bible is to enter into the contemplative tradition one’s self.
I love the Bible, every word of it. But this does not mean that I take any of uncritically. Rather I see multiple points of view. I see the context in which statements are made. I see the social and political background of the speaker too.
With none of it do I feel obliged to take it as a presciptive directive, BECAUSE I AM NOT A FEARFUL SUPERSTITIOUS PERSON. I saw through that when I was 12 years old.
What I would like to see is liturgy made from the Divine Office, the breviary used in Monasteries. There are actually many breviaries and more could be written. What is important is that it is 100% scripture, read in rather large blocks with an emphasis on the Psalms, and that it is 100% prescheduled on a calendar. So it is 100% scripted. You can pre-read it, as this always deepens the experience. It could be expanded so that there is something for each hour of the day. People could drop in at any church any time they wanted. There would be no denominational differences as sermons and other attempts to foster like mindedness would be gone.
The presumption that those who make a Christian profession have something over everyone else is insulting and nutty. So you have spoken of those who are in the church and those who are out of it. I do not accept this. I do not accept your directing it at me. I do not accept it being directed at anyone else. And I don’t accept it as it is used as the basis of the Evangelical Movement. I don’t see it as being protected by any doctrine of religious tolerance. I don’t see it as a Sacred Cow. And I don’t take a Live and Let Live posture towards it. I am opposed to it.
I don't refer to the Born Again Movement as a church. Its not that the word has that much significance. Its just that using it seems to convey some sort of legitimacy. So as far as I am concerned it is simply a movement, a kind of mass hysteria which has nothing whatsoever to do with any sort of faith, something not that much different from drug and alcohol addiction. In fact it is often targeted to drug addicts and alcoholics, those who have very little stake left in our society and who should be ready to support structural overhauls. But instead the Born Again Movement promotes personal salvation, recovery, and evangelisation. They do this everytime they get someone to say, "I am a Christian". So of this church, I don’t even recognize its existence.
This is a very good book about how America has been shaped by competing views of Jesus. The view being put forth by the Born Again Movement and related to personal conversion, salvation, and recovery, is one I reject and consider to be malicious.
I believe that the real problem is the capitalist economic system, the physical destruction it is wreaking, and the devil-take-the-hindmost ideology that is connected with it. The problem with the church is that it has allowed itself to be infiltrated by this ideology.
Yes this the problem. But what keeps Capitalism in place are conservative middle-class values. The modern Born Again Movement arose in opposition to a Bohemian themed New Left. This is the role it is still serving. It does this everytime someone identifies themselves by saying, “I am a Christian”. The Born Again Movement is one of the primary forces keeping Capitalism in place and preventing long over due reforms.
In the End Time Satan wants you to be in church, standing up, and proclaiming, "I am a Christian" and calling out over and over the name of Jesus.
A follow up comment to someone in England.
London England is known as one of the places in the world which has the largest number of people who identify themselves as secular, instead of religious. So I am sure that this does tone down the more negative elements of religion.
But I also know that Margaret Thatcher had appointed as Arch Bishop of Canterbury someone from the fundamentalist wing of the Anglican Church, the most conservative of its three wings.
I don't know this for a fact, but I suspect that Born Again Christianity was a factor in the Tony Blair government, moving the Labor Party much further to the right than it historically had been, supporting an ethos of upward social mobility, and also thus contributing to England's role in the Iraq War. I believe this likely, though I don't know it for a fact because I don't follow the UK that closely.
In the US the Born Again Movement is everywhere. The most central thing about it is the making of the profession, "I am a Christian".
In large measure I agree with most of what you have said. But the Born Again Movement is something very very different. They have been able to create this perception of a persecuted church and a mandate to oppose that which is secular. It is a type of religion which was driven under rocks with the 1925 Scopes Trial. But in the 1970's it resurfaced. In the 1980's Pat Robertson's Christian Coalition was extremely effective in packing local school boards. In a large portion of the country the elected office holders will make the I am a Christian profession. It is a positivistic doctrine. The central idea is a dividing line, and most important to that is the profession.
It is especially targeted at those who have been hard living, those who have had a history with drugs or alcohol. This is a large portion of the population, maybe 25%?
The United States is the only industrialized nation which lacks universal health care access. We also have the weakest of social safety nets, along with an exponentially expanding federal debt and a continuing grossly boated dependency on fossil fuel consumption. In many places access to abortion is almost non-existent. We spend more on defense than the entire rest of the world combined. Looks like we are also the only industrialized nation which still allows children to be disinherited. We also still use the death penalty. Over 1/6th of the population lives below the poverty line. We have no state funded child care, but in many places they are imposing cut offs on what welfare we have.
As far as Recovery, the central idea is that the victim is to blame. The one who has suffered has to examine their own life and reform. So it is the old sin and salvation model again. What this does is enable continued violations and block efforts at redress and reform. Its also psychological abuse.
Alcoholics don't drink and addicts don't use for no reason. They are covering repressed pains of abuse and marginalization. The Born Again Movement substitutes one addiction for another and promotes a politics of the status quo. So nothing changes as all efforts are soaked up in Christianist insanity. Anyone who tries to fight back has to first fight against psychotherapy, recovery, and religion.
Redress for Wrongs, not Recovery and Religion. Tangible Results, not Therapeutic Release. there is no such thing as Healing without first restoring Honor. wars are won by Strategically Engaging with the enemy, not by Seeking Enlightenment. Victory, not continuing Victimization.