Sunday, September 21, 2008

Energized, Uplifted, Uninspired, Sad.

All of the above are the feelings I came away with this evening, after a friend invited me to a gospel singing show at her church. An absolute wall of sound - incredible harmonies, voices that soared to the 20-foot ceiling and beyond, joy, celebration, ecstasy, heartfelt entreaties to the audience, folks in their 80s cavorting like high schoolers ... it was great on one level, but when I thought of how much mental and emotional energy is channeled toward what I'm sure is a non-existent entity, it was all I could do not to shake my head.

One group, though impressively talented, was different from the snazzily dressed throng on the stage - they were younger, a mixed group in street clothes, and they gave the clear impression that they'd spent a LOT of time in rehab, or perhaps behind bars. I understand that this is a kind of self-hypnosis for people who are down and out -- they focus on God, on Jesus, and it crowds out the craving for drugs, or the despair that leads to self-destructive and criminal behavior. All well and good, but when that spell breaks, so many people just slip right back to where they were. The flaw, as I see it, is that they're encouraged to acknowledge that they are "completely helpless and powerless" against their addiction or weakness. Wouldn't it make more sense for them to be coached about how, as humans, they have more choices, more personal power, more brain power, than any other creature, and that their potential is virtually unlimited, if they don't let themselves settle for the dregs of existence? To me, that might have the same effect as encouraging delusional thinking -- except the results might be permanent and more practical.

As I said...I just don't get it.

That's why I'd rather go broke buying tickets to Dylan...

5 comments:

Jim said...

I agree completely. I wish there were more people like you. The world would be a better place. Peace.

Ipecac said...

Great post. I often share those same feelings.

Religion often substitutes a false confidence, a placebo effect, during hard times and when faith wanes, the fall is often harder than the original problem. Your thoughts on how rationality could empower these people is dead on. Well said.

Volly said...

Not to mention how arrogant, unfriendly, and downright obnoxious people tend to become when they're in the throes of their delusion. Leads people to say "Y'know, I really liked you better when you were a drunk..."

Thanks.

Dana said...

Wouldn't it make more sense for them to be coached about how, as humans, they have more choices, more personal power, more brain power, than any other creature, and that their potential is virtually unlimited

Ahhh ... but that would require personal responsibility and accountability - two things our society seems to be lacking these days. Much easier to claim helplessness.

Volly said...

True, Dana...the religious approach is like a kind of false empowerment.

Like, "I'm not really DOING anything about this, but I'm letting my imaginary friend do it for me, and everyone around me seems to see my imaginary friend, too, so I can just keep pretending."

What a WASTE!