Bow, Yield, Kneel — Everywhere A Sign

Came across this church reader board yesterday while I was driving. It’s in front of the Calvary Assembly of God castle in Amsterdam, New York.

I know you can’t read it. The pic was taken with my cellphone camera, through a dirty windshield, and while I was stopped at a red light.

It says “TO YIELD TO GOD’S WILL MEANS TO SURRENDER YOUR OWN WILL.”

The message was instantly repulsive. Surrender your will?

I mean … surrender your will? Who teaches that??

(Heh. Gives extra darkness to the “Noah’s Ark Preschool” banner on the fence nearby, which you also wouldn’t have been able to read and which I decided to crop out.)

Let’s say you want to create a permanent underclass of witless thralls. You know, to give you their money. To go to wars and die so you can profit.  To argue and vote against their own interests. To willingly submit to whatever you want to do to them. To eat unhealthy garbage to ruin their health and then buy your drugs. To fall for every new fad that comes along — fads you create — and to buy the stuff from you so they can take part. To not notice their own needs or desires or innate values, but to instead take up whatever needs and desires and values you want them to have. To not notice you consuming the world out from under them. Whatever.

How do you do that? Indoctrination. Brainwashing. For generations. You teach them to NOT think, to NOT evaluate, to NOT compare the facts they know with what you teach, to NOT believe that you could ever be mistaken, to NOT believe that “Little Me” could ever be righter than “Big Important You.”

You teach them to surrender their will. To give up all desire to investigate, examine, judge and criticize.

I got one of my metaphor-epiphanies as I looked at the thing: Picture someone standing in the middle of a ring of signs. And not just one ring, but layers and layers of rings of signs, an encircling field of them. Two-sided signs.

From the inside, they all say stuff like Believe in God, Religion is Good, You Can’t Have Morality Without God, Obey the Church Fathers, Put God First in Your Life, The Pope is Always Right.

From there, you think and believe as the signs say. Every question is answered, your life is filled with certainty, and anytime you have doubt and discomfort, you just read the signs and they override the doubt, if not the discomfort. So you stay where you are.

But from the outside, the signs say stuff like The Church Cared More About Priests Than About Molested Children, The Bible is Full of Contradictions, Adam and Eve Never Existed, Pat Robertson is Obviously a Manipulative, Lying Sack of Shit.

If you’re stuck in the middle, all you see is this pious happy face stuff that continues to convince you you’re in the right place.

It’s only if you look from the outside — look back to where you once stood, or to where your friends and loved ones still stand — that you can see it for what it really is, what it obviously is, in all its horrifying fullness.

The metaphor illustrates for me the difficulty of convincing goddy people to look at their religion with your eyes, to see all the stuff you see.

But it also gives me hope. Because there IS an outside, and because the backside of the very signs that hold people in are the best evidence that it’s all a manipulative lie. Once you get out and look back, it becomes obvious how silly it all is.

For many of us formerly-religious atheists, it was using our own minds to take a peek at the back of one of those signs, and then another, that led us to move outward, gradually and more and more, and finally look back and see where we’d been standing. To see all the lies and falsehoods. All the manipulation. All the meanness. All the wrongness.

We did it all on our own.

But today we’ve got this entire movement pointing out the backsides of those signs, to anybody and everybody who will listen. The people on the inside no longer have the one choice of standing enthralled and comfortable in the middle of that field of signs.

We’re allowing this other choice to show through the rows of signs. If they hear us at all, it forces them to think. If nothing else, they have to actively fight their own minds (which requires mental effort — thinking! — it seems to me) to not evaluate what we say.

Good job, people. Keep up the good work.

“Surrender Your Will” has had all of human history in which to work its magic.

Let’s give “Never Surrender Your Own Will” a few thousand years, shall we?

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