Adventures in Recovery – Scaredy Cats: Why So Fearful?

by Calulu

Aretha Franklin - “You better think about the consequences of your actions.”

Matt ‘Guitar’ Murphy – “ Oh shut up woman!”

(Lovingly borrowed from the movie “The Blues Brothers”)

A few months ago I lent out a book by a newer young minister to a friend of mine named Georgia. Georgia has recently made it out of the mess Possum Creek Christian Fellowship devolved into. We’d been talking about new teachings we’d encountered and I’d explained that I liked this guy’s style, I steered my friend Georgia to his teachings on You Tube and lend her that book. Minister X actually has a new book out but I lent her one of the older books first.

Georgia is one of those ladies I had remained friends with even after she stayed and I skedaddled out of PCCF. She’s one of the more relaxed ones and I thought maybe she’d enjoy looking at faith from a different angle. I guess I was sorely mistaken.

Today I got the book back, sent through someone else we both knew. It was shoved down in a bag underneath a thick sheath of clippings from many magazines, newspapers, computer printed papers, several tracts and pamphlets. On top of those were plastic bags for me to recycle craft, my two compartment crudites serving bowl, a baggie of cooked squash and a few late fall vegetables from her garden. I was confused by this, particularly as I unpacked the bag, realizing that the book and accompanying papers were wrapped in brown paper and garden twine like some sort of trash or porn, something disgraceful and yuck. Something you’d bury to keep others from seeing.

When I unwrapped that bundle I knew this just wasn’t any kind of a good sign. I’d hit a nerve or something so I was relieved the paper didn’t contain white powder or nuclear waste. As I read through the clippings, print outs, tracts and other nonsense I finally got to Georgia’s long handwritten screed. She admitted she’d only read a few pages of the book, not many at all, but that Reverend So-N-So on TV Station Y, Pastor Jinks on Radio WJDG, Teacher Itchy-Man at Look At Me Ministries, ad infinitum just didn’t approve of ANY of Minister X’s writings. X was going to Double H E Hockey Sticks for his various writings.

I mean, I found this all very confusing because the book I loaned out was basically about how if you going to be a Christian you needed to be very naturally that way, that your relationship with the Divine should not be like an old coat that stays in the back your closet you put on only when you feel like. It’s not too different than teachings at conferences we’d attended in the past. You’d think he’d written the Evangelical Anarchist Cookbook with directions on how to get high on communion wine and wafers. Or sticking a banana in the tailpipe of your least favorite pastor’s car. Or overthrowing polite society for fun. Or Halloween, don’t get me started about Halloween.

It wasn’t hard to see that everyone Georgia was citing that was condemning young X was all for his latest book, one where he suggests that God loves us. It’s one of his main themes. Apparently everyone in imaginary authority over religious hordes in that sea of papers hailed from the Evangelical to the Fundamental. They railed and thundered because this newest book contained not one reference to sin, guilt, punishment, repentance or burning in hell.

The reason I haven’t named the author or the book is because it really wasn’t about Minister X and his book. It was about new notions, thinking about Christianity in differing ways. The fear of the unknown, something new or different … oooooh, boogieman hiding under the bed scary!!

What is it that is so damned frightening to the Fundi-Evangi-whatever crowd about critical thinking and analysis, with new ideas? They are all so sure they and only they have the truth, all the while busily quashing any semblance of using the old brain and fighting over turf with each other. They sometimes remind me a pack of wild dogs, growling, barking, tussling over the last greasy steak bone. I believe they are probably all that selfish too.

Life is all about change and if you aren’t open to change you sure aren’t going to grow as a person. You’re going to stay the same, safe and stagnant, missing out on the great things, missing out on wonder, joy and new vistas. Just think of all you’d miss out on. It would be tragic. You’re too busy hiding under the bed with that boogie man.

Tomorrow I’m going to write a card out to Georgia telling her how sorry I am she didn’t enjoy the book. Plus that I wasn’t wholeheartedly endorsing every word from the book, I just thought the book contained some unusual ideas and everyone is certainly entitled to an opinion.

Opinions are frightening to those who pretend to be sure about everything but secretly struggle to believe. It’s just too threatening to them.

I can’t understand that fear any longer. I guess after 5 years of Koolaid detox there’s not enough left in my system to make new ideas scary. I’m so glad. For bonus points her triggering merely puzzled me, didn’t trigger my old feelings of rejection and hurt.

Georgia did do me one service. It’s winter and I can use all the kindling I can get for the wood stove. That pile of nonsense rolled up nicely to start the fire this evening. That is the best consequence of her papers since it wouldn’t behoove me to say to her ‘Oh shut up woman!’

Discuss this post on the NLQ forum. Comments are also open below.

Read all posts by Calulu!

NLQ Recommended Reading …

Breaking Their Will: Shedding Light on Religious Child Maltreatment‘ by Janet Heimlich

Quivering Daughters‘ by Hillary McFarland

Quiverfull: Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement‘ by Kathryn Joyce

  • Amy S.

    This main question in this entry – why do some fear the opinions of others – made me think of this passage quoted from David Tacey in his book, “The Spirituality Revolution” which I found in John Shelby Spong’s book “The Sins of Scripture: Exposing the Bible’s Texts of Hate to Reveal the God of Love”.

    “A spirituality revolution is taking place in Western and Eastern societies as politics fails as a vessel of hope and meaning. This revolution is not to be confused with the rising tide of religious fundamentalism, although the two are caught up in the same phenomenon: the emergence of the sacred as a leading force in contemporary society. Spirituality and fundamentalism are at opposite ends of the cultural spectrum. Spirituality seeks a sensitive, contemplative, transformative relationship with the sacred and is able to sustain levels of uncertainty in its quest because respect for mystery is paramount. Fundamentalism seeks certainty, fixed answers and absolution, as a fearful response to the complexity of the world and to our vulnerability as creatures in a mysterious universe. Spirituality arises from love of and intimacy with the sacred and fundamentalism arises from fear of and possession of the sacred. The choice between spirituality and fundamentalism is a choice between conscious intimacy and unconscious possession.”

  • Julie

    I am new to your blog. I have found some of your thought refreshing but I am confused. Were you a follower of Jesus and now you are not? I am just not sure if you put your quivering and faith in Jesus as one so are now forsaking both? I am a Christian or should I say, believer and try to be follower of Jesus. I understand your concerns for the quivering and patriarch movement and almost fell into their legalistic lifestyle after reading some books but thanfully my hubby saw the flaws of the teachings. But I don’t put the two together. Do you?

  • Calulu

    I’m still a believer Julie but I no longer consider myself Fundamental Quiverful or Evangelical, which I most definitely was during my 10 plus years at a church that was more cult than church. Now my beliefs are in the love of God and the safety in mainstream denominations. I attend a mainstream denomination and lead worship there. But I have experienced over 4 years of harassment from the people I left behind in my old church in my small southern town. If I lived in a larger city I probably would be spared most of this, but here you run into everyone you know at the gym or grocery store. About six months ago my old church had a nasty split and now some of those old throw rocks at me for leaving folks have come to me asking how you survive being vilified, emotionally abused, etc, now that they are having a very similar experience to my own. Most of them had a hand in harassing me previously too so this has been a challenging time for me as well as them. Do I do what love and God command & forgive them, then help them? Or do I harbor bitterness?

    The decision I made was based on love, regardless of what type of faith system you wrap that love around. I forgave. What I walked through in pain and tears during the course of 4 years I’ve been trying to use to help them and others. That’s why I’d given my friend that book in the first place.

    I am still going to help those that approach me but I refuse to get back in the box fear built based on what man says that God supposedly says.

  • Julie

    Hi Calulu,
    I am sorry, I thought the article was from the website owner! I don’t think she is a Christian anymore and somehow she put the legalistic stuff of quiverfull with the love of God and freedom in Christ. I TOTALLY understand what you are saying. When I started getting Nancy Campbell stuff and reading material I wanted to be like those ladies I am so thankful that I was able to get away when I did. I am learning to listen to Gods word and just be thankful that He loves me for who I am!

  • Calulu

    Different people here writing for the site have differing views. I’m still a Christian, I know others here who no longer believe in a god. It just really depends. I have days when I wonder why I still believe.

  • Lilah

    I sometimes actually wonder if people like Georgia have it easier than the rest of us. While the rest of us spend our time pondering and questioning everything around us, they are already secure in their belief that they know all the answers. They may or they may not actually have the answers, but it must really give a feeling of satisfaction to be convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt that you are right.

  • lael_ella

    I have never been inspired to comment before on an NLQ post (I mostly just try to learn about what my sisters, other women, deal with and consider that in light of my own desire and miniscule activism for advocacy and human rights).

    However. This quote is deeper than NLQ/QF, even more so to me than questions of doctrine, etc, for it embodies the essence of life, and how it feels to be afraid:
    “You’re too busy hiding under the bed with that boogie man.”
    It speaks of lost chances, and I am going to hold that turn of phrase with me for a few days. I really like it.

  • Another Halocene Human

    It’s all about when you turn inward, what sort of feeling you have inside. And that makes some people theists, pantheists, agnostic, atheists. I think we should all be free to believe as we wish.

    What’s sad is how many people still sit in the pews for the sake of conformity yet are getting nothing spiritually out of the service that they attend.

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