This is on the point of internal reaction and projected judgment toward others who identify with religion or some form of spirituality. There has been a habit of wanting to silently counter-preach from a starting point of intolerance while seeking to inflate myself with a sense of vindication, basically supporting and perpetuating the polarity that manifests into the entire cycle of arguments and violence on every other level. I would essentially keep the entire argument to myself out of habit of avoidance and inertia. There are other points that I allowed to persist as potential arguments in my mind, and they have gone more or less unspoken as well. If these points were ever written out in the past, it was often in the form of a rant with no particular solution or self-direction, just exercises in cultivating and pumping up the accuser within myself.
One of my first memories was of being baptized, and I remember a sense of bewilderment at the whole ritual and maybe even terror, although I heard that I was totally cooperative. At that age all the adults are giants, and there’s not much to do except follow along wherever they take you. As I grew up and gained some perspective, I noticed how both parents were always at war with each other and I would develop my own habit of criticizing them silently to myself, wondering why the hell they were even married. This became part of the groundwork for the creation of my own self-religion, and as I grew to resent them for being what I considered useless or unfit to raise children, this comprised much of the internal rant which went unspoken. Here I write out some of the preacher in my mind to expose it, while placing the necessity to debunk self-religion into the greater context so that it’s no longer just an ego fix.
My mother was my Sunday school teacher when I was a child, while my father had nothing whatsoever to do with religion. This difference of opinion kept me in a somewhat confused state as a child. I was a momma’s boy to an extent, and didn’t really identify much with my gender role as a boy in spite of some awkward attempts, and this factored into my introversion as I gradually realized that I wasn’t very cool. Within the relative tunnel vision of my childhood it seemed pretty difficult and frustrating at the time, as I was very busy in my mind trying to figure people out as well as how to conduct myself in such a way so as to avoid antagonism from those I perceived as separate from myself in my peer group.
The church that I went to was Lutheran and very casual, and to an extent I accepted the idea of God that was sold there. Because of this, I can still relate to people who cling to their god like a security blanket, as it’s very easy to have faith in something like that in spite of the cognitive dissonance that is explained as a test of one’s faith. Any evidence that goes contrary to the belief is easy to ignore when there is something so ineffable in the world. God was so ineffable that when someone would talk about him, it would be in the most vague terms, enshrouded in mystery. It’s almost ironic that this describes my own self-religion quite accurately, except mine was probably more secretive, ineffable, and essentially unarticulated within myself.
Included in the compartments on the back of the pews in the worship area were writing utensils and some paper, so I would typically draw during the sermon. The drawings were usually intended to be pretty silly and I would often be stifling my laughter to avoid attention or trouble. If there was someone around to draw with, it would be even funnier because of the mutual feedback. Aside from the moments where I was drawing for social approval, it seemed like the best way to process the whole experience of sitting in church, at the risk of projecting a reputation as inattentive or misbehaving, which from my own perspective was part of my split personality, whereas the opposite was very cooperative and diligent and demonstrated under different circumstances. Recently I noticed that the scrap paper they now have within the seats says as the top, ‘scribble sheet for little Lutherans,’ and at the bottom is a little picture of the Sponge Bob cartoon character. I felt something like disdain toward this and the whole combination of condescending bullshit that adults give to children to keep them pacified. This has been a favorite subject to preach about in my mind to an image of some hypothetical parent, but ultimately it’s just one trivial aspect of the cultural environment that I have perceived myself as residing in. I've allowed these things to remain within my mind like a scratching post until I remember that it must stop within myself in order to practically solve or process it in reality.
In contrast to that were the moments where I would take the experience of sitting in church rather seriously, singing along to hymns and taking communion, etc., and it was in these moments wherein I would accept and conform myself to the idea of God and Jesus as my mysterious and ineffable ‘savior,’ since I didn’t realize then that the sermons were by definition taken completely out of context from the bible. I never quite understood how the alleged event of God’s only son dying on a cross is supposed to save me from sin or from going to Hell because it's nonsensical. Nor could I understand why God would have a human son in the first place, and then have it arranged for him to be tortured to death on earth, or why this was supposedly done for me, but it was always justified as a divine plan. Explanations for these things always sound like bullshit since blind faith is always the prerequisite. Yet somewhere in my mind I must have accepted the idea that this experience on earth is like something of waiting room, and that we are all going to go to heaven when we die, which seemed like a very comfortable thing to believe in at the time, even if it made no sense. But there were no other readily apparent explanations for who I am or what I’m doing in this world, and perhaps I wasn’t inquisitive enough. So I placed my trust in the mystery and timeless quality of this Lutheran brand, just like the collective tendency to regard the mystery of it all as divinity in itself that is somehow also a caring and benevolent universal force that I’ve been subconsciously devoted to debunking for an imaginary audience in my head, in no real linear way.
Sunday school took place in a large room with different classes divided by either curtains or movable walls, each class including roughly a dozen children or less sitting at one table. The classes were based on workbooks that were basically cartoon illustrated manuals on how to interpret the holy bible so as to go on to carry out God’s work, keep The Lord in your heart, and be a messenger of love, and I believed on some level that I was too shallow to understand these things. I remember being somewhat disruptive during class in some moments, and this could have had to do with some insecurity about my mother being the teacher. She ‘taught’ specifically according to the guidelines of the colorful workbook, while none of the children ever seemed to have questions. I think my moments of being disruptive were like my way of trying to say ‘what the fuck are we doing?’ in terms of a child's unarticulated confusion or natural resistance to indoctrination.
Confirmation was like the next step up from Sunday school where there were no more colorful workbooks, my mommy was no longer the teacher, and it was about listening to lectures and doing what was specifically called ‘memory work,’ or memorizing passages from the bible in order to earn marks for participation. I don’t remember anything I memorized but I can recite what might be the shortest verse in the bible: ‘pray constantly,’ which for practicality can be reinterpreted as ‘breathe air.’
One specific memory I have of this class was when a teacher was explaining the figure of speech ‘god damn it,’ and she explained with total authority that god doesn’t ‘damn’ anyone or anything. It must have crossed my mind on some level that these ‘lessons’ required some presumption, but I gave her the benefit of the doubt. I notice that when I have said ‘god damn it’ so often to myself it’s usually been with sarcasm, which can become just another tool of suppression. The kind of sarcasm comes from my father in a way, and I’ve wondered how I could inherent certain qualities such as this from someone that I was so repulsed by. It seems like I wanted to make the best of what I allowed myself to inherit, and this was part of a cognitive dissonant experience of holding the wheel yet somehow unable to steer. In this sense, ‘god damn it’ has often been a very subtle point of self-recrimination, and the mental activity of ‘blessing’ or ‘damning’ anything creates a stationary exercise wheel of polarity for a lab rat of the mind in the broader sense.
After being ‘confirmed,’ I avoided church for several years aside from holidays where I was obliged to attend a service with my family. I simply didn’t enjoy going there, or anywhere, since I was in the middle of puberty and therefore suddenly riddled with insecurities, yet I continued to harbor some vague belief in the mysterious, ineffable, unarticulated universal force of god. I had talked to this holy thing in my mind on many occasions, and in several cases I would ask for something like a letter from someone, e.g., and it would arrive the next day. It’s interesting to think that God would be so generous to answer a little obscure prayer while allowing perpetual famine, war, and corruption, but we were all taught to accept these things as a normal aspect of the common collective sleepwalk.
As a senior in high school, I heard of a certain woman who had been attending church and was supposedly schizophrenic and liked to corner people and talk at them about her imaginary adventures. This interested me enough to go and meet her because I always empathized with people who are self-defined within such mental illness, however real or imagined, since I was perhaps looking for some reflection or at least a way to subconsciously project my own perceived mentality onto someone else so that I could feel relatively sane in comparison. I remember sitting next to her and being the passive listener as she shared her crazy stories because I found some thrill in this nonsense that I recognized within myself on my own imaginary level. At the time, it placed my whole childhood history and relationship to this particular church into perspective, because it was like a hole that was poked into the whole façade of how I had defined myself according to that microcosm. In retrospect, it was quite a self-manipulating relationship with this person, and she was harmless, but basically I was looking to her for something like existential feedback.
After a few weeks I realized she was telling me different versions of the same stories of romance and surfing with celebrities and royalty and it seemed like neither of us were capable of talking ourselves out of our own bullshit. Eventually I found another friend to relate with who was more compatible and acceptable to be around, and this interaction led to my participation in what is known as a youth group, where teenagers such as me at the time would basically go to church once a week, eat food, pray and hang out in a room afterward. I was the passive listener there as well, but really I just went there to hang out with my friend and be in the company of the opposite gender. I participated in a work camp, which involved a year’s worth of fundraising to take a field trip to Montana to offer help in restoring the homes of the residents. At the end of the day, the entire group of several hundred people would gather in a gymnasium to go through the religious charades, like some half-assed affirmation that we’re somehow serving the lord. This involves singing along to some pretty catchy fucked-up tunes like ‘Our God Is An Awesome God,’ which I have often caught myself singing under my breath. Aside from that, work camp was actually quite fun for the vacation that it was, and I wouldn’t mind doing stuff like that on a regular basis, which would be the case in an ideal world system.
After that experience, which followed high school graduation, I entered into the work force and the whole god delusion remained in some undigested form. I tried to drown it out and suppress it further through things like metal music in all its forms, and went through a process of developing some further perspective on what it was that I had participated in from the opposite pole. One thing followed another in terms of idle curiosity which even included books on elusive concepts within the esoteric hierarchy of those who claim to understand them. Within this there were always differences in opinion, so if I commit myself to any of that material then I would be one more person with a set of opinions to add to all the others who choose to agree or disagree based on their own set of opinions from the same batch of cookie dough, which didn't seem very practical. One element within that material that remained universal enough as far as I was concerned was the tarot system as a psychological model. Aside from that, in the consideration of who and where I am in relation to everything else and what I have participated in, ultimately I found that everything is to be taken back to self instead of projected somewhere out there.
If there remains any tendency to want to blame the adults for conducting charades like this, I've fallen for different versions of the same nonsense. I can forgive ‘the adults’ as myself, without the mental masturbatory aid of an imaginary savior or accuser. The ‘grudge’ could continue as a contribution to the entire matrix of self-religions, a kind of energy that requires the polarity in order to exist as a regular ego fix. This kind of power-seeking within myself is what silent preaching has essentially been about, like the starting point of any other self-created religion, out of fear of losing ground within the illusory hierarchy of a broken system.
I had allowed this branch of indoctrination to be a huge component of the communication barrier between my mother and myself, and I’ve noticed this constant tendency to want to carry on with some rant in my mind directed toward her in relation to this. In this, I would just go through all the hypocrisy and ignorance that would be charged with my own intolerance and desire for vindication for being conned into believing in something silly and useless. For the past couple decades I haven’t really found much within myself to say to her in real time. My blame and judgment toward her for feeding me this when I was young and impressionable would be in the typical abstract, unarticulated and suppressed form which would then become integral with my body and how I tense up when I’m near her. Past experiences of being in the presence of both parents has been like a matter of almost restraining myself physically, then later channeling this suppression into physical exercise. It's easy to become vindictive and frustrated when there were specific things I wanted to say but couldn't seem to interject because there's never an apparent or convenient time or place for it, and so the tendency would be to gravitate to the inertia of avoidance.
If the point ever would come up, it would likely be a calm, direct conversation, completely unlike the imaginary rant I’d created in my head. I’ve never really had a heated discussion or argument with anyone in spite of projecting myself in my mind as such along with so many other different alternate personae in relation to different ideas I’ve formed of relationships in my mind, most of which never quite came to the surface of physical real 'time.' Nevertheless, rather than allow myself to become the counter-preacher that would just keep the polarity in place whether in my mind or in reality, the solution is that of being prepared to speak in a moment rather than forever plotting in the mind.
My past acceptance of the idea of God was something I have wasted enough time judging myself for as one of the rotten ingredients in the cookie dough of my character that I didn’t want to exist as. This is especially within my interpretation of this ingredient as something that enables one to adopt a victim mentality, which is trivial considering all the other roles I wouldn't want to play out within this hierarchy. Wasting further moments in the mental act of trying to mold myself as a certain type of character based on what would have preferred would always inevitably lead to a state of disappointment. This would be the constant projection of myself into the future that I could never measure up to, with the cognitive dissonance of deceiving myself one way or another without considering who I am beyond the periphery of my own tunnel vision.
All forms of self-religion can make direct communication virtually impossible. While it would seem to go without saying that the projection and worship of a god that doesn’t exist results in the same self-separation and abdication of responsibility, just like waiting it out for an afterlife, it was points like this that I had used as like a form of stored ammunition waiting for some triumphant moment of catharsis and vindication. Yet it would never be anything else but a perpetual inner conflict, just as the origin of all projected conflict in any given moment. Ultimately, self-religions can be debunked without adding further layers to them through the internal monologue.