Saturday, January 13, 2018
Armageddon Days: Goodbye Bible Prophecy
Bible Prophecy messed me up. I wish I never had seen those Left Behind books, and that my years of being scared of a nuclear war, living in a giant metro city that was at the top of the list for the nuking and other PTSD events didn't comingle into a nasty stew that helped me fall for Last Days theologies. There's a toxic element to any religion that thinks the end of the world is inevitable and desires to find glory in it.
As a fundamentalist Christian, that world was all about bible prophesy. I fell for it and warned people about the coming "one world religion" which of course as a fundamentalist we were taught every other religion means you go to hell, and the "one world government" and "whore of Babylon". We were taught in fundamentalist and even mainstream evangelical church to read the Bible like it was a blue-print map for the future.
There's tons of Christian writers I read who wrote on the doom that awaited. I read books from church libraries, like ones by David Hunt and Cathy Burns. All this study did was take me more and more into a skewed world-view that changed reality. Digging one's self out of something like that takes some time.
Some may see these things as just "fringe" philosophies with very few believing them but don't kid yourself, in the evangelical world now and not just extreme fundie land, bible prophecy and the end of the world is the normal belief. These are the folks who voted for Trump. A cynical part of me wonders how much of it is multi-layer trauma programming as the doom-porn quadruples? After all a frightened population is an obedient one. If they think God is coming back soon, they aren't going to call national strikes.
Remember Jim Bakker? He was a disgraced 1980s televangelist with a heated dog house and golden faucets. He is making money hand over first selling buckets of food to people for prepping and to avoid the would be famines to come. He uses a lot of fear to do it too. In my independent fundamentalist baptist churches especially after the emotional laden 9-11 era, they told us America would collapse, and war would come and on online Christian conspiracy websites, one was told that FEMA camps would round up Christians and kill them and even more horrible fates.
Websites like David Bay's Cutting Edge, Rapture Ready, Jesus is Savior as examples among many all served as feeders for a ton of information on the horrible fates to come for humanity that ranged from Yellowstone exploding and covering two thirds of the country in volcano ash to the Nephilim returning to wreck havoc. With time, I got the feeling there sure seemed to be an agenda to make sure Christians were as scared as possible. Fear and control keep people compliant.
Hell already served that purpose for a lot of afraid people, but what does all the trauma programming and focus on scary events do to human beings when they are told the world will end all the time? What does it do to people's minds when they are told their fate will be dying in a nuclear holocaust or rounded up and killed by a dystopian government or have their eyeballs all bleed out from Ebola or die from some world wide flu? Sure there's tons of troubles in the world that can happen but why go looking for it? America is one very afraid and traumatized place.
The "get out" clause is the Pre-Trib Rapture, you float up to heaven with all the other holy people, and Christians were supposed to be spared the worse as the mushroom clouds and sirens went off.
I was more post-trib technically and thought the pre-Trib Rapture was easy escapism but I still believed time on this earth was short. Figuring out the scientists were right about millions of years of epochs and about human's truly small blip on the eternal time map, told me how absurd some of this stuff was. I also studied things like the Millerites and their great disappointment and little cracks started to form in my beliefs.
One thing that should scare all of us, is there are many conservative politicians, who believe we are in the last days and are blase' about this world ending, after all God will make a new one. Who cares if the environment collapses, God will save us! This is why Trump had no problem shutting down the EPA. Dominionism which I never accepted has only grown. The religious right wants to control everyone's lives and to expand the police state while preaching "small government". A worldwide nuclear holocaust has entered the place of acceptability as our Cheeto in Chief antagonizes multiple nations large and small.
There's probably an influx coming out of the churches, or I'd like to hope so because the evangelical/fundamentalist world has been revealed as the snake pit it really is with Trump, his minions and the prosperity preachers that support him. One entire party is now owned by them and this society is paying the price. Instead of Star Trek as our future, these people are taking us down the road to Idiocracy and the Republic of Gilead.
The book of Revelation bothered me more and more, so earth gets blown up too, and we are brought locusts and more suffering on humans like life isn't hard enough. I believe that humanity sought truth and there are some true moral and philosophical teachings in the Bible but it is limited by humanity striving to figure things out. Revelation by the way is a book, that most Christians don't agree on either. Evangelical or not. It's like an 8 ball everyone shakes, to try to figure out a code and yeah plenty of people wrote books on Bible codes too years ago.
Do enough online apologetics as a new gung-ho Christian and it's a circle that seems to lead nowhere. I studied the book of Revelation intently and even wrote and discussed on multiple Christian websites about multiple bible prophecies and later conspiracies. RFID chips still disturb me and are "real" but I would never take one for freedom purposes. Bible Prophecy can also be an avenue into conspiracy theory, and I was there too, reading books like "The Shadows of Power" and various books written by Dennis Cuddy, and others. I guess conspiracy theory sells in a lot of places now.
I know my environment and life took me to some crazy places. I moved to a very small and remote rural town in 1999 and would live there for almost 10 years. It is actually known for being very conservative. There I was surrounded by preppers, libertarians, and others who believed bible prophecy. What later became the alt-right was being molded. There was a guy who even bragged about being in a miltia. Let's just say this while the community was behind the times and that brought some positives, I look back on it now as a very extreme and unusual echo chamber.
It is hard to explain to you the world I lived in then. I met people who had renounced social security numbers and were homeless living in RV campers because they were anti-government and believed social security numbers were the mark of the beast. They would visit my one IFB church sometimes and that's how I met them. I talked them into taking a caretaker job so they wouldn't have to live so primitive, and they did, and lost contact with them around 2010 after I had moved here. They lived in an RV camper for years behind this guy's farm. I never went over there. The majority of people I knew in town not only in my own IFB church but most of the others homeschooled their children. I visited one lady's extreme church where they believed in bible prophecy and analyzed their dreams. I knew people who had sold everything and other preppers there and those who grew and store food on farms.
Outside of church, when politics came up, the main thought was despair, with the idea that only God could save us now, because the town was dying around us. The American Dream had died long ago. We had escaped Chicago to find peace, and safety, and while we found a small quiet town, there were problems there too. As I wrote in the science article, Carl Sagan was spot on in his prediction that people in their despair, would turn to extreme religion and superstition.
I know my PTSD, trauma and other issues took me into extreme religion. I had been spiritually abused and told I was going to hell when young over and over for questioning my family's religion. I remember when I was young and I have a journal from 1989 still where in it, I write quotes by Ingersoll, lyrics by the band The The [see the song above it was one of my favorites] and Unitarian Universalist quotes about freedom and not believing in hell. It is kind of ironic I have come full circle now with fuller understanding going back to my UU roots but as my husband said recently to me, "You had gone through so much, and I knew you were trying to find answers, thinking you would find them in this form of Christianity".
People are turning to drugs and religion to fix their pain. The religion part applied to me. Extreme religions and cults always have been more attractive to the vulnerable, abused and people with challenges. Many Christian pastors know the siren call to broken people of "Jesus or I can fix you and your life" will bring some in the door. I am guilty of the religion thing obviously. My own economic duress took me in too, once my career imploded, I saw the shiny happy middle class and above world as a very far off nation where smart phones and careers existed, so I ended up going into a religious version of fantasy and superstition. Science was for rich people. They lived in a STEM technocratic universe, I viewed with suspicion more and more as the socio-economic barriers grew wider and wider. This is probably something if the Democratic party hopes to survive or to really effect any change, they need to pay attention to.
The deliverance minister believed in bible prophecy too and warned of the new world order online. When I first met her she lived in another state but told me that God had directly told her to ride out the Tribulation in another backwater Southern state. This was 12 years ago. It does disturb me that something this extreme became normal to me, but by then I had read dozens of online fundamentalist Christians saying the very same thing. I was told everyday at church, God would direct my own life and give me answers.
Some people have confessed to me that when young they felt freaked out being told the world would end soon. They feared they would never be able to have families or marry or a future. I worried too about my own time being cut short but my own health loomed as a bigger threat. Sometimes now I am disturbed how evangelical Christian websites pound on about constant wars, threats from other groups of people and more. It has helped in some of the circles to advance xeno-phobia and very dark views of the world. While some liberal Christians may preach that God will make the world better, for evangelicals and in fundamentalist circles, it was all about the world falling apart. Some non-believers would wonder about the death cult edge to this all. I do not believe the alt-right would even exist without bible prophecy and conspiracy theories fueling it.
Have you ever wondered how much of this doom-porn in Christianity is related to people just having no more economic hope anymore and socially disconnected lives in America. You see other Western European nations still with a bit of hope in the future. These nations by far are far more secular or religiously liberal and are far happier places. Ever wonder about that?
I am wondering myself how near death, horrible disabilities that deafened and deformed me, and isolated me, messed me up to be receptive to all this junk. If you think about it, if a great swathe of American are THIS AFRAID, this country is screwed, and religion and bad Dominionist politics have stirred together into a stinking stew. That's not where any hope, happiness or joy in the future, is going to come. We got the austere, the miserable and the nothing to look forward to. Some of these extreme Christians are dystopians who desire a shitty future for us all.
I know being told everyone was going to die and we would all be nuked or persecuted all the time upset me. It was a Machivellian Divide and Conquer especially as the uber wealthy have people fighting over a smaller share of crumbs. The religious right are screwed up in the head because a lot of the churches shove constant doom down their throat, false righteous anger with everyone as the enemy who isn't just like them and endless warnings that the Muslims and the gays are coming to destroy them all. Some groups have vestiges of racism scapegoating other races like Trump.
Bible Prophecy is not a good influence on mental health in many ways. Neither are extreme conspiracy theories. How did I wake up? Everything just grew more irrational to me. The faith was crumbling from reality hitting home as I have attested to on several articles already but there were other nibbling details. Further study took me to different places, and the insanity of the deliverance minister was a huge nudge. It's hard to explain but I realized more and more of the conspiracies were bullshit, when I saw this stuff about the Mandela Effect online and saw Christians and others believing this stuff, I was disturbed. People have faulty memories and some believing that reality had been altered was very scary to me. I knew then things have gotten crazy. Don't get me wrong, I still believe there's a lot of bad stuff going on and what's theory about conspiracy when people plot and plan to do evil all the time? Refer to George Carlin here. He got a lot of their antics accurate. However there's a lot of scripted and delusional stuff and among the most religious circles it's the worse.
Think about it this way, the wars in the middle east were sold via bible prophecy. Trump is adapting policy to the deceptions of the religious right, such as in ending anything to do with climate change. Trump moving Israel's capital to Jerusalem has the religious right getting excited, and a lot of bible prophecy runs that show too. I realized how conspiracy people were all herded into voting for Trump via Alex Jones [Remember even Hillary complained about Alex Jones and I realized a lot of it was just another con.
I remember the days when Alex Jones told everyone both parties were evil and with the "Illuminati". This was just one facet among all the other nuttiness growing with fake news, and so much propaganda. Now the Illuminati is just another mainstreamed "meme", and has been recently featured in a Taco Bell commercial. This weirded me out as I told some people on a Christian website some time ago they would be "mainstreaming" all the conspiracy theories. After all if Alex Jones Infowars was almost like Trump's election headquarters who knew what else would happen?
Religion was getting crazier, and to me became a source of fear, pain and guilt instead of any comfort or solace, and I know this is one reason my deconversion began along with my intellectual changes. I did not feel like I belonged and I never belonged. I had cognitive dissonance and unhappiness for years as I described on the other religion articles. That push and pull between my real liberal values and this religion that was messing me up inside. It was time for a change.
Things could have been worse for me if I was not married to an agnostic husband, he told me some of these bible prophecy people and the deliverance ministers were getting crazy, and her curses were like Skipper and the Tiki, and would tell me these extreme people were wrong. [He loved me and hung in there with me and I didn't force religion down his throat.] Anyhow I had an individual foot in both worlds doing war protesting and art/music co-op and environmental volunteer work so I had that push and pull going too. I still went to music concerts so I had some contact with reality.
Now I can be more comfortable and back in intellectual honesty instead of the constraints of extreme religion. I had been in the UU, which I am back in now, I had studied art. So there was always that push and pull. Bible prophecy sends some completely over the bend. People have done things like sell everything or make life decisions dependent on false prophets and religious crying wolf. I think it's impacting our culture in some insidious ways and I know it did me.
I Hate the Religious Right
Recovering From Bad Religion
Fundamentalist Religion and the Rejection of Science in America
More Religious Thoughts
Leaving Fundamentalism Related to ACON Recovery?