Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Why I am No Longer a Christian

"“But what if the local church is more a holdout for some deeply regressive ideas about gender and sexuality mixed in with some beautiful relationships and lovely music and a side of toxic shame? What if Jesus was more of a Jewish rabbi with some good ideas about the dignity of sex workers and the unrelenting hypocrisy of religious leaders? What if converting my neighbor into my image turns out to be the most self-absorbed sort of idolatry I’ve ever participated in? What if a deity who threatens hell can never be in a healthy relationship with anyone? What if being obedient leads to emotional deadness, intellectual numbness, and a moral Nuremberg defense?”

“C.S. Lewis would urge me to work through his Liar, Lunatic, Lord equation. Pascal would have me work through his wager. But both offer a myopic lens for exploring all of this. What about Islam? What about atheists? What about Buddha? If I wanted to crunch a modernist math equation about whether Christ / Church / God is true, I would have to account for an infinite number of variables.”

“I’m no more responsible for calculating whether Christianity is true than I am for calculating whether Zeus is real.”

“Leaving the Church has allowed us to better love our neighbors, better care for our souls, more sincerely pursue truth, more authentically receive and offer grace.”

~ Tucker FitzGerald

Why I am no longer a Christian

Friday, October 11, 2019

David Sedaris' Comments About Tiffany in Calyspo


When I wrote about Tiffany being the family scapegoat, it was a controversial article. I did write about how David Sedaris made an admission about his sister, that they failed to defend her. I was glad to see this bit of insight.

 He at least admitted their failure to act to stand against their mother's abuse and rejection of Tiffany.

In his book Calypso, which I am reading now for a library book club, in an essay titled "A House Divided", David talks more about Tiffany, and says the family did not know about her mental illnesses and could have had more understanding for her if they had known. I understand why Tiffany did not disclose.

One thing realized in ACON studies is that for scapegoats, the family can be a very different place of being. I had to face facts even myself, that my cousins, brother and sister had positive memories of my narcissists and family life. They were treated far better and had times of connection and happiness. It was hard for me to hear my cousins lovingly use my mother's name, but then they did not have the same person to deal with. They had love and respect even if faked from her after all. Some people via different challenges end up in a far worse position in a family. Tiffany had her struggles with mental illness and others that put her more at risk of being placed in the scapegoating position.

 David Sedaris in his writings speaks of easier conversations with his mother, he definitely was close to her. His father is more distant but is overall respectful and includes David. All children in narcissistic families suffer to a degree but Tiffany definitely did not have the same experiences as her siblings being the scapegoat.

There is another admission in this essay in this most recent book. Could David have seen online what others had to say about his family and the realities of narcissism and how it was obvious that his sister was scapegoated? It is rare for family members within a narcissistic system to wake up, but at times it is possible for the few who are capable of any growth and are not too far along or on the narcissistic spectrum themselves While this often comes too late and decades later, they may question the system and what was done to their sibling who was the scapegoat. While David admits some faults of his parents, he may need to re-examine the depths of what they did to his sister.

Maybe he has come into more understanding now about what has happened to his sister. Maybe he has realized that the family which was a crucible of connection, closeness and happy memories along with some troubled ones for him was anything but for his sister.  This statement does make clear, that he understands, that the treatment by the Sedaris family had something to do with her suicide.

This comment in his essay, makes it seem so.

In this essay, they talk about how Tiffany killed herself, and the method she used. She took pills and used a plastic bag to asphyxiate herself.

"Did Lisa by any chance tell you about Tiffany, I asked.

"The plastic bag, you mean?" Gretchen nodded. "She told me on the phone last week. I try not to think of it but it's pretty much all I can think about. Our own sister ending up that way."

I walked to the window and looked at the sky, which had now gone from bruise-colored to black. "Someone told me," I said, "that in Japan, if you commit suicide by throwing yourself in front of a train, your family gets fined the equivalent of eighty thousand dollars for all the inconvenience you caused."

From behind me, I could hear Gretchen slicing more apples.

"Of course," I continued, "if your family was the whole reason you were killing yourself, I supposed it would be just an added incentive."

I hope his sisters have come into more insight too but sadly it is too late for Tiffany. Lives are damaged and ended by scapegoating. That's the tragedy.

 This article kind of connects to my last article questioning the dominance of the nuclear family. Nuclear families in American culture especially are split between winners and losers where internal cooperation is not developed but competition at all costs even to the point that some family members are crushed. One person who is the scapegoat is often deemed the family loser and reject. One could argue this created Tiffany's mental illness instead of her mental illness being the reason the family rejected her.  That's one thing to think about. How many are made mentally ill from the abuse? Tiffany showed many signs of CPTSD. Scapegoating is soul murder at the crux of it, and some don't win the battle for their physical lives.

Later in the book, while one sees some flashes of insight in David, things get complex, there is reference to troubled consciences, but sadly, the family system reverts to the same message about the scapegoat. How many scapegoats are written off, as "you know how they can be". A would be narcissistic family system can break down a scapegoat, and some do become mentally ill. My conjecture is that many scapegoats are made that way from the process of scapegoating.

Sadly the resultant emotions and problems is just added on to the list for the rejection that got the whole ball rolling. This reminds me on a lesser level when one of my cousins told me once, "your emotions bother people in the family". What is ironic in my situation after I became a Christian years before I later deconverted, I was grey rocking myself to death, being nice, kind, pleasant, "not a bother" and making presents for the family and being quiet and meek on visits, hoping for love and acceptance that would never come. I buffed all the edges of my personality.  I hid negative emotions. That didn't work.

What is sad, when a scapegoat gets the resultant PTSD effects, anxiety disorders, inability to function in the world like Tiffany if the mental abuse becomes severe, that can be used as more of a reason for rejection from the family. You don't fit, you aren't "pleasant" and "engaging" enough. My depression when I was younger while I never had to make the psych ward circuit, putting myself in counseling by age 18, was reason enough for my own family to justify the treatment they gave me. "She's not that easy to be around!". "She has a bad personality". Some of that came back to me. Sadly while Tiffany's mental disorders may have been far more severe, one can see that happened to her too in the family system.

One sister Amy sees a psychic who claims to contact Tiffany and her mother and claims that they are getting along. If this really had happened it seemed more insight would have been passed on from the spirit world then

"She and Mom are finally getting along," Amy continued. "She mainly wanted to let you know that she has no hard feelings. The psychic said Tiffany's been trying to tell you this herself and asked if you've had a lot of problems with your phone lately."

Amy to me shows some conscience here, in that she wants hope from the psychic, that Tiffany would want to forgive them all one day but sadly in my belief, none of these messages were real. Amy wants Tiffany to have "no hard feelings" towards the mother that scapegoated her. Why isn't the mother in this afterlife scenario apologizing?  Amy admits the trouble with Mom to the psychic and easy answers are given that now in the afterlife, that two personalities that didn't get along now do. It is interesting to me, that Tiffany's "hard feelings" are the focus here, instead of atonement on the behalf of the mother.

David then talks more about Tiffany's mental health problems in the same chapter called "Spirit World" about that day he had the door shut on her, during a show.  David admits he never saw or spoke to her again. He mentions her mental health problems referring to a suicide attempt and hospitalization, a rape and an eviction and then says

"She was, I told myself, someone else's problem. I couldn't deal with her anymore.
Well, the rest of the family said, it was Tiffany. Don't be too hard on yourself. We all know how she can be.

Perhaps like the psychic, they were just telling me what I needed to hear to ease my conscience and make me feel that underneath it all I'm no different from anyone else. They've always done that for me, my family. It's what keeps me coming back"

David's conscience is bothered, and that's a good sign, but sadly narcissistic families, will justify the treatment of the scapegoat forever.  The family system can't admit what was done to the scapegoat.  Yes mental illness can be troubling. People who face difficulties are not easy to deal with. It's hard to explain the depths of pain for a scapegoat, who is told in various ways "you are not right" or "we know how you can be". They are blamed sadly for what the family in many cases made them become. For David, his family is a place of solace, and easing of conscience but you see, would be narcissistic families are not good influences on consciences.

One comment by [Ky Ya Ya] on the video on the Vice Interview below sums things up:

"The family narrative is pervasive & powerful. Even when reality intrudes, the narrative holds strong. It's a habit of thought, operationalised in family roles that stigmatise & problematise the "scapegoat". This narrative is modelled, reinforced & rewarded by toxic parents. You get good at what you practice, this includes negative thinking, toxic family narratives, victim-blaming, responsibility avoidance & selfishness. Golden child siblings are literally blind to the abuse, even though they SEE it. They are blind because they are conditioned to think the scapegoat IS the problem, they are also blind to the abuse of the scapegoat, because they don't see it as abuse. My golden child sister has no clue our NM is abusive & manipulative, she thinks she's a "good" person. My GC sister has no clue regarding her own abusive behaviour!! They operate in a moral fog where their evil/wrongdoing is justified, redescribed, minimised & denied."

Reading Between the Lines About David Sedaris' Family

Scapegoating Families: David Sedaris' Vice Interview (Pt. 1 of 5)

Questioning the Nuclear Family

I saw this quote today and it resonated with me. As some know, here I have done my own questioning of the nuclear family in the article "Family as a Sacred Cow".

The nuclear family is not a crucible of love and support for many people anymore. We definitely are questioning the entire system. Religion definitely has shoved "family-first" down our throats for eons. Anyhow I thought this was a great quote that described much of what I was talking about too.

 Seen on Facebook from a "Douglas Frederick", where the group was discussing suicide....

 "It is the failure of all these "loved ones," the collective of all us which are so busy with our own lives and so disconnected from and unaccountable to one another that lets people slip through the cracks, whether they hurt themselves or someone else. If we truly care about any such transgressors and lost ones, we'll have to get serious about reordering our priorities and shifting our values to recreate a society which tends to and loves each person in it. People committing suicide in our midst is testimony to something broken in the entire social structure. Blaming anyone is pointless. But, what are we willing to do to remedy it?

This reassessment includes our love affair with the nuclear family arrangement we are for some reason so attached to, despite how unhealthy and unnatural it is for a social species. Suicide, murder, and rape are typically unheard of in tribal type social groups. Children can be horribly abused, neglected, or indoctrinated behind closed doors hidden away from the group, treated as the private property of one or two adults who project themselves and all their unhealed shadow material onto the children. What might we consider doing differently, if we really care about people who grow up to be suicidal or transgressive? This is the elephant in the room of -so- many social ills we contend with which no one even thinks to look at.

The Church worships the nuclear family as some kind of God-given sacrament that is utter perfection. Millennia of king-priests, kings, and priests setting our standards for society have sunk in deep so that even the secular world still clings to what is largely a religious arrangement, which once served to help hold a more tenuous kind of society together (at a cost), but I think is, like childhood strategies developed to cope with trauma, now become dysfunctional for us as we continue to grow up. This is the sacred cow very few are willing to challenge, but it's all so obvious.

So, all this points to the desperate need for our society to deeply reconnect on the community level, to revalue the human being more than corporations, banks, the military, profit, property, and privilege. I think we are heading in this direction. People are sick, sad, and exhausted by business as usual. When collective values shift, entire paradigms and eras shift. It is time for another Renaissance, one based on the essential restoring of human value, including so many women and people of whichever ethnicities, which have been undervalued and devalued in the world, squandering our greatest natural resource: each other."

I often think of the squandered potential and lives of people who are in families that do not appreciate or love them and where they emotionally and otherwise do not belong. How many are suppressed just being born or adopted into the wrong group of people?  Suicide I believe is increasing because love and connection in the nuclear family is lacking for many.

In our consumerist society, families have become all about competition too, where the "winners" are worthy of love and care, and the "losers" are ostracized. I have seen this all over, my situation is extreme but know for a child not to be a "success" that often the relationship with the family is not a positive one. Our families have become nothing but competition clubs, who will win is top priority for too many out there.

What is sad, is in America, the nuclear family is gaining precedence.  One of my old IFB churches prided itself on being "family first" and that made me feel left out from the day I started there, because I did not have a family. In conservative circles, they push isolation and fear for the children, with homeschooling, so some kids are cut even more off from community or other people to give them information about the world. They can't have the kids knowing too much because then they may question the religion or the family system.

He is right that children have become more private property then people in themselves. There's so many places now, where people have turned their children into trophies where they are to be a reflection unto a family rather then people in their own right. How many young people can even manage to find themselves or who they are meant to be in a society that tells them their role is to be defined by their nuclear family forever more. My family hated me and made me the scapegoat but they also were a barrier to my desire to become an artist. I was mocked and told art was a waste of time. My intellectual and other interests were not respected. Conformity was the greatest good in my family.

I see 60-70 plus years old stuck in the roles and lives laid out by their families. What will the family think? Families can be like religions in themselves where people are told the world is this way, and don't dare question. I questioned my family like religion. Maybe I thought life should be more then breeding, I couldn't have children anyway. Maybe I thought life should not just be an exercise in conformity, misery and measuring up to narcissists where nothing was good enough anyway. I see young people being more and more crushed by their families, for the ones who are not 'good enough" trophies, mental illness and depression are growing. People are lonely out there and the nuclear family is not enough.