Re: Religion and narcissism

From: Jerry Bryson (
Date: Sat 21 Jan 2006 - 23:29:27 GMT

  • Next message: Jerry Bryson: "Re: Religion and narcissism"

    On Jan 21, 2006, at 5:47 PM, Dace wrote:

    > Ben writes:
    >> A man believes he's the reincarnation of Elvis Presley. He's utterly
    >> convinced of it. He brings his two young children up to believe he's
    >> Elvis too, and demands that they address him as "The King". Every
    >> Sunday, he takes them to the local music hall and subjects them to a
    >> horrendous karaoke rendition of his favourite Elvis classics. He then
    >> offers them each a fried peanut butter and banana sandwich, in
    >> commemoration of his past incarnation. He tells them that as long as
    >> they stay true and believe in the Power Of The Quiff, they'll all go
    >> to Elvis-land when they die and make some great rock-and-roll music
    >> together.
    >> It's a relatively harmless belief, just like Christianity, and just
    >> like your faith in Christianity, it's a belief that is based on the
    >> man's subjective personal experience.
    >> OK, it's a hypothetical situation (I hope), but do you think this
    >> man's behaviour is ethical?
    > I hope Kate doesn't mind me jumping in here.
    > It is absolutely unethical for this man to impose his delusion onto his
    > children.

    He doesn't know this is an illusion. It's ethical in his case; he's acting in good faith. If we think something is true, we tell the kids.

    > But this says nothing about religion. The word "religion" is
    > derived from the Latin "ligare" meaning to bind. The point of
    > religion is
    > bind oneself to divinity, to forge a link with a power greater than
    > oneself.

    And to the nation-state

    > For this reason, the essence of religion is humility. To the extent
    > that
    > religion teaches humility and respect, there's nothing unethical about
    > cultivating this belief in children.

    No doubt, Daddy was teaching children to be humble before him.
    > The Elvis man is doing exactly the opposite. Essentially, he's stolen
    > the
    > divine and incorporated it into his own inflated ego. This
    > hypothetical
    > example, strange as it seems, isn't very far removed from what actually
    > happened with L Ron Hubbard and the "church" of Scientology. Hubbard
    > made
    > himself into the god around which his church revolves. While
    > evangelical
    > Christians aren't quite as bold as Hubbard, they tend to treat God as
    > sort
    > of an alter ego.

    Need examples here; I didn't see this as I grew up fundamentalist.

    > The infantile need to be all-powerful is institutionalized
    > in the form of cultlike churches in which humility is brushed aside in
    > favor
    > of taking pride at one's special relationship with the Almighty.
    > Those who
    > don't belong to the only true church are to be despised and cast into
    > hell
    > rather than being respected as children of God who took a different
    > path.

    Some do, some don't. Frex, most Christians recognize those of different denominations as Christian--just a little off-track. As for that "special relationship with the Almighty," that's what brings everybody to the same level. There is a difference between narcissism and the positive self-image that comes from this relationship of God and each human. And proper Christians will tell everybody that relationship is open to all.
    > The main thing is not religion versus atheism but narcissism versus
    > humility. Plenty of atheists are narcissistic, and plenty of theists
    > are
    > wise and humble. What's unethical is imposing a narcissistic
    > worldview onto
    > children, be it religious or atheistic or even Elvistic.
    > ted
    Also, plenty of atheists are wise and humble; while plenty of theists are narcissistic.


    "In theory, theory and practice are the same, but in practice, they're different."

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