Re: Religion and narcissism

From: Jerry Bryson (
Date: Tue 24 Jan 2006 - 03:26:09 GMT

  • Next message: Chris Taylor: "Re: Religion and narcissism"

    On Jan 23, 2006, at 4:26 PM, Dace wrote:

    > Michelle writes:
    >> "...The point of religion is bind oneself to divinity, to forge a
    >> link
    > with a power greater than oneself.For this reason, the essence of
    > religion
    > is humility...."
    >> But, (pls correct me if I'm wrong), isn't this inate desire of
    >> forging a
    > link with a power greater oneself is the "product" of the fear of the
    > nature
    > from our hunter-gatherer ancestors?
    >> Mic
    > Barbara Ehrenreich makes an excellent case for this in her 1997 book,
    > *Blood
    > Rites.* ...
    > So one God is born of fear, the other of love. One is merely a meme
    > in the
    > pool of human mentality, the other an expression of the pool itself.
    That's an awful stretch. Really.

    > Jerry writes:
    >> 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.
    > Hitler thought he was the savior of Germany. Does that make the
    > holocaust
    > ethical?

    In Hitler's eyes, I suppose so. Many of us don't agree.
    >>> 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
    > As Ehrenreich observes, the institution of human sacrifice evolved into
    > warfare. Instead of the priest slaughtering the victim, he must only
    > "sanctify" the battlefied, at which point the victims can slaughter
    > each
    > other. The nation-state is the modern predator beast and therefore the
    > modern God, always seeking new prey to satiate its blood-lust. The US
    > "founding fathers" insisted on separating church and state, in part,
    > so as
    > to create a new religion built around the state, a distinctly
    > unChristian
    > creed in which the new God, while commanding allegiance at home, is
    > free to
    > prowl the earth in search of new victims. Seems their project is
    > coming
    > along quite nicely!

    Hmm... And where, exactly, does this show up in the writings of the founders?
    >>> 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.
    > That's not humility. That's humiliation.
    >>> 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.
    > President Bush's biggest backers in the invasion and occupation of
    > Iraq are
    > fellow fundamentalists. In identifying themselves-- to the exclusion
    > of
    > nonbelievers-- with God, both the righteousness and the success of
    > their
    > cause are guaranteed. As Bush says, God told him to invade. He
    > wanted to
    > invade for personal and geopolitical reasons but justified it through
    > his
    > association with God. On his own he's puny and weak, but through his
    > altar
    > ego, you might say, he's mighty and unstoppable.
    Yes, this goes on, as a political tactic. And it may not be working as well as hoped. People are backing away from this unholy union; Pat Robertson has pretty well discredited himself over the ID question. I think that is the real meaning of "taking God's name in vain."

    >>> 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.
    > As I say, religion is double-stranded.

    It's your *other* strand I can't run with.
    > ted
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