Aggravating Some Readers With Christianity on Writer Beat

All of us have acquaintances who won’t let us mention our Christian faith without setting them off like Roman candles. I not only have such emotional people in my life, but observed them in my psychoanalytical practice. When a stimulus, otherwise benign to most people, can trigger a unusual emotional experience in another, it becomes interesting.

I came up with three explanations which satisfy me.

One is the traditional explanation of childhood trauma. The second, is cognitive dissonance, and the third is supernatural.

Freud taught us how a traumatic experience in childhood can become repressed but serve later to trigger emotional responses. In my classes, I used this illustration. During the war unexploded bombs were dropped on London. Roads were built over them. Over time, whenever a truck rolled past, the bombs jiggled. One day, they exploded.

How does Freud explain the puzzling response of our aggravated friends? During therapy it would be revealed that as a very sensitive child, they were traumatized by the fear tactics preachers used. The person then became agitated later whenever the subject arises.


The second explanation for the unusual response comes from cognitive dissonance. “In psychology, cognitive dissonance is the mental stress or discomfort experienced by an individual when confronted by new information that conflicts with existing beliefs, ideas, or values.“


In adolescence the ability to reason is heightened. During this period, intellectually oriented youth set about to resolve the subject of religion. Some, using their now advanced cognitive abilities, conclude that a god concept is totally illogical. The benefit of that conclusion is they feel free to live their own lifves the way they want. When it comes time to die, the lights just go out. Because you, their friends, know that God is real, you agitate them by creating cognitive dissonance, raising the question to themselves “What if I am wrong!”


The third explanation is that there is something called an anti-Christ spirit. We have seen it manifested from the cross, to the Colosseum, to the modern attacks by Allah’s followers. The anti-Christ spirit is easy for a self diagnoses. One only has to let people talk about Allah, or Krishna or any other god. If you get no emotional response in yourself but on the other hand become agitated when Christian faith comes up, you want to check yourself for an anti-Christ spirit.


Jeffry Gilbert Added Oct 27, 2017 - 8:51pm
Bullshit. None of the above. 
There are many things I enjoy and don't proseltize about like working on my boat, naturism, bamee moosap hang to name a few. 
You clearly were inculcated with the imaginary guy in the sky nonsense.
"Give me a child for the first seven years, and you may do what you like with him afterwards." 
school of thought. 
I sailed with thumpers. They never made it at sea. Men working at their limit simply don't want to listen to proseltizing. They want a quiet meal and sleep. 
Maybe that's why you never made it up from wiper. You couldn't fit in. 
Your childhood trauma was having gawd shoved down your throat. Talk about child abuse. 
Look, it's certainly your right to blather on about it. Its others right to take you to task when you do. Suggesting otherwise presumes superiority that doesn't exist. 
Carry on.
Flying Junior Added Oct 27, 2017 - 10:52pm
I sympathize with you Don.  It's a shame that christianity is shunned and abhorred by so many.  It probably feels great to you because that's what Jesus said, right?  That we would be persecuted because of our faith?
Remember, Jesus was talking to the people of his time.  Much of what he said is timeless, but I doubt he anticipated the way the right-wing christians have destroyed his church in the eyes of so many.
It's what people like Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson have been doing for over fifty years.  Republican politicians that do so much harm in the name of the church.  Churches that hand out christian voting guides.  That's almost thirty years now.  It's only worse today with the out-of-control conservative churches and the inflammatory rhetoric.  Back in the 1960s I don't think very many Americans at all had a big problem with christians.  As a youngster I considered it  mild form of insanity.  I actually used that in my public reminiscence of my faith and a lot of people got a big kick out of it.
Today's right-wing christian is a political animal.  You are smart enough to know that they have been doing.  I'm not going to enumerate the sins for anyone.
My son-in-law won't let his children set foot inside a house of worship.  It's guys like you, Don.  You're not the worst, but gee whiz, you say stuff like Trump was anointed by God.
No wonder that so many people are horrified by modern American, so-called christians.
Dave Volek Added Oct 28, 2017 - 8:27am
I think you are missing the mark. Christianity gets thumped because too many Christians are not living the life Christ wants them to live. To us "non-believers," many of you are hypocrites. We can easily see your flaws, yet you are not willing to do anything about it.
The evangelical support of Mr. Trump is making no sense. Here is a man who personal life is almost opposite of what is being taught in the pulpit, so it seems more appropriate for evangelicals to not vote for this fellow. I just don't get it. So too do many other people.
Your psychological hypotheses of why Christianity gets a bum rap is a red herring. I think Jesus said: "Get the plank out of your own eye before you criticize the motes in others".
Benjamin Goldstein Added Oct 28, 2017 - 3:20pm
I really have no answer to this but it makes me more and more uncomfortable. There was a period of my life when I was an atheist. Now, I returned to praying and occasionally reading the bible, but I am obviously not observant.
There is this weird fight against g-d under the guise of fighting the unhappy side-effects of religion.
Some might be down to personal experience. But I doubt that this is often the case because atheists who have not grown up with an overbearing religious practice in their homes are just as missionary - sometimes even more - than those who have.
One part is socialist propaganda. To unroot people culturally is seen as a way to wipe out any resistance to and create dependence on the 'superior' ideology of socialism. Not only is religion 'opium of the people' for them. Culture itself, including names and statues, also has to go. (They don't say it, but democracy is also on the list).
Atheists praise themselves as being utterly rational in all aspects of life. Their self-adoration is irrational itself. This narcism results in aggression IMHO. The cognitive dissonance aspect plays a role.
Mayby my part on the socialist influence is what you mean with anti-Christ spirit. Christian-haters are abundant.
As a former atheist I would add a weird religious explanation for it. And it is Christian (albeit I'm not a Christian). I read the New Testament and somewhere it does say that the Holy Ghost finds the beliefer. I'm paraphrasing.
I felt very strongly when I returned to religion. The feeling waned again, but now I notice that it has transformed me. And there is no logical reason for it. G-d chose to leave me at some point in my youth (it was unusually early, definitely before I was nine years old). And G-d chose to return.
What I observe now is something that connects religious people. A resistance to narcism. Religious people don't want to please at all costs and are less likely to be manipulated by authorities. I have no explanation why that happens, but I find it striking. It makes me believe that there is a crazy spiritual transformation going on because G-d simply wants it.
The unconforming are always despised. I think Jesus talked about this, too, with regards to his own followers.
Steve Bergeron Added Oct 28, 2017 - 3:26pm
Christianity should be more viewed in a similar manner as we do a gym.  It has all the right equipment and programs, but it requires each individual to use the prescribed equipment and programs in the recommended manner in order to achieve the required results.

What we're seeing in our society is the equivalent of obese, sloppy people pointing fingers at other obese, sloppy people who belong to the gym, but don't use the equipment or programs provided them in the prescribed manner, and saying, "See!  That gym stuff is nonsense!  Look at all those fat, lazy slobs telling us about the benefits of exercise, etc., at their gym!"  
It's not the gym, folks.  It's the individual members.  Some folks may come out looking like Charles Atlas.  Others may look like they're ready to be buried in a piano case.  We're all on the way.  Some may just be further along than others who have just started.
Stone-Eater Added Oct 28, 2017 - 4:02pm
Therefore I'm the antichrist. Oh my god what a trauma LOL
Don Added Oct 28, 2017 - 4:10pm
Benjamin Thanks for the kind and thoughtful comment. Your name and response reminded me of my college roommate named Goldstein. Throughout my life I never met a kinder man. At the time he was a Jew but converted, which cost him dearly with his family. I could only wish he could be alive today to see what is happening.
St Paul wrote “that blindness (to recognizing their Messiah) in part happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.”(Romans 11:25) That blindness is what made it almost impossible for Jews to recognize their Messiah. But something powerful is happening today. Many Christians believe that we are now in the time of the “fulness of the Gentiles.” The evidence that something new is going on is that Jews by the thousands are suddenly unexpectedly awakening to their Messiah. (Watch Sid Roth on You Tube)
They also are finally aware they do not have to give up being a Jew. They are not even calling themselves Christians but rather call themselves Messianic Jews.
By the way, you are right, it is the Holy Spirit that convinces. (John 16:8)
Don Added Oct 28, 2017 - 4:22pm
Steve, did you see one of my other posts in which I said something similar? I told of my priest friend who had the makers of upscale bathroom toilets in his congregation. One complained to him about the TV evangelists. My friend gave one of most classic responses I ever heard. Mrs._______you make some of the most beautiful toilets in the world. But sometimes you find them in really cruddy bathrooms.
Dino Manalis Added Oct 28, 2017 - 4:24pm
Christianity expresses love and kindness, it should bring us together as human beings.
Lady Sekhmetnakt Added Oct 28, 2017 - 5:51pm
Good comment Dino. The problem is that many Christians espouse the exact opposite of those things. Divisiveness, hatred, cruelty, and greed seem to be the most common Christian virtues nowadays. That and a desperation to proseltize and force their beliefs on others. I am a non-Christian person of faith (Kemetian), but I have never had these problems with nonbelievers of my faith. Sure there are occasional anti-religious types and trolls who really just have personal issues, but nothing like what is described in the article have I ever experienced. One has to wonder when the problem is isolated to one belief (Christianity) not religion in general, is not the real problem that belief rather than those many who have objections to it. 
Dave Volek Added Oct 29, 2017 - 11:52am
I liked your analogy of the gym. I had a high school acquaintance (I won't call him a friend). He came from a strong Christian family, but his teenage was wracked with all sorts of vices. Many of us were wondering when he takes himself down, hopefully he won't be taking down someone else. But he found Jesus in a different version of Christianity. He turned his life around to become a productive citizen. We can say that he has moved his life forward using his religion. But I don't want to associate with him because he is so damn proselytizing. He is annoying.
True it is that we are all on different paths. But when some people just don't move forward yet claim to be in the good graces of God, we on the outside do become cynical. My acquaintance doesn't seem to have improved himself after he got saved and quit his vices. 
My wife and I often watch video of Andy Stanley, a pastor from Atlanta. This fellow has a different take on Scriptures which emphasizes the practical side of Christianity rather than the theology. He seems accepting of different beliefs and value systems. He seems to takes pride when non-believers can take his lessons into their lives. If I had encountered someone like him, I just might be a Christian today. But I'm on a little different path. 
And because I'm on this different path, many Christians would judge me in the same way as a drug dealer trying to get their kids hooked on drugs. I am of no use to the world until I come into their fold.
Jeff Michka Added Oct 29, 2017 - 12:39pm
Volek sez: The evangelical support of Mr. Trump is making no sense.-Sure it makes sense.  The evang only want to win, and as long as the Orange urinal "wins" or makes noises about doing away with choice, etc. they'll back him quicker than a preacher asking for more money.  The evangs, even like Don, are frauds.  "But they ask each week to be forgiven and saved." And they think they have been, so what they do Monday through Saturday doesn't matter. They'll be "saved" on Sunday.
Don Added Oct 29, 2017 - 12:47pm
Benjamin,  Thanks for summarizing the responses, "There is this weird fight against g-d under the guise of fighting the unhappy side-effects of religion."  Several of them used hypocrisy as their rationalization for an over the top emotional reaction. 
For me, that dog don't hunt.  Vegetarians and Animal Lovers wear leather shoes.  Carbon footprint peddlers fly around in expensive private jets, etc etc.  Their hypocrisy does not provoke any inexplicable emotional reaction in me. 
Flying Junior, I did not say shunned and abhorred, I am talking about over the top emotional reactions to an otherwise benign stimulus. 
opher goodwin Added Oct 29, 2017 - 1:52pm
Don - that was interesting but I'm sorry - none of those. I'm no antichrist, had no bad experiences with preachers and spent my youth looking for spiritual and mystical purpose.
As an adult, in my thirties, I began to realise that it was all bullshit, that religion was used to gain power, the powerful were hypocritical and those in control from the Popes to Maharishi to priests, monks and preachers were using it to further their gratification and wealth.
There is absolutely no evidence for god. All the religious documents are medieval writings, contradictory, vague and sometimes downright evil. They do have some words of insight and wisdom and some poetic beauty but have created misery, mayhem, warm and evil torture and cruelty down the years. They were obviously written by people (men) and have all their foibles, prejudices and cultural misogyny.
I reject it all utterly. Religion is one of our worst inventions of mankind.
I now find the stupidity of religion irritating. I find the indoctrination of children repulsive and I find the intrusion of it into my life annoying. Turning on the radio and hearing intelligent people talking about some supernatural fairy who is supposed to have made this universe for our benefit is amusing.
Dave Volek Added Oct 29, 2017 - 5:08pm
I went my wife's church this morning. The preacher had a profound statement, which I will paraphrase:
"If what you are doing as a Christian is driving people away from Christianity, you have not embraced the cause of Jesus."
Christianity, in its first three centuries, did not spread because of theology. It spread because the early Christians did a pretty good job of emulating the life of Christ, and their communities became attractive for others to join.
Tamara Wilhite Added Oct 29, 2017 - 5:21pm
It can be a result of cultural conditioning, defense mechanisms they've been trained.
Liberals have been saying for years they are smart, rational, educated, moral, LOVE. This lets them dismiss all other opinions as stupid, evil, crazy, hate. If they pass hate speech laws, now they can per the definitions they've already set outlaw contrary opinions - in the name of kindness and compassion.
And they respond increasingly with actual violence to contrary opinions and facts that disprove their sacred narratives, because they've been told to invest religious levels of devotion in the political ideology. Believe what we say, and you become by mere association smart, moral, good. All other sins are forgiven because you're liberal, like liberal rapists in Hollywood cheerleaded because they put women on screen and support abortion.
You look good, so it doesn't matter if you do good. It is akin to Islam's mandates that you follow publicly Islam's rules regardless of your private beliefs and the death to blasphemers so that Muslims never hear a contrary opinion.
The literally violent protection of the political ideology is defense of the meme and reinforcement of it for the members. And the leaders encourage the actual violence in the name of safety to maintain tight control, scare others into submission to the ideology's demands and create a sense of siege that keeps "believers" loyally obedient.
The only differences between Islam and social justice as a cult are:
* social justice / authoritarian liberalism hectors, nags, impoverishes and sometimes beats people for a greater good but lacks a utopia or afterlife, just a world less bad
* liberals worship the state as the source of  material good and moral authority while Muslims worship Allah
* both groups want to convert everyone, but liberals assume they can convert Muslims while Muslims are given permission under multi-culturalism to undermine all liberal values from the true rape culture to oppressing homosexuals and women. So liberals ignore it and assume it will just work out, wishful beliefs on their part. 
Dave Volek Added Oct 29, 2017 - 5:28pm
Interesting response and analogy. I would just add that many of us are trying to convert others in their own ideology.
In my days of alcohol, I would try to convert others to drink as much as I was drinking. Looking back, I think I knew I was making bad choices and to justify those choices, I needed to bring other people to my way of thinking. If more of us are thinking this way, we can't be wrong, right?
When someone gets a little too preachy (and this may include liberals), I wonder how secure they really are in their own value system.
Don Added Oct 29, 2017 - 5:39pm
Dave my understanding too is that the first three years Christianity grew because the early Christians did what Jesus did and told them to do.  He cast out demons and supernaturally healed the sick.  He then explained that what He was doing was establishing the Kingdom of Heaven over the Kingdom of darkness.  
We are seeing this real Christianity in many parts of the world but not in Europe or Western World.  As a result of  the watered down version in the West, Christianity is becoming irrelevant and in danger of dying out.  In the rest of the world, where the real thing is seen, it is exploding.
opher goodwin Added Oct 29, 2017 - 5:46pm
Don - the way I see it was that Christianity was just another Jewish cult. There were hundreds of them. What elevated it was that Constantine, while still being heathen, used it to unify Rome for political purposes. That elevated it above the others.
opher goodwin Added Oct 29, 2017 - 5:46pm
Don - in the poor countries where people are desperate they turn to religion. It's their only hope.
Don Added Oct 29, 2017 - 8:30pm
Opher, I always had a different take on Constantine.  Up to him the early Christians were in one accord, like those in the upper room.  Those groups operated in the same supernatural powers Jesus manifested. 
It it was when Constantine opened the doors, so many lukewarm people flooded the church, that the power disapated.  The anemic church limped along for the next 1700 years.   Then in 1900 the power returned.  
You would know what I am talking about if you ever get to worship in a Spirit Filled fellowship.
opher goodwin Added Oct 30, 2017 - 6:07am
Don - human beings love rituals and little tribal gatherings. It generates great euphoria and brotherhood - a very primitive experience - but it doesn't make it right.
That early cult would have been tiny and secretive. There was nothing supernatural about them. They would have died away like all the others if it hadn't been for Constantine using it to keep his grip on power.
Dave Volek Added Oct 30, 2017 - 8:44am
The Roman society at the time of Christ was very corrupt. From the emperor to the slave, everyone did things for their own personal advantage. Everyone used everyone else; that included politicians, businessmen, family, soldiers, workmates, religious leaders, etc. If something nice was done, it was expected that a favor was to be paid back later. When Hollywood depicts ancient Rome, it gets this culture right (and it makes good drama).
Many people in this time kind of knew this culture was not right, but did not seem to have the ability to make change. Then came the followers of Christ. These people could gather and associate without this Roman culture. Christianity was a bit of an escape and refuge from the dog-eat-dog world of Rome. If one wanted to partake of a culture of virtue (compassion, helpfulness, honesty, etc.), the early Christians were the place to go. Christianity spread not because its theology, but because of its practical applications.
But it spread in many different ways. Constatine united the various churches under one theology and administrative order. This was when, in my opinion, Christianity became watered down. Regardless it still spread, again mostly because of its culture of virtues (when compared to the rest of the world).
This is just my observation, so take it as you want. When I see evangelical Christians supporting Donald Trump, I see that as a sign of Christianity going in a wrong way. There must be 50 million evangelicals in the US. Are there not a few of them who have both virtue and political skills?   
Steve Bergeron Added Oct 30, 2017 - 2:42pm
Dave, it seems like history is repeating itself again.  The big difference between our culture and that of the Romans is we're more technologically advanced.  The moral demise of a nation always precedes its ultimate demise.  And, so we are witnessing the demise of our nation and culture through immorality.  
Henry Ortiz Added Oct 30, 2017 - 3:37pm
I don’t understand why we mix Christianity with politics, the fact that some religious group decided to support Trump does not have to do anything with Christianity.
If I consider myself a Christian and decided to support Trump or Clinton, does not mean that I believe one of them is devoted Christian but the best alternative I see in the political arena.
To use the pulpit for political issues is hypocrasy and false Christianity.
Dave Volek Added Oct 30, 2017 - 4:26pm
I think ever since Gibbon wrote the "Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire," pundits have been quick to point out the similarities between the West and Rome. It's been 250 years! But I think we should be not arrogant that this western civilization is not bound for eternity.
One of the reassuring sidelines I got from Gibbon is that the decline likely won't be a one-time event. It will be a gradual process--and we inside this supposed Empire will more or less continue doing what we have always done as the decline happens.
Maybe we are in a declining state; maybe not. My sense of history is that we have had shaky politics since western democracy matured around 1800. There never was a golden age in the west.
Don Added Oct 30, 2017 - 9:00pm
Dave on evangelicals.  Hillary, Obama and many on the left were a danger to evangelicals, the church and Israel.  Trump is our and Israel’s dearest friend.  Also he truly listens to us.  Believe me we are not stupid.
Jeff Michka Added Oct 30, 2017 - 9:19pm
DON ACTUALLY sez: Also he truly listens to us.  Believe me we are not stupid. -If you believe Trump cares or listens to you, then remove "not" fro the last sentence.  Trump absolutely counts on stupid Trumpists.  He hasn't, obviously, been disappointed.
opher goodwin Added Oct 31, 2017 - 10:18am
Dave - nothing much changes - society is still very corrupt.
opher goodwin Added Oct 31, 2017 - 10:19am
Don - I can't believe you believe that. From here I'd say Trump does what is necessary. He pays lip service to his power base - nothing more.
Dave Volek Added Oct 31, 2017 - 3:28pm
Describe "danger to evangelicals." Were you going to go to jail for your beliefs?
In my opinion, Trump is going be a stalled presidency for no other reason than an inability to collaborate. We knew this before the election, and America made a choice.
Don Added Oct 31, 2017 - 5:56pm
Jeff, , and Dave. That Trump would listen to evangelicals did not come from me. It came from Newt Gingrich (now a Roman Catholic with a wife as representative to the Vatican.) He counseled some of the top evangelical/charismatic leaders that they should take a second look at Trump. He informed them Trump would be their friend and that he would listen to them.
Moralists in America were in a panic mode (I use the term moralist as all moralists are not Christian and all Christians (like myself) are not moralists. The reign of the Clintons and Obama had seen an alarming moral decline in the country. Hillary had even made abortion a major campaign plank. She went further by declaring the church would need to change its teaching to align to hers. In England and Canada, preachers were already being prosecuted for anything thought to be politically incorrect. The church felt under siege.
One thousand evangelical/charismatic leaders then had a big get together with Trump. Obviously skeptical at first, to a person they came out convinced they had found their man. A black contingent did the same with the same results.
At the same time, prophecies from the most reliable prophets were surfacing beginning in 2008 on right up to the election. God had told them all, our next president was to be Trump.
So we voted Trump in and he has already delivered for us with the Supreme Court and strategic executive orders. He also has named the most powerful evangelical/charismatic leaders to an advisory committee he meets with regularly and definitely listens to. ( Not that it matters to some of you, he is also learning from them how to do high level effective praying.  He is becoming the most prayerful president in history.)
The editor of Charisma, the most popular Christian magazine is publishing his book “God and Donald Trump” on Kindle Nov 7–$12.99. It will give the evangelical/charismatic take on the answer to Hillary’s book, “What Happened?”  This month's Charisma magazine also carries several excerpts from it.
opher goodwin Added Nov 1, 2017 - 8:25am
Trump needs to do a lot more praying. He needs all the help he can get. He's making a right mess so far. His image abroad is of a mixture of clown and narcissistic teddy boy/moron. Not a good image for someone who is meant to be a man of high office.