Delusions of the Religious Variety

I briefly caught some of Larry King’s coverage of the Andrea Yates story last night, along with some of the interview that officials had with Andrea. It was interesting to hear how she believed that Satan was telling her to kill her children and how she drowned three of them, believing that was saving them from Satan’s grasp by sending them to heaven. At first blush it sounded a lot like the delusions of someone suffering from schizophrenia (something that only a further detailed investigation would confirm).

There are quite a few mental disorders that manifest themselves in the forms of delusions pertaining to God, angels, Satan, demons, etc. Two that come to my mind immediately are bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, both having some form of delusional behavior. I have to wonder why so many (though not all, by far) present with the sorts of delusions above. I’m sure background plays a role in it, though I wonder just how much of a role it plays. Do people with
such delusions come from particularly conservative and/or religious backgrounds? Or is it something else? I would definitely be interested in seeing some numbers on this — the number of religious/spiritual delusions that counselors see over the course of a year; what proportion are schizophrenic, bipolar, depressive, etc.; what proportion of delusional clients come from religious backgrounds and what proportion of non-delusional clients come from religious backgrounds, etc. I may actually have to conduct a study on this at some point, if for no other reason than to satisfy my curiosity.

Struggling

What do you do when you have come to believe that struggling to change people for the better and influence them for Christ is a lost cause? What do you do when you have become so cynical and jaded that your own Christian walk has stopped — not regressed, but not gone forward, either? What do you do when you feel so bitter toward people that you want to just be left alone? What do you do when you want to do something about it, when you want to change and get back to a vibrant relationship with Christ, but when you also want to just say, “Forget it — it’s not worth it?” What do you do when you feel like you have no one close to look up to, no mentor, no older and wiser and more mature Christian into whose footsteps to fall? What do you do when the conflict and tension inside is so great that it feels like you are goign to burn alive and that it feels like you are going to explode? What do you do?

Hatred Toward Christians

QUOTE
“I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”
– Mahatma Gandhi

“If all Christians acted like Christ, the whole world would be Christian.”
– Mahatma Gandhi

I was talking with a colleague the other day, and she was telling me about the professor that she has that has made his dislike for missionaries clearly known. In fact, he works a statement of his distaste into nearly every lecture. This bothers her because she has a missionary background, and her professor knows it.

Similarly, I’ve had discussions with others about why they despise Christians and Christianity. The reasons they’ve given me are legitimate and just — Christians can be some of the coldest, most judgmental, most condescending people on the face of the planet, both to unbelievers and to one another. Naturally, this turns a lot ofpeople off to Christianity.

To be honest, this is something I have struggled with and continue to struggle with. Why are the very people who are called to a higher calling and who claim to be the people saved by grace unwilling to extend that same grace to others? It makes me ashamed sometimes to be called a Christian and to be associated with others who call themselves Christian. I find it so much more difficult to share my faith when the initial reaction is one of disgust, hatred, and
bitterness. I admit, I’ve become cynical toward Christians. At least unbelievers are honest regarding what they are about.

Forum

I know there are at least a few of you who enjoy good theological and philosophical discussions. For those who do, I encourage you go to:

http://www.forums4free.net/thinkings/index.php?

and register. This is a forum set up by a friend of mine (I think he has to approve all new registrations, so once registered, it might take a few hours to actually gain access), and it is a pretty good place to go for some interactive discussions. And if you know of others who enjoy such discussions, share the link with them. I’d love to see the forum come alive with good discussions.

Spiritual Disciplines

Mastering the spiritual disciplines begins, for me, with the physical disciplines. I’ve gained another 20 lbs. or so the past few weeks (even though my lifestyle and eating habits have not changed over the past year or so). As a result, I believe, I feel fatigued much of the time and my mind is constantly foggy. My goal is to exercise an hour a day at least four days a week, drop roughly 50 pounds, and get back near my ideal body weight.

I believe that to fully master the spiritual disciplines, one must also master the physical disciplines. It’s necessary to master one’s own body, to bring it into subjection, making it the temple of the Holy Spirit that it was meant to be. I need more discipline in my own life, and the best place for me to start at this point is disciplining my body. It’s going to be tough because I’ve grown used to the lack of activity, but in the end, it will all be worth it.

————————————————-

On another note, I’d like to throw a question out to my handful of subscribers. I have been told numerous times from numerous sources that I am a gifted writer, that I am very eloquent in presenting my thoughts, even in a rough draft. As a result, I’ve been kicking around the idea of beginning a newsletter to share some of the lessons of life as I learn them. (If anyone is familiar with Scott Garber’s Unconventional Wisdom, it will probably be something similar to that.) The question is, if I were to do that, would anyone be interested in subscribing? At this point, I’m just curious as to what the interest levels might be, as it might be a while before I would such a project off the ground. Also, if there is enough interest, I’d be interested in getting ideas for titles for the letter.

IQ

Tickle: IQ and Personality Tests – The Classic IQ Test

Your IQ score is 136 This number is based on a scientific formula that compares how many questions you answered correctly on the Classic IQ Test relative to others. Your Intellectual Type is Insightful Linguist. This means you are highly intelligent and have the natural fluency of a writer and the visual and spatial strengths of an artist. Those skills contribute to your creative and expressive mind.

———————————–

Hmm…. I dunno just how ‘scientific’ this thing actually is. It has good face validity, but the number of questions is pretty low (40 questions), which makes it potentially inaccurate because it limits just how much data it can collect. But I do like the outcome…. And frankly, the intellectual type does match quite well…. Though there is no way I’m going to pay for a 15-page report from a company I know nothing about, especially when it runs the risk of being wrong…. *shrugs* Ah, well….

Liberals

Liberals really irritate me sometimes. Of course, there are a fair number of conservatives that have the same effect on me at times. The arguments, debates, and disagreements that ensue between the two extremes are very typically divisive, spiteful, and hateful. It angers me to see this in politics (the current presidential race not withstanding), but it especially angers me when it happens within Christian circles. Both sides become so hard-headed and stiff-necked, completely unwilling to give, so sure that theirs is the right position, and in the process hatred is forged and division created. I suppose that, on the conservative-liberal continuum, I would most likely be classified by others as conservative, though, using that same standard, I would place myself further toward the middle (perhaps a 3.5 on a 10-point scale). Rather, though, I prefer to think of myself as progressive, a position espoused by Scott Garber in a recent edition of his Unconventional Wisdom newsletter. The true progressive is neither conservative nor liberal (though he or she may resemble either at various points in time and on various issues), but rather is someone who continually moves self, and urges others, toward change when change is needed. Part of this mindset (and worldview?) is having the willingness to evaluate one’s own stances on various issues and changing when it is clear that the currently held position is in error, something which, as previously noted, I see few from the extremes willing to do. This is not to put myself up on a pedestal as a monument of “enlightenment” or “self-actualization”, however (for I can be as stiff-necked as the next man). But I do strive for a continual state of self-evaluation and change, ever pursuing and desiring to become more like my Lord (the greatest promoter of change during his earthly ministry).

This frustration with conservatives and liberals has become more and more salient to me again these past few days as I have mulled over a variety of topics currently in debate. I have listened and watched and pondered both sides of all the arguments (for they have been very dichotomous in nature, as they must be, for there can only be two sides, good or evil, right or wrong; the so-called “gray” areas are man-made results of sin, I believe, but that is a matter for another post), and I have seen that neither side is willing to budge. (I do have my own thoughts and ideas and stances on the various issues of what I believe is truly right and good, and I plan to make those more fully known in the coming days and weeks, as I am able. For those of you who actually care enough about what I think to ask my opinion and to read, I ask your continued patience. Taking part in these discussions is very important to me, but they are lower on my priority list right now, at least until I get through a couple more weeks of classes and my summer schedule begins to ease off. I have neither the time nor the energy to devote to much more than my studies and to my wife right now. I appreciate your patience.)

I do not condemn anyone for their stances, for it is not my place to do so. I will, however, disagree when necessary and point out when I think you are wrong. However, I also believe that every man is free to believe as he so desires and will be held accountable to the Lord one day for those beliefs, as well as for those they have led to truth and those they have led into sin and disbelief. Therefore, I take these discussions very seriously, both to seek to better others as well as to hone the rough edges off my own thinking and so, hopefully, to reveal a better and more full view of my Lord (always with the Scriptures open and at my right hand, of course) and bind the fellowship of the Body into a greater unity and further the Kingdom.

Love Is More Than A Feeling

There is a common misconception in our culture that love is a feeling, that it happens automatically, and that the lover has no control over its coming and its going. This is readily apparent in the high divorce rate, in the apathy and carelessness of ‘casual sex’, and in the shamelessness of the media (probably the loudest promoter of this myth). Part of this is probably due to the fact that physical and romantic attractions do encompass a great deal of feeling and emotion, both of which tend to be very salient and thus more easily recognized and, to an extent, more easily defined and demonstrated. And so long as these feelings and emotions continue, love is easy to extend.

The trouble is that love, while inherently very emotional, is really a decision made by the lover on behalf of the loved. It is a definitive commitment, made at a specific point, by the lover that says, “No matter what happens and no matter how my feelings may fluctuate and change, I will love this individual.” Because feelings do shift and change over time, across every topic and issue. That is part of human nature. But what should not change is the commitment to go on loving someone once that love has been extended.

Christ tells His people to love with heart, mind, soul, and strength. Paul encourages husbands to love their wives as themselves and as Christ loved the Church. Conscious decisions. And you know Christ didn’t perform his most magnificent work of love because of feeling. No, indeed, He made a conscious decision, submitting his will to the Father, even though His own emotions were encouraging him otherwise.

So, while you may feel an attraction toward someone, even have a ‘crush’ on them, you cannot say that you are ‘in love’ until you have made that decision to do so. Feelings are tremendous facilitators to love, but all too often they deceive and betray, leaving a trail of broken hearts and broken relationships, when they are placed in the driver’s seat of love and relationships.

Feelings make better servants than masters.

Stem Cells

[Page No Longer Exists]

Yes, I’ve been rather quiet lately. Hazards of the summer-term graduate student, I fear. I hope to have time to focus on something other than my studies again soon, but in the meantime, the link above should provide something to chew on for a bit.

[Incidentally, I wondered a long time ago why we couldn’t do this to begin with, since we’ve known that even adults carry around their own stem cells…. guess the scientific world finally just caught up with my brilliant mind…. ]

Jack-of-All-Trades, Master of Words