Tuesday, September 18, 2012

You've Been A Bad, Bad Boy

Matter of Taste Coffee Bar
Kitchener, Ontario
Music: Bob Dylan - Tempest (2012)

Do you believe that you are originally blessed or originally cursed? I think our answer to this question is quite important. For over 20 years I believed the latter, that since Adam and Eve ate some bad fruit and did some naughty things in the Garden of Eden, that their sin spilled down through the generations to me, and that somehow I needed to be reconnected  with the Divine.  I held this understanding throughout my childhood, always making sure to pray for forgiveness whenever I would "do something bad," but things became intolerable for me when I became a teenager.

That's when the hormones kicked in. The Sears catalogues would come in the mail or by pick-up, and I started to gain an interest in the swimwear and the lingerie sections. Inevitably, soon after I began masturbating, but I was almost always ashamed by it, thinking that I was being ungodly for lusting after these tempting women that I kept looking at. As I got a little older and went to Bible college, the belief that I was a sinner in need of grace only increased; so did my lust. Whenever an unused computer was around and the door would lock, there I was, either watching scantily-clad women in music videos or just plain porn; mostly it was the former.  But the guilt just kept growing and growing, and I couldn't understand why I couldn't obey God and make him happy with me. Instead I was a wretch, a sinner, corrupt, filthy. Filthy, filthy, filthy. It was like my "sin" was only corroborating my dirty view of myself.

Bad, bad, bad boy.

I have been in touch lately with someone who has been talking about "the adversary" and dark, spiritual forces.  They've been using them to explain mental illness, which really grinds my fucking gears because, well, I live with mental illnesses.  But this way of thinking is also a spiritual illness.

What if we taught our children that they are originally loved and blessed, rather than having to climb the rungs of some ladder that has Satan nipping at their feet at every moment?  This idea of original sin MUST go, it MUST be discarded. Does that mean we are now perfect, or that children don't need to be admonished sometimes? No, of course not. But to force some sort of pseudo-spiritual centuries-old god-damned guilt on our children, teens, and adults is nothing less than a kind of abuse.  It's very powerful though, and many religious people hold onto it. Why? One word: Control. If you can scare the living shit out of people by telling them they are bad boys and girls and that they have to make sure they stay faithful to God (usually their version of God) then you've got 'em.

I attend a Unitarian church now, and I remember how taken aback I was the first few Sundays when during children's time, the kids weren't told stories of obedience to a great big God. And I learned that in their classes downstairs they were given guidance but a lot of room to freely explore what they were thinking and feeling. That's more like it.

Trust yourself.

Slaughter the pitch-forked adversary by learning how much you are loved and that there is no more need for fear.

Mark Andrew Alward


Writer said...

I always looked at the Garden of Eden story as an analogy for where evil comes from, not that we were all doomed by two people who ate some kind of fruit, but that mankind created evil, the idea of evil and all that jazz. That being said,later on, I just realized how illogical the notion of hell was. An eternity of pain and torture for doing something wrong or failing to repent? I've kind of adopted an eastern view that we get sent back here, in reality, if we screw up large in life, kind of like repeating a grade, but that's just me. By the way, the Unitarians are probably the best church out there, very open and welcoming :)

Lexie said...

Thank you, Mark ... and here's a thought I first came across about 25 years ago that has informed my understanding about "original sin" ever since:

We do not enter the world as blotches on existence, as sinful creatures. We burst into the world as original blessings. (Matthew Fox)

Deriding ourselves as bad, sinful, evil, etc. only trashes our innate goodness ... We become what we believe we are ...

About "slaughter(ing) the pitch-forked adversary" ... One of my teachers (of psychotherapy) invited us students to imagine that adversary (whom she called 'the inner critic') going on a looong vacation -- sent off by each of us WITHOUT a return ticket ;-) It worked well then, and even better now. No need to slaughter ... just send it off with all the imaginal chops we've got.

Mark Andrew said...

Thanks for the comments, both of you. I've been reading a bit of Buddhist thought lately, and one of the things they emphasize is accepting whatever comes into your life and taking a good look at it. This includes those things we are uncomfortable with, like pain and suffering. On the other end of the spectrum, the Christians (or many of them) have seen the world as black and white, and anything deemed "bad" is shunned and put in the category of evil. Really, we can learn from our "darker" side.

And I like Matthew Fox, btw...