Posted by: Hope | November 23, 2007

Can you say “brainwashing”?

Some of you may be wanting an update on my last post, so here is the gist of it all:

I haven’t gone to church–at all– since the Sunday I came back from my retreat.  I didn’t go the Wednesday after, or any other day. I really wanted to go to that Wednesday though, but all they had going on was a turkey dinner and I didn’t really feel like going just for some food. Maybe you’re asking why that would really have much to do with my spiritual walk. I say to you, it has A LOT to do with my spiritual walk. If I don’t go to church, I slack and forget things. I’ve tried to keep a tame on my tongue (did that make sense??) but man oh man do I fail. Needless to say my walk isn’t where I think it should be. Even so, I’ve discussed my experiences with a few of my closer friends and each of them were appalled at what I had to experience. Now, I never thought of it the way they did, yet the way made it out to be makes a lot of sense and actually sort of disturbs me.

I bet you’re wondering what point they made, and I’m sure some of you that read my experiences probably came to the same conclusion as them. So what they explained to me is the basics of how this was clearly a simple way of brainwashing. Now how is that? The more and more I think about it, I agree. Think about it…we had to stand in the pitch black staring at a lit up cross while holding a rock above our head (this rock represented our relationship with Jesus Christ). Ok, as a former devout Christian allow me to express that they pain of losing my religion, my “best friend” sucked. It still hurts me today and this is the main reason why I’m still so emotionally connected to Christianity and the reason why I constantly want to continue to be a Christian. So, when I have to hold a rock above my head that represents my relationship with Jesus, the best friend that I lost through the midst of my doubts and stare at a cross in which represents the love and pain that this man supposedly went through for ME…I mean damn, how am I NOT going to cry? It brought back so many of the same emotions that I experienced. It’s deeper than I can even express in words, the pain and emotions that I felt that night. So now that we established that main process of brainwashing (is brainwashing too strong of a word? I know their intentions were right) now lets move onto what next happened that night. Right after this lit up cross experience we were not allowed to talk and were then escorted to a lobby/church type thing where we had a worship band waiting for us. When we got there the music began to play and we all knew what we were supposed to do after having just experienced something so…powerful(?). Some of you that are Christians, or maybe even former Christians may understand the emotions that come with worship. For those of you that don’t, it’s hard for me to explain and I would really rather not do a hack job of trying to explain it, so just understand that it is a deep moment of sentiment, humbling, and love. So when you go from extreme guilt and pain to this other extreme of humbling and love…man those two sure do mix well together. Soon enough I was on the floor balling, completely convinced that this was God.

So I ask you, how can you tell me thats NOT brainwashing? I don’t know how I feel about it all. But I can totally see the brainwashing aspect of it all, and I’m not sure how to respond to such an act. It really does disturb me and yet infuriates me.

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Responses

  1. I’ll admit, sometimes we Christians can be emotionally manipulative as we try to hook people on Christ. It sounds like you might do well to seek out a faith community that you are encouraged to think through your faith as well as feel it.

  2. The thing is, most groups have rituals and practices, especially at retreats like this, that encourage group bonding and so forth. It’s a pretty darn primal human practice.

    So whether you think of it as brainwashing or emotionally manipulative or not sort of all depends on your perspective. If you are already a committed part of a given group, then doing things like that can just be fun and enlightening. If you are not on that path though, it CAN work out to be very manipulative (though its important to realize that it is not always intended to be so).

  3. Hi Hope- I came across your blog through the word press tag surfer thing. I have enjoyed reading your writings, you are really good at expressing what you are wrestling with. I am also impresed at how many different people are following your journey. Its pretty amazing that such a variety of travelers from all walks of life come here to follow your story. I am double your age, but remember struggling through many of the exact same things you are processing today. I am an engourager at heart, and my encouragement to you is, step back and re read your stuff. You feel confused, but look at how you are working out what you believe in writing. I think that one day you will look back and clearly see how each and every one of these writings has fallen in place to tell a beautiful story of God’s love for His beloved. I would love for you to take a look at some of my blogs, I will be back posting entries from my journals over the next several weeks. I would really enjoy receiving your comments:)

    Blessing to you on your own journey
    AnnieLaurie

  4. That is brainwashing.
    IF your not catholic that is.
    They have you fasting, and you aren’t allowed to see clocks to fuck up your sense of time. It’s a poor attempt in their part to produce a religious experience from the group. How sad reasoning isn’t enough to try to gain efforts towards your cause, instead religion most commit psychological warfare to set limits on your ethics, moral and reasoning abilities. I would critically think this re-treat which you speak of. Anyways the brainwashed can’t obviously tell you they are, it would mean it didn’t work lol.

  5. Hello!
    Very Interesting post! Thank you for such interesting resource!
    PS: Sorry for my bad english, I’v just started to learn this language 😉
    See you!
    Your, Raiul Baztepo

  6. Hope,

    Have you read “A Letter to a Christian Nation” by Sam Harris? I highly recommend it; it will give you a different perspective.

    Peac & light,
    Elizabeth

  7. No, I have not. I will definitely have to give it a look though, thanks for the suggestion.


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