Thursday, April 9, 2009

Painting Our Walls With Ungrounded "Hope"

These past two weeks, my son has been painting our walls. It is so refreshing to have nice clean freshly painted walls to begin spring. As I was thinking this morning about what it meant to me...these freshly painted walls, I started thinking about how we often paint over our own walls to the detriment of the "cracks". What do I mean?

Life has many "bumps" in the road and humans were meant for a certain environment. This enviornment gives the essentials of life, physically and psychologically. The family is the first and most important "group" the child will encounter. And that encounter has a lot to do with "cracks", but is not the lone reason.

Neuroscience is beginning to understand our brain and how the brain determines so much in the individual person. Psyhological science has various theories about personality, identity, personhood, etc. These sciences, as well as sociological science, define the development of the child, or person.

Humans all have "cracks" as we live in an imperfect world. These 'cracks" are what are met in religious identifications. They help us cope with life, when life seems to be incomprehensible. These "stories" grew up in the communitie's imagination to help the community to define itself within a larger context and to give meaning and value to life.

Religious experience is the emotional/psychological and physical response to stimuli that "fills in the cracks" with meaning. Religion gives a "reason" "why", so that those who suffer under their "cracked walls" can begin "anew".

But, what about "painting over the cracks"? Painting over cracks is what I would term "re-creating" the person, into a "spiritual image". This spiritual image is an image that is the "ideal", whereas he "real person", the "cracked person", is de-valued and dismissed. The problem with "covering over the cracks" is multi-faceted, as it affects everything from what you choose about life, the clothes you wear, to the way you bring your children up.

Religious identity can be damning and damaging to oneself and others. Why? because it never addresses the "real issues" but helps one to cope, cover over and deny "cracks". Cracks are part of being human and should not be denied, but embraced, as part of a person's "real history" and "real pain". These "cracks" cannot be healed without acknowledgement, confession, and understanding. And real change cannot be made if there is no accountability.

Religious cultures are breeding grounds for shame, which are unhealthy ways of social control. A human should never be subjected to humiliation, and shame because of some religious standard that denies the "cracks in humanity's face. Forgiveness is not "cheap grace", but a struggle to understand, deal with anger, admit the pain, and eventually decide response.

Many addiction counselors understand that humans use many substances to cover over pain. But, most people do not admit that religion is just as addictive, as any drug and it can be harder to alleviate because of a sense of "doing god's will" and "being righteous". This is an addiction of personality and it consumes the person under a subversive message of "self denial".

People that have "cracks "and can't admit it for fear of shame are those who live in self-denial through the messages they tell themselves, as well as the acts they perform. We should never "paint over our cracks", as it makes for terrible looking walls.

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