Friday, January 22, 2021

Trauma Nation (part two)

I'm not going to try to get into the science of all of this. Seriously, it's just too much. Too much picking apart of every piece of information I want to talk about, and too much data to try to introduce in any kind of concise way, and I want to do this in one post, not 40.

The thing about trauma is that you don't always know you're suffering it. This is especially true if the trauma has been caused by a series of small incidents built up over time rather than one large trauma event. It's even more true if the form of abuse has been institutionalized so that the people around you are telling you that it's not really abuse.

So you don't like the way the old geezer in your church is always touching you? Putting his hands on your shoulders or, maybe even, patting you on the ass? "Oh, don't worry about him. He's harmless. He does that to everyone." Eventually, you do quit worrying about it because you get numbed to it, and who are you going to tell, anyway? Once your parents have dismissed the inappropriate contact as harmless, and your church leaders have as well, and your friends are all putting up with it, what are you supposed to do? Who do you tell? These are the people you trust, so you learn to ignore it no matter how it makes you feel.

When the message from the church is that women should keep their mouths shut and shouldn't be in leadership and it must be true because the Bible says so (and the Bible is NEVER wrong), who do you turn to? No one. You learn to keep your mouth shut because, if you don't, you face disapproval from everyone.

You wonder why your whole congregation is white, and the message that you get from the people you have grown up with and have learned to trust and who are your family is that White People are the chosen People-of-God and will be the ones to inherit God's Kingdom, you accept it and, without realizing it, you look down on black people and any other minority, especially Jews, because Jews were the Chosen People, but they spit on God and killed his Son, and the Bible says that they deserve all the punishment of the world for the rest of time.

But most fundamentally, you are a worthless piece of shit. You are a piece of shit who is destined for Hell where all of the pieces of shit go. This particular message is pervavise; after all, it is how the church survives. It needs to convince you of your shittiness before it can offer you the only chance you have of escaping Hell: Jesus (and $20 in the offering plate). This is the root of the trauma we face as a nation, the buy-in of "christians" that we are all pieces of shit and deserve to burn for it.

Of course, "christians" have their "get out of Hell free" card, but that doesn't change the fact that, at their core, they have bought into the idea that they are worthless pieces of shit. Only "Jesus in their hearts" makes them valuable at all. And, since they are worthless pieces of shit, everyone else, all of us heathen liberals and minorities and gays, are even more worthless pieces of shit.

I know how this works, because I grew up in this, with this belief that people are worthless and that it's only through "the precious blood of Jesus" that anyone has any value. Everyone else is just going to get heaped on the fire, so you need to save everyone you can. The problem is that it becomes so ingrained, this notion that people are worthless, that you can't separate it from your actual feelings and thoughts.

I grew up with this idea that the inherent state of people is one of depravity. I'm just going to say that middle school and high school may not be the best places to learn that that might not be true. By the time I was in college, my whole world view stemmed from this place of people starting in the negative position and not even being able to get to neutral without some kind of divine help, not even the very best of people.

Was this view mine? Or was it just ground into me at church? How do I separate out from that what my own views even are? Because, now, I know that people are just people. They may not be inherently good, but they certainly aren't inherently evil, even if people do tend toward being selfserving. I know this in my head, but I can't just pick out of myself the feelings around all of this. It means that I have to always be on guard against my own emotional reactions to things, because they may not be my emotional reactions, just the reactions implanted in me by the fucking church.

This is trauma. And, for at least some portion of my life, I visited this trauma upon other people by allowing my reactions to them be ones of suspicion and distrust or mere avoidance. During high school, I enmeshed myself with my church and my youth group and forsook, basically, all of my other social connections. Staying in your church group and not socializing outside of it is part of the paradigm. And you can't see or feel your own trauma while you're stuck inside of all of this.

This is the state of being for a significant portion of the US poplation, right now. They are living in the trauma that the church has buried them under and have no idea of what their own thoughts or feelings might be, because they have never known any other thoughts and feelings than those the church has given them. And, so, they visit this trauma on those around them because they don't know any other way.

Trauma Nation, it's what we are.
And we can't begin to heal the trauma until we can break the hold that the church has over the nation; specifically, the hold it has over the politics of the nation. This was never supposed to be the state of things in the US. The framers of the Constitution came from a country where religion cohabitated with government, and they knew how dangerous it was. It's time for us to, to co-opt the phrase of another moment, defund "the church." "christians" already think we are at war with them, just for wanting to live our lives in peace without them moralizing to us, but I think it's time for a real war against "the church," one in which we take an active stance and depowering the church and deprogramming the cultish thinking they're living with.

Because, make no mistake, "christianity" is, indeed, a cult. It is a cult that is bent on bringing about the end of the world (I'm not exaggerating, but I'll get to that in a later post) so, if we want a future, we have to start taking an active stance against "the church" and religion in politics. It's time to work on healing the trauma.


  1. I agree with everything you've said here in this post, Andrew. This is a powerful piece and it speaks a lot of truth that I have observed. It will be interesting to see what other responses you get to this post.

    1. Michael: Well, hold on, because there are going to be a lot of these posts coming.

  2. I guess I get to be grateful to my parents for being non-religious, although I think they inherited that from their parents. It helps not to have religion so ingrained.

    The other day, some guy who was trying to chat me up asked if I was a "God-fearing woman". I really sat with that phrase for a bit. My response was, "Why should anyone fear God?" And I believe that. Now, his followers are another story...

    1. Liz: Oh, that's tomorrow's post! Sort of.
      But, yes, if you have to fear god, is that being worthy of being your god? If "christians" are going to call god "father," shouldn't "he" be a good one? And a father you have to fear sounds abusive to me.

  3. Wow. Powerful stuff. I grew up without religion and have, as a result, always borne a reflexive skepticism towards organized religion, especially Christianity. I will never be able to see past the contradictions between the words of Jesus and the actions of "the church."

    I never considered the trauma you've described here. It makes sense, though.