Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Sanctimonious Fundies

My power cord to my computer broke a few days ago, which is why I haven't been able to post. The cost of replacing the power cord here in Norway is ridiculous, so I can only post when I am borrowing Za's computer. Sorry for the brief posting again.

Anyway, I have been reading Tom Perrotta's The Abstinence Teacher while I am here. One of the best aspects of this novel is the way that Perrotta makes the fundamentalist evangelical character Tim so likable. In fact, I found myself--at one point--being more annoyed with the sex-ed teacher.

What I have been thinking about a lot in relation to this book is the most annoying contradiction of fundamentalist evangelical Christianity: sanctimoniousness. What Perrotta does well is show how attractive this kind of Christianity this is to ex-junkie's, alcoholics, of other stripes of fuck ups. These types of churches aggressively go after the "fuck ups" and tell them that no matter what harm or misery they have caused themselves or others--whether it be cheating on a wife or killing a child in a drunk driving accident--they are wholly forgiven once they accept Jesus into their hearts. This has got to be quite a balm for those ridden with a great deal of shame. Total forgiveness. This is surely not something that many humans will give them.

And so, part of the recruitment process is a non-judgmental acceptance of fuck ups. They are taken into a community that cares for them. But, what does this community demand in return? Well, in part, that you become a sanctimonious prick, who denounces other "fuck ups." Or, that you condemn homosexuals or non-Christians.

It is this contradiction that really bugs me. They take people at their lowest--wipe their slates clean so to speak--and then send them out there to rechannel their shame into condemnation of others.

I think this same phenomena often happens in twelve step progams as well--but I don't think it is encouraged in those programs. The fact that it happens is more an effect of the psychology of addicts. They like to shift the blame onto others. Everyone else is to blame for why they are fucked up and furthermore, many ex-addicts--early on--see addiction everywhere and try to 12 step everyone around them. They do so with the same kind of sanctimonious attitude that I am perplexed by in the fundamentalist evangelical churches.

Anyway, I am curious about your thoughts on this one.