Monday, July 14, 2008

Revelation

If you're a Bible literalist and you believe that you will see Armageddon in your life time, then why would you bring children into the world? How can you?

I see these people on television with large families and each and everyone of them is preparing, in some way, for Revelations to be fulfilled. For a few families, it's the reason they have so many children ("To raise up a Quiverfull for God."). Why would you do that? What is honorable and loving about having a bus full of children just so you hedge your odds on a few of them getting to heaven? What's honorable or loving about having one child with those expectations?

There is a reason I ask this, but I'll save it for comments.

18 comments:

Ian said...

I suspect its a form of cognitive dissonance. Just like the majority of American's think they'll be millionaires in the next 10 years, most Christians think they and their Children will be saved. Even if, like Westbro' Baptist Church, you think the odds are tiny, it is still your family that is first in line.

So why not bring into the world more souls to celebrate eternity in heaven with Jesus? Hey if you believe it will happen soon, then even more reason, because they'll have less time to suffer the depravations of earthly life.

Sean the Blogonaut F.C.D. said...

I dare not venture into the mind of that particular kind of theist

Stacey said...

My parents had both of me before converting to their Apocalyptic cult. If they had converted before conceiving me, I would not be here.

Now that I have abandoned their cult, they believe that I will be killed by their god at Armageddon. Thus they believe they are already the parents of a dead child.

What a shame, and what a waste of emotion. I pity them.

Stacey said...

Heh. That would be "both my brother and I." Not "both of me."

Hello! I'm schizophrenic. And so am I!

aimee said...

I've always wondered that question myself.

Karen said...

They're being fruitful and multiplying, as instructed.

God will Rapture the true believers before Armageddon begins, and assist those who become believers after. So, as long as the kids buy into the scheme at some point, they're saved. If they're not, well, God will fix it that it doesn't cause Dad and Mom any distress in the hereafter.

The net result will be more souls to honor God! Because he's got such a damned inferiority complex, that he needs as many as he can get sounding his praises at all times. That's the MOST positive spin I can put on the situation.

Atheist in a mini van. said...

Ian, I'm going to admit that I think I may have cognitive dissonance defined wrong (in my head). I thought it was the realization that you are holding two contradictory beliefs? I'd really appreciate someone correcting my if I have it wrong.

I imagine that, in the majority of Christians, they wouldn't take a literal view. One of my dear friends, Survivor Mama, has never claimed anything that would lead me to believe she thinks the Apocolypse is at hand. She's a believer, just not nutty. What I'm curious about is how you go from Survivor Mama to someone who stands on a corner with a sign that says the "end is near" while taking a break to go get their ultrasound.

Ian goes on to say...So why not bring into the world more souls to celebrate eternity in heaven with Jesus? Hey if you believe it will happen soon, then even more reason, because they'll have less time to suffer the depravations of earthly life.

*thinks* Yeah. I think you're getting warm. Though, it doesn't change the fact, and I imagine you agree, that that doesn't make it less dysfunctional. If that's the case, then Andrea Yates was just speeding up the heavenly rewards she thought her children deserved. Danger! Danger, Will Robinson!


Sean the Blogonaut F.C.D. said...
I dare not venture into the mind of that particular kind of theist.

It's hard to imagine, isn't it? I'll clarify why I *am* going there in a minute.

Stacey said...
My parents had both of me before converting to their Apocalyptic cult. If they had converted before conceiving me, I would not be here.

I would love to hear or read your story. I've been reading a book about children who grew up in Jehovah's Witness homes and I'm amazed by the strength of anyone who can get themselves untangled from that mess.
Now that I have abandoned their cult, they believe that I will be killed by their god at Armageddon. Thus they believe they are already the parents of a dead child
That makes my eyes well-up. How old are you? If you're younger than twenty or so, I volunteer to be your surrogate mom. ;)

What a shame, and what a waste of emotion. I pity them.
Which just goes to show that you are gracious beyond what anyone could ask of a child who'd been through your experience.

Shoot me an e-mail if you can chat. Or, I can give you my number. I'm really interested in what you may bring to the table.

So...why this train of thought? I was talking to a lady I know about her beliefs in the "End Times". She's totally confident that they're upon us.. When I told her people had been saying "it's upon us" for thousands of years, she started listing off all the signs that weren't here 'the last time'. Then she proceeded to give me a list of natural disasters that absolutely DID happen in history, in short time frames. So,...I finally asked her why anyone would bring kids into a world that will be destroyed and she said God commands if of her as a sacrifice to him during the End Times. WTF?! It gave me nightmares just thinking about it.

Gramomster said...

Hi P-Momma. You have the idea of cognitive dissonance correct. You hold two competing beliefs in your head, and usually, you have to shift one or the other to come into alignment.

Andrea Yates did think that she was speeding up their arrival in heaven. She was, in her mind, a bad mom, and it would be better for them if they were in heaven than on earth with her.

My husband was involved in the Hare Krishna cult for a few short years, certainly shorter than my mother's 15, and they are both rather amazed that a Jonestown type situation didn't emerge from the compound in West Virginia. That group too believes that everything of the secular world is evil and the most loving thing you can do for your children is to send them to god, by whatever name, before they can be poisoned by those evil, horrible people out there who want to give them to satan, by whatever name.

Okay, ummmm, YIKES!!!!!

Beyond comprehension...

cockingasnook said...

CD is that uncomfortable feeling you get when you are confronted with those two opposing ideas.

That more people don't experience CD is what amazes me.

Nance

cockingasnook said...

As for sacrificing children to an angry god -- boy, that must make the kids feel all warm and fuzzy!

Nance

Gramomster said...

Which is why eventually one usually has to be shifted. (the opposing ideas of cognitive dissonance) It makes one too uncomfortable to hold both.

Ian said...

Pmomma - I think we're pretty much agreeing on "Cognitive Dissonance" - it is the uneasy coexistence of two contradictory beliefs (that God saves only a small proportion of true believers, and that my kids will beat the odds). I don't think you have to realise the fact. But I may be wrong.

It is deeply dysfunctional. I've heard theists back themselves in debate into nasty corners on this, to the extent of having to claim that the only reason they don't kill their kids is that God forbids murder, but it would be better for them, eternally speaking.

I think the crucial thing is that they don't actually believe that, but it is an artifact of having to rationalise a set of dogma that they force themselves to claim.

I sometimes ask people this: if your neighbour said "God appeared in a dream last night and asked me to take my son up into the hills tomorrow and kill him, so I won't be around for a couple of days, can you keep an eye on the house?" - what would you do. Mostly they say "I'd call the police". But if you ask "Should Abram be praised for his faithfulness to God?" They'd click into "what is the correct answer" Sunday-school mode and say "of course, he was prepared to sacrifice even the most precious thing for God."

What people think they believe and what they actually believe isn't always the same thing. And that, I would say, isn't limited to theists.

Incidentally - Hi! - I've been lurking for a while, but never said hi.

Allyson said...

I've never understood that, either -- okay, there's a chance that your children will end up in heaven when the Apocalypse comes, but what if they don't? If you're so sure the Apocalypse is coming, why run the risk of dooming an innocent life to face the negative consequences of disbelief? It seems selfish to do it just so YOU can fulfill a commandment and get into heaven yourself.

Janet said...

I'm in the same boat at Stacey.

I actually asked my parents why there were so many kids my age once, and my mom told me that at one of their assemblies, in 70 or 71, that they were told to go ahead and have children if they wanted to.

Apparently, the JW's were already backing off of the whole 1975 thing by then, even though in 1968 they published that 1975 was going to be the end of the world.

There were a LOT of kids born to witnesses in the early 70's!

My parents love having me visit, but will never invite me or ask for my children (their ONLY grandchildren) to come stay with them (not that I'd let my children go, but still). It's sad.

It's painful for them, but they're playing the martyr card and get lots of sympathy from their "friends".

Calladus said...

I remember the 1975 prediction of the end of the world very clearly. I was in 6th grade, and remember how upset my classmates were.

More recently, I helped hire a Jehovah's Witness a few years ago. Extremely hard worker and knowledgeable technician.

I tried encouraging him to take advantage of our company's free education program so that he could get a degree at our State University, and even though we offered him time off during the day to attend (with the option of making up that time on his own schedule) he turned us down.

He finally admitted to me that he had asked his pastor who advised him that college wasn't worth his time since the end was coming at any moment. He would be better off spending his free moments in church.

On a non-Jehovah's Witness end-times note, has anyone heard of the ministry of Harold Camping?

According to Mr. Camping, not only will the world end in 2011, all churches are currently ruled by Satan himself!

Anyone up for celebrating in a "the world did not end" party?

Erp said...

The problem (aside from the whole lack of evidence for existence of a deity) is that an honest person realizes that they have absolutely no certainty about what Christ did or did not teach. So much of the Christ story is based upon older myths and written a few hundred years after the fact. There are no primary resources. The best you can say is that the Bible contains what other people (with their own agendas and experiences) think Jesus might have said two hundred years before writing it down.

Strictly speaking according to most scholars the earliest writings about Jesus (some of Paul's letters) appear to have been written 20 or so years after his death (around 50CE). The canonical gospels within a hundred years of his death. The earliest documents still in existence are later and copying would have introduced changes (both deliberate and accidental) but a major bit was down within a century. Now it is argued whether Jesus did exist. I'm inclined to think yes, but, that a lot of stories were attached to him early on so determining facts may be difficult or impossible.

Stacey said...

There are a number of researchers and psychologists who write about cognitive dissonance. The key is that the mind does not actually recognize that it is holding two conflicting beliefs, or a belief that is at odds with logic or science.

What happens is a little more insidious than an uncomfortable feeling, the cognitive processes have to choose which thought to accept and which to reject.

There was a research study done on this that was spotlighted on NPR's Science Friday 7/20/07. The mind makes excuses for the thought that is not in line with your base belief. If it cannot do such a thing, brains scans have shown that when a person is experiencing dissonance, his brain functions will actually shut down.

Interestingly, this might indicate that dismissing the conflict might be more important to mental stability than resolving it. Regardless, many of us leave high-control religions because we are presented with an overwhelming number of dissonant thoughts within a short period to time, forcing a crisis.

This is what happened to me. I was a true believer. I am also very resilient, so rather than breaking down, or shutting down, I was able to resolve the dissonance by accepting reality and logic as the preferred state.

BTW, I might be too old for a surrogate mama, I'm 37. ;)

I'm pretty sure you can reach me by email, or from my blog. Feel free! I'm always willing to share what I can about my experience with the JWs.

Flux said...

pmomma -

in one of the comments, you mentioned a book about children who grew up in JW homes... can you provide some more info about it? i'm very interested... my MIL is JW, none of her children are anymore, despite being raised that way.