Sunday, June 29, 2008

When is Fasting and Prayer like Mind Control?

When it happens in DC, in August, for 12 straight hours, in likely 90+ degree heat and has silence rather than speech as an expectation of participants.
Mind Control = Creating circumstances within which one person can modify perception and cognition of another. It's not rocket science - it's social psychology.

The Call : A Fast, not a Festival August 16, 2008, Chief organizer, Lou Engle.

It is not enough that Jesus died. Someone must apply the blood of Jesus to the national sin of USA.
~ Lou Engle, from The doctrine of the Shedding of Innocent Blood(this is a .pdf).
First, who is Lou Engle? You think you've never heard of him, but you did if you saw "Jesus Camp" He is the man who showed plastic fetuses to young children and reminded them that 1/3 of their potential friends had been aborted. He prayed while the children chanted, "Righteous Judges, Righteous Judges."

We are preparing for some 500,000 people, but really there's no way of knowing beforehand.

Can you imagine though if 500,000 people gathered on the National Mall, not in irritated protest against a man or his policies, but in abandoned worship and prayer - coming before the Lord, in a Joel 2 Solemn Assembly where united in fasting and prayer, generations turn to seek the Lord? Can you see the largest silent siege - as seas of people in solemn silent prayer with red LIFE tape across their mouths turn to face the supreme court and pray to the Maker of Heaven and Earth to "...end abortion and send revival to America?" and establish righteous judges?

What might this LIFE tape look like at a rally of fasting and prayer?

Faith Development is the natural unfolding of one's mind toward trust and commitment. There are natural stages of this, and concrete ways to help people to explore in developmentally appropriate ways.

The opposite of Faith Development is Mind Control -- dishonest and manipulative influence over what people believe.

How do you exert, not honest, appropriate influence, but manipulative influence to the point of control, over what people believe?
Control over Behavior, Information, Thought, Emotions. (Hassan)

What might this look like?
~Control the environment and limit information and ideas -- social environment and physical environment.
~Cast the world as binary - 1 and 0, yes or no, on or off. Don't allow for questioning, or context or complexity.
~Be sure you have absolute truth and repeat it again and again.
~Use language that is so loaded that everyone accepts the meaning of the word, and the surrounding ideas.
~Manipulate and induce blank-mind states - trance like states of openness -- through prayer, chanting, repetitive singing, etc.
~Keep them tired, fill up their awake time with material controlled by the group leader.
~Create emotional highs and lows and use those emotional states to induce thinking that the leader wants.

If you want to control someone's mind, control their behavior, limit their freedoms (of movement, speech, self-care), and keep them hungry and tired.

I've been to Marches on Washington. Hot, sweaty, thirsty, hungry and tired from a bzillion hour bus ride, but I am expected to participate, to march, to move my body and interact with people, to eat and drink, and listen to different speakers, some of whom don't' agree on everything and we all agree to disagree that day b/c the focus of the march is primary.
And we holler. And hoot. and whistle. And did I say, eat?

We sometimes take UU youth to events, overnight trips/lock-ins, or camps - and we support them while they examine and ponder and talk and worship and eat and drink. We feed and water them, we keep them safe, we engage them in dialogue, and we strongly encourage sleeping and other forms of self-care.

What happens if young people stand silently in the sun without eating for 12 hours?
They think this is what will happen:
TheCall does not seek to entertain, but to encounter God. Unlike other mass gatherings which attract people through the rhythms of loud music, the glamour of flashing lights, or through the appeal of charismatic personalities, TheCall is a gathering centered around the affections of a loving God. There will be no advertised bands and no promoted speakers, as our purpose is not to promote any man or ministry.

TheCall is a FAST not a festival. TheCall is a SOLEMN ASSEMBLY not a conference.
Whereas conferences focus primarily on training and discipleship, the 12 hours of TheCall are spent primarily before the Lord in the place of prayer and worship. ...
Those who fast should do so under the supervision of parents and doctors and by the leading of the Holy Spirit. A person could fast just one meal or drink only juice for the day. Water will be provided by The Call organization; however, food will not be available because this is a solemn assembly to pray and fast for revival. (bold emphasis mine)

I think that this prayer and fasting in the sun is just plain wrong. Their belief system aside (and don't get me started) I think this is coercive at best, abusive at worst.

An intervention is called for. This is what I would do if I weren't' in a pulpit the next day 650 miles away. Maybe you might choose to do it my stead.

Go to the rally.
Pass out juice and crackers/cookies/fruit.
Tell people the food is free, like speech, and you hope they will ask questions instead of agreeing to silence.
Don't argue, feed and walk away.

Jesus fed the 5000. No reason we couldn't as well.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Turn your face away from GA just for a minute

and watch Stephen Colbert interview Tony Perkins, President of the Family Research Council, on Gay Marriage. He's plugging his book, Personal Faith, Public Policy. This clip was from May 27, but you can never wait too long to watch Stephen smoothly "agree" with his right wing guests.

According to the FRC website, the authors
argue that the religious Right is not falling apart; rather it is growing, expanding, and being rejuvenated.
"What our critics see as 'splintering' is actually the growing pains that precede a healthy expansion," write Jackson and Perkins. "The movement is adapting to the changing political environment and broadening its ranks while holding firmly to the principles that have united us thus far."

Jackson and Perkins write that the religious Right has experienced significant growth in recent years, becoming more diverse in a number of important ways, from race to age to political affiliation; however, they conclude that unifying these coalitions has been and will continue to be a challenge to the religious Right.

I wonder why they capitalized Right, but not religious in those paragraphs.
Perhaps being Right is more important than being religious?

naw, probably just an intern.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Best Zinger all year

Departing from the cranky news, I thot I'd share a story wherein I'm not the cranky one.

My best friends used to own a small store during the 90's and into this century. I helped out and supported them and watched them through good and lean times, I got a discount on nifty items, and contributed my New Years' Days to inventory and carpet cleaning. Eventually, they sold the store. I have a huge soft spot in my heart for this store, and feel a lingering connection to it.

The new owner rearranged, and like when a therapist gets a new office, or the minister redecorates after a decade, the changes just felt wrong for the longest time. But after a few years I'd gotten used to the changes, and the store continued to have a special place in my heart.

I was there yesterday, asked the owner how he was, and he told me that he is selling and has a couple of prospective buyers. Awww.... damn. It seemed wrong again, just after I had gotten used to him and his way of doing things, just after I had gotten used to paying retail price for everything.

I said, the way I would were we say, actual friends, "So are you getting out with some money, or just your shirt?"

He didn't miss a beat and with no affect whatsoever said, "I am happy to talk in detail about that with any prospective buyers."

Bam, Zing, Set that boundary I'd crossed. It was excellent, and I laughed with appreciation.

He didn't.

I wonder if it is similar to how people come in and out of congregations, and have an emotional relationship to the congregation as a place, or as an idea, and come back after time away and are surprised that they can't just jump in where they left off.