The Gastonia Society for FreeThought Message Board › Can people get over their bitterness toward the religious or religions?

Can people get over their bitterness toward the religious or religions?

Wendy R
user 11116486
Gastonia, NC
Post #: 8
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Can people get over their bitterness toward religions and especially religious people, a bitterness based on prior negative interactions with certain OTHER religious people?
As I said in email today: "I...appreciated Mary [S.]'s statement about not disliking religions per se, but some of their followers maybe. I like it when people can unemotionally differentiate between the two instances, especially since most of the difficulties related to religion stem from adherents' misinterpretations of their writings, or even failures to live up to their creeds."
So if you see the difference, you might find, as she believes, that the problem is in the human failings of the followers, not their Scriptures generally.
Even if many religious people have hurt or aggravated you though, with their actions or words, are you not continuing this and hurting yourself now, by keeping this anger and loathing so high? Anger and negativity does YOU great harm, and is best worked out, as well, quickly, and benignly as possible. Sometimes venting is needed, but you need to let old anger die away, and hopefully learn to let new confrontations rile you up less and less, for your own good. And realize not all religious people will give you a hard time either.
I believe that this meetup group, the Gastonia Society for Freethought, mostly at its very foundation allows for independence of thought toward religion, but is primarily an opportunity for intelligent or intellectual discussion about what ever topic is on our minds and someone else there finds interesting. We have rarely brought up religion, and only when someone was willing to address it, and in calm, friendly, logical manner. Someone would feel more free to vent there about friction with religion/religious, but we all enjoy best when people are being positive, constructive, and stimulating of our thought, plus it is healthier living like that. Our meetups are energizing, informative, and supportive. We are all different, but respect each other, as we are all willing to think, be open-minded, and learn from each other.
See you all soon! But write on this forum, as we don't have to wait til we can make it to Sunday gatherings to be uplifted, right?
Crista
Lumnicence
Belmont, NC
Post #: 1
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I actually read a fascinating article the other day discussing just these types of issues; most specifically, the article addresses the function of personality on a person's personal belief system. To boil it down, there is growing evidence to suggest that the manner by which people tend to apply their belief systems correlates in some manner to their meyers-briggs scores. Further, it might explain why tolerance comes far easier for some than others, as well as the effects of the porportion of personality types in the population as those effects relate to political atmosphere.

http://voices.yahoo.c...­

Let me know what you think.
Thanks
Crista

Wendy R
user 11116486
Gastonia, NC
Post #: 9
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Excellent, interesting article, Crista! Thanks!
Perhaps I am asking too much for some people to forget their scars from religion/religious. By Myers-Brigg classification, I am likely INFP (some INTP and ENTP too), so am a dreamer/healer, who always envisions that things can improve - an idealist. They "seek peace" and are adaptable, so I expect others to value and seek the same. I still believe peace, inside and out, is a worthy goal, BUT others need more venting, and this group should be a safer haven for some to do so, to some degree, and others DO naturally have distinctly different goals than I do. Thank you for reminding me, Crista. As long as we all have a good time, and derive some benefit from our interactions, then all is great!
Wendy R
user 11116486
Gastonia, NC
Post #: 10
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Tried the recommended test and it suggested a new category for me: INFJ. The only aspect I tend to score consistently on is N, intuitive. My other qualities run more in a middle ground. I see that if I am INFJ, I have these qualities, which relates to my wish for peaceful resolutions.
"Extreme dislike of conflict and criticism
Have very high expectations for themselves and others (both a strength and weakness) "

test: http://www.humanmetri...­
Wendy R
user 11116486
Gastonia, NC
Post #: 11
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Don't worry about above "Extreme dislike of...criticism" prediction of me though people, as I have gotten over a great deal of my former sensitivity and shyness. I now ACTIVELY seek constructive criticism. It might smart some initially, but remember that idealists are all about growth and improvement, so long as it is meant well especially I appreciate suggestions.
Bill Van Fleet
wvanfleet
Charlotte, NC
Post #: 1,555
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Wendy R,
Can people get over their bitterness toward religions and especially religious people, a bitterness based on prior negative interactions with certain OTHER religious people?

As I said in email today:
"I...appreciated Mary [S.]'s statement about not disliking religions per se, but some of their followers maybe. I like it when people can unemotionally differentiate between the two instances, especially since most of the difficulties related to religion stem from adherents' misinterpretations of their writings, or even failures to live up to their creeds."

So if you see the difference, you might find, as she believes, that the problem is in the human failings of the followers, not their Scriptures generally.

I so much agree with you. I believe I have actually seen atheists treat Christians worse than Christians have treated atheists. I actually belong to a Christian organization and have discussions with them in which I am treated quite well, even though I do not believe that I am being watched or am going to reunite with my family and pets after I die. The problem is the difficulty that we humans have when we perceive each other to have different belief systems.

I also think that we are making a mistake when we talk about "religion" as if it necessarily requires belief in the supernatural or in that which is inconsistent with the findings of science.

If we take a look at all religion, that is, all the things that have been considered to be religions, the most common denominator is the effort to figure out how to live one's life. There is no other general, widespread, accepted social institution or set of activities that people can turn to that have this as their primary reason for existence.

So what I believe is that all the religions have both good and bad in them, and that they are all going up their individual paths on the mountain of improvement, with the more primitive and archaic (and destructive) components gradually being abandoned while new and better things are being incorporated. (Each is a worm, growing toward the top of the mountain at its top end and atrophying at its bottom end.) There are varieties of progressive Christianity that are quite different than the fundamentalist end of the worm.

And there can be organizations that are drastically averse to more customary religious beliefs, and quite critical of them, which, themselves, have all the characteristics of a fundamentalist religion, as would be true, I believe, of Objectivism.


Even if many religious people have hurt or aggravated you though, with their actions or words, are you not continuing this and hurting yourself now, by keeping this anger and loathing so high? Anger and negativity does YOU great harm, and is best worked out, as well, quickly, and benignly as possible. Sometimes venting is needed, but you need to let old anger die away, and hopefully learn to let new confrontations rile you up less and less, for your own good. And realize not all religious people will give you a hard time either.

I believe that there are certain skills that we can develop in talking with those who do not believe that we are correct, and are even hostile about it, skills that do not involve outdoing the other person's hostility. I also believe that there is value in joining and being a part of an organization that does not have the same belief system, if that organization has to do with the development of an optimal belief system, because of the increased depth of thought that it can produce in oneself as well as the possibility of promoting beneficial change within the organization. I know that the usual idea is to hunker down within one's own group and regard other groups as ones to be combated, but I believe more in inclusiveness and friendly debate. I think Jesus would have it that way. (And just look at what we did to that poor guy.)

And again I so much agree with you about the destructive effects of anger, in all areas of our lives, from the interpersonal to the international.


I believe that this meetup group, the Gastonia Society for Freethought, mostly at its very foundation allows for independence of thought toward religion, but is primarily an opportunity for intelligent or intellectual discussion about what ever topic is on our minds and someone else there finds interesting. We have rarely brought up religion, and only when someone was willing to address it, and in calm, friendly, logical manner. Someone would feel more free to vent there about friction with religion/religious, but we all enjoy best when people are being positive, constructive, and stimulating of our thought, plus it is healthier living like that. Our meetups are energizing, informative, and supportive. We are all different, but respect each other, as we are all willing to think, be open-minded, and learn from each other.

See you all soon! But write on this forum, as we don't have to wait til we can make it to Sunday gatherings to be uplifted, right?

I agree, and think that the message board actually has some characteristics that make it easier to make progress in mutual understanding. In an actual meeting, there is a continual changing of subject, with seldom an extended effort to define terms and understand concepts to the point that there is actually mutual, accurate understanding of each other. And I think it is indeed important to cultivate, on the message board as well as in meetings, the ethical orientation of mutual respect and willingness to explore alternative ideas without engaging in a contest to see who can be most clever and skillfully hostile.

I am pleased to see the Gastonia group continuing to grow and provide a place for people to socialize and explore ideas in greater depth, who do not adhere to the dominant belief system of our culture in these here parts.
Martha Love
user 22030471
Gastonia, NC
Post #: 1
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It's so nice to find people talking about these things. I think about this stuff a lot. Also, without getting too deep into personality analysis, I want to give some insight into the minds of angry people. :) I am a conflicted person: borderline Feeling/Thinking. I was raised in Presbyterian environment where expressions of anger are "weird" but I have slowly allowed myself to express more anger. And I find it liberating! It sure beats depression!

Bitterness about religion: Lots of reasons it's hard to get over. It's not just that you keep running into dogmatic people who disagree with you. If you grew up in a religious environment (perhaps especially in the South?) and you are a female there is a LOT of stuff to make you mad. Personal and universal. Maybe your religious female role models in the South of the 1970s were ashamed of sexuality. That will affect your acceptance of yourself and your future relationships. Then you see the same thing, only worse, in other parts of the world. And it makes me REALLY mad. I have fantasies about kicking an Islamic fundamentalist airplane high-jacker in the balls. Of course, other religions have equally obnoxious attitudes toward females. I was not a philosophy or religion major but it I think it's "funny" that some of the most feminine of all practices (Buddhism and Taoism) originated in places that now abort female fetuses because females are SO inferior in the culture. No, I don't hate all men. But look at the religions that have written histories: the men are doing the writing, or controlling what gets into the record. Never trust a history completely when only one gender has a say. My hypothesis is that the woman were too busy tending to sick children or dying in childbirth to bother with writing down such, uh em, abstract thoughts.

Speaking of abstract thoughts. And war. ...OK. here's the connection. A decade ago, I was rejecting Christianity. I have many friends from college who are Christian: we all went to a liberal arts school of particular denomination. Back then things weren't so much about our religious beliefs (however informed or uninformed). We enjoyed each other's company. Since graduating many of my friends became more religious and I became less so. Fastforward to 2002: George W. Bush and the the Iraq war. I was infuriated by the idea of it, I thought any Christian in favor of a war for national security must be a hypocrite (don't worry about your life here on earth, right? you can turn the other cheek if you have a wonderful afterlife awaiting you) and I forwarded some email petition against war. (I don't do that anymore. It's not effective.) I got a reply from a very "logical, rational," Baptist, computer engineer friend of mine. He included others in the reply. He berated me for spreading fear. Like I was a histrionic female. (This is just SO Southern.) So... did I mention that I have a hypocrite radar? And I like The Onion? Yes? Sometimes, if I don't watch it, I will pounce on hypocrites. (I am hard on myself about this, too.) I replied to that with the ultimate fearful petition in history: sign this petition or you are going to hell: I believe that Jesus Christ died to save me. Touché! I put him on the defensive. The result of this email exchange was that many of my college friends and I got into a discussion about the logic of religious belief (since it was the "illogical" fear-mongering petition that started the whole thing). It was very stressful for me and I thought that my thinking side had overruled my feeling side and lost a bunch of old friends. (I had responded to a clever engineer with a clever, hostile comeback. Well, that's the story of my life until recently: proving that I'm as good as the boys. I'm still single. Surprise?) But we made it through that. We are still "friends". We don't see each other so much that we have to have agreement on deep issues. Some of my religious college friends are more liberal than others and I can relate to them.

Hypocrites can get me riled up. But it's hard to avoid hypocrisy at all times (Emerson or somebody said: Only the dead are consistent.) I try to be forgiving. Not because any parent figure in the sky told me to but because we're all dealing with the same human condition and I need forgiveness, too. Really, I am a very empathetic person. Just don't make me mad. ;) Well, that reminds me: when I am angry with dogmatic people, i start to sound dogmatic. Then I don't like myself. Got to watch that. Idealism is behind a lot of anger in the world. I, too, am an idealist. Might be why I write.

I am a writer and I have written 10 minute plays and an essay about religion, anger, etc. but I won't go into all. Do you ever see notices for workshops about helping people to be meeker? No? So people go to church and nod their heads at the beatitudes and then drive out of the parking lot feeling awesome in their BMW SUVs? That's another pet peeve of mine. Nobody actually wants to be meek here and now. Not that it has anything to do with what car you're driving but I don't think meek people enjoy life. Seriously, there are some people who actually need a shot of confidence! Not more humility! (Wall Street big shots not among those.)

If I know a person well and for a long time, and he/she never expresses anger or frustration, I'm not all that impressed. I think it might be they have developed a persona about being a pollyanna, and as such, are a bit fake. I like authentic people. Anger just needs to be channelled appropriately. It COULD be constructive. I say this as I just recently saw the news about the shooting in Colorado... Maybe he repressed it too long. ??? I don't know.

Anyway, if I sound hostile in this, I didn't mean to. It might be I still have anger. And reflux. Got to get some TUMS...
Mary
mesnow
Huntersville, NC
Post #: 15
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I feel very much in line with Martha on this one. As someone who had pretty tame and inoffensive exposure to religion (lukewarm Catholic family that lapsed when I was 8 or so), I don't have a lot of pent up personal bitterness or anger toward religion. My feelings about religion are probably something more like frustration. Every time I hear about a new piece of legislation that is clearly religiously motivated I do get angry. This is my government; it's my tax dollars paying the generous salaries and benefits of the people who are foisting their religious interpretation of "morality" on me. Take Amendment One, for example. Is there an argument against homosexuality that is not fundamentally based in religious tradition? Is there anyone opposed to gay marriage who is not opposed because of the teachings of their religious community or text?

Likewise, the teaching of the universal sinfulness of mankind and of woman in particular is nothing short of traumatic for any culture that subscribes to it.

And let's not forget that the Bible (for example. I don't know other religious texts well enough) was used as proof that slavery was perfectly acceptable. I'm not saying that slavery in the US wouldn't have happened or gone on just as long if the South hadn't had the Bible backing them up; but it is possible, isn't it.

I won't deny that for many people religious centers like churches, mosques, etc., provide a valuable community outlet. This isn't enough, in my view, to justify all the other garbage that comes with it. Any community that tells its members that we will never be good enough for god should be replaced with one that encourages its members to seek their own answers, think for themselves and respect every human being on this earth.
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