Tuesday, February 15, 2022

I want the truth (how I came to handle the truth) Pt 2

Following on from the post yesterday, which was shared on social media, I was asked if I could provide further background and pointers on how people can support those down the rabbit hole, and hopefully encourage them back out.

This is my response:

The change for me came through personal life experiences. As I started traveling and thus my world view grew, as I raised kids, as I saw shitty stuff happening in the world and could no longer justify it with blind faith, I became more open to other views (or at least, became more open about my inner views...).

I now find any dogmatic view very uncomfortable. In terms of pointers, I think those responses like 'that's interesting, I'll consider it' and so forth, give people with strong views a sense of validation, but you are also keeping boundaries around what you will and won't' take on. Moving from a strong view comes with grief as another poster mentioned. In the case of deconversion from Christianity, (there's more on this elsewhere on my blog - search 'Christianity') I have heard this described as more painful than a divorce (from people who went through both). Understanding that a belief system, be it a religion, a mindset, or subscribing to a particular conspiracy theory comes with its own culture, language, and community will help. 

The person who is embedded in these things is being challenged on every level and that is scary. If it's faith-based, then showing science won't make a difference - it's more likely to push the person further towards their belief, regardless of it's through fear or actual believing. As in any cult-like behaviour (and yes I am aware that there is a very wide spectrum, I'm just generalising for simplicity), a gentle, prolonged, and non-judgemental approach is the only way to move people from one belief to another. And they need to have a personal interest or impact to want change, such as (in the case of Covid say) getting sick and experiencing 'the other side'. 

Hope this helps. 

Further reading:




Monday, February 14, 2022

I want the truth! (You can't handle the truth)

 Many years ago...more than 35...I was deeply involved in an evangelical church.  I desperately wanted to be part of the community. I wanted to feel what I saw other people feeling on Sunday mornings. I wanted to be a living example of the things that were being preached.

This church, like many others, taught that there was a special prayer to be said, that would ensure entrance to heaven on death. It required, essentially a kind of personal sovereignty (is that expression sounding familiar!?!) that led to sacrifice and quite possibly persecution for holding on to certain beliefs. We were beseeched to go tell it on the mountain and pray without ceasing.  It was particularly important to ensure everyone we knew - especially family - heard this message, and had the opportunity to accept it for themselves (there's that personal sovereignty thing again).  After all, if they didn't, they would be in eternal torment and it would be MY FAULT if I hadn't told them the Truth.  We were reminded that we were a minority, but that this was normal...most people wouldn't listen, and part of being the bearer of this news would include feeling separate, perhaps even mocked or ridiculed. In fact, that was probably part of the deal.  But continue we must, led by faith (because well, you know, faith). 

I didn't even really know if I believed all I heard - there were certain things that I secretly didn't agree with - but boy oh boy, I was not going to take the risk.  And so, at the peak of my quest for devoutness, I was telling ...preaching....to everyone I could.  I was petrified of eternal damnation for my family, but also smug in the knowledge that at least I was right, and would be saved from doom.

There were things I didn't understand, but I turned to the voice of others with more charisma and those with spiritual knowledge. I closed my friend circle, choosing only to socialize with people of similar mindset (it was safer that way anyway, lest I be tainted by another view). I immersed myself in Christian literature, studiously avoiding anything that might challenge what I was hearing and reading.  The fact that the majority of what I read didn't stand up to scientific scrutiny, and was not accepted by the general population was irrelevant.   I had answers for those people anyway...because... faith. 

There was a bit of a problem as time went by. I discovered that there was an outside chance that whilst what I was following was A truth, it might not be THE truth.  There were just as many fallible people within the group as outside - charlatans and liars, the gullible and lonely, and many many genuinely kind people who truly believed what we were being taught.

What I'm seeing now, as the pandemic continues to rage, is a similar thing in the right-wing /anti-vax/pro-Freedom movements.  By and large, these are good people - they are standing up for what they believe in. They are desperate to ensure that their message gets to as many as possible.  They are looking for leaders, and signs and wonders, to support their beliefs.  For some, the lure of being a martyr for the cause is attractive. Social media has given many a platform that my teen days of street preaching could only have dreamt of.  

I see so many parallels.  It's given me a fresh insight and deeper sympathy for those who have ended up down the current rabbit holes that are overflowing with conspiracy theories and self-righteous anger. 

Noone wants to be told they're wrong. No one really wants to admit they might have got it wrong.  And generally no one wants to be told that the truth they have believed in for a very long time, might not be so true after all.  

One can only hope that for many, there will be, if not a revelation, a slow awakening.  There can be many truths.  Choose yours wisely. 

The Annual Family Poem 2021

This sure has been a heck of a year!
How can Christmas already be here!
Even so it's probably time

(Traditionally I'd be making this rhyme)

Read on for the highlights of our family's year
Omitting the Covid's, and my fast greying hair
Dancing got squeezed into weeks with no lockdowns
- including my sister's wedding

 (Hurrah! A magical day)

Did a trip on the first Te Huia train - lobbied 8 years, shed a few tears
Even got a few days away, in Wellington (one of my favourite towns)
Never so much time spent on Zoom and the phone!

Susan changed jobs to an English Language school -
a change from the orchestra which is pretty cool
Couldn't quite give up music though - wrote another children's show
Had to do it 'online' though - musicians a yes, but the audience no!

Reinstatement of The Village Messenger - so happy to start it up again
I do so love the power of my pen
Son Joseph won the year 11 Hospitality award, even cooks dinner for me
- if he's bored (hurrah for Hello Fresh!)

Time for change for Niamh too - moving out of home and a new career doing
Making cocktails and pouring pints for Good George Brewing
At home learning and working most enjoyed by the pets (woof woof!),
and we loved no early morning alarm going off

Susan joined Waikato Refugee Forum as Advisor to the Board
- a privilege to work with such extraordinary people
Please stay safe this summer - mask at the ready!
Our summer will be spent at the beach and Lake Taupo (just for me!)

Even if you're just passing through, do drop in and visit for coffee...or cake

Merry Christmas from us! Enjoy your break!

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

The annual family poem 2020 - Fairytale of Pirongia



The Annual Trodden Christmas Poem 2020


It was Lockdown Eve,

Down the Five Stags

A young man said to me, won't see another one

And then he played a song

‘You Can’t Touch This’ I think

I turned my hands away, And put them in the sink


Got on the bike again, Didn’t care about the rain

I've got a feeling We needed to get out the house

So happy Christmas, I’m glad we made it

I can see a better time, When all our dreams come true


We had masks in the parks, We had queues up wazoos

But the time went quite quickly with 1 pm news

When we first locked the doors at the end of the spring

We conquered the Covid and handwash was king


We got fat!, We got thinner

We had salad for dinner

When the lockdown was over, We didn’t want more

I went back to dancing, But Joseph quit Fencing

Niamh learned how to barber, And we shopped through the night


The orchestras kept going and They played their hearts out well

And the bells were ringing out For Christmas day


I’m the mum! He’s the kid! She’s the one chucking junk

Cleaning cupboards and drawers like tomorrow won’t come

You cook and I’ll clean, What? The dryer’s on again?

Then Christmas came fast The year’s done at last


The orchestras kept going and They played their hearts out well

And the bells were ringing out For Christmas day


The year was tough for us, Well it was for all of us

We kept our dreams alive, In hope of better times

We made a list of things, That turned out in the end

We’ll put it on the fridge, And be glad for them


The orchestras kept going and They played their hearts out well

And the bells were ringing out For Christmas day

Listen to the soundtrack so you can sing along:)



Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Could be me


Today I was teased for the very last time

And I ran from the room to write down this rhyme

To capture the hurt and to capture the shame
That I felt when I heard the crowd call out my name

You’re so noisy they said, you talk far too much
You mean well, we know, but it’s always a rush

You’re hard on the ears, and perhaps we could mention
How it seems that so often you don’t pay attention

Your voice is too loud and your hair is too wild
Apparently, both since you’ve been a young child

You know that we love you but honestly mate
Could you tone it right back - and try not to be late!

And as for the drama that dogs you each day
Perhaps it’s your own that gets in the way

It’s a maelstrom that enters the room don’t you know
And we feel like you have to be star of the show

Well…the thing that hurts most is that all of it’s true
I know I’m ‘too much’ - for me - not just you!

Perhaps I’ll be quiet, say ‘I’m fine thanks, and you?’
When asked how I am at the next public do

I’ll sit in the middle, and tie my hair back
So I do not offend, but blend into the pack

I don’t need reminding, I know how I am
And ‘good-natured teasing’ won’t help with this jam

Friday, February 07, 2020

it's just a matter of faith

October 2014

Last weekend I found myself in the most unlikely of places - invited to the house of a friend, I expected to be '' meeting new people'', but in fact discovered that of the 8 families there, I knew 6 of them, and all bar two of the adults sat somewhere on the ''faith scale'' - a pastor at one end, and...well...probably me at the other.

Conversation with two (whom it turned out I have known since teenage youth group years)  turned, as one might expect to things spiritual.  Was I going to church and if so where? No? Oh, why not? I found myself frustratingly clumsy in response - mumbling about being ''churched out'' and ''taking a break from formality'' - and feeling more than a little deceitful with it. Because although both of those things are true, the story is rather more convoluted than that.  Like many things - the complicated questions can have simple answers and the simple questions often have (very!) complicated answers!

February 2020

Part of the annual spring clean (which I tend to do over the summer break) includes a tidy up of social media, emails and so forth.  My blog has sat largely untouched for a long time, for a bunch of reasons, including that I write a lot for a living and so don't really indulge in it for pleasure much these days.  So today, as I was scrolling through the half-finished posts, deciding what could stay and what could go, this one caught my eye, still in draft form from 2014.

Since I wrote the lines above a lot has happened in my life and world view of things spiritual.  I've been grappling with whether I even need to be writing it down for posterity, but it's interesting to look back on these things...so here it is.

Not long after writing those words, I found myself back at church. It was an 'of course I'll go with you' kind of thing rather than a conscious effort on my behalf, coupled with a vague idea that if I could get my kids interested again it might be a good way to get them into the youth group.  The problem was, I'd sit in church feeling grumpy and resentful that I was there, being all judgy about the people in the room (and wondering how many were there with the same motivations as me) and really not communicating at all with the God I was supposedly there to meet with, and in whom I wasn't sure I believed in the first place.

I came to the conclusion I was better to stay away - echoes of the 'better to be cold or hot than lukewarm' bible verse in my head.  Time went on.  I reached the conclusion that God wasn't overly concerned about my lack of Sunday commitment.  More time passed...I accepted that the beseeching I had done of God in the previous year or so had had absolutely no effect at all - either I wasn't asking with a pure heart, or he didn't care or maybe didn't exist...

And now, in 2020? I want to believe there is a God because I don't really want to have to accept that the world is just some kind of cosmic accident (and ergo, so am I). But do I believe that God is interested in me? That I can have some kind of personal relationship? That my eternal life is dependent on this Judeo-Christian belief I have had around me my whole life?  Nope, and I don't know if I ever did.

What I do know is that I have a responsibility to do my best by the world - which means to walk lightly on the earth, be kind and generous with others, respect myself, all those things that make us good humans.  Does God fit in there somewhere? Possibly, but not in the way I thought and not in the form I've always reverted to imagining. 

It seems to me that the Christian version of God is one of many.  A truth perhaps, but not THE truth. It's just a way of us mere humans making sense of the world.  Just as every Muslim or Buddhist or Taoist does.  When I do the Beliefnet quiz I almost always get 'Sikh' as my most closely aligned religion - seems strange until you read what the framework is.

The thing I just can't get my head around is the New Age type stuff. It seems it is a never-ending, self-perpetuated cycle of self-improvement that has little to do with others - that is definitely not the religion for me.

I read somewhere recently that to be spiritual is just to have an awareness that life is bigger than we are. You don't have to say you're a spiritual person (ick), or 'act' like one. That the rest doesn't really matter.  I think I like that.