Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Thursday Thirteen #45

Last week I touched once again on the issue of my fundamentalist upbringing and the impact it had and continues to have on my life. Because so many of my posts during this 70 Days of Sweat challenge mention in some way the story world I am working on whose main characters are involved in a similar sect, the subject keeps coming up.

My post last Wednesday touched on the emotional impact the images of the bridge collapse had on me, coming as they did in juxtaposition to my recent immersion in my memories of the milieu of my youth inside that sect, imagination of the lives and thoughts of characters involved in a similar isolationist and Apocalyptic world view, and research on the web sites of members of similar sects.

I have mentioned frequently the huge lacuna in my cultural experience because of the restrictions imposed by that sect. I thought it was about time I got more explicit. Today I focus on the cultural and behavioral taboos.

Thirteen Things My Childhood Religion Forbid or Frowned Upon

  1. Dramatic Performances: TV, Movies, Stage Plays
  2. Games without educational purpose. Zero tolerance for playing cards.
  3. Most post civil war era music other than hymns and classical. Opera? No way. See #1. Dance? Triple no way. See #6. Besides dance was a temptation to immoral thoughts and improper contact between the sexes.
  4. Celebrations of days or events: holidays, birthdays, anniversaries. (Christmas, Thanksgiving, Memorial Day, Labor Day, we attended Bible Conferences. July 4th was Youth Camp.)
  5. Literature without explicit religious framing. Since they had as little esteem for most of the other Christian sects as for secular culture, there were few trusted writers of stories. Besides, all of these first five things fall under:
  6. Frivolity. Defined as any activity not related to attending to the necessities of living, study of the Word, prayer, fellowship with believers or proselytizing. Thus the closest I ever got to carnivals, fairs, concerts, sports arenas, parades and amusement parks before my teens was handing out gospel tracts outside the gates, in the parking lots or, in the case of parades, on the route in the hours before it began.
  7. Missing Bible Study Meetings Sunday mornings and Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday evenings for any reason other than illness or a job. Schoolwork was an iffy excuse. Taking on jobs that required working on Sunday was discouraged. Mothers working outside the home was not encouraged.
  8. Embellishments or decoration of the self including make-up, tattoos, piercing. But apparel, for adults, was encouraged to be free of beads, ribbon, lace, sequins, bright colors, embroidery, etc. Simple, plain jewelry was tolerated by some. Major frown inducers: Short hair for females. Long hair for males.
  9. Any display of strong emotion. Aanger was often equated with either murder or rebelliousness, the latter considered a sin 'worse than witchcraft'. And joy in anything other than the 'things of the Lord'? see #6. So having the name, Joy, was, well...a bit confusing.
  10. The usual suspects: Alcohol, tobacco and recreational drugs. Gambling. Cussing and vulgar language. Physical intimacy outside of marriage.
  11. Higher Education. The curriculum of both secular and religious schools contained too many 'false doctrines', including among others: Psychology and philosophy that attempted to explain human behavior by any frame other than the doctrine of 'original sin' and scientific theories that assumed an age for the earth of more than 6000 years or anything other than 'creation ex nilo (out of nothing) by the Word of God, or any expectations for a future extending more than a few decades and ending in any way other than destruction of the earth and all of man's creations along with all 'unbelievers' expected to consist of 99.99999% of those living at the time of the end.
  12. Divorce for any reason other than infidelity. Remarriage after a divorce? Not an option.
  13. Hanging out with anyone whose standards on these points or whose doctrines differed for any purpose other than proselytizing. Which of course made formation of sincere friendships outside the fold impossible.

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