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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15 tell me a story:

Anonymous,  8/09/2007 4:55 AM  

WOW! I just can't imagine. Our childhoods were very different. Just for musical differences alone. I am a heavy metal kind of gal.

I am curious to what has changed in your life since you left. I may have to go diggin' around your blog.

I am fascinated!

Unknown 8/09/2007 6:06 AM  

Thanks for making an exception for me. It has been an interesting journey, but one I wouldn't have missed.


Unknown 8/09/2007 6:39 AM  

very interesting list..Glad i stopped by

Anonymous,  8/09/2007 8:23 AM  

It's as complicated as Deuteronomy.

I've always thought that a person of faith might naturally refrain from doing a number of things because if you have faith, they're not appealing or necessary.

What I DON'T understand is religious groups that believe in forcing you to behave that way. What's the point? Detailed rules such as those in Deuteronomy made a lot of sense in Moses's time for all sorts of hygienic, legal, and survival reasons, but now...well, either a woman is modest or she isn't, right? The feeling doesn't follow the behavior; it all gets turned around backwards.

I've never understood why God is supposed to be in favor of the APPEARANCE of virtue, so-called...

Anonymous,  8/09/2007 8:45 AM  

I'm a born again Druid

Trees and virgins.
Virgins and trees.

Not to bad

Anonymous,  8/09/2007 8:47 AM  

I seem to have an 'O' left over from my previous comment. Don't you just hate that?

Bri 8/09/2007 9:17 AM  

Wow - a few people I knew at church had these ideas, but mostly my mom and dad let me find out and reason things for myself. And damozel makes a good point - I think my opinions of people who kept to on a lot of these would depend on if they were doing it for "appearance" or out of "true belief." Interesting list- have a great Thursday!

Nicole 8/09/2007 9:57 AM  

Interesting list, but it makes me all the more thankful that I grew up in a tolerant household. *shakes head* Happy TT!

L^2 8/09/2007 11:47 AM  

Wow, Joy!
It's difficult for me to imagine my life being even remotely the same without the wide variety of music I've always loved, let alone some of the other rules on your list. Very interesting.

Susan Helene Gottfried 8/09/2007 1:53 PM  

Yowch. I'd be in rebellion if I grew up like that, too.

Interestingly, the Tour Manager has an uncle who's an Ultra-Orthodox Jew. He gave us this book for our wedding that espoused many of these same views.

But to not laugh and love life? I can't imagine how hard that must be.

Happy TT, my friend.

kuanyin333 8/09/2007 4:01 PM  

I'm happy for you that you have lots more freedom to think for yourself now. Blessings and Happy TT!

Anonymous,  8/09/2007 5:09 PM  

In his most recent book, Christopher Hitchens has a chapter called "Is Religion Child Abuse?" and reading how children in the sect from which you have mercifully freed yourself, one is tempted to say that it certainly can be. Imagine forcing children to live such a dreary existence as that. What a waste of their young lives!

Spy Scribbler 8/09/2007 6:06 PM  

Wow. What sect was this?

I've always been fascinated by religion, but ... that's just oppressive.

Ann 8/10/2007 9:36 AM  

Things like that are why I am no longer a Catholic. Okay, they lost me the day I learned that the Catholic Church actually had to debate whether or not women have souls (this was long before the whole priests with boys thing was talked about). I'm glad you now have the freedom to think for yourself.

Anonymous,  8/10/2007 7:30 PM  

Some of the things on your list was a part of my childhood, and still are. But those that I follow are the choices I made. I got my Bible down and read it for myself. That's the only way I feel you can separate dogma from the truth, which I consider to be the life of Jesus as lived on earth. His is an example of a life well-lived. He thought of others before he thought of himself, he went about healing and setting folks free. He spoke of salvation and approaching life like a little child. One thing he emphasized was that each one of us has to make our own decision; no one else can make the decisions for us. Sounds like you're exploring that aspect.

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