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2 years ago  ::  Jun 26, 2012 - 10:13AM #1
Sacrificialgoddess
Posts: 9,496
Jason Pitzl-Waters just wrote a short essay on religous conversion. 

Watching Tennis

Comments?  Disagreements?
Dark Energy. It can be found in the observable Universe. Found in ratios of 75% more than any other substance. Dark Energy. It can be found in religious extremists, in cheerleaders. To come to the conclusion that Dark signifies mean and malevolent would define 75% of the Universe as an evil force. Alternatively, to think that some cheerleaders don't have razors in their snatch is to be foolishly unarmed.

-- Tori Amos
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2 years ago  ::  Jun 26, 2012 - 1:43PM #2
allthegoodnamesweretaken
Posts: 11,634

Jun 26, 2012 -- 10:13AM, Sacrificialgoddess wrote:

Jason Pitzl-Waters just wrote a short essay on religous conversion. 

Watching Tennis

Comments?  Disagreements?




I agree. 



I think the people who get all worked up about this or that person subscribing to this or that affiliation, or the changing there of is pretty petty myself. 

Yesterday, in America, 100 million gun owners did nothing.
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2 years ago  ::  Jun 27, 2012 - 11:36PM #3
gorm-sionnach
Posts: 1,663

It is a well written piece, to be sure and I do find myself to be in agreement with it.


I suppose in general terms, though, the idea of relating the conversion experience as a means to induce or convince others is where I do take issue with it.


I understand first hand the experience, having formerly been an atheist, of the so called "bolt of lightning" phenomenon; though Jason does correctly point out that while those first "powerful experiences" have a significant impact, it is rarely so clean cut as all that. The process does not end with such experiences, but it usually does begin with them. What comes next is the bit where people struggle to reconcile or explain away their experiences in the lanugage they understand them, or struggle to adopt a different language to understand them.


There are certainly different circumstance and types of conversion which take place, but acknowledging these differences is necessary because the context is important. A revelatory conversion experience is quite different than a pulled-from-the-brink experience, for instance. I think while the later can be more powerful in the immediecy, it is certainly not the ideal way of coming to adopt new beliefs; predominently because the individual is for all intents and purposes, under duress. A calmer, introspective examination followed by study doesn't have the same sort of romanticism attatched to it, but I think the end result is a more balanced approach, becuase the level of dependency is significantly eliminated in the later, and still a centrla component of the former.

Truth in our hearts, Strength in our arms, Fulfillment in our tongues.
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2 years ago  ::  Jul 05, 2012 - 3:09PM #4
Ferretling
Posts: 254

I've had the joy (hahahaha) of converting to a new religion several times. Sometimes the process seemed relatively abrupt, but other times it was a slow fade followed by a sudden change.


First I went from Roman Catholocism to Dianic Wicca. (This was in the old days when Dianic Wicca wasn't women-only or woman-centric.) Wow, that was a sudden change. That faded into eclectic Wicca and then into eclectic neopaganism. It was a change in beliefs, but I wouldn't call it conversion. Then, looking into Anglo-Saxon poetry and the role of poets and singers, I had one of those ah-ha moments. I had an idea; I just needed to find the religion. So I converted to Asatru. This lasted a few years and it taught me a lot of things. It taught me, in many ways, to be myself, to like myself. But again, there was a fading. It just didn't stick, didn't internalize. Then, looking for a way to de-stress myself, I came upon Zen Buddhism. I've converted to that, and it is the first religion I have really internalized. It's the first one that really feels like a part of me that I can't set aside. It's the first religion I have asked for an official conversion ceremony.


It matters to me. It makes a profound difference to me. Conversion has changed me, let me grow, shaped me. But it is intensely personal. I had a couple of friends come to my conversion to Buddhism, and wished I'd been able to have family as well. But this is because it was a life-changing event, not because I want to be in-their-face with my Buddhism. I might even share part of my story online, either because it is somehow relevent or because someone is asking and I figure, hey, it might help. I don't think my conversion stories are newsworthy, though, or even all that interesting. They might be helpful to others. Maybe. I don't know.


Here's the thing. As my sensei said, people don't convert to other religions because everything is all wonderful and fine in their lives or religions. So these stories of people being pulled from the brink, or their lives are saved, they're pulled from despair/drugs/suicide etc are merely extreme cases. Their discomfort, discontent, or need has turned into actual duress.


In the end though, so what? Their bad experience isn't my bad experience. To say that their experience defines the religion/belief system they left is wholly ridiculous, unless, of course, they founded the religion. For example, when I left Wicca, I could tell stories about some of the 'witch wars' and other stupid stuff that went on, but man, I want to know what Wicca these 'ex-witches' belonged to. I want to know where they actually saw all this supernatural stuff happening, because, wicked cool, yeah. I want to learn that kind of stuff! Wow!


So an atheist became a Catholic. Yippy skippy. Big deal.I wish her all the luck, but it just isn't newsworthy.

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2 years ago  ::  Jul 12, 2012 - 2:43PM #5
allthegoodnamesweretaken
Posts: 11,634

(((((((((((((((((CH)))))))))))))))))))))))



I didn't know that was you, how ya been?  I was just thinking of you the other day!

Yesterday, in America, 100 million gun owners did nothing.
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2 years ago  ::  Jul 12, 2012 - 9:36PM #6
gorm-sionnach
Posts: 1,663

Jul 5, 2012 -- 3:09PM, Ferretling wrote:


Here's the thing. As my sensei said, people don't convert to other religions because everything is all wonderful and fine in their lives or religions. So these stories of people being pulled from the brink, or their lives are saved, they're pulled from despair/drugs/suicide etc are merely extreme cases. Their discomfort, discontent, or need has turned into actual duress.


In the end though, so what? Their bad experience isn't my bad experience. To say that their experience defines the religion/belief system they left is wholly ridiculous, unless, of course, they founded the religion. For example, when I left Wicca, I could tell stories about some of the 'witch wars' and other stupid stuff that went on, but man, I want to know what Wicca these 'ex-witches' belonged to. I want to know where they actually saw all this supernatural stuff happening, because, wicked cool, yeah. I want to learn that kind of stuff! Wow!





First CH, or you know I suppose your real name (won't post it of course), its good to hear from you again. You still over at that other site?


Second, I actually am an example of "everything being fine in my life". I faced no crises, existential or otherwise, had no financial, relationship or personal issues to overcome by becoming a polytheist. It was the experience in and of itself which changed my perception and understanding, not a lack of something, or a need to fill some "hole" in my being. I do admit to being an outlier in a lot of things, so again an exception is just that. Certainly, it is not a common means of conversion, although it may be more among folks like me, than others.


The issue I take with "bottom of the barrel theology" is that it thoroughly colours what the converted expect from their own religion, and further that there's is a necessarily universal experience. The former can lead to an almost pathologic dependency on the religion. This in turn leads to a zealotry that is hard to find anywhere else, and can be damaging to the individual as well as those around them. It's most obvious manifestation is in personality cults or NRM's which prey on its adherents. The less obvious, but far more prevelant, is best represented by the "Born-Again" community; their sorrdid lives are kept at bay only by their faith, and so any percieved threat to their faith is met with anger and hostility. Its a house of cards, and often one pulled card leads to the whole thing coming down. Again, I am generalizing, and am aware that such conversions can also bring renewed hope, joy and great benefit to individuals and families.


The later leads to the desire and wish to "spread the good news", which is a result of the belief of universal experiences: "it worked for me, and it can work for you". To the point that people who are not "at the brink", people who "seem" happy and content, HAVE to be missing something and seeking something better, which the converteds religion offers. This website is a testament to the fact that this happens, and is very common.


Certainly, and most commonly, the ex-Witches/ Pagan who "come back" to the religions of their childhood, tend to be rather spurious and the sincerity of their "middle" convictions questionable.

Truth in our hearts, Strength in our arms, Fulfillment in our tongues.
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2 years ago  ::  Jul 12, 2012 - 10:02PM #7
Ferretling
Posts: 254

Ferret, CH, or Pam, they all work. Laughing


Thank you for the warm welcome back.


Gorm, (and yes, I am still on IFF, as CH), I think my sensei wasn't referring to "bottom of the barrel" theology, though I do agree with you about it. Converting under duress just colors everything entirely. I think my sensei meant, you know, things like not being spiritually fulfilled or having a desire or feeling that you need to seek elsewhere are some thins that drive people to look elsewhere. It isn't complete satisfaction.I think, though, from the whole discussion, that he was contrasting this with those who convert out of absolute desparation.

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2 years ago  ::  Jul 12, 2012 - 10:05PM #8
Sacrificialgoddess
Posts: 9,496

((((Hugs)))

Dark Energy. It can be found in the observable Universe. Found in ratios of 75% more than any other substance. Dark Energy. It can be found in religious extremists, in cheerleaders. To come to the conclusion that Dark signifies mean and malevolent would define 75% of the Universe as an evil force. Alternatively, to think that some cheerleaders don't have razors in their snatch is to be foolishly unarmed.

-- Tori Amos
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