I'm all undone by a website I made the mistake of reading yesterday. It is the personal "ministry" site of an Ohio general practitioner. He fancies himself a minister, and preaches a extremely fundamentalist message. One can sense the irony at work as one views the doctor's beautiful, aryan family, their seeming good cheer, juxtaposed with the vitriol that spews forth from the text. There's a profound disconnection there. One thing that struck my interest was his letter from and response to Cady, a young person (can't tell if boy or girl) who is proud of daddy for coming out and being true to himself.
In another letter, Doctor Johnson (not to be confused with Samuel Johnson) defends and supports his railing, rebuking tactics with biblical verses. (BTW: This page is a little off--you have to scroll down to read the letter and response.)
"God fearing" to this ministry is literal. This is not the meek, mild Jesus he is selling, but the thundering, righteous Jesus. We are not to find comfort in Jesus' message, but terror. I'm not a Biblical scholar. I've read it, but I don't study it, or memorize passages other than those which have moved me personally. But it seems to me that this minister's focus is at odds with much of what Jesus taught (the beatitudes--Sermon on the Mount, for example). I find a profound disconnection between this minister's depiction of Jesus and the Jesus who said, "let he among you without sin cast the first stone." This fellow believes that it is entirely possible to remove the log in your own eye, and after doing so, you can freely condemn the specks in everyone else's.
And doubly troublesome to me personally, is that something deep inside responds to this guy. I am afraid. I am inspired to look again to God (his view of God--which he justifies as being the true biblical representation), rather than my own view of God (the God of movies and Sunday School). Although this picture of God does not square at all with my experience of God, I find myself falling under its spell. Who among us doesn't have guilt and shame over something--even if it's just free-floating? Is my neurotic personality flaw responding to the message of self-loathing implicit in the fundamentalist world-view?
Is this not classic cult conditioning? Destroying someone's self-image so that it can be replaced with something else? Now that I am in this miasma of revulsion and terror, of horror, how easy it would be to wildly give myself over to someone who can facilitate a cleansing, a rejuvenation, a healing--and then what? Wouldn't I be obliged to seek regular maintenance of that state of being?
Although this minister's tactics may be biblically based, there's a deep psychological coercion at work as well. I can feel it. I think it could be very dangerous--volatile. It's cultish. It feels to me more manipulative than spiritual. I would appreciate a frank discussion of this so feel free to leave responses.