Saturday, October 28, 2006

another one from August 2004 (excerpted and edited):

"Reading Lolita in Tehran" turns out to be less about the books Dr. Nafisi teaches than it is about the Iranian revolution and living in a totalitarian regime. It strikes me as so ironic how similar fundamentalists are in every time and place-- this blind insistence that the world must conform to the doctrines of the group, and the self-righteous ability to believe one's own judgment to be infallible, because it is backed up by one's interpretation of ... something. The Bible, the Koran, something. The Iranian Islamic fundamentalists are only too happy to pick apart the evil of American Christians, and (although she doesn't cover this in her book) the reverse is also true. The American religious right are quite sure that they know all there is to know about the Muslim faith, and that is: it is Wrong.

I was raised as a conservative Christian. Not technically a fundamentalist, but to an outsider, it would amount to the same thing. I consider some of my early training in the Christian faith to have been very much like brainwashing-- you are very carefully trained that you can't trust your own judgment, a slightly sneering, condescending tone of voice is used if you dare to presume that your own experience might merit some consideration as opposed to received "Truth." at the same time that your own ability to think and question is subtly undermined, you are trained in the beauty of the belief system of the group. How logical it is, how much it makes sense, how happy everyone around you is when you go along with it, how much it distresses everyone when you disagree or make waves.

So when I go back into that type of environment, it fascinates me to see how I respond. it's not that I want to go back to that way of believing, it's not that I start to believe it again, it's not even that I get sucked in, it's just that I can still hear that little voice I was so well-trained to hear-- "are you sure you can trust yourself? are you so arrogant that you think you know more than anybody else? Isn't it better to go along with the wisdom of what you were taught? They know so much more than we do. It couldn't have survived all these centuries without being true. It must be true."

I'm not going back. I don't believe the little voice. But I can hear it. And that is scary to me, not just for myself, but for the implications of how deeply imbedded it is in my psyche-- it has been nearly twenty years since I made my break with Evangelicalism-- and what that means about how hard it is to break free from that kind of thinking. Not just for former conservative christians but for fundamentalists everywhere.


Well, enough soapboxing for tonight. My brain is fuzzed (I've been interrupted three times by my son and his friend who is spending the night for Frosted Flakes, orange juice, and popcorn, and it is damn difficult to solve the world's problems when you are dealing with a sleepover) and maybe this doesn't even make sense.

Aunt BeaN

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