Sunday, August 12, 2007

Paternity's sin

If indoctrination of one's children in a religion is, as Christopher Hitchens suggests, a serious form of child abuse—and therefore a "sin of the fathers" in religions' own terms—then a child who has been religiously indoctrinated has been sinned against.

Though I had never thought of it this way, I have noticed in myself lately a significant reservoir of anger having (apparently) to do with my forty or fifty years of wrestling with religion—a turmoil that I would not have had to endure if I had not been indoctrinated. I wonder whether this anger stems from my unconscious understanding that indeed I was sinned against. Though I guess I'll never really know, there is at least a circumstantial case for this interpretation.

And it appears to me now that my early interest in philosophy (reading Plato's dialogues as a teenager, being fascinated by the procreative mystery of Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass) stemmed from the intellectual problems I was having with concepts like God, sin, and salvation, from the need to understand the reality underlying life and consciousness, one version of which that same religion pretended to teach me.

I of course notice that perhaps the majority of similarly indoctrinated people just go right on indoctrinating. If they've struggled with their own indoctrination, the indoctrination seems to have won out. And after putting sometimes considerable effort into indoctrinating their own children, perhaps even encouraging them to attend a Bible college and do "missionary work," they have many reasons to be even less inclined to question and doubt. It would be just too embarrassing to disown all that they've invested in who they are to their children, their neighbors, their fellow parishioners...and, in many cases, alas, their fellow Republicans, along with whom they even believe that God Himself has counseled them to keep on supporting George W. Bush, God's very anointed Man of the Hour, which reminds me that, in fact, my anger (recognized as such by me) first arose during these years of the successful exploitation of the gullibility of the religious by Bush, who showed that the sin visited upon the fathers' children can be visited upon a whole nation.
indoctrinate...2. To teach to accept a system of thought uncritically. – The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language

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