Article

My Idyllic Childhood

Commenter Brian Sweeney seems to be taking me to task for being ‘angry’ with my parents. Here is his comment:

I told my son Roerick, "why would you want to go to a church retreat when, like Sean, you think it is a "destructive cult". You’ll probably just end up angry and develop some weird website in the future blaming your parents for how awful you were raised. I tried to get him not to go, but he just wanted to.

Sorry Sean.

I’m not sure what to make of Brian’s response. Did his son go to the conference and return angry? Or did his son go to the conference and enjoy himself. Or did his son go to the conference, believe in it for a while, leave the church later, then get angry with his parents. Care to comment, Brian?

Didn’t we go to Summit University together way back in 1976?

So listen, I gotta tell you that I don’t really have a problem with the way I was raised. It was positively idyllic! I mean, we lived in mansions my whole life, ate fantastic food, school was at home, I travelled all over the world, and I always had tons of friends. My parents loved and doted on me, and so did lots of other people. My sisters and I always got tons of presents for birthdays and christmas. I had trikes, bikes, chemistry sets, tools, and I had the run of the place. I got a first-rate education in publishing and entertainment, I had private tutors on everything from geography to science to history from the time I was old enough to talk. Yada yada, what’s not to like?

There was just one little problem: Everyone around me was–pretty much lying about everything–except the science, history, math and geography part!

My parents told me there were imaginary people called masters who we were supposed to pray to. The ‘masters’ were supposed to protect me, they supposedly loved me, and best of all, they were fighting this epic battle of light and darkness! Even though they were the most powerful beings in the universe, they needed us to sit around all day shouting: to "order them into action." I guess because they couldn’t figure out how to fight their battles on their own.

LOL!

This was made even more absurd by the fact that these ‘immortals’ were supposed to be everywhere, see everything, and know everything. But I guess they couldn’t DO anything without being asked by us at least three times a day! How convenient! If the ‘masters’ didn’t solve a particular problem, even though they were all-powerful, it was OUR fault. We didn’t pray hard enough.

On top of all this, these imaginary beings everyone was lying about were watching us all the time, and would do bad things to us if we offended them. It would be our karma. In fact, as I grew older, the lies got even more intense: we were told that these same beings would come and take our SOULS in something called the ‘second death’ if we didn’t make them happy!

With me so far?

So the lying continued. And the older I got, the less sense it made. But there were all these other people around–thousands of them–who insisted even though we had absolutely no evidence of the imaginary beings, that they were absolutely real. SO real, in fact, that their home where they lived, in the ‘etheric’ plane, was more real than the life that we were living here on earth.

It was a little hard to explain then, why and how people like our fellow Buddha quarter SU classmate Julia Barczay, with her sweet devotional voice and pretty blonde hair, who spent over a decade doing her decrees and calling to ‘Archangel Michael’ to protect her, was not prevented from DYING in a solo car accident on her way to the "Inner Retreat" where she was planning to devote the rest of her life to god! When people asked my mom why this poor woman was not protected, my mom happened to mention that Julia Barzcay liked watching old sentimental films too much, and therefore had been stuck in the astral plane and not been worthy of Archangel Michael’s protection.

Now if that isn’t a kick. Nice insurance policy, huh? Your cosmic insurance is good with old Arch. M as long as you don’t watch too many sentimental movies.

But while we’re making shit up, why not throw in a little moralizing while we’re at it. Couldn’t hurt to get people to pray even more than the requisite two hours a day now, could it??

So forgive me if I’m a little angry at all the lying and manipulation, Brian. It would all have been OK if everyone could have just all gone their separate ways after the bomb shelters and called it a day. But Merci Hammon’s parents, like most others in CUT, thought that they were justified in basically disowning their children for calling "bullshit" on their little fairy tale.

Like I said before–MY mom apologized. That means she realized she was wrong. But many people who used to follow her are still insisting that she was right about everything, and still continue to perpetuate their nonsensical view of their imaginary spirit universe they’ve never seen.

There’s nothing more life-wasting or soul destroying than believing in this twisted cosmology. It’s no different than mass hallucination, and as deadly to human observational and critical faculties as a crystal meth addiction.

Very few get out alive. The rest die thinking they’re going to heaven, as their brain shuts down for good and their identity dissipates forever. The ‘light’ they see is the result of glutamate released by the death of their brain cells. As long as you’re dying anyway, it’s a nice fantasy, I suppose.

So is Roerick (Surprised you didn’t name him ‘Nicholas Roerick’) still in the church? Has he figured it out yet?

As for me, I’ve got three strapping young non-theist sons ready to take on the world. Their names are Chris, Nate, and Lars. Unlike me, and your son from what it sounds, they didn’t grow up with people lying to them. I saw to that. It’s not that they don’t believe in god, they’ve simply seen the havoc such belief causes, (visited YOUR bomb shelter space recently??). They realize the entire concept is just a pain in the ass, and simply irrelevant to their lives.

They’ve also been taught to use the brains evolution gave them to try to understand their universe. They don’t get their knowlege from authority or tradition. They think for themselves. (At least I’ve given my kids an education and a fighting chance at mental clarity.)

And as strongly as I hope they follow their training, I still plan on loving them for the rest of my life no matter what they do–even if they eventually decide to take up religion. I want my kids to genuinely love me. That’s light-years more important to me than what they may believe.


Comments (14 comments)

darkeros / June 29th, 2006, 10:47 pm / #1

Sean,

Once again you are called upon to address those who continue to choose to live their lives in blaring ignorance.

And Brian… how old is your son? Has it been since in utero that you have fed him only your subjective reality? a child doesn’t even know to choose something different. It should be a crime to stuff religion down a child’s throat when they have no capacity to question it. As you well know, he will absorb what is in the environment, not able to distinguish objective reality from madness because he was never given a choice. Hopefully this burden of his parent’s propaganda will not keep him from questing after and exploring the larger questions of life for himself… just as you once did… just as Sean has done.

You can only hope that one day your son walks out the door to seek reality based on his own investigation, for only then will he be a man.

Angry? hmmmmmmmmmmmmm, well if you call the dismantling of the unrealities our parents were ignorant of as being an act of anger, then shame on us for daring to fight against ignorance so as to be participants in the great movement of evolution.

Matt / June 30th, 2006, 9:46 am / #2

darkeros:
I couldn’t agree more with your comments (and with your points in general Sean). I was lucky enough to grow up in a household where spiritual development/choice (or lack thereof) was entirely up to me. My parents would always willingly answer questions about their own beliefs, but would always encourage me whenever possible to form my own opinions, and to be a critical thinker about things that people tried to teach me.

My wife on the other hand comes from the typical fundy, shove-it-down-your-throat type of household. She has had a much rockier, more painful spiritual ride then my own because of it. She has had to systematically take a look at every bit of dogma she was fed, and compare it to her life experiences and how she ACTUALLY felt. And though I’ve helped her in every way possible to break free of the dogma of her childhood, much of that must come from within, and I’ve had to simply sit by and be an ear for her while she struggles… and the machismo part of me hates being passive ;).

While I will never understand the choice of believing in ghosts and boogeymen Gods, people are free to choose that as they will. But I will NEVER except forcing dogma upon others, and espeically not upon children at thier most impressionable ages.

-olly

Brian Sweeney / June 30th, 2006, 8:24 pm / #3

Gentlemen, lighten up.
My post was a bit of a poke, yes.

Yes, Sean, you were the youngest, I was the other kid (just 18 years old), in the Buddha class.

The “conflict” between reason and faith — guys, it’s so 18th century. Of course, it’s reason/great mental clarity AND faith, which for someone in a generally balanced state is intuition, feelings (“Luke, trust your feelings”), a sense of what is right. The Covey work, particularly the “8th Habit” is about the balance.

I just don’t understand the close to obsessional obsession with absolutely anything that has religion attached to it as automatically bad, dire, destructive. I just don’t. Sorry.

Anyways, not really interested in carrying on this debate. Wish you all well. Sean, be glad to catch up “off-line”. Darkeros (is that Greek?) and Olly — best to you.

A must read however is “How the Irish Save Civiliation” by Tim Cahill. The real story of St. Patrick, the blackness of the 5th and 6th centuries and how we were ‘this close’ to a complete obliteration of any level of maintaining the less than perfect civilization that we did. Yes, it was the Irish — not the Greeks, Romans, Essenes, Atlanteans, Rotary, Illuminati, Southern Cal, but the Irish!

God bless us everyone.

Brian Sweeney / July 1st, 2006, 10:25 am / #4

“Give Us 10,000”

Sean,

I guess I was your 10,000th visitor.
Do I win something?

Feel free to email me at my email above.

Best regards,

Brian Sweeney

George Tucker III / July 2nd, 2006, 2:09 am / #5

Mr. Prophet,

In regards to all the benefits you received during your childhood, the quality of ingratitude which you exhibit is quite sickening. This is really no different than watching a child bang his head against a concrete wall and seeing a smile cross his face with each sound of the skull cracking. Normal people do not react in a positive manner to such a spectacle.

You were given a lifestyle that would have been the envy of 90% of the people on this planet, and we see you spitting upon that banquet table. Based on this point alone, the idea that your point of view is in the ascendency, is the most insane delusion.

When a normal person confronts this level of ingratitude, given the lives of suffering and poverty in which most of the world population lives, they will see you and your ilk simply as quite sick individuals. Truly the word demented comes to mind. It appears that your heart has collapsed into itself like a black hole. Where the light of sanity itself, which is gratitude, is no longer able to find its way out into outer manifestation.

This is a very precarious situation for you. As you teeter on the edge of the abyss, you might feel the sensation of solid ground under your feet for the moment, but truly, this will not last.

You have heard of centrifugal forces haven’t you? And you know that these need to be balanced by an equal degree of centripetal force, right?

With all other issues aside, you need to find the thread of gratitude, and use it to bind together your mind, before it flies into so many pieces, you will never be able to put it back together.

BlackSun / July 2nd, 2006, 11:03 am / #6

Mr. Tucker,

I didn’t know it was still possible for someone to so completely miss the point. But thank you for another great and eloquent addition to my collection of hate mail.

You see, the point of my post was precisely that someone could have a childhood where there was a tremendous amount to be grateful for in the material sense, while at the same time, being subject to one of the greatest spiritual hoaxes and manipulations of our time!

So while the physical circumstances of my childhood were indeed idyllic, the very nexus of the enterprise was based on a deeply flawed premise. It was a banquet table all right, but it was like having to alternate bites between the finest gourmet food, and spoonfuls of feces. Should one be grateful for the gourmet food under that circumstance, or should one simply get up and leave the table?

I chose to do the latter. From the sounds of it, you’re still chowing down on the bullshit, and trying to pretend it’s lobster. So I submit to you, the sound of bone on bone you’re hearing might be your own teeth gnashing in frustration at your cognitive dissonance.

You don’t have to worry about me teetering on the edge of an abyss. I’ve already made the leap!

BlackSun / July 2nd, 2006, 11:23 am / #7

Brian, I want to address a couple of your points:

While Stephen Covey has certainly demonstrated a serviceable method for personal success, I don’t think it follows that his spiritual leanings are a necessary part of the method. I can practice every single thing (at least of the seven habits) without believing in a single spiritual concept.

I edited a profile of Stephen Covey of about eight years ago, and I found him to be extremely articulate and put a number of his principles to use in my own life. Though he may be sincere, his appeals to faith ring hollow. He is a Mormon, and don’t even get me started with THAT poor excuse for a religion. Like other faith-based appeals, for charity, kindness, what ever, it is eminently possible, and even desirable to accomplish all of those activities for personal and rational reasons. He may help some people get motivated, but when applied to practical actions, faith just gets in the way.

No matter how balanced and rational you think you may be, if your primary orientation is to look at unseen forces which act on the world in unexplainable ways, you are living in a delusion.

As far as the faith/reason debate being a relic of the 18th-century — I would beg you to look around. I think the destructive levels of faith, as evidenced in today’s world are at unprecedented levels. Much of this has to do with the world’s exploding population, most of whom are young, uneducated, and extremely superstitious. So for me, the promotion of reason is the most important pursuit of all.

As far as the Irish are concerned, and the fifth and sixth century, I don’t know what you are speaking of, but that time period was prior to the religion-induced dark ages. Sure, there have been many civilizations who got things right, including the Mesopotamians whose ancestors living in what is now Iraq made great contributions to mathematics and culture. But it’s been two steps forward, one step back for several thousand years. Every time science and reason make a leap forward, other masses of humanity throw up their smokescreen of superstition, trying to drag us all back into the muck.

Reason in no way supersedes or eliminates the utility of intuition. But people need to check their intuition against reason, and be sure they are not acting on false subjective conclusions. God-belief of any kind hinders the process of the mind forming accurate observations of reality.

Brian Sweeney / July 2nd, 2006, 6:34 pm / #8

Sean,

I admit I did sign on as a bit of a playful romp to challenge you on where you seem to be at in life. As I dig into this a little more I’m seeing it’s really not worth my time. Some quick observations:

1. You are in a mental cult. You have become what you hate. You are intolerant and hyper-critical and non-accepting of others who do not share a pretty narrow, shallow, hollow, nihilistic, nothingness of your version of agnosticism/athiesm.

2. You are in fantasy-land to think that evolution or advancement in society is going to happen only if people do not believe in Nature’s God or any organized version of “Ekklesia”(“So I think people are figuring it out slowly, and some of the recent resurgence we see in organized religion is simply the entire enterprise approaching a point of desperation”. SAY WHAT? Proof of religions demise is religions resurgence?).

3. The humorless-ness of this entire blog says it all.

4. You seem to be highly energized by those who challenge you on your ‘evolved’ and ‘enlightened’ beliefs. So I won’t add to this dynamic further.

5. Finally, one thing I think you and I can both agree on (to paraphrase Lloyd Bentsen,V.P. candidate’s famous line in a debate with Dan Quayle, 1988): “you are no Solomon”.

Sorry, but I will be praying for you and all of us that we may understand more of God’s plan for us all.

I do sincerely wish you and your family well.

Pax Domini,

Brian

BlackSun / July 2nd, 2006, 7:43 pm / #9

Au contraire–Brian, if you believe my mom, she said I WAS the reincarnation of King Solomon, or did you miss that meeting? How ironic you should use that Lloyd Bentsen quote. You clearly don’t believe EVERYTHING my mom said. So you’ve already started down the path to empiricism. It’s really not so hard. Just don’t believe anything without evidence. Hardly the joyless, nihilistic exercise you claim it to be.

Oh, right, you consider that I’m a waste of your time, and this whole dialog to be a lark. So I’ll happily leave you to your far more important, humorous, and life-affirming religious subjectivity. Have fun at that party, you’ve certainly got lots of company.

Brian Sweeney / July 2nd, 2006, 8:26 pm / #10

Sean,

No human being is a waste of time. Sorry if you interpreted my comments thus. We are all God’s children.

I find my life-affirming religious (spiritual) subjectivity, when all is said in done, the most important reality in my life.

Yes, I do have lots of company.

Vondir,

Brian

George Tucker III / July 3rd, 2006, 1:43 am / #11

Mr. Prophet,

Here is an example of where your psychological centrifugal forces have gotten out of balance, and defeated your psychological centripetal forces.

On the one hand you say, “I pointed out that I was willing to accept the existance of god if he could provide evidence.”

On the other hand you say, “God-belief of any kind hinders the process of the mind forming accurate observations of reality.”

The first statement extends from an allegiance to truth, and the pursuit of an open mind to that end. The second statement blatantly betrays that ideal.

Gratitude is the centripetal force that allows us to remain faithful to an ideal. When you lose your connection to gratitude, you lose the capacity to remain faithful to your ideals. This example illustrates this principle.

When you cannot hold to your ideals, your mind will fall apart, descending into an ever increasing process of splintering and chaos.

I would like to associate myself with the sentiment expressed by your friend Brian, when he said, that no human being is a waste of time. Very profound.

BlackSun / July 3rd, 2006, 10:58 am / #12

Again, Mr. Tucker you have quite spectacularly missed the point. My two statements are in no way inconsistent.

Clearly if there was empirical evidence provided for the existence of god, I would accept that existence. Such evidence does not exist. The pathology (accompanied by the numbing of the mind and perceptual faculties) comes from belief in such a being WITHOUT evidence.

Your discussion of centripetal/centrifugal is a total smokescreen. These forces don’t even technically exist, and they certainly have nothing to do with the functioning of the mind.

From the Physics encyclopedia on “Centrifugal Force”:

“An outward-directed “fictitious force” exerted on a body when it moves azimuthally in a noninertial rotating reference frame. For example, a rider standing on a carousel feels himself “pulled” outward as the carousel spins around. Centrifugal force is a fictitious force because it is a by-product of measuring coordinates with respect to a rotating coordinate system as opposed to an actual “push or pull.”

So, Mr. Tucker, your misuse of scientific metaphor belies your sloppy thinking in general. No one is a waste of time–but this discussion is. I’m not going to allow this off-topic nonsense to continue in this column.

Paul / June 26th, 2008, 11:32 am / #13

Hi Sean,
I don’t know if you remember me, this is Julia’s son Paul. Over the years I’ve wondered how you and your sister’s have been. I don’t know if this will reach you, but I figured I’d give it a shot.
Paul

BlackSun / June 30th, 2008, 7:28 am / #14

Hey Paul.

How are you? I’ve been out of the country for a few weeks, so a little behind on things. Email me directly if you want. sean at seanprophet dot com

Best regards

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