Roughly twenty years ago, I was embedded in a cult-like religious organisation.
I was raised from infancy in this church, taken there by my parents, along with my two brothers. It was my social life; everything I did, aside from my schooling, revolved around this church. It seemed weirdly logical to me then, as a young adult drifting aimlessly in the new world of what the actual fuck to do with my life, that I enter this church wholly and take up training as a conveyor of bullshit. Ahem, sorry that should read a minister of religion.
After the residential training was complete, I was moved to the country, in charge of a church centre. This meant that I actually stood on platforms each and every Sunday to tell other people how to live their lives. I was welcomed into homes, also to convey the same propaganda. It never sat well with me; I have always been of the opinion that we have a right to live however we choose. But the nature of my position as a minister meant that I was highly judgy, I told people what was wrong in the eyes of a supposed ‘god’ and, I held unnecessary power over them.
I have massive regrets over this part of my life (there’s a superfluous sentence).
Yesterday, I had lunch with a very good friend of mine, who now lives in Europe. My friend and I met through this organisation; he escaped about a year before I did. We have stayed in touch over the twenty years since our respective departures, and he was the best man at Hubster’s and my wedding. Although we rarely see each other due to geographical distance, our conversations are easy and enjoyable. As we caught up yesterday, we spoke a bit about this church and the aspects of power wielded within it. Neither of us can clearly articulate the reasons why we took this path in our early twenties; perhaps we were both rudderless, or believed that our identity was formed there, or we felt lured by the promise of doing good in the world. And I guess, at best, that what churches are supposed to do: provide a shelter for those who are lost, to contribute to the greater good. However, there is a huge imbalance of power in this church; it is militaristic and commanding, both of which contribute to its irrelevancy in our world today.
Both my friend and I feel that despite the contentedness of our individual lives now, we bear scars from our experience. And I guess that is life; no one can get through life without the scars from different experiences. They are there to remind, caution and prove mistakes can be teaching methods.
So, what is this all about, aside from purging my past? Be careful whose advice you buy; conveyors of bullshit are around every corner.