Tag Archives: truth

Polygraphs and Monotheism: More Complex Than Expected

I am a Christian.

That’s more or less exactly how I began a blog post way back in 2013, when I attempted to combat a very prevalent and largely Christian argument against gay marriage. While it’s rarely ever stated as explicitly I also like to think that this fact isn’t something I’ve obscured or tried to keep secret.

On that note, the topic of Christianity also isn’t anything new here at Culture War Reporters. While the majority of these posts have focused on art that willingly bears that descriptor, my co-writers have also delved a little deeper into that belief system and morality. While the former may seem more at home given what we typically cover, a review of our About page readily sums up why the latter is just as appropriate as anything else.

In it we touch on culture wars as a “a conflict between societies with different ideas, philosophies, beliefs, and behaviours,” as well as how we are both individually and collectively wrestling with them. It’s the concept of two vastly differing perspectives that solidified whether or not I should do a brief write-up on my recent experience with a polygraph test. Continue reading

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The One with Ghomeshi, Trauma, and the Truth

As of this morning, Jian Ghomeshi has been acquitted of all charges.

The judge (Horkins) in this ruling told the witnesses that navigating this proceeding is “really quite simple”.

All he asks is that they “tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.”

The truth.

What happens when the truth isn’t that simple?

 When trauma is involved, the truth— the reality of an experience, the story—is not clean cut. With trauma, the truth is never so simple.


A little psychoeducation, if you’ll bear with me:

Trauma memories do not have clear beginnings, middles, and ends.

This is not widely understood, and it needs to be.

When we experience trauma, our bodies and brains undergo an involuntary instinctual response that interrupts normal neuropsychological functioning.

Put simply, our brains often can’t physiologically encode traumatic memories in a linear or coherent fashion.

Our memories of trauma end up being without narrative organization and may be stored in a nonverbal realm of the brain.

Which makes it inherently problematic in cases like this where the outcome relies on the witnesses’ ability to recount the assault or trauma.

The judge is asking for something that our brains cannot physiologically accomplish under the weight of trauma.  Continue reading

3 Life Lessons I Learned in Church (Or, the Hilariously-Sad Realization that I Grew Up in a Cult)

“Here’s an easy way to figure out if you’re in a cult: If you’re wondering whether you’re in a cult, the answer is yes.” ― Stephen Colbert, I Am America

They say hindsight is 20/20. Never has this cultural idiom been so true to me as the moment that  I realized I grew up in a cult. After conducting some personal and academic research about the characteristics of a cult, the scales fell from my eyes and, hallelujah, I could see.

It wasn’t as earth-shattering as I would have expected, in some ways, it was like I always knew. I just had to step out of the cult closet and see for myself.

A few characteristics of a cult include financial mismanagement, abusive behaviour, and attempts to control members through manipulation. During my time in my childhood church I experienced and/or witnessed each of these concerning behaviours. Don’t get me wrong, we weren’t the kind of horror movie cult that was sacrificing babies, or drinking poisoned Kool-Aid. Generally, it wasn’t even all that bad. But on the spectrum of church to cult, we had more in common with a cult than the typical church.

I learned a lot from my recent revelation, and I wanted to share what I learned with you. Below, I’ve included three life lessons I learned in church, or, as I like to say, the hilariously-sad realization I grew up in a cult.

Life Lesson #1: Your Time is Valuable

“If God is up at five in the morning for prayer… (dramatic pause)… Then you should be, too!”

Time is arguably our most valuable commodity, and it’s your time that a cult will take the most of. For most cults, controlling your time is almost as good as controlling your money. Since I was quite young I didn’t donate a lot of money, but let me give you a breakdown of how I spent my time:

There are 168 hours in a week. We sleep about 56 hours, and work about 40 hours each of the five workdays. That leaves about 72 hours left to do what we like. In our cult, we were told that our time was spiritual money in our spiritual bank account. If we had free time we weren’t doing enough for the Lord.

In a given week we would spend 19 hours in prayer (both communal and private), 6 hours in service, 4 hours doing street ministry (aka knocking on people’s doors and handing out pamphlets), 10.5 hours of driving ministry (picking up families for church programs), 3 hours youth ministry, 4 hours outreach ministry, and 5 hours in worker meetings or music practice. That left 19.5 hours of free time for 7 days, or approximately 2.7 hours of free time per day. To put it another way: if our free time had been money we would have barely made enough to support a child in a third world country.

When I finally committed to not go to church (cult) anymore, I suddenly had time to do what I wanted. It was as if I had discovered my belly button for the first time as an adult, which would be mind-blowing, to say the least.

Life Lesson #2: Question Everything

“When you come in here, turn off your brain.”

Ignorance is bliss, but cult ignorance? That shit is magical.

The first thing a cult takes away is your ability to question. You are not allowed to question leadership, the lack of faith healings, or the way money is being managed. You are discouraged from receiving a secular education and told to “turn off your brain” so the spirit could lead. Asking certain questions could get you ex-communicated. This meant that the Leaders would restrict any communication/contact between the ex-communicated person and the rest of the church congregation. This delicate practice was meant to somehow force the individual into repentance and to return once again to their (dysfunctional) church family.

In order to demonstrate your “true faith” you were required to leave your logic at the door and take everything on faith, no matter how absurd some of the services would get (running around the building and shouting at the top of your lungs was a frequently occurring event). While this kind ignorance was truly blissful, it quickly got out of hand.

Growing up in a cult was a lot like growing up in a tiny magical bubbleMy tiny bubble consisted of a small intimate group of people that saw each other every day. Like most charismatic churches we believed in faith healing, prosperity, and gifts of the spirit (speaking in tongues).

However, we also believed we could:

  • change the weather
  • drive cars without gas
  • teleport
  • pray back a woman’s hymen so she could re-lose her virginity on her wedding night (honest truth)
  • pray away the gay
  • chase demons out of the church (this actually involved physically running around)
  • pray over adult video stores to close them down (it actually did close down two weeks later, BTW)
  • repel bullets through prayer (when the persecution came)
  • pray people out of the grave.

It was a strange, wonderful, magical bubble, to say the least. But it was also a bubble that needed to burst.

For me, the pin that burst the bubble came the day we were asked to pray for a specific group of people to die.

We prayed, and they died, further justifying our beliefs in our magical powers.

It was scary, scary to be in a group of people you love and have grown to know over decades, then, one day, to see them all pray in mindless fervour for someone to die.

This is when the magic ended, I no longer viewed the world through the foggy haze of my magic bubble. I suddenly realized this was all crazy and I had no choice but to leave.

Life Lesson #3: Know When to Walk Away, And Know When to Run

“I don’t trust people with an education, they think too much with their head.”

As cliche as it sounds, things aren’t always meant to last forever. Leaving the safety and security of the community was hard. It was like a divorce; a divorce where you had to separate yourself from every single member of your family one by one. Although I came out relatively unscathed, there were people who I cared about who lost everything: family, money, and community.

The loss of community was the most heartbreaking. It left many bewildered and asking themselves a multitude of questions: What had been the point of all that hard work and time? Why did we pray so much? Why did I give away so much money? And why did I needlessly hate myself for natural body functions? Masturbation jokes aside, after leaving, or rather running, from the cult that I grew up in I learned that I don’t need their edification in my life to have purpose. I could live and make my own choices, without fear that God or church will disapprove. In my cult-free life I have found joy and purpose. Plus, there’s no one trying to steal my money anymore.


The writer of this post has chosen to remain ANONYMOUS.

3 Things Christians Parents Can Learn From the Death of Leelah Alcorn

On December 28th Leelah (Josh) Alcorn committed suicide. In the Tumblr note she scheduled to upload after her death, Leelah implies that her parents’ strict rejection of her identity was one of the factor that led her to this decision.

I’m not a parent, so I don’t want to ignorantly hand out parenting suggestions. However, I do want to start a dialogue about this story in the Christian community.

Instead of offering my own naive words of advice, I’ve pulled out three quotes from Leelah’s note to focus on. Each of these three points highlight things Leelah seemed to deeply wish that her Christian parents would understand.

1. You can’t force your child to accept your beliefs

They felt like I was attacking their image, and that I was an embarrassment to them. They wanted me to be their perfect little straight christian boy…

– Leelah

I love what Jamie (the very worst missionary) once said on this topic. In her post titled “Not All Pastor’s Kids Are Christian. Sorry.” she talks about her own experience as a pastors wife, parenting a child who now identifies as an atheist. While Jamie expects their children to act respectful towards her and her husband (and their chosen profession), when it comes to their faith she only asks her children to be honest with her in their journey towards truth. She doesn’t ask them to pretend to be something they are not:

“Believing in Jesus? Receiving His redemption? These are not commands to be given by a father and obeyed by a child. They are a loving invitation from God to his people, every last one of His people, and He is patiently awaiting their reply…”

Continue reading

Passing Post-Modernism

It’s 2015, readers, and what better way to start off the year that’s just beginning than by railing on an idea that need to end? Yup, we’re talking Postmodernism here.

Not too long ago, I wrote an article giving an overview of Postmodernism, and it nearly killed me. Yours truly tries to make a point of not including my own judgments in these posts and just let folks draw their own conclusions, but this one- gah. Took every ounce of my (limited) restraint not to rip it to pieces and cackle victoriously as I squat over the grave of Jacques Derrida and…

…well I’m getting ahead of myself, aren’t I?

What’s Postmodernism? Continue reading

Selling Sex Pt. II: Sex at the Super Bowl

In the week leading up to the Super Bowl my Facebook feed was exploding with information regarding sex trafficking.There were articles like this one, which included first-hand accounts from victimsas well as videos like this one and the one below.


I was excited to see the increase in awareness around the time of the Super Bowl because I hoped that it would prompt a crack down on trafficking activities. In fact, that’s actually what ended up happening. For example,  Attorney General John Hoffman of New Jersey “assembled a task force, which, among other things, aim[ed] to teach the public how to identify and assist trafficking victims.” Additionally, “this year’s host, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie [was] tweeting frequently about sex trafficking at the Super Bowl and his state’s commitment to stop it.” Continue reading

What You Don’t Know Can Hurt You

This is the final panel of one of my favorite Calvin & Hobbes strips, though as you can see it works just fine on its own as well. Ignorance is an issue. It always has been, and it probably always will be. The issue is that today it seems that misunderstandings about the nature of tolerance and free speech, as well as the prevalence of Postmodernism, have really given it a haven the likes of which hasn’t existed before. But we’re not here to dissect just where ignorance is coming from in modern culture, we’re here to talk about some of the absolutely dangerous myths that it’s producing and why they are just plan wrong.

I. “Vaccines Cause Autism”

Chances are pretty high that you’re already familiar with this one, and while most folks are fully aware of just how untrue this myth is, it remains nevertheless one of the most dangerous ones out there today. I’m not just talking about the preventable deaths of thousands of people (which is justification, of course, in and of itself) but about the potential damage it can cause. You’re not just exposing yourself to infection, you’re allowing yourself to serve as a potential carrier to infect others.

And of course, this is exactly what’s happening now.

See NPR’s article on the subject here.

Look, I could spend all day rehashing article after article after scientific study demonstrating that no, vaccines do not cause autism, and no, the substances which make up most vaccines are more prevalent in plenty of other substances- but let us, just for a moment, entertain this superstition as being real.

So what if vaccines can cause autism (which they don’t)? Continue reading