Silencing Chicken Little
In fundamentalism, the sky is always falling, the world is always ending and kids like me prayed apocalyptic bedtime prayers: Lord,
please no earthquakes, wars, famines or pestilence tonight. And please
don't leave me behind if my family gets raptured. Amen.
Fundamentalists like to read the Bible in one hand and the newspaper in
the other. When I was a kid, events both big and small foretold that
the end was near: the proliferation of credit cards, Gorbachev, the
year 1988, the first George Bush's "New World Order."
the public interest surrounding Y2K? Now multiply that by 1,000 and
you'll know what it felt like to be a fundamentalist in the months
leading up to New Year's Eve 1999.
Eschatology is the pet hobby
of fundamentalists. Nothing gets their blood pumping like a natural
disaster–or just the threat of one. It's also lucrative. You can make
bank by selling apocalyptic books. Or by making movies starring Kirk
When I was kid, we didn't have real Hollywood movie stars. But we did have our campy, quasi-horror flicks. One was called Thief In the Night and it scared me so badly that I had nightmares for years.
a few years after that movie, I would panic every time I lost sight of
my parents. I mean, most kids who lose sight of their parents in a
public place assume they're lost.
I assumed the rapture had happened and I'd been left behind.
a kid I was forever worrying about not being "counted worthy of escape"
because I might do something really, really bad. Like tell my sister to
Herein lies the end-game of fundamentalism: a
insecurity. No matter how hard I tried I was never good enough. When I
failed, I believed God might disown me. The onus was always on the
individual to perform well as the pre-requisite for earning "rewards."
rewards were riches, mansions, streets of gold and new bodies. I think
the adults were pretty stoked about the whole new bodies thing. But being a
kid, I would have settled for a cessation to my nightmares. And maybe a
Of course, there were consequences for not performing well and these included being cast into outer darkness, weeping and gnashing of teeth.
In other words, the closest you could get to Hell without actually being in it.
I left fundamentalism, I had to unlearn the belief that love was
conditional. Up until that point I believed God loved everyone–except
that He loved certain people more. There were degrees to His love.
has taken some concerted effort to re-align my thinking with the truth:
I am God's child and He is pleased with me. He loves me. Period.
have stopped asking myself questions like: am I saved? Will I be
"counted worthy of escape"? Instead, I focus on the bountiful blessings
He has bestowed on my life. I practice gratitude and thanksgiving and
find beauty in imperfection. I try to overlook the faults and
shortcomings of others and emphasize their strengths.
I'm tempted to default into all-or-nothing thinking, I use my mind to
objectively analyze what has triggered that reaction. Usually I can
think my way out of Chicken Little syndrome. When I get stuck, I have a
few go-to people whom I can rely on for a balanced perspective.
Ultimately the road out of fundamentalism has been a journey away from extremism and toward moderation.
realize now that recovery is not a straight road. There are bumps,
twists, turns and backwards steps. I still have a long way to go.
But at least I know one thing for sure: God holds my hand and He has promised never to let go.
Tuesday, November 04, 2014
I really thought that I was the only person who felt this way. As a child, and well into my adult life, I would get panic attacks in stores if I lost the people I was with, thinking that the Rapture had happened, and I missed it. I would wake up screaming from dreams where demons were chasing me, and then thinking I was awake only to find another one outside my window. Now, I read the Bible, but I skip Revelations. I don't really care anymore about the weird end-times fetish that is gripping us - except to remember that Jesus told me not to worry when people start proclaiming that "The End is Here." I found This Blog today, and feel I need to quote the whole article.