Does Religion Require Altered States?

On AlterNet by Janet Allon “To avoid the dreaded equality between spouses, Russell Moore, president of the Baptist Church’s ethics and liberty commission, cautions married men from getting “too close” to their wives. “Sometimes you have people who are preaching a false gospel to themselves in their homes,” he said, “By men who aren’t loving their wives as themselves and wives who aren’t submitting to their husbands.”

This reminds of me of a wedding I attended some years back. The officiating Baptist minister explained why he asked the new wife to vow to “to love honor and obey” her husband: because the wife gives permission to the husband to be the head of the family. “She allows him to lead.”

Okay, this explanation made my head spin too, but what really surprised me was the silent nod of agreement on the part of the witnessing congregation. It made sense to them!

So herein lies my question: How can this kind of religious mumbo jumbo not only survive, but also be defended and mindlessly passed on from generation to generation?

I’m convinced that many of the devoutly religious go into a trance, a kind of hypnotic state, triggered with suggestive cues like traditional forms of hypnosis. We’ve all seen post-hypnotic suggestions send a subject back into a deep hypnotic state. I think this happens with certain repetitive religious rituals.

For instance, when we attend a civic meeting and someone says “let us pray” at the beginning. We all bow our heads, look at our shoes, and go into a trance while someone sends our intercessions off into the void.

One must be in a trance to believe that an omniscient, omnipotent creator of this marvelous and mysterious universe would give a whit about what happens in our meetings, while somewhere on the planet, untold numbers of children die of starvation during the time the meeting is conducted.

No one with access to normal cognitive functioning could believe that this makes any sense at all.

Aha! The hallmark of a trance state is reduced cognitive functioning. It can be as simple as not hearing your child ask you for a ride to the mall because you’re immersed in watching your favorite TV show. Or as complex as accepting the Baptist minister dishing out that mind-numbing nonsense at a wedding.

Okay so does this mean I’m anti-religious? You decide. But read this first: Inducing a trance state in order to make any kind of mumbo jumbo believable is the issue. It’s what’s required to sustain the uniquely American anti-intellectualism that allows a normally intelligent adult to accept the nonsensical baloney being preached by people like the minister I mentioned above or the half term ex-governor of Alaska or the nut job Senators from Kentucky and Texas. Because it’s not just religious nonsense.

As Amanda Marcotte, writes on,  “The Christian right is most known for their denial of inconvenient science, but in many respects, they’re just as bad when it comes to the facts of history. After all, no matter what the topic, they know they can just make stuff up and their people will believe it.”

Remember, when you want to feed a bunch of BS to people be sure to invoke whatever rituals are necessary to put them into trance states, like start with a prayer or repeat their favorite political memes. Then they’ll believe anything as they silently nod in agreement.

PS. This works best in Red states.

Robert De Filippis

Author: The Blue Route

What say you, the people?