Removing The Thin Veil Of Evangelical Eisegesis genre: Hip-Gnosis & Six Degrees of Speculation

Behind The Veil

Before I begin, let me be clear...I have great sympathy for the immense pain and loss the family of Matthew Murray must be enduring. I don't for a moment question their sincerity and I'm certain they love Matthew, and I wish them well. We will likely never fully understand the dynamics that led to this tragic ordeal. However, it is important to explore all of the mechanisms which may have contributed to this terrible tragedy so that others might be spared the life-shattering agony. Additionally, with measured and objective reflection, perhaps we can uncover the means to save the lives of people like Matthew and his innocent victims. I offer the following with this in mind.

As I read an account of the funeral of Matthew Murray, it crystallized the certainty of my long held concern. There's no better way to state it...Christianity has been hijacked by those who will spare no effort in their goal of coalescing each and every individual within the confines of their beguiling brand of fundamental and fraudulent evangelicalism.

This broad movement, populated by dangerous demagogues, is tireless in its efforts to define God's intentions via literal, though laconic, interpretations of Biblical passages. They set out to instill this canard via a cunning sleight of hand...one that endeavors to package biblical eisegesis as biblical exegesis in an effort to engender irrefutable status and unyielding support.

The end game seeks to insure that every human act can be filtered through this masterfully manipulated prism...regardless of reasonability. Sadly, the efforts to view Matthew's life and death through this narrow purview have already commenced.

Since the tragic events unfolded in Colorado, I've watched as a number of conscripts have sought to sell the theory that the "normality" of Matthew's younger brother precluded the casting of doubt or the shining of a suspicious light upon the environment in which Matthew was raised. This crock block has been expressed as follows:

He (Matthew), in my opinion had the best, most supporting family. The whole family is so nice and giving.
IF his condition was caused by an event in his life, it would have to be something outside the family because his brother is a happy, friendly and a talented piano player. If it were his mum or dad wouldn't his brother also be at least somewhat affected"?

On the surface, one might be inclined to accept this argument...or at least consider its plausibility. Needless to say, even the underlying premise of this statement misses the mark. Clearly the relevant problem exceeds his "mum and dad" and the fact that his brother may have embraced the religious teachings of the higher authority brought into the home via his parents doesn't mean the environment was healthy or connected to rationality.

A siblings acceptance of the prescribed ideology doesn't affirm its validity nor does it necessarily absolve the parents of any potential responsibility. One can just as easily argue that the brother has, in fact, been affected...not only as a result of parental oversight; but also as a product of intense ideological indoctrination. Should there be any doubt as to this likelihood, let the words of Christopher Murray persuade you otherwise:

Even though Satan attacked my brother, I truly feel God is going to save a whole generation of people through this."

I suspect Matthew felt attacked by something other than Satan. I also suspect he would have been overjoyed to simply find the means to save himself...but even Matthew realized that wasn't in keeping with the "master plan" of his "handlers".

Anyone who has read Matthews voluminous writings will immediately know how to draw the necessary connections to, and conclusions from, this telling statement of Matthew's brother.

While one might expect Matthew's tragic death to lead his family to question their fundamental beliefs...as well as the rigid script they pushed upon Matthew suggesting his eventual role as a prophet (even to the extent that it foretold he would first turn away from his faith), it appears that his death has simply been incorporated into an ongoing story line.

The fact that the family would continue to brandish this biblically based biography (adaptations included as needed) with unflinching adherence may surprise or shock the objective observer...but it shouldn't...especially if one remembers the constructs upon which this movement is premised. Nothing, not event the death of a loved one, can force them to deviate from their doctrinal diatribe. If the outside observer can discern that rigidity, is it any wonder Matthew would be tormented by it?

I contend such an environment essentially relegates a child like Matthew to irrelevance...a virtual character in a play whereby the doubts and discomforts of the real person (Matthew) are inconsequential. The ideology, the church, and mom and dad have but one objective...to direct the production of the preordained outcome. As such, understanding Matthew was unnecessary. Instead, they set out to make him understand his role regardless of his protestations. When he failed to comply, they simply wrote his behavior into their script...all the while preserving the integrity of the ending.

I would compare the situation to a father who dabbled in golf as a child, but for whatever reason never succeeded in the sport, who then becomes determined to turn his child into the next Tiger Woods regardless of the child's total lack of athletic ability and an unbridled interest in classical piano.

As this process unfolds, the child will undoubtedly feel inadequate. If the pressure persists or advances, the child's identity will suffer untold damage. In extreme situations, some children will strike out in an effort to be seen as more than an object being utilized to augment the insecurities of the parent(s).

Returning to Matthew's writings, in one of his many entries he states:

As far as dealing with parents....I don't think the woman known as my mother really is my mother. She doesn't act like it. My "mother" is just a brainswashed (sp) church agent cun,t. The only reason she had me was because she wanted a body/soul she could train into being the next Billy Graham, Bill Gothard, or Peter Wagner. [...] She had a "special plan from the Lord" for me. No easy way out for me. Almost every f***ing day and at every church service the pastors and our parents would tell me and the other youth that "God has a very special plan for this generation.....don't break any rules or you'll miss out!!! Honor and OBEY your parents and the pastors ("god's anointed") or your life will be cursed and you'll open a doorway for demons!"

Clearly little interpretational analysis is needed...Matthew, in his own words, vividly supports the argument I've made. One needn't take license to realize that Matthew felt invisible.

We may never know what Matthew sought to impart in his final actions...but I'm willing to surmise that the words his brother spoke at his funeral would serve as one further reminder to Matthew of his inability to be seen outside the constructs of the dogmatic design of those he knew.

Nonetheless, those who contend that looking at Matthew's brother should absolve the family or his faith from any accountability is akin to suggesting that Nazi war criminals were not influenced by the rampant rhetoric and reprehensible rationale of Adolf Hitler's "final solution". Let me be clear, the acts of those who carried out the Holocaust can never be justified and neither can Matthew's. While this is an extreme comparison, even in the resolution of far more innocuous liability cases, the attribution of responsibility is rarely applied solely to one party.

Those who manipulate others in order to execute misguided agendas are sullied by the acts of their minions...even if those injustices are perpetrated by the willful behavior of adults...and those in positions of authority mustn't be allowed to reconstruct reality in order to absolve accountability.

Matthew, unlike these Nazi criminals, was systematically submitted to indoctrination his entire life. If grown men in Germany were susceptible to the suspension of reasonable and long-established mores, what chance did a vulnerable child have to avoid the madness that ensued from his efforts to reject hypocrisy and see life outside of the prison he was forced to endure? If our condemnation of Hitler and his ideology is justified, so too is our questioning of parental propriety.

It should come as no surprise that the world Matthew chose when rejecting his faith was filled with the constructs of his overlords...a world immersed in images of evil and inhumane idols...a world cast by the iron fisted adults in his life as the only alternative available to those who would fall from grace. In limiting Matthew's contact with the outside world...as well as vilifying it...they precluded him from witnessing moderation and escaping the confines of the black and white extremities they promoted.

Now, more than ever, it is time to break the back of religious extremism lest we regress into the throes of a dark ages mentality...a time where the pursuit of objective knowledge is subjugated to the asserted infallibility of religious ideology.

When the following statement can be accepted as a reasonable reaction to Matthew's horrendous final actions, have we not commenced the suspension of our humanity in favor of a contrived denial construct?

just thought I'd let u guys know...i go to new life...and i love it there..God forgives and so do i...i forgave matthew the minute it happened...we are all sinners and capable of making huge mistakes. God loves everyone...i pray for his family...and that somehow through this tradegdy (sp) that God WILL be exhaulted (sp) [...]

The nature of man tells us death is first met by grief and anger and sometime in the future forgiveness will hopefully emerge. When those of faith leap to make statements that deny as much, have we not injected the very ideations that led Matthew to reject the sincerity of religion? Any faith that believes we can or should abandon our basic human traits is suspect.

If I can read the English language...and I believe I can...then aren't those who are leaping to accept and embrace Matthew in death, the same who ignored and rejected him in life? If that is a demonstration of Christianity, then Jesus Christ was a fraud.

On the contrary, I contend those who portray their Christianity through trite statements and symbols, as if it were the equivalent of a badge that can be slapped upon one's lapel, are simply engaged in a never-ending spiral of hypocrisy and self-deception.

While I applaud the sincerity and compassion being exhibited by many people of faith, those easily identified interlopers who wear their faith like a badge, and who seek to usurp Christianity, must be exposed and forced to travel far deeper than the pretty proclamations they've begun to toss upon this terrible tragedy.

Unless and until this happens, we're never going to save the Matthew's of the world...or prevent the needless carnage they inflict.

Comments

1 On December 15, 2007 at 5:55 PM, rube cretin wrote —

daniel,
thanks for your continued efforts to unravel the root causes of this unfortunate event. your final statement unwittingly charged those who at least partially understand your analysis to take some sort of action. I am surrounded by many well meaning religious individuals who do not believe many of the far flung admonitions of the fundies, who live a Christ like life, not imposing their views on others. Unfortunately, several of the people i love dearly are involved in the most sinister of these churches and truley believe the teachings of their pastors and leaders are true. Recently i have been requested by one individual to listen to tapes and read writings on the book of revelation and Daniel. i did not realize the extent of the distortions. i did not know that the "left behind" series of books had been incorporated into the dogma of some churches. When asked about my impression of the information i am afraid i miscommunicated, because i told them i did not know that "crack" was available at the time the scriptures were written, because clearly anyone who wrote revelation was on something. i now realize this was a perhaps cruel because the person reaching out to me responded to me that she had attended a three day seminar on this subject and wished i would consider attending a future session. She is concerned for my soul. daniel, i really believe that believing this sort of stuff gets her through the night. How do you approach such an individual and be effective. what is one to do when a loved one is deeply involved? are there some basic steps? i agree they must be exposed and forced to travel far deeper.... Forgive the disjointed nature of my comments. you will never know the extent of the appreciation so many have of your elegants of words and thoughts.

cheers

2 On December 15, 2007 at 10:57 PM, Terri wrote —

Another terrific post Daniel.

I don't think this tragedy is going to make huge changes, but maybe a few changes. I suspect that some young evangelicals might wonder about Matt, and who knows maybe they're cruising into your site to read his words.

With regards to his little brother - is he also on two psychoactive drugs as Matt wrote he was, and is his little brother also questioning his sexuality. Everyone is different and some people are just too intelligent to handle being manipulated. From the article of his funeral it sounds like Matthew was one of those very intelligent beings, to smart to be intimidated or beguiled by his parents and his church.

When I worked at Lucent in Orlando we had two guest speakers, a gay couple. They had both been raised in homes like Matthew's. They met each other in a conversion program. They fell in love, were then both sent back to their respective homes. But alas, many years later their paths crossed again and they rekindled their love and left their "churches" behind. Then they started this outreach. I'll keep looking for their names because they had so much light to shed on this topic.

One thing that has troubled me. If Matt was on two psychoactive drugs, who the hell was prescribing and monitoring his mental health? I realize his dad is a doctor, so what I fear is that the doc dad was handling all his sons psychological affairs. This boy didn't have a chance. And so I guess that when he was kicked out of his home his supply of these two drugs was abruptly terminated. This would explain his sudden turn for the worse. Coming off just one of these drugs can increase suicidal/homicidal behavior - much less two of them. I so hope the police will investigate this aspect of this case. I guess I just want the world to recognize that there were no demons much less Satan himself involved in this tragedy. The only demons were Matthews family and church. They tormented this intelligent, possibly gay, young man until he broke with reality. It's just sad at every turn.

Again, maybe some other tormented soul is reading your terrific analysis and finding their way through the darkness.

3 On December 16, 2007 at 12:08 AM, Dana wrote —

I think you are close, Daniel, but there is more to it. A lot of people grow up in these sorts of environments. A lot of people reject the beliefs. Very few people go on to become mass murders and most have been publicly educated.

What is the common denominator between this case and others? What really drives someone to this? I think mental illness is to blame, and not just what may be induced by abuse. The Hawkins kid who shot several people near here had been in and out of psychiatric treatment all of his life, but apparently had not been taking any medication for some time before the shootings. His mental illness was not being treated.

I do not know the specifics of this man's upbringing, but the connection to Haggard and Gothard and fundamentalist Pentecostalism concerns me. Not because of their strictness...but because they reject mental illness as an actual disease.

I hope and pray this family did not buy into that aspect of their church. But I have seen a number of people in these sorts of groups chastise fellow Christians for taking medications for mental illness or seeking psychologists, quoting Galatians and Revelations and their use of the word "pharmakia."

It may not be relevant...I know somewhere I read that he was on two anti-depressants at some time. But it is a real concern and I know that it is one that affects a lot of people in these churches.

If his upbringing had anything to do with what happened, I think that is the most likely place to look. There has been some discussion on my blog regarding this issue if you are at all interested in it.

http://principleddiscovery.com/?p=733

4 On December 16, 2007 at 9:28 AM, Michael wrote —

I think the prevailing psychological theory is that we are the sum total of our personalities, genetics, and environment. Murray and his brother may have shared genetics, but to an extent their environment and personalities are different. There is a hypothesis that even the physical location in the womb and the birth order in twins may be significant in development. Regardless, if Murray's home life was as he described it, he experienced and interpreted it differently than his brother did.

Has any information concerning Murray's diagnosis been released? If he regularly took two different medications, his diagnosis may have been more complicated than monopolar depression.

5 On December 16, 2007 at 10:27 AM, Ben in Oakland wrote —

As always, Daniel, very thoughtful. If I am reading this correctly, I would conclude this: "God created man in his own image, after his likeness. Man, being a gentleman, returned the ocmpliment." As a gay man, and a Jew, I think the real problem is that people confuse their reeligious beliefs with their personal agendas.

6 On December 16, 2007 at 9:53 PM, Milt in Centennial wrote —

Daniel,
Thanks for your ongoing efforts to help others understand the events that preceded Matthew Murray’s acts of violence.

Was reading a book “Why They Kill" by Richard Rhodes that documents the research of criminologist, Lonnie Athens. Pages 109 -140 are of particular interest but it’s not a book for the faint of heart. Athens interviewed over 100 violent criminals that have been incarcerated. From these personal interviews he was able to learn about their early life experiences and found such commonality he was able to construct a model of their “violentization process." Athens calls this process “a regimen which could make anybody into a violent criminal no matter what their biological makeup." He found there were typically four progressive Stages of this violentization process involving violent social experiences within each stage. Only Stages 1 & 2 appear to apply to this recent situation. The first element of Stage 1 is referred to as “violent subjugation" by those in your “primary group."

With a minor amount of translation one can overlay the self-proclaimed experiences of Matthew Murray onto this “model" and begin to understand that he appeared to be subjected to a similar “regimen" of violent life experiences that “could make anybody respond with violence." This “model" in no way condones Murray’s behavior, because there are decision points inherent in this model where the individual ultimately makes the personal decision to respond violently. Many people have comparable experiences, but thanks to good fortunate, the intervention of an understanding mentor, or maybe the grace of God, they are diverted and shown nonviolent alternatives. Subsequently they do not complete all Stages of the violentization process and we don’t read about them in the newspaper.

The Athens model needs much more research and refinement to be adapted to youth such as Matthew Murray, Harris, Kleibold, et. al. who have ended up in so much psychological stress they consider and eventually decide to commit suicide. Having made the decision to end one’s life, it seems a small leap to begin a “self-grieving process" and experience anger, depression, etc. If there are no nonviolent alternatives presented to these individuals, it would a small step to channel that anger into a plot for revenge that “takes out as many of them as you can on your way out." It’s possible that when the “self-grieving" process has progressed to the acceptance stage, they put their plan into motion. Athens model suggests that after completing Stage 2, and having made the decision to “respond to the violent subjugation with violence" in an effort to stop it, that even a moderate provocation can set the plan into motion. Not sure what event(s) immediately preceded Dec 9 that could be construed as a provocation.

Your collection of Matthew’s blog entries should be invaluable to researchers trying to understand root causes of these recurring scenarios of violence. Thank you for your empathy and the courage to get close enough to the darkness to shine a light into it.

7 On December 18, 2007 at 8:25 PM, Terri wrote —

I think Athens work fits well with what we're seeing in the youth today. I'm so glad to hear that someone else read this terrific book.

Fundamentalist anything (Muslim or Christian) is steeped in violence so these kids have already been exposed to the necessary elements to become violent actors. Although Athens didn't investigate the effects of violent god traditions on violent offenders (in his day the fundamentalist movement wasn't so big), I see young people today being told that the world will come to violent end at any moment and that they must be ready to fight to the end for god.

I think you're right, having these blogs available are very valuable for researchers with interest in this area.

8 On December 21, 2007 at 1:57 PM, Daniel wrote —

Rube,

My apologies for the delayed response. Unfortunately, I had to take a little time to get prepared for Christmas. Though I'm no fan of holidays, I participate with my family...especially for my niece and nephews.

Getting back to your comments and questions, I understand your concerns related to how one should approach a loved one who deeply embraces their faith.

I'll try to answer you by offering my own experience with loved ones. Generally speaking, faith and religion are embraced as a means to allay the fear of our pending mortality. The thought that death is final is terrifying to most people. That fear of death is largely responsible for the hold religion maintains on so many people. It offers them an alternate explanation that is far more palatable.

As such, I've found that discussing peoples fears is far and away the best place to begin to confront people of faith. Religion has become a tidy catch-all for explaining away fear...but it rarely confronts fear head on...in terms of our human existence. Instead, it offers an afterlife solution to all that ails us in this life. In other words, if you do A, B, & C...then you will be rewarded with the eternal bliss promised to the faithful.

It's an effective formula...but it lacks rationality...and it does little to address the fundamental problem; that being our refusal to contemplate death in order to prepare for its inevitability.

My parents are in their 70's and they have attended church (Catholic) their entire lives. When I came out to them, it was traumatic for us all. There was a lengthy period of estrangement...but over time they came to see I remained the son they had raised and loved and that my heart stayed true. Over the years, they have not only embraced my being gay, they have come to agree with me on the intransigence of the Church and their adherence to the preservation of the institution...even if doing so sacrifices good people along the way.

Today, while they still attend mass, they have adopted many of my views on the Church and the hypocrisy that prevails. My mom is especially focused on the meaning of death and has serious doubts about the afterlife promised by the Church. I know it troubles her immensely and that pains me. I try to talk about life and death in practical terms. I often ask them questions in order to prompt thought.

One of my favorite line of questions relates to the Bible...especially since it seems to be the source people of faith rely on to defend their beliefs. We're told that the Bible is the word of God handed down to man. At the same time, we're told we lack the capacity to fully interpret God's plan for us. With that said, why would an all-knowing God choose to speak directly to so many people some 2,000 years ago...and then elect to remain silent for so many years. If he sought to impart understanding then, why did he stop doing so?

Further, the Bible is not a conventional book; rather it is a compilation of numerous writings accumulated over a number of years...interpreted countless times by individuals with their own agenda's and their own particular bias. In addition, a number of gospels were omitted from latter versions of the Bible...gospels that challenge many of the notions in other gospels.

Therefore, one is left to discern which individuals God actually spoke to and which ones were frauds. How can that be done without adequate historical context and a full understanding of the motivations of those in power at any particular juncture? Should there be any doubt this happened, just look at our current world and the many agendas being pushed by those in power. Are we to believe that no one ever inserted their own bias into the Bible for well over 2,000 years? I simply cannot accept that premise and history supports my argument.

Taking it a step further, what do you suppose would happen should someone come forward and assert that God had spoken to them and asked them to revise the Bible...a move by God to clean up and clarify the many misconceptions that exist in the Bible? I could be wrong, but I suspect the person would be shunned, likely labeled a lunatic in the throes of delusion, and summarily denounced. Rational thought suggests it would be more, not less, likely for God to continue to speak to his subjects. And yet, I suspect we wouldn't accept it should it happen. Knowing as much, why should we believe the words of those who crafted the Bible? Truth be told, wouldn't it have been far easier to hoodwink humanity then than now? Weren't commoners routinely kept in the dark and denied education? Wasn't it to the benefit of those in power...or seeking power...to craft a belief system which would allow them to control their subjects...to instill in them the fears that would afford compliance and cooperation?

Why would we ignore what we understand about human nature today in order to affirm something that happened thousands of years prior...at a time when the civility and knowledge of man was far more primitive, far more barbaric, and far more steeped in mysticism born of thin air?

The only logical explanation for these seeming contradictions centers on our fears...a refusal to consider the likelihood that death is an ending...a return to the awareness that existed prior to our birth; meaning no awareness whatsoever.

I challenge anyone to offer a modern day belief system that is supported by so little equivalent evidence that would withstand our scrutiny. The disconnect this exercise illuminates is evidence of the fear that motivates. How can we generally live our lives as doubting Thomas's yet we cling to beliefs passed down by very mortal men...men who possessed the same human traits we refuse to trust today?

We can't get the Israeli's and Palestinians to trust each other long enough to negotiate a solution that would end years of heartache and bloodshed...yet we maintain an unflinching belief in a book supposedly communicated by God (all-knowing mind you) to some men (not all knowing...nor infallible...yet subject to misunderstanding since they were not gods themselves) who we only know through the words of their cohorts at the time. It defies all logic.

In the end, I know the following to be true...

Goodness does not die in the absence of god...for if it does, god simply served to keep our human nature at bay...a nature that would therefore have to be viewed as incapable of serving a righteous god.

Nay, if the goodness professed in the presence of god is real, it will prevail should god prove to be nothing more than our creation.

Those in need of god for goodness possess not the attributes to know god, nor can they be trusted to define god as they will undoubtedly do so under the auspices of their own self-interest.

Had an omniscient god created Adam and Eve in his own likeness...he would have done so knowing the flaws he incorporated as well as knowing the results that would ensue. And what purpose would such an exercise serve for an all-knowing and loving god? Wouldn't it be an exercise in futility...or at the very least boring as hell?

If he gave us the capacity to be like him, why would we not attain such? If he gave us that capacity, we would achieve it because he intended as much; if he didn't give us that capacity, then he knew full well we could never succeed in that endeavor. If the answer is the former, then are we not perfect just as we are...as he intended? If the answer is the latter, then what was god's purpose in creating a world he knew lacked the capacity to achieve the goals he established? Would such a coy and spiteful god be one worth honoring? I think not.

The all too often unrecognized and ignored answers to these two essential questions is significant. The answers suggest that god was actually man's creation...a creation that remains flawed. I contend it is so and will continue to be so as long as we persist in refusing to examine our motivations and our fears. Only when we graciously embrace the totality of our human condition...one that includes death...will man finds the means to consciously exhibit the will to preserve life. Everything else is a distraction.

Rube, hopefully the above will be useful. We have a long way to go but it is imperative that we continue the journey.

Regards,

Daniel

Thought Theater at Blogged

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Matthew Murray was laid to rest yesterday. While I applaud the sincerity and compassion being exhibited by many people of faith, those easily identified interlopers who wear their faith like a badge, and who seek to usurp Christianity, must be exposed ... [Read More]

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