Parapsychology Journalism: The People, The Theory, The Science, The Skeptics
My wife and I saw the DVD for the movie “Jesus Camp” a couple of nights ago. The 2006 movie, which is about a camp for Fundamentalist Christians to indoctrinate their children into their beliefs, came out in 2006 and was nominated for an Academy Award, but lost to an even better documentary: “An Inconvenient Truth” by Al Gore.
What struck me was that on the one hand, the fundamentalists have a deep sense of their psychic side and use it freely. On the other hand, they constantly sabotage it with their fears; this movie was about passing that legacy along to their children. One of the many things that separates fundamentalist Christianity from the rest of the Christian pack is their obsession with the Devil and guilt. To them, Satan is always hanging around ready to tempt them and lead them astray and they must always be on their guard to prevent this. In one particularly telling scene, organizers were setting up a meeting room for a particularly large gathering of children and their parents. Now it is well known that electronic equipment can spontaneously fail in the presence of psychic phenomena, this is well documented, and their revival type atmosphere, speaking in tongues and other group psychic activities certainly qualify, but to them, failing electronic equipment is the work of the Devil.
So on the one hand, they were blessing the equipment and putting out their intention that everything should work properly, which is a correct application of consciousness, but then they would immediately muddy the waters with talk of how the Devil would try to disrupt their meeting: thereby specifically and intentionally inviting trouble. (No electronic problems were shown in the film.)
This fundamentalist attitude of spirituality, love and guilt and shame all in the same breath is a particularly toxic cocktail for children and this was immediately evident in the film as the kids got completely carried away by the energy and then in a state of extremely heightened emotional awareness were fed this idea of guilt, shame and fear. It drove them to tears and the messages they got from this can be locked into their psyche’s for the rest of their lives.
For the fundamentalists their strength is their unity and singularity of purpose; but because of their institutionalized fears, this can never achieve its full effect. They rely on charismatic leaders, but these leaders can no more carry the guilt and fear without acting out than anyone else. The list of charismatic Christian leaders involved in highly publicized scandals is ridiculously long, but this can occur in more subtle ways. What happened after this movie came out is instructive. The Jesus Camp, on which much of the movie was based, was forced to shut down.
The controversial Jesus Camp in the US has shut down after a documentary film which featured events of children praying in tongues and sobbing with repentance in the camp met with a negative response.
Camp director Becky Fischer commented to Christianity Today: “Christians go after me because of doctrinal issues, whereas the world is going after me because they think I’m another Adolf Hitler.”
She added: “They’re accusing me of raising a Christian jihad.”
How did people come to this conclusion? Because she was telling the children that they were soldiers of Christ and must be willing to lay down their lives for him. And this got caught on film and made it into the movie. This attitude seems normal to a fundamentalist, but stark raving mad and truly scary to anyone else. That the people being filmed were unable to grasp this at the time is a testament to the depths of their fears. Because they were blind to how they were perceived by the outside world, they were blindsided by the criticism. The problem lay not in their views, -they can believe anything they want to-, but rather their ability to understand how others might perceive their beliefs.
Ironically, this inability to self examine their beliefs is a trait they have in common with psi skeptics. In both cases there is a strong fear of being wrong manifested by an aversion to looking at any evidence that may prove contrary to the belief or, when faced with the evidence, to not accept it at face value, but rather question it to death, looking for any flaw, real or imagined that may serve the emotional purpose of disproving the offending evidence outright and allowing the belief to remain intact.
But getting back to the psi aspect, this is the stuff of nightmares, literally. Using psi is serious business; it goes straight to the core of personality and self, bypassing all the ordinary protective aspects of personality and in this state changes to the psyche become much more facile. You have to be very careful about what sort of information goes in. In the film, there was a clear push to teach the children to use their psychic attention while feeding them fear and guilt. Being children, they easily learned to speak in tongues, do psychic healing and connect on a spiritual level but were surrounded by adults intent on shoving a totally incongruous message in with it. The kids were instilled with a need to always be on guard and watchful of themselves lest they fall prey to the Devil. The end result is predictable: humans who are anxious and fearful all the time. And since fear clouds our judgment in proportion to the fear, they will always have clouded judgment.
The most sensitive kids are the most likely to embrace the message, but also the most likely to be screwed up by it. In my encounters with other psychic people, the most tormented have always been those with a strong religious upbringing. The strain of dealing with what you intuitively know versus what you’ve been taught can be quite challenging. The sense I get is that these psychic people feel torn in half. It can be quite difficult to undo the religious damage if it was imprinted in a psychic state as a child.
As for us as a society, we need have no fear of fundamentalism. They will always be on the fringe and they will always self destruct; all of their power is temporary and their goals are ultimately unachievable. They can be a nuisance and a pest, but they are ultimately not very harmful.