Biblemania is an Addiction
Biblemania, or the "love of the Bible," is a deliberately contrived, socially acceptable addiction no less destructive to the individual and society as a whole than is heroin. The Bible pushers start in on their victims very young, sometimes before they can read, and insidiously and aggressively peddle their wares so that a child will become addicted to biblical junk for his entire life.
Biblemania is a very tough habit to break - and it's meant to be. In order to create Bible junkies, pushers must make their victims uncomfortable and dis-eased, filling them with an intense self-loathing, so that, broken, they will desire and be desperate for a fix. Bible pushers break their victims, so they need to be fixed.
The biblemaniac is armored against rational criticism of his habit - and he has a whole support system of fellow Bible junkies who will viciously defend his addiction. The biblemaniac is in denial that he has an addiction or that there is anything wrong with it. The biblemaniac's junk consists of sweet and sugary platitudes laced with poison, but his addiction will not allow him to see the poison. The Bible junk is no different than sugar - it may taste good on the surface, but a steady diet of it will kill you. In reality, Bible junk is worse than sugar, as, again, it is laced with poison. And Bible junkies often have no other fare to supplement their poison-filled diet.Bible addiction is no laughing matter. Not only has it caused extreme pathological behavior in individuals, but it has led to the annihilation of entire cultures and the genocide of whole peoples. And, if the addiction is not addressed, it will lead the world into an Armageddon from which it may never recover, as its most virulent junkies - priests, pastors and politicians - stand by gleefully rubbing their hands, waiting for the biggest rush of their biblemania - the mushroom cloud of destruction.Fortunately, there are treatments for biblemania. The first step, of course, is to move beyond denial and to recognize the addiction and its harmful and destructive affects on relationships and the quality of life. Next, we must find "food for the soul" that is more palatable and healthful, including appreciating the beauty of creation and humankind's enormous capacity for love.
What do you do in the days and weeks after walking away from bible addiction and churchly habits? Here are a few tips from Russ, based solely on his own personal experience. You can email him for further ideas and details:
1. Give yourself plenty of time alone to read, reflect, and relax.
If you have been in a church environment for a while, you have probably been scheduling your life based on others' needs and expectations. Organized religious activity, even in the smallest groups, requires the reinforcement of frequent meetings and Biblical "home study" to keep it alive. In the process, you may have forgotten the things you genuinely enjoyed doing in your spare time before you became entangled in a web of rituals and obligations. Unplug your telephone on Sunday morning and doze until noon if you like. Take up a new sport. Read a magazine. Soak in the bathtub. Take a long walk. Your weekends are yours again.
2. Avoid extreme behavior.
A lot of us who walked away from bible religion did so partly as a result of being betrayed, hurt, and/or used by other Christians. When you really "wake up and smell the coffee" there is a sudden tendency to want to go out and get drunk, have promiscuous sex, or otherwise look for trouble. Obviously there is nothing wrong with having fun and enjoying all life's pleasures (if I believed otherwise I may as well still be in church), but acting out of pent-up anger and frustration will probably result in your causing an accident, getting your ass kicked, catching a sexually transmitted disease, or the like. Keep in mind that after months or years of letting other people do a lot of your thinking for you, you are pretty vulnerable mentally and emotionally. Now that you are a free person again, savor the simple pleasures of life first, and save any hell-raising for later when you are more stable.
3. Avoid joining any spiritual organization for a while...or for that matter any group that gets personally involved with you and makes demands on your time and energy.
For many this may be an unnecessary admonition, but for others there is the temptation to "rebound" into another group out of fear of being isolated, misunderstood, or not belonging to something. Just like in walking away from romantic relationships, rebounding into another exploitative or dysfunctional situation is a real danger. Just as biblical groups sell "the one true way" to former followers of Eastern and New Age philosophies, cults and rip-off groups look for disgruntled Christians who are ripe for the next big spiritual revelation or feelgood group experience.
4. Learn to be a reader, especially of nonfiction.
Discover the joy of reading all the things that used to be forbidden to you, or simply reading to learn a new craft or study a subject you have always been curious about. Now that you are not expected to plow through the entire Old Testament once a year, or some such nonsense, you can use all that time much more fruitfully. Explore the greatest thoughts of people from all walks of life and all ranges of experience. Read biographies and you will surprised how many of the world's greatest minds had brushes with destructive religion in adult life, or were raised in religious families and had to overcome superstition and fear as they formed their identities. You are by no means alone in struggling with questions about the meaning of life and your place in the universe. Which leads me to the last point...
5. In your process of figuring out what view of the universe works for you, remember that you are not required to label yourself for the outside world or to belong to any particular philosophy or view.
Don't let people (Christians or atheists or anyone in between!) pressure you into putting yourself into a box for them. What you believe or don't believe is your own business, and if it changes and evolves over time or makes sense only to you, that's perfectly fine. People love labels and pat explanations so they won't have to think too hard. But if you have just walked away from bible religion, you are rediscovering the joy of thinking freely. So don't waste your time or share your personal story with people who are looking for simple sound-bytes and won't enjoy thinking expansively along with you.