Sorry for three in a row, it's just that there's a lot that I'd like to express and so try and break my thoughts down into "bite-sized" chunks.
More of my thoughts:
There has been no hint that Mr. and Mrs. McKay actually need such doppelgangers as Casey, Fran, Joe, etc. as their spokespersons, but, by all appearances, as far as they are concerned that doesn't matter. They do not want to wait for another actual incidence of persecution to occur, they want to prevent further threats to his security from arising. Groups like the Jesus Christians actually thrive off of perceived persecution.
These three remind me of that kid Robert in The Wave, who volunteers to be Mr. Ross' bodyguard. Robert starts to dress like Mr. Ross, talk like Mr. Ross, follow Mr. Ross around, etc.
Mr. McKay and the Jesus Christians have made Casey (again, using him as a particular example) feel good about himself, probably for the first time in his life, and Casey wants to do everything he can to make sure that nothing further happens to expose the Jesus Christians and hurt the credibility of the man and group that have given him his new-found improved self-image.
Casey's is a very typical position in most cult groups. People outside of the group are viewed either as potential members or potential enemies of the group. They are not usually considered appropriate for friendships-whether close or casual.
All cults and abusive organizations view themselves as engaged in some all-important work, whether it is to convert lost souls, spread "The Truth," improve the well-being of members, or simply raise money. Nothing can be permitted to interfere with this all-important mission.
Casey's is a classic expression of the "end justifies the means" argument. This is a terrible concept under the best of circumstances, as it permits deception and other unethical behavior in the pursuit of "good" goals. It is especially heinous when followed in the name of God.
Casey (and all of the Jesus Christians for that matter) needs to learn that his importance and worth as a person does not depend on any role or function that he fills in a group-his value (and that of all people) rests in the fact that he is a human being. One is not more valuable because one possesses a high IQ, has forsaken all to follow Jesus, has many possessions, lives in a three-story mansion, or lives on a farm in Kenya.
After all, it is the Jesus Christians that make Casey feel so good about himself-so self-confident and worthwhile, probably for the first time in his life. He may believe that he has no options outside of the group, and that is not a happy prospect for him.
So rather than receive the message, he attacks the messenger through use of the ad hominem attack.
All of them do. After a certain point it seems that they are unable to refute the logical, objective arguments put to them and so he does what people often do in such a situation: they attacks the Jesus Christians' critics personally
. If one party to a dispute can discredit the other party in some way, then it is easier to to discredit that person's arguments. This is what the Jesus Christians engage in time after time, argument for the sake of argument, and it is quite a pedantic and tiresome tactic.
Excerpted from Casey's testimony, which is posted the Jesus Christians' web page:
I consider myself very lucky to have found people who are so genuinely committed to following God. I feel like my life has meaning now; that what I am doing will count for something even after I die. It is not the group that gives me this feeling, but rather, it is my commitment to trying to work in love with others and obey Jesus that does it.
This leads me to ask a series of questions:
Is it possible to work in love and obey Jesus and NOT be a member of their group?
Can one follow Jesus as an individual?
If Casey's fulfillment is derived from his relationship with Jesus and inner life as an individual, then why does it bother him so when outsiders to the group criticize his group or the leaders of it? Why lash out against them so vociferously?
Why does he equate criticism of the Jesus Christians and/or Mr. and Mrs. McKay with supporting the work of the Devil?
In practice, it looks a lot like he IS deriving his sense of self-worth as an individual from his involvement with his group.
Casey offers a voluntary testimonial to how wonderful the Jesus Christians are--for the first time in his life he feels special and has been given meaning and purpose. This is no doubt true, which is precisely what makes his statement so sad.
There is a potential danger with public testimonials, such as Casey's or any of the others found at the Jesus Christians site. If the testimony is to a person or a human organization (as in this case since, after all, the Jesus Christians is a human organization which is led by humans and not by God Himself) there is the possibility that the person or organization may change in time from good to bad. For example, teaching discipline to students or to one's own children is essentially good, and getting them to articulate answers to spoken questions may facilitate learning. But discipline may mutate into abuse, if, for example, the teacher or parent or (whoever the leader may be) instead of hitting his desk with the dowel, so to speak, hits a student with a dowel or a whip. At this point, since Casey and the rest have made public statements praising the Jesus Christians community (just as the character of Robert in the short film made a public statement praising The Wave) it will be much harder for him to admit that it is abusive. It is humiliating to have to "eat one's words" and Robert/Casey/Mrs. McKay/Fran/Joe/Sue/whoever will more than likely redefine the abuses as "discipline" designed to improve the student/Jesus Christian who was hit or otherwise mistreated.
This is very much like what happens with the woman who is physically abused by her husband. Having expressed her love for him and committed herself to living with him "for better or for worse" she finds it impossible to entertain the thought that he could and would deliberately hurt her. So she redefines the abuse and views it either as discipline to make her a better wife and mother, or as a punishment she deserves for failing to please her husband.
Public testimonies to God or abstract principles like love or patriotism do not carry the same potentiality for negative consequences, for the simple reason that God and abstract principles do not change from good to bad, from healthy to unhealthy.
Virtually any conversion experience will feel similar on the level of emotions, whether the conversion is to Christ, Mohammed, Marx, David McKay, or Elvis.
That does not mean all conversions are the same, just that they feel the same.
And doubtless we'll shortly be hearing the Jesus Christians cry "slander" as a response to my recent posts on the topic of Casey/Joe/Sue/etc. and the source(s) from which they derive thier self esteem, and their sense of personal validation. Any criticism of any of them will be automatically be interpreted as "slander" and/or "persecution" as we all well know.
I would encourage the JCs to try and remain objective and rational in reflecting on the concepts that I have introduced to the discussion.
Please allow me to close with a song; watch this all the way through to get the full effect:
Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/29/2009 05:20AM by zeuszor.