Remnants of Indoctrinated Fear
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11-03-2014, 05:17 AM
Remnants of Indoctrinated Fear
I'll admit, I feel rather silly posting this topic. Mostly because I'm a big boy now and know much better than to be scared of the monster who chases you up the stairs as you leave the basement. The monster's not there, of course. He never was. But no matter how old you get, and no matter how well you can control it, every time you walk up the stairs, you feel that faint tingling sensation in the pit of your stomach; the instinctual urge to look over your shoulder and dart up the stairs as quickly as possible to get away from the claws which grab at you from behind.

Since abandoning my faith as the invalid justification for an irrational belief that it was, I've found myself delving deeper and deeper into the aesthetics of all things dark and satanic. I've always enjoyed the macabre, but as a good, upstanding Christian boy, I kept my interests rather clean. Dark themes were fine, so long as they didn't have any connections whatsoever with spiritism or "evil". As a kid, I always found this very limiting, given that my desires were for darker material, but my faith was strong, and I understood that venturing any deeper into the rabbit hole would not only be an affront to God, but could even be downright dangerous in a very tangible way. At the weekly meetings, elders would preach stories from the podium, warning all in attendance about the dangers of witchcraft and of "touching the unclean thing." They would spin stories (from sources unknown) about curious teens who dabbled with Ouija boards and listened to satanic music and were made to suffer from demonic influence as a result. Possessions, poltergeists, demons physically attacking them and their loved ones. One girl, who's family moved to our congregation just a few years before I departed, told of how her once-non-believing mother had been choked by an unseen force before her husband arrived home to free her. A visiting elder once spoke of a family who's spiritistic dabblings resulted in an other-worldy entity killing a member of the family by snapping his neck.

Those of you reading this as former believers: you felt that, yes? The cold rush upon hearing such things? That is your lizard-brain reacting to bogus information after having been traumatized by the insidious process of indoctrination by way of fear-mongering. It no doubt makes you just as uncomfortable to read it as it made me to type it. (Imagine the utter terror I felt as a young boy hearing this from the podium; a place from which absolute truth was believed to be spoken)

These things terrified me for much of my formative years, and it was only when I lost my faith that the unbearable weight of fear was lifted from my aching shoulders and I was allowed to breathe a sigh of relief. A new-found sense of reason had ensured that the demons were no longer a threat and that my tastes for darkness could finally be indulged without fear of diabolical consequence. The first dip of my toe into the waters of the damned was with the song "The Burning Halo" by the band Psyopus. Had the chugging, chainsaw-like riffs not been so deliciously heavy, I might have refrained due to the fact that it's a song about demonic possession. But I began listening to the song - nervously at first, but with a greater sense of ease as time went on - and very much enjoyed it. As I incorporated it into my daily playlist, I began to notice something.

Nothing bad happened.

The song features audio recording from a supposed demonic possession, and the lyrics are absurdly over-the-top in their macabre imagery. ("Her eyes roll into the back of her head; her eyes roll into the hollow of her hijacked form; I am the dark, unholy, broken halo of a bastard who's deep talons curse, drag, contort your pathetic God's marionette.") And yet, no matter how many times I listened to the song, nothing happened. No spectral entities manifested behind me in my bathroom mirror. No dark shadows rose from the sides of my bed before closing in on me. Blackened cracks did not form in my flesh and my mother never walked in on me using a crucifix as a marital aid. (Although, that's probably just a matter of luck…and a locked door)

Soon, I was expanding my musical horizons to include all of the dark, devilish and unholy tones which once sat tantalizingly on the other side of the "DO NOT CROSS" sign. My choice in cinema and other forms of visual art followed the same path, and now I find myself immersed in everything which had once scared me so deeply. My home decor reflects it. My body art reflects it. My very speech reflects it. Everything which once terrified me, I now revel in like a dog set loose upon the Beggin' Strips factory.

So, why do I write this? Because, even now, there lingers a sense of fear which was instilled in me during all those years as a devout believer. Just tonight, I was trolling around on Facebook and feeling bored, so I decided to go hunting for some creepy, deep, entrancing, unsettling, generally somewhat entertaining thing to post as my status before logging out to watch a movie or something. So, being that song lyrics tend to contain little gems of quotable material, I began browsing through my iTunes library hoping to kick-start some inspiration. "Hmm….No…No…Meh…Hmm, Cradle Of Filth…'Dinner at Deviant's Palace'….OH! The Lord's Prayer backwards. Brilliant."

Opting for efficiency rather than extensive labor, I googled "Lord's Prayer backwards" so that I could copy/paste the whole thing that someone else had taken the time to write at some other time. I found it, and copied it. But just as I did so, I felt that familiar tingling sensation in the pit of my stomach. The feeling that the monster - which I had long-since accepted was not hiding in the basement - had come out of his corner and was now scurrying after me as I made my way up the stairs. I found myself staring at the highlighted text, unable to commit to actually opening the other tab so that I could post it to my wall. But…why was this? I began to ponder the situation. Why was I feeling uneasy about expressing - even virtually, through Facebook - a manifestation of the Lord's Prayer written in reverse? Of course there are no evil, supernatural forces in existence to hear/see it, but even if there were, of what significance would it be? Is the reversal of the Lord's Prayer supposed to summon them in some way? If so, how? What is the mechanism by which they are summoned? And what do they do when they get to where they are summoned? Are they like rabid dogs who just kick in the door and start tearing up the place? Or are they more like maintenance men who stand on your front porch and say "So…you called us? What's up? You need a table moved? Or…?" Why was it that I was reacting to these words, which just happened to be placed in reverse, the way a superstitious person might look at the completely innocuous number 13?

It was soon that I realized I had been pondering this for much too long and I just posted the damn thing as my status. But still, it made me think about the level of fear to which many of us were subjected and the lasting impact it seems to have had upon our lives. I can sing along to the most satanic lyrics ever written, and yet if someone were to ask me to speak the words "I invite demons into me so that I may be possessed" aloud, there would be a moment of hesitation. I would ultimately say it, knowing it's not gonna do a fucking thing, but there would be a moment of pause. A "what if?" left as a scar upon my psyche by the true evil: that which is the mental and emotional torment forced upon us as former victims of religious indoctrination.

I wonder if we will ever fully overcome this affliction of post-traumatic stress, no matter how fleeting.

Through profound pain comes profound knowledge.
Ridi, Pagliaccio, sul tuo amore infranto! Ridi del duol, che t'avvelena il cor!
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