Hyperreligiosity: Identifying and

Overcoming Patterns of Religious
Dysfunction
R.S. Pearson
Books by the Same Author
Non-Fiction:
Virtuism: Philosophy and the Aesthetics of Virtue
The Experience of Hallucinations in Religious Practice
Exhausting the Interaction of Words: Computer-automated
Brainstorming with ParaMind Brainstorming Software
Fiction:
Motivated for the Cause: An Anti-novel
Rubber Blue Biodegradable Robot
and other Computer-Generated Writings
Cast the Jewels into the Sea of Your Soul
and Evoprayer: Two Short Anti-novels
Hyperreligiosity: Identifying and
Overcoming Patterns of Religious
Dysfunction
R.S. Pearson
Telical Books
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Pearson, Robert Scott.
Hyperreligiosity : identifying and overcoming patterns of
religious dysfunction / R.S. Pearson
LC Control Number: 2005930060
Type of Material: Text (Book, Microform, Electronic, etc.)
1st edition
Seattle, WA : Telical Books, 2005.
ISBN: 0-9748139-2-3
Copyright 2005 All Rights Reserved
Telical Books
P.O. Box 27401
Seattle, WA 98165-2401
U.S.A.
Table of Contents
Introduction
Numbered Texts
This book is for educational purposes only. This book
does not pretend to be a cure for mental illness. Therefore, if one
does not feel mentally healthy, one should seek professional help
instead of using this book for serious therapy. I must state first of
all that I am not a psychiatrist or psychologist and I wrote this as
a way of describing my own healing journey from
hyperreligiosity. This book sometimes uses psychological
terminology because I believe it is helpful for all people to
understand psychological concepts.
Introduction
I must state first of all that I am not a psychiatrist and this
work falls under the realm of "anctedoctal evidence."
Anctedoctal evidence is nonetheless known to be very important
in medical science. In no way should a person who was
diagnosed with serious mental illness by a psychiatrist or
psychologist look at this work as being a substitute for adequate
psychiatric or psychological help. I believe it is fitting that
someone who was once diagnosed as hyperreligious should
write a book on this subject rather than someone with no
religious belief. A person who has no religious belief may not
understand the gray areas where the religious person makes
certain important actions, which may be seen as sacrifices, for the
benefit of their belief structure.
Hyperreligiosity is the ill-fitting grasp of the role of
religion and God in one's life. It is the disability that can lead to
killing in the name of God, or isolation from others in the name
of religion. Hyperreligiosity happens most often when one
thinks that they know the mind of God, and that one can know
all the ways of God. The Bible is one of the scriptures of the
major world religions that clearly states this is impossible. There
are psychological reasons why a person with hyperreligiosity
needs to have the assurance that they know the complete mind
of God. This book will explore some of them and some possible
ways out of the dysfunctions of hyperreligiosity.
This is a very difficult work to write because religion often
does great things for people that can not be easily measured by
society. There has been a duality occurring in some therapeutic
communities of those who might be termed "hyperreligious" by
some psychiatrists and therapists and those who have spent
many years in therapy and do not fall under this judgment.
Psychiatry often admits it can't cure people. The very nature of
being a part of the community of a local church on a weekly
basis, year after year, is a consistent social achievement beyond
some people's reach. Socializing with the same group of people
on a regular basis is often more than what some who resort to
psychiatry alone can say they have done.
It is hard writing a book on hyperreligiosity when you
yourself know that you have aspects of it. The worse thing for
the hyperreligious is to feel that they are somehow causing
another person to be less religious. Instead, in solving the
problem of hyperreligiosity in a person, one opens that person
up for true religion, or better, true spirituality. At times, in
discussing one's hyperreligiosity, one may seem like one is
trying to sound like a saint. But when one sees the problems
associated with it, the listener begins to perceive that this is not
the case. One begins to wonder how good of a life this is that we
have chosen.
This book is in no way an attempt to help people become
less religious or spirituality-centered in their thinking. In fact, it
is the opposite, an attempt to empower spiritual people away
from the disempowering ideas found along the spiritual path.
The word "hyperreligious" seems like it might seem to mean
"very religious" or "ultra spiritual" in the way that we picture the
qualities of a superhero. Hyperreligiosity can happen when the
outer form that true spirituality flows through becomes distorted
to the extent that it becomes the sole focus. Instead of people
being more loving, helpful to others, and filled with what they
experience as God's nature to help them in their life, they
become suspicious, isolated, and full of an untrue image of God
that they can mold to their personal desires.
A type of hyperreligiosity can also happen when political
groups use religious beliefs as a dividing line in the exercise of
power, as a way to build sides so that other aims can be
achieved. Hence political leaders in the past have called on the
demon that is hyperreligiosity to awaken in the people so that
war could be more easily approved. When hyperreligiosity does
not exist in a person, there usually has to be very, very strong
reasons to justify war to a human being, especially one that
concerns oneself with religious thinking.
Hyperreligiosity produces painful results in the way other
mental illnesses produce painful results. It is the mental illness
that seems officially sanctioned by God to the person who has it.
It can be difficult reading this subject matter if you have been
afflicted by hyperreligiosity in any way. One may begin to feel
anger, even negativity. Temporarily, this state can be a better
place to be. It is taking the chance at maturing as an adult,
instead being caught up in acting out the Biblical admonition of
being "like little children" to not just God in heaven, but to
everyone, in every circumstance.
If there is a better understanding of hyperreligiosity,
many of the problems of the world can be further solved. But for
a religious person to even admit the term "hyperreligiosity" as a
valid term, is itself difficult. People talk about the changes that
need to take place as changes in the heart, but religious texts
such as the Bible, do not limit it in such a way. There needs to be
a growth of wisdom, a growth of intellectual understanding of
truth, for the world to change. Understanding that religious
action is not always fruitful is a part of that knowledge and in
fact much of the Bible itself discusses this.
My disclaimer to this book is that if a person’s religion
brings them to a state of being that one becomes like a Mother
Teresa or an Albert Schweitzer, and truly helps many other
people, that is wonderful. I would never make an argument
against that type of behavior, only encourage it. I believe it is
such individuals that caused the evolution of humanity
throughout time.
This work examines not so much how religion works
miraculously in some people's lives, but instead focuses on when
it works disastrously in others. I would be just as happy to write
about religion's virtues because I strongly believe in religion and
its ability to produce all the virtues. I noticed that there is not
much written on this subject of religious mental illness by people
who still uphold religious beliefs. I am in no way trying to make
people "less religious" who have hyperreligiosity. Making
Mother Teresa less religious probably would have also made her
less helpful to the starving people of India. The aim is to find a
way to free what religion actually is about and to know what the
form of mental illness and societal dysfunction that hides in a
religious costume is. The result will be freeing those with sincere
religious desires to become more active in following the true
spiritual life. There will be no limit to the time or money
commitment such a life may have, but it will be free from the
psychological shackles that this book describes.
The hyperreligious notion of God can be a frightening
one. It is a God that holds good things from people, and who
demands that people live for religion, instead of having one's
own life improved by religion. Some might think that their
hyperreligiosity is justified by the Biblical command to love God
with all one's heart, all one's mind and all one's strength. This
book explores dysfunctional faith, that is, why a person can't
love God with all their heart or all their mind or all their
strength. If a person really loves God with all their mind, they
may begin to see that the reason they are not like other people
isn't necessarily because they are more spiritual, but may be
because they were more abused by others and created defense
mechanisms against this abuse.
Religious texts themselves have a balance written in them
that helps prevent a person from developing hyperreligiosity.
The Gospels mention how Jesus taught us to not judge each
other. Inherent in hyperreligiosity is the need of eliminating in
others certain types of value and to only see certain values as
existing in themselves. It is like the way the psychotic who may
have come from a situation in which their value was threatened,
creates a magical world by delusion of grandeur in which they
now have great value to others. The hyperreligious has become
threatened in their world and disempowered by people, and so
they develop the need to devalue others and create value in
themselves by their religious practice. But such can never be the
basis of the spirituality religion tells us God wants, as we can
read in the various scriptures. Religion does teach us that God
hears and answers our prayers, gives us strength, and the like.
The hyperreligious get stuck in this mode of trying to live in this
life of favor, and to do so they must judge others in their mind as
unworthy, especially when they have been abused by others.
One can use this book as a part of one's spiritual arsenal
when or if religion becomes unnecessarily a painful and
hindering thing in one's life. It can be a note in one's song but not
one's whole song.
Numbered Texts
1
A famous founder of a religion, Jesus Christ, said, "I come
that you may have life more abundantly." There is much in the
Bible about having the good in life, being “the head not the tail,”
being prosperous, and so on. There are also some things in the
Bible about self-sacrifice, about martyrs who "did not love their
life till the end." A person prone to hyperreligiosity has to
personally come to a balance in their life where they can see that
many of the self-sacrificial messages they are getting in their
mind are not spiritual, but in fact are destructive. For some
people who want their lives to point in that direction, there are
circumstances when self-sacrificial impulses are spiritual and
even heroic. If one has a great cause and finds he must
essentially sacrifice his life to it, I see nothing wrong in that. The
problem lies in making sacrifices to a cause that is not good
enough. I feel this is most often the problem in mental health
areas that have religious overtones.
2
If the hyperreligious could take into account the lowest
and most painful scenarios of human life and try to act like a
Christ to them, few could call that person hyperreligious. Even
those who are not religious might call that person doing a great
work of social service. Hyperreligiosity can be seen as a
condition that produces no value for oneself or others. If
something is producing real value for others, then it can be said
that the person creating the value is consciously attaining an
aim. Much of value was done in history by people whom the
religious, and even the general public, calls saints, and who led
self-sacrificial lives. This kind of self-sacrifice is not wrong, if
such people have had a healing effect on society. Butler's "Lives
of the Saints" contains many such accounts of saints who set-up
schools, hospitals, and created favorable economic situations in
their towns. In fact, such individuals created much of the
progress on Earth.
3
The hyperreligious need to be cautious in what they
perceive as God's answers to prayer. This is similar to the faith in
the idea that the force of "gentleness" is going to solve all their
problems. It is probably beyond most people's ability to love in
such a great way that such love would cause them to be
somehow martyred. Those who really love are not insulated
from the real social world in the way that mental illness often
separates people from that world. The loving that is said to lead
to spiritual freedom, by people becoming one with the true spirit
of God, is loving people outside of, and regardless of, the
various aspects of power needed to climb the religious political
order. God is said to live in that kind of love.
4
I do not disbelieve in the traditional body of spiritual
literature that talks highly of self-sacrifice and clinging closely to
God. I think it is largely religious motivation that has made life
as good as it is. Yet, it seems like everything on this Earth, the
religious life can be stretched out of proportion. Food brings us
pleasure and is essential to life, yet many people are in poor
health and develop illness because of overeating. The same
things can be said for aspects of religion in certain people. When
one tries to mold religion into a tool that one can use in any way
one wishes, one sets up a dangerous process that can even slide
into unconscious behaviors that one can not witness. The
religious always must remember that God is in control, not
them. Obeying some basic religious framework like the Ten
Commandments in all one does is a good way to keep this in
mind.
5
A healing therapy for the hyperreligious is to expose
themselves to ideas about their sense of responsibility in the
world. This healing sense of responsibility helps one live one's
life under the laws of logic and not under self-deluding ideas,
such as making God into one's personal butler of miracles. This
is not to say that a healing sense of aloneness and solitude
doesn't show a blessing from God. Most religious people know
from personal experience that God does give one a comforting
peaceful feeling in being alone.
6
God gave us certain attributes which we can hang our
self-esteem on. For true healing and recovery, people often find
themselves able to accept these in themselves. Dysfunctional
religion can cause certain people to deny all these attributes in
themselves. They can't have the ability to feel like they have
these attributes and also live a life in their sense of religion. We
are created to feel good about various things such as having
health, financial security, a good personality or friendliness,
attractiveness or intelligence. The hyperreligious who has these
qualities deny themselves the ability to feel good about having
them because they are seen as a type of pride. Because they can
no longer feel positive about having these qualities, they then
begin to feel that they are the opposite of these things. This is
similar to body dysmorphic disorder, where attractive or
average looking people feel that they are ugly and deformed.
There are a whole range of ways to avoid accepting that one has
the attributes of a normal person. The prolonging of this non-
acceptance of one's own virtue, if held long enough, can erode
the sense of self and is said to be the cause of psychotic
breakdowns and grandiosity.
7
Traditional psychology teaches that having a meaningful
relationship with the opposite sex, is a test of a person's
psychological health and maturity. The hyperreligious often
expect God to give them someone in marriage very similar to
them in many respects, and they wait for such a person without
initiating much of the usual courtship routines. Some seem to
need to exhaust the action of giving God more than what He
wants, as if His response is "Go do something else besides
religion and you'll have your prayers answered. Just go do the
thing you're praying for."
8
The hyperreligious should give themselves more
exposure to "mainstream" understanding of religion and see
where that leads. It seems only fair and just that they give
themselves this experience. Perhaps then the virtues of peace, joy
and love will make themselves better known, and some who are
prone to having anger toward God will find this also fall away.
9
The hyperreligious must finally realize that their old ways
of understanding their relationship to religious concepts are not
going to be the catalyst for their dysfunctional religious patterns
to cease. Their old ways are not going to help them really break
free from dysfunctional religion and have a better life. They
would need a whole blueprint of how they should be thinking to
achieve the life they want. Since they do see a mature godly
character to be a main ingredient for a complete life, and can
continue to use this rule, they need to understand what the
historical prerequisites for a godly character are. Granted, this
may not be the same as a canonized saint or martyr's character,
but in reality when one examines all the so-called pride and lack
of humility many mental patients are trapped by their own
infantile grandiosity into having, they can see that the self-
opinion that they themselves have the character of a saint is most
likely self-delusional.
10
No structure of any society is fashioned to indulge those
who want something like a saint's disposition and also all their
other human desires met. To some hyperreligious, only "evil" is
rewarded by the monetary gain necessary to support oneself. A
scrupulous moral worldview only works for those who must
self-justify themselves when, all the while, their "evil" society
never justifies them.
11
Life can be seen as an abstraction beyond what any
person upholds, an abstraction that has self-check mechanisms
to guide people when they are out of balance. All in some sense
are victims of this and can only be freed by humility, from
feeling the pangs of disappointment. But in the hyperreligious,
the mind can continuously philosophize self-justification and
excuses in a lack of humility to adhere to psychic comfort in old
patterns.
12
Some hyperreligious men believe in staying a "boy man"
just as some hyperreligious women believe in staying immature
to not act like mature people in the outside world which they
perceive as evil. Women, however, find masculine traits
attractive, yet it's almost impossible for the hyperreligious "boy
man" to justify masculine traits, even before a God of mercy and
compassion. A catch-22 is that many modern women state they
want a sensitive man but a sensitive man is often seen as weak,
especially compared to many modern women who are equipped
for life without a man in modern society. Those hyperreligious
men born past the baby-boom generation who were taught
growing up that they should be sensitive males need to
understand the balance of traits between accepting their qualities
which instinctively make them attractive to women, and
understand the new modern women who is striving for equality.
This is why many hyperreligious can not find a mate. The
hyperreligious man is afraid of the masculinity that by historical
definition risks offense.
13
One can postulate a grid of forces and characteristics in
human life that fill the entire real needs in society. Some people
have the bravery to construct skyscrapers. Some people have the
nerve to open human bodies and perform surgery. Some need
the sensitivity to construct beautiful music, and so on. There are
many people who can't understand that the small traits in people
that help make up these different psychologies in people do not
make them less spiritual or benevolent, only different. The
wisdom of the aphorism, "It takes all kinds of people to make a
world," is often not understood by the hyperreligious because
their psychology is set up to reward only people of a certain
disposition.
14
Some topics in the study of the dysfunctional religious:
1) The tendency of a person dedicating their life to
religion and their perception of God is to expect in some way
that God is protecting them. Sometimes things are worse in the
world than what we like to expect. Our views should not be
childish in this regard. Bad things happen to good people.
Spiritual texts teach us to be "wise as serpents but gentle as
doves." For instance, hyperreligious people often can not detect
when religious leaders are in fact abusive and corrupt. Likewise,
those who are not attracted to religious groups may not see
when their own ideas are self-abusive and corrupting the quality
of their own life.
2) We should be careful what we believe supernatural
forces do for us verses what we are responsible to do for
ourselves. A good example of this is that even Creationists
believe that some aspects of evolution are correct. God can be
seen as creating the world but putting it on a "long leash" in the
same way that God seemed to let some aspects of evolution
change various natures of animal life on Earth. God created us
and helps us, but expects us to live our lives and show what type
of character we have by what choices we make. The
hyperreligious tend to look at life as a man walking on stilts,
with one leg being himself, and one leg being God, each event in
their life as trading causative agents, one caused by himself, the
next caused by God, or angel or demon, and so on.
3) God will not punish the hyperreligious for trying to
understand what they are doing wrong in their religious systems
and trying to have a good life and getting better, but basic
spiritual concepts can not be thrown out in this attempt. Growth
for the hyperreligious is not to become meaner to others, or to
live for periods of their life without thoughts of God. One has to
strike a balance, and for the hyperreligious, this takes extra
knowledge and work, probably trial and error. One can't tread
on basic human decency and standards of psychological
maturity in the name of deserving a change.
4) The effects of Hyperreligiosity are related to how
OCD, BDD and other potentially lethal mental illnesses destroy
the quality of life. The hyperreligious should not allow religious
ideas to justify conditions of mental illness by saying, "I'm just
being holy." When the hyperreligious uses religion as a real help
to help them overcome other types of mental illness, they may
see that since they had some problems with their other mental
illness, these problems may reflect in how they might have a
problem understanding healthy religious thinking.
5) The religious must have sophisticated thinking tools to
know whether "psychic" abilities or abilities to detect God or the
supernatural are actually lowering the quality of one's life, or are
in fact really spiritual experiences.
15
There are two levels of abilities that effect a person in their
life. There is the level of their own abilities, and there is the level
of the abilities needed in life to achieve their needs in life.
Here is one possible graph of what they might be like in a
person:
======= level of competence one needs to get
one's needs achieved in life
====== level of oneself due to operating in
hyperreligiosity, often manifesting as the making of excuses that
"God didn't do this for me yet" or "God does not want this for
me."
Other types of mental illness also follow this model.
16
To the hyperreligious, the excuses of always knowing
explicitly the exclusive will of God, or of feeling entitled to have
God do things for them even without prayer, can create a
multitude of problems. For instance, one might feel because of
their hyperreligious tendencies that God does want them
married. However, they may find it impossible to control their
sexual drives and they may have a string of short relationships,
breaking them up when they "finally realize" that God does not
want them married or that God wants them to marry someone
more dedicated to religion.
17
It is hard for the hyperreligious to not have religious
books make them what is known as egodystonic, that is,
negatively affect their coping strategies in life. Instead of seeing
these books as beautiful and meaningful, unconsciously they
may see them as a stumbling block in helping them create the life
they want. This is because the hyperreligious religious aspirant
doesn't look at these book’s stronger words against "sinners" as
possibly pointing only towards the many in life who are not
religious at all, and often really don't live rightly, but instead
they are driven by their make-up to beat themselves up
personally with these teachings. Understanding human nature
better may help them overcome this.
18
Christianity can be made psychologically symbolic, that
is, almost everything in Christianity can be said to be about life
here and now and to bring a person to a type of the kingdom of
Heaven on Earth by following its principles. Often sermons
focus on aspects of how Christianity works on a psychological
level. But Christianity cannot be made wholly psychologically
symbolic, and in these subjects of Heaven and Hell, the saved
and the damned, good and evil, are often where the
hyperreligious loses touch with sanity.
19
There is a problem regarding the religious practice of
stillness that is seen in esoteric and Eastern traditions. It is
knowing what to be still about and what to be active about.
Practicing stillness would obviously be an accessory to “sins of
omission” in certain situations. If evil flourishes when good men
do nothing, and if good men are merely sitting quietly for five
hours a day in their rooms as their sole spiritual practice, then
obviously there are conflicts among people in what different
people understand as spiritual.
20
The hyperreligious may feel very alive when they fight
their hyperreligiosity. God may not help us so much through
magical thinking, but God will help us through constructive
thinking. Whether something involves magical thinking or
constructive thinking can make a litmus test of how well a
hyperreligious person is doing in their therapy. It may guide
them to feel good about things when they are thinking in a less
"magical thinking" mode and indicate what type of response
they can expect for what they want in life.
21
The whole structure of cause-and-effect must often be
rebuilt by the hyperreligious. Some of the things they expected
God would do, they must take responsibility for and do
themselves. This isn't to say they can't pray, but their expectation
of God must be humble. They should treat demanding or even
expecting certain events from divine sources the way an
alcoholic treats alcohol. If they actually need more money, to do
something like take a long-needed vacation, why do they focus
their prayer life on gratitude to God when the Bible just as
clearly states that we are to be anxious for nothing and pray for
all our needs? The normal religious idea is to be liberal in one's
prayer life for such things. The hyperreligious feels above
normal or wealthy people, and therefore can not even usually
pray directly for more money or opportunities to make more
money by honest work.
22
When ideas go against words from spiritual books, we
must remember that those words are being interpreted by
people's minds. Saying "God is love" can only have one
interpretation: love is easily understandable to man. Loving
people would very rarely choose to make one person suffer so
that others can benefit. Often, focusing on the life of Jesus, the
hyperreligious see all their suffering as having some kind of
meaning for other people. People who suffer believing this
delusion have a type of pride, and are freed by humility. The
hyperreligious might not ascribe their suffering to some
symbolic mystical act, but instead to some art or writing they are
creating. One way for the latter hyperreligious to overcome this
is to tell them it is important to note in studying geniuses who
achieved post-humous fame, that often they had some degree of
recognition in their lifetime. Geniuses, like Van Gogh and Kafka,
who did not have any success at all during their life are rare,
although a small minority usually do have to suffer when they
are aware of future patterns before the majority can understand
such patterns.
23
Going to church faithfully does not always produce a
good quality of life. It's not hard to find the evidence to back up
this statement. Priests, even though serving mass, also abused
children. Christianity has been practiced for two thousand years
but it has yet to produce a Golden Age on Earth nor did its
founder ever claim it would. Much like any other major religious
system on Earth, nations that followed it did not always treat the
weak and handicapped with respect, nor did they respect people
regardless of race or nationality. These are all things that have
happened as Western society seemingly became more secular. It
doesn't mean Western society became less spiritual, it may mean
that avenues of a type of societal hyperreligiosity have been
thwarted. These improvements were, however, still largely
guided by leaders who had strong religious convictions. Often it
was people of great Christian faith, people of great inner
achievement, who were the leaders in such improvements.
24
To think that God develops the life we want to lead as the
result of simply expecting Him to give it to us, and in the
amount of time when we are still somewhat young enough to
enjoy it and have a long life, is to play a risky game of chance.
What we may need are lessons that any given church does not
easily preach. The gifts of God come more likely from a type of
character-building process where the results of a life of prayer
and obedience are seen. One can't have a self-serving system of
justification and projecting onto others one's own faults. One has
to make sacrifices of their own superiority complexes to find
humility not just before God, but before other men.
25
A hyperreligious person has to fully change his or her
thinking into the conviction that the good one experiences when
one fights his or her hyperreligiosity is actually also seen as good
by God. This change is the enshrinement of one's new
understanding regarding the understanding that one does have
hyperreligiosity to be part of the good plan of God that saved
them from so many bad things. Too much of a medicine is not a
good thing. One can never be too spiritual, but too much of the
outer forms of religion is not always a good thing. This is not like
saying that one shouldn't sacrifice large amounts of their income
for others, or even do something drastic like risk one's life for
one's neighbor. All those things can be done by people who are
not even very religious at all but are guided by a strong personal
morality.
26
Religion commands us not to judge, but the
hyperreligious often remember those parts of religious writings
that are concerned with judgment. The hyperreligious probably
is not psychologically enabled to understand the practicality of
the idea of not judging, nor do they understand how not judging
could possibly be a religious idea. That is, there is something in
judging others that relieves them of the pressure of self-criticism
that was inflicted on them by other human beings. Not judging
becomes the one religious commandment they comfortably
overlook.
27
The only definition of God that has any merit in being a
definition that good and competent people also share is a
definition that states that God is love. This in fact is a definition
that comes directly from the Bible. The hyperreligious put
themselves in uncomfortable situations when they expect
something from a God who is love and do not get it. Their actual
definition of God is probably a definition that has not been
carefully examined by careful analysis.
28
Those who are hyperreligious and take an attitude against
the dominant religion of their culture have to make sure they are
properly educated first in the things of their native culture.
Many hyperreligious people, as can be seen in the many
Westerners who have been a part of destructive Eastern-based
cults, tend to have formed negative opinions of the Judeo-
Christian religion based on a mythological idea of the “noble
savage” or some variation of it. Many people do not understand
that ancient human history was full of barbarism and they
criticize the Old Testament against a standard of ethics that in
practice is only quite recent. The Old Testament had to address
severe human barbarism and so its standards often don't sound
very high when measured in a world that has had it's redeeming
influence (although of course people will argue this) for
approximately three thousand years. These people may point to
the fact that there are even older religious tracts that spoke of
treating neighbors with respect in these foreign cultures, but
there are also widespread cases of barbarism in such Eastern
cultures (see the book “Oriental Despotism.” by Karl A.
Wittfogel (Yale University Press, 1967), to understand that
Eastern cultures are inherently no more spiritually governed
than Western ones). These facts are often overlooked by such
people in a type of reverse-ethnocentricity. This imbalanced
thinking often sets them up to follow goals which may not be
logical. Truth becomes a hidden quality, very rare, since the
mother culture didn’t have very much of it. This can manifest in
what is known as “spiritual titanism,” or the following of human
beings as God incarnate. Their thinking may believe: “Since there
is so little truth, why isn’t this obscure person really God?”
(Spiritual Titanism: Indian, Chinese, and Western Perspectives.
Nicholas F. Gier).
29
Religious scrupulosity always devours a person's real
needs for the sake of illusion and even a type of narcissism. The
illusion fulfills the sense of wish fulfillment that Freud has
shown to be a way of placating the actual need. The imagination
provides that fulfillment of the actual need by creating an
illusion to believe in. A hyperreligious person's narcissism
allows them to have self-esteem when society can often deny the
hyperreligious any esteem.