Daniel Norris, Are All Priests and Clergy In The Closet With You?

The Clergy Project was launched roundabouts March 2011. For those who don’t know anything about it, the Clergy Project aims to help clergy members who have lost their faith leave their religion. It started when people like Daniel Dennett and Linda Schola began to notice that there were a lot of clergy who had lost their faith that were trapped within their religion. Many clergymen go into the church straight from high school and even before high school are often trained (let’s call it what it is, they’re brainwashed and indoctrinated) outside of the classroom to take their place as priests of the faith. When a priest no longer believes however, they can become trapped within the occupation because they quite simply know nothing else. Their entire life has been devoted to the church as well as their education, so how can they make a living with only the job skills of a priest?

Used car saleman? Telemarketer? Confidence man?

  …..As usual I am astounded at the level of tact and sensitivity you display to others.

    To return to the point at hand. The Project provides a space for these men and women who are no longer able to hold onto their religious beliefs, but for social and economic reasons are trapped within their jobs. If you can spare the extra bit of coin you can follow the link up above that we’ve provided to donate to the Project, which is sponsored by the Richard Dawkins Foundation.

    The reason that I bring this up is in response to this article recently written by Daniel K. Norris. A man whom you may recognize as being a student of the Steve Hill Ministries.

    Steve Hill being a man who once wrote an article last year  lambasting other priests and religious leaders for having “Man of God Syndrome”. Wherein they give themselves over to self-adoration and self-promotion and become so enamoured with their perceived value that they spend their lives making sure everyone knows their reputation. Which is certainly a valid point. As well as being a rather admirable thing to take a stand for among his fellow theists.

    And you can discover more of the things that he stands for by going to his ministries website and reading one of the over a dozen books that he sells. Or buying one of the over fifty DVD videos and audio books he produces. There’s also the personal business cards that you can buy. His Youtube channel, Twitter feed, three other websites, and online tv news channel. Not to mention his appearance four years ago in the Law and Order:Criminal Intent PC game. All of which are very prominently displayed, lauded, and advertised on the homepage.

    Ok,ok, can we get back to the main point, please?

    Also you can read about his deliverance from a life of drugs, how passionate and dedicated he is to helping people, as well as how he draws in four million people from over one hundred and fifty countries just to hear him speak. How hundreds of thousands have wept at the altars, repented of their sinful lives, and gave themselves to Jesus after hearing his words. Lives have been changed, marriages saved, and addictions have lost their hold over men at hearing the clarity with which he conveys the message of Jesus. Read about how he holds entire stadiums and arenas in…..

    I said, OK! Can we get back to the main point, please?

    Sure. Why didn’t you just ask that in the first place?

    Asshole.

   Now the majority of the article you can read for yourself if you wish, but the part that interested us was what he says in the second part when he starts talking about the recent coming out of an atheist pastor named Justin Vollmar. When talking about Mr.Vollmar he has this to say:

    “Thankfully Justin’s story isn’t over. I trust and pray that one day he will have a true life-changing encounter with Jesus. It appears he has never had that experience.

    The Clergy Project exposes a great need in the body of Christ. A quick read of Justin’s story reveals that he never had a strong spiritual father in his life to help mentor him and prepare him for the work of the ministry. He was hurt and offended by leaders he felt used him but didn’t equip him. Justin found himself more and more isolated over the years. This fatherless son became easy prey.”

    Mr.Norris is very quick to write off the entirety of Mr.Vollmar’s experience and testimony about what he experienced as a Christian and as a pastor, and in a way that is very insulting and patronizing as well. All of the reasons that he gives for losing his faith in the church is thrown away in favour of the assumption that it must simply be because out of all of the things that happened to Mr.Vollmar throughout his life, he never had a true encounter with Jesus. Essentially that he was never truly a Christian in the first place because if he had been then he would have had a true experience. Whatever that is actually supposed to mean.

    Yeah isn’t there supposed to be something in their religion about not judging others? I’m pretty sure there’s something about not judging others. I think it’s in that book they wave around when they yell at gay people.

    “I have been fortunate to have great spiritual fathers in my life. I have experienced firsthand the incredible benefits and necessity of such a mentor. My heart breaks for those who have not found or been willing to embrace the fathers in their life. It is the lack of godly fathers that is destroying our families, both natural and spiritual.”

    Again we see that it is not anything to do with evidence, or the religion being corrupt, or inner-reflection, conscience, etc. It can clearly be none of those. It’s only  a matter of not having the proper experiences or the proper teachers. If you had the proper teachers and the proper experiences, like Mr.Norris, then you would certainly agree with and think like him. I truly advise you to read up on Mr.Vollmar’s story and see for yourselves just what exactly Mr.Norris is trivializing here. I really do often find myself wondering whether people like this are aware of the astounding arrogance they display with type of action.

    Well he is a student of Steve Hill. Clearly he’s learned his lessons about humility well.

    Since Norris brought it up, let’s take a quick look at the lessons he says that he learned from his “strong spiritual fathers”.

    “1. I’ve been taught to Keep a closed mind.

    I have personally tasted and seen that the Lord is good. I have encountered His presence and can now testify of that which I have seen with my eyes and heard with my ears. I have no doubt. My faith is set. My mind is made up.

    Steve Hill has reminded me several times that Jesus was the most closed-minded individual to ever walk the earth. It’s true. There was no persuading Jesus and no debating with Him. His mind was firmly set upon the truth, and He was unwavering.

    This resolute determination changed the world. He encouraged the same in His disciples.”

    Well at least he admits this up front. The sad thing about it is that this isn’t a Poe.

    “2. I’ve been taught that this is a call, not a career.

    I can take you to the square footage of carpet that I first heard His call. It was real, it was powerful, and it was life-changing. This call is not something that I chose; it chose me. He called; I surrendered. Every minister must have this moment.

    I’ve been challenged by my spiritual fathers that if you can imagine yourself doing anything else other than the ministry, chances are you are not called to it. Harsh? Not at all.

    It has to become part of your being as much as anything else. For me, I could no more abandon this call than I could abandon the air I breathe. It is not something I do; it is very much who I am.

    Dawkins may find success in getting someone to switch careers, but good luck trying to get someone to switch their call. You can choose a career, but a call chooses you.”

    Once you’re in, you’re in for life. Sounds like the mob. Seriously, it’s a pretty convenient position to take. If you ever decide that you no longer want the job or that you don’t believe, it’s because you never actually believed in the first place. It’s the unbeatable argument, but for the wrong reasons. Not because the argument is good, but because it’s so batshit insane and convoluted you’d need five sherpa guides and Rand McNally himself to navigate it.

    “3. I’ve been taught to stay in the closet.

    This is paramount! The world may be moved by those who come out of the closet, but the kingdom is moved by those who go into the closet.

    Someone who has not found the strength of a personal prayer closet will flounder in the world, persuaded by every wind of “truth” that comes blowing in their direction.

    I am thankful for spiritual fathers who modeled a godly prayer life before me and taught me to seek the face of God until I could hear His still small voice.

    This was the obvious secret to Jesus’ powerful earthly ministry. He constantly tucked Himself away to spend time in prayer so that He could hear the Father’s voice. You and I are no different. No man is greater than His own prayer life! We have to fight for and maintain that secret place.”

    No!You are not going there!You just leave it alone, you hear me?!

    I feel a great disturbance in the force. As though a billion gay jokes cried out at once and were silenced.

    So let’s review the lessons that he learned from his teachers in pastor school. Never be curious or question. If you don’t believe completely and forever you never really believed. Close yourself off to any outside information and focus on prayers.

    Yeah, there’s nothing remotely cultish about that. I can’t honestly imagine why some people would feel constricted and strangled in that environment.

    Mr.Norris claims that the Clergy Project is preying on the weak and weary members of the priesthood, but who is preying on the weak here exactly? The group who picks people up and teaches them to only think in the way approved by the group. Only act in the way as approved by the group. And to never open themselves up to outside information that is not of the group. Or the ones who are inviting those who do no longer wish to be part of the group to a place where they can be that in safety. Mr.Vollmar speaks of being shunned by his community simply because he resigned his position at the church he was first at when he felt he was being abused the senior priest. Not that he left the faith or stopped being a pastor. He simply resigned his position from that particular church. His church and his faith kicked him when he was down and needed them the most because he wasn’t doing what he was told. Mr. Norris however, portrays the Clergy Project as the ones taking advantage of him?

    Perhaps, Mr.Norris, the reason the Clergy Project is managing to convince so many and bring so many out from hiding is because there are more than you think who have not been fooled by the same brainwashing that worked on you, but are kept in line out of the fear that they’ll be (pardon the expression) crucified by the church and their peers. Maybe they did have the ‘true’ experience you spoke of and they came to understand what the real truth of their faith was.

    After all, let’s be honest, you can’t expect the CGI guys to believe the dragon is real.

If She Can Perceive it, You Better Believe It!

Author Jennifer Senior recently wrote an article in the Wall Street Journal about men and women and how they experience time differently when raising children (More about how women experience it naturally). Before we get into the nitty-gritty of the article there is one phrase which I would like to point out that we think perfectly encapsulates everything wrong with her writing.

It’s important to remember that fairness isn’t just about absolute equality. It’s about the perception of equality.

Let’s pause a minute here so that phrase can actually sink in fully.

It’s important to remember that fairness isn’t just about absolute equality. It’s about the perception of equality.

Oh yeah, I’ll get to that in a minute.

One of the issues straight from the start is that Ms. Senior makes the point that even though men and women work the same number of hours on average, that not all hours and work are the same. Which is true as far as it goes and it’s good of her to point that out. However she then proceeds to go on for several paragraphs discussing only about womens work and how it is, apparently, much more stressful than mens.

Where the problem occurs in this is that at no point does she actually address the work that men do. She goes into great detail about how the childcare work done by women is stressful and harsh on them, but never compares it to the work done by men so that we can judge for ourselves which is the more difficult task. Male jobs are commonly jobs that involve heavy labour or high-risk actions. Is having to look after a six year old all day really more stressful than hauling building materials around a construction site? Is getting your son to swimming practice on time a more stressful environment than managing a business? We don’t know because these possibilities are never even remotely addressed by her.

Because, as she says, it’s all about perception.

So according to this chick, it doesn’t matter if things are actually equal. All that matters is whether or not women think that they’re equal. Most of those reading this who’s brains haven’t atrophied have already likely asked the most important question to this. If it’s simply about perception then where does it stop? There’s no limit to inequality if all it takes is for someone to feel as though things aren’t fair. Humans ALWAYS think things are unfair with regards to ourselves. That’s why we’re such a collection of ambulatory assholes. We’re all convinced that we’re getting a raw deal, no matter how good we have it. This is why we have a culture full of rich pricks who complain about having to actually pay more taxes than the former mexican doctor, turned immigrant gardener who’s mowing their hedges.

I could be spending my days lounging around in a hammock with my every need attended to by asian slave-girls in Princess Leia bikinis. Hand-fed grapes from their cleavage, while a big-breasted Nordic goddess sponges my body clean to remove the dirt (because getting up and bathing is just sooooooo tiring). Then lie back and play the newest Ratchet and Clank game while fanned and given the most sumptuous blow job ever known to man. And I would still be like, “I actually have to chew my own grapes and push these controllers buttons on my own?What the Fuck?!”

Ok, admittedly I got sidetracked a bit.

Yes…….just a bit.

The point that I was trying to get across is that life is always unfair when you don’t have to answer to things like, facts and reality.

Interestingly there comes a point just before that where she makes note of a woman who supposedly told her that her husband says she causes a lot of the stress and worry which she faces unnecessarily. Which is actually a very good possibility to point out, which is suspiciously untouched by Ms. Senior. After all, what if this true? What if the way certain mothers do things around the house are to blame for their own stress?

Apparently we are not permitted to ask that question. Though it does not look like she intends it either.

It’s no secret that women are more naturally inclined to be excitable than men. More inclined to be hyper-sensitive to the emotions and goings on of the children. You see this especially in new mothers who worry and fret over every aspect of the child because everything is new to them and they are terrified of the fact that they are now responsible for a life. Compare this to the mother who has already been around the block a time or two and knows that not every time the baby cries it’s because something is wrong. In our own case, we were raised by our grandmother. While the act of raising a child on her own was doubtless flowers and candy at all moments, she had already been through it so many times by the time we had come along it was a relatively stress free experience for her. She knew to pick battles, what to worry about and what not to worry about, that you don’t always have to drop whatever you’re doing to attend to every little thing that a child does or wants, etc.

Even when she was raising our little sisters alongside us for a time, my grandmother was a fantastic parent. A feat she managed by her own devices. Now, I am not saying that every mother should be like her, my point is merely to illustrate that one of the problems might really be the way that some women are approaching the jobs that is the real cause of the stress. It’s natural for mothers, especially young ones, to stress over all of these new responsibilities which they now have, but perhaps part of the problem really can be solved by a mother changing her methods. If so then Mrs. Senior does the mothers she’s speaking about a disservice by ignoring that possibility in her haste to place all of the responsibility on the husbands.

There’s also the matter of whether the wife actually even lets the husband help out in the first place. It’s a process referred to as “gatekeeping” in psychological terms. Simply put, gatekeeping is when one parent limits the others involvement with children or chores by putting obstacles in his way. One example of this is by asking him to do chores around the house, and then criticizing or bitching about the way he does them.

To give an example from our own life, as the other me said we were raised by our grandmother. As we got older and more independent we would often be asked to do things like the dishes, or the cleaning. As much as it sucked for us we would go and do them and put in the effort. Without fail though, Granny would always notice what we were doing and then tell us how we should be doing it. Sometimes her advice was good, but more often then not it was clearly irrelevant to the quality of the end result. It was just a matter of style as opposed to function. She wanted me to do things, but only her particular way. So I did what any other young teenage guy would do. I threw up my hands and said “Fuck this, you do it then.”

Which is a pattern that was repeated over and over, and eventually had a lasting effect on me. I would never cook or do any housework while my Gran was at home or awake. Which meant she ended up doing most of it, even though I could have been helping, just because I couldn’t stand the hassle of that nagging.

This is an example of the pattern found with women who “gatekeep”. They constantly criticize anytime the husband tries to do the housework or look after the kids when he doesn’t do it their way. Or they come along and redo a task that the husband just finished. They demean or undermine the fathers authority to the kids (every kid knows to run to mommy when in trouble cause she’s the easy touch). Looking over his shoulder while he works and delegating all of the household tasks.. So husbands do what I did to my grandmother. They throw up their arms and say “Fuck this, you do it then.”

Studies done into the process of gatekeeping show that simply encouraging the father to actually do things and encouraging and supporting him when he wants to deal with the children goes a long way towards getting him to actually help with the housework. And I mean real studies, not the stuff that Jenny is pulling from the stygian nether-depths of her puckered-

*cough*Ahem*cough*

Yeah, yeah sorry. Anyways keep in mind that gatekeeping isn’t just a matter of your wife being bitchy or mean. It’s simply an emotional reaction that likely has no malice behind it, if she’s even aware that it’s happening. Of course this doesn’t exist for Jenny. It’s just guys fault.

Maybe women who feel like they’re doing all the housework should stop and seriously ask themselves why it is they feel that way. Is it true, or just a matter of your own emotions? If it is true then why? Maybe you should talk to your husband like a human being and see how he feels, rather than listen to people like Jenny who tell you that you’re not responsible and all you have to do is get hubby to do more of the work for you.

But alas, that is only a madman’s dream.