Thursday, 3 December 2009

Love and Authoritarianism 3

The problematic we wish to address is very difficult: it is the psychology of faith in Orthodoxy and among the Christian right in the United States. The standard Protestant narrative is that all Christians believe in the same God, and that all Christians are motivated by the same Holy Spirit. We are not in a position to pronounce on who has and who has not the Holy Spirit; we do not have such a discernment charism. We therefore wish to approach the matter by examining the psychological differences between Orthodox faith and Christian-right belief through a consideration of the differences between a faith which emphasizes the development of a person who begins to love, and a belief which develops an authoritarian personality structure that enshrines power relations and, ultimately, pride. We apologize for writing so tersely, but we find it very difficult to enter into to the essence of this matter—we are struggling to understand and articulate.

What our hypothesis is, is this. On the Christian right, there is a conversion experience which is inserted into an authoritarian power structure in the pastoral setting. Because this dynamic creates rigidity in the personality without doing anything to purify the passions, the person who has converted to Christianity in this fashion has converted to an ideological belief structure—even if he has had a born-again experience. This is the only way we can understand the anger and rage expressed by devotees of an idol of the Christian right when he is slighted. In other words, where we would expect the evangelical virtues we find anger and rage. We find an attempt to seize worldly power through political means. But anger and quest for power indicates that the person is proud. There is no other analysis of such personal behaviour. But pride is of the Devil and not of Christ, who was meek and lowly of heart.

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