The first is that understanding uncoversion (loss of faith) experiences might help elucidate conversion experiences.
The second is William James THE VARIETIES OF RELIGIOUS EXPERIENCE which is available on the net is a good discussion of this.
I am interested in what this thread will reveal.
I was just raised up in the church and don't ever remember converting. I went to Sunday School with a friend and just kept going until high school when reading and studying resulted in my questioning to the point of no longer accepting most (all?) of the Nicene Creed, so I decided I wasn't a Christian and stopped going to church.
my mother often quotes julian jaynes at me, which basically proposes a theory that human mind only developed the modern corpus collosum in the last few thousand years, and so intra-brain communication was interpretted as visions and the voice of god. personally, i think the guy's a crackpot,
Listen to your mother! I don't think Julian qualifies as a crackpot though I can see why you might catagorize him as such. His book was such a brilliant tour de force. I don't recall him claiming a physical change so much as a functional change. His idea's might be useful in understanding some conversion experiences. The major problem with Jaynes theory is that I can think of no way to test or falsify it.
I remember in college studying the Iliad how the point was made that the Gods did everything. That redundancy of the action at the human and divine level was a major puzzle. I was enthralled with Jaynes proposal that Homer was literally describing their experience. There was a ton of scholarship in his book and I think it's an intriguing but again unprovable explanation of prophecy and prophets.
Anyway, I love the book and will reread it sometime. Tell your mother I agree with her. She is on to something.
and i could seldom find a group of believers that were about intent. the kind who were down-to-earth, and genuinely nice people who didn't annoy me with their fakeness.
I've been impressed with the few Quakers I've known. I was also impressed that in the US prior to the civil war they lived their religion risking their farms and freedom helping with the underground railroad to hide slaves moving to Canada and freedom. I thought that was sincere and courageous and living one's faith and values. I also respected Canada and still do.
My sample is small though and I live in a pretty liberal community but it's just a thought.
He is such a brilliant "crackpot" though. His book is a very interesting read and has some good challenges. He tromped across disciplinary borders and on lots of people's turf. Still I am fascinated with his notion.
and yet the odyssey is blatantly challenging the gods. and winning, i might add.
But it's other Gods who are motivating the challenging and creating the victories. Achilleus is going to fight Agamemnon but Athena stops him. It was Venus that inspired the love that resulted in Helen leaving for Troy and thus the war in the first place. The plot is always advanced by the actions of the Gods not by "free will" or determination of humans.
The area where his work bears on the OP is that of "hearing voices" or the ego having experiences delivered to it. But this seems to fall more under spontaneous conversions experiences and it's now appearing that the OP is about the way some churches are using psychological setting and manipulation to create an experience that results in people believing in that churches teaching. So I'll drop Jaynes for now. Did you read THE ORIGINS OF CONSCIOUSNESS IN THE BREAKDOWN OF THE BICAMERAL MIND?
there was a good one that hbo ran a while back on satan, and the ritual abuse crisis in this country. it was terrifying. not in the aspect of "omg devil's gonna git us!" but more "what are these people letting these pastors and psychologists do to them?"
Hysterical "illness" possession phenomenon are well documented in most human cultures. The Salem witch trials are one example. In Asia there was a disease that was rampant where a man felt his penis was about to be withdrawn inside his body. I forget the name of that.
It's both embarassing and humbling that we so called modern people many with college educations living in the supposedly most advanced country can fall victim to these hysterias.
I suppose I should be grateful to mainline Christianity that it generally subdues the most wildly irrational aspects of their ancient belief system.
Oh, the Odyssey, yes, that would be during the breakdown or after. Odysseus is much more modern hero than Achilleus. The books are very different. I specifically was talking about the Iliad. I'll have to look back. Maybe I said Homer only, but I'm pretty sure I said the Iliad. Oh, I went back and checked and I just wasn't thinking when you switched to the Odyssey I was still thinking Iliad. Sometimes cutting and pasting makes it too easy not to read thoughtfully.
I'm trying to dig out memories when I took the course in the 60's. I think the play was Ajax. Anyway Odysseus is a character who uses trickery rather than straight forward valor to defeat enemies. There was a shift and if I recall Ajax and the other heroes though happy that Odysseus's trickery ended the war yet they mourned the fall of the old values. Something like that at least.
I admit, though, as interesting and intriguing as I find Jaynes' theory, I would be disappointed if it were eventually confirmed (for philosophical reasons).
I do have to find time to reread it. I really liked how he explained various aspects of early art and religion and literature. It's fine with me if it's true or not true. I'm interested in your philosophical reasons for being disappointed.
thousands upon thousands of people would be slain in the spirit in large human waves and lay on the ground, sometimes being moved on by the Spirit for days. There was weeping, "the holy laughter" (Toronto and Brownsville style), speaking in tongues although described as gibberish, visions, and one very curious but prominent "wonder" as Presbyterians, Methodists, etc,...would bark and howl sometimes on all four limbs. I am not kidding. They called it treeing the devil and did this for days.
This sounds to me like a description of shamanic trance states that possible go way back for humans. Shamanic religions features these as do Santeria and Voodoo. It seems to be a special brain state induced by rhythmic dancing or movements, drumming or music seems to help induce it. Sounds like Christians are just tapping into an ancient brain function.
I enjoyed your well written post. My experience of "deconversion" was even milder but I attended the Episcopal church, a "low" as oppossed to "High" church so I didn't have the financial objections, rather the story just didn't add up and never has. The more time I spend on this board the less the story adds up though I do see that it provides much psychological comfort and motivation to many.
Re: Glossolalia (speaking in tongues) and the Swedish Chef
Does anyone else recall the Swedish Chef on the Muppet show who spoke a vaguely but hilarious Swedish? Sometimes playing around I answer children with an improvised made up language. I've always thought of it as babbling and it may be related to babbling but perhaps I was speaking in tongues?
The last I read and this is decades old the analysis of recorded examples of glossalia showed the vocal productions did not have the structures of language. But I can't cite this research I've utterly forgotten where I read this.
I agree with Gilgamesh that this is a non semantic phenomenon. It's related to the way humans produce sounds which is needed for language but is not language.
You picked up that my reply which I copy below was intended to your post but somehow I got it attached to Randman. This is what I posted earlier that you replied to.
But it certainly is not from me either.
It's not something you are consciously or deliberately doing and Gilgamesh's speaking in tongues is consciously initated. I accept that as a distinction.
When you write "me" I'm taking that as your conscious deliberate ego. But the ego function is only part of the brain. There is much that the brain is doing that is not under conscious control or even in conscious awareness though you are aware of the spontaneous speaking you aren't intending it therefore it's not an ego directed function, but that doesn't mean it's not from you. I hold the explanation will be that it is brain function and will have parallels with other spontaneous activity. To attribute glossolalia to God, or spirits, or demons is a way to explain unconscious behaviours but I think neurology is developing better explanations.
I think neurology is certainly going to answer that question but it's going to take time. To begin with some sort of brain imaging scan of people would be helpful to see what areas of the brain are active.
There are many strange and sudden phenomena. I'm beginning to think I understand yours, Phat's, and Hangdawg's use of the term supernatural. It seems you think science is only for everyday repeatable phenomena and things that are extremely unusual or rare are the result not of rare combinations or natural causes but are supernatural. Whereas I think they just aren't that common and are difficult to study for that reason among others.
It's part of a large class of behaviours going back a long time. The shamanic trance dances, the utterances of oracles in trance were prior to Christianity. The forms and settings of the culture and belief shape and condition this behaviour so that it varies in expression in different religions or belief systems. I do think the engine is all in the brain and the setting and controls can be the greater milieu.