Saturday, January 16, 2016

Toppling Pedestals

First impressions are important, we all know that. In my experience, they have not just been important, but crucial and very long-lasting. Starry-eyed believer that I was (and still tend to be, due to the habits I have built up over the years) my first impressions of leaders in the cult, or even of other members, were almost exclusively favorable. They were the "samples" I was to emulate.  

For example, take the father of my first child. A married man, smart, witty, and full of Bible and Mo Letter knowledge, I felt he could do no wrong. I was enamored with him, expecting to spend my life with him and his wife after our son was born. (Deluded much?) When they suddenly moved away to work with Berg, I was shattered. Still, I "knew" he was a wonderful man. It was I that was just not worthy.  

Next came my husband - was he the perfect man? He was gentle, romantic, polite, and handsome. As the years passed, I explained away his angry outbursts and violence, and his lack of desire for me was "all my fault." I was like one of Skinner's pigeons, conditioned to hope and persevere. 

Vital to taking off those rosy glasses to see others more clearly was pulling out of the negative view of myself. I am not as "bad" as I have believed, and others are not as "good" as I have believed. People are people with all kinds of inherent weaknesses and mistaken perceptions.

The biggest pedestal to crash down were those on which Berg and Zerby stood. The confirmation bias that ruled my mind protected their image during my years in the cult. When anything negative about either of these wonderful "prophets" came to light, the cognitive dissonance that it caused had to be dealt with quickly. Dissonance is so uncomfortable; we called it "doubt." Rationalizations and explanations came to the rescue. All great men have weaknesses - but they were still God's anointed. Look at King David in the Bible - he even had Uriah killed to steal his wife, but God called him "a man after mine own heart." We COG members were very good at rationalizing. Seriously good, with plenty of help from Berg, who wrote, If God can use a sinner like me, he can surely use you!  

Of course, Berg and Zerby are most definitely not the "End-time Prophets" and sacrificial servants of God they claimed to be. Crashing right along with that delusion came my faith in the cult and all its beliefs. And that brings me back to the start of my journey to understand the whys.

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