“Get hungry for God!” — sounds like a new diet regime

Alas, not the case. It’s just another born-again celebrity claiming Jesus has healed everything she thought was wrong with her so that means Jesus can heal you, too. One size fits all salvation. The celeb in question is Danniella Westbrook, who was on the show EastEnders.

“Right now I’m enjoying my walk with God and as doors open I will see where he leads me. I am concentrating on my life, my family and on being a Christian. I’d also like to go to work as a missionary somewhere and spend time in Mexico and Africa to help people.”

And in a message to her friends who have yet to follow her path she said: “Get hungry for God! Find him! Find yourself a great church that’s on fire for Jesus that will speak the word of God in your life.”

Danniella – who spent £250,000 on cocaine during an addiction that destroyed the centre of her nose – has started a new life after her character left Albert Square in September last year.

She has become a regular church-goer with husband Kevin, 41, and children Kai, 14, and Jody, nine. And the family regularly talk about God.

It’s great to see celebrities turning their lives around. It’s great to see anyone manage it, especially given the sheer number of ways people can fall back into old habits and lose everything they gained (or, in the case of diets, gain everything they lost). That spot in one’s life when it’s realized that major positive change has to happen is a good spot to be. For many people it’s really the scariest place to be, since that’s the place otherwise known as “rock-bottom.”

This is the place where religious institutions can utilize the majority of their power. Those who’ve reached bottom are looking for any kind of a hand out of it and it seems like for in majority of that time, the hand is connected to someone who’ll next ask, “Have you ever thought about letting Jesus into your life?” It feels like help, but it’s also taking advantage of a vulnerability. I’m sure most believers feel their motives are true and pure but I’m also sure some of them are thinking, deep down below their realization, “I can’t wait to tell the girls I saved someone this week.” I expect it’s one hell of an ego trip, being someone’s saviour. What a rush. Must do it again sometime..

I can’t prove that kind of thought process is going on, of course. I’m just cynical of ulterior motives when it comes to this kind of thing.

Last night we had Chris DiCarlo in to talk about his new book, How to Become a Really Good Pain in the Ass
. The intent of the book is to demonstrate ways to think critically and use reasoning and logic to discuss ideas more effectively. One thing he noted near the end was something about how secular humanists, or even secular groups in general, aren’t doing enough to counter the impact the religious can have due to their sheer numbers. There should be more community outreach to help people like Danniella Westbrook so when they do hit bottom their first step up doesn’t have to be into a supernatural belief system. But if that’s all they’re offered, that’s all they’ll assume there is to take. And they’re wrong. They’re so very wrong.

Same issue comes up with our local Secular Organizations for Sobriety group. The woman who operates it told me last night that someone had been told SOS stood, not for Secular, but for Satanist. Seriously? Who’s that daft? She also said that a local addictions counseling office initially refused to stock her pamphlets. She had to do a lot of complaining before they’d acquiesce and she still has no idea if anyone at that office ever suggests her group over AA, pamphlets they do carry and pass out regularly.

Another from our group has a father who’s been in AA for decades. The father claims that GOD can mean anything a person wants to attribute power to, be it a person or a rock or a tree even. It can also mean “Good Orderly Direction” but how many people are going to put their hope of healing in the proverbial hands of a tree that might get struck by lightning next time there’s a storm? No, more people will take the supernatural God route if that’s what they’re told they have to do in order to be cured. It’s also wrong. If “wrong” seems too strong a word, then I’ll use “misinformed.” They don’t know there’s an alternative and they won’t know if people don’t organize alternatives, or advertise them, or encourage others to advertise them.

Which is why I’ll mention SOS once in a while. The emphasis needs to be on caring about the person, not selling an ideology to a desperate buyer. The emphasis needs to be on helping the person get better, not boosting the number of butts in a pew. The ambition has to be to help because the person needs it, not because the act will make the helper look more saintly. A willingness to help should never be so selfishly motivated.

I didn’t wind up picking up a copy of DiCarlo’s book last night. My cash went toward a shirt his son was selling instead. On it is a quote by Charles Darwin: “It is not the strongest species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the ones most responsive to change.” Culturally, we need to change the way we deal with all manner of human problems, from crime to addiction to other important life choices. The quest to find alternatives to leaning on a god is a worthwhile pursuit. People want to treat god-belief like it’s a universal band-aid even when the damage goes beyond skin-deep. Other ways to help and fix and cure are out there for those willing to look.

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4 Responses to “Get hungry for God!” — sounds like a new diet regime

  1. Laurance says:

    Hello, Minion, nice to virtually visit with you again.

    This blog post pushed my buttons a bit. Here in the US, Alcoholics Anonymous has a stranglehold on “recovery”. It often, usually, happens that AA members will tear down any notices put up by other organizations and try to silence any opposition to their religion (and yes, it is a religion. It may be “spiritual”, too, but it’s a stand-alone religion, neo-Buchmanism, the better known of the two sects Buchmanism split into).

    The good news is that AA is getting a run for their money these days and doesn’t get the free pass that it used to get in the old pre-internet days. You mention SOS, but are you aware of SMART Recovery? When someone on our forums asks, I suggest SMART first.

    There’s also Women For Sobriety, which some women really like, but I find as queasy-making as AA.

    And there’s LifeRing Secular Sobriety.

    (The forums I spoke of are yahoo groups. I co-own EFTCoaa [Escaping From The Cult of aa], 12-Step_Coercion_Watch, and without_aa.)

    Oh, that business about God being anything, including Good Orderly Direction! Yes, I’ve heard that over and over, and frankly, I find it profoundly intellectually dishonest. They’re twisting words around to mean anything at all, and in so doing, they’re making them mean nothing at all.

    Another trope is, “Even atheists can get sober in AA!”

    I was such a one. I was there for over 12 years, and I had better “sobriety” than many of the god-believers. Yes, an atheist can “get sober” in AA, but we have to play evasive and dishonest weasel word games to do so, or be shunned and attacked if we don’t.

    I bailed out long ago. I don’t need that kind of intellectual game-playing, going along to get along.

  2. 1minionsopinion says:

    Thanks for a very detailed response. I’m not sure if any of those groups are running here in Canada but if they are it’s good to know so many options exist.

  3. Laurance says:

    Hello again, Minion…okay, so I’m looking in the computer, and I see that SMART is indeed in Canada:

    http://www.smartrecovery.org/

    http://www.smartrecovery.org/meetings_db/view/

    Australia, Canada, India, New Zealand, UK, Brazil, Denmark, Iran (of all places!), Sweden and Uzbekistan, by golly.

    Now, SOS has been around a long time, but I have the feeling that it will be SMART Recovery which will be the really viable option and genuine alternative to AA.

    Are you in Saskatchewan? There are two face-to-face meetings there in Regina. At this time there aren’t the meetings all over the place, like with AA, but there are online meetings and online resources.

    http://www.smartrecovery.org/meetings_db/view/show_countryca.php

    Interesting…I see that you can print out a form showing that you attended a meeting, for people who are being coerced into recovery. I don’t know to what extent this is a problem in Canada. It’s a HUGE problem here in that crazy country south of you, and there’s a problem in England, too. (I’m not used to this “UK” abbreviation yet. I thought it was Great Britain, and England, Scotland, Wales, and there was Ireland.) Here in the US some 60% of people in AA are there because they were forced. (I walked in on my own two feet, and walked out on those same feet.)

    As I mentioned in my other post, I am the co-owner of 12-Step_Coercion_Watch@yahoogroups.com. Forcing people into AA violates the First Amendment of our Constitution, since AA is a religion. Never mind the slogan that “AA is spiritual, not religious.” Any time the issue of coerced AA has been taken to court, The coerced person has won, and AA has been declared unequivocally religious in nature.

    I’m on my soapbox again, Minion. I wish the Atheosphere would catch on and realize that we have a kind of Official State Religion going on whenever people get forced into AA by any kind of government agency.

    Okay, I spoke of Women For Sobriety, which skeeves me, but other women really like:

    http://womenforsobriety.org/ (I thought you were a guy at first, but I’m wrong, I do believe. And Laurance is Laura, an old woman a week and a day away from her 70th birthday.)

    I can’t find a face-to-face meeting list, or any reference to Canada.

    And LifeRing:

    http://lifering.org/

    Hrrmph…I see meetings in Ontario and British Columbia. And lotsa stuph online.

    Okay, There we are. It’s nice to talk with you. I hope other people are reading your blog.

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