Why Accepting Candy from Strange Messiahs is a Bad Idea: The Socio Cultural Theory Part 2

Posted: March 26, 2014 in Socio Cultural Theory
Tags: , , ,

I am old enough to remember the Stranger Danger campaign back in the 1980’s. I was always on the lookout for guys with mustaches and windowless vans going around handing out free candy. To this day guys in vans with mustaches still creep me out. But, the fact is, no strangers ever offered me or any one that I know any free candy or any free rides in rusty Scooby Doo vans. I do know, however, several people who were molested by either relatives or people in other positions of authority in their lives. This reality is supported by research and statistics whereas people being molested by strangers…that doesn’t really happen all that much. How many headlines have you read reporting the arrest of a guy in a trench coat hanging out in the school yard touching little boys? How many times have you read about a coach or a teacher or a priest or even a parent? See what I mean?

Sexual predators tend to be repeat offenders. Regularly engaging in such behavior is risky and unless the offender plans on killing the victim, measures must be taken to minimize the risk that the child might spill the beans. This is where a process called grooming comes into play.

Grooming is the preferred method used by pedophiles to mentally prepare a victim to be molested as well as conditioning them to accept it and keep it a secret. Effective application of this process allows an offender to operate undetected for many years. Think Jerry Sandusky or the priesthood.

The basis of the principle is to create, within the victim, a sense of complicity with regards to the offense. A child, for example, might be given inappropriate gifts or allowed to engage in some sort of guilty indulgence by the adult in question. This would create a dynamic of complicity within the relationship as well as a perception of shared guilt and sets a precedent for the sharing of secret pleasures. Slowly the secret pleasures begin to take on a sexual overtone and the offender will begin to apply guilt and shame to further ensure the precious privacy a fuckwad like that needs not to get caught with two fingers and a rosary up a ten year old’s butt.

Maneuvering oneself into a position of power such that concepts like guilt and shame may be applied authoritatively requires finesse and an understanding of how to use people’s emotions against them. The desired feelings of guilt and shame are produced my manipulating a persons perception of themselves. Often this is achieved through the introduction of inadequacy.

Inadequacy. There it is again. It’s not going to be a recurring theme is it?

Creating feelings of inadequacy in a person is essential in the grooming process. By allowing an externalized reality (such as the bow hunting “trophy photos” or a pedophiles shame assault) to take control of the self-esteem, a person becomes dependent upon that reality to define and provide measurement of their own personal value.

Through logic, it would seem that the precise methodology and application of the grooming process would be dependent upon the desired outcome and the nature of the victim. While a pornographic image or some candy might be an appropriate tool for a pedophile to implement, a picture of a dude with a bow and a dead animal might not work so well.

So why is it important to understand how a predator uses their victims self esteem against them by implanting feelings of inadequacy? Why? Because that shit is everywhere, that’s why. Like herpes and skinny jeans.

To really grasp the depth of it, it’s necessary to visit the beginning. Not the real beginning, mind you, but the Official Genesis Beginning, that’s right, I’m going biblical.

We all know the Adam and Eve story, at least if we’re raised as Christians we do. Adam, if you don’t remember, was the dude who married the chick who was tricked into eating some manner of forbidden vegetation by a talking snake. She of course went on to convince her husband to join her. God got pissed and kicked them out into the desert. Nuff said.

From this story we are taught the dogma of “original sin.” This teaching implies that the human being, by nature, is a wicked being. A wicked being who, by the way, is deserving of God’s wrath. This theme is an ongoing one if you continue reading, occurring again and again throughout the Old Testament. The teaching is expounded upon in the New Testament with the introduction of Jesus.

Let’s consider the fundamentals of the Jesus-as-Savior story. This is what the Christian doctrine actually teaches us to believe: God looked down upon man and, once again, took notice of how wicked they had become. When God saw this, he became angry and decided that he, once again, must punish man for his iniquities. Bear in mind that man’s iniquities are more often than not explained to be terrible crimes like sodomy as opposed to the more benign, such as systematic enslavement or murder. Nevertheless, naughty children need punishment so what does God do? The only thing an omnipotent being could do…he made himself a son that he could hand over to a bunch of crooked Jews so that they could torture him and then nail him to a board. Three days after the execution, he climbed out of his grave and flew away into the sky. I guess stuff like that happened all the time in those days.

Wait…I’ve always been taught that Jesus died on the cross for my sins. Of course he did. Two thousand years ago, the Jewish priesthood nailed a guy to a board because last week I lied to my mother, my neighbor coveted my goat and three gay guys got it on on the Lower East Side. That makes total sense…except it doesn’t. At all. Not from a thinking man’s perspective anyway.

But that’s what many of us have been taught. From the time we are children, we are told that our nature is fundamentally sinful and although we are God’s children that he loves, we just happen to be born with an innate badness that requires us to experience some form of redemption. This redemption comes in the form of being “saved” or “accepting Jesus Christ as your personal savior.” I’ve never entirely understood what it is that I need to be saved from but what I do understand are the personal implications of Christian salvation.

Hold on to your seat because I’m about to compare Christianity to child molestation.

From the beginning, in the Christian culture, we are groomed. We are taught that we are undeserving. This teaching is fundamental to the religion. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” says the bible. The book of Matthew goes on to explain that even thinking of committing adultery is just as bad as committing the offense itself. This an interesting paradigm of measurement. From a moral standpoint, man is doomed and was from the very beginning due to his sinful nature. And woman too, for that matter. Especially women. After all, it was that bitch Eve that got us into all this in the first place.

It would seem that nothing except a personal relationship with Jesus and engagement with the Christian church can save a person from spending eternity in hell (more on heaven and hell at a later time). Even Isaiah points out that a persons righteousness is not enough. This means we’re all actually double-fucked from the very beginning. We’re all sinners. Even if our external behavior is perfect, we are all guilty of thought crimes and according to the New Testament, God does not distinguish between thought crimes and actual crimes with real victims. That means when I fantasize about water boarding James Taylor with elephant urine, I’m just as guilty as, say, Dick Cheney. What exists is essentially a moral standard that Jesus himself couldn’t live up to. Not only that, but we’re flat out told that our behavior has little to do with our salvation. No one is good enough and if by chance someone happens to be, we are reminded by Isaiah that good works are not enough.

A dynamic such as this creates, for the potential follower, a dependency upon the belief structure to support their feelings of self worth. This system relies upon the application of guilt and shame in order to cement the dependency, much in the same way a pedophile grooms a child.

Once a person accepts the Christian version of reality, it becomes necessary to assume the role of “Christian” and start to normalize all of the behaviors associated with that role into everyday life. Little by little, the person accepts an externally created identity as their own. Think of a young bow hunter aspiring to be in his own trophy photo or the child who experiences guilt and accepts culpability for abuse to the point that a need to be in an abusive relationship actually arises and potentially abusive mates are consciously selected.

A reasonable question to ask would be: why? For a pedophile, it’s about sex and control. For a sporting goods manufacturer, it’s about turning a profit. For an abusive sociopath, it is often about having a meal ticket for a wife. In each case, an incentive is involved. Sometimes there are several incentives. Without any, evidence of the grooming process becomes circumstantial or even coincidental. Grooming is a process intended to produce an outcome and without having a notion of what that outcome is, it’s hard to establish with certainty that grooming has actually taken place.

How about this for an incentive: last year the Catholic Church reported $170 billion in expenditures. That’s a 17 with ten zeroes tacked on. Plus change. That’s approximately what the Turkish government spent in 2012. As far as expenditures go, the Catholic Church ranks on the lower end of the top third of worldwide national government expenditures. That’s one hell of an economy for an institution that claims to be about salvation.

In the land of the guilt-ridden Protestant, the suggested tithing amount equivocates to ten percent of an individual’s income, payable weekly during a public collection ceremony complete with emotional music, for your enjoyment of course, and an upper third billing on the printed Sunday agenda. I’d like to see a Baptist minister lay a fire and brimstone sermon and then pass the collection plate. I don’t care how much you brainwash people, you’re going to turn a lot less profit when you ask for the money after you’ve pointed out to the congregation that they are black hearted sinners who deserve to burn in the hottest recesses of hell. It’s best to collect the money first and then apply the guilt and shame that reinforces the control aspect of the relationship and ensures return visits the next Sunday.

I know what you’re thinking…it’s a bit of a stretch. It seems like a mean and rotten thing to do and many of the expenditures of the church are legitimately philanthropic. The preacher is a nice guy, too. He wouldn’t do that. And you’re right. The different organized religious systems do affect a lot of change in the world. These days the big churches are spending a lot of money in Africa. Think of it as an investment and competition for territory. Historically, the Christian church has stopped at nothing in its quest to spread the gospel, engaging in both torture as well as genocide in order to solidify its control over a geographic region. Tithes and collections are big business on a macro level and when it goes global, well, there is a lot of money floating around that doesn’t have to be reported the same way everyone else’s income does.

A professional minister in the employ of the United Methodist Conference draws a salary between $45,000 and $70,000 annually, depending upon the location and not necessarily including any provision by the local church of housing accommodations. The subject matter of their sermons is provided to them and they are ultimately responsible to deliver the information to the congregation, cultivate the leader/follower dynamic and provide a positive representation of the church to the media. It sounds like a lot more than it actually is.

Whether the behavior is engaged in consciously or simply because the preacher believes it to be correct, the effect remains the same. It is unnecessary for the preacher to be consciously complicit in the process; it is only necessary that the preacher act out the role correctly. Many preachers, in fact, embrace the belief system with such earnest that they take on congregations with no stipend whatsoever. While these men do mean well and may be trusted to the extent that the genuinely believe what they teach is right, they are ultimately following a play book established by professional preachers who might very well be preaching because they’re too damned lazy to work. Refer back to the shit and shovel analogy from last time…

So a guy gets a job running a church and churches, as we all can agree, do some pretty nice things for people. It’s a good job and it pays well. The catholic priest where I live drives a shiny black Acura with tinted windows. He’s a nice guy. So what?

By the church’s own belief structure, what’s going on is riddled with the stench of sin. Let’s say a mafia guy goes in a small shop and says “assume the role of a victim and pay me a weekly stipend or else the flames of hell will descend upon you.” That’s called extortion and it’s a felony. On the same street, the preacher says, “assume the role of of a victim and pay me a weekly stipend or else the flames of hell will descend upon you.” That’s called tithing and it’s completely acceptable. It’s necessary, in the Christian world, to fulfill the role of being Christian. For a Christian fully engaged in the belief structure, the eternal flames of hell are just as real as some guido-type’s gallon of gasoline and book of matches are to an immigrant shopkeeper in the Bronx.

There is no distinction, neither from a Christian perspective nor otherwise. In each scenario, an offender utilizing sociopathic principles of manipulation assumes a role of power in the victims life and accepts payment of personal resources in exchange for a feeling of security needed only because of the nature of the relationship itself.

It’s still not as bad as child molestation. Well, actually, according to the book of James, there is no distinction between sin. If a person breaks one of God’s laws, that person has broken them all. Even if you think that philosophy is ridiculous, and I do, one is still just as bad as the other. The methodology is nearly identical, the long term impact on the victims self esteem is quite comparable and, as far as what’s being taken from the victim…well conning someone out of anything is fundamentally wrong whether it’s sex or food from their table.

Have I mentioned how fear is applied in exchanges such as those being discussed? Only briefly when comparing extortion to tithing. Fear is a highly effective motivator used extensively in sociopathy. Sociopathic personalities, you see, do not experience nor interact with fear that same way that normal people do. People like this lack the brain wiring required for a functional fear-response system. There is a clear understanding of the concept, mind you, that is developed through behavioral mimicry and it is the combination of this understanding and the inability to be affected by it that makes sociopaths so good at using it against other people. Until next time….

  1. M.E. Evans says:

    Very nice Jason. I’m curious what you think about the stem of it all. Is it nurture or nature? Do we breed sociopathy or are we genetically prone to it?


    • Thank you. Evidence certainly exists that supports a biological basis for the disorder. With individuals who reside on the upper end of the sociopathic spectrum, brain scans indicate brain activity that differs significantly from “normal” brains. Lately, however, I have been watching a series on PBS about brain plasticity which essentially tosses out the previously accepted “critical developmental period” school of thought and suggests that most of our brain functions are learned and can therefore be relearned. A sociopath, for example, might lack a fear response due to a reprogramming of the brain in order to cope with, say, a highly stressful childhood. The idea is that such brain processes are actual adaptations to a persons environment and could be theoretically reversed.


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