Wednesday, September 17, 2014
A church conference center "on the beach", and a note on "individualism"
On a day trip to the Rehoboth and Bethany Beach, Delaware areas, I spotted a convention center constructed by the Disciples of Christ back in 1901 near the center of town for Bethany. This had become of interest because last Friday, at an organ recital reviewed on the “Drama blog”, I had noticed in the National City Christian Church bulletin a story about a big fund-raising drive to expand the conference center and youth facilities (like dorms). (My parents first took me "to the beach" in 1947, and it was Bethany, which seemed quiet, "religulous".)
That (the cheer-led fundraising) is notable because many churches and charitable organizations (and political pressure groups) do indeed organize people to join their efforts and give them priority, even sacrificially. That is something I have never been to open to. I, like an “unbalanced personality” (in a Rosenfels sense) insist on chosing my own goals, and I am very sensitive to how external threats of various kinds (sometimes out of personal hostility) can jeopardize these goals.
I’m not a joiner, because I’m not very competitive socially, partly because I wasn’t good at “gender conforming activities” (perceived as essential to protect women and children in a group from hostilities). My individualized goals started with music, which can be abstract enough to hide devious fantasies, perhaps. They enlarged to a life of fantasy that mixed in with upward affiliation, and the way I experienced sexual orientation. I wasn’t about meeting the bigger goals of the group. I was “myself” before I belonged to the tribe.
The biggest thing that comes out of feedback from others is that I don’t get much emotional satisfaction from meeting “real needs” of others, particularly at an adaptive level. I make a lot of my own fantasy, but not out of the idea that someone actually need me at some basic (not just “creative”) level. At the same time, I needed "them" but sometimes didn't recognize it. All of this feeds into being interested in providing a next generation and passing the torch if necessary, after sacrifices. It also means accepting dependence on others if called upon to sacrifice for “a greater good”. None of this was particularly OK for me.
Democratic societies indeed need to deal with the "upward affiliation" problem (or the "he can do better than that" problem) with relationships. Otherwise there is a dilemma, about what happens to those who are less "competitive" and who may depend "surreptitiously" on others. Someone like me is always in a morally paradoxical position, if I dish out what was passed to me. Having strict rules for how people fit in, as is common with fundamentalist religion, makes dealing with the emotional demands that can come from others less demanding. That may be one reason why fundamentalism intrudes into people's lives and demands obedience.