Watching “Noah” Brought Me Closer to Humanity by Andreea Nica

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Andreea Nica, pentecostalism As a child, I enjoyed the story of Noah’s Ark. I would often imagine pairs of animals running for safety in Noah’s architecturally majestic haven. Practical questions didn’t enter my mind during this blissful period of naivety. I ignored the part where God expressed regret in creating humanity, or when Noah gets drunk and lies bare naked for his children to cover his shame. My bible study teacher would explain to us that the point of the story was that Noah, a holy man, trusted God and carried out his will.

Disclaimer: I understand that the film is not meant to be an exact representation of the story in the bible, but loosely based around it. Also, if you plan on watching the film, read at your discretion.

In the film, Noah’s character is played by leading actor Russell Crowe, who appears strong, confident, and zealous in his trust…

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Religion: Trapped in Love Through Shame

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Andreea Nica, pentecostalism I was first introduced to shame in the church. Shame paradoxically drew me closer to God, prevented me from committing sins, and helped me repress certain natural urges. The church I grew up in indoctrinated its congregation to believe that shame would transform us into true and wholehearted believers – that as carnal beings, we needed to feel both guilt and shame in order to be saved and transformed into spiritual entities.

One question that permeated my mind growing up, but I’d never dare to publicly ask:

Why would Jesus die for me when I never asked Him to?

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Why I Don’t Believe in Female Pastors by Andreea Nica

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Andreea Nica, pentecostalism It may come as a surprise to those who identify as both feminists and religious practitioners that I don’t believe women should be pastors of any dominant religious congregation. This includes most religions which, I assert, are rooted in and structured by the tenets of patriarchy. Does that mean I think women should be congregants of a patriarchal-originated religious system? You guessed it – no. While this may seem like a radical notion to some, it took me quite some time to come to terms with my own conflict in being both feminist and a believer.

My transition from the Pentecostal sect was a long, intricate process that involved life-altering decisions. The notion of leaving the church was driven by my immersion in women’s studies during my undergraduate degree. There were many difficult questions I simply didn’t have an answer for, as the church didn’t provide me with them.

One of them…

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How I Loved Myself through Charismatic Worship

Breaking up with your first love can be an excruciating process; especially when it happens to be completely entangled with your being. God was my first love and he stayed for a long while. We had many exhilarating times together, particularly within the branch of Christianity I was raised in: Pentecostalism. I fell in love with God when I uttered his divine language at 13 years of age.

Currently, I’m writing my memoir and narrative nonfiction, Freeligious ™, for which I explore the scientific explanations of my charismatic experiences in the church, which inevitably led to a closer attachment to God. In the Pentecostal church, we were encouraged to connect with God through supernatural phenomena.

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The Purity Complex: Are Men Really Less Affected Than Women?

Women’s bodies continue to receive an inexhaustible amount of attention. As a society, we have glorified, scrutinized, degraded, hypersexualized, underrepresented, and misunderstood the female body. Purity culture has orchestrated a movement around the management, perception, and regulation of women’s bodies. As a former Pentecostalist, I grew up knowing there was more focus on my body versus those of my  brothers in Christ. There was a bodily divergence between men and women that I did not fully comprehend but felt obligated to adhere to; the ideological basis of this difference was filled with much ambiguity.

Read more at Feminism and Religion…

Purity Culture

How to Stop Perpetrators Like Ariel Castro From Victimizing Innocent Women

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Cleveland Police Department/AP Photo, Tony Dejak/AP Photo

The man who held three women captive for over a decade in Cleveland, Ohio has been sentenced to life in prison plus 1,000 years without parole. Ariel Castro claims he is not a monster and that he was a victim of child abuse. Castro also admits to being addicted to pornography before a court room of people who found it difficult to show sympathy for the perpetrator.

As a society, the time has come where we have an important question to consider: what can the mental health and criminal justice systems do to prevent these types of crimes from occurring?

The problem is two-fold:

Firstly, we have a society that rewards and promotes isolation and privatization along lines of family, religion, and even roles in the workplace. Secondly, the thought of seeking mental health assistance is still seen as taboo – sharing feelings and emotions have been marginalized by a patriarchal system – leaving individuals feeling alone in their treatments.

Castro apologized for kidnapping the women, but denied “beating and torturing the women and insisted that most of the sex was consensual” as reported on Huffington Post. Castro’s claims and statements are symptoms of a person with a mental illness.

According to CNN, Castro tells the jury: “I’m not a monster. I’m just sick. I have an addiction, just like an alcoholic has an addiction,” he said. “God as my witness, I never beat these women like they’re trying to say that I did. I never tortured them.”

While some have passed this off as Castro playing the victim and pretending to have cared for his captives, it’s evident this man is mentally and emotionally disoriented.

If society had a better understanding of how to detect deviant behavior or anti-social personality traits in others and what to do about it, we could help prevent crimes from being committed. An article on the Daily Beast describes “sociopathy as not simply a disorder of serial killers but one that exists on a spectrum, plaguing to varying degrees a large portion of successful, apparently well-adjusted people.”

To sociopaths like Castro, morality and social behavior are skewed which is why professional help is required. By identifying the signs early on, we can prevent the victimization of innocent people.

There has been much clinical research conducted around psychopathology dating back to 1980 when criminal psychologist Robert Hare developed the Psychopathy Checklist-Revised (PCL-R). However, most individuals with a predisposition to deviant behavior are not likely to book an appointment with a psychiatrist anytime soon.

Depending where they fall on the sociopathy spectrum, perpetrators like Castro lack impulse control and remorse, and have a relentless need to inflict pain onto others. A central theme affiliated with this disorder is power – Castro derived a sense of power by keeping female prisoners. It gave him pleasure to know he was in control of the prisoner’s lives through the imprisonment, devaluation, and abuse he executed.

With 12 million Americans considered sociopaths, mental health professionals, the criminal justice system, and governmental bodies need to work together in educating society on how to detect a sociopath; develop prevention programs in schools that reach out to potential sociopaths; and create a non-judgmental, encouraging space for sociopaths to seek help for their deviant behavior. This will not eliminate all sociopaths but preventative programs must be implemented to mitigate causes of such damaging effects on society.

Assimilation into American Evangelical Theology: They Had Me at We’re Equal!

Cultural and social disparities exist within religious immigrant assimilation processes. Growing up in a tricultural home, I learned how to disentangle and integrate differing cultural norms and expectations. My biological parents are first-generation Romanian-Americans who identified with the Pentecostal faith. I was raised by my father and stepmother; my stepmother was raised in the U.S. by Italian-American parents. In my household, we spoke English as the main entrée with Romanian and Italian for dessert. Discovering my cultural identity in categorical terms proved difficult, but when paired with religious identification, it became easier and less important.

Given that my father wanted my brother and me to assimilate into the American culture as comfortably as possible, we regularly attended an American Pentecostal church. The Romanian Pentecostal churches we infrequently visited appeared vastly different; the social and cultural expectations seemed astonishingly dissident to that of the American church.

The study Preserving Patriarchy: Assimilation, Gender Norms, and Second-Generation Korean American Evangelicals, “found that individuals maintained a substantial commitment to patriarchal gender norms and articulated these norms in language consistent with American evangelical theology rather than in ethnic/cultural terms.”

This was precisely my story.

Read entire post at Feminism and Religion Blog.