Monday, September 27, 2010

Fake it 'till you make it

I feel like faking it until you make it is a trap.

To gain a testimony, you are supposed to read the scriptures then pray with a broken heart and a contrite spirit about whether the gospel is true (and a bunch of other more specific stuff about HF, Jesus, and JS and the restored church- see link).  Then, you will be given a testimony through some confirmation from a still small voice.  But, if you don't get that confirmation then you aren't sufficiently broken-hearted or contrite or you haven't read the scriptures enough or prayed enough.  SOMETHING is wrong with you.  It's not that god doesn't exist or that he doesn't love you.  You must not be truly ready to receive the spirit into your heart.  So, then what?  Well, you fake it 'till you make it, of course.  You keep reading the scriptures, and praying, and trying to be more humble and modest, and most importantly, paying a full tithe.

Well, that shit could go on in an infinite loop.  And all the while your self esteem is getting squelched, guilt is eating you alive and your desperation to hear that still small voice or feel the burning in your busom is increasing. Maybe, the desperation reaches a threshold.  That threshold is when you either say, "Hey, I really honestly gave that my best shot (and my youth) and you know what? I don't think any of that crap is true and I am sick of feeling bad about myself" and walk (or run) away. OR, you finally are so mentally and emotionally exhausted, broken and desperate, that you convince yourself that some minuscule warm, fuzzy feeling was your confirmation - Hallelujah! 

Now, some lucky souls are so willing to believe whatever they are spoon-fed (hey, it's easier than thinking, right?) that they pretty much get that confirmation after their first round of scripture study and prayer and they never question it again.  Others go through the loop infinitely, faking it all along.  Some number eventually reach their individual threshold and experience one of those two outcomes.  But, the point is, the faking-it-'till-you-make-it-potentially-infinite-loop traps a lot of people in the church indefinitely and it keeps the rest in (playing and paying along) far longer than it should.

I feel like I was totally dooped.  I recognized the circular nature of the gain-a-testimony-prescription quite early, maybe at 7 or 8 years of age, and I STILL WENT THROUGH THE LOOP for another 13 years or so.  WHY?  Would I tolerate such a loop in my science?  Say someone said "Perform this experiment and if you don't get the desired results, you suck. Keep trying until you get the results I want you to get," Would I do so?  Hell no!  That's not good science.  You form a hypothesis and you test it and you accept that your hypothesis is usually wrong, but if you are lucky, the data lead you in a more interesting direction.  Then you start again with a different hypothesis.  But if you don't get the result you expect or hope for (or must get if you are ever going to get the fuck out of grad school) after, like, 3 trials or so, you do something different.  Maybe you give up completely on that experiment, but at the VERY LEAST, you change a variable. "The definition of madness, is doing the same thing and expecting a different result."

I pretty much live my whole life by the scientific method. So, why did I stick with the testimony loop?  Well, because people like to please each other, especially others we love or whose love sustains us.  We want to believe what those beloved people tell us, to believe what they believe.  We want to fit in to our communities.  When the people we love most in the world seem to affirm that the gain-a-testimony loop is the way to go, we'll probably go that way.  We fake it until we make it, or until it breaks us.

Here's to being broken and breaking free! Here's to the scientific method!  Here's to the application of reason to our lives!


  1. I think this is sort of the idea I got when I was baptized at age 8. Just go with the flow even though you don't really know why you are going to church.

  2. The "fake it 'til you make it' directive is a total brainwashing tool. It's brilliant, really. When it doesn't work, it's your fault.

    I'll be raising a nightcap here shortly to freedom from the mindf**k, to the scientific method, and to critical thinking. Woot woot!

  3. I'm happy that you broke free and now see that hollow spiritual path for what it was.

  4. I've already read and commented (briefly) on this post, but as I was looking through your posts again, I read the first line and suddenly the quote

    "It's a twaap!" echoed in my head.

    Name that movie. Very well known film.

    (Sorry for the very off-topic comment.)

  5. I faked it so well, i really did believe for a while that i had made it. Oooooh brainwashing at it's subtle best!

  6. My mom was always telling me to fake it until I make it. I asked what it meant but I never did understand her explanation. I could fake being straight and convince everyone that I am, and I did. And now without even realizing it I am the strightest acting gay guy I know.

    So now what? Did I make it? What was I making?