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Posted June 11, 2010
So Timely 25 Years Later
Miller's criticism of classical psychoanalysis, drive theory, ill-founded interpretations, children seducing parents, and such in other reviews, change the course of history. Miller led the late-century charge against rigorous Freudianism that finally put the nails in the coffin of the then-dominant, but often useless and even damaging, form of psychotherapy.)
She also led the charge against pharisaical, authoritarian religion. Were she still alive and at her keyboard, she'd likely still be raising a stink about the "renaissance" of authoritarian, dogmatic religion that is dominating world affairs in our time.
Few, even including Jack Miles in his Pulitzer-Prize-winning God: A Biography (1996) and Christ: A Crisis in the Life of God (2001) have so neatly summed up What It's All About and Why. I'll let the Swiss woman speak for herself:
"The unlived and therefore unresolved painful dependency of early childhood... is perpetuated in that form of submissiveness toward groups and ideologies which makes it possible for rage repressed at an early age to be [redirected] onto external enemies.
"Why is 'God' allowed to see all our weaknesses, to read our most secret thoughts without our being able to stop Him, and to punish and persecute us for having them, while only His weaknesses remain invisible?
"The Bible speaks of God's omnipotence, but the Divine deeds it describes contradict this attribute; for someone who possessed omnipotence would not need to demand obedience from his child, would not need to feel his security threatened by false gods, and would not persecute his people for having them. Perhaps the theologians are not in a position to create an ideal image of true goodness and omnipotence differing with the character of their real fathers [and mothers] until they have seen through this character. And so they create an image of God based on the model they are already familiar with. Their God is like their father [or mother]: insecure, authoritarian, power-hungry, vengeful, egocentric.
"What kind of Paradise is it in which it is forbidden--under threat of loss of love and of abandonment, of feeling guilty and ashamed--to eat from the Tree of Knowledge... to ask questions and to seek answers to them? Why should it be wicked to want to know what is happening, to want to orient oneself in the world?
"[Joseph's appropriate and functional fatherhood] is why Jesus was able to see through the hypocrisy of his contemporaries. A child raised in accordance with traditional principles, who knows nothing else from the start, is not able to detect hypocrisy because he lacks a basis for comparison. Someone who only knows such an atmosphere from childhood will perceive it as normal... suffering because because of it but unable to recognize it for what it is. If he has not experienced love as a child, he will long for it but will not know what love can be. Jesus did know."
The rest of TSNBA builds upon Miller's theme of cultural authoritarianism. I have to ask the reader of this commentary, "Are we willing to risk a return to 'dark ages?'" If you're feeling a need to empower your own defenses against the blac
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