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She's great. Everything between us is great. This froofy church is not.
August 2, 2010 4:07 PM   Subscribe

I'm an atheist and a skeptic. She's been dabbling with a kooky New Age church. This bothers me. How do I approach this situation?

Some background on the relationship, which is a little unusual: we've been friends for almost ten years, but we started dating (casually, but monogamously) about nine months ago. We've been aware all along that our long-term potential is questionable (for example, she wants children, and I don't)—but have seen fit to continue dating as long as it's good for both of us. I hestitate to call it a fling—that sounds so trivial, and we've become quite close and important to each other—but it's not quite a full-blown relationship, either. (We also live an hour and a half apart, which is another reason we've kept things relatively casual—we're really only able to see each other on the weekends.) Neither of us are particularly social, so this still means that we spend more time with each other than we do with other people. Maybe we're really close friends with benefits?

So, to the issue at hand. She has a work friend who attends a New Age church, and has lately attended herself a few times. She's told me a little about the sermons, and I've looked at their web site.

It's fruity as hell—total B-grade hucksterism. There's a photo of the swami on their Web site, with a circular halo over his chest, which is very obviously a speck of dust on the camera lens. The text accompanying the photo claims that the halo is actually his heart chakra, revealed on film. (They're really into chakras.) The site goes on at length about how spiritual, wise, and enlightened the church leaders are, stopping just short of proclaiming them demigods. Reincarnation, hypnotherapy, alternate planes of reality, pictures of the platinum-blonde swami in his dopey swami costume with a totally creepy smile on his face—you get the idea.

Now, as I said, I'm a skeptic. I believe, very strongly, that the world would be better off without this kind of thing. I'm having trouble reconciling the respect and admiration I have for this wonderful lady, with her involvement in something that is, to me, so ugly and offensive.

Here is what puzzles me: she's by no means unintelligent or lacking in critical thinking skills. She's very bright, actually—highly educated (and employed) in a firmly evidence-based, scientific field. She keeps Origin of Species on the mantel, and subscribes to scientific journals. She has no more time for the nonsense in (for example) Christian dogma than I do. She regularly impresses me with her knowledge and insights.

And yet here she is, spending her free time watching charlatans and self-appointed gurus babble about spirit energy and cosmic vibration. Not just woo-woo, but full-blown, off-the-deep-end, pyramid-power woo-woo.

I don't know how seriously she takes the supernatural content of the sermons. She's been going through a big and difficult transition in her life—in which I've done my best to support her, in a manner appropriate to our relationship—and perhaps she's just interested in the social and emotional dimensions of the church. If that's the case, though, I can't understand how she can just disregard the bullshit and take the rest. To me, that's like getting a plate of spaghetti with a big turd nestled on top. Not exactly appetizing, you know? And not exactly the kind of thing that inspires confidence in the integrity of the spaghetti itself.

It's worth noting that her mother is very into New Age (and in fact makes a living as a huckster, performing magic rituals for money—sorry to put it that way, but that's what it is). Her sister, with whom she's very close, works in herbal medicine (which I admit can be effective in some specific cases, but it's nonetheless a field overflowing with woo). I don't hide my feelings about that, but neither do I make a big deal out of it—we've only brushed on it in conversation, and she freely volunteers that her mother is "crazy".

(She's also mentioned the idea of going on a detox diet, and has afforded credence to ear candling—which further cements my concern that she's a little more credulous than she thinks she is. And perplexes me even futher—given the field in which she works, she really, really ought to know that these things have no basis in reality.)

So I'm wondering:
  1. Is there any point in trying to convince her that this church is kooky? She isn't yet a regular member, and (as far as I know) hasn't started giving them money—yet. On the one hand, I know that it's not my place to try to change her—but on the other, I feel obligated to say something when I see a friend mistaken about something. If she were thinking about joining a pyramid scheme, or responding to a Nigerian scam email, I'd warn her that those things are confidence games and frauds. In my view, this church is also a confidence game and a fraud. But I've tried every approach I know to reason with believers in pseudoscience and religion, and have pretty much concluded that it's not possible. The only effective approach I've found is to distance myself from the believer. I don't want to do that with this person.
  2. If there is a point, how do I approach that conversation?
  3. If there isn't a point, how do I proceed? If we were expecting our romance to be a long-term thing, I'd probably consider that a deal-breaker. But neither of us are expecting it to last forever. We're definitely friends, though, and want to stay that way after the romance ends. Even though I'm obviously conflicted on this issue, I do have a lot of respect and affection for her. Given that we don't expect to marry each other, or anything like that: can we agree to ignore our differences on this subject, and avoid the topic? Will that work? She's pretty awesome otherwise—and I'd hate to spoil our romance, or our friendship, over this.
Sorry for the length—it's difficult to explain things like this concisely. Your thoughts will be appreciated.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (61 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
 
If we were expecting our romance to be a long-term thing, I'd probably consider that a deal-breaker. But neither of us are expecting it to last forever ... Given that we don't expect to marry each other, or anything like that: can we agree to ignore our differences on this subject, and avoid the topic? Will that work?

Yes, it could, if you're willing to look past it. She doesn't have similar objections to your atheism, does she?

If she doesn't have similar objections to your atheism, can't you try to adopt her "live and let live" attitude?
posted by jayder at 4:13 PM on August 2, 2010


I'm going to repost something I wrote a while back ...

The 10 Percent / 100 Percent Rule

If she seems to be crazy 10 percent of the time, she is 100 percent crazy and is not a valid choice for dating and/or relationships.

Many men will overlook signs of deep-seated neuroses, for various reasons (e.g. the sex is good, she laughs at your jokes, your mom/friends like her, she's got a great ass).

You need to attune yourself to these warning signs. Observe the 10 Percent / 100 Percent Rule. If you catch yourself thinking things like, "She's sure is quirky," or "What the fuck was that all about?", you need to get out, fast.


This is the killer, though...

It's worth noting that her mother is very into New Age (and in fact makes a living as a huckster, performing magic rituals for money

This indicates that she has a very, very deep-seated predilection for this kind of thing. Like, requiring significant psychological help to disentangle.

Is there any point in trying to convince her that this church is kooky?

IMO ... nope. None at all. Say your piece ("In my view, this church is also a confidence game and a fraud.") and get the hell out.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 4:15 PM on August 2, 2010 [31 favorites]


Groups like this prey upon people who are otherwise skeptical. Cults are effective because they appeal to people who are seeking the truth.

Steven Hassan has written extensively on the ways that groups (and even single individuals) exercise mental control. Anyone can be vulnerable - but particularly those who consider themselves excellent judges of truth, and especially those who are experiencing emotional rough patches.

Read this guy's web site and/or books and educate yourself to the warning signs that these people are trying to control the way she thinks, or convince her that specific things are true/false. He also goes into effective strategies which can help extricate her (not deprogramming, it's a bit more subtle and respectful).
posted by overeducated_alligator at 4:23 PM on August 2, 2010 [2 favorites]


It's pretty clear that this bugs you. A lot. But my guess is that if your friend is interested in a New Age spiritual practice, she has some needs that science and reason are not meeting. Whether or not you agree that a non-logical practice could potentially better her life doesn't matter because...it's not your life.

You sound like you care about your friend very much. I would caution her against giving money to this church and I would probably suggest that she check out a few more churches, just to have some point of comparison. If she is looking for a spiritual outlet, there are plenty that don't involve confidence games. But however much you would like to reason her out of this, it isn't going to work--things of a spiritual nature are not, by definition, logical.

You can definitely agree to ignore your differences.
posted by corey flood at 4:24 PM on August 2, 2010 [2 favorites]


You can tell her that you think her church is kooky, but you can't convince her. You can (gently) express surprise and even dismay and concern that she's a part of it.

However, she has a mother, sister, and at least one co-worker/friend involved in this stuff, and a part-time long-distance boyfriend who is not. You are outnumbered. Don't be surprised if you can't persuade her.

So you have to figure out if this is a dealbreaker.
posted by thinkingwoman at 4:26 PM on August 2, 2010 [2 favorites]


It sounds like you are asking permission to mansplain to her why you think she's making a stupid decision. Permission not granted.

Either you respect her and think she's capable of making her own decisions or you don't. By your own admission, you're not really her boyfriend, and you don't have any formal commitment. This is none of your business. Stop obsessing over it.
posted by folara at 4:27 PM on August 2, 2010 [34 favorites]


I am quite sure - at least 1000% sure - that you have something that you value, care about, spend time or money on, that she finds completely questionable. Maybe you follow a professional sports team. Maybe you collect music by X artist and have seen them 20 times. Maybe you insist on wearing a worn out too-small pair of shorts every time you go camping because it's some kind of dude "tradition" with you and your friends. I could think of more, but I'm tired right now.

I'm kind of unsure how a detox diet is 'crazy' just on the face of it. Spending thousands of dollars to go to a detox specialist type who is bilking you out of your money for what you could have done for yourself on a weekend with a juicer, maybe. But choosing to 'detox' in some form is not necessarily crazy just because YOU deem it so.

As for ear candling, holy FSM, so WHAT if she thinks she wants to try it? Really? This bothers you THAT MUCH? Because you dismiss it, she automatically must? I don't have an opinion one way or the other, but to rank a detox diet and ear candling as ABSOLUTE SIGNS of her mental instability gives your argument less credence here.

Her mother does rituals for money? How is this necessarily bilking someone or hucksterism? You don't give us details and we have to take your word for it. Likewise with the church.

People can be curious about, find comfort in, and find things interesting for a wide variety of reasons. Your lack of tolerance because they don't align with your personal superior belief system is more of a defect in you than it is in her.

Here's the thing: you want her to be the way you want her. She's not going to do what you want her to do. I think she should dump you and run, personally, so DTMFA and save her the energy of getting rid of you.
posted by micawber at 4:31 PM on August 2, 2010 [13 favorites]


As a fellow atheist / skeptic married to another atheist / skeptic, I will say that complimentary worldviews are extremely important to the health of a relationship. I would confront her directly about my concerns, try to get her to read stuff like Michael Shermer and Daniel C. Dennett. In all likelihood it won't work, she'll react negatively to this approach and you can end the relationship there. But as someone close to her, you have an actual shot at making her see what she's doing from a more reality-based perspective. If you really care about her, I think it's worth it.
posted by signalnine at 4:33 PM on August 2, 2010 [2 favorites]


If I were in your position, I think I'd have to consider whether it was conversation fodder or not.

That is, what happens if you bring up your belief that it looks pretty sketchy? Does she ask why, and listen (even if she ultimately disregards you), or does she get defensive? If the former, then you can probably keep going -- after all, she wants kids and you don't, and presumably neither of you gets defensive about the other's position -- but if you can't talk about it, that's probably a deal-breaker.
posted by davejay at 4:36 PM on August 2, 2010 [2 favorites]


So you think she's smart enough to make her own decisions except the ones you don't like?
posted by wayland at 4:36 PM on August 2, 2010 [8 favorites]


Example of this: I have a good friend who is sane as far as I can tell, yet believes in, and practices, cupping. Granted we're not dating or otherwise entwined, but I can say that if it were a verboten subject that she'd get all defensive about, I wouldn't hang out with her as much as I do, if at all, because it's no fun hanging out with people who can't have conversations about things they carry different opinions of. That doesn't mean they have to listen to you being a dick about it, of course -- just that you should be able to acknowledge your different opinions without it being a problem.
posted by davejay at 4:38 PM on August 2, 2010


It's a tough call. Given the casual nature of your relationship, if you're determined you could probably look past the crazy and focus on things you both enjoy. But if you find that you can't respect her any more, end it sooner rather than later.

micawber: This probably isn't the place to fight about OP's attitudes towards woo. It's axiomatic in this question that these things are baloney.
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 4:40 PM on August 2, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'm having trouble reconciling the respect and admiration I have for this wonderful lady, with her involvement in something that is, to me, so ugly and offensive.

Here is what puzzles me: she's by no means unintelligent or lacking in critical thinking skills...


Having recently ended up de-friended (IRL, not on MyFace) by somebody I had long considered a good friend even after she got swept up by a bullshit alt-med MLM scheme, I feel for you but have no advice to offer beyond observing that any attempt to talk this person out of their delusion is not likely to end well for either of you.
posted by flabdablet at 4:43 PM on August 2, 2010


Maybe invite her to go with you to visit a traditional church?
posted by carlh at 4:46 PM on August 2, 2010


People who are involved with each other (on pretty much any level) should be able to talk about things without it devolving into 'mansplaining' or other nastyisms. Sure, bring it up. Have a conversation. As long as you're not making an attempt to make it a lecture or lay down the law or send her to the moon, Alice, have any conversation you like. Conversations are especially good with people who have good critical thinking skills.
posted by sageleaf at 4:49 PM on August 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


I think you will probably split about the kids thing anyway. So don't even bother trying to work the religion thing out.
posted by Kloryne at 4:51 PM on August 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's axiomatic in this question that these things are baloney.

I disagree. Of the four questions provided, the first is: "how do I approach this situation?" One approach to this situation is for anonymous to take a step back from their own belief system, and use this as an opportunity to broaden their worldview. Challenging his/her own belief system is just as legitimate as trying to challenge their partner's. Not to the point where he/she has to start attending the church, but to the point where having other people hold different belief systems isn't a deal breaker. Or at least figuring out why that might be a deal breaker.

There are lots of things that everybody spends money on that don't have any particular benefit, as micawber points out. There's nothing in the question about this particular church demanding huge sums of money, or requiring that participants cut off contact with family and friends (i.e. no signs of an actual cult). Is there any reason you can't just treat this like she's going to the movies once a week? Movies aren't real, they don't seem to provide any particular benefit, but a lot of people find some enjoyment in having a story told to them in a dark theater with a bunch of other people. So, anonymous, would you have the same problem if you were really into sci-fi and she only loved westerns?
posted by one_bean at 4:51 PM on August 2, 2010 [4 favorites]


I don't know how seriously she takes the supernatural content of the sermons.

Why don't you ask her?

It sounds like you are asking permission to mansplain to her why you think she's making a stupid decision. Permission not granted.

Wow, is this ever condescending ... to the OP and the girlfriend.
posted by Jaltcoh at 4:52 PM on August 2, 2010 [11 favorites]


I've been in this sitch before, and I know what happens with me: someone begins to pitch/catch woo and I mentally subtract IQ points. I also find it hard to respect people that believe blatant bullshit.* You write that she's an intelligent woman with education and wit; what the heck is she searching for that the Church of Dust Mote Halo Chakra is giving her?

Common ground with her family? A sense of community? (I for one know that blanket disbelief can be isolating -- or maybe it's coz I'm a judgey bitch.) You may not see it or understand it, but you sure as heck aren't able to provide it.

If you don't really see yourself as having a long-term investment with this sweetie, and both of you are just biding time until the Magical Sex Machine dispenses your lifemate-for-life, I'd say this is the point at which the fork in the road has come into view. See the signpost up ahead? That, my dear is the turnoff to Someone Else.



*Sorry if that offends some of your (commenters') sensibilities; I'm not saying it's a true fact that all woo-woo negates intelligence -- just in my judgey little brain.
posted by kidelo at 4:55 PM on August 2, 2010 [7 favorites]


I don't see the point. This relationship already has long term deal breakers and this is just another one. If it becomes a right here and now deal breaker, well maybe it's worth having a chat about, but otherwise I don't see the point.

I feel the same as you do about this kind of thing, but in my experience the harder who voice your skepticism, the harder they cling onto the fantasy. What you need to understand is that this isn't about logic or evidence, and that's its appeal. This church is obviously fulfilling some emotional need she has. She may lose interest rather quickly, she may dabble in it from time to time, or she may become a full blown devotee (although most won't). I would personally just change the subject every time she brings it up and leave it alone. Let her work it out herself. This really doesn't concern you.

I live in LA, every third person is into this kind of crap here, and while I have to forcefully stop myself from rolling my eyes, I can tell you that every third person in LA has not been sucked into a cult. They haven't been robbed of every penny they have. They still go to doctors and pay their taxes and everything else normal functioning adults do. Sure they might have weird diets. Pay too much for worthless supplements. Spend a lot of time deep breathing to a gong while a long haired guy jumps around the room sprinkling incense and speaking in a fake accent, but whatever it makes them happy. I understand your concerns and why her buying into this huckster's crap drives you a little insane, but you have to let it go. You have no stake in this. You aren't marrying her. You aren't raising children with her. If maintaining your friendship with her is important to you, you have to respect her right to have her beliefs, even if you don't respect her beliefs.
posted by whoaali at 4:59 PM on August 2, 2010 [5 favorites]


1. No, there isn't. She is, as you yourself say, a rational, well-educated adult and as such, is fully capable of making her own decisions.

2. You don't, except perhaps to say "If you decide this isn't the group for you and you need some support pulling away, I'm here for you."

3. The fact this would be a dealbreaker for a long term romance is neither here nor there because this is not a long term romance. It will necessarily end in the natural course of things, regardless of this issue, so it doesn't really make a difference.

However, it sounds like this could well be a dealbreaker for your friendship, never mind the romantic aspect. That's 100% fine - the world is filled with organisations I find objectionable, and friendships I would drop if the two met.

I suggest you take the sexual/romantic aspect out of it and decide if you would drop any close friend who was dabbling in the same religion. If it really isn't something you can cope with because you just cannot respect a theist or a new ager or whatever, you get to make that choice and that's OK. If that's the case, end the relationship and the friendship. Otherwise, suck it up and accept your friend the way she is.
posted by DarlingBri at 5:03 PM on August 2, 2010


I'm sort of directing this How to argue with family comic at one_bean [et al], but I think OP might find it amusing as well.

"Detox diet"..."ear candling"...probably you're at the point where you're sniggering behind this person's back too much to make boffing them a respectable thing to do. Everything isn't "great" between you if you're thinking of her as credulous. Try to keep the friendship, but I think it's dishonest to observe this stuff and pretend you're not, well, not posting this sort of thing on Ask MetaFilter.
posted by kmennie at 5:05 PM on August 2, 2010 [2 favorites]


Why do you want to bother with her if you have such contempt for her interests? I was going to say "beliefs" but we don't even know what she believes in, just that she has attended some events that you disapprove of. Have you ever asked her about her beliefs? Discussed them? Gone with her to the church see what it's about instead of glancing at the website? I can't imagine that you two would be viable as a couple if you can't have a friendly disagreement about something so non-threatening as ear candling. Or would you rather just skip the talking, cut to the chase, and tell her she's wrong? Please do the woman a favor: acknowledge to yourself that you really don't respect her, and leave her alone.
posted by Wordwoman at 5:17 PM on August 2, 2010 [2 favorites]


And yet here she is, spending her free time watching charlatans and self-appointed gurus babble about spirit energy and cosmic vibration. Not just woo-woo, but full-blown, off-the-deep-end, pyramid-power woo-woo.

So, have you asked her what the appeal is? I mean, clearly its filling some need for her. What is that need?

If she was attending, say, a Unitarian church would you be equally dismissive?
posted by anastasiav at 5:24 PM on August 2, 2010 [3 favorites]


she's by no means unintelligent or lacking in critical thinking skills

Your smart-detector might need some recalibrating. She may be intelligent, but she doesn't have critical thinking skills. People who do don't go for this crap, end of story.

1. There's no point trying to discredit the church. If she's emotionally invested in it already, she won't hear anything against it. If she's not that involved yet, maybe she'll drop them, but she'll still have whatever emotional need she has that's pushing her towards them. Talk to her about why she goes there; about what she gets from them, or hopes to get from them.
2. n/a
3. If you can't respect someone who goes for this stuff, then that's pretty much it, sadly. (You're not alone. I wouldn't be able to, either.)
posted by equalpants at 5:27 PM on August 2, 2010 [2 favorites]


If you do decide to continue with the relationship, maybe it would be helpful to hand her a copy of Carl Sagan's "Demon-Haunted World"? This book was written for people like her: smart, educated people who believe in absurd stuff that has no evidence to support it.

Of course, you should also talk to her about it. You say yourself you don't actually know what she thinks; the first step is clarifying this through a respectful discussion. Maybe she's only being dragged along by her friend and doesn't actually place much stock in the whole thing.

Is it ever really necessary to resort to using the word "mansplain"? Not everything has be gendered. Jeesh.</small
posted by Lobster Garden at 5:30 PM on August 2, 2010 [2 favorites]


Now, as I said, I'm a skeptic. I believe, very strongly, that the world would be better off without this kind of thing.

These are two very different things. You can be a skeptic without passing judgement on other people's decisions. Imposing your worldview on everyone else who doesn't agree with you, including people you otherwise respect, is prideful and intolerant. Forget about her, you need to take a good long look at yourself and what you're looking for in a relationship.
posted by infinitefloatingbrains at 5:50 PM on August 2, 2010 [2 favorites]


This might be helpful: Bridging the Chasm between Two Cultures. It's an essay for Skeptical Inquirer by Karla McLaren, an ex-New Age author writing about her transition out of that culture, and the culture clash that makes it impossible for New Agers to listen to skeptics. She says New Age culture is adverse to hostility, which are taken as a sign of being ruled by your emotions, and adverse to skepticism, being ruled by your intellect. An attitude of slightly blissful detachment and soothing calm is essential, it's like a minimum certification that one is telling the truth. Your girlfriend is going through a big and difficult transition, so this detachment and calm is probably what she's after.

Another thing from this essay that is possibly relevant:
One of the biggest falsehoods I've encountered is that skeptics can't tolerate mystery, while New Age people can. This is completely wrong, because it is actually the people in my culture who can't handle mystery—not even a tiny bit of it. Everything in my New Age culture comes complete with an answer, a reason, and a source. Every action, emotion, health symptom, dream, accident, birth, death, or idea here has a direct link to the influence of the stars, chi, past lives, ancestors, energy fields, interdimensional beings, enneagrams, devas, fairies, spirit guides, angels, aliens, karma, God, or the Goddess.
You can see how someone who is going through something would be attracted to a way of thinking that promises to tell her What It All Means, while also providing a way of detaching from it.
posted by AlsoMike at 5:53 PM on August 2, 2010 [9 favorites]


Run. Just run away now.

I've dated Mormons, and Catholics, neo-Buddhists, and lots of people who were "spiritual but not religious." My skepticism and their religion was never really an issue.

And I dated one guy who was really into some space age shit. He was part of a group that thought they were from Antares. Or maybe I was from Antares and they were from Betelgeuse. I forget.

My skepticism and his 'truth' were total deal breakers. It wasn't so much that I didn't believe, as much as it seemed that their religion was less about seeking spiritual truth and more about reinforcing really fucking neurotic behavior. And that's what I'm sensing here.
posted by kanewai at 5:55 PM on August 2, 2010 [3 favorites]


It seems to me that a lot of the answers thus far are not going to be particular helpful to the OP because they reflect people's knee-jerk reactions to something that sets off their own gender, religion/rationality, emotional grievances.

In my general experience, couples where one partner is committed to rationality/skepticism and the other is interested in experimenting with woo don't last long. In your specific case, OP, you have a friendship that includes sex. You don't need to think for a long time about whether this is worth breaking it off. The woo annoys you, and accompanies her both personally and from family. You don't own a house or a car, have kids, etc. and you aren't in any sort of committment situation - in other words, you've acknowledged that you don't have a lot invested in this relationship emotionally or materially. In your shoes, I would break things off and go find someone who didn't spend their time doing something I found stupid, because it's not like cutting ties would be very difficult.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 5:56 PM on August 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


In your first paragraph, you say that you have conflicting life goals that prevent you from having a more serious relationship, and that you know this but want to stay together for now because you're both having fun.

If that's really true, her religion is none of your business. Period. But I'll answer your questions, anyway because AskMe is fun.

Is there any point in trying to convince her that this church is kooky?

No. Firstly, because it won't make a difference - you can't convince her not to be interested in something that fills a need for her. Secondly because, unless something literally criminal/illegal is going on, it's none of your business.

If there isn't a point, how do I proceed?

Are you really such an obnoxiously militant atheist that you can't be friends with people who have different beliefs on the subject than you do? Let it go.
posted by Sara C. at 5:58 PM on August 2, 2010 [6 favorites]


Maybe she's just going to the church to socialize with her work friend?

If not, realise that you are probably not compatible in the mid-long term, and enjoy the ride while it lasts. Try not to burn your bridges when you exit.
posted by HFSH at 6:17 PM on August 2, 2010


1. Is there any point in trying to convince her that this church is kooky?

Unless this group is doing something that is harmful to her (begging for her money, advocating no contact with people outside the group, etc), then, no, you really have no business attempting to convince her to change her beliefs. Beyond that, such attempts will only frustrate both of you and strain your friendship.

3. If there isn't a point, how do I proceed?

You should probably agree to disagree.
posted by The Great Big Mulp at 6:48 PM on August 2, 2010


It's frustrating and sad to realize that someone you care about doesn't have a good grasp of reality. You can fight this fight, but you will almost certainly lose, and likely drive her deeper into this church if you upset her emotionally.

I would gently explain that you can't see her anymore because you don't respect her church (without making it insulting, if possible).
posted by Menthol at 6:53 PM on August 2, 2010


I don't think "mansplaining" is a good word choice at all here; I think you can throw that out.

It's more like... atheisplaining. Yep, I just coined an irritating neomanteau there. There's this pattern I've seen over and over again, in which atheists and self-described rational people encounter religious and new-agey stuff and react with over-the-top shock and derision. Like, to them, anyone who's ever had their palm read is automatically bullshit-guzzling invisible-pink-unicorn sheeple who are obviously incapable of intelligent thought. Your question here is more of the same: "Here is what puzzles me: she's by no means unintelligent or lacking in critical thinking skills." "To me, that's like getting a plate of spaghetti with a big turd nestled on top."

I'm agnostic, and the rational part of my mind tells me there's no such thing as God, but I'd rather hang out with friendly woo-wooers than judgmental atheists, even if I agree with the latter. And if that attitude pushes someone like away, it won't persuade anyone in the woo camp.

If you want to stay friends in whatever capacity, and you feel like you have to say something, keep it casual and friendly and assume she is capable of making her own decisions. You can voice doubt ("that seems pretty culty, are you sure?") without getting into a debate. But you can't convince her either way; that's her own decision to make.
posted by Metroid Baby at 6:54 PM on August 2, 2010 [21 favorites]


I recently found myself in a similar situation where a loved one became involved with a cult-like group. I don't want to sound reactionary, but please don't let the situation slide without doing some investigation first.

I'm not saying your friend is in a cult, but as I've learned, many normal, intelligent people come under the sway of these groups because they fill some sort of spiritual, intellectual, or emotional void. Unlike some other posters here, I firmly believe that if you care about her, it is your business to learn about the group and help her if she is being unduly influenced (even if the actions are not illegal).

Regarding your questions, I found it counterproductive to accuse my loved one of being in a cult, or that her beliefs were absurd, or even engage in a logical argument about those beliefs. Consider how you would feel if someone told you that your atheism is crazy.

Instead, adopt a concerned, yet curious attitude so that you can learn more about the group and her involvement in it. Your main goal is to examine the processes and methods of the group, and not so much the content. I found that Steve Hassan’s and Rick Ross’s websites extremely helpful in identifying the warning signs: Has her personality changed recently? Has she abandoned formerly important goals or plans? Is the group transparent and accountable? Do they believe in a singular, indisputable truth?

Ultimately, if you find that the group is legitimate, but simply has kooky beliefs, you should probably move on for both your sakes. However, if you find that your friend has fallen under the influence of a destructive group, you should consult a therapist or other mental health professional who specializes in cults for advice.

Good luck.
posted by ikaruga at 7:12 PM on August 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


She's been going through a big and difficult transition in her life

and maybe this bullshit church with bullshit beliefs is filled with loving, emotionally open people who welcome this woman into their community and open their arms and hearts to her. If this church is giving her a kind of emotional support and community support that you can't provide, especially as you don't see her every day, then I suggest you try to accept that even people who believe in woo-woo pyramid crystals may have something of value to offer to her.
posted by prefpara at 7:12 PM on August 2, 2010 [4 favorites]


Atheist here as well. Does she know you're a skeptic? I've had many relationships with religious people, and the only breakup due to that was because she wasn't intellectually curious at all (and was automatically offended by conversations that challenged her world view). If you can't speak to her on an intellectual level, such that she can't agree to disagree, then abandon ship.

You sound like me many years ago, so I think you will agree that most religions have some patent absurdity in them, beyond the existence of something beyond the universe. Catholic dogma implies a literal transubstantiation of the eucharist to the body of Christ. Budhists and Hindus believe in reincarnation. And so on. Vibrations and crystals drive me nuts, but they are not necessarily more absurd than mainstream religions. They're just less mainstream.

So do you feel the same way about her new-agey woo-woo and the classic, centuries old woo-woo of mainstream religions? If not, you need to re-evaluate your objections to her worldview. If so, it seems a waste to resign yourself to dating nothing but atheists and skeptics. People aren't necessarily bad for having a different worldview than you, even if you (and I) consider it absurd.

tl;dr: If she can't agree to disagree, you should move on. If you can't agree to disagree, she should move on.
posted by bessel functions seem unnecessarily complicated at 7:18 PM on August 2, 2010


OP, it seems like you desperately want this girl to be a certain kind of person (i.e. one who thinks woo-woo stuff is patently bullshit), but are struggling with the fact that she is clearly not that kind of person. You describe her as if she skeptical except for being into a New Age chakra church, ear candling, and detoxification. That's like me saying I am a vegetarian except for beef, fish, and chicken.

Accept her as she is or break it off if you can't; trying to remake this New Age girl into a skeptic is way too controlling for a healthy relationship and is certain to end in tears and recrimination. The church's views about pyramids and chakras are laughable as empirical claims,* but the feeling of obligation to correct mistaken beliefs is going to do you more harm in the end than her mistaken beliefs about the power of pyramids.

*to say nothing of the racist noble savage/exoticizing that is involved in the New Age appropriation of other religious practices (or at least what New Agers take those practices to be), a whole other area of complaint about woo practices in the West.
posted by Marty Marx at 7:41 PM on August 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


From the essay that AlsoMike linked:
What I see in the tragic clash between the New Age and skeptical cultures is that, for the most part, the skeptics have not yet been able to speak in a way that can be heard.
At least for this skeptic - child of a father who wandered off into woo-woo land and stayed there until it killed him, and recently-unrequited friend of a former good friend apparently on the same road - it's not been for want of trying. My present view is that short of unethically coercive brainwashing there is simply no way to teach skeptical critical thinking to a person with a large emotional investment in a non-skeptical belief system.

At the very root of any non-skeptical worldview are sacred truths that are not to be questioned. It follows that anybody who would want to question those sacred truths has got something badly wrong with them and is not to be trusted. Persistence, no matter how gentle, in questioning the sacred truths automatically gets interpreted as hostility, and raises the barrier even further. Unlike the essayist, I don't think this is about cultural insensitivity on the skeptical side; I think it's inherent in the nature of non-skeptical belief systems.

The core of skepticism is a willingness to identify one's personal axiom set and treat it as a collection of working assumptions, all of which are potentially susceptible to being modified or discarded in the light of careful and correct reasoning as well as direct experience.

To the non-skeptic, the idea of a worldview without sacred truths is unimaginable or terrifying or self-evidently broken or all of the above. The skeptical worldview is therefore misconstrued as having its own sacred truth, which is that reason is the only appropriate tool for coming to an understanding of the world and our own place in it, and the skeptic is viewed as an often unnecessarily rude and aggressive promoter of that view who simply refuses to agree to disagree.

But non-skeptics are not, despite all appearances, simply putting hands over ears and shouting "la la la I can't hear you". They don't have to do that, because they have an inbuilt Cone of Silence made of sacred truths to do it for them, and it works very, very well.

As a skeptic, I find this very, very sad. It seems to me that non-skeptics are missing so much that's beautiful and wonderful and awesome and contenting themselves instead with shabby imitations of what reality has to offer, and that they provide a ready market for unspeakably unethical pricks who prey on their willingness to believe. I'm also very sad that there's apparently precious little I can do about that.

But I'm open to being shown to be wrong :-)
posted by flabdablet at 7:47 PM on August 2, 2010 [6 favorites]


If you can no longer respect her, you shouldn't be having sex with her anymore. Let her go. Spend your energies finding a compatible woman for the long haul. It will be more satisfying in the end.
posted by marble at 8:48 PM on August 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


Now, as I said, I'm a skeptic. I believe, very strongly, that the world would be better off without this kind of thing. I'm having trouble reconciling the respect and admiration I have for this wonderful lady, with her involvement in something that is, to me, so ugly and offensive.

You're really not as logical and rational as you think you are. What's so different between this church and yoga classes? Between this church and the Catholic church? Between this church and the notion of patriotism? You may be skeptical, but it doesn't follow that non-skeptical people and ideas are "ugly and offensive." Unless you really think about and understand why someone might be interested in religion/spirituality, you're missing a huge piece of the picture of what it means to be a human being. What you do seem to have is a knee-jerk, visceral prejudice against "woo," which you're calling "skepticism." Sure, you may not want to date someone into woo, but that's not because you're a superior human being to them. You're just different.

And I say this being the most atheistic atheist that I know.
posted by yarly at 8:54 PM on August 2, 2010


In my experience, people have religion / faith for three primary reasons:
  1. They're brought up in a particular set of beliefs as children and never deeply question it.
  2. As adults, they stay in congregations for community and a sense of purpose.
  3. They experience a crisis in life and turn to faith for solace or meaning.
From what you've described, all three are true for your girlfriend: influenced by her mother and sister as a child, she is now shopping around for some raison d'erte after what you've described as a stressful time. I feel that it's important to understand that all of these are present: she's doing this for a reason, one that makes sense to her.

I disagree with many of the other comments. You're concerned for someone that you feel may be going off the deep end. While she's not yet causing harm (and yes, folks, ear candling can be physically harmful) you're worried about the direction her search is taking her, and that's reasonable. You're afraid of losing your friend, and perhaps worried that any kind of intervention or questioning will cross some boundary and break what you have, or require a greater commitment from you than you've had to present thus far.

If you do choose to question, I would try to rely on the analytical abilities that she has developed, while recognising that she is seeking some kind of solace. You have to be prepared for you to be that source of comfort if the line of inquiry causes her new-found faith to be scuttled. If you're not, it's best to let her go on her way.

I would approach any kind of questioning with respect, and rely on leading questions to try to make her work through the lack of logic of her new-found faith. "I'm interested in the yogi institute - can you tell me more about it?" could be an opener. "Why?" and "really?" should be used a lot. Let her talk. It's a strong instinct in most skeptics to attack a belief that they see as inherently illogical and flawed, but this is not a debate. This is a conversation between friends. You may well find that this is far more about feelings than anything else. Let her talk about those too.

At the end of the conversation(s), if she's still subscribing to the woo, then you have the right to say "Look, I care for you, but I am really worried by what these people are claiming, and where your faith might take you. I recognise that this search is important to you, but reason is really important to me, and I'm concerned that those two things are incompatible."

It's possible that she really does have the ability to compartmentalize her mind: there are plenty of scientists who are also Christians (although the percentage of believers falls as you move upwards in education and ability). It doesn't mean that you have to tolerate it, or stick with her. Don't make your choice an ultimatum: try to deal, but make her aware of your discomfort.
posted by Bora Horza Gobuchul at 9:03 PM on August 2, 2010 [3 favorites]


I think if this is important to you, you should talk to her about it. As an atheist/skeptic, I often have conversations with my mom about her beliefs in what I think is woo. She likes to argue, but I think usually she ends up listening to my points, even if she doesn't agree. I even loaned her my copy of Michael Shermer's Why People Believe Weird Things, and she read it.

Just think about what your goal is. If you expect to convince her, then you will likely be disappointed, and it will be a dealbreaker. But if you just want to have an open conversation about something that concerns you, then talk to her. You'll probably have to be willing to agree to disagree.
posted by lexicakes at 9:04 PM on August 2, 2010


This is pretty common, especially after a "big and difficult transition" -- slightly more than half of the atheists I knew in college sold out to religion within two years of graduation. It's been 10 years, and none have come back to the trip, so to speak. I'm skeptical (heh!) that they ever will.

I live in a super-hippie area, and have quite a few friends who believe in this sort of crystal/chakra/psychic healing stuff. I deal with it on a "live and let live" basis.... but at the same time, it's one of the distinguishing differences between my acquaintance-friends and friend-friends. If this is a friend-friend -- and it sounds like she is -- then this would be a deal-breaker for me over the long term (your "turd in the spaghetti" metaphor is bang-on). This is more than just a minor matter of opinion; it's a fundamental difference in worldview, and one that tends to have a huge influence on the real-world concerns that are involved in friendship.

There are people out there who can share in the "huge piece of the picture of what it means to be a human being" that you've already got -- why settle for someone who's too busy trying to solve the other side of the puzzle?

Talk to her, and hear her out -- I like Bora Horza Gobuchul's approach -- but prepare to let her go.
posted by vorfeed at 9:33 PM on August 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


If you tell her something that feels right to her is wrong and she believes you, it is taking something away from her that she needs without replacing it with something else to fill that hole. She will resist this for obvious reasons. And frankly, I don't blame her. I am a huge atheist but will certainly spend time with astrology even though part of me knows it's bullshit because sometimes, we just have to do what we can to pretend like the universe is orderly, predictable, and comprehensible.

So replace this negative with a positive that fills the same need. Add to her ability to nurture herself spiritually. Redirect her interest and curiosity in a positive way. A good way to do this is to respect the underlying resonance of the belief system, but make sure she has multiple positive resources to turn to. Get her a book about chakras, for example. Talk to her about it and see what really intrigues her about it and go with that in various directions.

Respect as much as you can about what she's doing. You think it would be unpleasant for you, and I'm sure it would be. But she needs something and she has chosen this. None of us is perfectly rational anyway.

I have had some success with this but the key is to really listen and respect the fact that they need something, and that needing things that don't make perfect sense is okay.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 9:33 PM on August 2, 2010 [3 favorites]


Also I have to say that breaking up with her when she's going through a really rough time, because she is making a mistake in logic (during a really rough time) and taking solace in something unideal (during a really rough time) does not seem necessary. In fact, it seems a bit cruel--have you never made a mistake when your world was falling apart around you?
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 9:42 PM on August 2, 2010


You don't mention how old she is or you are. So, using my totally stereotyping deductive reasoning I'll say she's early to mid twenties. (Because if it's a "I'm turning 30" crisis, there's no predicting it, and if you were in your late 30s, early 40s the kids thing would be a deal breaker at this point.)

I'm the kid of a new age mom. I'm veteran of Ouija boards and tinctures of squash flower in whiskey to reset my... whatever the crystals placed on chakras didn't cure.

I grew out of it. Seriously -- yes, yes, cultness can keep you insulated and not thinking.

So, the people that tried to actively tell me that was bullshit -- they're no longer around in my life. I saw them as negative, meddlers, people who were full of negative energy just to drag me down.
The people who obviously were uncomfortable when I talked about things but just tried to listen silently or change the subject, I still am friends with a lot of them. And being able to be around them and talk about the news or the glowbugs or video games or things we'd do downtown kept me sane and grounded and not completely immersed in the empathic brainwaves crowd.

So, when all my problems didn't magically disappear and no amount of crystals or positive vibes made life awesome (or in my case, I needed emergency surgery after going to a crystal healer who was trying to rebalance me), I no longer had faith in the hooey. It wasn't cold turkey, mind you. I just phased out the really intense new agers. Then the crystals. Then homeopathic "medicine."

I still read tarot cards occasionally -- enough that my skeptic husband rolls his eyes at me when I pull out the deck. But I can tell you 23 reasons it's a con game and how I can get your tells and play off your emotional responses to "read" your cards for you.

So, just tell her it worries you because you worry about her and anyone who's selling spirituality -- and then let it go. Do the things you like to do together. Don't be shocked if she cuts you out of her life. But be there for her and be clear that, while you don't want to talk about this belief system, you understand that she's a smart, beautiful woman who wants to find answers and you don't judge her for it (OK, it's a lie. But try.). That will make you a good pseudo boyfriend/friend with benefits/etc. and someone she can trust when her -- inevitable -- doubts come up. And when they do come up, just listen. Don't pile on the, "I know, right, it's so stupid." But ask probing questions that let her do the thinking for herself. Because if you do the thinking for her, you're not letting her develop the mental callouses she'll need to avoid The Secret or Landmark or Scientology later down the road.
posted by Gucky at 9:50 PM on August 2, 2010


I feel like a lot of the comments are missing the point: This church was founded in order to defraud its members, and to exploit/use people. It's unhealthy in ways that many large, broad-based religions are not. OP's girlfriend is on the road to being exploited, for money, labor power, or worse, and as a caring friend, he is trying to prevent it.

It's most likely she has a need that needs to be fulfilled, but just because this charlatan is fulfilling it doesn't mean it's OK. It's like giving someone with an iodine deficiency some iodized rat poison because it's more convenient than going down to the store and buying table salt.

You need to help her identify her need and guide her to viable alternatives before they tell her that you've got bad-colored chakras and she shouldn't hang out with people like you.
posted by Jon_Evil at 10:55 PM on August 2, 2010


Are you *certain* that this church is a scam; that the leaders are huckster hypocrites? You have solid evidence beyond the fact that they take donations? I've met people who insist that churches are intentional scams, and they won't consider that perhaps the church leaders actually believe what they preach. Labeling all churches as "hucksters" is intellectually dishonest trickery, a symptom of dogmatic belief, and opens that skeptic position to (valid quite needed) attack.

As for much of the rest ...don't follow the church dogma or the Skeptic dogma, instead test it yourself. Let the experiment be made. It can even be fun. Ear candling: does it still work when the waxpaper cone is stuck into a tiny flower vase? Same brown wax? And you're certainly wrong if you think it's a dust mote on the camera lens. Instead it's a dust mote hovering a couple cm IN FRONT of the camera lens where it's lit up by the flash. The camera effect can easily be demonstrated with water mist from a spray bottle, or by shaking a dustrag. If "Orbs" were usually stuck to the lens, they'd be far easier to debunk, since multiple photos would all show the same defect in the same place.

Perhaps of interest:

Skeptics vs New Agers: Bridging the Chasm (CSICOP)

Proper Criticism (CSICOP)
posted by billb at 2:48 AM on August 3, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'm going to repost something I wrote a while back ...

The 10 Percent / 100 Percent Rule

by Cool Papa Bell


I read this 10/100 Percent Rule from Cool Papa Bell the other time he posted it a while back. While it was too late for me - I had had to figure it out on my own - I must say it matches my life experience perfectly and has been one of my most fundamental guiding principles in choosing relationships ever since.

Thanks Cool Papa Bell. I owe you a spliff.
posted by CautionToTheWind at 3:44 AM on August 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


You can be a skeptic without passing judgement on other people's decisions.

No, you really can't. People are what they believe, what they say, and how they act. Recognising that somebody's beliefs, words and actions are batshit looney tunes is a judgment about that person. There's no "Honey, I've noticed that despite being in a clear position to know better, you believe in imaginary things, talk about those beliefs, and act them out accordingly" and leaving it at that, because you've just summoned a giant sulky white elephant to sit in the corner of your relationship. An elephant wearing a t-shirt that says 'I'M WITH STUPID".
posted by obiwanwasabi at 4:24 AM on August 3, 2010 [3 favorites]


I feel like a lot of the comments are missing the point: This church was founded in order to defraud its members

I am not sure how Jon_Evil has reached this conclusion based on the factual evidence in the question, but I think it does point to an important distinction that the OP needs to be clear on in his own mind. The currently fashionable trend for loudly declaring oneself a rationalist/skeptic/atheist obscures the fact that there are at least four types of behavior covered up by that silly, unhelpful umbrella term "woo":

1. People who are simply out to defraud other people;
2. People who sincerely believe factual claims about the world that are not supported by the evidence and which are potentially dangerous (the anti-vaccine people, for example);
3. People who engage in things of a broadly "new age" flavor as a pastime, whether visiting psychics or having their chakras jiggled, which may have no scientific basis, but which, equally, doesn't demand or claim such a basis, in much the way that most of your hobbies probably don't;
4. People who, frankly, have a much more nuanced understanding of the limits of science as a comprehensive worldview than most self-styled rationalists, and understand enough philosophy to realize that "skepticism", on its own, is a radically incomplete basis for addressing the experience of being alive.

These people require very different approaches. 1 & 2 are very different from 3 & 4. It matters which of these you think is involved here, both in terms of the organization itself, and this person's motivations.
posted by game warden to the events rhino at 4:55 AM on August 3, 2010 [5 favorites]


Something you have to remember is that you are entitled to your beliefs, and she is entitled to hers. If you sit her down and "mansplain" or "atheisplain" (thanks, MetroidBaby!) you probably will just make her defensive, and it's highly unlikely she'll say "Eureka! I was a fool to believe all this! Thank you, Anonymous, you're my hero!" People usually discover these things by themselves. Karla McLaren's move from New Age to skeptic seems to have been a slow process over many years, and I doubt it was caused by a conversation or two with a well-meaning friend.

Also, consider whether you are far enough in her inner circle to be allowed to tell her things "for her own good." For me, that's about three people, tops. Do you want to trigger a "you sound like my parents" or "none of your business" reaction? Any conversation you have with this friend must be phrased in a way that does NOT come across as an adult lecturing a teenager or a well meaning nosey Parker butting in "for your own good."

Finally: is it even worth the energy? Are you still young and in the process of going to school, traveling, moving for a career, etc.? Do you expect to be lifelong friends with this girl? Since marriage and children are not in the future for you, maybe you want to save your energy and find a nice skeptic girl who is already on your wavelength?
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 6:06 AM on August 3, 2010


I hestitate to call it a fling—that sounds so trivial, and we've become quite close and important to each other—but it's not quite a full-blown relationship, either.

She's been going through a big and difficult transition in her life—in which I've done my best to support her, in a manner appropriate to our relationship—

Even though I'm obviously conflicted on this issue, I do have a lot of respect and affection for her.



I wonder - though you say she's happy with the terms of your relationship - whether she wants some firmer support (I say this not to be unkind but because I was in a quasi-relationship during a horrid time in my life and it was hard to know how much to lean on that person) and churches/cults are good at proffering some simulacra of love that may seem to her to fill the gap that you're unable/unwilling/don't feel appropriate enough to do so. Though, really, I agree it's not really your business. Help her as much as you can as a friend, but don't tell her what to do. It's hard, but there's little you can do if this is her choice.


"The 10 Percent / 100 Percent Rule

If she seems to be crazy 10 percent of the time, she is 100 percent crazy and is not a valid choice for dating and/or relationships.

Many men will overlook signs of deep-seated neuroses, for various reasons (e.g. the sex is good, she laughs at your jokes, your mom/friends like her, she's got a great ass).

You need to attune yourself to these warning signs. Observe the 10 Percent / 100 Percent Rule. If you catch yourself thinking things like, "She's sure is quirky," or "What the fuck was that all about?", you need to get out, fast."


As someone with bipolar disorder, I find this really quite insulting. And I think I'd be pretty worried if I met someone my age and they *didn't* have a neurosis of some kind.
posted by mippy at 6:51 AM on August 3, 2010 [3 favorites]


I am not sure how Jon_Evil has reached this conclusion based on the factual evidence in the question
I should have added "if it seems like" or some conditional to my apoplectic warnings, sorry. But I based my judgment on the description of the website venerating the swami and church leaders and their "wisdom," which is very strongly cult-like shady behavior. Think about the difference between the level of control that Bishops or Cardinals have over their parishioners versus the control the leaders of Scientology have over their adherents. That is what set off my danger detector.
posted by Jon_Evil at 8:21 AM on August 3, 2010


You can't convince her of squat. Don't bother. I'd probably say something like: I think you are engaging in a potentially damaging situation. I won't stop you but I don't have to help or approve. I hope I'm wrong about my skepticism and you'll have a good life with whatever you do, but if I'm right and you need help disengaging from it, I'll be here.

Then I'd leave her alone to pursue the cult. It's out of your hands and fighting it won't work. Sometimes you just have to let go and let people make their own mistakes.
posted by chairface at 10:59 AM on August 3, 2010


Regardless of what she believes in, if you don't respect her, don't have sex with her. I've been in your situation re: the casual ladyfriend into superstitious woo. I eventually realized that I didn't actually like her, I really just liked her fabulous body and awesome sex, and that's an unhealthy objectifying reason to be in a relationship. It sounds like y'all have much more in common than my ex-ladyfriend and I. You could sit down and watch Dawkin's Enemies of Reason. She may be willing to listen to Dawkins if she is a lover of all things Darwinian. I think you should at least talk to her about your concerns.

Additionally, I agree with Cool Papa Bell's controversial "The 10 Percent / 100 Percent Rule." I'll just say that I've watched 'quirky' turn into 'full-on unbelievable dealbreaking meltdown;' the reddest red flags are the smallest ones, but I think the rule doesn't apply in this situation.

Oh, one more thing [puts on announcer-voice]:
D-D-D-DEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAALLLLLLBREAKERRRRRRRRRR!!!! [airhorn:] BWA-BWAA-BWAAA-BWAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA

posted by fuq at 1:00 PM on August 3, 2010


[few comments removed - stop the fighty derail or go to metatalk. please. thank you.]
posted by jessamyn at 1:56 PM on August 3, 2010


How about asking your friend to help you out with this problem you're having?

The way you've described this relationship and your issues with it suggests that you think it's all about a problem she's having—her credulous failure to judge the world and to build her understanding of reality as you've done—and you're struggling to know whether it's worth your time to try to fix that for her. Like she's starting to develop features that make you wonder how well she actually fits into your otherwise fine collection of well-designed, suitable things. It's certainly too bad when our stuff starts to reveal features we'd rather not have to deal with, but the solution is easy: Fix or throw out. After all, what else do we owe our stuff? Gratitude or self-analysis isn't part of the equation… It suits us or it doesn't.

Question is, do the people we've chosen to be, or simply are, in relationships with, owe us, or do we maybe owe them?
posted by dpcoffin at 6:39 PM on August 3, 2010 [3 favorites]


It sounds like you might be projecting some of your insecurities onto her. Your atheism sounds more dogmatic than her participation in this church. From the outside perspective, it seems like she's exploring something but hasn't decided, but you've decided and won't budge or even allow for her exploration.

I suggest you tell her exactly how you feel about it, and what you think of her interest in this, and explain your beliefs to her. And then decide if together if you both want to continue the relationship. There's no reason to fear having that conversation.
posted by jardinier at 8:54 PM on August 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


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