i’m reading a fairly good book right now: The Nones Are Alright: A New Generation of Believers, Seekers, and Those in Between by Kaya Oakes.

(obligatory ehhhhh-ing about spectra and a constant “seeking”/questioning, and where do you plot atheists and quoi folks who reject this model)

it’s one person writing about interviewing a lot of other people, but with so many direct quotes it almost feels like an anthology. there’s definite bias, but it’s farrrr better acknowledged and balanced then the trite Finding Your Religion by McLennan, a UU reverend who subscribes to universal “faith stages” and an all-beliefs-are-simply-different-perspectives-of-the-same-thing homogeny that i abhor.

anyway. those, plus Inside/Outside by Jenny Hayworth, and numerous online articles (including Leong’s on negative identity, which i’ll post about soon), are what i’ve been reading. and i watched the militant atheist documentary The Unbelievers on netflix.

now. Oakes just mentioned that “islam” is the arabic word for “submission” — and a quick search seems to confirm this is true specifically for the religious usage.

combine this with “i surrender all” (one of the christian songs i deeply remember), the altar calls to give yourself up to god, and of course “wives submit ye to your husbands,”

along with how Hayworth talked about being subordinate to the jehovah’s witness community/elders and trained to suborn her concerns to their interpretations and doctrine,

and also how dawkins and krauss talk about throwing away anything contradicted by (current) fact, and how one must trust the scientific process and nothing else,

….and i’m wondering if submission = fundamentalism / dogmatism, or what.

aaaaaand i throw in wonders about submission as empowering/freeing, and kink.  and then wonder about 24/7 and safewords and ongoing consent and having alternative options to get those needs/desires met.

submission is not a bad thing, but it is certainly a heavily exploited thing.  (“real power” is nooot in the hands of the submitters, etc.)

and forced liberation without listening to the individual is, y’know, coercive and savior politics and maybe colonialist?

i guess what i’m wondering is, how do individuals navigate submitting/not to their beliefs? (letting alone organizational structures.)

the whole “let go and let god” and being at peace with que sera sera.  but when is that hindering.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯ words.


16 thoughts on “faith/submission

  1. From my study of islam. It’s definitely true it means submission. Salaam, peace, shares the same root (but is not the same thing as islam as some people like to say). If I remember correctly, islam has…a connotation of safety. In a similar vein, Muslims are often called slaves/servants of God (that’s literally what the name Abdullah means). This kind of thing is often considered to be the ultimate equalizer. God on one level, and all people on the other. Piety being the only measure that really matters (but no one has a piety-o-meter except God, so (ideally) people shouldn’t judge on this).
    I don’t think I really hear Muslims talk about “giving it up to God” quite so much. Muslim thought tends to be more action-oriented than (American, protestant) Christianity. We often talk about the constant struggle (jihad) to find out the best way to proceed in life that is in accordance with God’s laws.
    I mean, there’s talk about God’s will, but…hmm. I guess we don’t talk about giving up our own control for that? God’s in control no matter what. We can find a sense of peace in God; I just don’t think that’s necessarily related to relinquishing anything? I dunno.
    >i guess what i’m wondering is, how do individuals navigate submitting/not to their beliefs?
    I’m not sure what submitting to beliefs is? To the beliefs themselves, or to other things having to do with religion? Like…taking on beliefs is a restriction of the infinite possibilities?
    Also, trying to think what kind of safeword would even apply to submission to God lol I can only think of running towards God more.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Or just. Thinking about this a little further. I’d like to see thoughts from people who grew up in vs converted to Islam or similar. Cuz it’s like. Things like wives submitting to husbands, and people submitting to religious authority…these are real issues in Islam. But I didn’t grow up with any of this, so it’s very easy for me to keep them separate from my experience of the religion (except trying to stop these toxic things). But not everyone has that. Many people do have their experiences and toxic ideas they’ve been exposed to affect their personal feelings on religion. I mean, I guess that’s just how things work. Life: it affects things.
    I can’t say I had a very strong atheist upbringing either. It was almost entirely silence from my parents (I didn’t learn their religious views until adulthood). But they did try to encourage thinking ability. And I think especially my dad likes “objectivity.” And well, objectivity’s nice and all but it’s kinda an unreachable ideal. A worthy ideal, but if you pursue it too hard you might ignore the biases you do have to imagine that you’ve reached it.

    Submitting to your beliefs…. well. I think after this I can say that having the ability to have strong separation between ideals and terrible realities…probably does help. I don’t have negative personal associations to work through regarding having beliefs (well, not in a way that I would use “submitting” as a word).
    And what I was thinking about before. One type of negative association I have had with taking on beliefs in restriction. I didn’t like not being able to participate in a lot of things because they conflict with Islam. But I’m not sure I would call this “submitting to belief” either.

    Liked by 1 person

    • “And I think especially my dad likes ‘objectivity.’ And well, objectivity’s nice and all but it’s kinda an unreachable ideal. A worthy ideal, but if you pursue it too hard you might ignore the biases you do have to imagine that you’ve reached it.”


      Although… *is* it a worthy ideal? If objectivity is the absence of valuing one thing over another, why do we value it?

      Liked by 1 person

      • (Sorry this got super SUPER long!)

        I’m not sure if that’s how I think of objectivity. Maybe it is? Like….trying to find a universally applicable truth. Something that’s true for everyone, or for any applicable situation; fixed, absolute, not relative.
        Like the scientific “laws” of the universe. I guess, I can’t say that objectivity’s a neutrality of values, but when searching for an objective truth, as if the truth is a law underlying the workings of reality. Like you have to…nullify all values to get to it, otherwise they’re too opaque–you can’t see through the values to the truth beneath.
        But these values, or biases…can’t really go away. They can only be recognized and accounted for (to a degree).

        People are always looking for objective truths. Like, perhaps, a model for reality, in sexual orientation. Other societies use different models, perhaps based off of actions rather than how you feel. That itself isn’t necessarily a threat to the other model…like looking at reality from another angle. But the more I read about these sorts of things, all these quests for truths….the more I find all the people who don’t fit. The more I find all the little inconsistencies, or the ways our perceptions of ourselves change based on what ideas we’ve been exposed to…. These models have stopped seeming very real. Like the whole concept that we can capture reality.
        I guess it’s like. The line between objectivity and subjectivity has stopped being so distinct to me. You maybe can work towards objectivity….but it’s like trying to reach infinity. Is a 100 on the objectivity scale any closer to reaching infinity than 10? (I actually would model this better as y=1/x, with objectivity as y=0. But I’m afraid there might be too much math here already).
        Maybe I can say, it’s like you can only have subjectivity? Less objective subjectivity, and more objective subjectivity…

        But anyway. I do think objectivity is valuable. But there are so many ways it can go wrong.

        Liked by 1 person

      • “I’m not sure if that’s how I think of objectivity. Maybe it is?”

        Huh, okay. I had assumed you meant objectivity in the sense of “being objective” (as a thing a person does (or tries to do)).

        “Like the whole concept that we can capture reality.
        I guess it’s like. The line between objectivity and subjectivity has stopped being so distinct to me.”

        You might appreciate reading some Nietzsche, lol.


      • More Math More Math More Math

        the math bit makes super sense to me. yeahhhh objectivity as Ideal and Truth but like. actually impossible and in practice used to set a default and obscure biases and context.

        (i love coy’s words about valuing being valuefree. heh heh heh.)

        iiiii Also don’t know what “submitting to belief” is. like…..when i reread my post, i’m like oh yeah yep this. and then i read the comments and i’m like…oh wow yeah what the hell am i talking about. @___@

        i dunno. i think the whole Al-Anon thing is really relevant here to what i’m sensing-and-resisting. the whole, you Have to Decide to Submit to a Higher Power because you yourself cannot control anything not even yourself.

        that and, cults and toxic religion as being about perfect Authority and isolating from the world and dedicating all of your finances and time and energy to service/submission.

        like…yeah i don’t think that’s All religion, def. it’s just So Much of what i’ve seen and been finding, and it seems related to fundamentalism and dogma. and a healthy relationship within that structure feels mind-boggling.

        and yeahhhh restriction of infinite possibilities. giving up on certain interpretations/choices? closing doors. i get so hung up on that even as part of ANY decision. opportunity cost. LOSS of choice/agency by…making a choice/exercising agency. What the Hell.


  3. queenieofaces says:

    …I keep remembering that the groups I study are SUPER DIFFERENT from what’s usually referred to as “religion.” Submission isn’t…really a major part of Shinto or Buddhism or most NRMs, except in terms of patriarchal structures, which arguably aren’t always part of the “doctrine” so much as part of the societal context in which the doctrine is practiced.

    Anyway, long story short, I don’t think submission = fundamentalism/dogmatism, unless you’re defining those terms super narrowly.

    (Also, I think a lot of what you’re talking about here supposes a very individual connection with God/deities/the sacred/whatever, which is definitely NOT the dominant form of connection in a fair number of East Asian religions. Communal religion is a big thing, to the extent that individual connection has been historically stigmatized in some cases.)

    Liked by 2 people

    • hmmmmmmmmmmm. ooh now i’m thinking about fundamentalism in NRMs and Shinto. :0

      (i have some sort of…probably because christian-lensed folks wrote about it, interpretation of buddhism as having a fundamentalist aspect with One Truth and all? even if multiple paths, still One Final Destination [lmao fox-only no items]. but then, i guess anything can be fundamentalist when boiled down into…fundamentals and strident “this is how this approach works.”)

      that’s a very good point about communal religion, and it makes me wonder about conformity as submission to community…


      • queenieofaces says:

        Yeah, I guess it depends on how you define “fundamentalism”? Because I’m trying to think of a definition that would make sense to apply to Shinto or NRMs (or even some types of Buddhism), and I’m getting a bit of a divide by zero error. “Fundamentalism” tends to refer to a very literal interpretation of scripture, and Shinto’s…lack of scripture tends to impede that. Also, what about religions that are based around the revelations of a charismatic leader? Do those count as “scripture” in the same way as the Bible? What if they’re recorded, not written down? etc. etc.


      • that’s very true! hm hmm. i suppose my, non-academic definition of fundamentalism, which is maybe combining with in reading about cults at this point, would be…rigidity and hostility and self-righteousness? maybe with extremeness like either secluding-from-world-entirely or aggressive evangelizing?

        but that’s definitely not what the word came from. it’s just…..dobson *shakes fist*.


  4. “i guess what i’m wondering is, how do individuals navigate submitting/not to their beliefs?”

    I don’t really… think of it in those terms? Especially since I consider my “beliefs” (lol) a part of my own consciousness, so there’s not really a separate subject and object to submit to, any more than I can… submit to my own self. But, hm. It’s something to think on.


  5. Sieketya says:

    “i guess what i’m wondering is, how do individuals navigate submitting/not to their beliefs?”

    Augh yeah that whole deciding whether or not to sort of say to yourself, “frick, I *do* seem to believe this,” and kind of just *go* with it or not thing. When to trust your own feelings. I recently found myself saying the sentence “I don’t have faith in my own faith,” where that second instance of the word “faith” means not like a religious organization or anything but just… my own feelings of belief and trust around certain things. I don’t trust my own trust. It’s. A problem.

    But yeah, I feel this.

    Liked by 1 person

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