Friday, April 23, 2010

Identity: Ground Zero

So it's very late but I have some thoughts that need to hit the key board before they fly away into the night. I was flipping through the channels tonight and stumbled upon some sort of a random university channel. A professor of psychology was discussing the sociology and psychology of religion and its effects on identity. According to research and studies religion creates a strong sense of identity, community and "safety" for people. Those who are involved in a religious circle are far less prone to depression and health issues. Church and religion form a sort of mental safety net for people in which their identity is so deeply rooted that the dependence on them can lift and alter psychiatric problems, addiction, etc. The conclusion one might make in regards to these studies could be that in our religious communities we depend on God through one another, but I beg to differ and here's why. The study didn't include any Christians who were outside of the religious system. What happens if you take people out of these systems and leave them to rely solely on God? I would love to see a study conducted on Christians who leave the system and find out what happens to their identity at that point. I think that far more of our identity is enmeshed within our social circles that we would be willing to admit.

I began to analyze this fact and have been realizing that as a Christian my identity became extremely wrapped up in the church and my social network within the church. This is shocking to me because I have never been one to "go with the flow" and I pride myself on being an individualist....but I'm seeing that somehow, somewhere I traded in my identity for one that is not my own. The absolutely insane part of this whole thing is that we're bombarded with messages in the church about having our identity, "rooted and grounded" in Christ, but when it comes down to it the system simply will not allow us to do this! The unspoken rules of the Christian sub culture dominate. Our dependence is fully on one another for what to think, how to think, what questions to ask, and when where what and how we do everything - that we have bought into a herd mentality.

I'm going to change the channel now, (literally.) I flip the channel to watch one of my favorite shows of all time - Project Runway. For those of you who don't know I love to sew and design, and I adore watching design shows. The finale is on tonight, and three designers are competing for first place. They each have designed a clothing collection which will be shown at Bryant Park - one of the biggest fashion shows in the country. Although they all have a successful show only one person is chosen to be winner. The winner has not only had a successful eye catching show, but he pushes the envelope with his design and takes it up a notch. His line has matured and his designs are creative and innovative, (and incredible, I would wear any one of them in a heart beat!) The other designers collections are amazing as well, beautiful and well done - but they lack new inspiration and growth in the design. By taking his designs to "a new level" the designers clothes became distinct and individual. The winner said, "I'm a risk taker, I feel you have to push the envelope all the time, otherwise you're going to blend in." My identity is in the process of unraveling; the knots and tangles of religion are being slowly sorted out. I want to be able to go to Bryant Park someday and win...but for now I find myself pulling apart the knots one at a time...

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