Friday, August 28, 2009

The Religious Fanatic and the Criminally Insane

Phillip Garrido, the kidnapper and rapist of 11-year-old Jaycee Lee Dugard, listens to angels. Not only that, but he believes that he has God-given powers to speak in an "unearthly" language used by angels. He is convinced he was being used by God to bring about the salvation of humanity. Garrido had a penchant for wandering the neighborhood distributing religious tracts and quoting Bible verse.

I'm wondering just how similar are the religious fanatic and the criminally insane. Both seem to hear voices, believe in angels, and believe that they are 'chosen' by a god who lives in some spiritual realm above the clouds. Some even have blogs; Garrido did. They love to drop Bible verses too.

Is there a fine line between the two? Is there a osmotic membrane separating the religious nut from the insane? Does intense religiosity demand the lifting of the curtain that separates reality from imagination? And, if so, are there any boundaries? What tethers a person so that they do not float away into that 'other' realm? Or, can one move effortlessly between reality and the spirit world and find one's way back?

Apparently Phillip Garrido made many trips between the two. It would be interesting to find out which Bible verses he loved to quote. One that often appears on the religious nut circuit is, "God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance and have eternal life." One wonders how that person 'knows' this stuff. How do they 'know' that god wants one to repent and have eternal life? Have they crossed that membrane a few times? Heard those angelic voices? Or is all part of a severe psychosis for which there are prescribed drug and counselling therapies?

God speaks and so do angels. How do we know? Well, because long ago someone heard something in his head...

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