Thought-terminating clichés

A while back, I saw the above screen capture of a tweet, and saved it to my desktop. It resonated with me in a deep way. It reads:

I learned yesterday that there’s a term for phrases like, “It is what is is,” and “It’s in God’s hands,” “YOLO,” etc–things meant to short-circuit cognitive dissonance & end discussion. They’re called “Thought-Terminating Clichés” and I haven’t stoped thinking about that phrase since.

Throughout the time it took me to deconstruct from religion, I sincerely tried to talk to people who were older, wizened and were supposed to have answers to my questions. They’re the ones who spent decades reading and researching Christianity, listening to all the arguments to counter atheism/disbelief and to validate their stances.

But no person of faith, no matter what the status of divinity school pastor to enthusiast could defend my questions with answers, just these thought-terminating clichés. You can read more about them here.

Questions are often waved off or stopped with phrases like, “You’ll have to ask God when you get to heaven.”

I remember a conversation in which I used the word magic to describe prayer and miracles. Like folks use it as a sort of sorcery, but it was immediately stomped down by the person I was talking to as, “We don’t have ‘magic’ in Christianity.”

Yet all the principles of magic fit within the framework of prayer. Often what one is asking of God is nothing short impossible. When God answers the prayer and alters his plan to fit the want/need of one of his flock, the flock says, “Wow! Look at that! Without prayer magic, SoAndSo wouldn’t be healed.”

It’s not fair to approach a topic with words that can be clearly defined with dictionary definitions, only to be gaslit that those words you’re using do not apply to this topic, because this topic is off limits to dictionary definitions. Three is one. Old testament God is not New Testament one, but God is always the same. I offer un-conditional love, with a HUGE condition.

All of these thought-terminating experiences led me to a place of, “Well, then I’ll explore all these questions myself.” When I did, I found that other topics that teachers taught were just other religions like “evolution” or “atheism”, the insiders to those topics weren’t afraid of questions and didn’t attempt thought termination. They inspired further questioning and did not inject any punishment for unacceptance.

I’ve written mounds on this before, but I’d never heard this term and it’s from the 1960s.

I believe it’s why the conversation in American surrounding the abortion debate is so incredibly divided. Christians have no problem ending a conversation quickly. The rights of Christian freedom means removing the non-Christians’ freedoms. Where most people want to live in harmony with each other exploring the questions to answers, the believer insists on terminating the thoughts that lead to inquiry.

Some terminate pregnancy. Others terminate thought and inquiry. Both could be considered a loss of life.

Abortion starts in the head. Not in the bedroom or when Uncle Kevin drunkenly stumbles into his niece’s bedroom.

As many times as I’ve discussed the topic of abortion with believers, they say, “Well, we believe in a persons’ rights to contraception.” But none of the national conversations seem to reflect those “progressive” ideas. And the push by 80-year-old men to impose pregnancies and births by incest and rape just shows how dismal and unmerited belief really is.

I watch a lot of monster movies, and there is nothing scarier than an old man insisting that a child bear the child of a rapist.

If only everyone would consider the world’s questions without aborting them before they started.


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