Photo by Scott Webb on

One of the biggest excuses I use to delete my own writing is repetition. I have convinced myself that saying the same thing is futile. How much emphasis can a point have before it becomes belabored? Who wants to read the same thing over and over again?

It seems I’ve forgotten there was a time in my life when repetition was important. Every week I’d go to church and repeat the same statements. By saying the same thing at regular intervals, it helped reinforce all the other things I was taught about reality.

Say something enough, and the thoughts behind it become normalized. In my case, it was professing belief in a deity; the reality of divine wrath; the actual intervention of angels and demons in daily life. While I kept repeating things out loud, I worked against the part of me that might have asked why I was doing it to begin with. Repetition was an ethereal cage. The bars did not have to be real so long as I kept saying they were.

I’ve forgotten that repetition doesn’t have to chain me to indoctrination. People do need frequent reminding in life, myself included. But it’s hard to know at what point I’m saying something I want to believe rather than something I am sure of believing. At what point am I just replacing one set of mindless ideas with another?

Because I don’t have an easy answer, I habitually err on the side of caution. Despite the need of people to be consoled by the familiar. There is so much repetition of awful ideas that maybe contrary ones need their own reinforcement. In real terms, I see so much acceptance of religious thought (Christian, mostly) that I probably do need some sort of countervailing message. Perhaps others need this as well, not to lull them into complacency, but to remind them that belief in the divine is one among many.