Thursday, April 12, 2012

On My Soapbox - Viewer Discretion Advised

It may seem strange, but some of my favorite twenty-five minutes of the day are the five minute intervals after my alarm goes off. If I’m dreaming when it happens, I hit snooze and go back to my dreams, only they’re brighter, more intense, more real. Time has a fascinating way of dilating and shrinking depending on the morning, the interval, the dream. Sometimes it is as if I blinked and the alarm is going off again. Sometimes it seems like I have lived an entire lifetime before my cell phone vibrates again. I love that fluidity of time. It makes that first half hour of morning so interesting that I’ve come to enjoy it.

That does not mean I want to get up. I would happily go back to sleep after that brief interruption, most mornings. I go through it because I have to, not because I want to, no matter how fascinating it is. I am not a morning person. Given the choice, I will sleep until my body simply no longer allows me to do so. Especially if I haven’t been getting as much sleep as I would like, which is pretty regularly these days. My social events often keep me out until midnight even when I have to  work the next day. It’s no wonder that I often push myself to the limits of my time and get up at 7:25 when I have to at work by 8:00. Fortunately, I still find that I arrive at least a few minutes early. Being male is such a blessing.

It’s always interesting to me when I say things like that. I often use words and phrases like “blessing,” “Lord knows,” or “Thank god.” I also cross myself with some regularity. I’m pretty certain that I use them more than some professed Christians. In the end, I think they’re usually just filler with no more real meaning to me than their more crass alternatives, which also make their way into my speech with some regularity. The latter two in particular. Blessing isn’t filler, especially the way I used it in the last paragraph, but it doesn’t have the religious connotation for me. Convenience doesn’t convey the same sense of thankfulness I have for being born a man.
Don’t take that the wrong way. My appreciation for being born male is not misogynistic. My delight in everything that is woman is one of the reasons I like being a man. Being able to get ready and getting to work with time to spare in 35 minutes just happens to be another. ;)

I had a few topics I wanted to write about when I started and some of my views on religion were actually one of them. Apparently I have some more work to do before I can discuss my obsession with the snooze feature for 1,000 words. The segue to religion actually happened pretty organically. It wasn’t intentional, at least consciously.

I was actually able to have an open discussion about my beliefs recently, and with an attractive woman. Her name is K and I’ve known her for years through dancing. While I don’t know that I’m going to court her, it was still nice to talk about my viewpoint without worrying about offending someone. Non-christians are rare here. They’re even rare in Spokane, where she leaves, but less so than this small town. I find it makes dating frustrating.

It’s actually been quite a while since I spoke with someone I knew who was like minded on the subject. I think it’s important to be able to share ideas in such a way. In spite of the phrase, “preaching to the choir,” I think we need to at times. What a relief it is to speak my mind without a concern that someone might be offended or judge me a terrible person because I don’t share the same views on morality.

In fact, I’m going to spend some time discussing what I believe here. Viewer discretion is advised and if you’re the easily offended type, don’t read on. Some of what I’m going to say comes across as pretty unforgiving. I’m going to pick on Christianity, because it’s the most prevalent religion in my life. You’ve been warned.

First, let’s imagine you’re an outside observer who has never heard of Christianity. You attend a church service, which seems pretty mild mannered at first. As a group, the people greet each other in the name of an invisible being that has no physical presence in the room you’re in. Many of them wear the symbol of the cross, which you know historically was a method the Romans used to punish and execute criminals. That’s when, depending on the church, you notice the cross above the altar has a wounded, bleeding man on it. No one told you this wasn’t rated G. You gather yourself and wait to see what happens. On a good day you get to hear a story about an invisible, incorporeal man who somehow magically impregnates a woman without her knowledge. She apparently hallucinates a supernatural being called an “angel” who tells her it’s all ok. Sounds like a rufie and date rape to you, but clearly she bought it and she’s not going to the police.

If you happened to go on one of the less appealing days, you hear stories about anything from the people who believe in this being conning an entire population of a city into circumcising themselves before massacring them, to condoning the sacrifice of a man’s own children because the voice of the invisible being told them to do so to test his “faith”. As a whole, it sounds like the dark fantasy novel you picked up from the local bookstore yesterday.

But that’s just part of it. You’re a bit uncomfortable, but it doesn’t get really disturbing until you realize that the ritual the priest just performed is believed to -literally- transform the wine and bread they have on the stage into the flesh and blood of the dying man on the cross. In an ideal world, they do what most cultures do and either bury or burn the remnants of the poor guy. But no, instead they eat him. This, my friends, is at best symbolic cannibalism, at worst (in some sects), actual cannibalism. If you weren’t aware, cannibalism is almost universally frowned upon in the modern world. It’s not expressly illegal, but anyone caught goes to jail for either murder or desecration of a corpse. Semantics.

After this. . . peculiar. . . feast, the group goes on to celebrate the life of this man, who they believe was the child of the earlier date rape. . . err, immaculate conception, as they call it. They profess to believing that the man was capable of magic, which the Christian’s call miracles. If a man walked up to you today and claimed that without the use of a crash cart, drugs or any other “miracle” of modern that he had raised a man from the dead, what would you honestly think? What if he claimed he could walk on water or turn one loaf of bread into ten? I don’t think I need to say much more. Anyone literate is capable of providing further examples and putting them into a modern context and arriving at the same conclusion.

So there are some of my issues: the worship of death and dying, the symbolic cannibalism, and the belief in magic and magical creatures. That’s only the start of it and the only reason that I haven’t mentioned the delusion of a magical world in the sky is because I prefer to use heaven as an example of why I have no taste for what Christians call morality.

In my opinion the Christian view of morality is actually immoral in and of itself. It is a morality of the carrot and the stick. Science has shown that with the exception of jobs that are formulaic, carrots and sticks don’t work. In fact, performance levels actually deteriorate in these cases. It works the same way for morality. Offer a person a chance at heaven or hell and it’s easy for someone to shrug off. I don’t have to worry about it until tomorrow. Or, if you’re Catholic, just confess and it is all forgiven anyway. How is that okay? Feeling guilty doesn’t make your immorality less wrong. No amount of penance undoes what you did if you fuck up someone else’s life. I’m not saying forgiveness is wrong, by any means. But there’s no reason to let someone off so easy.

There is only one good reason to be a moral person and that’s not as a form of currency to buy your way into the magical kingdom in the sky that your consciousness supposedly goes to when you die as a good person and a believer. No, the only reason to be a good person is because it is the right thing to do. Morality should be intrinsic. Be good for its own sake. And who judges good? Well there are some pretty simple rules, one of them even comes from Christianity itself. The Wiccans have a pretty good one: “An it harm none, do as you will.” The Christians: “Do unto others as you would do unto yourself.” That sounds pretty good to me. I know I’d be hurt and pissed if someone stole from me, killed someone I knew, or treated me like I was a piece of shit. So why would I do it to anyone else? Live and let live. And let people have sex with whomever they want. What a stupid thing to treat as immoral. As long as it is consensual, fun and friendly sex is the business of the two people having it. I am fairly certain your mother taught you it was rude to stick your nose into someone else’s business. Why would you think your religion gives you permission to? Sorry, still rude.

I could, and will, say a lot more, but another day. There’s a reason people write books about the subject. Maybe one day I will. I need a lot more practice staying on one subject, first. ;)

And way over a thousand words, goodnight.


No comments:

Post a Comment