This is just some stuff that’s been rolling around in my head lately. Some of it is a bit personal, but so is the topic, I suppose!
Some thoughts on Christian-bashing
Anyone who browses through my blog knows that I write a lot of posts bashing/mocking/ridiculing Christians. Vast quantities of bile have been spat from my keyboard at these people, and I do get a kick out of it even though I’m sure it makes me look like a supreme asshole. Sometimes the sheer number of posts I’ve written about them surprises even me! Every now and then I think that maybe I should just dedicate this blog full-time to this subject, but there are already too many blogs who are doing that kind of thing, and much better to boot. My current favorites are Christian Nightmares, Jesus Needs New PR, and Religious Douchebags. Do give them a look, they’re wonderful.
Why all the bashing to begin with? Well, I have a beef with organized religion in general, but I pick on Christians 99% of the time because they are the ones who can most directly affect me, my way of life, and my loved ones. I don’t feel threatened by Muslims or Buddhists or Pagans in everyday life, but some Christians are actively working to repress and destroy nonbelievers, those who don’t conform to their narrow-minded vision of how things should be, and others they simply don’t like. Many of these evil people also happen to be in powerful positions in the government and media, which makes them especially dangerous. This brings out a rage in me that few other things do, it’s a reaction I can’t seem to suppress. And since I’m not the activist type, I often just spew my opinions here and on Facebook (which probably/hopefully offend a few right-wing friends). I have no illusions about affecting any great changes in the world, so I just speak my mind and get it off my chest. But besides these obvious evil ones, there are a lot of stupid, everyday morons out there who really do deserve a good mocking. Like those who see Jesus on their fucking shower tiles and whatnot. I mean, come on.
So I fully intend to keep posting ridiculous stories about ridiculous Christians saying and doing ridiculous things. I simply get too much enjoyment out of it to stop! And even though I almost never say it, I also recognize that most Christians aren’t the kinds of crazy, evil people featured in these posts. Most of the Christians I know (not all, sadly) often loudly condemn the freakshow antics of their extremist brethren — the slimy, scummy underbelly of the beast. I may think their beliefs are nutty, but that doesn’t make them bad people. So while they aren’t the target, I don’t want to have to make a disclaimer in every single post about all that, so I won’t. 🙂
On the broader subject of religion…
I never write about my own spiritual leanings, so what the hell.
The older I get (I’ll be 40 in a few days), the more I acknowledge something that’s been lurking in the back of my mind for some time now: not only do I not believe in the Christian God or Jesus, but I think organized religion itself is dangerous and often destroys lives. Many free-thinking people have been shouting this from the mountaintops for ages, but for me it took a few years to really sink in as a reality. Yes, some good has come from religion: charities (though often with strings attached), magnificent works of art, astonishing cathedrals and other places of worship, lovely cultural traditions, great works of literature (and the preservation of literacy itself at one point), and the comfort it brings to people looking for meaning. But what about the harm it brings? Persecution/torture/murder of nonbelievers, denial of civil rights, racism, wars, degradation of women, child abuse, corruption, ignorance, fear, guilt, oppression, repression, false promises, abuse of power…the list goes on and on throughout the centuries. Does the good outweigh the bad? I’m not so sure anymore, especially here in America where religion is definitely a tool for controlling thought and behavior. It’s used to exert power over others, make people feel worthless, and sway elections. It also protects itself, not only suppressing evidence of abuse but cloaking its agenda in good intentions (like the Catholic groups who buy up hospitals and then mandate that they can’t perform abortions, not even for rape victims). I know it’s different in other countries, but I can only speak about what I see here in this one.
So do I believe in anything, then? Why, yes I do! I believe is that there is no invisible man/prophet/being in the sky raining down judgments on the minutiae of our everyday lives. There isn’t a host of otherworldly beings who grant us wishes if we pray to them and give offerings. There are no angels watching over our shoulders, guiding our decisions. I believe that religion has been such a massive source of misery and suffering in our society that I can’t see myself taking part in it. I’ve also come to believe in the burden of proof — extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, and so far I haven’t seen it. And by “proof” I mean something substantial and testable, not trivial shit like praying for a parking spot and suddenly finding one. My Facebook wall is often peppered with updates from people saying things like “OMG what a BLESSED morning this is, I was praying for some sunshine and GOD DELIVERED! YAY!” Christ, how annoying.
Faith alone isn’t enough for me, either. Just believing doesn’t make it happen. What kind of god says he’ll throw you in a lake of fire to burn in agony for eternity if we don’t believe in him…and yet he will do nothing to prove his existence? What kind of fucked-up person thought this stuff up when they were dreaming up those Bible verses about what god wants? It’s sadistic and unrealistic, and it proves to me more than ever that religion promises people answers to the great questions of life, but in reality it’s just a means of dumbing people down and controlling how they’re allowed to think and live their lives. Seems to work pretty well on most people.
This isn’t to say I have no spiritual pursuits, because for many years I’ve done my own searching. We’re all here on this planet trying to figure out what the hell we’re doing and what happens when it’s time to leave, and I’ve felt that desire to connect with “something” out there…it’s just part of being human. I’m no religious scholar by any means, I just explore and see what grabs me and where it takes me… After shaking off my childhood Christian programming in my early teens, I’ve since explored various other paths over the years and came away from each mostly unsatisfied — but I also took away something positive from each, so it wasn’t all a waste of time. They just weren’t my bag, you know?
On a side note, it’s been interesting watching a former rockstar idol of mine, Nina Hagen, go through similar spiritual changes over the past 20 years. In the early 90’s she converted to Hinduism (which led me to dip my toes in that for a while) and fully embraced it in all aspects of her life: music, charity work, concerts, philosophy, everything. She was hardcore about it, not just flirting with it like Madonna and other celebrities have. And I think it made her a much more interesting person because she was so serious about it. Then, a couple of years ago she renounced her Hindu-ness and tried to claim she had never really converted, even though an entire documentary was filmed about it. Now she’s a Protestant again, proudly preaching about Jesus and Mary and pumping out cheesy gospel songs. My, how our heroes have fallen! Talk about some serious disappointment. But if she’s happy, then maybe that’s all that matters. At least she’s not publicly condemning people to hell…yet.
It wasn’t until my mid-30’s that I began to really to admit to myself that I don’t believe in things like a personal god, and lately I’ve been wondering if I’m really just a big ol’ atheist. Since I’ve never seriously looked at what atheists have to say besides “There is no god”, I’ve been sampling the writings of some popular atheist authors and bloggers. I fully agree with their opinions on how religion “poisons everything”, as Christopher Hitchens puts it. They are also very good at tearing down god and religion and revealing them to be merely a desperate means for humankind to cope with mortality and the unknown. But am I an atheist? I’ve been calling myself agnostic for a long time now, because I simply don’t know the Truth and I don’t claim to, unlike some people. I also think there’s a whole lot of weird things about us and our universe that we don’t fully understand yet. I certainly don’t think there’s a god or “intelligent designer” out there pulling strings and magically granting wishes, but I’m open to other possibilities beyond our comprehension, whatever those may be. This fits some definitions of “atheist”, but there are so many variations it’s hard for me to really nail down just what it is.
So for now, agnostic it is. 🙂