Sunday, February 12, 2012

Off to See The Wizard

While vacationing in California last year, I spotted an adopt-a-highway sign that been put up by an outfit called the United Atheists.

United Atheists? What unites them, I wondered—their belief in nothing? If that's all then the meetings must be awfully short.

Please understand—I strongly support freedom of religion and that includes the freedom not to have any religion at all.

But I suspect that a lot of people who say they don’t believe in God would suddenly see the light if their car blew a tire on that highway while they were doing 70 mph. There are no atheists in rollovers.

You can’t turn in any direction without running into some religious issue. Recently I made the mistake of reading the comments section of a news story about some horrendous disaster and one of the posters had put up the usual “God help the victims” line.

And, like clockwork, this brought sarcastic responses from the non-religious types and a holy snark war quickly broke out.

“Good luck with your Sky Wizard,” one commenter wisecracked in an apparent reference to God.

As a modern, rational man, I have to admit that the whole idea of religion can seem pretty bizarre.

We tend to mock other cultures for their strange beliefs, yet at least three Republican presidential candidates said that God told them to run for the nation’s highest office.

I’ve heard candidates being described as “a man of faith,” as if those words are supposed to be comforting. People forget that Osama bin Laden was a man of faith, too. Not very comforting, is it?

I Gotta Have Faith

Religion has absolutely no place in politics and I look forward to the day when someone asks a presidential candidate about his or her religious beliefs and gets a hearty response of “None of your goddamn business!”

Abortion center bombings, 9/11, school prayer, religious fund-a-mental cases of all stripes have caused no end of trouble in this world and the things that some people have done in the name of God could make Satan turn his forked tail and run like hell.

We live in a society that uses the phrase “religious violence” with a straight face. Think about that one for a minute.

As a survivor of the 8-year spook house ride known as Catholic school, I can personally attest to the danger of religious zealots. The experience put me off church for so long that when I finally did go back I went to the Episcopalians.

The thing is, atheism just doesn’t do it for me. I like believing in a higher power, I like giving thanks to a divine being. Call me crazy and you might be right.

I know real men and women of faith, people who do wonderful things in God's name, and they're very inspirational.

I go to church now because I enjoy it, not because I’m afraid some psycho nun will kick down my door and beat me senseless with a yardstick.

And I try to the right thing by people because it’s the right thing to do, and not out of fear that I’ll end up in Lucifer’s eternal microwave.

I like starting my day off with prayer because it feels good. I don’t need to be guilted into submission.

You don’t believe? Fine. You won’t find me trying to convert you. What gives me comfort may seem like backwoods mumbo jumbo to you. There are few things I hate more than some bible-thumping screwball trying to drag me into the tent, so I make it my business to mind my own business.

But I’m going to keep on believing in my Sky Wizard. It’s nice to think there’s something beyond this mortal coil.

And you never know when you might blow a tire.


Ron said...

Okay, first let me get the humor in this post out of the way….

“United Atheists? What unites them, I wondered—their belief in nothing? If that's all then the meetings must be awfully short.”

HAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Cracked me up, Rob!!!!

And I am sooooooooo with you, buddy. I too went to catholic school so I know what you mean about the danger of religious zealots. And like you, I also think that religion has no place in politics OR in an educational institute.

“The thing is, atheism just doesn’t do it for me. I like believing in a higher power, I like giving thanks to a divine being. Call me crazy and you might be right. “

Amen! I am not a religious person; believing in one faith, rather I have my own personal relationship with God, and that works for me.
But I DO believe in a Sky Wizard. Without a doubt.

Excellent…and I mean EXCELLENT post, Rob!

I so enjoy the way you write.

Have a great week, buddy!

Rob K said...

Thanks, buddy. I knew as a fellow Catholic school survivor you'd get a kick of this. Appreciate all the support, Ron. Take care!

Jon Lenihan said...

Dear Cousin,

You already know, of course, about the 1930s schism that divided Greater Lenihan into Catholic and Communist-Atheist camps. I am here responding from the post-Communist-Atheist faction to the post-Catholic faction.

Apostates, Jews, homosexuals, and atheists are all objects of state-sanctioned violence in Dar al Islam. In the western reaches of Christendom, the state sanction is missing, for the moment, to the chagrin of Rick Santorum et al, but the old hatreds linger. United Atheists is likely a political action group, meant to defend vulnerable atheist populations from Christian or Islamist bullying.

Religious people invariably claim to have invented morality. Plain nonsense in its own right, and there is little evidence that religious people are especially animated by large moral considerations. I would, in fact, argue for the reverse. The nuns were teaching you blind obedience, fear of disobedience, not nuanced moral reasoning. You got what you paid for.

Most of what we call morality can be reduced to altruism. Do I forego, for the sake of others? Altruism is observed in all mammals, even the unbaptized ones.

I like to talk to my Lamb Chop hand puppet. I can't imagine joining a cult, Lamb Chop Lives, and filling an auditorium with people murmuring to their own Lamb Chop puppets, in Latin, Hebrew, Sanskrit,
Arabic or G'ez.

Some people are irritated when I say, "This sauerkraut is delicious, thanks be to Lamb Chop,." This is a matter of courtesy, and the right of everyone to have a turn at being an ass. "Lamb Chop forbids you to park in that spot, and I will slash your tires to express Her Holy Wrath," is another matter entirely.

Jews and atheists take a hit in Christian and Islamic states, because they deny the authority upon which the state is premised, and, potentially, the state hierarchy which flows from Christianity or Islam. Antisemitic and anti-atheist campaigns are still focused on the untrustworthyness of both populations. Homosexuals, a special case, are seen as men who choose to be "women," ie a lower, sex-stained, violence-worthy life form. Nominally post-Christian society has preferred to see homosexuals as sick or neurotic; an insane choice. Apostates like yourself, dear cousin, receive the worst violence in Christian and Muslims states, because they used to believe and now reject the dominant church. If it happened to you, it could happen to anyone, unless extreme and violent measures are taken.

You'll never see a Christian or Muslim campaign against the ruthless rich or the corrupt police/armed forces. Homosexuals and women, Jews and atheists and apostates, for sure. The ability to return fire, matters.

So, keep praying. Especially, keep praying that none of God's messengers ever succeed.

Rob K said...

Cuz, you make many strong points here. I do thank you for sharing. I don't claim to be logical when I pray and go to church. I just like it.