A very select few here know of the adversity that I've been going through the last couple of years. Fate has not been kind. And I've been through enough adversity now to not get too complacent when things go well. I've developed this habit of psychologically looking over my shoulder, wondering when the next crisis is going to come up. This attitude of "looking over my shoulder" is not constantly at the forefront-but it's always there, if nothing else, humming in the background. When you go through a lot of adversity, you realize just how tenuous things are.
My mom is in her early 80s. She's a sweet, decent person. She's deeply religious. I long since abandoned the Catholic faith. But I don't tell her that. During our darkest periods, she prayed her rosary, cried to God for help. When we somehow get through our troubles, she tells me, "See? God didn't let us down!"
I smile and nod. Inside I scream, "BULLSH!T!!!!"
Listening to NPR one day, I heard a phrase that struck me hard, to the innermost core of my being. And it was this:
"Jesus is a trick played on poor people."
The truth of this statement hit me like a Peterbilt. I saw it every day in my mother. I see it in people who are so desperately poor that this is the only recourse they have to keep from going insane. It's what grounds them. Religion is what grounds many people. My understanding of why this is can be read in the first few posts of this thread. This might be an aid to those who are new to my rants against religion.
And yet-there are realities so horrific, so profound in their scope that for me, they fly in the face of these beliefs. They make these beliefs, in my eyes, profound ignorance-placebos to placate their troubled minds, to give them some sense of relief. As Mark Twain once said, to paraphrase-if one looks around and sees the condition of the world, one comes to the inescapable conclusion that if there is a god, he is a divine thug.
The most recent thing that is so raw in my mind is the Arizona massacre. And in particular, a 9-year old child. An innocent. Dead at the hands of a raving lunatic. There's a part of me that wants to ask my mother-"God won't let us down, huh? This 9 year old child is dead. Why would God help us and not this child?!"
But I can't do it. My mom's been through too much hardship, and has health issues. That placebo keeps her sane.
We are apes with delusions of grandeur. The only thing that separates us from other animals is our delusional sense of self-worth, that we are somehow more "evolved". "Give a monkey a brain, and he'll swear he's the center of the universe"-an apt title of a record by the rock band Fishbone. We can do wondrous things, but we are also prone to horrific, unspeakable acts. We are terrified of the unknown. We are aghast when things like the Arizona massacre and the 9/11 attacks happen. Some of us turn to that "god" in the sky, and ask, "Why?"
I remember going with my mom to Mass, shortly after 9/11. She wanted to go, so I took her. The priest said, during the homily, "A lot of you are probably wondering why God allowed these attacks to happen." He lowered his head. "The truth is-I don't know."
At that moment, an unspeakable rage shot through me. I wanted to hit him. I wanted to take that bible he had and smack the crap out of him with it-the arrogance of him standing there, trying to be a "spiritual leader", when he was just as clueless as the rest of us.
I don't know if there is any sort of "intelligence" out there that created the cosmos. All I know is that we have to struggle through the gauntlet of life, and we set up these psychological placebos, like religion, to get us through the day. But placebos aren't the real thing. If some folks want to live their lives with their heads in the sand-go on ahead, if it gives you comfort. To me, that's what religion is in one sense-sticking your head in the sand and using it to bring comfort during life's darkest, most insane moments-such as when a girl is held a sexual prisoner for 20 years...when a group of people is shot dead by some nut-job, including a 9-year old girl...when kids are sold into prostitution...child soldiers...genocides like Rawanda...
"Have faith in God-he won't let us down."
That is the height of naivety. It goes into the realm of absolute silliness. And even if life were to turn around for me and I became awash in incredibly good fortune-I'd ALWAYS wonder about those who are far less fortunate, like the examples I gave above.
"God" didn't let me down, huh? And that little child, being trafficked as a sexual prisoner from pervert to pervert. What makes me worthy of "God's" favor, and not this child?
Edited by Analog Kid, 12 January 2011 - 08:57 AM.