Monday, February 13, 2006

I get worked up sometimes

True Ancestor has a thoughtful post on what I believe he feels is a knee-jerk response to the Mohammed cartoon deal from atheists, or those who oppose organized religion.

I direct you to him not because I am writing to refute him, but because he has at least written something worth reading in defense of the god people.

Although I do have to say that I have no sympathy for anyone who feels besieged by Atheist or Agnostic points of view. I’m sorry. This fucking country is steeped, it is soaked, it is fucking drowning in the god stuff. It is every-fuckin-where. People offer me their unsolicited opinions as to whether Jesus loves me, or their unsolicited assertions that Jesus sure does love them, or that god is on their side or America’s side or that he is even watching over their automobile. Every poor sucker who ever held nature or the human body in awe or who ever had to suffer some deeply fucked up shit gets to hold forth in the media about how it all confirmed their faith in god. And we expect it to. We would be surprised if any other message were offered to us. We expect Jesus to be credited with Grammy awards, and touchdowns, and victories on the field of war. We expect to look to god to give us strength, not to each other. Not really.

So, feeling a little weary of the anti-religion point of view? Well, how’s it feel, baby?

How’s it fucking feel?

But as the debate about religion in public life rages, I would like to note a couple of things:

I would never advocate the dismantling of anyone’s place of worship. Period. People are absolutely free to believe whatever they wish, however beautiful or nonsensical.

I do advocate the separation of church and state. And most Christians in this country might say publicly that they advocate the same, but as the religious majority, they betray their mistrust of the religion-less constantly. Don’t believe me? Name one U.S. public official who is a known atheist.

Yeah, I thought so.

I advocate that it is the role of government to protect its citizens, even when what they are protecting them against is the dogma of religion, i.e., I reject the idea that men are free to subjugate women if they do it in the name of Allah or Jesus or any other god or latter-day saint, for that matter.

Religions are not above critique or condemnation merely because of their longevity in the human theatre of suffering and misery. The Catholic church is fucked up. Women cannot be priests because of original sin, or they don’t have a prick like Jesus did, or whatever lame-ass reason they are offering up these days. Oh, and priests can’t fuck because fucking is sinful – say what??? That’s fucked up. It just is. You can say that it’s a tenet of their faith but that doesn’t mean I must respect it. No. I must be free to say it is fucked up and no money from my taxes should go to fucked-up organizations where I am a second-class citizen. And no meeting of my government officials should get kicked off by some priest from this backward, fucked-up group of institutional women-haters. And no evil fucker from this group should get to lobby my government so that they can more effectively impose their tenets on all people, even those who do not give a shit about their medieval crapola.

And obviously, don’t get me started on Islam.

Look, that stupid bitch in the picture in the post below is free to hide her shameful woman-face and submit to the whip for talking back to her husband and whatever other shit that Islam feels free to dish out (praise Allah!), but in this country, religions must submit to the laws of the land, at least as of this writing. Yes, there are a lot of encroachments that must be constantly protested and fought against, but men don’t get to whip women for showing their ankles in public, no matter what retarded, musty old book they can produce that says otherwise.

And for the record, of course I don’t think Muslims personally are evil because of their faith, but yes, I do think there is something fairly evil-y about any religion that seeks to stay alive by conquering and converting, and that shit is all over the Koran, and it is in the Bible, too, fuckers. Kill unbelievers. It is in there.

And I am willing to give any individual religious person the benefit of the doubt, regardless of their faith, and I always will be. I am not so sure, however, that most of them would return the favor.

12 comments:

Spooney said...

When are people gonna realize that these books/rules that they live by were written in a time of ignorance? In a time when the common belief was that the sun & the stars revolved around the earth & the world was flat. They don't believe in witchcraft anymore. So why do they still follow the stories & rules from these books that were written in the same time period?

david said...

Spooney:

That's about as simplistic as any Baptist fundamentalist could get.

Vikki:

Can't disagree with a thing you said.

david said...

Well, I do sort of disagree with one thing: "How's it feel, baby? How's it fucking feel?" is exactly what the Islamofascists are saying with their Holocaust cartoon contest. That kind of shit never solves a thing.

vikkitikkitavi said...

D,

There's a difference between an honest attempt to express a point of view and the mere turning of tables in an attempt to wound someone. Come on.

Sure, I took a cheap verbal shot, perhaps, but I think sometimes people don't realize how much something sucks until it happens to them.

And it may be simplistically stated, but I understand Spooney's point, too. We think of the stories of the Greek gods as myths and nothing more. But Moses, Jesus, Noah --- those things really happened!

I guess in a really basic way, I don't understand the difference, either. I think of them all - the whole kit and kaboodle - as stories that we made up in a time when we needed that kind of instruction in our lives, but as archaic and unnecessary, and yes, even dangerously intolerant now.

To me, to be against organized religion as a recognized governing force is to be FOR tolerance. Because what is a bigger enemy to tolerance and peace than organized religion?

You may say that many religious people are peaceful and a force for good in the world, which is absolutely true. Jimmy Carter springs to mind. But those people must, in order to do good, reject many tenets of their faith. And so this is why I blame not Christians, but Christianity. I blame not Muslims, but Islam. Etc., etc. Ad nauseum.

Spooney said...

My comment was simplistic because it's just a comment, I wasn't writing an essay.

david said...

I almost, almost agree with you. And I think your view is -- I don't know, cooler than mine.

But I don't quite agree.

I don't think of the Greek gods as myths and nothing more. I think myths are astonishingly important. Relevant. Wired deep into us. A myth is an important, current, relevant, coded message. It's every bit as important as a contemporary religious practice. It's only one small slice of time removed from same.

Are you saying we don't need stories anymore? That we've got everything figured out? I look around me and I see it isn't so (as the man with shoe polish in his hair famously said).

The stories themselves are coded messages. As such, they are neither tolerant nor intolerant. And if you think they're way more primitive than we, you're flattering us.

You're tarring all religion with the brush of the dogmatist and the Orthodox inquisitor. There's a whole other realm, a whole other mode of thought out there, a rainbow of interpretation, in every religion. Just for starters, in my tiny, superstitious corner of the world, try these eye-openers: "Seek My Face: A Jewish Mystical Theology" by Arthur Green, and "Judaism, Physics and God" by Rabbi David Nelson. You don't have to be Jewish to read either of these. Nor to understand how radical, how subversive, how relevant they are. (A blurb on the back of Nelson's book calls it "luminously heretical." That's a compliment.)

Tolerance must include tolerance of the tolerant religionist. Otherwise, it's not tolerance.

Blaming Christianity or Islam is to me kind of like blaming "Wall Street" or "that Great Satan, America." In doing so, you're inadvertently absolving the individuals who give these entities their bad name. The bad actors. W springs to mind. Or Pat Robertson.

Religion requires radical reinterpretation from moment to moment. You question it, you pummel it, and if all it can do is threaten you with damnation, then it's no damn good.

But if and when it opens you -- to yourself, to others, the whatever is grand in the Universe -- then you let it open you. And you fight those who would take it from you, just as you would fight those who would impose it on the unwilling.

Spooney: sorry for the essay.

vikkitikkitavi said...

D -

I don't think myths and stories are unimportant to us, I just don't think that some are "really true" and some "just stories."

The fact that the Greeks had a deluge myth - hello!

And I don't think that you can't evolve a religion. But to do so, you must reject the infallibility of that troublesome book, right? And see, that's the sticking point. How do you admit that the book is a philosophy (some of it still wonderfully relevant, some wildly not), a kind of helper's guide, and not THE LITERAL WORD OF GOD?

You may find tons of enlightened people (a wonderful documentary called "The God Who Wasn't There" is full of them, for example) who will stand up and say some version of the above, but that doesn't mean that organized religions, such as they exist, are dangerous and intolerant.

Because they are more than just a collection of stories. They are also dictates about, well, killing infidels and adulterers - two of my favorite kinds of people.

And the voices of those who would speak out from within against the abuses of religion are not nearly loud enough. Not nearly.

Also, I am not intolerant of organized religion per se, I am against it, as I said, as a "governing force." I would not strip my mother, for example, of her faith, because it is a comfort to her, and I love my mother and I want that for her.

But I am sad that we have nothing better to offer in its place. I am sad that she thinks it is the strength of Jesus that enables her in her times of trouble, and not her own strength. Well, you may say, what difference does it make?

It makes all the difference in the world.

What about the KKK? Would you hesitate to condemn that organization as well? Of course not. It is an evil organization with evil intent. To me Christianity, for example, is similar. There are a lot of good people inside Chrisitianity, trying to redeem its evilness, trying to change it, but they don't make enough of a difference to me. It's like the local chapter of the John Birch Society having a bake sale for the UN. It's a nice gesture, but laughable in its intent, and, of course, not nearly enough.

And I don't absolve any guilty person. Religion is for sure a hammer that keeps us down, but it must be wielded to be effective.

vikkitikkitavi said...

Oops, in paragraph 4, I meant to say "but that doesn't mean that organized religions, such as they exist, AREN'T dangerous and intolerant."

dad said...

Awesome, Vikki

david said...

Absolutely: the books are not infallible. How could they be? We're fallible, and we put them together.

Fallibility isn't a reason not to study or follow a religious path, anymore than the fallibility of Democracy is a reason to choose to move to (or create) a theocracy. You ask, "how do you admit that the book is a philosphy . . . and not THE LITERAL WORD OF GOD?"

Easy. I just did it. See above.

But if I had views as strong as yours, I wouldn't let my mother be comforted by her allegiance to an idea I equated with the KKK, however much I loved her.

Or were you just speaking metaphorically?

vikkitikkitavi said...

D - However much I wish otherwise, yours is a voice in the wilderness.

And I hate to break this to you, but about half my relatives are in the KKK, dude. Okay, not really. But pretty damn close.

One of the hardest things I ever did was learn how to love them anyway.

And console myself with the crumb of leading by my own poor example.

Which doesn't really work, by the way. But what am I going to do, not love them?

Don't try to goad me into a rigidity that I do not possess. Evil is relative. It is grey. People do evil and think they're doing right. They need to be taught to think for themselves, not that their reward is in heaven.

david said...

Are you saying you think your mother is, through practicing her faith, doing evil?

This is not a rhetorical question, or an attempt to goad you into rigidity you don't possess. I'm just curious.

We can take this offline, or I'll just shut up, if you like. Or both.

And no, didn't know that about yer fam. Yeesh.