Today’s post is about the G part of OMG, as in God, the big guy upstairs, the man with the beard, Zeus, Yahweh, The Grand Pooba, etc, etc, etc. It’s less about my own personal beliefs, which are muddied and contradictory and make about as much sense as a late-period Picasso painting, and more about what I’m seeing all over the interwebs regarding Ye Olde God Dude. God (if there is such a thing, and for all that I’d like there to be I’m not convinced yet and hopefully I’ll get clearer on the issue as time goes on) is in kind of a shitty position these days. There’s billions of people taking His name in vain, doing stuff for the sole purpose of “carrying out His will” even though I’m fairly sure He hasn’t made an appearance on terra in a couple thousand years, and bitch-slapping each other when beliefs are at odds. They kill, maim, interfere in others lives, all the while holding up a book that was possibly/probably written by a dehydrated guy who might have smoked too much peyote at the top of a very dusty mountain.
On the other side of things, there’s a bunch of other people who get so angry that believers have used dogma and scripture to run their lives and dictate social policy through the course of history, they’ve taken the anti-God stance to the point it’s militant and boorish. They refuse to allow people their beliefs without quarrel (people who haven’t, by the way, done the major RA-RA GOD conversion thing are included on their targeting circles) because pointing out their “FOOLISHNESS IN BELIEVING IN A PRETEND DEITY” proves . . . something. Somewhere. I’m just not sure what. I get some of the antagonism, but not a lot of it. A good chunk of atheists appear to have a chip on their shoulder the size of the crack in the Liberty Bell. I’d probably put a lot of this on VERY passionate religious people essentially telling them THEY’RE WRONG AND GOING TO THE SPECIAL HELL FOR NOT BELIEVING. No one wants to be told they’re going to the Special Hell, even if you don’t believe in it. That’s where Andy Dick might end up.
The point I’m making (and sometimes I talk so much I forget where I was going with things) is there’s those two groups above and then there’s . . . everyone else. There’s me, and probably most of my inner circle, who aren’t all that outwardly devout. They might go to church, they might not. They believe or don’t, but whatever the case, they’re pretty chill about God’s presence/lack of presence in their lives so long as no one tries to spoon feed them opinions in hopes of changing their minds. They just want to be left alone to decide for themselves, and don’t balk until someone’s STRONG OPINIONS start to shake up the world around them too much, pro-Yahweh or not. They worry about themselves and let others do the same about their respective lives.
Man, am I ever glad to be in that third group. It seems so . . . I dunno. Relaxed? Respectful of others? Not IN YOUR FACE?
We’re at an interesting point in our society. Churches and congregations are folding all over the place because people just don’t have the care, time, or desire to attend sermons any longer. Folks are also broker than ever and the money they would have invested in their church might have to go towards food or electricity or a new Nickelback baby tee. Whatever the case, the churches aren’t doing as well as they were. Atheists might take this as some sort of victory, or proof that God is losing 10,000 Twitter followers a day, but I kinda doubt a majority of people who stop going to church stop believing. They’re just worshiping in a different way – quietly from their homes. They’re teaching their kids certain values they took away from religion, whether that’s praying, The Golden Rule, or the stories of the angels. So the spirituality is still there? The holy structures where people congregate just aren’t as essential.
Interesting! The Church used to be (and in some places still is) the most powerful institution in society, the bible dictating moral code and law and used as a go-to resource for true believers, and yet The Church is making less money which means it can effect less political policy because (as we all know) money means power. People are taking it home with them and going private sector, letting personal, home-grown religion sway their opinions. Hrmm. HRMM. I’m not all that convinced this is a bad thing. Belief is such a private thing, when you think about it. For starters, it’s how people rationalize/come to terms with/cope with what happens to them after they die. That’s a VERY private, VERY difficult thing for a lot of folks. I gotta hand it to atheists on this one – you’ve got balls of steel to just go with the Dead is Dead thing and be okay with it. That takes a certain strength of character that I don’t think I’m personally capable of. Maybe I still cling to some semblance of “Please, yes let there be a heaven?” because I’ve seen how religion helps the elderly and the sick approach their own mortality. Otherwise you work for sixty years, get about ten to fifteen years of good retirement, and that’s it (if you’re lucky to have a long life). Depressing thought. Some would say A HARSH REALITY.
Another justification for religion/spirituality is a moral code. It’s supposed to help you make good decisions that will aid others and not let you develop into a certifiable dickface. It’s a convenient, go-to resource for how to treat people with respect (like-minded people, mind you, but at least it’s a starting point). I’m down with respect. The problem is, you don’t need to factor God into the equation on teaching respect to children. The law does that these days — shit, Sesame Street does that — plus the law doesn’t allow for some of that other pesky stuff the bible encourages (slavery/murder/abuse) because the law was written in a different time and place, when women weren’t just brood mares with as much worth as a Pokeman Card. If you’re trying to avoid Dickface Status, following the law (as written by people we elected into office who are supposed to best represent our own personal interests) is a good place to start.
HRMM AGAIN I SAY.
Anyway, the reason I’m blabbing on about this is I’m not sure why it’s so difficult to let others decide for themselves what’s right and wrong so long as what they’re doing in the privacy of their own homes (religion/sex/dance parties, etc) isn’t encroaching upon YOUR rights. Believing in God shouldn’t be an attack-worthy offense. Not believing in God, the same. Believing in a different guise of God – yeah, that should be allowed, too. The problem I have with the God thing isn’t The Man/Woman Him/Herself so much as how people use Him as an excuse to cram opinions down others’ throats. But then, I don’t like it when anyone shoves an opinion down my throat period. Fully capable of making up my own mind, here, and if I want help I’m not shy, I’ll ask. And if you’re one of those people who believes your duty is to save me? We’re not going to get along anyway. I’m a big girl. I can save my own damned self.
So the short list: keep it respectful and keep it sane. Please, for my sake. And if you find yourself in the position of God/No God throat-cramming, walk away and go get a taco. Most folks will really appreciate it. I know I would. Plus? Tacos are delicious.