—anxiously awaiting the garbage truck ...
It is no secret that I am not a fan of religion, especially the variety that we so glibly refer to as "organized" religion.
The intensity with which I dislike it often takes on a religious character of its own, so that I have recently taken to describing myself as a person who is religious about not being religious.
In spite of my persistent ranting, however, I yet feel as though I have not succeeded in formulating an accurate description of my loathing for it.
It is indeed difficult to express how weary I am with what I can only call religious crap. It truly has the feel of some very old garbage that we need desperately to dispose of.
We all know how it is with trash. If we leave it lying around for too long it starts to reek. After a while the stink really gets to us.
The crap/trash analogy might be the closest I will ever get to an accurate description of my disaffection for religious madness, an infectious sickness we need - and most urgently - to find a cure for.
Dependence upon religious fluff, its rites and rituals (not to mention the totally false premises upon which all of its orthodoxy is based), is one of the forces that drives me to misanthropy. So many seem to be nigh irresistibly caught up in it (essentially the vast majority of people all over the whole freaking planet). It is quite frankly difficult to respect anyone who falls for such ephemeral wanderings.
If they must be this way, I would just as soon not associate with them. I will remain in my own little cave, thank you, and silently tell them all to go fornicate with themselves.
There is no question that I am in the minority on this issue. One argument that they would surely throw at me would go something like, "Well, since so many people say so, there must be something to it. Seems to me like you're the one who's out of whack, dude."
That may be.
Maybe I really am out of whack. It certainly feels like it. I am definitely not in step with the masses.
But that in itself does not make the masses right, just more powerful. (I will never forget the experience of hearing an evangelist - yes, an evangelist - proclaim that the masses are the asses, a claim to which I have in response - on countless occasions - tendered a hearty amen.)
I truly believe the obsession with religion is just that, an obsession, founded on little more than fear. It is not faith-based; it is fear-based.
Basically, the faithful are afraid to die and (depending on the exact form of their belief) go to hell.
From the vantage of my current perspective, this is absurd.
What they are really doing is giving up on life now, at this moment, in the hope of securing it later, in heaven.
The only reason they cling to such irrational effluvia is due to the fact that they have received some ill-advised instructions to do so - in most instances from a parent or other figure of authority.
The vast majority of believers do not cling to their beliefs because they have gone to the trouble to study them. They are essentially deferring to the mentality of a crowd, which is essentially a manifestation of mob rule, more commonly known as democracy.
I do not deny that it is hard to resist a crowd. Even Aristotle noted that
man is a social animal; he seems to have some sort of hive, or herd, instinct,
which prompts him, almost irresistibly, to follow the group.
Everyone lacks knowledge, but the faithful make up for it with a plethora of beliefs and/or superstitions.
But there is one piece of knowledge we do have (and most certainly should
not ignore). We know that we are here now.
Wisdom would surely dictate that we live the life that we are most assured of, the one presently before us, and abandon all speculation about some life in the future, which we may never see.
But the faithful scoff at this, preferring instead to forego the pleasures of this life (the one they hold so surely in the palm of their hand), and in its place faithfully (and persistently) invest their time and energy in the next one, the one they merely imagine.
Since I am apparently immune to the attraction of such fantasies I shouldn't let it affect me so much, and it wouldn't if they would somehow keep their amusement to themselves.
But they don't.
They seem driven by some neurotic compulsion to share it. We encounter it everywhere, on television, in the movies. Even certain governmental functions begin with the etiquette of an opening prayer, which is totally inappropriate.
Prayer. I have one thing to say about it:
A man of faith never prays.
These public prayers, which we are constantly witnessing, are really not prayers at all so much as tepid forms of public ritual.
According to Jesus, real prayer is private, something between the prayer and the Prayee.
Nearly all praying is prompted by fear, and a man of fear is not a man of faith. The two concepts are completely oxymoronic.
The believer retorts, "What nonsense! I pray to God in order to thank Him, not just to ask for stuff."
To which I must reply, "Why do you thank Him? Do you suspect that He might harbor some sort of resentment if you did not, and possibly even withhold His blessings if you refused to offer Him thanks?
If that is the reason for your offering of gratitude, then you offer it from fear. Furthermore, if you must truly thank Him, why not do it in private, when no one is looking? Why the public display of ingratiation and affection, which appears as if you are not so much praying as playing - the exhibitionist."
I thank God for every meal - by eating it!
The very act of preparing food is a religious experience for me, and the partaking of it is absolutely divine. To my way of thinking, the very consumption of food is a form of worship.
I show my thanks to God by fully enjoying the food He has given me. But do you think I parade around making public proclamations about it?
I repeat: A man of faith never prays.
In summary, if you must have a religion keep it to yourself. The very sharing of it somehow demeans it, subjects it to a form of degredation.
In the same way that real prayer is a private affair, so is real religion. The crowds gathered in churches, cathedrals synagogues and mosques are in no way practicing any form of religion so much as they are merely socializing.
Religion is not a social affair. It is strictly private.