Friday, May 9, 2008

Fear and Loathing in Overland Park pt 16

You've missed parts 11-15 if you haven't been reading up on

Look for Dirty Man on their page. Trust me. Good reading.

On today's docket...religion.

"When fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross."

-Sinclair Lewis

Every week, I walk into it. A hailstorm. A maelstrom of questions. What do you believe? Who do you believe in? What is your religion?

Never discuss politics or religion in polite conversation. It's been said many times before. Uttered and re-uttered over the years until your ears bleed with the suggestion.

This is not polite conversation. This is a sounding board.

Driving toward the Company, the skies showed my emotion. Gray. Dim. Not ready to start the day in any way. I wanted it to swallow my banana boat on the way in. Fling me halfway across the world to a different land. One where I might have to ask a man behind a curtain for courage.

But isn't that religion, in a nutshell? A man (or woman) behind a curtain, there to quietly answer our calls and give us what we desire?

To some, yes. Religion is wish fulfillment. Religion is about calling on a higher power in your time of need and getting exactly what you want from life exactly when you want it. It is abused, corrupted, and distorted more often than most anything else the world has to show us.

But I digress, heading into work with the dark skies above, clouds hanging low, I wanted to drive off a cliff. Something irks me as I drive into the Company parking lot. I can feel it. Nagging at the back of my neck. Growing like a tumor needing to be cut off straight away. A gutteral appeal to turn around and head back to the comfort of blankets and a ceiling fan on low were dismissed. I was already too far.

I've never been one to hide my thoughts. I do not hide behind my religion. Catholic upbringing. 14 years Catholic school. People throwing their religion daily in your face and touting wisdom supposedly thousands of years old while having pre-marital sex and drinking and driving and hating everyone in a lower class than them.

That is what Catholic upbringing brought me. Anger, torment, frustration. All the qualities a writer must submit to before he can be anything worth a damn in the writing world.

"Religion is an insult to human dignity. With or without it, you'd have good people doing good things and evil people doing bad things, but for good people to do bad things, it takes religion."

-Steven Weinberg

Always in my mind is the thought of religion as a fascist appeal to zealots. People who need something to believe in are generally the ones easiest to appeal to and easiest to sway. So religion, organized religion, is created. I'm not knocking faith, or belief, or general thoughts toward God or Yahweh or Methuselah.

I have major beef with organized religion. And as I stroll, quietly and as dignified as possible with my head down and clouds still hanging above my head, the torment begins. Do you believe? Do you understand what all God has done for you?

In my mind, millions and millions of years ago a speck of dust was hit by a flare coming off the heatray of Godzilla, which ended up creating the universe, you, me, and your puppy in your lap. That's my belief, and it's no crazier than having a universe full of people with lizard souls waiting to disperse and make their way to the spaceship on their way home to their original planet. If I want to believe in VelociJesus or the false idol MechaGodzilla, I'm going to. That's my choice.

"When we blindly adopt a religion, a political system, a literary dogma, we become automatons. We cease to grow."

-Anais Nin

And that is what I always suggest to them. I do not blindly accept the thought that there is a person, place, thing, or idea above me who is quietly behind the curtain pulling our strings and sending us into events, places, or happenings. I do not believe blindly because I choose not to. I choose to think logically. I choose to look at the big picture.

The Old Testament had a vengeful God. One about fire, brimstone, and damnation. And if you are one who believes in Old Testament God, then the tornadoes and natural disasters afflicting the world are probably all you think of when you say, God Exists.

New Testament God was all about turning the other cheek. No more eye for an eye, love your neighbor as yourself. People who look at the natural disasters and see all of the fantastic amounts of people working to help the survivors, the sick and wounded, say God works in mysterious ways and sees the people helping out as a blessing.

But there are people, people with the thought of a vengeful God, people like Fred Phelps, Neo-Nazis, etc, who hate people so ferociously that they are blind to the rest of the teachings. They are blind to the good messages behind the voice of Jesus, blind to every last thing that makes a damn bit of sense in the Bible and instead come up with the notions that God Hates Homosexuals and that's why 9/11 happened.

Those people are why Religion is not something I adhere to.

"Religion is to do right. It is to love, it is to serve, it is to think, it is to be humble."

-Ralph Waldo Emerson

Those people are not humble. They are not serving anyone, except who they think is God. The person they see behind the curtain is a madman. Someone who desperately hates everyone with a passion, so much so that he strikes down those people who are different from the Congregation.

Religion is a weapon. It is used against those less fortunate. Those who make different choices from ourselves. My discussion started as such. I do not agree with religion. I do not believe in a higher power.

I choose not to.

But the arguee did not agree. The discussion became heated. How can you say that? How can you feel that there is no higher power? How can you honestly believe in nothing above you?

And my answer?

I want to. I want their to be a higher form of existence above and beyond being human. But being a cynical, sarcastic, gonzo bastard, I can't see it. I can't feel it. It is not right in front of me in a tangent form and therefore I cannot see it. I wanted to peel away in my big yellow monstrosity and upset the flow of reality by changing my own course.

Taking destiny and fate into my own hands and tearing off through a dimensional wall and opening a space-time rift to a simpler time. When I was in bed this morning. The clouds hidden behind a curtain and a wall. And everything was easier.

Never one to back down. I stood my ground. I discussed. Argued. Debated.

"If there was no God, it would have been necessary to invent him."


It is my utmost belief that we are all allowed to feel what we wish to feel. That no matter how much I despise people like Fred Phelps, his free will allows him to say the things he says freely. I will vehemently fight those words tooth and nail, but that is what this is all boiled down to:

Free will.

The Bible teaches that the overriding difference is God gave us free will. That is why Adam and Eve ate the apple. That is why we were cast out of Paradise. We chose knowledge. Which we always choose.

Free will allows me, you, your family and friends, everyone around you, to say, I believe in...

I believe in Superman. Or the Pope. Michael Jordan is my personal Jesus.

Every single one of us can have a different feeling or thought on what religion means to us and be free to believe it. That is why organized religion CANNOT work.

Free Will gives us the opportunity to open our eyes today and believe in Godzilla. Tomorrow gives us the opportunity to see thousands of gods and goddesses in the wind, the trees, everything around us. The day after that gives us the opportunity to see God in children or believe in a pantheon of gods and goddesses.

Free will allows us to freely believe and choose whatever we want. That is what makes it free.

"The problem with writing about religion is that you run the risk of offending sincerely religious people, and then they come after you with machetes."

-Dave Barry

Wholeheartedly, I always advise the arguer/arguee that I am not telling them that they are wrong. In my heart, I think they are. In their heart, they are not. And that is what free will is all about.

And that is what religion is not about. I choose to be different. I choose to believe what I choose to believe and no one can take that away from me. 14 years of Catholic school may have changed my opinion in a very strange way, but I have embraced it.

I always suggest that the person arguing against me embrace their own feelings and not let some tome or thought or written speech or anything else in the world change their own opinion about what religion means to them.

Some of the people closest to me are heavily influenced by religion. By faith. By God. They see their Lord in everything around them and feel that everything is a miracle. I do not.

I see the world around me and accept it as it is. I accept each and every person as a human being because I choose to accept them as such. Not as agents of the Lord, not as zealots or victims or polygamists or bastard children of a dead Lord.

But as people.

I choose the or. I choose to be different. As always, I will forever choose the other option when presented.

"God has no religion."

-Mahatma Ghandi

And neither do I. Do not be an automaton. Make your own decision. If you wish to choose something different, embrace that different thing. Embrace your or.

The choice is yours.


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