I Might as Well Get This Off My Chest

Anyone up for a good rant?

 

If you are, by all means continue reading, and imagine the following delivered with flecks of spittle and appropriate pulpit-pounding. If you aren’t, by all means find something else to read. I can be diplomatic – even conciliatory – if the occasion demands but I’m not going to be in this case. I cannot un-see what I see, and sometimes I just have to vent. If you find my tone somewhat strident, I can’t say I disagree with you. What you are about to read reflects a very real side of me – one that I have to live with daily. It has largely been shaped by a fundamentalist Christian upbringing that I certainly did not choose to be born into and that I consider a form of child abuse. I hope I’ve been clear. Here goes – let’s see how many metaphors I can mix:

 

The most urgent task of our time is to kill the hydra-headed monster known as religion. Until we manage to drive a stake once and for all through the heart of the vicious Mesopotamian god who still holds sway over and commands the blind obedience of billions of Christians, Muslims and Jews, all our attempts to wake up an extinction-bound humanity and galvanize them to action will avail nothing. No devout Christian – I’m talking here about True Believers™ who seriously think that God has a perfect plan for this planet and every human on it, is in control of everything that happens and is going to intervene just in the nick of time – is ever going to give a rat’s ass about the looming climate change disaster, or the meltdown of nuclear power plants or the drawdown of ancient aquifers, or the collapse of civilization as the peak of hydrocarbon extraction is passed and our worldwide technological faux-perpetual-motion machine begins to sputter and creak: Jesus is waiting in the wings, ready at his father’s command to ride once again into human affairs, this time on a white horse, vanquishing Satan and setting everything to rights.
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Dreaming of Neverland: Faith and Extinction

This essay is my response to a song from Peter Pan. Here’s a video

Many historians and observers of the human condition have likened the “stages of life” of civilizations and empires to those of individual human beings. They have spoken of the birth, infancy, adolescence, maturity and senescence and, of course, death of countries and cultures. This is, needless to say, a poetic use of language; but poetry often serves as a vehicle for truths that cannot be conveyed nearly so well – or perhaps at all – by other means.

 

I want to take this line of thought a step further: I propose that the human species as a whole follows a parallel developmental trajectory, and that there are valuable insights to be gained by recognizing it. It may be a bit surprising to some, exactly where I fix the watersheds.

 

In a nutshell: I liken our Pleistocene, Paleolithic condition to the childhood of the species, and reckon its condition ever since the Agricultural Revolution to be a form of adolescence out of which we are currently struggling to emerge into full maturity. Dotage is far in our future, and whether our species will survive to see it is very much an open question.
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Sunday: A Day of the Weak

© Religion Erased

On the next fateful Sunday, many will worship. The title of this post is not aimed to accuse anyone of emotional weakness, I know there are many out there suffering the loss of loved ones, including myself. It is aimed at those capable of thinking and opt not to.

 

Three Christians travelling from London asked me this question recently: “Do I go to church?” I was at work, so was verbally bound whilst representing a business. It wasn’t the time nor place to reply or have a deeper discussion; not that I agree with that.

 

They jumped into a taxi. The floodgates opened and a wave of potential responses would have had Noah shaking in his sandals. The mental shackles were lifted and the conversation that could have been played out in imaginary dialogue. That’s the life we live. Speaking about or against religion is taboo and therefore instinctively I did not say anything. If I was outside of work? Definitely. For the next hour or so hindsight proved to be wonderful and inspired me to write about it.

 

You can socialbly trash-talk over who supports the best football team or listens to the best music. Why should I hold back on religion? I guess it means much more than that. The funny thing is, whichever deity you believe in, I am sure said God could squash me like a fly. God has an undeniably unfair advantage.
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On the Necessity of Apostasy

On one of the “atheists vs. Christians” Facebook pages that I occasionally haunt, one of the contributors recently raised an earnest question that deserves a sincere, considered response. I’ll begin by quoting him:

“You are asking this generation of Believers to put aside their beliefs in their Savior, after 2,000+ years of dedication Believers gave their lives to pass the legacy to each generation, per the Christ’s request?”

 

Garbled though it may be, this is one of the better questions I’ve seen raised in that forum. Without making it crystal clear, he seems to have broached two issues, one of which I responded to briefly with an observation about “throwing good money after bad” but now would like to address at slightly greater length: Yes, it’s true that the history of Christianity is strewn with martyrs who died for their convictions. And on some level, I’ll admit that’s impressive – just as it’s impressive when a Muslim fanatic dies for his beliefs, whether he’s put to death by the zealous defender of a rival faith or blows himself up in a crowded marketplace imagining it to be the will of Allah. But that doesn’t make his religion true, any more than being martyred for the Christian faith makes that religion true. All it means is that some people are willing to die for their opinions, and that others are willing to kill those who hold what they imagine to be the wrong opinions. No matter how many people die for a faith, the faith is not thereby validated.

 

Consider the violent end of that unfortunate first-century Palestinian prophet around whom the Christian religion is built. For the sake of argument, I’ll assume that such a figure as Jesus of Nazareth actually existed and was put to death by the Roman Procurator for inciting rebellion. That doesn’t make him the Son of God: it makes him the victim – one of many such victims – of an empire that wasn’t keen on having its prerogatives questioned. It happens all the time, and doesn’t make Jesus or any other martyr divine. For that matter, it doesn’t even place the stamp of validity on his message: his message – assuming we can find it somewhere within the opacities of the Gospels – stands or falls on its own merits.

 

I mourn for those who, like Jesus, are executed unfairly. I mourn the unjust death of Martin Luther King, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Ethyl Rosenberg, Joe Hill and Mohandas Gandhi for the same reason. But that martyrdom doesn’t make them special: their lives made them special. Like Jesus, the five martyrs I named died for causes that I can get behind, but the thing that makes their message “true” and their causes worth fighting for is not the martyrdom of the messengers.
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Sometimes, For All to Live, Something Must Die

Christianity’s most outrageous and ruinous conceptual coup has also been its most brilliant, and has positioned the church for success in perpetuity by poisoning the well of humankind until the end of time. In a single stroke, this odious religion has enslaved a large portion of the human species by implanting the following malignant, two-headed brainworm into a hundred generations of potentially reasonable people:

 

 a) Instead of being an integral and necessary part of the way the universe works, death is a curse (hence dreaded – not simply feared, as our biology would have it) incurred by “sin”(hence “a shame,” especially if self-inflicted).

 

b) Christianity offers a way to avoid that curse even as one appears to succumb to it.

 

The latter an inconvenient datum that is rationalized to insignificance (Granny didn’t really die, she just went home to be with Jesus), a way into eternal life. And it indoctrinates children with that nonsense before they’re old enough to recognize the difference between fantasy – especially of the wishful thinking variety – and reality.

 

That’s why Christianity is never going to go away. Talk about brilliant! Is any more effective program of mind control even conceivable?
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Play Like a Child

I already mentioned on here that I am trying to transition from the job that I’ve had for 6-7 years now and plan on trying a new venture. Instead of playing poker for a living, I am going to play writer. Right now is an exciting time for me. I feel as though I am currently going through the most intense emotional workout camp that I have ever experienced. Throughout the course of writing my first book, which will be mostly autobiographical , I will be continuously challenged. It is tough work sharing personal experiences with others, especially on the kind of scale that I have so far in this blog. I will go deeper in the book, and hopefully it will reach an even bigger audience. Why not? Why would I want to stay at the same level? Don’t I want to push myself? To get through it, I will want to be the strongest type of person I know: a child.

 

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I don’t know how I am going to deal with the intensity of continuously being vulnerable. Throughout this blog I have, on various occasions, ripped myself open to see what is there. Just looking at oneself in this way is tough. It is real, honest, and it forces one to look at themselves in the most vulnerable way. I am not good, I am not bad, I just am. I am whatever I am. I can cover myself back up and ignore what I saw, or I can accept my past and build on it. I prefer to look at it as an opportunity for a lesson. How can I improve myself? My 8 year old self knew I was not perfect, but I was determined to get better. At 28 years old, I hope that I am as wise as my 8 year old self was in this regard.

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