The first time religion didn’t make sense to me occurred as my family was saying grace before having dinner. I was about six.
God didn’t get the groceries, and they were not free (“these, thy gifts”).
I’d been around long enough to know the following: Dad worked a lot to get money. He gave the money to my Mom. My Mom bought and prepared dinner. So factually, no, we hadn’t been given jack shit “from [God’s] bounty, through Christ our Lord.”
It was a thing we did daily, usually without thought – giving God credit when my Dad worked 14-hour days and my Mom managed to keep Matt from injuring himself and others… Plus make dinner for four (then five) people six of seven days a week, and appeasing the child incapable of ordering on-menu, ever.
The weirdest thing was the fact that the two people who insisted we pray were the same people whose efforts the prayer attributed to God and Jesus.
And so I thought… Maybe God gets credit for everything because He made everything. So maybe he’s not a farmer, a middleman, on the line at a packaging plant, a grocery worker, etc. God made the world, without which there would be nothing to eat and no one to eat nothing.
Buuuut I didn’t take the Creation literally. That is, I knew Genesis was a story. How did I know? It read like a children’s story that was sure to talk down to them.
And: How can anyone be satisfied with the following Q&A:
How was the universe made? God made it.
Plus my interest in astronomy showed me the Bible’s cosmology was all wrong.
Before I was ten I had determined that me and a lot of others talked to an invisible God every Sunday, that through Him all things were/are possible, and that we prayed for exactly the same things each week.
I knew that religion and the world – existence – didn’t play together.
And that religious people didn’t mix them, either, since Jesus was an ascetic, a Communist, a step up from Gandhi in his radical pacifism, a prophet who predicted an imminent apocalypse (see appended NOTE, below – he was almost right), whose most fundamental teaching is that your life doesn’t matter, who advocated a love for God so strong it could ruin families, who cared only for the poor, the sick, the “least” of society etc etc…
After a while, any good Catholic does the following during Mass: imagines how his week will unfold, complete with contingency plans; pictures all the girls in church naked; spends the ten minutes before having to kneel bemoaning how torturous the experience is; takes pains to continuously look like whatever a good person looks like; wonders how long the priest had made the Homily; wonders how much longer the Homily will take; asks his brother how much longer the Homily will take; is shhhed by a parent; imagines countless times what his bed was doing without him; and so forth, depending on how long the priest makes the Homily.
The churchgoer does all this while reciting the Mass in perfect consonance with his fellow parishoners. (But not singing. There’s no excuse for that.)
Which is, in a nut, Life. Catholic Style.
You profess to believe things you know are false, you deify a man whose very existence would constitute the height of treason in this country, you continuously express a desire to be more like Jesus, but take no action.
Which is worth noting, because there’s only one activity you’d have to add to your life, were you to live it according to Jesus. And you get rid off everything but that one activity.
So living as Jesus taught is, in a word, easy. To do one thing, get rid of all other things. Like so:
Have a job? Quit.
Family? Leave it.
Money? Give it all to the poor.
Clothes? See above. Keep one modest garment or garments (enough to cover your nakedness).
Eliminate everything you don’t need that second.
Now spend the rest of your life attempting to personally commune with Yahweh.
No one in my church did that. My diocese, even. Though it’s self-evident: The Holy Roman Catholic Church is an enterprise Jesus would have spent more time on earth for – time spent spewing derision and in legal battles across the globe regarding trademark law, intellectual property rights, and a last-minute strategy to impugn St. Paul’s character: painting him as a zealous persecutor of Christians, which no one contests, who hatched the greatest plan ever told while tripping on shrooms in the desert: He would fake-convert, then use the freedom of movement the Jewish Christians lacked to spread The Antithesis of Jesus Christ everywhere to everyone. …He managed to kill the religion, itself, and make each believer a heretic.
Ahem. That is, no Catholic – no Christian – wants to live at all as Jesus did. And no one of intelligence understands the Bible as history.
And so religious belief is possible only if one avoids the same mistake I made so long ago, reciting Grace at the dinner table: Thinking about it.
NOTE: I’ll discuss the Almostacalypse in a later post. …OR, explain enough to prompt you to seek a more thorough exegesis, hopefully.
Path of least resistance…
OK: the Jews revolted against the Romans continually after 66 CE. The first revolt is notable for the Battle of Beth Horan, considered to be one of the worst military defeats dealt to the Roman Empire by a subject people (ie, “the world”).
The Third Revolt resulted in Jerusalem being put to the torch. After everything stone was toppled. The Temple, dwelling place of God on Earth, was demolished. Jerusalem was leveled. Jews were barred from the once-city.
Know those stones that form a line the width of Britain — Hadrian’s Wall? Well, it’s a little stinky that he’s known for that and not for being Hitler centuries before Hitler thought of being Hitler.
Hadrian decided to get rid of the Jews. Through murder, mainly. Slavery, surely. Profaning all they held sacred, good sport. But they even renamed Israel and Judea, right down to Jerusalem, and have these lands to the Philistines, whom Jews did not much admire, and likewise.
After the destruction of the Temple, and loss of Jerusalem, this was a grave concern: Had Judaism itself been destroyed?
I’m not one to go further down that road, since I was essentially raised a neo-Roman, aka Catholic. (I’ve since reformed, and hope you know the joke.)
Which was what Jesus, John the Baptizer, et al preached about: The end of the world. The end of Judaism is the same thing. (Also, Christians fail to notice that Christ et al only consider Jews to be people. Therefore, the end of everyone is “only” the end of the Jews.)
And let’s end there, because I think I’m probably getting offensive. …To someone, somewhere, anyway. It’s just statistics. Please know I mean no offense.
Nor will I in coming posts proving deism of any type to be fucking dumb as rocks.