04 December 2011


Two more reasons to give up religion:

When I was in high school in the early 1960s, on a hot July Sunday, we were leaving for church when my mother asked me where my white gloves were.

Gloves? On a 95 degree day?

I complained that there was no way I was going to wear gloves in that heat in a church that was not air-conditioned. The church also had large clear-paned windows (not stained glass) so the morning sun made the church, well, hot as hell.

My mother finally permitted me to carry the gloves.

Why? So people wouldn't think I didn't have any.


This year, the day after Thanksgiving, it was quite warm here, near 60 ---unusual for this time of year ---and as we were driving, we saw many people installing holiday displays. It reminded me of a time when it was bitter cold out and my mother had me and my sister hanging Christmas lights in below-zero weather.

My father worked for the Post Office and also was a church organist and choir director, so from Thanksgiving until Christmas we rarely saw him. He worked overtime for the Post Office and had many extra choir rehearsals for three church services (in two different locations) each Sunday or holiday. So it was up to my sister and me to hang the lights. (My mom had frequent strep throat and therefore stayed out of the bitter cold, except to walk to church, of course, or to bark instructions to us on how to hang the holiday lights.)

We were complaining about the cold, and finally I asked why we needed to hang lights anyway.

My mom's response: "So people won't think we are Jewish."


I have a theory about people in general. Most of us, even if we hate admitting it sometimes, are pretty much like our parents, but there is always something about them that drove us crazy, and therefore, we try to be unlike them, in that one respect. In my case, my mother was hell-bent on keeping up appearances and I am not. I cannot say that I don't care at all what other people think of me, but I am much more interested in comfort than wearing what is fashionable. (I'm very glad the days of white gloves are gone.) I don't care much what my neighbors think. And I certainly would not be offended if they saw my unlighted home at holiday time and assumed I were Jewish. I'd be much more offended if someone assumed I were a Christian.


masterymistery said...

This comment doesn't relate specifically to this post, but rather is a general comment on what I understand some aspects of your thinking to be.

Firstly, the word "God" itself. It's totally unusable. Carries too much emotional and intellectual baggage.

Usually, People are too heavily invested in their personal concepts of the numinous to be able to carry on a reasonable conversation about ... numinousness.

So let's not talk about god, as an agent. But rather as a process, a context.

Secondly, the differences that people think they have between each other are usually the result of the tendency of language to conceal more than it reveals.

A polytheistic believer believes there are forces and powers in the universe.

So too does a physicist.

A monotheistic believer believes there is one very powerful force that sustains the entire universe.

So too do most physicists. The project of uniting three fundamental forces into one, has been completed successfully (electromagnetism, the weak force, the strong force). When we figure out where gravity fits into the picture, we will have completed the project of uniting all fundamental forces into one.

But scientism is not a natural enemy of qualitative knowledge. It has been made to be, but it is not inherently so.

The discoveries of science are not fundamentally inimical to spirituality. Rather, they reflect the greater glory of a well made cosmos.

religion on the other hand is fundamentally inimical to spirituality.

It is thanks to religion that western culture faces a crisis of meaning and purpose, or lack thereof.

But what religion won't tell you is that a person's relationship with the numinous is entirely in the hands of the person. Not in the hands of priests or other intermediaries.

What religion won't tell you is that you can have a relationship with the numinous that doesn't involve worship, commandments and blind obedience to the dictates of a psychopath who requires people to sacrifice their children to demonstrate their so-called "faith".

Yes, we sure as hell don't need gods, least of all one named Jehovah who by his own lips and in his own words admits he is wrathful and jealous.

masterymistery at
cosmic rapture

Snowbrush said...

"I cannot say that I don't care at all what other people think of me, but I am much more interested in comfort than wearing what is fashionable."

I think society has moved a whole long ways in that direction. Sometimes, I think we've maybe moved a bit too much, and what others call casual, I would be more likely to consider disrespectful. I mean, there are options between formal clothes and ragged jeans and t-shirts.

Your poor mom and her recurring strep throats. I wonder what that was about.

C Woods said...

Well, I agree with you about the "too casual" but then, I don't care a whole lot what anyone else wears either, as along as it isn't totally inappropriate (a bikini to an opera or grunge jeans to a funeral.) I'm not easily offended by that kind of thing.

I went to an investment meeting last night. The speaker & moderator wore suits. Most others came in jeans. I wore black slacks and a long-sleeved knit shirt, so I kind of hit the middle of the road & was comfortable with that.

To: masterymistery
You said: "Firstly, the word 'God' itself. It's totally unusable. Carries too much emotional and intellectual baggage."
Well, mistery, it's the only word I've got to describe the being religious people believe created and rules the world. What should I use instead? numinous? That's the word you use, but I would bet most people wouldn't understand it, yet almost everyone has some conception of what "God" means to religious people, so for the time being, I'll stick with it unless you can come up with a better word.

I admit I go back and forth between using the word god (lower case) and God with a capital letter. I usually use god when writing about multiple gods or a non-specific concepts of god, but God when I am writing about a specific God figure. Yet, I have been inconsistent in my usage.

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