My computer has been hit with a virus...a bad one. As in, I need a new computer. So entries will be limited for a while.


Religion, pt.1: Jonathan Edwards catches the #19 to downtown

Some years ago I used to have to ride the bus periodically to get around. Anyone who has lived in a city will tell you, getting to your destination is the secondary task on the bus - the principle thing to accomplish is to keep people from talking to you. Not people people, of course…but other people. Smelly, tin-foil on the head people. “Try it before you buy it” people (drug-dealers). Using corners, speed-bumps, stop-signs, etc, as an excuse to “lose their balance” and rub their crotch against you people. may sound snobby, but only to those who have not spent much time travelling by city bus. This conversation-evasion is an attempt to avoid mental trauma and preserve a shred of dignity amidst mounting evidence of loserdom (Creepy lunatics ride the bus. I am riding the bus. Therefore, I am a creepy lunatic, not an eco-friendly, pragmatic city-dweller. Crap.).

People try various things to fend off conversationalists. Headphones. Staring intently. Looking crazy themselves. None of these work. One time, though, I saw the ultimate weapon. The perfect device for keeping people away. Someone was reading…a Bible. A Bible! Brilliant! It was like Kryptonite! Shit-encrusted vagrants standing near this woman were staring at the flooring muttering, "Avoid eye-contact. Avoid eye-contact.” I thought about doing this myself, but was really uncomfortable with the idea. What if someone I knew saw me? What would people think of me? I found this fascinating: the idea of carrying a Bible was incredibly awkward, far more awkward than carrying something like, say, a raw cow’s heart. I think this would be the case for most people. Given the choice of spending a day clutching to your chest either a Bible, or a book entitled Syphilis for Dummies, most people would really have some thinking to do.

Our country has to have the most fucked up relationship with religion ever. I mean ever. We are terrified of it, and we cling to it – simultaneously. Right now we’re at a strange time where the pendulum has swung both ways at the same time. We have become frighteningly fundamentalist (a popular Right-wing commentator has called for the execution of all Muslim leaders and the forced conversion of the entire Muslim world, and a leading general of the war in Iraq has publicly stated that it is a war between Christianity and Islam), and a knee-jerk reactionism to even the mention of God (Recently a successful businessman was asked his ‘secrets of success’ and, among probably a dozen things, he mentioned his faith in God. He was slammed by a few critics for inappropriately pushing his religion on others). Now, this pendulum split will ultimately be a positive thing, because only through wading through all the moronic, inflammatory nonsense, can ever arrive at a state of independent – rather than authority induced – clarity. This is a basic premise of our society – through freedom we will create the ideal society, because we’ll have the freedom to do every stupid thing there is, and learn not to do that again. Utopia via process of elimination.

But for now? What a drag.

The funny thing is, of course, that no one knows. It’s faith. If I had to bet on any one bit of the after-life, it wouldn’t be pearly gates or rooms full of virgins, or anything that grand and earthly. I’d bet that God is waiting on the other side laughing, saying, “Wow! You were SO far off! Where’d you come up with some of that crazy shit! Hey, A for effort though, really.” Because the effort’s the thing, right? Christianity and Islam are pretty new, so we’re still squabbling over the details, the way the Chinese did about fifteen hundred years ago and the Indians (east) did about three thousand years ago. Eventually we’ll reach the conclusion they both did (that – to paraphrase – differing religions are individual paths through the woods, ending at the same destination). If we don’t kill everyone on Earth first (the Christians can’t even get along with each other! Baptists, Methodists, Lutherans, Sharks, Jets, et al.).

In the end, I couldn’t take a Bible on the bus. At one point in the Bible God tells people, “As you do unto the least of these [meaning the wretched, the poor, the smelly, tin-foil on the head people], you do unto me.” Using the text that says if you shun the poor and wretched then you shun God to, well, shun the poor and wretched was A) a little too much irony and B) definitely not an A for effort. No I didn’t get the A for effort, though. I got a bike.