Oy vey, it’s Christmas… Jesus Christ already.
“The plain fact is religion must die for mankind to live. The hour is getting very late to be able to indulge in having key decisions made by religious people. By irrationalists. By those who would steer the ship of state not by a compass but by the equivilent of reading the entrails of a chicken. George Bush prayed a lot about Iraq but he didn’t learn a lot about it. Faith means making a virtue out of not thinking. It’s nothing to brag about. And those who preach faith and enable and elevate it are intellectual slave holders keeping mankind in a bondage to fantasy and nonsense that has spawned and justified so much lunacy and destruction. Religion is dangerous because it allows human beings who don’t have all the answers to think that they do.
Most people would think it’s wonderful when someone says “I’m willing Lord, I’ll do whatever you want me to do,” except that since there’s no gods actually talking to us, that void is filled in by people with their own corruptions, and limitations, and agendas… and anyone who tells you they know, they just knowwhat happens when you die, I promise you you don’t. How can I be so sure? Because I don’t know and you do not possess mental powers that I do not. The only appropriate attitude for man to have about the big questions is not the arrogant sertitude that is the hallmark of religion… but doubt. Doubt is humble and that’s what man needs to be considering that human history is littered with getting shit wrong.
This is why rational people, anti-religionists… must end their timidity, come out of the closet and assert themselves. And those who consider themselves only moderately religious need to look in the mirror and realize that the solace and comfort religion brings you, actually comes at a terrible price.
If you belonged to a political party or a social club that was tied to as much bigotry, misogony, homophobia, violence and sheer ignorance as religion is, you’d resign in protest. To do otherwise is to be an enabler, a mafia wife… with the true devils of extremism that draw their legitimacy from the billions of their fellow travellers. If the world does come to an end here or wherever or if it limps into the future dessimated by the effects of a religion inspired nuclear terrorism, let’s remember what the real problem was. That we learned how to procipitate mass death before we got past the neurological disorder of wishing for it. That’s it. Grow up or die.”
~ Bill Maher, Religulous
Christmas is supposed to be a religious holiday that celebrates the birth of Jesus, son of himself and father of himself, from betwixt the legs of a virgin. Like I said on Twitter: If today, some teenage girl claimed that she was a virgin and yet pregnant with the child of god, she would be a guest on Jerry Springer and her child would be removed from her custody and placed in the hands of social services.
I know what a miracle is. A miracle is a loved one, surviving Cancer. A miracle is doctors being able to bring sight to the blind. A miracle is the perfection of creation, before we filthied it all up, anyway. A miracle is another day alive, full of promise and possibility. Immaculate conception doesn’t sound like a miracle, it sounds like an explanation accepted by a primitive society like the one that existed at the time.
Even crazier is convincing children that this guy named Santa is real, and is going to break into the house while they sleep, to leave presents behind to reward them for good behavior. This has absolutely nothing to do with Jesus. This has to do with marketing, commercialism, materialism, and bribing/threatening kids with presents as bait to do as they’re told. Otherwise wonderful parents are creatures of habit where it comes to Santa and Christmas. When reading their kids Harry Potter, I’m sure most parents had to explain to younger children the difference between fantasy and reality. This Santa thing though is disturbing because parents are straight up lying to their kids and going out of their way to convince them that this guy is real.
One could argue that it’s harmless fantasy, not unlike the Tooth Fairy. I’d agree, except for the fact that the Tooth Fairy fantasy isn’t intertwined with religion. With god. Same goes for the Easter Bunny. What do these cartoons have to do with anything? Folklore is not religion. Religion is most certainly not a synonym for spirituality.
It’s interesting to me that so many different faiths are all celebrating around this time of year. Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa… Festivus I think it’s more interesting to examine the fact that around the same time every year there are people of a variety of faiths who disagree about many things, yet celebrating at all is a common denominator, seasonally. Those are the things I like to observe, ponder about, and take into consideration on a deeper level.
You see, it’s not that I don’t believe in god. I do believe there is something that is beyond our capabilities to truly understand and know. I understand that whatever “it” is, it’s one of those things we will never really know. Even when you share the same ideas, there are things that people disagree about. And that’s okay. That’s great actually. It means people are thinking about it at all, I just hope they’re thinking on the right level.
I’m wary of using the word god to describe the entity that I refer to, because that conjures a mental image of a younger, thinner Santa. True greatness doesn’t require figureheads or cartoon characters, it requires insight and intent.
I was “raised Jewish”. I’ve always hated hearing people say “Well, if your mother is Jewish then you’re Jewish.” It’s always bothered me that that’s how religion worked. At least “my” religion anyway, and that of most of my friends. Being Jewish never really meant much more to me than Sunday morning bagels and lox, or using yiddish words around my shixa friends. Culturally I’m Jewish… but why would my spiritual path be laid out for me before I even existed? I always felt that it was something I wanted to find on my own. My family only ever went to temple on the High Holidays. We didn’t eat kosher. But there was plenty of kvetching and kvelling and plotzing going on.
When I was a teenager I went through a period of time where I was going through a lot in my life within my family. I never could really count on them and I wasn’t quite fully ready to count on myself. I started to get more curious about whether or not I could believe in god, let alone count on god. I started reading books about all kinds of different religions. I spoke to a couple of Rabbi’s and some of the religious mentors in the lives of people close to me. I had an endless supply of questions, and the more of them they answered the less of it made sense to me and the more questions sprouted up in their place. I remember asking my grandmother what Jews think happen after you die and she said “I don’t know, ask a Rabbi.” My grandmother, Jewish all her life, didn’t know. My grandmother, who thinks that the eyebrows she “had done” is entirely different than my “horrible tattoos”.
I never really found religion. What I did find was spirituality. I do believe there is something greater than us all, but I’m not sure if I believe we are part of some kind of master plan or some kind of experiment of free will or destiny. I’m more likely to believe in reincarnation than ressurection but neither really rings true entirely. I don’t think that spirituality is something we can find in a book or teachings of what others found spiritually a thousand years ago. I think if we really want to hear god we should listen to our gut and pay attention to what we feel in the most private of places where we are entirely open and brutally honest with ourselves. Writings from so long ago that everyone seems to draw their morale from should be seen as metaphors.
I really do try to be a good person, to do the right thing even when it’s difficult. But I also indulge in some things that I know are singularly shallow and immature. I forgive myself that. We are all flawed, each of us. That being said I allow myself to be grateful that my flaws are what they are. It could be much worse. At this point in my life I am aware of them (or most of them, I think), I try to better myself… but I forgive myself for my humanity because no one can escape imperfections. Not even me. Not even you. Perfection is an impossible thing to achieve, and we know this and yet scold ourselves in so many ways for the flaws we have. Flaws are the one thing we all have in common. Knowing that you will have imperfections no matter what, consider what yours might be if you traded them in.
Around 16 I started reading books like The Celestine Prophecy, Gifts From Eykis, TheTeachings of Don Juan, and Conversations With God. I’ve continued to read anything about spirituality that draws me in, countless books over the years… and you take what you can use and you leave the rest behind, creating a unique mosiac of what spirituality is to you. There was no one book that seemed to have all the answers but these opened my mind to consider things in an entirely different way. I think there began my individual spiritual journey and “what I believe” continues to evolve over time. I hope it always does. That evolution I think, is more important and relevant to acknowledge than the evolution of our bodies.
We live in a country where there is supposed to be a separation between church and state, free to believe or NOT believe in whatever path we choose for ourselves… but where homosexuals can’t get married and our money boasts “In God We Trust”. Murder in the name of whatever omnipotent entity created all of this is hypocrisy whether that entity really does exist or only exists in your own mind. I kind of think religion came to be in the first place as some sort of population control. The first form of politics. None of that has anything to do with spirituality. We as a people seem to need to take some of the responsibility for the outcomes of things and put it on something or someone else. We have more resonsibility… and more control… than we think.
God, however you see god, is found in the process of making choices and being real with yourself and then learning from the cause and effect you see and applying it. In brutal honesty that is absolutely private and internal. Deep inside, don’t we know ourselves enough to be honest about how we can be better? We can only control what is in our power to control, and the only thing we can control is ourselves. Nothing and no one else. Doing the best with what you have, within and without and learning how to be happy and give and love within and without… bettering ourselves. Being the change you want to see and having a sense of humor about the rest. Things like that… that is god. To me.
What is not god? Believing something just because you read it and your mother believed it and your grandmother believed it. Jewish children, Christian children, Catholic children, Muslim children: are each given different information from childhood and then most accept it as the right ideas. Maybe they are all wrong.
Do you really want to be a “sheep”, unquestioning and following the herd? Explain to me how murder is a sin yet also we should stone people to death. Why are you not making sacrifices and painting your doorways with blood? If Jesus lived a “perfect life” that you are to blindly imitate, then why, since he was born Jewish and under the law, did he not abide by his own religious requirements set by his father, aka himself? Why does the Bible say that one should love their enemy more and yet Christians picket outside Gay Day at Disney World with signs telling the “faggots and dykes” they are devils? Do you really believe there are angels flying around in the sky? That Heaven and Hell exist? That you will eternally burn in some way if you don’t accept that Jesus died JUST FOR YOU, for your sins? Or is that maybe a form of manipulation to get an ancient civilization to do as they are told or believe as the greatest minds then believed? Does that mean then that we should, say, continue to believe the earth is flat?
If there is a god at all, any god worth worshipping is BETTER than we are. The Bible says we are created in gods image, yet our human egos have lead us to place our own human qualities on god: judgement, revenge… We’ve personified god. Do you really think “he” (it) is a Dumbledore looking man in ancient Birkenstocks? If a mother can love all her children equally, regardless of their behavior, don’t you think any god that might exist would be even more so loving, whether you “accept” this personified explanation that teaches people to hate and has been the cause of more war than anything else in all of time? How is it healthy or godlike to believe we are born wretches and sinners? It’s disturbing, disgusting, and archaic.
How dare any of us assume we know? Not unlike an ant in an ant farm, who can’t conceive of the world outside the plastic and sand, we can never understand something that is so beyond us: any more than once upon a time the greatest minds of the world could conceive of a round Earth or any more than primitive societies could have conceived of electricity. It’s beyond us. It’s okay to admit that we simply do not know. If you have faith that there is more, it’s okay to admit you can never understand it.