1.24.2006

Religion ... ugh


To: The Congregation
From: Michael
Date: Eternity
Subject: [Insert 30 seconds of thinking up a vapid subject line.]

OK, I’ve left some people sort of wondering what my view on religion, the afterlife and spirituality is altogether. I don’t like to get deep too much, for myriad reasons. One, I like to keep a light mood around here. Two, sometimes when I try to get deep, my writing sometimes ends up sounding like satire. But oh well. Here goes…

Religion has played a large part in my development as a, well, jackass. My mother, whom I rarely talk to, is extremely religions. My father, my best friend and role model, claims to believe in God, but he never pushed it on me. The irony? My dad is a Republican and my mom’s liberal. She has an open mind and is extremely smart, but she has unwavering faith in God.

Anyway, so she took me to church often when I was a child. We weren’t exactly there every Sunday, but at least twice a month. I loathed going to church, even as a child. I had to have unnerved my pastor with all the questions I asked. "So, what happens to people who’ve never heard of Jesus, Pastor Roy?" I’d say. "Well, Spencer, they go to hell." I knew that wasn’t right, but I hadn’t yet found the courage to confront my emotions — even if they were instilled in me by someone else.

As I aged, I went to the little Southern Baptist church less and less. I moved to the gaudy First Assembly of God in North Little Rock. Now, if anyone can make church cool, FAG in North Little Rock can. If you’ve never seen it, it’s beautiful. All glass and white, with a huge sanctuary, a gym, a workout room. And believe me, these people can’t get enough God. They speak in tongues (fuckin’ freaky), pray out loud and praise the Lord for everything.

Not me. I thought it was a crock of shit. Their sole purpose was to get more money. They did everything to attract kids, too — huge youth room, lounge room with pool and pinball tables, big screen TVs, an arcade, ya know, the works. And it worked. They averaged about 400-500 kids each week. My friends and I usually went there to meet girls. I’ve rocked my Jeep a couple times in that parking lot, and God knows how many times we went in there stoned out of our mind.

But for some reason, the pastors there loved me. As I look back now, I know why. They wanted to use me as a tool. I was the “popular guy,” yet I still hung out with the geeks I had all my classes with. People looked up to me, as hard as it is to see it. I was smart, but I always pushed the envelope. I’d tell the teacher when I thought she wrong — you know, the little things that count, but many people never had the balls to do it.

They tried every way possible to get me to come to their side. They invited me on trips, they looked past my horrible profanity problem and they even let me play in the church band (drums). When my parents were in the middle of a divorce, my youth pastor let me stay at his house for a week with his wife and kids, and I still thank them for that.

But one day, I just woke up. I can even remember that morning. I was in 11th grade (so I guess about 16 years old) and I’d just finished reading Brave New World by Aldous Huxley. I had to write my junior paper on the book and Huxley. I remember waking up one morning — in fact the morning after I had finished the book, and feeling ... different.

I began seeing things in a new light. I had so many questions. I began to write, and I didn’t stop. The book questions religion, among other things, and the way society believes almost anything it’s told to believe.

... Here’s what I think. Religion is great ... for some people. For some, going to that altar on Sunday and confronting a drug problem is really helpful. Just not for me. We are confronted with questions every day: How did we get here? What happens when we die? Blah blah blah. First of all, when you die, you do exactly that. You just fucking die. What’s so scary about that? I understand you want to believe that your loved one is in a greater place when he or she suffered so much through life (or at the end of his or her life), but they aren’t. That’s not bad; just look at it as though they’re not suffering anymore.

I just don’t understand why people allow a sweaty minister to badger them into believing what he believes and refuting any other explanation offered by other cultures or religions. It shows gross arrogance and invites repugnance from others.

I think religious radicals in America are just as bad as Jihadists. They live their lives attempting to make others conform to their outlandish beliefs. Fuck you and fuck your beliefs, I tell them. You are one of the biggest inhibitors of America’s intellectual growth. If we were all dumb and gave in to your brainwashing techniques, this country would go just the way you want it.

But no. That will never happen.

Ya know, at first, I merely made a decision not to partake in anything with the religious right. But now, I’m starting to despise anything to do with them. Why is it thought to be appropriate for ministers to hold an alter call at the funeral? Ugh. Look at all the major issues in America. Numerous problems are rooted in orthodox values. Abortion. Gay marriage. Sex education in schools. Separation of church and state. Intelligent Design. Fuck those values.

It is the 21st century, you know. Just do me a favor, if you choose to follow the religious lifestyle, do it because you chose to. Not because you have a drug problem, or are going through a divorce or anything. Don’t let turmoil dictate life choices. Go because you want to. And keep an open mind.

Am I asking too much?

6 comments:

Vicki A. Davis said...

You are right about one thing. We must all decide for ourselves what we believe. At the end of time, what you believe is going to determine your eternal destiny.

I'm sorry that you never made it past the facade of religion to the truth of the relationship that God Himself wants to have with you.

It's not about knowing the right and wrong answers. You seem to think everyone has used you and that no one loved you for you -- perhaps you were loved because you ask questions. There is a long history of men in the Bible who ran from God.

All of the issues you mention are sidebars to the true issue -- is there a God, if there is -- He created you. If He created you - are you in synch with Him? These are questions you must ask for yourself.

I know for me, Jesus Christ is the Christ and will speak to you directly if you ask Him to and truly seek Him with all your heart -- with an open mind. My mind is made up now --but I am open to people who are hurting like yourself. I hope you find the answers you are looking for. It is up to you.

If you are a person who likes educated thought you might like to read The Case for Faith by Lee Strobel. It answers many of your questions. Best wishes. I will pray for you, Spencer.
I hope you find the peace you're looking for.

Di-Spencer said...

Blow me. Don't waste your time. I wish I was a woman and could have an abortion. I'd wish it was a girl, and I'd name her Bright Idea Guru. (Oooh... that was a little harsh.)

I pity you, BIG. Does he really speak to you? Did you pray for a yacht? New clothes? A healthy baby? I wish I could live the life of an ignorant wretch, careless and blind to the world's problems.

Try this on someone who can't think for himself. Have a nice day. : )

P.S. So what's up on that holy joint?

mandy said...

SpencerIm only posting to this one because I knew the chances are you probably check soon. Youre hilarious. I love ya bunches! Enjoy your internship! Mandy

Msb00 said...

all religious people need to be moved to their own island, with their own "divine laws" and leave the rest (normal ones) of us alone.

your pro-life dogma is full of so many holes I wouldn't even piss in it.

these republicans escalate issues that in no way undermine their ability to create more and more wealth for themselves and their cronies.

wake up religious dopes... it's over. move on.

Di-Spencer said...

Woo hoo, msb00!

(That rhymes if you say ms"boo". Clever.)

Lindsay said...

Well, people are going to believe what they want to. Some are actually genuine (like BIG seems to be) although they can grate on the nerves of... say... you or me. For the most part, I view religion as a control.

(That's putting it nicely.)