I know some of you don't like it when I talk about Christianity. If you're one of them, here's a choice of exit links for you: the Southern Baptist Convention's website, or the Roman Catholics' Vatican website. Pick your poison.
No, seriously. If Christianity is your sacred cow, stop reading now. I'm about to throw a little leftover Memorial Day hamburger on the grill.
It becomes more and more obvious to me that there must be something inherently wrong with a belief-system that generates this kind of madness and mayhem.
First case in point: A 19-year old man in the Texas Bible-belt microwaved his infant daughter. His wife, who is standing by him, said "the devil made him do it" to keep him from becoming a preacher.
Second case in point: Jack Chick. This guy has to be one of the nuttiest Christians ever. A hate-filled "loving" Christian, he's been producing sicko Christian tracts for what seems like forever, bashing every faith and belief other than his own warped view of Christianity. Michael at Full in Bull was discussing his tracts, and said that when he was in college he and his friends voted "The Last Generation" as the most ridiculous Jack Chick tract of all. I haven't read (and won't) all of Chick's tracts, but I remember laughing at them even as a kid. The theme that runs through Chick's pamphlets is fear. Fear and love are opposites; you can't use fear to send someone running into the loving arms of Jesus.
Point the third: Several weeks ago I wrote about a Mason-basher I'd discovered on the MySpace knock-off site YourChristianSpace.com. I set up an account there, and poked around through the weeds. It didn't take long to find the rantings of a 15-year-old girl aglow with Christian compassion. In the bulletin section, where everyone was sure to see it, was her breathless exhortation: "Please!!!! Everyone!!! YOU MUST SEE THIS VIDEO!!!" On her page was embedded the warped little movie you'll find at the bottom of this post, titled "Letter from Hell."
Her webspace indicated she'd been "born again" at the age of six, which means she has been inculcated — brainwashed if you will — into an evangelical form of the world's largest cult for nine years. Is this the kind of thing an otherwise intelligent youngster should have on her mind? Worrying that she will be responsible for someone else going to hell if she doesn't proselytize on a daily basis? I can't even imagine the nightmares this woman-child must have, and the neuroses she'll carry into adulthood.
Sunday an old friend contacted me, wanting to ask my advice on a personal matter. We hadn't spoken in a long time. She is a woman I dated briefly several years ago. We didn't go the romantic route, but became friends. As divorced people are apt to do, we talked a lot about our marriages.
Saturday night her oldest daughter, age 21, broke up with her longtime boyfriend. Her daughter is a sweet, decent, happy, deeply spiritual but not conventionally religious, outgoing young college student who is active in liberal causes. Her boyfriend of seven years ( ! ) had been a rowdy, alcohol-and-drug-abusing going-nowhere punk.
When her daughter got home Saturday night, she had a daughter-to-mother cry, and told her mom things she hadn't heard before.
About a year ago, she was told Saturday night, the boyfriend had "date-raped" her daughter. After that, he used the excuse that since they'd already had sex, they should continue. The daughter said she went along with it, but found it "messy" at best, saying it "did nothing for her."
It gets worse.
Somewhere along the way this otherwise rational young women had picked up this self-judgmental belief system: That she is ruined, and can never marry anyone else because she's had sex. She can't "give herself" to another man as a "pure woman." She's also disgusted by the idea of ever having sex with a man who has been with another woman.
It's not about disease, or safe sex, or any reason remotely rational. It's a warped idea about self-worth, and not an idea, I'm guessing, she came up with without some external stimulus.
My friend was bewildered at her daughter's attitude, because it is not something the daughter learned from the mother. Her other two, younger daughters, do not share the same attitude, either.
While talking to my friend, I remembered our long-ago discussions about her ex-husband. He had considered himself to be deeply religious. He carried a Bible with him everywhere he went. I hate to admit this, but he was also a Freemason. (I do not know him, and his lodge is at least 150 miles away from me.) Whenever anyone asked about Masonry, he said he'd be killed if he spoke even a word about it. He was also a heavy drinker, and would tell you all about Masonry when he drank.
He strongly believed women should not experience sexual pleasure, that it was all for the man, and that women should be punished if they felt desire or responded to desire.
He was a sometime violent and very controlling man, she said.
My meager contribution to the conversation was to simply ask if her ex-husband, the father of the daughter, could have been the source of the daughter's skewed self image, and whether her seven-year attraction to her equally controlling, "screwed-up" boyfriend could have been an attempt to use him as a replacement father-figure.
My friend, who had put her ex-husband out of mind for years (he seldom sees his children) was shocked, not that I had asked, but that I was probably right.
Needless to say, her reaction opened up issues better left unmentioned here.
My point is this: There is something about religion that makes some people crazy. It's not just Christians; it's readily apparent in Islam, too. The zealotry and the better-that-thou attitudes taught by religions set up in followers the psychological need to convert others to their way of thinking, by physical force or mental intimidation, or both, if necessary. It creates an us-versus-them mentality, where the "us" are more righteous than the "heathens" who don't follow the same religious belief system. Often religious people even squabble with their own kind, who happen to believe only slightly differently; Protestants vs. Catholics, for example, or consider the hatred between Sunni and Shia Muslims.
Religions have set themselves up as moral authorities which push its adherents to want to be judge and jury on private matters, like sex, or alcohol consumption, or the subjugation of women, or how many times you pray and what compass direction you bow towards. And religions have fostered beliefs in some odd, superstitious things, too, like Hell and Satan and that dead people can get up and walk out of their graves.
Just as Masons congregate on this blog and elsewhere to discuss the changes needed in Freemasonry, and debate what is the real point of Freemasonry and how best to get back to it, so too should Christians discuss and get back to — soon, I hope — the whole point of Christianity.
Jesus said the greatest commandment is to love God, and the second to love your neighbor. He didn't say anything about judging them, or killing them, or treating your wife badly, or making your kids a bit crazy with bizarre attitudes about sex or fears of Hell.
I'm pretty sure Jesus wouldn't approve of his followers microwaving babies, either.
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