“Religion has actually convinced people that there’s an invisible man living in the sky who watches everything you do, every minute of every day. And the invisible man has a special list of ten things he does not want you to do. And if you do any of these ten things, he has a special place, full of fire and smoke and burning and torture and anguish, where he will send you to live and suffer and burn and choke and scream and cry forever and ever ’til the end of time! But He loves you. He loves you, and He needs money! He always needs money! He’s all-powerful, all-perfect, all-knowing, and all-wise, somehow just can’t handle money!”
I was just revisiting some George Carlin standup videos on YouTube recently. I think I’ve begun another one of my posts using his quotes. Check Carlin out if you’ve never had the chance. Like his contemporary, Richard Pryor, he’s both a very funny comedian and thought provoking at the same time. As the “Dean Of Counterculture Comedians” (as a newspaper once labeled him), Carlin always encouraged his audience to think for themselves and question the powers that be. In this case, his target was organized religion.
If you consider yourself a Freethinker, a Bohemian, a Hippie, a Goth, a Punk, a Hip Hop poet, a Rebel, a whatever… (who needs labels, right?) probably organized religion is not going to sit too well with you and your stunningly perceptive mind. I know for myself, I’m someone who doesn’t accept the easy answers in life. Maybe the Bible or the Torah are exactly the final word on God, Existence and the Afterlife. But I just can’t accept that it’s all laid out for my mind like a cushy, plush red carpet. I only need to stroll along the velvet-roped path to end all my doubts, questions and worries. The easier the answer is to the Big Questions, the more I question the simple convenience of those answers.
Neither can I accept the powerful institutions that grow up around religion and how that they, and they alone, hold the keys to all these big answers. Some crusty old white dudes in Rome, surrounded by gold, palaces and paintings by Renaissance Masters can communicate with God in some sort of special way and pretend to know His plan alone (and gays and women can stay in their place). Don’t even get me started in on Islam: some crusty old Middle-Eastern dudes surrounded by gold, palaces and Mercedes-Benzes forbid us to drink alcohol, fornicate and satirize religion (and gays and women can stay in their place).
Sorry, I just don’t get it. What’s the appeal? What is it about religion and the DENIAL of pleasure? The more you abstain from in this worldly life, the higher in rank one becomes in the eyes of so many organized
religions cults. I’ll enjoy my glass of aged whiskey before bed thank you very much, and highly doubt that when I die, if there is a sentient God, He/She is going to be very concerned about how much bacon I ate, or some sloppy one-night stand I had in college.
I’m not knocking Personal Spirituality: many people in times of hardship take comfort in believing in a higher purpose to their lives. If staring up at night sky and marveling at the vastness of the universe inspires you (I know it does me), then all the power to you. But Thinking For Yourself– now there’s a novel idea. Question authority wherever you find it, and do what pleases you in this lifetime- as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone else. Live your life the way you feel it should be lived.
You only have one chance to get it right and once you’re gone- you’re gone. Even if you ascend onwards to some higher plane of existence, you’re not coming back to this one in the same way. So, enjoy your days while you have them. Stop denying what you’d love to do in your life out of fear of violent retribution by some Invisible Sky Wizard invented by illiterate desert sheepherders 2000 years ago. Drink a bottle of red wine and fornicate in a public park. Besides getting arrested, I guarantee nothing really bad is going to happen to you. There is no Universal Truth folks (except, of course, every word that I’ve ever written in this blog).
With all the violence being committed in the name of religion in today’s world (and throughout human history for that matter), maybe it’s time we took a step back from all this primitive barbarity and the justification behind it based on unverifiable emotions and feelings… Just sayin’.