9/11/2016 | Share this article: View CommentsBy Carl S ~
Don't even try. You have no idea how many testimonies I've read from individuals who worry what will happen if they come out as atheist or simply as not believing anymore. There are the usual references to parents, grandparents, and friends in a church who will be hurt or angry with the decision. "Coming out" is common today. Maybe you remember when all gays were in the closet, but being gay is now acceptable. Celebrities waited until they had a fan base and made their millions before coming out. Most of us don’t have that option. No matter what you decide, someone is bound to be displeased. What about your own unease? Repressing your harmless needs, conscience, intelligence and emotions, is not healthy for you psychologically or physically. You can reach the point of exploding or imploding from the pressure. Then nobody’s happy.
Trying to please others can sometimes be a bitch. There will always be some people telling you how to manage your life, what decisions you should make, and what they would do if they were in your shoes. Their advice can be useful, or not. You may displease them if you don't decide as they want you to. That could cause problems. But, if you find yourself in a situation where just about no one agrees with you, and tells you outright you're wrong, you might begin to question your own judgement. You're not alone. So, while you displease many, others are equally pleased. To paraphrase Abraham Lincoln, you can please some people some of the time, but not all people all of the time.
Since my wife is good friends with another church member, I hear them repeat a lot of comments from the congregants, some of them about what God wants, is doing in for their lives, and activity that must be due to his intervention. It's trite stuff to me, even good for laughs. I have to ask myself: Just what do they mean by "God?" It seems this concept is like Plastic Man, very malleable. Their God is like a candy that changes so that it becomes whatever ﬂavor you desire, whenever you desire, even as you're chewing it! Is this the god they're talking about? Looks that way. (Of course, if you go to the church just down the street from this one...)
What about this God billions of believers are trying to please and avoid displeasing? He's said to be a “jealous" god. Can this mean he's jealous of himself? There are many "Gods" in this world. If you please the Christian God, you displease the Jewish God, the Moslem God, the Mormon and Vatican God, et al - and vice versa. Depending on which sect one ﬁnds oneself in, pleasing and displeasing God is a kaleidoscope of its individual rules and beliefs. By coming out, you reject all Gods. You don't please or displease Gods that don't exist.
When I started taking an objective look at the gospels, for the reasons why Jesus was cruciﬁed, one thing stood out: he was killed because he pissed off the authorities. It didn't help that he went around mocking the authority and morals of the Scribes and Pharisees. That alone could get you murdered. Nope. They used the system for revenge, by having him executed as a threat to the Romans. But amongst them, the real reason was that Jesus was a heretic and blasphemer. (No big deal to the Romans, who would have taken those charges with a grain of salt.) Then, when the Christians gained power, they got pissed off when anybody denied the fabricated divinity of Jesus, so they killed off their own alleged blaspheming dissenters.
Gospel Jesus is very displeased - with his disciples, his mother and brothers, with the rich man, the Samaritan woman who eventually begged, as she said, like a dog, for the crumbs that fell from his miraculous healing table, and anyone else he had no trouble humiliating. He was so displeased with his own Jewish people that he let them be slaughtered in Jerusalem. That wasn't enough. He allowed them to be persecuted for centuries for being "Christ killers.“ Now that's pissed-of! So be warned: don't displease Jesus. Sure, he says he's forgiving, but that only goes so far. Read the gospels for yourself. He’ll send you to the torture chambers forever if you make him angry enough, and you don't know when or where that'll happen. He's the same harsh judge, yesterday, today, the same forever. The mad queen of “Alice in Wonderland" can't hold a candle to him.
One of the greatest contributions of the Enlightenment was the questioning of authority. It became clear that "heresies" were differences of opinion, and that religions themselves are opinions. One man's faith equals another man's heresy. And free speech constantly argues and keeps trying to drive that point home. It's no wonder theocracies are threatened by this simple fact. In the words of Queen Elizabeth I, “We are not amused." Her father, Henry VIII, as a Catholic, punished and executed Protestant heretics, and as a Protestant, did the same to Catholics. Pleasing him was a matter of survival, depending on whichever way his faith went at the moment.
The benefits of free speech include the freedom for individuals to claim to be divine, equal to a god, and to openly contradict the religious claims of some or all. Many religious authorities, and their faithful followers, are pissed off about this. In democracies, they prefer censorship, since they can't imprison or execute those who piss them off, like those other God's reps do in countries where they rule. No one there is immune from religion. You can bet Jesus would be executed in Islamic countries at this very minute - once again, for blasphemy. When it comes to displeasing God's representatives when they get control, the punishments are sure to follow; amen. No matter how societies progress, when God's agents grab control, the axe will fall on those who displease them.
Building new churches pleases the denomination heads, even when new buildings are redundant. Church members will put out hard earned money and time to "please God" by erecting a new place in which to praise him. (And speaking of praise: there's nothing that brings more praise from my wife's pastor than large gifts of money. And it is the most sincere.)
I suspect most men attend church just to please their wives or partners. There are few things more unpleasant, of the many they will do for love and/or sex. Men aren't generally interested in comfy-sweet faiths women hold dear, any more than they are in Harlequin romance novels or the heart-tugging Lifetime made-for-TV movies. Comments I've heard from men and their writings through the ages lead me to conclude most men know clergy are bullshitters.
In the U.S., political parties bend over backwards to please the Catholic church and the Evangelical Christian hierarchy. They want their votes. How many votes are there? Well, the Catholic church counts those who were baptized in that religion as Catholics, even if they have dropped Catholicism. This is like declaring a man is still a Communist or Nazi party member because he was at one time in his life. The government accepts the Church's membership declarations on faith. This lying has consequences. For example, even though my wife, brother-in-law, sister-in-law, and millions of others, have been baptized in the Catholic church, they abandoned it decades ago. Meanwhile, get this: they are also reported as current members of other Christian churches, by those other churches - at the same time. Instead of doubly voting, they represent two votes apiece, one as Catholic, the other as non-Catholic, even anti-Catholic! And those who run for election, and their parties, are trying to please all of them!
In the meantime, those who don't agree with any religions are ignored; nobody tries to please them. It reminds me of a line from a western movie: the bad guy says, "If anyone here has an objection to what I've said, let him speak up." The guy at the end of the table starts to say something, and the bad guy says, “Hey! Who asked you?" (It's just like Bill O'Reilly interviewing someone he disagrees with.)
It's the same old story. Throughout the histories of civilizations, it's power that dominates, and the populace has had to please the powers that be. When power is given to representatives of God or gods, they have to be pleased in every little facet of the lives around them, satisﬁed with obedience to them. The gods are bowed down to because there are no choices; to displease them brings misfortunes. Pleasing Jesus/God/Allah/Jehovah becomes the reason for human existence. Morality does not enter into this pleasing, for even abandonment of loved ones, genocide, and the murdering of friends and disagreers can please them. Right or wrong is interpreted solely as what pleases or displeases them.
Too bad if they're displeased, not amused, or if they're angry. Tough luck if pleasing any one of them displeases the others. What the hell good has it done humanity to kiss the asses of the god interpreters? Tough luck for them. Oh, too bad, boo hoo. They'll just have to accept that you can't please everyone.