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Christian Poison

By Syd Usino, Sydney ~

I have been spoiled by Christianity.

To understand how this happened, I need to first explain something else about my character; namely, my strong sense of determination. One of my earliest memories is of me escaping from my crib in the middle of the night – I remember it vividly enough; first I threw one leg over the side, so that my body was halfway in the crib and halfway on the other side (my body was resting on the elevated sides). What I best recall is that this was very painful, but I decided to go on regardless – I put myself through that pain knowing I would be rewarded for my efforts afterwards with freedom. Another example: I was not the strongest boy at my high school, and one time during sport our class was told to do 200 push-ups for playing up – though I was possibly the weakest person in the room (physically), I was the only one there who actually managed to do all 200 push-ups, just so I could prove I could do it, just because I refused to be defeated. This picture of overcoming, of endurance, essentially sums up a major dimension of my character – the satisfaction of standing through pain, willing myself to the end, and finally achieving my goal.

Well, this is all good and well when applied in the right way, but I realise now that, for around the past 15 years of my life, this uncompromising zeal was perverted against me: I was indoctrinated into the Catholic Church, and I was determined to live as a Catholic to the letter.

Since as long as I can remember, I would refrain from using the word “God” as an exclamation (I considered it blasphemous), I would never praise anything or anyone without consciously affirming in my mind that God was greater still, I was altruistic to the point of masochism, I regarded anything sexual or even mildly hedonistic to be downright disgusting (I recently discovered an old diary of mine where I basically use the words “Sexual” and “immoral” interchangeably), and I would pray to God every night – the Lord's Prayer, the Hail Mary and the Creed, before going through a list of things I was grateful for and a list of things I was sorry for, and if I didn't do it sincerely I'd do the whole thing again.

I really did believe in the concept of 100%, I was an absolutist – every slip was a catastrophe, the smallest inconsistencies were thundering dissonances (I still hate inconsistency, as it happens, though I don't think this is such a bad thing). Ironically, it was this very drive towards God which led me to atheism (since God is truth, after all), but I realise now that my determination to deny my senses, my natural urges, my insistence on regarding anything selfish or pleasurable with contempt, my impossible standards of morality, placed a great distance between me and ordinary people. And I know know why I find it so difficult to mingle with others, naturally and healthily – I've held this very mingling, and the free sentimentality required for it, in cold disdain for most of my life.

I have no confidence in social situations or personal interactions with people now – my social development has been severely retarded, and I fear the damage may be irreversible. When I speak to people, I don't rely on personal charm or confidence, I rather take refuge in cold logic – I am able to gain an advantage over people by subjecting them to my own rigid standards of rationality, but you can't win affection with or build relationships upon cold logic.

Yes! Why are reason, art and strength such important things to me? Because they're all I have left!

I hate Christianity, I hate it! Don't anyone dare tell me that I don't understand “true” Christianity – I understand it better than anyone, I followed it to its logical conclusion: Atheism. Unfortunately, I was terribly wounded in the process.

No, it's too horrible to imagine; I botched my only life under the presupposition that I would have another – and with uncompromising zeal too!

Now that I realise this, the true nature of my situation, I don't think there is any way I can really overcome my social isolation, so that I think I will have to do what I thought to be the unthinkable – I will have to accept isolation as a part of my life. I almost sympathise with the Duke of Gloucester's exclamation:

And therefore, — since I cannot prove a lover,
To entertain these fair well-spoken days, —
I am determined to prove a villain,
And hate the idle pleasures of these days.

But I deny this base instinct for petty revenge, and love life all the same. However, I will say this; – to everyone who love themselves, who feel and indulge their urges, who love and create and are filled with song, lust, benevolence, drunkenness and every other honest and healthy manifestation of vitality: I am your friend. But to all those who hate life, whose mission is to destroy life and pervert reality back onto itself, to all peddlers of nothingness, to all active Christians, to Christianity itself: I am calamity.