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Mr. Meanie

By Carl S. ~

Back in the 1950's, before Peanuts or Calvin and Hobbes, there was a cartoon strip called, “Pogo.” It was a sophisticated and sometimes political commentary of the times. During one Christmas season, a strip ran in which one character confronted another with the words, “You told my kid that there’s no Santa Claus. What are you trying to do - destroy a child's faith in his father?”

Last night, I watched “How the Universe works,” while my wife napped. It's the kind of program she would avoid because it's loaded with scientific information, and therefore, is T MI for her mind. To me, just observing what's known about the Universe is awesome. When she awoke, I left the show on ‘til it ended. Maybe I was feeling mean; her religion teaches a deity created and keeps this Universe in order, and clearly the evidence shows this is not true. Facts erode faith.

I just finished reading ex-pastor Jerry DeWitt‘s book, “Hope After Faith”. (Which I recommend to everyone.) By recounting his journey out of faith, unintentionally, he, like the Pogo character, “destroys a believer’s faith” in clergy. Now, isn't that MEAN? To destroy comfy fantasies that harm no one? Oh, but we on this site know that, very often, religious fantasies are NOT harmless.

And think about this: what would have happened if one “destroyer” were able to destroy the faith of the 9/11 martyrs in the imams who indoctrinated them? As Wizened Sage has noted, the faith of the believer is actually faith in his teachers. Aren’t “threats to the faith” actually threats to the mutually-authorized authority of clerics?

Non-believers such as us are meanies, spoil-sports. Once, I asked a 7 yr. old boy, in front of his mother, if someone who drowned children was a had person , referring to the god he is taught to worship. Much later on, I learned that his mother was moved to tears because of this. I did not apologize for being a Grinch by casting doubt; I hope the pain inoculated the child from believing everything he’s taught.

My becoming a meanie {as the Grinch becoming nice) didn’t happen overnight. First, I made searching for the truth a passionate pursuit, digging up all the data available, pleasant and not nice at all, equally. One thing became obvious right away; I noticed that while I criticized myself for mistakes, many others did not do the same. Perhaps they were just better at lying to themselves, cleverer at covering up THEIR mistakes. Yet, this is liberating for a “conscience-bound” mind. I started to wonder if believers have thought about this. It's a way of keeping from falling into self-deception ruts. As my faults as an average person are no big deal, for the most part, neither are theirs.

Picture a Bible-toting member of a prison ministry preaching to an inmate about “God died for your sins.” If you see yourself as no big deal, your response might be, “Who me? MY sins? Come on! Besides, what do you think I’m in prison for? The governor can pardon a murderer. You're telling me your god can do the same for me for my sentence. If you're sincere, tell him to get me the f**k out of here.” No prison-minister wants to confront THOSE realities; they‘re in the business of distributing the feel-goods. They're outta here.

It's no wonder that clergy are threatened by meanies, that they warn against thinking and doubting. Non-thinking is praised as virtuous. Behind every dogma is the warning, CURIOSITY = Death and Punishment. They know that when you seriously, and with an open mind, think, you start doubting. You can't stop. Your mind won’t shut up. Continually learning threatens blind beliefs and their demands for concomitant obedience.

After massacres, citizens are urged to come together to pray. What is the nature of those prayers to be? Are they supposed to be prayers of petition, praise, or penance? Prayers of thanksgiving? Weren’t those victims PREVIOUSLY prayed for daily, by parents, guardians, neighbors and congregants, to be protected from harm? Didn‘t many of the victims themselves pray the day of their slaughter, “deliver us from evil?” Why then should the survivors be told to pray to the protector who failed to protect them? For questioning their attitude, we would be condemned by those believers who would say, “How dare you be so CRUEL to ask those questions?” But, why should the reality of “We have only each other to depend on” be ignored?

Talk about real meanies – consider those Christians who want their 10 Commandments on public properties and in public buildings, like we should all just go along with this. I looked up the meaning of “covet,” as in “covet your neighbor's wife, slave, ass, and other properties”. “Covet” means “to desire” what is rightfully another's. Hell, there's nothing wrong with desiring! And looking at another man’s wife or Porsche with desire does not constitute adultery or theft! Only a spoil-sport with a negative attitude about humans would damn such ordinary feelings.

As an example of thinking about something, those who‘ve seen “the Life of Pi” will remember the hero’s story about his fantastic, though fictional, account, as being “Gods preferred” one. This would explain all the scriptural stories of the world’s religions: fantastic, beyond rationality, super-natural, etc., including, of course, the creation story in Genesis. Nevertheless, evolution is the much more fascinating story, and it is truth itself. (And without the guilt! Now why would anyone object to that?) Yes, ladies and gentlemen, the true story of evolution is astounding.

Consider this: Never before in history have ordinary people been able to see what is going on worldwide in real time. Is there “too much information?” Do we need to witness reports of deaths from flooding, landslides, tornadoes, earthquakes, slaughter, starvation, plagues? What of the mass killings of children? We can tune in to nature programs and watch lions, hyenas, eagles, viruses and preventable diseases eating the victims alive. Our hearts and our monies go out to relieve suffering of those closest to our consciences and human caring.

Now consider this: If you were viewing and made aware of ALL the suffering and needless deaths on earth every second of every day, you would go INSANE from being overwhelmed and helpless to prevent it. Only a psychopath would tolerate ALL of it and allow it to continue if he had the power to end it - a psychopath with an INFINITE capacity for INDIFFERENCE. From this vantage point, am I not describing “God?”

Think about paranoia. If a person suffering from paranoia is one who thinks (knows?) everyone is out to get him or her, won’t that person FIND “confirmation” for it everywhere, in spite of all evidence to the contrary? You CAN’T effectively argue against such a passionate belief. And I wonder if this same mindset operates in “confirmations” of prayer working, and “hearing” the voice of God. Aren’t these also simply reflections of a mental state, all in the brain of the person, without any basis in reality?

Am I being a meanie again in pointing this out to the true believer? So be it!