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Open Letter to Ex-Pastor Dan

By Carl S ~

Some readers might find your acerbic style to be off-putting. My friend prefers a logical, non-offensive tack while seeing the necessity of your approach. I welcome your insights and input, as coming from so many years of experience. While there are those of us who are the Rosa Parks of the freethought movement, for the most part, we're all engaged in antisepsis of religious poisons. I think you and I don’t give a damn what others think of us, including other freethinkers. We say that the emperor is naked, knowing that many of those in the past and present who point this out have been murdered. The world needs transparent truth, deeply. Okay. I'd like to share a few thoughts with you, and ask your input about any of them.

I remember when one person protested he didn't think churchgoers pretended, your response was, "Yes, they really are pretending." A conclusion I also reached after going to church services; they were telling each other stuff.

As a nonbeliever, I find it necessary to have both compassion and self-control whenever I'm around religious people. They're all difficult to deal with, because they live in their own fantasy worlds. They truly inhabit another unreal world alongside the real one the rest of us accept. My world is Carl Sagan’s: the Pale Blue Dot. Further, it's one of constantly keeping and creating order on this messy planet, in an uncaring universe, without gods. It involves not only dealing with "shit happens," but with realities like the awkward attempts at humor with my estranged daughter over the telephone. There are many such things that keep life interesting. I have long ago given up on any expectation of change from those stridently opposed to exchanging their fantasy world for honest reality. At the same time, I know people do change, and sometimes surprisingly so. (Where there's life there's hope?) Still, we must insist the emperor is buck-naked, even if merely by our honest presence.

After my mutually-agreed upon divorce from the Trappist monastery, there was an interval of slightly over a year before I entered the Benedictines. This was not unusual; many leaving the Trappists were shunted over, because the Novice Master was formerly a member of the Benedictine Order. The chief occupation of the Order I went to was running a seminary. Young men fresh out of eight years in parochial schools came there without any real adolescent life experiences. After completing their "education" there, they were ordained as priests. They were then assigned to parishes, from which they dispensed their newly acquired "wisdom and advice" to working/married men and women on how to make the most important decisions in their intimate, including their sexual lives. (I Wonder: Did any of them advise sexual gratification with children?) My question is, do all seminaries operate pretty much this way?

As much as thinking atheists protest the damages done by the doctrine of Hell, they might consider it serves other functions: a way for many a macabre pleasure in contemplating it. Horror films share the same titillation. (Isn't it all pretending?) Believers have the assurance that others who believe differently will end up "there." And frightening small children with the tortures of Hell is a God-blessed justification for sadistically watching them squirm.

Christian education: Has anyone mentioned "Liberty University" is an oxymoron? There is something of Orwell’s political, to include religious, doublespeak here, like calling slavery to dogmas "freedom in Christ." Thousands of kids are sent to Christianspeak Liberty University. Why? At a period in their lives when young people should be naturally rebelling against parental authority and biases, and/or irrational traditions, and moving forward to their own independence and responsible decisions, they're still shackled to parental choices for their future. While attending, they still remain under parental and authoritarian control in all religious schools, unexposed to realities of the real world. How then can they become real adults?

On a lighter note: Something I learned from the bible: Don't have a firstborn son. They usually come to unfavorable fates. Always have a second born son, if any. And never ever have a daughter if you're going to live in an Islamic country.

And finally, maybe there will always be houses of worship because there will always be public restrooms. Both serve a common function. Everyone knows what goes on inside them, but nobody talks about it. Both exist for elimination, one bodily, the other mentally. Both churches and public restrooms are set aside as necessity, dependably followed by feelings of relief. Again, nobody mentions the stink involved in either of them. (Catholic churches have confessionals, where people go to confess and be relieved of their guilt. When I had to go there, it was like defecating in another's presence; how Catholics can accept this I can't explain. I try to keep an open mind about confessionals, though, after learning some people go there for advice from the priest. At the same time, I wonder if they're there to subconsciously complain or brag about their sins.) Regular churchgoers relieve themselves often. (And churchgoing employees don’t have to wash their mental hands afterwards.) So, churches and restrooms and alcoholic drinks will be around for the same purpose: they're needed. To quote an old German saying, "Where there's a church, there's a saloon." And nobody questions the need for them.

That's my take. Keep up the good work that isn't always work. Maybe you and I can keep butting our heads against the dam long enough to cause some permanent leaks. Maybe not. Thanks again, Ex-pastor Dan.