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The Lavish Absurdity of “Holy"

By Carl S ~

I got tired of news reporters announcing “shocking” news. I told my wife, “Who are they kidding? Nothing is shocking anymore.” Well, it turns out, people are shocked when they discover a family member or friend discarded the dogmas, those beliefs they don't care to think about. Why don't they care? Just when I pondered this contradiction, I found a quote from Bill Watterson. This is an excerpt from that quote, where he’s talking about how we ought to use our recreational time to re-create:

“Shutting off the thought process is not rejuvenating; the mind is like a car battery – it recharges by running. You may be surprised by how quickly daily routine and the demands of ”just getting by” absorb your waking hours. You may be surprised to find how quickly you start to see your politics and religion become matters of habit rather than thought and inquiry...”

The part about religion becoming a “matter of habit rather than thought and inquiry” makes sense. Worship is habit in much the same way typing or playing a tune on a musical instrument is habit. These actions would be clumsy and distracting if one thought about them while doing them. It explains the non-thinking about articles of faith, which believers say are the most profound reasons for living. In worshiping, the worshipers turn off their mental batteries of thought and inquiry, instead of recharging them. Societies would be better off if we could jump-start the thought processes of those who never questioned their habit of faith. As free thinkers, we are free to go where they fear to go. Let's do it.

One word worshipers habitually take for granted is “holy.” I awoke abruptly one morning with the question: What does “holy” mean? There's the Holy See (Vatican) Holy Father (pope) Holy Land and holy places (Jerusalem, Mecca, churches, mosques, temples), Holy “Ghost,” holy bible and holy wars, etc. Helluva lot of holies to start with. Am I the only one thinking about this label?

What makes places so holy that, like magnets, they draw millions of people to visit them, lay down their money, and have even laid down their lives for them? What's sacred about certain dusty towns in the desert? What makes Lourdes and Fatima, the Temple Mount, the alleged tomb of Jesus, etc., powerful? What is sacred about a cracker (Eucharist) a cup (Holy Grail) a sliver of cross wood (out of thousands of crosses), water + words (baptism), so “sacred” people have killed and died for them? Why are there “consecrated” cemeteries of so many different religions, when corpses have no beliefs?

What exactly do “holy/sacred” mean? Well, they're ambiguous; there is no “exactly.” “Holy” and “sacred” are used interchangeably. “Sacred” is something “dedicated or set apart for service or worship of a deity, or considered worthy of respect or devotion or capable of inspiring reverence among believers.” In short, defined by whatever culture those believers are born into. Holy buildings are set aside for the purpose of denying a finality of death, and deliberately planned to create sensations of awe, comfort, and obedience. They sponge up collective appeals to one or many invisible gods. Many have become huge empty ornate shells, as faiths died. Devout attendees abandoned these buildings along with their gods. They are splendid remnants of wishful-thinking. Holy texts, and especially apologetic writings, are also lavish absurdities. Nowhere in the words holy and sacred is anything supported by evidence - a prerequisite for making them worthy of special exemptions.

“Holy” is a universal bar code slapped on things by mere humans“Holy” is a universal bar code slapped on things by mere humans asserting themselves authorities on “mysteries.” They stand above us, talking to us as if we're children, telling us just what is holy, sacred, forbidden, worshipful, and blasphemous. (Churches require a symbiotic relationship between the clergy and congregants: Worshipers are content to be talked to like children in exchange for believing as children.) It's that simple and that dangerous.

Also, “holy authority” may also arise from personal hallucinations, revelations and visions. It can feed off mass hysteria. All of these are effects of brain disturbances. They are mental images, deceived by emotions into believing the effects are themselves open doors to inside knowledge of the “supernatural.” These are asserted to have magical and miraculous powers derived from sources outside reality. The purveyors of “holy” declare them unchallengeable. Structures like these holy and sacred places obviously have their counterparts in mental institutions, and their “holy” inhabitants are the unmedicated patients.

If you are in the habit of accepting holy/sacred as superior to thinking, reason, or life itself, re-read the Watterson quote. Think of your mind as a battery that recharges by running. You may be surprised how quickly you change your mind. And don't you dare throw this away – that would be sacrilege. I say so.