Print Story This night your soul shall be required of you.
By gzt (Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 06:04:10 AM EST) gzt, change or die (all tags)
It's sometimes interesting to see what sort of traditions, baggage, hangups people have that give insight into the oddities of their internal life as they grew up. There are some things that people don't talk about but take for granted as common. Their bathroom habits. Some aspects of religion if outside the context of a traditional religion - or in some contexts within. Sex, I suppose. And then to see them realize not everybody does it that way. I encounter this most with religion, really. Sometimes it's the oddities of family life or former relationships - most trivially, somebody who's been beaten or raped will behave differently from somebody who hasn't - but who the hell knows how? I don't say that lightly, a Godwin-esque invocation of the worst, because it is something I've run into more often than I could stand (once is too much). Life has such pain.

So what are you supposed to do with somebody else's pain? Some of it isn't pain, it's just an odd quirk or a strange belief, a smaller or larger world than most people accomodate, a slight distrust of strength, an impatience with weakness. We can work with these things. Sometimes I cry at night. I haven't had a hard life. I'm no man of sorrows. But I digress.

The real point of this is, again, to get back to the point of religion: odd stuff comes out when you discuss stuff, when people finally verbalize what's bubbled up in their soul since a wayward remark in their kindergarten Sunday school. Every detail, from the odd vocabulary to the emphasis on the eschaton, places them exactly where they were on that day they turned 6, it's like the thumbprint of his Sunday school teacher on his forehead.

Of course, sometimes it's odd. Like, when I was four, I somehow got into my head the cute idea that one's sins are only forgiven on Easter. I was very worried that spring until Easter came, since I was a very wicked little boy and knew it. I don't know just where, even now, I got that silly notion. I suppose I could construct it from the teachings I got, but based on that information alone, could you tell what I was brought up as at that age? Catholic? Orthodox? Lutheran? Episcopalian? Baptist? Definitely not Jewish, that much you can tell. If I shared the exact reasoning that I guess I used, you might be able to tell, but I never do. I'm a very private man. OPSEC, as it were.

I suppose, in a sense, it is an error not too far off from the truth of it all, but my reasons for saying that now would be quite different from my reasons for saying it then.

So what brings this up? I ran into some young wanker who was worried about his friends and family, that Christ could come back soon and they weren't all exactly religious. I told him to calm down, they're more likely to get creamed by a bus. People get creamed by buses every day but Christ is only coming back once. He could get creamed by a bus and he has no way of knowing that he's not damned, too. The way he said it placed his upbringing exactly. We all have traces of our past trailing behind us like toilet paper on our shoes.

And then there's the question of how one wipes, to continue with that note. I won't go into it. I'm just saying. It's another thing people don't think about whether everybody does the same, where one's upbringing is determinative. I rebelled against my upbringing, by the way. I suppose at various times I may have sold my inheritance for a mess of pottage, but that's not what I mean. But, dear God, have I sold my inheritance for a mess of pottage. What I meant to say, though, is that I've changed my ways. We all can. In the interest of efficiency. We must change or die.

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This night your soul shall be required of you. | 11 comments (11 topical, 0 hidden)
how one wipes by wiredog (2.00 / 0) #1 Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 06:21:23 AM EST
Ongoing discussion of that in Gene Weingarten's chat at the Washington Post, along with hovering vs sitting, and other Bathroom Shame issues.

Be careful, this Monday's chat is NOT funny.

Earth First!
(We can strip mine the rest later.)

I'll check it out when I'm off work. by gzt (2.00 / 0) #3 Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 07:08:58 AM EST
That's suprisingly topical.

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For girls, it's front to back by georgeha (4.00 / 1) #2 Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 06:30:40 AM EST
apparently they don't know that coming out of the womb.

side to side by sasquatchan (2.00 / 0) #4 Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 07:48:01 AM EST
3 squares, neatly folded.

What, are you some crumpling back to front heathen ?

re: young wanker: Curious his disposition. Since that's a very denominational answer.

where he's been. by gzt (2.00 / 0) #8 Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 09:23:30 AM EST
Curious nervous little fellow. Most certainly non-denominational evangelical protestant type, but on a trajectory out.

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Wow by Gedvondur (4.00 / 1) #5 Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 08:16:41 AM EST
"I ran into some young wanker who was worried about his friends and family, that Christ could come back soon and they weren't all exactly religious."
I applaud the young man for his concern for his friends and family.  I find concern for others a fine human quality.

Too bad he's wasting his concern for others on religious delusions.  He could do a lot of real good is this world if he thought less about Jesus and the Apocalypse and more about helping others in need in this world.

Jesus was rather sadly killed by the Romans over politics.  He's dead now.  He's not coming back.  Nobody ever comes back.  I feel sad for people who take ancient religious texts at literal face value rather than learning the lessons the stories teach.


"I love my brain. It's the only organ I can afford to lose." --frijolito
Was that how you were raised? by gzt (4.00 / 1) #7 Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 08:53:26 AM EST
Tell me more.

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indeed. by garlic (4.00 / 1) #9 Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 01:06:08 PM EST

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Not at all by Gedvondur (4.00 / 2) #10 Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 08:01:38 PM EST
My parents are agnostic former Catholics.  Victims of Catholic education in the 50s.  I was even baptized Catholic.  (My parents correctly felt that if I decided to take up religion for myself, it would be MUCH easier of I had been baptized.)   My entire family is Catholic.

While my parents were not church going people I went quite a few times with various aunts and uncles to church.  My parents told me that if I wanted to go to church, they would take me anytime I wanted and to any church I wanted.  They were very open minded about it.

In my mid to late teen years, I studied various religions.  I got books, I read the Bible.  I read the Torah.  I can't say any of these readings were comprehensive, but I took a shot at them.  I came close to going to the Jewish faith.  Its a beautiful religion and in many ways much more sensible than the majority of Christianity. 

What wrecked me was the cognitive dissonance that occurred between science and religion.  I could not reconcile the two.  I could also not reconcile the concept of eternal punishment.  The God I wanted loved us terrible flawed creatures.  The God I was presented only forgave if you asked and meant it.  How can you ask for forgiveness and not have a grain of self-preservation/interest in your heart when the alternative is eternal damnation?  I couldn't.  It would have been a lie.  I didn't want to burn eternally, and it colored every asking to some extent.

The other thing that got me badly was death.  We weep and grieve when someone dies.  Yet, if we were really sure we would see them again, we may be sad at the temporary separation, but not the raw grief that people feel.  It was then I realized that I would have to lie to myself to accept religion.  I also realized that for most people, religion was a crutch, to ease the pain of grief and to explain that which cannot be explained.  Why bad things happened to us, how the world was made. To top it off, the Bible literalists and the Young Earthers were so clearly crackpot it drove me wild.  Extremists.  I loathe them even today.  They poison the religious well for everyone else.

Honestly it was extremely hard. To this day I lack the solace religion gives when a loved one passes on.  I feel the pain of realization that the God of love I so wanted to believe in was a fiction, a social construct designed to help people cope with a cruel and harsh world.  I would never wish atheism on anyone.  I envy those that can get past religion's warts and feel the good feelings that it brings.  And those that cynically twist religion for their own uses or to control others, well those I have nothing but disdain for.  Religion was meant to give peace, calm and joy. 

So I keep my faith in humanity.  I am a secular humanist.  I believe, against odds, that we as humans will continue to better ourselves.  In a lot of ways, that belief is more crackpot than the Young Earthers.

I think my prior vitriol was mostly because that young man is an extremist and confused to boot.  I despair that his religion actually makes him worry, rather than giving him peace.  I despair that all the energy he could be putting into himself or into society is being wasted on his twisted and unfulfilling brand of religion.  Since I see this as this young man's only shot at consciousness, I morn ever minute he wastes wrapped in worry because someone told him his friends and loved ones would fry in Hell.


"I love my brain. It's the only organ I can afford to lose." --frijolito
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multiple wipes by webwench (4.00 / 1) #6 Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 08:46:42 AM EST
To each according to need, if you know what I mean.

I remember being shocked to learn that other people really believed in God, and that in fact they weren't putting eachother on about it the way they do with Santa Claus. Shocked. (Still.)

Getting more attention than you since 1998 .

don't let Him hear you say that though by Dr H0ffm4n (2.00 / 0) #11 Tue Mar 17, 2009 at 11:19:39 AM EST

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This night your soul shall be required of you. | 11 comments (11 topical, 0 hidden)