the circular runner

why are all my Facebook friends hating on the Almighty?

In humor, life, observations, Uncategorized on January 28, 2012 at 5:01 pm

Listen, I’m not religious. I’m going to say that right now. My mom was pretty Catholic until she wasn’t. Some priest hit on her when I was a kid, and she’s also got a feminist streak in her and she doesn’t understand the Church’s views on women, so she kind of fell out. Anyway, after she stopped making us go to Mass, I felt no great need to kneel and stand and kneel and pray on Sundays, so that was that for me with the Church until it wasn’t.

In my 20s, kind out of nowhere, I felt a need to reconnect to something spiritual. I went to church for a year on my own every Sunday until I approached a friar who worked at the church I was going to. Brother Hyacinth was in charge of adult spiritual education, or some such thing, and he was awesome. He was a Guinness-loving Irishman who loved his church but who was also open and curious about views that weren’t his own. He was the right person to bring me into the fold, and I spent a year getting myself ready for confirmation. I took the name, Augustine, which, I found out, was not quite right for me. (Augustine, I was to learn, was the guy who, among a few others, really pushes the notion of original sin, i.e., the idea that we are screwed because of Adam and because we have bodies that are corruptible. Of course, before he came to that position, Augustine slept around and had a bunch of kids out of wedlock. Then he found religion, guilt and sanctimoniousness. I’ll let you decide if there’s a connection there.)

Where was I? Oh, yes, I was telling you about how I got confirmed and how I was going to church until the day of my confirmation. Two years in the making and I remember telling my sponsor (yes, Catholics and Alcoholics share the same vocab) that my confirmation was my first real step to ex-communication. A priest heard me say this, but that’s how I felt that day and I didn’t care. I just don’t get the idea that I have to believe that a man died on the cross for my sins, and even if I do believe it, I really don’t get why I have to think that the next guy is damned because he doesn’t.  That just sounds tribal to me and against any notion of the infinite nature of divinity.

I say this as a believer, which means I’m in the middle of most religious arguments. When I hear the religious conservative from any tradition–zealotry knows no cultural boundaries–I go bat-shit crazy. And yet, I go just as crazy when I hear the facile piling-on that my timeline on Facebook fills up with on any given day.

(YES, after 4oo+ words, I am getting to my point. But hey, this is still shorter than most sermons, and you don’t have to kneel, so there’s that.)

I’m not blind to the fact that religious movements are full-up with dumb-dumbs. I also know that historically, there have been a lot of dumb-dumbs in charge of said religious movements. Dumb-dumbs, by their very nature, come up with ideas that are truly dumb, sometimes these ideas are also profoundly and even spiritually dumb. Sure, I get it. But if you keep in mind that there are dumb-dumbs everywhere, then I don’t get why people get so up in arms about some preacher who turns out to be gay or a priest who has a kid. I mean, I get why people get angry at the person, but what I don’t get is how you go from condemning the act of an individual to condemning the notion of religion. I guess I should take my own advice and not freak out, “not trip” about the dumb-dumbs who go off on believers on my Facebook page. They have a right to say what they want. But when I read the snide remarks about how ridiculous and naive it is to believe in something (I’ll call it God because that’s the word that culturally makes sense to me, but you can call it whatever you like), I want to call bullshit. In fact, I’d say that the secular-rationalist is a bigger manufactuer of BS than his religious counterpart because by definition, the rationalist should be reasonable and not dogmatic. I’m not saying that my Facebook friends are wrong in their beliefs; I am saying that they should probably avoid making generalizations they can’t support with fact.

Is there a God? Hell if I know. But Hell if my hating friends on Facebook know.

  1. I have a question. I would like for you to answer it, but I will understand if you don’t. What is your defiinition of a believer? Because you say you are one, yet you say,

    “I just don’t get the idea that I have to believe that a man died on the cross for my sins, and even if I do believe it, I really don’t get why I have to think that the next guy is damned because he doesn’t. That just sounds tribal to me and against any notion of the infinite nature of divinity.”

    So my bottom line question is, what DO you believe in?

    • Hi Courtney,
      Tomorrow, I’m going to post my response to your question. I wrote it already, but I’m tired and I suspect I didn’t say everything I’d like to say. I appreciate the question, though. It’s not a tough question, but there’s a lot I want to say and though I will not say those things as artfully as I’d like, I have tried to give my heart over to the page. For me, the answer to your question, resides there and not in the brain.

      All of this to say, thanks for reading and good night.


    • I also want to know what so special about “what Do you Believe”

  2. I like what Madeleine L’Engle wrote in one of autobiographical books. I don’t know the exact quote, but it was basically that during the course of a single day she could go from believing to not believing to believing again. She was Episcopalian, and what I like about Episcopalians is, they don’t tell anyone how to interpret the Bible. Back in 1975, I had what evangelical Christians call a “conversion experience” in which I “accepted Jesus Christ as my savior.” Then, three years later, I stopped going to church when I began realizing that even among so-called Christian denominations, there is a wide variety of interpretations of the Bible. It’s not even enough to say, “Either you believe in a literal translation of the Bible or you don’t, because even people who say say believe in a literal translation don’t agree on the actual meanings of every verse. Once in a while, some variation of this prayer goes through my mind: “God, you created my brain and the way it works, so you understand that if I see a container of liquid tipped over, I expect the liquid to spill. Because it always has spilled, every time, my whole life, ever since I was a baby. It’s a law of physics or something. So if my mind has trouble accepting that the Red Sea divided into two big walls like in the Charlton Heston movie… well…I know you understand why.”

    I definitely believe in a higher power. Have you ever read the book by William James called “Varieties of Religious Experience”? Pretty interesting read.

    I think we would be arrogant to assume there is no God, and in fact, there have been some personal things in my life that leads me to believe there IS a God. But like I said, they’re personal.

    • Hey Bill,

      I’m actually a big fan of James. If you’re willing, you should check out his other books. There’s stuff about belief in Pragmatism, which I think really influences me in my own thoughts on the subject–feeble that they are.
      Thanks again for reading. In a few minutes, I will be posting a response to a couple comments I received, so stay tuned. The heady fun continues.


  3. p.s. – I don’t believe in hell.

  4. […] , a blogger who read my recent post about the God-haters on Facebook posted this comment: I have a question. I would like for you to […]

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