In high school, our protagonist, Micah, found God and became a serious Jesus freak. It's just one more thing that Micah's father, an avowed atheist, disapproved of. We get to see his disapproval early on via flashback: "His dad believed all Christians had a serious crack in their psyche... When Micah started followed Jesus during his sophomore year of high school, his dad wanted to send him to a psychiatrist." I have to admit, I've felt the same way about the subject.
Seriously, believing that a benevolent sky-father is constantly watching you, waiting to judge you after you die and either draw you into his kingdom of light or toss you into a pit of fire for all eternity: how is that sane? Only through so many billions of people having believed it throughout history. God is just one step up from Santa Claus, and we all learn the truth about him before we enter middle school. And yet, because non-believers are in the minority, one would conclude that we're the ones with something lacking in our psyche: the ability to believe.
Me, I wasn't born with religion. Shortly after I was born, my mother approached a Catholic priest about having me baptized. His response -- to a young mother on welfare, no less -- was, "How much have you donated to the church lately?" So mom and dad consciously split from their faith and raised me a-religious. I came to my own conclusions about God and creation and the reason for life. I'm not an atheist --
I'm a deist, a label I would never have encountered if not for Wikipedia -- but religion, faith and spirituality simply don't exist or aren't a big part of my life.
And yeah, I think religious people are crazy, to a point. It doesn't matter if they're doing good by their faith; it certainly doesn't help if they're waving "GOD HATES FAGS" signs at funerals. Once someone lets slip that they follow any given religion, I start looking at them funny. I can't trust them completely. I'm waiting for that awkward moment when they ask me what my religion is, whether I've found God or Christ -- because let's face it, I'm from the U.S. and most of the religious people I've known in my life have been Christian -- and then try to convert me.
Religion makes me uneasy; just ask my fiancée. Crazy or not, I sure as hell don't trust organized religion. It's like that awkward moment with the believer, only times ten, a hundred, a thousand. Deep down, I believe in spirituality over religion, the latter being an organized, communal version of the former. I'm pretty sure that the organization of religion is the entire reason for what's wrong with it right now. You get a lot of people together in a community where they all believe the same thing and their beliefs normalize off one another. They stop being able to deal with people outside the church. They come to the conclusion that they're right and everyone else is wrong, so they lash out when their beliefs are questioned. They can take solace in the fact that, at the very least, everyone at church agrees with them. They belong there, and the rest of the world can go to hell.
Of course, the flip side of all of this is the idea that humans are 'wired for religion'. I didn't grow up with anything outside of a vague notion of a bearded sky-daddy watching me, yet I still went and sought answers for myself, if only in my own mind. So we're probably all crazy, which makes us all normal. It's no stranger than believing in aliens or ESP or ghosts, either, all of which I do. It's natural to seek answers outside the real world, because the real world is damned boring. I just wish that people didn't take it so far as they do, demonizing everyone who doesn't come to the same conclusions they have. A little free thinking can temper that craziness, I think.
Dan Walker (pseudonym) is a writer from Northeast Ohio, who would be teaching ESL if he wasn't
*Post originally written July 31, 2010 so the regular author could take a much needed break.
**Ugh...for those of you with RSS feeds, please ignore the Day 192: Kick-Ass post. *facepalm* I haven't made that mistake in awhile.