Saturday, April 26, 2008

Sunday Scribblings - The End of the World - 4/27/08

I don’t know if or when the end of the world will come and neither do you. Religious fanatics have claimed it was coming since shortly after it began. They believe it so fervently that they spend so much time preparing for the next life that they don’t enjoy this one. They don’t go to movies or watch television because there are sinful things on the screen. They can’t laugh at an off-color joke. Almost any pleasurable experience is sinful. Basically, they are a very sad and mean-spirited lot. They have the awesome responsibility of saving everyone they meet.

I believe in everyone’s right to believe what he wants to. One of the beauties of living in America is that you can worship as you please. I served 20 years in the military to defend that right, among others. I also have the right not to hear about your religion. If I feel the need to explore another faith, I have the Yellow Pages at my disposal.

I live in the “Bible Belt”, so there is a church on practically every corner. I was going to list the churches here in my community but since there are several hundred, I will not. But I think you get my point. My uneducated opinion is that the vast number of churches is somehow linked to money more than faith. Just for fun I did a Google search “get ordained online.” There are 270,000 websites. Religion is big business. Television evangelists are millionaires many times over. “Send us $100 and we will heal you through your television.” That sounds ridiculous, but I have heard that exact claim. There is a fine line between a cult and a religion.

Most of them call themselves Christian and they preach from the same book but they each have their own interpretation and believe that only they have the “truth”. Everyone else is wrong and is going to burn in hell for eternity. There is an old Emo Phillips joke that illustrates this better than I ever could. Don’t forget that most jokes are based on truth:

Once I saw this guy on a bridge about to jump. I said, "Don't do it!" He said, "Nobody loves me." I said, "God loves you. Do you believe in God?"
He said, "Yes." I said, "Are you a Christian or a Jew?" He said, "A Christian." I said, "Me, too! Protestant or Catholic?" He said, "Protestant." I said, "Me, too! What franchise?" He said, "Baptist." I said, "Me, too! Northern Baptist or Southern Baptist?" He said, "Northern Baptist." I said, "Me, too! Northern Conservative Baptist or Northern Liberal Baptist?"
He said, "Northern Conservative Baptist." I said, "Me, too! Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region, or Northern Conservative Baptist Eastern Region?" He said, "Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region." I said, "Me, too!"
Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1879, or Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1912?" He said, "Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1912." I said, "Die, heretic!" And I pushed him over.

Almost everyone I have ever met that introduces himself as a Christian (You would think that one could tell that from their actions and would not require an intro) has not been a good spokesman for Christ. They carried with them an air of superiority; often looking down on and talking about how horrible others are that haven’t been “saved”. They actually believe that everyone who does not adhere to their beliefs is wrong. If you are a Christian and the exception to this observation, I am glad for you. If you are sure of your faith, nothing I say here will bother you. Anyone with a knee-jerk reaction to my words is probably uncertain.

I have had the opportunity to travel extensively and have met Buddhist and Hindu folk that live their beliefs far more religiously than any self-proclaimed Christian I have met. Are they going to hell? Not bloody likely.

Having studied eastern religion a bit, I find many of those beliefs more plausible and certainly more optimistic than the more fatalistic Christian, Moslem, and Jewish beliefs. Talk about interpretation. These three all come from the same source and all share prophecies of Armageddon.

What I am trying to say in my rambling style is that the world may end one day (or night). Our sun may flame out. Global warming may melt the icecaps. One of the psychos with nuclear weapons may provide us with nuclear winter.

When and if it does the billions of us on this planet will have to deal with it in their own way. Perhaps the two-dozen people worshiping in a tiny church in the country are the only ones who got it right and the rest of us are damned to eternity in hell. Maybe Heaven’s Gate was on the money, waiting for a UFO to collect them. Maybe John Travolta and Tom Cruise have the answers.

Only time will tell. But until then, I am going to try to enjoy the pleasures of this planet. It is a beautiful world.

I have not revealed in this writing my actual beliefs. That is a private thing between God and me and no one's business. Nor are your beliefs anyone else's concern.


Lucy said...

see you in hell Mr.Rick!
seriously, I love your honesty!
You're right- we are so lucky to be free to worship which ever way we please in America. I never thanked you for your service to our country Rick.. thank you! You deserve to reap the pleasures of the planet,internet porn and Everything!

Granny Smith said...

A really good essay on religious intolerance. I enjoyed the Bob Dylan accompaniment.

giggles said...

Well done! I have had several children who have been abused through the guise of religion live with me for a stint here and there! Ethical good people Christian, Hindi, Buddhist, nudist, whoever, under what ever belief system, as long as they don't infringe the rights of others are fine with me. It’s the fanaticism that is dangerous for all involved! Rick this is a brave post! I agree spirituality is very personal!

Hugs Sherrie

Rob Kistner said...

right on... the isolationistic nature of 'religion' suppresses the universality of wonder!

keith hillman said...

You have written exactly what I have been meaning to for a very long time. The difference is that in the UK churches are generally very poorly attended and closing at a rate of knots. Every town boasts one two being converted into appartments shops or restaurants.

anthonynorth said...

An excellent, well thought out post. To me, the difference between east and west religious forms is that one is cyclic, the other linear, demanding a beginning and an end.
That's the problem with the western view.

myrtle beached whale said...

I honestly expected to be attacked by the very people I am writing about.

Keith: Maybe there are not as big of tax incentives in the UK.

Andy: You said it exactly. Another difference is that the Eastern philosophies are not based on fear, rather hope.

Lucy: You are the first person ever to write a paragraph that included both worship and internet porn.

Giggles: That is key: "don't infringe on the rights of others".

Rob: Leave it to you to be both succinct and eloquent.

Granny: Intolerance is the key to Bible Belt religion.

Robin said...

I loathe religious fanatics of any stripe. I think I used to be more tolerant, but living in Israel religious coercion has become a huge hot button for me. Live your own life how you choose, but stay the hell out of mine. If I choose to rot in hell that's my decision. (I could go on about this for hours, but I'll suffice with this short summary. Trust me, you don't have enough patience for the long version LOL.)

paisley said...

bravo!!!! this was so well said,, and handled in a very level headed logical way... in case you haven't noticed,, i am pretty adverse to organized religion in any form... it isn't so much that i have a problem with there being a god,, if there is one,, i hope to meet (it) someday,, and if not i am a ok on my own...

this was really well done!!!!!

forgetfulone said...

You say what many of us only think. Thanks for serving in our military to protect our right to free speech. BTW, I am a believer, and I admit my many serious imperfections. They make me human.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Great explanation of truths in your essay. As it turns out you are probably 95% correct.
And I know this should be published in every church bulletin and in every newspaper far and wide. Don't be surprised! You never know who will be reading?
Miss Rose