Tuesday, April 13, 2004

Interview with the Dude Upstairs

I was googling for the guitar tab "Baby Britain" by Elliot Smith when one of those heinous pop-up ads forced itself into my Netscape browser window and began to blink uncontrollably. I was about to close it with impudent rage when I noticed that it was entitled "An Interview with God". Naturally, being the curious gawker that I am, I followed the link to some sort of pseudo-New Age site with a blue background.

As a matter of disclosure, I must admit that I worked for the Dark Lord Satan during his Presidential campaign in 2000. (We won but Florida was a close call!) Despite my ties to the Lord of the Flies, I am sure that I can maintain my neutrality like the fiendish Swiss have done for so many centuries.

If you click the Macromedia Flash presentation button, you can listen to some Adult Contemporary piano and watch images of deer drinking from pristine mountain streams, superimposed with an interview with God. Although I found the images to be quite appealing, the music was far from it and I would have preferred something by Leonard Cohen (or even Gordon Lightfoot for Pete's sake) instead of this faceless K-Tel Piano bullshit.

The story goes that an individual had a dream where any question could be tossed at the Creator and all of life's riddles would be solved. The presentation takes only a minute or two but I kind of expected it to lead to a link that would sell me crosses made from the actual wood used for real crucifixions, or at least a "Get your Bible here" page.

Instead, the person asks God all sorts of easy, soft questions like "Do you have anything you want to tell your children?" Personally, I would have asked "Why did you give us free will? That was the biggest cop-out I've ever heard of. Also, why the sacrificing in the Old Testament? Do you have a fetish for watching suffering? Come on, speak up, or are Gods incapable of guilt?" He probably would have turned me into a pile of Tobacco ashes, or perhaps he would have forgiven me, depending on which kind of God he would be, ie. Old Testament=vengeful and scary, New Testament=hippy and out of the loop.

The questioner also asks "What surprises you about mankind?" Typically, God evades the question by turning it around on us, making humanity the weakest link once again. I won't spoil the whole interview by repeating it ad nauseum on this blog but please check it out. It will tell you a lot about the actual reasoning behind religion, at least from a follower's perspective. To them, the answers aren't something you must seek by spiritual growth or by philosophical exploration--no, to the Religious among us, the answers to life's puzzles are in a Holy Book, a sort of Magic Marker that dots the I's and crosses the T's, eliminating the quest for truth that we Agnostics are proud to be mired in.

I'm not saying that religion doesn't have it's purpose. To the little old ladies and frightened terminally ill patients clutching their rosaries, I say "Go ahead and believe. Just please don't try and convince me that you've seen the light when I know damn well that it's not even plugged in."

Actually, I'm glossing over an important point. Organized religion is the real curse since it divides communities and societies and causes them to consider their own religious law to be above State or International law. If everyone were to practice their own religion at home outside of the civic realm, the negative effects would be countered to a certain extent (Of course, this doesn't eliminate the Dogmatic Belief in the Supernatural, which can be a trouble in it's own right).

My father's side of the family holds a reunion every summer. It is usually held by a lake somewhere in Ontario, between Toronto and Ottawa, since majority rules and most of my father's family lives out there. This year, one of my fabulous Aunts sent the whole family an email outlining where this year's reunion would be held. Attached to the message was a document sent by the owners of the campground entitled "Camp Rules". Upon inspection, it revealed a frightening example of imposing your religion upon others. It read,

"People are expected to abide by the Bible’s moral standards."
Of course, I moved quickly to send them the following riposte.
"Hello Everyone,

As an avowed secularist, I must protest rule number
five. It can be found in the document attached to the
message about the campground.



5. People are expected to abide by the Bible's moral

I respect everyone's religious beliefs but nobody
should impose their values upon others.

Besides, if there is a God, the free will he granted
humanity gives me a green light to disobey the edicts
of the Holy Book in any way I so choose. After all,
I'll be singed by the eternal fires of Hell, right?
It's my loss.

My Regards,

Admittedly, I got the rule number wrong (I should have referred to Rule #4; Rule #5 reads "Stoves, fridges, microwave ovens, as well as a freezer, are available.") but my core message does make sense. Just like if I brought my family to a park that demanded we pray towards Mecca four times a day, or if it happened to be owned by Hinduist monks and we couldn't bring along any steaks or porkchops, I would respond in the same manner. Freedom of religion should be extended to people who are without a proper faith of their own. Secularists have formed a society to protect their interests in the United Kingdom but this is almost like forming a new religion in itself. I guess we Agnostics are condemned to wander the earth for eternity, calling out to the Happy Congregations in their Neat little pews and reminding them that their God is dead. So be it.

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