Tag Archives: religion

Crucifix

I’m reading Dracula and finding flaws
in the logic of religions: 1) If
each belief is the One True Way, why do
writers bother with new fictional gods?
2) Did Jesus ever jerk off as a teen?
3) Is there an exact constant speed at which
Mohamed flies, Mary rises, or the
angels fighting Satan dutifully
march off to their not war to never die?
4) Does it make a difference to vampires
which communion wafers one chooses to
sterilize consecrated ground, or would
Eastern Orthodox work just as well as
Baptist, Mormon, Seventh-Day Adventist?

Godless

Simon cannot close his eyes any more. He has spent the last three days trying to hide himself in slumber, smothering his face beneath the sheets, but his damned and dying flesh has now rested far too long. On the second day he tried to suffocate himself with a pillow, and as the phosphenes of asphyxiation flooded into sight, he thought he saw the hand of Christ beckoning his body. But as Simon reached out to grab His hand, he was forced to face the truth that he was left alive, doomed by Christ to never die, to never find His kingdom.

He had come again in glory to judge the living and the dead. And Simon had been deemed unworthy. And so he has been sitting in his own shit for three whole days, a pestilential penance for the double life that he had led, the lies he’d told his lover, and the loss that he’d been dealt.

Simon sees the streaks of sunlight sneaking in through the slits of his blinds.  He shifts his torso to try to get a peek behind the shades without leaving Maggie’s side in their bed. That is to say, where she was before the Rapture. As he moves he hears the squish of the urine-soaked mattress. The liquid sound sends a signal to his brain that his body needs water, needs food, needs some kind of nourishment. But he’s too afraid to move, to see the flames beyond the window as the Devil lays waste to the land. Simon can’t remember what happens after Revelations, and he’s terrified to find out. Even worse, he’s afraid of nothing at all. That God has left, and with Him has gone order, the structure of things, and now there is no one left to make the world happen.

“Ding-dong, motherfucker!” the mob outside screams. “God is dead, you assholes! We fucking won!” Their chanting is set to the thick rhythmic bass tones of a pop song blasting from a large subwoofer. Before he infiltrated the church, Simon would have been out there celebrating with them. Now he’s not sure what to celebrate. Did they win the war, that legion of sinners outside? The Conservative Christian literalists they’d railed against for so long were finally gone, leaving the rest of the world free to revel in debauchery. But the Rapture was real, and those hate-mongering zealots who were God’s chosen followers had been whisked away to live with Him in Heaven. A never-ending gift in return for their devout service: a land without sin, without sinners, without suffering.

But Simon still wonders who has truly won: those who were right, or those who are left? And which side does that leave him on?

Then he hears a window smash somewhere on the compound. Then another, then another, then another on the ground of the house, followed by the sucking sound of flames filling up the space. Simon feels the heat begin to rise from underneath.

Dad’s Diaries

Dad’s diaries are waiting in the top drawer of
a bed stand in the places that we go when we
get lonely for an hour. The paper-thin parchment
crunches when I turn the page, like autumn leaves
that fell from burning trees too soon;
translucent and impermanent, the noises
keep me company in every bawdy tomb.

I read my favorite stories to a girl that I
won’t Mary from the time when you were
thirty-two, and think of all the shit you carried
with you on your back (you never let it weigh
you down) and I am hoping to remember all
the things you taught me back when you were still around.

Dad, I see your diary was written down by
someone else’s hand, but I still remember
everything you taught me about how to be
a man. You’ll be glad to know your grand
daughter is working overseas where she is
farming in a fertile land and does it all for
free, and how I almost tied your grandson to
a fence the other day, but I just pelted him
with rocks until he bled out all the gay.

See, I’m trying hard to live my life
just the way you told me, or at least
the way I read it in this dusty little
story book where your friends had all
your best intentions written down.
But Father, I have got to ask how you
drank from that bloody glass and split
the fish while we were killing kingdoms
in your name, and how you loved the lonely
lepers and you knew your mother’s whore,
when you told me that the wicked
would not be let in your doors. But you’re
not around to give me all the answers
I might need, so I am forced to watch
as Mary takes my sixty bucks
for a fuck and leaves.

Missionary Position

She spits at my feet but looks to the sky
as she is blessing me, so full of grace.
Like Seraphim wings, the whites of her eyes
glisten, wide open like Saint Peter’s Gate

at the Endtimes, with no one left to save.
She drove three-fourths of a revolution
to arrive, humming hymns along the way,
but never thought that she would be the one

abandoned by righteousness, left alone
as Mary ails, asphyxiating faith.
Her whispered conscience knows not what it’s done,
now, or at the hour of her death:

Her only sin has ever been her pride,
a trespass greater than the sum of mine.

The higher…

I would most likely describe myself as an atheist. My religious views are, to be frank, non-existent. Typically, calling myself an agnostic would seem to be the most accurate, but I have been quite persuaded by Richard Dawkins that a true coming-out of sorts is better than merely sitting on the fringe with my tail between my legs. We can see here that Dawkins truly examines ways to encourage people to come out about their atheism (see the 20th minute). His claims, as well as his connection to Darwin, regarding beliefs in atheism and the intelligencia may only be part of why my claim is not apparent. I do think quite highly of myself and this claim can only bolster that self-image.

Ignoring my beliefs that it seems highly implausible to me that any form of higher being created the world and all of its inhabitants, organized religion is not necessarily flawed as a social mechanism. Nor, for that matter, should it be discounted as a method of encouraging mental health. That is not to say that religion cannot be, also, detrimental to an individual’s well-being; a powerful belief in an all-powerful god does seem to reveal a disposition of an external locus of control which is associated with problems and disorders. However, confessions and ritualistic prayer can both be related to psychological tactics which encourage positive mental health.

Confession seems to be very similar to many forms of talk therapy where the client is encouraged to discuss what is bothering them. The constitutions of sins are typically things that would weigh on the conscious of a person, but a confession allows for those feelings to be expressed, rather than internalized. It is client-centered therapy (as developed by Carl Rogers) in a basic sense. This could realistically be seen as the first therapy and a healthy way for people to express themselves and reveal their inner workings in a safe, protected environment. This also includes the necessary and sufficient characteristics for a positive therapeutic alliance as described by Rogers which include congruence, unconditional postive regard, and empathy. These aspects of therapy are provided by the god during the presentation as confessors are insured that they are still loved and respected in the eyes of these higher beings. These confessions are, thus, a comfortable environment that facilitate the expression of underlying personal beliefs as well as actions.

Ritualistic prayer also offers a therapeutic technique. These schedules and necessities that must be kept allow for people to maintain somewhat of a purpose; people do not simply exist during the day with no tasks required of them. In studies conducted in nursing homes, patients who were given a higher level of control over their environment, including their possible behaviors, were found to be happier- and to live longer.

In current society, is it necessary to confess or pray in a ritualistic manner? Probably not. There are other ways of reaping the benefits without an organized religion. However, for human development, they do appear to have been helpful.

Kids Books Are The Bomb

The other day, I found myself sitting at the bus stop on the corner of 4th and Wilshire. I had nothing to do, so I picked up a copy of one of the free magazines that always seem to be sitting in those weird, dilapitated newspaper vending machines in places like that – the kind that you’re never really sure if someone has recently pissed in.

So I sat there, and I started thumbing through my fresh copy of L.A. Parent. And you know what? By page 11, I loved the damn thing. Sure, some of it is trite – do I really need a yellow pages of potential party hosting sites? – but, to my surprise, I found some truly amazing material in there.

For instance, the book review section. Now, I don’t read the New York Review of Books, and I don’t know anyone my age who does. I’m in a grad program in writing, so that should tell you just how well-regarded the book review business is these days. But I read two of the most engaging reviews of two of the most interesting-sounding books that I can remember in those ten minutes of waiting. And in the end, I sort of started to appreciate the thought and trouble that goes into being a parent.

Who knew, huh?

Here are the books. Go buy ’em. Whether you have kids or not. I only bought one – I think I got the gist of the other pretty quickly – but they’re both amazing, to me at least.

The first is called “What’s That Look On Your Face?” It’s a picture book of kids’ faces, accompanied by poems and funny, rhyming shorts that explain the kids’ expressions. From the review:

‘For instance, a drawing of a tearful boy and his baseball glove in front of a rainy window, and the little poem: So sad, so unhappy, mouth curving down / glum, melancholy, face wears a frown.’

It seems, trite, right? Well the book is for kids with autism. Autistic kids have incredibly strong left brains (logic / math) but intense problems understanding emotion and social interaction. This silly little book teaches kids who are essentially locked in prisons of their own minds pnemonic devices that play to their strengths, allowing them to understand the social cues that we take for granted and function normally in day-to-day life.

Yeah. ‘Holy shit’ is right.

The second is called “The Yankee at the Seder.” Here’s the premise: it’s the Civil War, and in the middle of rural Virginia, a Jewish Union soldier shows up at a Southern home to celebrate Passover. The southerners have to take him, despite the fact that they hold this man to be essentially a fighter out to destroy what everything they hold dear, because that’s what the spirit of Passover is all about. What a premise, right? And this is a children’s book.

Buy the books. Face, and Seder.

Quite un an unexpected education for an Easter Sunday, huh?