Friday, March 14, 2008

Oh my god.

     I don't believe in gods. Christian, Jew, Muslim, Hindu; "God", Jesus, Allah, Shiva. I am a non-believer. You might believe--and good for you; I don't. That's life.
     My relationship with religion isn't overly complicated. I have never felt a single pious tingling; not a hint of belief. The idea seemed absurd to me when I was young and first asked to grasp it, and it seems the same to me now.  
     I like the sound of church bells. I like a lot of the songs. But I've never sat alone somewhere pondering sin, redemption, guilt, heaven, or hell. Never. I simply don't believe the story.
     So why, after a lifetime of shrugging off a world's worth of faith, do I bring up a topic I so clearly believe is fantasy?
     Politics. Because politics is real.
     I despise the use and abuse of religion in the political world, and the use and abuse of politics in the religious world. I think this cross-pollination is diseased and fatal. Religion is a wedge and its more fervent practitioners have long been I.D.'d as a voting block. It's being used yet again, now because Barack Obama has a "radical" minister. Get ready to see tape of the Good Reverend howling about Hillary, 9/11, and his other Greatest Hits right up until you walk into the voting booth. I'm sure FOX News has it looped and in heavy rotation.
     Obama's not the only guy with wacky friends; John McCain and Rev. Rod Parsley (who has declared "war" on Islam) are now traipsing not-so-humbly together through their Garden of Eden, too. I'm not sure who Hillary's spiritual advisor is, but I'm confident her internal polling has come up with someone who's good at saying "let us pray" in at least three different religions. 
     It seems that Obama has long been involved with Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Jr.'s church. He hasn't, however, attempted to use it as a springboard to the presidential nomination. Can the same be said of McCain's manipulation of religion? John McCain, decades-long Episcopalian, now suddenly a Baptist? John McCain, who went out of his way to cozy up to his (evangelical-approved) bullshit peddlers? When did the "Straight Talk Express" change its name to the "Crazy Talk Express"?
     I think it's all crazy. For me, the more evangelical, the less tethered to reality.  
     Separated from politics (and removed from public policy), I have no problem with other's religious beliefs, however. I don't care if a cross gleams in flaming neon over the hills of Los Angeles. I'm not a radical atheist; I am just a non-believer. Symbols don't scare me, but religion mixed with politics does. George W. Bush--World-Famous Christian--woke up from his nap a few years ago to sign some stage-managed document, designed to do "God's" will for a brain-dead Florida woman. At the same time, of course, he was sound asleep when sane people told him his Iraq folly was the Devil's work.
     (It was the Florida woman who was brain-dead, right?) 
     Anyway, you're goddamn right I've got a problem with that.
     Recently I was in a discussion with someone, and religion came up. I expressed my atheistic views, long after she had proclaimed her love for Jesus. She said, "How can you say that about Jesus"?
     I asked, "How can you?" 
     I'm not voting for somebody else's idea of morality. I'm not voting for a country based on the collected works of the "700 Club". I'm not voting for exclusion. I'll vote for someone that is worldly, not heavenly. 
     Jesus, there's a helluva difference.



Anonymous said...

Obama's association with the Rev. Wright was a calculated relationship designed to grab in-state votes for Obama. Make no mistake about it. Obama and Rev Wright together also calculated that at some point their relationship would have end when Obama persued his presidential aspiration.

It's interesting that Wright speaks in terms of 9/11 being a "chickens coming home to roost" ala Malcolm X and the JFK assissination but listen to who squeals loudest when Obama's chickens return to the coup.

Note: I happen to agree with most of what I hear Reverend Wright has to say.

The Best Looking Man in Show Business Today

JohnnyRussia said...

I don't know about that. The in-state vote potential is far outweighed by the alienation of other voters The Good Reverend will likely cause, so if that was The Plan, it was a bad one. I also think anybody that preaches for a living, well-intentioned as they may be, from the kindly minister down the street to the wise rabbi to a fire-breathing Rev. Wright, is hearing voices that really aren't there.

Anonymous said...

Ummm that would be in-state votes for Obama when needed them for Ilinois offices not the presidency. I should have made that more clear. But still a relationship of pure vote roping convenience. Again, they planned on ending the relationship (interestingly enough by Wright's suggestion) when required by Obama's presidential run.

The issues that Rev Wright has taken heat for involve social injustice and nothing to do with the mystic mumbo jumbo that all religions hold in common. Obama could be defending Wright's freedom of speech and his perspectives on social injustice which rings too close to the truth. And for Obama to say he was unaware of Wright's perspectives on some of the major issues of our times is well, intellectually dishonest.

The Best Looking Man in Show Business Today

JohnnyRussia said...

My post wasn't addressing the Good Reverend's views on social injustice. I agree with those points. I don't consider them controversial, just obvious. My post addresses my atheism and my dislike of religion in the political arena, no matter who uses it. Obama (and Hillary, for that matter) haven't used it at any level close to the GOP model. And the Good Reverend is by no stretch of the imagination an ATM for votes, so I put little credence in the in-state vote hypothesis.

Anonymous said...

I believe your point about the Obama\ Wright relationship was that Obama didn't use it as a spring board to the presidency. Right, because he couldn't and it was Wright who made that most obvious to Obama early on.

But if there was no Obama\ Wright vote gathering connection for the offices which Obama held in Illinois (which I'll grant for the sake of moving on) and it was not politically convenient when Obama was state elected official, then surely Obama must have been there solely for the preachifying. But according to Obama he must have been asleep during the sermons because he says he was wholly unaware of Wright's views.

So Obama must have recalled this from a dream and then entered it into Dreams of My Father (a book of Obama's memoirs)...

"And so it went, a meditation on a fallen world. While the boys next to me doodled on their church bulletin, Reverend Wright spoke of Sharpsville and Hiroshima, the callousness of policy makers in the White House and in the State House. As the sermon unfolded, though, the stories of strife became more prosaic, the pain more immediate. The reverend spoke of the hardship that the congregation would face tomorrow, the pain of those far from the mountaintop, worrying about paying the light bill…"

The Best Looking Man in Show Business Today

JohnnyRussia said...

I read the book in February. Must've missed the part of the Good Reverend as Vote ATM. Good book, though.

Anonymous said...

Ya, I didn't see that in the book either. But I guess it's not a large or influential congregation either.

I think the place barely holds 3,000 people at a time so they are forced to have Sunday Worship Services at 7:30 a.m., 11:00 a.m., and 6:00 p.m.

Then they have Weekly Praise/Prayer Service at 11:30 a.m. and 7:14 p.m on Wednesdays.

And then they top off the week with Feasting at the Table at midnight on Fridays. (Drunk in a midnight choir? Hmmm.)

They also seem to be tech savy too with webcasts three times a day (on Sunday of course).

And for the locals without internet access there's the 1690 HOUR OF POWER Service heard LIVE on WVON AM every Sunday from 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.

Oh jeez, I almost forgot the national television broadcasts on TV ONE! at 7:30 a.m. EST (those are on Sunday too) but probably not a lot of potential voters watching that..

You know if Barack were a guy with political aspirations he probably would have looked for congregation with more clout in the state of Illinois. You know a vote ATM kinda place.

Good thing we was only there for the sermons, even if he doesn't remember them. Well except that other one he remembers, you know the one that was the inspiration for Obama's other book, "The Audacity of Hope".

Then Best Looking Man in Show Business Today

JohnnyRussia said...

Get out the vote!