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If You Thought THAT Was Offensive…

Posted in rants,religion by YTAH on September 30, 2008
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Taking a break from pure politics this week (although, as we know, everything is political), I thought I’d tackle one of my favourite hobby-horses, religion, by writing about the latest of God’s self-appointed ministers. You may have read about it in the papers, or on any of the blogs by his fans and detractors, but there’s a new Morality Sheriff in town, and he goes by the name of Buchan. Angus Buchan. Perhaps you’ve heard of him? If not, you can check out this column that Pikes wrote for another site. Words cannot express my excitement when I first saw the photo accompanying the story and I thought: “Great! They’re making a South African Indiana Jones movie!” But then I read the column and realized it was just another reactionary Christian crackpot with a stupid hat and even stupider opinions, wishing to make a name for himself by convincing all and sundry that they’re all going to hell unless they do exactly as he says.

"And he wore a stupid hat."

"And he wore a stupid hat."

If the name of our new godly emissary strikes a rustic air, you’re not too far wrong. No, he doesn’t raise cattle, but he was a potato farmer before being “called by the Lord”. (Hey Angus: I can call you; in fact there’s a number of things I’d like to call you, but that would probably land me as much hot water as those potatoes.) Among the many, many, many stupid things this “prophet” has said is that the Dalai Lama is a dirty stinking heathen who’s going to hell. (That may not be a direct quote.) Now, I doubt the Dalai Lama gives two shits about where some bigot with a messiah complex thinks he’s going when he dies. After all, the Dalai Lama – or “DL” as I like to think of him – is a Nobel laureate who’s guest-edited Vogue (in French), knows Sanskrit and traditional medicine, and still gets up at 3:30 AM every morning to meditate, chant, and study despite having studied Buddhist metaphysics, art, and culture full-time for twenty years. Sort of overshadows the achievements of a lay preacher who can guess when it’s going to rain, dunnit. (“Faith Like Potatoes”? “Brain Like Mash”, more like. And you won’t see DL cheapening his faith by trying to pass himself off as a one-man weather service.)

The Dalai Lama is also a peace-loving guy, concerned for the well-being of the planet and his followers, who does not wish them to endanger their lives by taking up arms against their oppressors – and this is where I disagree with him. I ask you: which parts of that description reminded you of Yours Truly? That’s right, none. So while other people, like DL, might say “Live and let live”; “Celebrate diversity”; “Tolerate dissenting opinions”, I say: fuck that shit. Fuck it up the ass, then whip it ’round and give it a Dirty Sanchez. I know the Bible, and I’m more than familiar with the golden rule. So let’s do unto them as they love doing unto others, shall we? They’ve made their decision; now it’s up to us to uphold our part of the deal.

Bully pulpit

To this end, I thought I’d show my appreciation for their selfless need to “minister” to me and like-minded friends in the only way I can: by expressing exactly how much we appreciate their sacrifice. Because it’s just what this country needs, not so: another Ray McCauley-wannabe with Jesus on speed-dial. Jesus fucking Christ, pissing on Mother Theresa. Of all the prayers raised to heaven every day, that’s the one God answered? He created the world in six days, but he couldn’t take a minute or two out of his busy day to stop the spread of HIV, or give us the cure for cancer, or feed some starving children in Africa somewhere? Oh wait, no, that’s our responsibility. We’ll attend to the economy, poverty, and disease, God, you keep providing the bigoted assholes to tell us how to live and use our money. Way to pass the buck, asshole.

Not the shape of what they're selling.

Not the shape of what they are selling.

But then, it’s not really God’s fault, is it. I mean, he doesn’t exist, so you can hardly blame him. Then again, that’s why we had to invent him: so that we could have somebody to dictate our lives to us and then take responsibility when things fuck up. And trust me, they will fuck up, especially if people persist in basing their lives on a mythological text written centuries ago by people long dead; especially if believers insist that it should be taken absolutely literally – apart from the bits that are metaphorical, obviously. (“What, like the earth was made in six days or that a guy survived being swallowed by a whale, or how the entire world got drowned in a flood but one Jewish guy in a boat saved all the land-based mammals, even the dodo and the kangaroo found only on the other side of the world?” “No, the bits about leaving the village when you’re menstruating or not eating pork and shellfish or not mixing garments made from different cloths.” “Ah. But not the bits about homosexuality and fornication being on par with murder and bestiality, or how you’re supposed to stone your children if they’re rebellious, or have sex before marriage, or try to convert you to another religion?” “No, those still apply.” “Hmmm – okay, that sounds reasonable.”)

Fantastic, isn’t it. But as I’ve mentioned, the point of this whole rigmarole is to have somebody to blame. It’s not about a love for humanity, or the state of anyone’s immortal soul – it’s so that you can stop thinking for yourself, stop taking responsibility for your own screw-ups, stop trying to make a difference to improve the world. But it’s also good for bullying other people into submission. Hell, some people turn bullying into a sacred commandment, almost a calling. For every self-styled “Ray of Sunshine” who says they just want “to share God’s love with the world”, there’s some wanker with a McCalling who thinks God needs them to convert every sodding sumbitch alive by browbeating or threatening everyone who’ll give them half a chance, by golly. Well fuck that; I know I’ve said this before but I’ll repeat it for the slow people (you know who you are): I’ll tolerate you as much as you tolerate me, fucker. But this lot doesn’t show dissenters a great deal of tolerance, you understand; there’s not much love and understanding to spread around in Godville.

Story time

Take another look at Genesis, and the story of Noah’s Ark. Take a closer look at that sweet little Bible story, and see if you can ignore the smug self-righteousness, the glib satisfaction in the description of Noah watching his neighbours drowning in the flood. Hear that? It’s the cry of “Told You So” that has reverberated down the ages. Ever wondered where the Christian holier-than-thou attitude started? Now you know. (For a modern echo of that sentiment, see the “ha! BUT!” comment I quoted in my previous post on this subject.)

"…let's call the whole thing off."

"…Let's call the whole thing off."

But don’t stop when the dove returns to the boat with that olive branch. Read on past the bit with the rainbow and the covenant with God, and you’ll discover how he got fall-down drunk and exposed himself to his kids. Then keep reading, and you’ll discover that the Bible is full of stories about God’s chosen ones eventually fucking up. A few chapters later in Genesis, for instance, you’ll find the famed story of Sodom and Gomorrah, where you’ll meet another “just and holy” man who alone was chosen from a horde of sinners to be worthy of clemency. But continue past the fire and brimstone, and discover what happened afterwards, what the “chosen one” and his family got up to once they escaped the city. To save you the trouble, here’s a brief summary: from a city of evildoers, God saves the one guy who ends up committing incest with his daughters and blaming it on the bottle.

This story may have sounded fine when you were a kid, but read between the lines, shit-heads: the guy had sex with both his kids, and he’s going to pretend that he was too drunk to notice? I know lots of people who are “friends of the bottle”, and quite a number of others who are fans of differently-legal substances, so you’ll believe me when I say that I’ve been witness to some pretty inexplicable behaviour (Noel Gallagher’s lyrics, for example). But let me point out that none of them – not one of my intoxicated friends – could get away with that excuse in a case like that. And I’m sorry, really, but if belief is a form of gambling (and I think it is), the Bible’s bookmaker for the Righteousness Derby needs to recalculate their odds. At the very least I refuse to believe he’s in any position to tell other people what kind of fornication is a greater sin.

Never the last word

Of course, I’m only really pissed off at the Christians because they won’t shut up. This is perhaps a reflection of the society I live in more than some distinguishing feature of Christianity alone. Because every now and again, if I go off about intolerant Christians on other comment boards, people get annoyed that I’m never as virulent about the Islamic faith. But that’s because most of the Moslems who know me and how I spend my free time also know me well enough to leave well enough alone. So if they have any opinions about my sexual orientation or my drinking or my diet, they have the good grace to keep it to themselves. That said, if any of them ever takes it upon themselves to inflict their faith on me, they won’t be any more pleased with the results than the Christians.

Potato Soup for the Soul? Fuck off.

Potato Soup for the Soul? Fuck off.

The whole scheme – whether Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist (well, not so much Buddhist, since they do encourage personal responsibility) – depends for its success on humanity’s immutable desire to abdicate responsibility for their own actions or independent thought. After all, who wouldn’t rather blame the state of the world on some fictional deity, far removed from the sordidness of daily life, than take personal responsibility for any kind of positive change?

Me, actually. Even if God did exist, I’d still tell him, “Thanks but no thanks” – particularly if he’s the kind of self-centred, prissy bully that the fundamentalists favour. Now if I were a more disciplined writer, or even more erudite than I already am, I would end explain my reasons for that by invoking Nietzsche’s idea of a superman and how it’s the only kind of saviour you should be betting on to have much luck any time soon. But since I’m too goddamn lazy, and because I’m better versed in pop culture than philosophy, I’ll settle for paraphrasing the great Van Morrison: I’m tired of people waiting for a saviour to save the day. If you want to partake of the only true religion, fuckers, you’re going to have get up off your asses and do some saving of your own. God is dead; long live free will.

YOURS TRULY, ASSHOLE.

[Originally posted on africans.co.za on Tuesday, September 30, 2008.]

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