a religion that matters

Posted in Uncategorized at 12:35 am by Administrator

i’ve been studying for my board exam non-stop, for the last two months. it’s been exhausting, to say the least. after a full day of work, i head home, throw down a quick drink to calm my brain, and crack open the books. on weekdays, i’ve been studying four hours every night. on weekends, it’s twelve hours a day. i don’t know when i’m ever going to need to know why platinum chemo is preferred for midline adenocarcinoma of unknown primary, but what matters is that it’s fair game for the test. so here i am, learning about CD57 positive large granular lymphocytosis and how it compares and contrasts with Felty’s syndrome, which also happens to cause rheumatism, neutropenia, and splenomegaly. did you know that dream enactment behavior is a cardinal symptom of “Dementia with Lewy Bodies”?

despite the preoccupation, i’ve been absorbing so much news and information that bother me. i’ve wanted to write about it, but i just haven’t had the energy or time. and interestingly, i’ve found that the inability to blog has affected me powerfully. there is an important cathartic element to the process of writing that enables me to tolerate and even appreciate the world i live in; and when i deprive myself of it, the world gradually begins to overwhelm me. i’m sure that conversation would accomplish the same thing, but who can i talk to about all the various things that really trouble me? i don’t think there’s one person out there who could handle everything on my mind. this space, and this space only, is where i go to air myself out, to unburden my brain, and to find the strain in my thoughts that makes it all sensible.

and so i now come to the thing that i’ve been wanting to express and to explore for weeks. and now it’s Easter, and now i have to write it. i want to write about a religion that actually matters.

my old friend won ho recently got hostile with me during a chat in which i stated my belief that religion has been a force for destruction in society. i didn’t mean to imply that religion has been only destructive; but i did want to suggest that religious ideas often are destructive. religious ideas corrupt individual lives; they incite one people against another; and they destroy civilizations. never has that been more apparent than in the present age. many of the current wars actively being waged have a religious theme or core element.

and i don’t want to excuse the secularists either, because the atheists and the areligious postmodernists themselves embrace beliefs about morality and transcendence that drive them toward self-righteousness, exclusion, and violence. religion at its core is an imposition on a human being; it is an imposed responsibility, which drives that person to embrace, love, and hate things that are beyond his immediate scope of perception. it is a force which compels a man to believe he carries importance, responsibility, and power that exceed what might be implied by his otherwise unimpressive, mortal, and pitifully fragile physical form.

i look at the religious freedom laws; i look at the islamists overseas; i look at the Easter preparations of my society. i think to myself, here at last we see the real essence of religion. it is about inclusion and exclusion. and in truth, the muslims and the christians are exactly the same in so many ways; they disdain the atheist, they scorn the homosexual, they esteem martyrdom, and they are fixated upon an afterlife in paradise. they read and reinterpret words in holy books to justify their actions of prejudice and violence; and they kill, persecute, and maim in the name of God. they do things of this severity without empathy because in truth they do not believe that they ought to empathize. what common ground is there between the holy man and the heathen? one has met God; the other hates and rejects God. thus, the former will be enlightened, while the latter is little more than an animal.

when i think of Easter, i so despise religion. i despise the Christianity that manifests itself in denominations, in divisive theological debates, and in intellectual snobbery. i disdain the Christianity that defines itself in the persecution of women and the slander of gay people. i pity the Christians who define their faith in daily prayers and devotionals. i get mad at all of it, mad enough to cry out and punch a hole through the wall, because that Christianity only matters in the way it satisfies its adherents and excludes everyone else. in the one manner it ought to matter—its ability to purely and incontrovertibly prove the greatness of God to the world of this generation—this Christianity is irrelevant.

twelve years ago, i wrote similar things in my blog. but back then, i was angry at God—a God who seemed powerless to respond to the devolution and corruption of a terrible world that He did not take responsibility for creating. i am not angry at God now. i am angry at this thing we have made of Him—a deity consumed by his preoccupation with holiness. if i could find one person with whom this conversation might matter, i would tell him that here and now God would just laugh at the picture of Him we have drawn: a white man with a brown beard, mournful on the cross, filled with pity for the unbeliever. He’d draw it differently: the gay man you just shut out of your restaurant; the black boy you just put in handcuffs; the woman you threw acid on; the transgender prostitute who just walked into your Sunday service. He’d say that the religion that matters is the one that shows these people an unconditional and heartfelt affection. He’d say that because your religion disdains them, it’s no religion at all. it’s worthless.

i hate the church—that wooden institution full of its history and hubris—even as i love my church, that place where i discover Him. i hate these religious holidays—these token gestures of obeisance and self-exploration—even as i treasure the rituals of worship. i am full of anger and frustration and sadness and dismay, because i see that my religion doesn’t really matter in my world, and that makes it hard for me to believe that it actually matters in my life. i feel like Jonah, not like the prophet who did a great thing for Nineveh, but like the man so filled with self-loathing because he cannot help but despise the people that the Lord has chosen for mercy

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