”We’re all in this thing together
Walkin’ the line between faith and fear”

“We’re All In This Together” – Old Crow Medicine Show

Religion is a monster.

Before I get to that, I’m half-humored and half-disturbed that I got barely any response to my last post. You could most likely tell that I’m just a bit frustrated as of late. Even more so, though, I would think my obvious style was trying to provoke you, dear reader. I thought to myself, “Well, if I put the words Jesus and fuck in the same sentence, I’ll get a rise out of someone.” Not only did I do that, I put them right next to each other. I felt like I was a teacher that asked a question of a class that didn’t read their assignment last night. I got blank stares and some shuffling of pages. Yes, I do act as if what I post is some sort of perverse science experiment. Or, rather, perhaps they are sociology experiments? I enjoy this in some sick way. Either way, you failed.

So, religion is a monster, indeed. Historically, this has been proven time and again. I’m no atheist, but I have to agree with what Richard Dawkins (famed athesitic evangelical) has to say in the following quote:

My point is not that religion itself is the motivation for wars, murders and terrorist attacks, but that religion is the principal label, and the most dangerous one, by which a “they” as opposed to a “we” can be identified at all.

I’ve been of the opinion in the past that all wars are not of a religious nature. But, religion seems to be some sort of component in too many of them and, as is evidenced in the world’s current events, this case has moved to the forefront of existing conflicts. Why is this the case, when many people, including myself, outwardly express our disdain for war. War is a moral issue. War is hell materialized on Earth. This is where religion rears its ugly head. The most volatile warhead is not of nuclear substance, but, rather, of religious substance. As a Catholic, I find it divisive and disturbing that Jesus can be quoted as saying the following in the Gospel of Matthew:

“Put your sword back in its place,” Jesus said to him, “for all who draw the sword will die by the sword.” (Matthew 26:52)

and
“Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.” (Matthew 10:34)

I don’t know about you, but if I were to use a source like Matthew’s Gospel in some sort of research, it would be thrown away. It would be tossed right into the garbage. It’s obvious that Matthew has conflicting messages and is not consistent in his writings. The Bible is like this in its entirety. So, don’t give me any bullshit about being a cafeteria Catholic, because EVERY Catholic can be described as such. Every CHRISTIAN can be described as such, as well.

What good does this do anyone?

No fucking good at all. I’m sorry, but using the Bible to justify anything makes the point moot. The Bible has no series of proofs. The Bible has no concrete evidence of anything, except for the fact that stories written by men about other men and their fantastical experiences have been passed down through several millennia. That’s all the Bible is at the core of it.

I’ve spent the last few years mired in an internal war of religion vs. non-religion. I’ve learned a whole hell of a lot, I must admit. I’ve come to love people for their overt religiosity. I’ve made friends through religious understanding. But, the actual conflict within my head is coming to a head, so to speak. Somewhere in that fine line of culture and religion is where I reside. What do I fucking claim though? This is what I’m getting at. It seems to me that I can only claim one because my conscious will allow only one. Many times recently I felt like telling religion to fuck right off.

Ahem.

Recently, I spent quite a few weeks reading an interesting book entitled, Going to Heaven by Elizabeth Adams (Pick the book up some time. It’s an interesting read as well as being vastly informative about the Episcopal Church, the democratic processes that run it, and politics behind it all). It is the story of Gene Robinson, the first openly gay bishop in the Episcopal Church (And, for all intensive purposes, in Christendom). The book itself covers much of Gene’s life, but the most gripping part concerns the division that Gene’s presence caused and continues to cause in the church. As an openly gay man, Christianity is not the most welcoming home for him because, as I’m sure you know, Jesus didn’t like the gays. This preposterous notion is, of course, baseless and of absolutely no substance. Christianity’s aversion to homosexuals is based much more on masculine fear and the incomprehensible, as opposed to reason, logic, and (surpise!) a clear understanding of the nuances behind Jesus’ teachings. If anything, Jesus walked with the very outcasts of his society, who were most likely anything from being gay to being prostitutes to being known law breakers. He operated outside of the religious establishment of his day after he learned the ins-and-outs, as they say, and, in turn, realized the hypocrisy inherent in an organization that becomes too political to be truly respectful of God.

As I read through the book, I often thought to myself, “Who would’ve thought a gay man would ever figure prominently like this?” As a man who seemingly enjoys life and is comfortable with himself, Bishop Gene Robinson comes off as a perfect representative of Christianity. He’s flawed, yes. He’s devout, yes. He’s tired, yes. He’s tireless, yes. He’s conflicted, yes. He is what I see in the figure of Christ. Bishop Robinson is gay, yes, and that is truly just an aside to everything else that makes him qualified for the position.

The conflict over Bishop Robinson’s ordination in the Episcopal Church wasn’t about liberal vs. conservative. It was about evolution. It is about Christianity and the human condition.

I enjoyed Going to Heaven for what it said about us as humans; how it is not about what the Bible says, but what we say. Whether it is about war, sexual orientation, feminism, or race, the Bible can be and is used to bolster whatever position we may have. However, it is our humanity that decides what position we will take morally.

Where the hell am I going with this?

Shit, I don’t know. Lent this year is throwing me for a loop. Maybe this is good? Organized religion may not be for me. It’s good to remove yourself now and again to take stock in what you do and say. As Jesus began his ministry, he circulated around the fringes and, many times, outside of the established religion in Jerusalem and in opposition to the militaristic forces of his time. I think we all could learn a bit from this, whether Christian, religious, or non.

To close for today, a word from Thomas Paine:

“Belief in a cruel God makes a cruel man.”