Sunday, December 26, 2010

No Respect

I, like the late, great (?) Rodney Dangerfield, do not get respect.

The line be deliberately misquoted. While he, Rodney, did not receive respect from his fellow man, I do not get the need to dole out respect to certain individuals.

...I never said I was a comedian. If you're looking for comedy, try Sarah Palin's "book".

I like being respected. I like Pleases and Thank Yous and smiles from the occasional non-creepy passers-by. I was raised to be a polite, tolerant, even-tempered human being.

I am, however, violently sick of being told that I must respect the fundamentally, or, dare I say it...the moderately religious.

Even Christopher Hitchens, the fundie-bashing genius that he be, stresses in a passage of his MAGical book, God is Not Great: he genuflects before entering a pew in church, he bows at all the correct intervals, he respects his fellow man's religious rites and rituals. I understand, obviously. In no way do I find it permissible to walk into a church, tear up a few hymnals, and turn them into an open air litter box. I am tired, however, of being told that a church is entitled to tax exempt status, that I should respect the "right" of the Mormon church to literally scare up a gargantuan fortune for the express purpose of preventing homos from obtaining the right to marry (the fortune would probably have fed thousands of starving Haitians for weeks, by the by), that I should respect those whom, with oh-so-compassionate "moral" fortitude, smile upon me, tell me they love ME, they just hate my SIN.

Allow me to point out a similarity between the activities that occasionally take place in the basement of the average Christian fundamentalist church vs. the basement of your average BDSM club frequented by homosexuals: from time to time, someone's getting sodomized. In the BDSM club: ready-and-willing, consenting adults. In the church basement: thirteen-year-old boys. The club is required by government law to pay taxes. The church is not.

In the words of Will Ferell...I feel like I'm taking crazy pills.

In my opinion, religion should be used as a basic moral blueprint, at best. By that, I mean people can logically deduce that SOME Christian/Islamic/Jewish teachings can be beneficial in your day-to-day life, i.e. turn the other cheek, respect your parents, etc. (These teachings are also, one might argue, common sense. They can exist independently of religious dogma. When wanting to thrust a chopstick into the eye socket of a shrill-voiced Greenpeace street bully, I've never felt the need to turn to Jesus for a moral power up. I don't want to go to jail for the fleeting satisfaction of watching an under-sexed self-righteous enviro-nazi roll around in a pool of her own blood. Logic.) The second you turn to religion/god for actual guidance/comfort/advice, i.e.'ve lost me. I'll never feel the same way about you again. I'll refrain from mocking you in public (unless you're Ted Haggard), but you'll forever have lost most of my respect.

Allow me to do some 'splainin': if I met a grown woman who still really, truly, fully believed in the mythical Santa Clause, and she really, truly, fully believed that, if she just wished hard enough, that he would bring her presents...I would immediately chalk her up as unstable. Mentally bankrupt. Intellectually inferior.

Thousands of grown adults with access to billions of tomes chock full of scientific literature still look to the sky and pray (read, wish) that a magical (yes, mythical) sky being will grant them their fondest desires...if they just pray hard enough.

I cannot respect it. I've honestly tried. There was a time when belief in gods was a permissible idea: we had to explain lightning/pregnancy/the general malaise and chaos that circles the human condition somehow. It is, however, time now, kids. It's time to accept that the scientific method is a much more practical way of dealing with the crushing complexity that is our humanity and environment.

I think that true wisdom will only begin to come to one the day that one truly realizes that one is nothing but an ignorant bag of shit. Stephen Hawking, brilliant theoretical physicist, knows only an infinitesimal fraction of all there is to know about this boundless universe that surrounds us. He is, an ignorant bag of shit. And I'm quite positive that he knows it. The day one makes that realization, with any luck, one will have the common sense to learn as much as one can within a human lifetime. That still will not entitle one to wisdom, or even elevate one above ignorance.

Such is our condition.

I will never respect the Ted Haggards, the Jerry Falwells, the Pat Robertsons, the Anita Bryants, the George W. Bushs (any Bush, for that matter) of the world. Ever. If there is such a thing as willful ignorance, they actually long to possess it. Embracing Christianity means looking life full in the face, and rejecting the opportunity to become something other than an ignorant bag of shit...only to become an even BIGGER ignorant bag of shit.

Let me just state that I do not find myself to be better than anyone else based upon what I believe (or don't believe). The road of an atheist is a sad, lonely road littered with glaring billboards advertising my own mortality. I just know that when I die, nothing's going to happen. My brain will blink out. I'm fucking dead. Forever. Nothing at ALL I can do about it...but at least I've done enough research to know it.

I also fully advocate the teaching of religion in schools. All I ask is that, in this class, there be two books that are required reading: the Bible, and God is Not Great. We'll see who comes out smelling of atheism.

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