Keep religion in your pants

Over the years I’ve been acosted by many different religious groups all wanting to share their viewpoint on the world and whatever else may be beyond it.  Most of them say that if I dont believe as they do then I am subject to some sort of damnation.  This sort of behavior has led to numerous conflicts throughout history, not just with me but usually between these different competing groups.  People have died in these conflicts, and countless more very very annoyed.

If we could just treat religion like sex, I think things might work a little smoother.  Keep it in your pants.  Only share it with those people closest to you.  And maybe a few people at parties when you are really drunk.  This analogy kinda breaks down when you get into the realm of internet pornography, but I think you get the idea that I’m going for.

So I plead with you solicitors of religious propoganda, do this little thing for us.  Peddle your wares elsewhere.  Think of the children.

9 thoughts on “Keep religion in your pants

  1. Beau say:

    well well james… seems like you’re growin up a lil. =P

    Well written. If only more people thought of it like that.

    Hope you are kickin ass and takin names in japan.

  2. Stephen say:

    Try as I might, I can’t read this post as any more than “some people think and do things that bother me, and I’m uncomfortable with that, so I wish they would shut up.”

    There is one thing in common that these groups have: they are telling you that your life means something; all this talk about damnation has a positive side as well — what you do matters.

    Have you seen the movie Contact? Religious experience is basically universal — you are the odd one out because you are not (or claim not to be) religious. It’s probably more that you are choosing not to respond to your own religious impulses.

    I think an honest survey of history will show you two things. First, religion — in the Western world, Christianity — has been responsible for a tremendous amount of good. Monasteries preserved Western civilization through the Dark Ages; the Church founded the first universities and hospitals and was definitely in the business of helping poor people before it was cool and trendy.

    Furthermore, regarding bloodshed and religious war, the people who have spilled the most blood are all those who have tried to create perfect societies without religion: communist China and the Cultural Revolution, the Soviet Union and the gulags, Nazi Germany and the Holocaust. On the order of 100 times the number of people have died in these atrocities than even the Inquisition on a bad day. And even if people did die in the name of Christianity, it is merely affirming Christian belief that all of us, even the best of us, are in constant need of conversion — seems a lot more realistic than the claim that people are basically good and have no need of God.

    Read the stories of the martyrs — in Japan, for example, Christianity survived for three hundred years underground in the face of immense persecution. To me, it means that there’s something there — perhaps you could call it grace.

  3. That one chick say:

    Wow~spoken like someone who just pulled his Christian dick out of his pants to slap it in someone’s face. You must have missed the CRUSADES. The Church founded universities and hospitals because they wanted control over learning and health practices. The Church was all about power.

    There is no such thing as an “honest survey of history.” History was written by those who are in power. See above.

    Can you actually base religious universality on a movie? Made by whom….Christians? Sounds like a one-sided show.

  4. james say:

    Stephen:
    I agree with a few of your points, but I think perhaps we are coming at this from two different angles.

    My post is little more than a complaint over other peoples actions thinly veiled in my own musings. I’m not so much concerned with what they believe, only when their belief structures bring them into conflict with other people. The fact that these people’s actions often irritate people that are far more rash and violent than I is what concerns me. Think of the recent Muslim Cartoon riots.

    It seems strange to say that you need religion to give meaning to life and actions. The Secular Humanists seem to be functioning just fine with a purely logical foundation. My lack of affiliation with any specific religion is just that. None that I have encountered seemed like the best too for the job, and too many seemed like they were a tool fit for a strange nut indeed.

    People all over the world, even those non-religious, have had lots of good intentions and good will. Why do you have to serve a higher power to help humanity? Can’t you serve humanity just because you are human? Caring about other humans and having religion seem mutually exclusive to me.

    I don’t think I’m qualified to speak on statistics or motives of the Nazis, Soviets, Chinese, Christian Crusaders, Muslim Crusaders, Egyptians, Babylonians, Jews, Catholics, or any other group that has killed people on the basis of religion. But you are correct, killing to rid ourselves of religion is just as bad as killing those of different religions, if not the exact same.

    I think there are religions that persevere with more grace than Christianity, I’ve never once been solicited by a Buddhist.

    That one chick:
    So much hostility. We’re all friends here 😉

  5. Stephen say:

    That one chick:
    I’m not defending the Crusades. I don’t deny that the Church is made of people and that these people aren’t perfect. I do think, however, that the Crusades pale in comparison to the modern day atrocities that I wrote about. I will try to find some numbers.

    Contact was written by Carl Sagan, an American astronomer who did not believe in God; the main character struggles with issues of faith but the movie ends without resolution, so I think it is relevant to someone who lives in the modern world and who struggles with issues of faith.

    As for “The Church founded universities and hospitals because they wanted control over learning and health practices”, I don’t know about other places, but in the United States, pick any city. Look at the people doing inner-city work in that city, the people running schools for free for poor kids, the people running social services.

    The vast majority of these organizations are religious organizations. Most of the time they do a better job than the government. I have personally worked with these organizations, and there is no power to be gained from working with the weak and the poor. It comes from a desire to serve Christ in the person of these people. This takes place even in societies where the Church has little recognition and no real power, like Japan. Perhaps you can share some of your experience with the Church.

    James:
    You say: The Secular Humanists seem to be functioning just fine with a purely logical foundation.

    In the small scale, I lived in Japan among a bunch of irreligious people in the I-House and I’ve worked in America among religious people. I’d pick the religious people any day of the week. I was at Carnegie Mellon last week at graduate student orientation and the same week I visited some nuns who work in New Orleans. The nuns win, hands down. They were kind, patient, and wonderful — the epitome of human. In addition, they were smart — PhD’s all around the room (it’s the Sisters of the Sacred Heart — they run schools).

    In the large scale, the point about the Soviets, the Nazis, etc., is that you can’t create a perfect society without religion. Human beings are imperfect and need the grace of God.

    Being religious, for me, is about becoming more human. Christ himself links serving God and serving others as two dimensions of the same thing.

    See Matthew 22:34-40:
    When the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together, and one of them [a scholar of the law] tested him by asking,
    “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?”
    He said to him, “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.
    This is the greatest and the first commandment.
    The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
    The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.”

    About the Buddhists, I think that you aren’t familar with enough of the history. Buddhist monks in the Parliament of Sri Lanka are persecuting minority groups like Christians. Buddhist missionaries approached some of my Japanese friends at Ritsumeikan — how do you think Buddhism got to Japan in the first place? One of the reasons that Christianity was initially accepted in Japan is that it wasn’t Buddhism; there were monasteries full of warrior monks. Not that I don’t have respect for Buddhism — I spent six monks working for a monk in Nanzen-ji and attended a seminar here by Robert Thuman, the only Tibetan Buddhist monk in the West.

  6. That one chick say:

    Stephen and James,
    No hostility intended! Sorry if it came across that way. I just feel strongly on the issue. Much of my schooling has involved the Middle Ages in Europe, and I have spent a lot of time reading the accounts of life during those times. 😉

    By “Church” with a capital C, I mean the Roman Catholic church that instigated most of the building of public and private forums in the Middle Ages. I guess I thought that’s what was meant. I have no problem with the churches in American, Baptist, Catholic, or otherwise. I think that modern day churches are more like what church was intended to be by the one upstairs. I dislike the fact that the Church was in control of so many facets of life (religion, education, secular, political) during the Middle Ages and before. I distrust Church when it involves politics, which is really what the Church was all about, then.

    I will have to watch this “Contact” movie.

  7. Beau say:

    [rant]

    “I do think, however, that the Crusades pale in comparison to the modern day atrocities that I wrote about.”

    Its fairly simple to understand why – the time period. They didnt have the weaponry we have now, or at least in the recent past. Throw the crusades into the modern world, and you would have something akin to the Nazi genocide against the Jews, except, honestly, the numbers would be even higher. Why? Religion breeds zealousness. People become fanatical over their belief, believing that their way is the only way.

    “The vast majority of these organizations are religious organizations. Most of the time they do a better job than the government.”

    That actually is a no-shitter. It doesnt take much to get better than the government. Take out a little bit of bureacracy and its amazing what can get done. It has nothing to do with the religion card.

    “I have personally worked with these organizations, and there is no power to be gained from working with the weak and the poor. ”

    It -used- to be about the power over the “little people”. Now, it is not. Now it is about converting as many people as you can through acts of kindness that are supposedly via the hand of your God, when in reality, it is simply you doing them, because you choose to, because you want someone else to believe what you believe.

    And, last but not least, pity. Because the moment they deny the advance of your God, you feel sorry for them. You feel sorry that they are going to burn in hell for eternity, that they are not going to taste the sweet ambrosia that is your Heaven.

    That very pity in the hands of the weak-minded breeds prejudice. In middle-america, the bible belt, that shit runs rampant. Dont believe me? Its everywhere. Hell, look at the gay protests at military funerals. Sure, you can say thats not all christianity, but thats not really the point now is it? The point is is that it still -exists- in -your- religion.

    You people are too busy trying to convert everyone else that you have stopped giving a shit about your own damned beliefs in the process and instead branch off into more and more secular divisions. Do you think your supposed all-loving God would approve? I sure as hell dont.

    Fix your own shit before you try to fix someone else. Maybe once christianity gets its ass in gear and actually stands for something ill take a look at it, but till then, dont expect anyone to except for those that are too weak to handle their own lives.

    As for the rest of religion, basically, the same applies. Even for Buddhism. I am personally a huge fan of the philosophical belief structure of Buddhism, but, when it becomes organized, it gains the same failings as Christianity.

    As James said originally, keep it in your pants.

    The worlds freakin problems would practically be solved if people would keep their religious beliefs to themselves and actually give a shit about each other for sake of humanity instead of for some psuedo-supposed-divinity.

    [/rant]

  8. james say:

    Sorry for the long delay in replying. I’ve barely had time to do anything around here. Japan keeps me busy 24 hours a day.

    Stephen:
    Sorry you got flamed by my friend, but this is exactly my point. When people start talking about their religious beliefs, regardless of how noble the intentions might be, it has a tendency to irritate other people. I don’t question where your intentions are, and I know there are many good people in many good religions. There are also many good people that are none religious. I don’t think its quite fair to compare the Nuns from the Sisters of the Sacred Heart to average college students from a dormitory. A better comparison might be the head of some other order, such as the Secular Humanists, or of some other non-religious social support structure.

    I have many friends that are religious, and many of them are great people. From my experience, however, religious and non-religious people are nearly the same. For example the Athiest and Agnostic Association on campus participates in humanitarian efforts just the same as the christian organizations do. But I’ve attended their meetings, just as I’ve attended some of the religious meetings and they are about the same, although perhaps a bit more cynical.

    I won’t say outright that you can or cannot have a society without religion, I just have no data to support those claims and I will agree that man is imperfect, but what I will contend is that what is needed is ‘the grace of god.’ People strive to find something higher than themselves, we all do. Most probably find this through religion, but what I think religion truely gives people is hope. Religious institutions provide a support structure for like minded individuals, and then the spiritual guidance gives them the hope and strength to carry on through everyday life. Aside from any supernatural phenomenon, I think this is the true benefit of such orginizations.

    Beau:
    Despite your abrasive approach, you make some excellent points. I think more of the world could benefit from people helping people out of caring for their fellow man, rather than caring about them for religious reasons. It’s not a bad thing to help people in order to strengthen your relationship with god, but how about helping them to strengthen your relationship with them?

  9. Jasper say:

    Religion, among other topics, seems to be an uncomortable conversation for the general public. Most people, in the civilized world, truely don’t have a fucking clue what to or not to belive, for the most part. Your religious extremest, i.e. middle east, use the topic of religion a basis commiting insidious acts against humanity. Common sense would suggest that everybody mind their own fucking business and shut the fuck up. That would make the world a much more pleasureable place to live. I, among others, can fully respect anybodys beliefs, whatever they may be, until they begin to empose those beliefs on my wellbeing.

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