The militant religious and non-religious

I don’t understand militant atheists

Cathedral in the UWS in NYC

Spent yesterday in church because it was Palm Sunday and also because I had a meeting. I still volunteer there after all these years.

I don’t think of myself as a particularly devout Christian in the big city. I merely am one

It’s a bit like when I wrote about being left-handed and proud – not exactly since one can choose to be religious or not – it’s similar in that it’s merely a state of being.

At least for me.

I do take issue with the number of people that – particularly on Facebook – feel it’s their duty in life to shame those that are religious. Moreover, I don’t think they would ever sign on and mock Muslims or Jews but Christians seem to be fair game.

A Salon article sent to me this morning by my Columbia University educated wrasslin coach sums up my thoughts on the matter whereby militant atheism has itself become it’s own religion.

And that’s precisely why I find it all so puzzling.

I am not 100% that there even is a god, let alone my god. But in my moments of doubt and belief, I find myself more often than not siding with my belief.

After all, if there is a god, he exists completely separate from my belief in him.

Yet a day doesn’t go by where I don’t have someone post something about their love of Atheism. Atheism, by definition, a rejection of all religions. It is the absence of religion. This is also different from Agnosticism where one is neither certain there is or isn’t a god.

Yet the people I run across are so smugly sure that there isn’t a god that it’s elevated to it’s own belief system.

“As one philosopher put it, being a militant atheist is like ‘sleeping furiously.'”

And with any belief system, there is that sense of superiority that I detest so very much.

The thing that jumped out at me from the article is the line that went: Dogmatists have one advantage: they are poor listeners.

In the very last tiff that I got into regarding someone bashing Christianity, this young fella that goes to my gym engaged me but only to tell me his beliefs and then write: “I will not be further commenting on this thread.”

At which point, I also stopped; partly because I found him childish, partly because of his sloppy grammar, and partly because trying to discuss anything with a militant – any militant – is a waste of time.

It’s like trying to teach a pig to sing: It’s a waste of your time and annoys the pig.

Speaking of my gym, there are dozens of really dangerous people that walk around. But you’d never know it because they know they’re dangerous. They don’t need to prove it to anyone else.

And if asked to prove it, they would and not simply say, I choose not to engage.

Again, that’s why I find militant atheism so peculiar.

If they were so sure of their beliefs, they wouldn’t feel the need to constantly prove it. I don’t.

Moreover, why would they care what I or anyone else believes?

I can assure you, my wrassln coach doesn’t care if I think I can beat him in a fight or not, he knows he can beat me in a fight. I know he can – that’s why he’s the coach.

As for my needing to say something, I read something by Elie Wiesel in junior high school where he “swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. Sometimes we must interfere.”

That is a good thing to swear to, I think.

Someone should always say something.

Location: getting dressed to see my pop
Mood: devout(ish)
Music: I have to climb Up on the side of this mountain of mine
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Render unto Caesar

The Republican Party at a Crossroads

One of the three passages from the Bible that I quote most often is Matthew 22:21, which goes: Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s.

Jesus said this after being asked by his enemies if the Jews should pay taxes:

  • If he answered Yes, they could brand him a sellout to the Roman occupation.
  • If he answered No, they could report him to the Romans as a subversive.

He sidestepped the question entirely by saying the above.

Which brings me to last night’s vote. In all of these years of posting, I don’t think I’ve ever told you what political party I adhere to.

Growing up in the Reagan years, I’ve traditionally been a Republican and then, more recently, an Independent.

Like the Republicans, I want smaller government, less wasteful spending, and tighter reins on government programs.

But their social bent makes it difficult to see myself aligning with them in the near future, or ever again for that matter: The jaw-droppingly misplaced views on women’s rights, the virulent anti-immigration bent, and (most annoying to me as a practicing Christian that has actually read the Bible) the pseudo-Christianity.

My friends think I’ve moved left. I’ve not.

With the exception of certain items, my views have been fairly consistent through the years. It’s the political landscape that’s moved right. Even Obama, with the healthcare reform – a traditionally Republican ideal spearheaded by Nixon – his aggressive hunt for Bin Laden, and his extensive use of drone strikes, is far more right than I would have expected.

Unfortunately, the right has moved ever more right as well, particularly socially. To the point that my vote is not wanted, even though it is needed. The same goes for the Hispanic and female vote, which were deciding factors in this last election.

So now the party has a choice: Continue to alienate the fiscally conservative but socially moderate voters like myself or tack back to the middle where compromise is a virtue not a vice.

Romney won more white male votes than any candidate ever – 6 out of 10 white males voted for him. And yet that was not enough.

Moreover, it will never again be enough.

So back to the Bible quote.

Papers are noting that the party is at a crossroads: continue to cling to this ridiculously intolerant RHINO Tea-Party view and become completely irrelevant OR see the world as it is.

My suggestion is to crack open the Bible and give that quote a re-read: Give unto Caesar (the government) what the government requires for you to survive and unto your own beliefs what you need to make it through your day.

The two are separate and should always remain separate. If God is god, he is god without needing a seat on Pennsylvania Avenue. If He’s not, the problem’s moot.

And here’s the main thing: Even the big guy Himself said that.

Explicitly.

Finally, when my breakup happened years ago, the only thing I knew clearly in my haze of insomnia and sadness was this: I do not want someone that does not want me.

Every time I thought of calling or writing her, that sentence stopped me. And now I’m happier for it we’re both happier for it.

Put another way, you don’t want me? Fine. I’m going to take my ball and go home.

God bless and protect the man and the office. Le Roi est mort, vive le Roi…

 

Location: going to the office for the first time in a while
Mood: conflicted
Music: Why am I the one always packing all my stuff?
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Good days and bad days

Zebra stripes in NYC

Her: Let’s see what our fortune cookie says. (opens it) “Knowledge is power.” That’s not a fortune, that’s an observation!

Spent most of last week working 16 hours days. Which, during times of personal upheaval, is not necessarily a bad thing.

Think that the subconscious is always processing those things that we can’t or won’t deal with at the moment.

Then again, being an insomniac, always somehow find the time to dwell on things I probably shouldn’t dwell on for too long. All those damn hows and whys.

If you’re at all interested, there’s a story in the bible that gives me comfort in life: 2 Samuel 12:14-23.

David, the king, has a son who gets sick. While the kid’s dying, David’s distraught and won’t sleep or eat. Then the kid dies. David mourns but then rises from his knees and gets something to eat. His advisers don’t understand and say: “When he was sick, you were a mess, and now that he’s gone, you’re eat again.”

To which David goes, “He’s gone and I can’t bring him back. I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me.”

Saw my buddy, whose mamma passed away, at the gym. He seems like he’s back to himself. That’s the thing with personal loss, y’have your good days and bad.

Since the beginning of time, all you can do is get up off your knees, ride out the bad days and wait for the next good day. You try to make it to the other side of the crap and get something nice to eat.

Today I start my day with a muffin – which, let’s face it, is really just a naked cupcake. Every once in a while, you should start your day with some cake.

Hoping today’s a good day. Even if it’s not, it starts with some cake.

Mom: Can I do something? Maybe I’ll get you two something.
Me: Well, you could buy us a 55″ LCD TV. That always makes things better.
Her: Really?
Me: (laughing) No mom, I was just kidding. (pause) 60 inches is really the minimum.

Location: in front of my pistachio muffin
Mood: better
Music: Hey, my friend, It seems your eyes are troubled
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Yoked together with unbelievers

Church downtown NYC

Having a conflict of religion.

There’s this line in the bible that goes, “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers.”

Many read that to mean Christians should only marry other Christians. Here’s my issue with that – if that were the case, I’d not be here as one parent is a Christian and one is not.

But the line actually reads, “Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers” – don’t think my parents were ever unequals – and wasn’t referring to marriage.

The issue’s that the bible’s fulla things I agree and disagree with, consider that women are not permitted to speak in church, and this is from the same guy that wrote about the previous statement.

Am accused of cherry picking the verses in the bible to obey, but isn’t that what we all do? For example, the Koran specifically says Muslims should grant safe-passage to anyone that requests it. And yet the radicals ignore that line for one that suits their purposes.

Stand, once again, accused of being a bad Christian but, to paraphrase someone, an ant on a hilltop is no closer to the sun than an ant on the ground.

The lack of grace never ceases to surprise me.

HG does not read the same book as me. This is not a (huge) issue for me but some people feel it should be.

  • Republicans don’t want me cause I’m too liberal and think Palin and O’Donnell are idiots
  • Democrats don’t want me cause I’m too conservative and don’t think a nanny state is what we need.
  • Christians don’t want me cause evidently womanizing and rum shooting aren’t approved activities.
  • Atheists/agnostics don’t want me cause I’m one of those religious nuts.

We’re always looking for home, hoping someone says, “Cm’on in,” instead of shutting the door in our face.

Disappointed. No one ever sees the invisible man.

Location: the world
Mood: disappointed
Music: here I am but why do I feel like the invisible man?
YASYCTAI: Be gracious. (always/2 pts)
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Haiti/Pat, you viper

Location: in front of a busted HD
Mood: still annoyed
Music: baby stay with me, I love it

Snow on the 72nd Street Pier in NYC

If y’read the bible, you’ll see that Jesus only got pissed – seriously pissed – with one group, the Pharisees. They were the religious elite, the ones who looked down on those that weren’t doing the willa God. They said who was good and evil.

And he said to them, You’re nuthin but snakes and the childrena snakes. And you’re going to hell.

This isn’t a religious entry, just an observation of many of the world’s holy – irrespective of religion.

Which brings me to Pat Robertson saying that Haiti’s paying fora “pact to the devil.”

Pat, you self-righteous SOB:

  1. you snake, who the #$@! do you think you are?
  2. you’re going to hell.

Either help in some way or get outta the way.

———-

On the topic of help, how’s this for easy-peasy: text HAITI to 90999 and you send $10 for aid to Haiti.

Do it for yourself, if for nuthin else. $10 in exchange for feeling like you’ve helped in some way is a bargain, man. It’s a steal.

———-

Returning to our regularly scheduled nuthin, feel like I let y’down Jaerik, writing two ranty blog entires in a row.

Sorry dude. I’ll stop now. To make it up to you, I’m gonna pimp your new game – which is honestly, quite awesome.

If you’re on FB, do a search for “islandlife” and prepare to be impressed.

Speakinga pimping; had this hidden entry where I asked people to send in a pic of themselves singing for Caffeineguy, who also let me know of the Snopes link above.

Here’s what he did with it, the talented bastard:

The chick at 0:12 is my fave part of the vid.

YASYCTAI: $10 bucks! The costa two burgers and fries at McD. Do it. (1 min/2 pt)

God the Car Salesman

Location: a green couch she hates
Mood: optimistic
Music: Hey, he said, grab your things, I’ve come to take you home.


Her
: How can you believe in a religion where some people are saved and others aren’t?
Me: I don’t make the rules, I just try to follow them.
Her: What about girls that are raped and killed for just being? And children murdered for being children, where’s your god then?

It’s hard being a Christian in the big city. People look at you like you’re nuts. They expect me to be or act a certain way. A weird form of reverse prejudice.

I doubt my religion all of the time. But I doubt it hoping, really hard, that it might be true. S’ok to doubt, I think. Everyone does it. Abraham, Mary, Thomas.

A girlie I dated once called religion: a nice fairy tale. But fairy tales, and most religions, tell you that if you’re a good guy, you’ll do fine. Like god is some sorta used car salesman you gotta bargain with just right to get the best deal.

Unless I’m reading it totally wrong, what I believe seems to say that if you’re a good guy, you still get screwed. In fact, the gooder you are, the harder you get screwed. Consider:

  • John the Babtist did everything right and got beheaded.
  • Job did everything right and lost everything, everyone.
  • Peter, the head of the first church, was crucified upside down.
  • Mary, essentially a 16 year old kid, is a virgin and gets knocked-up only to live to see her son get killed as a criminal (I sorta feel she got screwed the most).
  • Joseph finds out that his first born son isn’t his either.
  • Jesus did everything right and gets nailed to two planks of wood.

So what’s the point of even trying then? I dunno. I also don’t know the answer the questions above. I’m not a theologian. Not anything, really.

But maybe we should go do good, not cause there’s a reward for our work in the end, but a debt we owe for our chances in the beginning. We owe it to the aether.

Her: I don’t think I need god. I’m a moral person.
Me: But we’re still just people and people fail all the time. I wanna believe in something bigger than my own imagination. Something bigger than my own strength of will.

What the human heart, if afforded one wish, truly wants is a do-over. A chance to get those chances again.

Spring, Easter, it’s all about rebirth. S’why we got all the pansy coloured egges. All about the do-over. My year always starts in Fall, yeah. But something about Spring, makes me hopeful.

Happy Easter for those of you that read the same book as me. For those that don’t, hope the sun is sunny where you are, you’ve got someone hot to make out with, and there’s something grand on cable for you to watch.

Actually, if you read the same book as me, I wish you the last three also.

YASYCTAI: List the good things you’ve got. (60 mins/2 pts)

Down from your fences

Location: 19:14 yest, 462 Amsterdam Ave
Mood: pensive
Music: ain’t gettin no younger Your pain and your hunger, they’re drivin you

A metro station in Washington DC

Heartgirl
: (bursts out laughing) Those old ladies back there said, There’s a sexy Asian guy!
Me: I am! (turning to her) Kidding – it’s only cause I’ve got such a lovely accessory…
Her: (beams)
Me: …my cool leather jacket.
Her: (laughs again) Yes, you’re really popular with the cougars.
Don’t think I’ve ever gone this long without a single client calling me. Man, it’s like death out there. Gotta tap into my last little bit of emergency coin but suppose this is emergency time.

Been keeping busy trying to get some some things settled, though. The thesis, paperwork, continuing education. Lotsa stuff. Personal stuff too – saw my cousins last night. We never hang out. No reason, just don’t. People think I eat a lot. These guys, these guys can pound. And they’re all normal looking.

Talked about our grandmother. They said, without trying to make me feel bad, that I should have seen her. Least said goodbye. Told them I couldn’t. They said my mom sat all by her lonesome at the funeral.

Somehow, knew that without them telling me that. Guess cause I do that too, sometimes.

Told them that I’m closer to 40 than I am to 30. And I’m still waiting for my real life to begin.

Man, how silly’s that?

YASYCTAI: See someone for dinner that you’ve been meaning to. (90 mins/2 pts)

First-tierers, second-stringers

Location: a yellow couch
Mood: wondering
Music: It`s up to you All I can do, i`ve done But mem`ries won`t go


Her
: I was worried you were one of those religious nuts.
Me: I am one of those religious nuts.

Been busy trying to get my life in order. More craziness that I’ll tell you, as I always do, in due time.

Saw Heartgirl and I had a long discussion about our beliefs. It’s bothersome that all people know of my religion’re the shrill caricatures.

She met somea my first-tier friends. We’ve all got our first-tierers and our second-stringers – sorta like our front-runners and back-burners, yeah? They gave her the thumbs up over some watermelon soju down by St. Marks. Caught the first snowfall of the season as we walked past Kevin Bacon and Kyra Sedgwick to Katsmw‘s for some red, red wine fore heading home. Katsmw, like Heartgirl, loves sports while her husband and I don’t watch any sports. The two shared more than that in common but those’re their stories and not mine.

Sunday she and I caught brunch around the way where she somehow lost her copy of Vogue. Losing a copy of Vogue’s like losing a ten-pound weight; they just don’t disappear. On the way back, I was holding a copy of the Sunday Times out when a bird pooped on it. We both couldn’t stop laughing and almost collapsed on the street.

Told her that a bird pooping on you’s good luck so I bought an instant win lottery card for a $1 and won…$1. Of course.

Sometimes, wonder about my role in her life. Suppose time will tell. I don’t try to hide who/what I am: a nerdy, religious nut that plays/watches no sports (that don’t involve one-on-one violence), talks a lot with his hands, and is overly concerned with rum, trivia, quotes, stories, gadgets, nice clothes, and minutia.

It’s 2009 soon. I’d like some win, please. Some real win, espankyuverymuch…

YASYCTAI: It’s cold. Did you donate those clothes? (60 mins/2 pts)

All good things come to an end

 

Him: What’s the point of dating her if it’s not going anywhere?
Me: All relationships end. Some just end sooner than others.

Anthropologist Ernest Becker once said that Everything that man does in his symbolic world is an attempt to deny and overcome his grotesque fate.

All relationships end. And all relationships that matter end in tears. It’s just the way it goes. There’s nothing you adore now, that you can hold now, that you won’t lose at some point down the line. Either because it goes – or you go. It’s all ashes and dust and there’s not a goddamn thing you can do about it.

And it doesn’t matter how you go, yeah? Someone’ll wish you didn’t.

Writers try and cheat the end we know is coming. It’s our sad way of staying longer than we should. Because I’ve tricked you, you see. I’ve made you think of me.

My grandmother passed away. I’m heartbroken.

Please don’t say, I’m sorry. Tell me something funny or interesting. Cause I gotta go home and dunno what to say to my mom.

I’m a crap writer. I’ve run outta words.

Location: my office
Mood: heartbroken
Music: the sun was wondering if it should stay away for a day til the feeling went away

Talk. I’d listen

Location: 8:19, trying to figure out what to clean first
Mood: excited
Music: so few come and don’t go

Everything here, I say to my friends in real life; it’s why Jill thought I was giving her lines when I was just being myself.

One thing I tell people all the time is: drink rum. Seriously, do me a favor this weekend and one night do nuthin but pound rum. Mojitos, Captain n Coke, aged rum on the rocks with a slice of orange, whatever – just don’t drink any other type of alcohol.

Drink one glass of water with a multivitamin fore you sleep and see how you feel the next day. No hangover. Plus, note that you’ll feel “happy” versus “angry.” Those same two chemicals I told you bout last time not only give you that nasty hangover but also make you an angry drunk.

The beauty of rum is when you go on a bender, it only lasts that night. The next day you’re just as productive as you woulda been had you not been on a bender at all.

Rum. It’s nature’s perfect drink.

Another thing I say to people all the time is Proverbs 27:17, which goes Iron sharpens iron, so friends sharpen friends. The people you surround yourself with are your mirrors to the world. It’s also why it’s painful when people leave your Venn Diagram. You dull a little when they do.

Interestingly, that bible quote was in an article on relationships in the NY Times. The article notes that more marriages are killed by silence than by violence. It’s harder than you might think. The talking.

Her: My thing is that I just lose interest in people. You know how when you just want someone gone and you don’t even want them to say anything? Ever? I hate how that feels.
Me: (slowly) More than you know.

Her: Yes. So that’s why I wanna go slowly. I’m getting ahead of myself by trying to stay behind. Does that make sense? (pause) We don’t have to stop talking yet. You could talk. I’d listen.

Me: OK then, let me tell you a story…