You too can be free

Blog381

One of the most liberating aspects of jettisoning Christianity was the realisation that nothing I did had cosmic significance. Nothing anybody does has cosmic significance. Yet to hear the cult’s leaders and spokesman talk, now as then, everything matters.

First and foremost, what you believe determines whether you lived forever in Heaven or not. Can you credit that: what you believe. So better get that doctrine sorted out! Right thought makes all the difference. You only have to read a few Christian blogs to realise how important this still is. Believe something only minimally unorthodox and your eternal life is in jeopardy. Not only that, but what you think in the privacy of your own head about issues like abortion, homosexuality, politics and society is subject to the Lord’s scrutiny. Better get it right – ‘Right’ being the operative term. It means recognising that Trump is God’s Chosen One because the Almighty is really only interested in the USA. He has much less time for other nations, except maybe Israel, so better get your thinking straight on that score, buddy.

God is, or so his self-appointed mouthpieces like to tell you, obsessively interested in how you, as an individual, spend your time, the language you used and whether you’re a faithful steward of the money he supplies (that’s the money you work hard for yourself). He lays it on your heart about how you should spend your time, the only valuable way being in the service of his Kingdom-that-never-comes. You’re made to feel that if your marriage isn’t close to perfection then you’re not really working at it (though god knows the biblical view of marriage is nothing like the one promoted by today’s Christian leaders). You’re made to feel you must share the gospel with everyone else you have relationships with: children, friends, colleagues, acquaintances, complete strangers. Don’t they too deserve to have a chance at eternal life? You don’t want them denied it because you failed to speak up, do you? Well, do you?

And then there’s the guilt when you can’t do all of this. You’re not sure you believe all the right stuff. You think you do but then you’re told about some point of doctrine you hadn’t considered and it is, apparently, really essential you do. So you consult the Holy Spirit who you think lives in your heart and you wonder why he hasn’t spoken up before now. Maybe you have liberal views about abortion. And really, you can’t find it in yourself to condemn all those ‘sodomites’ you’re told about; what difference does it make if you do or don’t? And your marriage is less then perfect. In fact, it’s a little bit messy, like human relationships tend to be, and sometimes you want just to relax, maybe laze a little bit. Not everything you do has to contribute to the Kingdom, after all.

But the guilt won’t let you. What kind of Christian are you, anyway? And as for witnessing at every opportunity, you wonder why you feel like a dog that’s compelled to pee at every lamp-post. Can’t friends just be friends? Can’t you just appreciate others for who they are, not as sinners who need saving? Apparently not.

What a wonderful release it is then, when you finally realise that none of this crap matters. Nothing you do, say or think makes the slightest bit of difference to whether you or others live forever (Spoiler: you won’t, they won’t.) How you act may help others feel a bit better about themselves or provide you with a sense of fulfilment but that’s the extent of it. Outside your immediate context, you’re insignificant, and there’s great significance to that. The pressure is off; God is not watching you to see whether you’re a good and faithful servant. Your time, money and thoughts are yours and yours alone. It’s entirely up to you how you use them, free from the tyranny of religion.

 

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Morality Tale

Preaches   A man who believes in the impossible – and it is a man more often than not – appears as a moral authority every morning on national BBC radio. This same man is frequently asked by television networks to give his views on moral issues of the day, be they assisted suicide, pay-day loans, same-sex marriage & adoption, abortion or capitalism. And even when he hasn’t been asked, the views he expresses on these subjects are widely reported, sometimes all around the world. The man can, in one of his roles, sit in the second most important legislative body of the land, again as a moral authority, influencing laws that are binding on everyone else whether they believe in the impossible or not. Indeed, the man has an automatic, unelected right to be part of this august body.

   Where, you might ask, does this man’s moral authority come form? Is he a psychologist with a profound understanding of human behaviour? Or a geneticist with knowledge of the biological bases of our decision making? Maybe a philosopher who has analysed the cognitive processes that lead to moral decisions? An ordinary, educated person, then, who has given much rational thought to how we might best treat one another?

   No, he’s none of these. He’s just a man who believes in the impossible and wears funny clothes to prove it. Invariably, it is true, he has become quite an expert in believing the impossible and he’s even been granted a special place in society that allows him to encourage others to believe the impossible. As a result, he has somehow made the leap into thinking that, because he believes in the impossible, he must therefore be a moral authority.

   Now, we may not object to the man believing in the impossible in the first place – it’s a free country after all – but we don’t accept, surely, that because he does, it means he knows much more than the rest of us about morality?

   Yes, I’m sorry to report that we do. We acquiesce to the man and say ‘because you believe in the impossible, and for no other reason, you must know more about morality than we do.’ And when we are looking for moral guidance, we turn to him – whether we are the BBC, the rest of the media or the government – and we say, ‘what do you say about this? What should we think about it, because, after all, you are the authority here by virtue of the fact that you believe in the impossible?’ And the man, in whatever guise he appears – pope, archbishop, bishop, reverend, imam, rabbi – says, ‘this is what it says in my magic book (even when it doesn’t) and you should follow it, even though you might not believe in either the magic book or in the impossible.

   And we say, ‘Well, you’re the expert and we respect that you should tell us how to behave, if for no other reason than you believe in the impossible.’