The Only Truth

I long ago lost my Christian faith – though it was more of a conscious uncoupling than carelessness. It simply didn’t make sense any more; it wasn’t the Truth it claimed to be. It wasn’t even a truth.

The legacy of Covid-19 for me has been more loss of faith: in science and scientists, as suggested in the previous post, in the media (as I discussed here) and also in politicians and the police. My faith in politicians was, admittedly, never all that great, but the pandemic delivered the death blow. It’s not that I found the numerous parties at 10 Downing Street and in Whitehall a betrayal of the British people, who were under strict lockdown (though they were); it wasn’t the revelation that those who control our lives do so only with a steady supply of alcohol (though that is also true). It was because they were and are so utterly incompetent. None of the measures taken by the British government, nor the Scottish and Welsh assemblies, halted the spread of Covid. Yet like a dog returning to its vomit (Proverbs 26.11) they returned to the same old measures as if they worked. They imposed universal lockdowns and restrictions, making normal social behaviour a crime, when they should have been protecting the elderly and vulnerable, who then died in their thousands in care-homes and hospitals where many of them picked up the virus in the first place. Meanwhile, over-zealous, heavy-handed police officers fined people for sitting on park benches, threatened to arrest people for not wearing face-masks, stopped and questioned drivers they suspected might be breaking Covid rules and broke up ‘illegal’ gatherings while Downing Street partied on.

What a travesty of a democratically free society the last two years have turned out to be. I doubt I will ever vote again, after a lifetime of doing so. The opposition in the UK, the Labour party, exposed themselves to be as spineless and as cravenly zealous in oppressing people as the Conservative government. They opposed none of its draconian, futile measures. They wanted, in fact, for them to be more extreme. Will we ever return to those freedoms we enjoyed and which were our entitlement before the pandemic struck? Or will politicians cling onto the powers they granted themselves and the police to control the largely compliant hoi polloi? Knowing politicians, I think I know the answer. It’s a spoilt ballot paper for me next time and from now on.

All we have, we ordinary folk, is ourselves. The only ones we can possibly have faith in are our loved ones; partners, family and friends. See yourself through life. Take care of these others. Call upon anyone outside of this circle only when necessity dictates. Never believe that government, religion, science, the media or police are on your side and are going to do anything for you.

As Paul Simon wrote many years ago:

And so you see I have come to doubt
All that I once held as true.
I stand alone without beliefs;
The only truth I know is you.

He was talking about his then girl-friend, Kathy but the sentiment is applicable to you and your loved ones. If you’re doing anything but relying on and looking after these people, you are pursuing an illusion.

You too can be free

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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.