Monday, July 6, 2009

Isn't it interesting... religious behavior is so close to being crazy that we can't tell them apart

I've had two religious experiences over the last few days. As in “brushes with religion”, not actual religious experiences. I only have those at live gigs.

The first was a few days back, as I was getting on the bus. Further back, at the middle door, what appeared to be an old imam got on. He had a great white beard, a shaved upper lip, a knitted white cap and a walker. I walked by him as he was settling in, and as I passed him be looked up. Nodded slowly. Sagely. Like a mentor to his student. Like Obi-Wan to Luke. I nodded back. Slowly. Sat down. Smiled.

So the guy thought I was Muslim. If I shaved my upper lip too, which I've done before, I would probably get a very interesting experience the next time I try to go to the US. When I went the last two times I made sure to braid my beard, to avoid being mistaken for a Taliban. Plastic gloves and lubricant ain't my idea of a good time.

The second one was on the train this morning. Picture this. Me sitting on the train, wearing a black Neurosis tee and baggy gray cargo pants, reading Cormac McCarthy's “Blood Meridian”, headphones on, probably leaking some Neurosis noise (yes, I'm currently seriously in love with that band. Again). A woman sits down next to me. Sits still for a while, maybe one station, and I feel her looking at me.

Then she taps my shoulder, I remove my headphones and she says, and I'm so not kidding, “Have you accepted Jesus as your savior?”. What. The. Hell.

Religion and I aren't friends. We're barely on speaking terms. And this is why. Nut cases on the train that want to “save me”.

My response then? “”. Eloquent, eh? It was 07:15 in the morning. Give me a break. My brain wasn't up to warp speed yet. Then she goes off on this rant how Satan is in music, in books, in movies. I guess the word “Blood” on the cover was a dead giveaway. Me and Cormac, worshiping the Great Old Ones together. Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn!!

There were two things I could do.
1. Explode and rant back at the misguided fool. I was tired from a weekend of uneven sleep patterns, and cranky. A recipe for disaster, but oh so rewarding.
2. Get up and walk away.

Wisely, I chose number 2. I am The Bigger Man. When she got off at the Central Station she looked over at me with a look like “I pity you that you cannot see the way to avoid burning in hell, you poor man”. Again, the temptation was great to back up and go with item number 1 above. Instead, I took a few deep breaths and went back to the book. Don't let the fuckers get you down.


ege said...

See, I usually just say "Yup," and go back to my book. Makes them feel better; I don't believe in him so I don't care that I lied; and they leave me alone.

Course, if they turn out to be right then I am REALLY going to burn.

beardonaut said...

Yeah, well, I obviously don't have your self-control *grin*

Here's how I see it.
If God doesn't exist and I believe, I live an illusion but at least I'm probably happy in that illusion.
If God doesn't exist and I don't believe, that doesn't matter.
If God does exist and I believe, it's all good in the hood. Off to Heaven for me. Yay!
If God does exist and I don't believe, I be fucked. Proper fucked. By ze Germans.

ege said...

That pretty well sums it up. But you know what I learned when I read Revelation? If one spouse believes and the other doesn't, the non-believer gets a free pass into heaven. So I'm all set!

André said...

Martin: What you summarized there is known as Pascal's wager, a well known philosphical argument for believing in God. Critic's of Pascal's wager point out how God, if he exists, hardly is a fool though, so you can't chose to believe just because it's the safe bet, he'd know if you don't believe for real.

Interesting topic though. I'm slowly working on a text with my thoughts on religion, why I left church as a child and so on. Tell me if you'd like to read it (once it's done, in like a year or so).

beardonaut said...

I did not know this. Something learned. Good stuff.

However, when I use the word "believe" I mean it in the sincerest terms possible. Not faking belief. Actually believing. You can't choose to believe. That's the whole point.

And yes, I would very much like to read it.