Of cats and gods

I thought having a dog was neat. I thought having a woman was cool. Then I got a cat. He ignores me. He treats me like scum. Half the time, he walks away when I try to pet him, only to stop after three feet and lick his ass. Dogs are now nothing to me, and women are even less. I just wish I had forty more cats to treat me like garbage. They would take me back to my childhood when I learned that God loved me despite my utter failure to deserve it and his total unwillingness to show it. No matter how much I needed some proof that he was real, no matter how much I pleaded for faith or reviled him for not granting it, he stayed behind a cloud. 

THAT’S what having a cat is like. I know he loves me because he comes looking for me when hes hungry, and this can only mean that he acknowledges my existence and has hope that I will give him food, and the fact that he acknowledges my existence and has hope that I will give him food proves his great love for me, if I have faith. Yet, he ignores me the rest of time, and this can only mean that he’s better than I in every conceivable way. This makes him like God! If I had a heart attack and fell to the floor clutching my chest in agony, my cat would remain three feet away licking his ass, and the god of the Bible would remain behind a cloud listening to eternal strains of the Hallelujah Chorus, yet, if I had faith, I would just know that I was loved. 

“Look deep into my eyes… You are getting very, very sleepy… You are getting so sleepy that you can longer think, so you are free, free to believe, believe, believe…in anything you were told was true by the people you grew up among…” 

“...the peace of God, which passeth all understanding... the Bible

Religion is the opium of the people.” Marx

In this post, I maligned my cat by presenting him as a stereotype. For that I humbly begged his forgiveness, and he graciously granted it. 

This post was inspired by a reader who quoted the following Bible verse to remind me of the low opinion in which God holds that part of his creation which was made in his own image: The heart is deceitful...and desperately wicked. 

How America is getting "back on track"

Before 9/11, an American a politician could get by with being only nominally religious. Now, it helps if he’s “born again”; claims that God inspired him to run for office; thinks God created America to dominate world affairs; considers the Bible a reliable guide to scientific truth; believes our laws are based upon the Ten Commandments; thinks America started down the tubes 50 years ago when the Supreme Court ruled against school prayer; believes that God gives health and wealth to those who please him—making poverty the fault of the poor; opposes abortion, gay marriage, stem cell research, the teaching of evolution, and universal healthcare;  and wants America to fully support Israel against its neighbors in order to hasten the Battle of Armageddon and hence the “Second Coming of Christ.” 

However, America is not just rattled by its newly discovered vulnerability. It’s also disturbed by: its impending financial collapse; the increasing number of its people who have no religion; its loss of status in the world to horrid little yellow men who don’t love Jesus; its inability to win wars against semi-literate and poorly armed “ragheads” (aka “sand niggers”) who dont love Jesus;  and the fact that its rich are getting richer, its poor are getting poorer, and its middle class is disappearing. America gives billions to buy the friendship of oppressive regimes the world over while its roads are falling apart, its local governments are laying off teachers, firemen, and policemen, and its people are dying because they can’t afford medical care. The belief is that a “return to God” will bring about a return to the optimistic materialism of the Eisenhower administration (mid '50s) when “In God We Trust” was first stamped on all American money, the words “under God” were added to the Pledge of Allegiance, and Christs words about loving your neighbor and doing good to your enemy were ignored, especially in regard to Commies, queers, atheists, and niggers.

In times of fear, religious fervor often grows and religious people start looking for someone to blame for what they interpret as the loss of God’s favor. Well, guess who they have in their sights? Atheists, liberals, socialists, feminists, scientists, environmentalists, non-Christians, homosexuals, unionists, and animal rights’ supporters. Civil libertarians can win victory after victory in court to keep America from becoming a theocracy, but the number of mayors, aldermen, school administrators, teachers, governors, and other officials who are willing to promote Christianity without the least regard for the law, or freedom of speech, or their oaths of office is such that we can’t begin to sue them all. The Constitution and the Bill of Rights that have for so long protected freedom in America are honored less and less everyday and the Bible more and more due to this desperation to get America “back on track.” You can now be charged with terrorism simply by committing what used to be a misdemeanor property crime. Your house or business can be searched without a court order. A GPS transmitter can be installed on your car without your knowledge. You can be locked away for life without ever seeing the inside of a courtroom. The FBI can even obtain a list of the books you got from your local library. Pre-9/11, such things were unimaginable.

Evangelical Christians (Evangelicalism is the dominant face of American religion) are enthusiastic supporters of such violations of the Constitution as well as “enhanced interrogation.” This Evangelical contempt for liberty isn’t surprising when you consider that they subscribe to an authoritarian religion which brooks no questions, offers no appeals, and predicts everlasting agony for everyone but themselves. The future is looking ever bleaker for those of us who don’t go along with this unholy alliance of religion and politics, but there is very little we can do about it. I don’t see how the current trend is even a good thing for Christians, because once they silence the rest of us, history would suggest that they will turn on one another. As the saying goes, “The enemy of my enemy is my friend,” but once that enemy has been annihilated, the “friend” had better sleep with one eye open.

What has been most breath-taking  about America’s post 9/11 descent into madness is how quickly and easily the very government that was supposed to protect our rights went about abolishing them, and how few people objected. Most Americans appear ready to buy safety at any cost, not realizing that oppression from within is surely a greater threat than terrorism from without. In the fight against Islamic fundamentalists, our government has the capability of being our ally, but who will help us when the terrorists Christian equivalent is running our government? It is my sad conclusion that the only things that are genuinely important to the American people are junk food, comfy recliners, trash on the telly, and that most hard-assed American patriot of all, the Lord Jesus. Give them these, and they will follow like sheep.

If there’s one thing worse than an atheist, it’s an atheist who makes everyone feel bad by refusing to lie about it

I ran into someone today who left my atheist group because, as he said, he doesn’t like labels. What is a label but a noun, and what is a noun but a label, and every complete sentence contains at least one noun, which means that labels would be unavoidable even if they didn't serve the very useful function of telling us and everyone else who we are. When someone claims to avoid labels, I assume that (a) he hasn't thought the matter through, or (b) he’s being dishonest to stay out of trouble, as seems likely with a label like atheist. For example, I was put on the list for jury duty recently, but was pleased when I didn’t have to go because jury duty can be awkward if not humiliating for any atheist who dares to admit to being an atheist. There was the time in Mississippi when another juror rapped me on the head because I didn’t stand when the district attorney led the jury in a Christian prayer. Then there was the time in Minneapolis when I refused to swear “…so help me God,” after which both attorneys singled me out for questioning about my religious views (believers were not so questioned), and the district attorney had me sent home.

When people tell me that religion is a private matter and that it seems very strange for me as an atheist to write about it, these are two of the incidents from my own life that come to mind. There are also the thousands that I’ve heard of or read about. The downside of being a closet atheist is that it causes religious people to consider us more of a minority than we are, and this makes it easier to mistreat us.