Wanted: Committed Christians to pray for stupid lowdown atheist bastard

In summarizing his thoughts about religion at the end of the movie Religulous, Bill Maher said something that is seconded by the so-called New Atheists. Namely, that to support any theistic religion is to support all theistic religions. Well, there’s quite a gulf between pacifistic Quakerism and fundamentalist terrorism, but the point of the New Atheists is that to support theism is to give intellectual respectability to theism. According to this theory, the more religion is rejected, the less it will appear as a viable worldview.

I wrote the following dialogue some weeks ago. When I later re-read it, I was shocked by its harshness, yet it fairly represents my viewpoint. If you disliked my previous posts on the subject of religion, you will loathe this one. I publish it for no better reason than that it’s true for me, and that I wasn’t done with the subject even though many of you were past being done with it. If no one who is religious reads it, I won’t care. In fact, I had just as soon you not read it because I hate to disappoint people. But, if you do read it, and you feel inclined to respond, would you please respond to the actual issues I raised rather than simply criticizing me for raising them? I just told you why I raise them, and if you’re not satisfied with that, I have nothing more to say to you on the subject. If you were more inclined to address my issues with religion, I might be more inclined to address your issues with me. As it is, I’ve written a great deal that I put a lot of thought into, yet the only person who bothered to address any of my points only did so by saying that they demonstrate my ignorance and naivet├ę. Great. Thanks a lot.

What are you doing? You said you weren’t going to write about religion again.

I said I wasn’t going to write about it for the foreseeable future. Well, that ended about 10:30 this morning when I started reading your responses to my last post about religion.

Okay, what do you want?

I want to talk to you about two things. One is your self-satisfied ignorance, and the second is your announcement that you’re going to pray for me. I’ll start by saying that I was shocked to discover that I know a hundred times more about your religion than you do—or at least about the arguments for and against it. If you agree, could you tell me why this might be so?

Jesus died for my sins—right? So, all I have to do is to accept him as my Lord and Savior and ask forgiveness for my mistakes every now and then. That is unless I’m a Catholic in which case I have to ask forgiveness of a priest and do an occasional good deed.

Well, I sorta knew that, but does this mean you don’t care if you’re ignorant?

If we’re saved by faith and not knowledge, ignorance isn’t an obstacle. No one ever went to hell because of something he didn’t know; he only went to hell because of something he didn’t believe.

But doesn’t the Bible saying you’re supposed to study so that you might give an answer for your belief?

Yes, that’s why we go to Sunday School. We study a different chapter a week—except that we take summers and special Sundays off. This way, we make it through the entire Bible every few years. As for why we Christians don’t want to talk more to you about our beliefs, you’re a special case. You accepted the Good News and then turned your back on it, so there’s not much we can say that you don’t already know and haven’t already rejected. You’re an infidel, an apostate. “No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:62)

Still, other people read this blog, and, besides, I should think you would WANT to know about the intellectual basis for your faith, and that’s not something you’re likely to learn in church. I mean, your faith is WHAT YOU LIVE FOR, right?

I probably know more than you think, and I did say I would pray for you. What more do you want?

Isn’t telling an atheist you’re going to pray for him a little empty, maybe even passive aggressive? Jesus instructed his followers to PRAY IN SECRET, after all.

You really need to lighten up. If I’m happy with my relationship with God, then why should you give me a hard time?

Because I don’t understand how you can, in theory, be ready to die for your faith when you don’t know squat about it. I want to respect you, and this is a real problem for me. You act like you don’t even have a brain.

Look at where all your learning got you. I’m ignorant but saved, whereas you seem to think that you know enough to write a book, yet you’re going to hell. What IS your problem?

Let me put it this way. When you consider unsubstantiated faith to be a path to knowledge, you move yourself out of the realm of rationality. If you’re born in Saudi Arabia, you’re going to believe in Allah. If you’re born in Arkansas, your faith is going to be in Jesus. This means that if you and a Muslim debate religion, what are you going to tell him—that he should abandon his own brand of unsubstantiated belief and come over to yours? He’s going to ask you why he should do that, and all you’re going to be able to say is to quote from a book he doesn’t believe in. And he’s going to be saying the same thing to you. And what if he’s thinking about becoming a suicide bomber—what are you going to tell him, that Jesus wouldn’t approve?

Except that my faith isn’t unsubstantiated. I know that Jesus is real because he lives within my heart. Sometimes when I pray, I feel him beside me, telling me what I should do, and assuring me that he will make everything okay in the world to come.

Exactly my point. Your feelings are the ONLY evidence any of you Christians have offered in defense of your religion. Beyond that and Psalms 14:1 (The fool hath said in his heart, there is no God) you’re speechless. A Muslim is going to say the same thing though, and whereas you don’t know for sure that you would die for Jesus, those guys are dying for Allah everyday. It’s going to come down to what you feel in your heart versus what he feels in his heart, and no one is going to win because no one gives a flip about the actual evidence.

You know, of course, that I’ve never even met a Muslim.

That doesn’t matter. You and those guys on 9/11 are alike in that you both hold faith not just as one source of knowledge about God and morality but as the supreme source of knowledge about God and morality. This makes you irrational in those areas of your lives, and THAT SCARES ME. When you take public stands on important issues, NO ONE CAN REACH YOU because you don’t care about reason or evidence. I have the feeling that if Pat Robinson’s crowd took over the government and started killing off everyone who wasn’t a Christian, that you would keep quiet when they came for me. They would read this blog, and they would murder me, and when you were forced to side with either them or me, you would side with them. You would keep your mouth shut, and I would die. Later, you would pray for me. That’s what you would do, and it wouldn’t mean squat.

No one is going to kill you. You are going completely off the deep end here.

You’re right. Unless I start performing abortions or criticizing Jesus—or Allah—too publicly, I am probably more likely to be killed by lightning than by someone who is acting in the name of the savior of his choice. I will be oppressed in other ways, but I won’t be killed.

I will be praying for you, that you might know Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior the way I know Jesus.

If you must pray for me, I had really rather you KEEP IT TO YOURSELF.

It’s just my way of telling you that I care.

Then how about saying, “I care,” or, “I think of you with affection”? “I love you,” also works.

I can’t promise.

But why?

Because Jesus said, “Whosoever denies me on earth, I will deny him in heaven.”

What is it with Christians? They think they’re being discriminated against if they aren’t allowed to talk about Jesus whenever and wherever they please no matter whose wishes are violated. I’ll tell you what. THIS IS MY BLOG. If you want to pray for me, do it on your own blog, and I’ll still visit you, and I won’t give you a hard time about it. You can even put it in a sidebar: “Please pray for that stupid lowlife atheist bastard, Snowbrush.”

Just don’t pray for me here because it’s like praying for me in my own home. If you are unwilling to allow me even this small space without your religion, how intolerant does that make you? I mean, really, if you refuse to honor my request here, then there’s no way I can trust you to not do everything in your power to force your religion down my throat in the larger world. When you knew less about how I felt, I could excuse your prayers, but now you know, and that changes things.

The Peggy Series: Everything I know about going to the doctor, I learned from my dog

Peggy is a nurse; Peggy hates doctors. If I hadn’t coerced her into going to one after months of pain and immobility, she still wouldn’t know that she has De Quervain’s tenosynovitis.

Dogs hate doctors too. Peggy and the world’s dog population are alike in this. I’ve gotten many emails about all the things that people learn from their dogs. If I were a space alien and read these emails, I would conclude that dogs are smarter and more virtuous than people. This would be because none of the emails focus on their negative behaviors. If I were to write such an email, I would make it about doctor visits, and here is what I would say. It applies to Peggy almost as much as it does to dogs.

Only go to the doctor under extreme coercion.

Enjoy the ride until the car turns onto the doctor’s street—then whine a little. As the car approaches the doctor’s office, whine a lot. Also, pace back and forth, and jump repetitively from the front seat to the back seat and from the back seat to the front seat.

When the car pulls into the doctor’s parking lot, whine a whole, whole lot. Also, throw yourself violently against the car’s doors, windows, and even the ceiling. If you’re too sick to reach the ceiling, just throw yourself as high as possible. Give the phrase “bouncing off the walls” a whole new meaning.

Force the family member by whom you are being betrayed to pry you from the car.

Whine, tremble, and hyperventilate as you are being dragged into the waiting room. Make sure that everyone within a ten-block radius knows that the Spanish Inquisition has you in its clutches.

Each time a new patient enters the waiting room, make a break for the door. Do the same when a patient leaves. Also do it when no one is around.

If you can’t escape from the building, hide under a chair and hope your tormenters won’t find you.

When called to the examination room, increase all previous resistance measures by a factor of a ten.

Leave a trail of urine that a potential rescuer might follow.

Pray to Saint Lassie to save you. Promise Saint Lassie anything if she will only help you.

Show the doctor your teeth. Do this even if he is trying to examine your ass.

If you’re too frightened to show the doctor your teeth, focus on becoming so small that he can no longer see you.

If he examines you ass, turn your head around and look at him as if to say, “I knew you were a perverted bastard, but I never dreamed you were THIS perverted.”

See how high you can make your fur stand-up.

Growl like five wounded wildebeests and twelve angry grizzly bears who are being tortured in front of the world’s loudest sound system while nuclear bombs explode in the background. Don’t worry about staying in key; you’re not auditioning for The Lettermen.

Continually attempt to jump from the examining table. Do this even if you have three broken legs, have been poisoned, and your throat is cut.

Throw yourself from a window if possible. Don’t worry about whether it is open or how far you will fall.

If the doctor attempts to bribe you with food, take it if you wish, but then return to all out resistance.

When—after ten minutes or ten days—you hear your betrayer say, “It’s time to go home,” run from the building before he changes his mind.

Wag your tail and snuggle during the drive home so that he will know you forgive him. With luck, this will so instill him with guilt that he will never take you to the doctor again.

Footnote: You have just completed the first post in “The Peggy Series.” The following is a partial list of future chapters.

What is wrong with Peggy—an overview.
Life with Peggy—one man’s path to sainthood.
Peggy’s problems—what other people have to say.
How many shoes does a female biped really need?
Peggy’s cookie addiction—is there reason to hope?
Why does Peggy take so long getting ready to go somewhere?
What is this hang-up Peggy has about wanting the toilet flushed?
Why do the best men always seem to end up with the worst women?
Peggy’s spider phobia—do stupid phobias in women prove male superiority?
Why can’t Peggy find her way around a town in which she has lived since 1986?
Why does Peggy try to make me look bad by remaining calm when we’re having a fight?
Why should I have to help out around the house just because Peggy is the only one with a job?
Is Peggy’s hang-up about me slobbering over other women due to selfishness, insecurity, or both?
Why must Peggy clutter the house with knickknacks that have to be dusted and could fall on people’s heads during an earthquake?
When driving, is it really necessary that Peggy wait until the last possible second to apply the brakes, only to laugh at me for pushing my feet through the floorboard?

Stay tuned: there’s much more to come.

A tripping we will go

Peggy and I camped this week for the first time in two years, which was when my shoulders started hurting so bad that I had to sleep in a chair. Before then, we camped for a couple of nights a week. Camping and hiking was practically our life until bad knees eliminated the one and bad shoulders the other.

I knew I would have to take narcotics to sleep, only they could have killed me because I suffer from sleep apnea. This meant that I had to take my CPAP (a machine that keeps me breathing), but to take my CPAP, I had to buy some big and noisy equipment to power it. Not good, especially in the confines of a van.

We camped atop 2,130' Saddle Mountain in the Coast Range. The summit is at the end of a deeply rutted dead-end road, and we’ve camped there many times. It’s the kind of place we like because it has a good view, and we never see anyone.

Narcotics work best when you take them before you need them, so, at bedtime, I took a 50 mg Demerol. Well, wouldn’t you know it, my legs started flopping around like balloons in a windstorm while the rest of my body was trying to go to sleep, so I took an anti-seizure drug called Requip a half hour later. I had never mixed the two, but I had never been told that I shouldn’t either. An hour later, my legs were still flopping, so I took a second Requip. An hour after that, the pain was getting pretty bad, so I took a second Demerol.

I was tired of lying awake while the battery that was powering my CPAP expended its energy, so I let this one dissolve under my tongue for fast results. I got them. KABOOM! KABOOM! KABOOM! The sweat poured off me in buckets. I felt weak. I felt shit-faced. I was a mess. I hate it when these things happen. I especially hate it when they happen on the top of a mountain in the middle of nowhere. And I really and truly and especially hate it when, at the very moment these things happen, I realize that I’m going to have diarrhea.

What I most wanted NOT to do despite my sorry condition was to awaken Peggy because, nurse though she is, Peggy is prone to freak out when she thinks her husband is dying, and I MUCH prefer to freak out alone. But, and it was a big BUT, I had no idea if I could walk, or, if I could walk, if I could walk without staggering right off the top of Saddle Mountain. YES, I COULD walk, I discovered. Ooops, I forgot my glasses I realized halfway to the pot. Oh, well, I knew I could find my way without them—I just couldn’t see the stars.

What an effort! At home, it would have been a three flusher or even a four. I emitted everything short of a pyroclastic flow. You should have seen it. You would have cheered; you would have applauded; you would have never thought of me in the same mundane way again.

I felt MUCH better after I was done—much, much better. I lay back down with a feeling of accomplishment, of peace, of enlightenment even. Then, like a big heavy hand, the Demerol covered me, and I couldn’t have crawled out from under it had I tried. I almost dozed before the sweat awakened me again—and again, all night long. At 3:00 a.m., the ants arrived. The damn things tickled me as they crawled up my legs, but I knew better than to think they were real despite the fact that some HUGE ants HAD gotten into the van.

I had to admit, given this fact, that MY ants could have been real, but there was something about the WAY they crawled they make me think otherwise, and I really, really didn’t want to wake Peggy up looking for them. It was a long night. An ant would be there, and then it wouldn’t. Sometimes, there would be a lot of them—a whole herd almost—and I would remember stories about the screams of white men whom the Indians staked out on top of anthills. I really didn’t like those ants on my legs, but then you probably knew that already.

The worst drug experiences I’ve ever had were on Demerol, yet there’s something about it that intrigues me. I guess I’m a little—maybe a lot—like the guy in the old Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers cartoon who quipped—about LSD—“2,130 bad trips, but I’m not giving up yet.” I don’t think LSD ever killed anyone though (directly, anyway), whereas I KNOW Demerol has. Its dangers are why it’s not much prescribed anymore, but I’ve got A LOT of it, and “waste not, want not,” I always say.

“Does ‘waste not, want not’ mean you eat rotten food, your silly boy?” my mother would have asked. “Well, yes, Mom, of course, it does, which I especially hate when something is so far gone that that the dogs won’t eat it.” I would say stuff like that to my mother, and she would believe me. You might think she would have caught on after being bull-shitted for decades, but she lived her whole life like a na├»ve fourteen year old. Maybe this was because she equated being good with not seeing things that she considered bad, and she considered a lot of things bad—men, for example.

Demerol isn’t an opiate. It’s 100% human made. What kind of a person comes up with a thing like that, do you suppose? I mean, opiates came to us in the same way as aspirin. Something in nature was found to work, so scientists set about trying to figure out which chemical in the natural substance (willow bark in the case of aspirin) was the active one. But Demerol was thought up by some dude sitting around a lab in a white coat. Why did he do that? To drive me crazy, no doubt. But he won’t, ha, ha, ha, ha. He’ll never get me, that psychopathic lab dude with the evil dribble on his chin. I am WAY too normal.

My worst experience with Demerol happened when I double-dosed after my first shoulder surgery. I was in bad shape for several days in the middle of winter. I felt like I was DYING for several days in the middle of winter. THAT’S the kind of bad shape I was in—like the life was draining out of me—but it never occurred to me to ask for help. I was all alone—Peggy being in North Carolina—and, because I had been reading the Old Testament before I took the Demerol, I just kept right on reading. Freaked me out bigtime. I mean, the horror of ants eating your eyeballs is NOTHING compared to the horrors inflicted by the Old Testament God, and the Demerol had left me excruciatingly vulnerable to his malevolence. It had made me like my mother. But, what I said about God—that’s just my opinion. I know that a lot of you think he’s really quite sweet.

All Right Brain All the Time

Today. Partly cloudy with occasional showers. Temps almost chilly (low 46F, high 67F). That’s what I like about Western Oregon. NO HOT WEATHER almost hardly ever.

We went to the Old Cascades yesterday and hiked six miles. We used to hike and camp twelve or more miles in the High Cascades every week, but thanks to one knee surgery and two shoulder surgeries, yesterday was only our second trip in two years to any deep woods. I love places where a person could die and rot and no one ever know what happened to him. Every time someone gets lost in the woods near Eugene and is NEVER found, I think, “YAY! I LOVE living here.”

Today, like most days, I am sipping vodka. Two ounces is my limit, so sometimes I will drink on an empty stomach to get a little higher. I’m also—as you probably noticed—writing. I am most purposefully NOT writing a left-brain essay this time because, like a dog, I learn what people like, and that’s what I give them. Ha! Sometimes—for about two seconds—I AM tempted to write to please other people, but I do it so badly anyway that it’s useless. ME always leaks out, and most people aren’t going to like me no matter what, and I’m rather proud of that, actually, although I do make a studied effort to avoid alienating people unnecessarily.

In a few minutes, I’m going to go out and dig a hole. I only have once a month garbage pickup (a single small can), and I have no yard debris pickup, so I bury grass trimmings and compost, and, when they’re done rotting, I dig them up and put them in the garden or scatter them around the yard. Recycling and composting aren’t just about frugality; they’re about respect.

Anyway, digging a hole is something else I haven’t done in two years, and I shouldn’t do it now either because I’m probably not healed enough. Ah, but any day that I work with a shovel is a happy day; I have dug holes for the sheer joy of it.

Climbing way high up in my Ponderosa Pine and pruning limbs that could fall on the house during an ice storm is another bad idea that I’m planning to undertake (a neighbor took photo at top in 2003). Peggy protests it adamantly, but I am SICK of being a pain-wracked invalid. I’ll wait a few months though, until the sap is down, and I’m stronger.

I visited my friend, Doyd, this week. He’s 92, and in a nursing home, and breathes like a fish out of water even on oxygen. He’s also nearly blind, and his TV is broken, and his neighbor NEVER turns his own TV off, and the place is ALWAYS noisy, and the nursing home staff lost his dentures, and the place smells like shit, urine, and Pine Sol. Doyd is screwed. Doyd should die today. If I were Doyd, I would want to die today.

I have a big problem with trimming big trees because I’m afraid of heights. I used to fly an airplane, but even that didn’t make me like high places. The thing is, I always worry that I’ll jump off, which is kind of funny because the VERY LAST THING I want to do is to fall to my death. This incongruity used to make me think I was crazy, but then I learned that it’s a symptom of acrophobia, and I felt better about it. It’s like when I’m tempted to throw hot coffee in someone’s face, not because I want to, but because I so very much don’t want to that I’m afraid I might. I’ll think, “Wow, wouldn’t it be just the most horrible thing in the world to suddenly throw this cup of hot coffee in my friend’s face,” and then I’ll think, “Uh, oh, how do I know I won’t DO IT?” Then, I take my hand off the cup and sit back in my chair.

I’ve trimmed this tree before, and I’m hell-bent on doing it again because I’M the kind of person who does things FOR HIMSELF, and that’s the ONLY kind of person I want to be. When I have to give that up, what’s the use? Watching other people do my work is NOT ME, and sitting around in a nursing home is definitely NOT ME.

Years ago, when I was an undertaker, I went to pick a corpse up at a nursing home late one night. “She’s in room twelve,” the attendant said, but the attendant didn’t say that there were two women in room twelve. I stood looking at them for several minutes in the dim light trying to figure out which one was dead. I guessed wrong. No, no, no, I don’t want to be in one of those beds spending money like there’s no tomorrow for NOTHING that is of the least value to anyone—except to the people who are getting the money.