Tuesday, August 25, 2009
(This was published in a straightedge fanzine back in 2005 I think.)
I was hanging around a bookstore when I got another text message from Alex. He was asking me if I could send my article tomorrow ‘cuz he would be putting out his zine, Why Sit Down? , by next week. I replied: no problem, it’s nearly finished, and gave him a title for my piece. So what have I written? God, not a fucking word!
It was 7 p.m., Friday and I couldn’t think of anything. I got mental block and my mind was blank. My work early in the day had eaten up whatever was left of my brain. I visited the sci-fi section and browsed some books. I came across The Sandman Book of Dreams. I’m a big fan of Neil Gaiman and his Sandman comics, and the book is some sort of tribute to him--a collection of short stories by various writers. I read the preface and these words caught my attention:
“How do gods die? And when they do, what becomes of them then? You might as well ask, how do gods get born? All three questions are, really the same question. And they all have a common assumption: that humankind can no more live without gods than you can kill yourself by holding your breath.
“(Of course, you may be the kind of arrant rationalist who huffs that modern man has finally freed himself from ancient enslavement to superstition, fantasy, and awe. If so, return this book immediately to its place of purchase for a refund; and, by the by, don’t bother trying to read Shakespeare, Homer, Faulkner, or, for that matter Dr. Seuss.)
“We need gods--Thor or Zeus or Krishna or Jesus or, well, God--not so much to worship or sacrifice to, but because they satisfy our need--distinctive from that of all the other animals--to imagine a meaning, a sense to our lives, to satisfy our hunger, to believe that the muck and chaos of daily existence, this, after all, tend somewhere. It’s the origin of religion, and also of storytelling--or aren’t they both the same thing? As Voltaire said of God: if He did not exist, it would have been necessary to invent Him.”
I then remembered this lady at work who’s so fucking proud of her being a born-again Christian and all, that she wears her religion like a fucking badge and tries to ram her beliefs down everybody’s throats. Every time I talk to her I see “ultra-right-wing” stamped on her forehead. Or was it the number of the beast? She badmouths Catholics, the I.N.C., the Muslims, and anyone else who doesn’t share her faith--even other Protestants! She believes she and her church are the only children of God; that they’re going to be lifted up to heaven come rapture/harvest time while the rest of us, infidels, rot here on earth or worse, in hell.
I told her that God isn’t as close-minded as she’d like to think. God likes to be appreciated through different means (Buddhism, Taoism, Krishna Consciousness, Islam, etc.). That although God is one and the same, He/She/It is known by different names (Yahweh, Jehovah, Allah, Govinda, etc.) just as we have nicknames. And that God is so powerful She can appear to us in different forms or incarnations/expansions (human, alien, angel, animal, etc.). She cussed and branded me a Satanist. I replied: in fact, God is so kind that He can even appear to you as Satan if that’s how you perceive Him to be. She threw a stapler at me, missed, and never bothered me again.
Then I called to mind my girlfriend in college. She was a fellow left-wing activist--a grim and determined commie at that. She used to mock me ‘cuz, though I shared her dream of a classless society, I never quite gave up my belief in a Supreme Being. While I was into liberation theology, she was heavily into dialectical & historical materialism. I’d kid her that if she died, her epitaph would read: here lies an atheist, all dressed up but nowhere to go. I’d also tease her on her claims of disbelief in God. I’d go: science and logic are, in reality, your gods--just as someone may worship money as a deity or put Karl Marx on a pedestal.
I’d tell her that the concept of heaven we create here on earth will be the same heaven we will go to when we leave this material plane. It goes without saying that your concept of heaven may be different from mine. Like, yours may be a tropical paradise with old people in it, while mine is a playground populated by kids who never grow old. The same thing goes with the idea of God. I may perceive Her as very beautiful, just about my age, my best friend, and a cool buddy to get drunk with; while yours is a bearded old giant in white sitting high up there on a big throne whose face no one is allowed to see. For all we care, dogs have dog heaven, and dog gods too.
Of course, one night I discovered that my girlfriend does believe in God. She was just afraid to admit it to me. I mean, all I could hear from her was “Oh God, oh God, oh God, oh God” till morning while we were in that run-down motel. In another occasion, I even caught her reciting the “Our Father” and the “Hail Mary” while tears and blood flowed abundantly out of her. She was wearing sandals, like most activists do, and she accidentally stepped on the remains of a broken Molotov bottle during an anti-U.S. bases rally a decade ago. Was it an act of God? I haven’t a clue. I rest my case. Either we live and let live, or we kill each other till the end.