Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Innocence and Slavery

In the face of imminent fatherhood, I guess it's only natural that you pay more attention to kids you run into on a day-to-day basis. It's quite amusing. Kids seem a lot smarter than they look. Certainly smarter than their parents!

My nephew-in-law, for example, hurls whatever he's given out of his hand. 'Mom' hands him a bottle and crash! Down it goes onto the floor. 'Mom' obediently picks it up and hands it back to the grinning baby and crash! Down it goes again, waiting for her to return it.

The cheeky little devil is playing 'fetch' with her, as if she was a dog!

It certainly dispels the myth of kids being 'innocent' (since I believe they're cunning and devious little bundles.)

But 'innocence' is an interesting concept when it comes to kids - and one that troubles me.

Of course, kids are innocent. They're born knowing nothing - and the way they see the world is shaped by their parents from day one. Nature versus nurture is an ongoing debate, but nobody can argue that a parent has enormous responsibility in helping create the person baby grows up to be.

Yet Christians believe that nobody is 'born innocent.' They believe in the myth of 'Original Sin,' which means newborns are automatically cursed with the sin of Adam and Eve, who disobeyed God in the Garden of Eden and were suitably punished (along with all of their descendants - basically all of mankind.)

I think this is a HORRIBLE concept. For Christians, as soon as they're old enough to talk and listen, they're taught that they're somehow dirty and wrong and their whole lives are shaped by this reinforced sense of inadequacy.

It's clearly true... It seems everybody I know who was raised as a Christian is riddled with neurosis (myself included.) The ideas of 'Catholic guilt' and 'Protestant sensibilities' must stem from somewhere!

I think the reason politically-minded conservative Christians spend so much time trying to alter other people's behaviour (ban pornography! Homosexuality is a sin!) is because they're constantly fighting an inner battle between their own natural instincts and the rigid morality enforced by the church.

Kids are taught that they are wrong and the only way to find salvation and be 'fixed' is to submit yourself entirely to Jesus. Only by subjugating yourself to him will you avoid burning in hell.

And THAT'S the bit that really troubles me.

You can live a sin-free life, remaining virginal and chaste, honest and kind, sober and pure, yet none of that's good enough to get yourself into heaven. Only subjugation to Jesus counts.

Which leads you to the impossible situation of 'bad' people, who drank and gambled and led sinful lives full of sex, drugs, pornography and rock 'n roll, being just as eligible for entry into heaven as the 'pure' man.

Sign on the dotted line, pledge your drug-raddled body to Jesus and all those years of sin (and fun) are forgotten. In fact, if you read The Parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32) you'll see that a life of sin can be a fast-track route to salvation while the 'pure and chaste' route largely goes unrewarded!

As the elder son (the non-prodigal one) complained: "Lo, these many years have I served thee, neither transgressed I at any time thy commandment; and yet thou never gavest me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends. But as soon as this thy son was come who hath devoured thy living with harlots, thou hast killed for him the fatted calf."

Basically: "I was a good son and I got bumpkiss for it. My badly-behaved brother slinks back home and you treat him like royalty."

I never did understand that story (which, like The Book of Job, seems only to illustrate that God could be an enormous dick when it came to his faithful followers.)

[Did you have a point? Editorial Bear]

I did indeed have a point.

This is all rubbish! It's one of the concepts of Christianity (like the existence of evil and bad things happening) that make no sense whatsoever.

Making Sense of It All

One of the most troubling aspects of Christianity (for Christians, that is) is how to explain how bad things are allowed to happen, which is where the whole (entirely inadequate) explanation of 'free will' comes into the equation.

The purpose of the early church was not to make people believe in God and live pure and chaste lives. It was to get 'bums in pews' and have the collection plate overflowing with donations (hence why the Catholic Church remains one of the richest organisations in the world.)

In order to 'convince' [blackmail - Editorial Bear] people into following the church, they cleverly created the concept of Original Sin so that people would be required to subjugate themselves to Jesus even if they lived pure and totally blameless lives.

'You're born wrong!' the church says, 'and your only hope for salvation is Christ.'

When it's 'God's Way or the High Way [To eternal torment - Editorial Bear]' it doesn't seem like there's too much 'free will' in there at all! It's slavery, pure and simple.
Oh well. What can you do. As more and more of the vagaries and inconsistencies that riddle Christianity are pointed out to me, the more astounded I am that believers fight so enthusiastically to rationalize them.
But I still 'tut tut' at parents letting their kids run around naked, or other 'inappropriate' behaviour, so I guess I'm still just as brainwashed by the Church's moral rectitude as the rest of them.

If nothing else, my theories on Original Sin make a brilliant idea for a fantasy screenplay. How about an adaption of The God Delusion, along the same vein as the Da Vinci Code? [Hokey and melodramatic? Seems like it'll suit the source material - Editorial Bear]

**adopts deep and booming 'trailer' voice...**

For centuries, the people of planet Earth have been cursed by a cruel and vengeful God.

Born condemned to an eternity of torture, only slavery to their undead zombie master* can spare them. Until one day, a hero emerged to lead the enslaved to freedom...

His name was Ricardo Dawkins... and he exposed 'The God Delusion.'

The God Delusion
Coming to Cinemas 2010.


Arnold Schwarzenegger as Richard 'Ricardo' Dawkins

Jeremy Irons as Undead Zombie Jesus

Tom Wilkinson as Pat Robertson

Anne Hathaway as Repressed Virgin
*that's Jesus, who I guess was technically 'undead' or a 'zombie' when he arose from the dead


Coffee Bean said...

Oh boy, here I am being sucked into your blog once again...

I am a Christian but I was not raised as one. I've struggled a lot spiritually and have written about some of it on my blog under the label Food for Thought. I cannot explain why I believe, I just do.

I've spent many years trying to be good and earn my salvation... although, during all those years I did not see it that way. We've been going through a terrible time with our oldest daughter and it has shaken me to the very core. This has been a very hard year and I've been reassessing everything I've believed.

I am going to take some time and gather my thoughts into a more coherent response. I really like your blog and I love your honesty. I can only speak for myself and share my thoughts on these issues. I really want to understand you and where you are coming from.

April said...

Roland Roland Roland....

Saying God could be "an enormous dick" was a bit unnecessary. I respect your freedom of speech but can't help pointing out you are using pretty strong language on a someone you don't even believe in. Your words read very angry. How can you be so angry with Him if you don't believe He exists?

It's your blog and you are entitled to express your opinion. I am just not sure how much of what you write is really what you think and feel, or are you just trying to initiate conversation?

Either way, it seems to me that you are very open minded about everything but this one subject.

I still love you. Because that is what Jesus would want me to do. ;)

Roland Hulme said...

Hi April! I appreciate you comment and you're very astute - yes, I am angry with religion and you're not the first person to point out how futile it is to be angry at something you don't believe in.

I wrote a post earlier about the seemingly minor incident that made me lose my faith - but since then I've been so frustrated by the religion I followed for the best part of the three decades.

I didn't mean to offend you with the 'dick' comment - but when it comes to ideas like Original Sin and The Book of Job and Abraham being demanded to sacrifice Isaac - there's no other way to describe him!

The Bible, time after time, presents God as a vengeful, petty, insecure, jealous being who put his most loyal followers through horrible 'tests' of faith.

Jesus was, of course, completely different and was a wonderful, kind, patient and understanding person. For example, he never once said anything to condemn homosexuality (Paul, a guy who'd never met him, put those words into his mouth.) In fact, if you read the King James Bible version of Matthew 5:22 it's actually clear that he defended his fellow men accused of homosexuality.

However, Jesus wasn't God. I believe he was just a man - an amazing man. The greatest philosopher and humanist in history. Compared to the Bible's 'God', in fact, a million times better (but still mortal, not divine, not born from a virgin. I don't believe any of that is true.)

'God' is a horrible creature by the Bible's accounts of him.

Besides, most of the ideas of Christianity came AFTER the Biblical times. The Catholic church cynically patented ideas like Mary's virginity and purgatory hundreds of years after the events of the new testament to make Christianity a more 'marketable' religion. That's why I'm so cynical about ideas like original sin.

But whether he was the son of God or just a guy, you probably can't go wrong following the teachings of Jesus (just ignore everything Paul wrote. It's rubbish.)

Coffee Bean said...

Okay Roland... I responded on my blog. I didn't go through your post and debate you on those points. I only told my story or where I am coming from in an effort to maybe give you some perspective on one conservative Christian. I am feeling more than a bit naked now after posting it... but it is what it is.

I don't know how to do links in comment sections.

The Chemist said...

To be clear, I was never raised a Christian. I've never read the Bible nor am I likely to "find Jesus" in the near future. However, lately I've been reading this hilarious little tale, and it offers up some insight on the subject of the prodigal son.

It's more about not bearing a grudge, especially against family. The father says to his good son, "thou art always with me, and all I have is thine, ...but thy brother was dead, and is come to life, was lost, and is found."

If your kid runs away and leaves you anxious and sad, but then comes back reformed, you can't very well hold it against him and give him a lukewarm reception. The brother was there, and he was great, but he didn't come back from the dead or perform the feat of changing his worldview. It's more unconditional love, and less tough love.

Roland Hulme said...

Chemist- I will HAVE to read that book. It looks fascinatingly bizarre!

April said...

Hi Roland - I saw your comment on Coffee Bean's post this morning. That took courage for you to admit she had opened your eyes to a few things. Regardless of your thoughts on God and Christianity, you continue to gain my respect.

You don't have to apologize for offending me. This your space and no one is forcing me to read it. I just ask that you please keep in mind that not all Christians are judgmental. Not all of us are fundementalist robots who believe the earth is only 6000 years old. Not all of us condemn homosexuals.

Some of us have more questions than answers, yet we still choose to believe in a God who is loving and forgiving.

Anonymous said...

Militant ginger ...

Imagine a person dominated by satan .. what do you think? ... It can't happen to me ... well, anyways, believe it or not, history will tell you the truth ... GOD talks about mercy to that person that had stumble .. don't think you have no chance to reach heaven 'cause Jesus did give you the chance ... Do behave.

Roland Hulme said...

Warning: Comments section may contain nuts.