Monday, June 4, 2012

Andrew On : "Dining With The Devil"

Dining With The Devil

One of the arrogant beliefs that religious people who evangelize hold, regardless of their religious persuasion, is that everyone ought to want what they want. Everyone ought to want what they believe their god is selling. Those who don't are considered deceived or evil, not necessarily because they've done anything "wrong," but simply because it's a wide world, and not everyone in the world likes the same things, wants the same things, or has the same needs. If you ask them, this is definitely a bad thing.

It's like going to the grocery store, and instead of having thousands of different items for differing tastes, they only sell milk. The reason why this grocer only sells milk is because he believes that milk is the best food in the world. Babies can live exclusively on milk, because it has everything the body needs. Besides this, you can tell if milk is good or bad just by smelling it. If it's sweet and delicious, then you know it's pure. Why risk eating or drinking anything else? This is far from being completely true, but that's irrelevant, because this grocer believes it so completely that no one can persuade him otherwise.

Within the narrow mind of this grocer, if anyone's diet consists of anything other that what he's selling, you're not only courting disaster, but are slowly committing suicide. Even if your diet consisted mostly of milk, if any other worldly nourishment were to pass your lips besides milk (specifically HIS milk, of course), then you are cheating on god, flirting with the world, and dining with the devil.

Maybe, however, let's say you happened to be lactose intolerant, and you don't do so well with milk at all, so you don't buy from this grocer's limited offerings. Far-fetched, I know, but bear with me for a moment. Because of this, he becomes offended. "My milk is as good as any milk in the world," he reasons, "so there must be something wrong with YOU!" (There is, it's called lactose intolerance, but this is not what he meant.) "Fine," he says, as he writes you off to suffer what he believes will be a slow and agonizing death, "go for a swim in the chaos and confusion of the bazaars, the farmer's markets, and meat markets of the world, where you will find every sort filth, disease, and contamination. When you're upon death's door with pestilence, you'll come back to me, desiring the pure, sweet milk that alone brings health and life!" In his mind you'll be off carousing in every wretched hive of scum and villainy, filling your wanton belly with nothing but spinach contaminated with E.coli, fish loaded with toxic mercury, beef with mad cow disease, and the list goes on and on.

"You have to understand" he preaches incessantly, "that mankind was created with an evil appetite. Proverbs 21:23 says, 'Whoso keepeth his mouth and his tongue keepeth his soul from troubles.'" It sounds so reasonable at first, the way he misquotes scripture. "James 3:6, 'And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell!’ The righteous man will not yield to the pleasures of the tongue and the tempting flavors of the world. Sweet, salty, and sour: they all lead to bitterness in end! With no end of greasy chips and turkish delight, the devil will always be more than happy to supply you. These are all evils of the world, of which we must not be partakers. Garlic, spice, and savory all make god's stomach curdle! The righteous man is repulsed by even the smell, limiting himself to just the pure, unadulterated milk. Why, they even take the wholesome milk and corrupt it to become cottage cheese, yogurt, and sour cream!" (Heavens!)

If you get right down to it, religion invariably results in some form of aceticism. To religious people, in one way or another, living a boring life is equated to purity and therefore righteousness. Leading a life denying oneself of this, that, and the other thing, not because something bad will happen, but merely because a single verse in a holy book written thousands of years ago, from another culture, in another language, could somehow be construed to prohibit these things. A life lived in strict adherence to such a theory will not make you better off. At best, it makes you crazy, stupid, or both.

How come our supermarkets are filled with so much variety and choice? It's because different people need different things and have appetites for different things, and that is okay. Variety is the spice of life and eating the same thing all the time is boring. In the supermarket, nobody judges you for what you like, or for what you don't like, or forces you to eat things you're allergic to. Why should they do this in religion?

I am not lactose intolerant, but if I were, this fictional mad grocer would condemn me to the char-broiling fires and red-hot barbecue sauce of Satan's Rib Shack. Promise? Mmm. That's the kind of evil I have an appetite for. Not to say that we can't overdo it. Too many meals of greasy burgers, fries and soda pop can damage your health, but then I don't want that for every meal any more than I would want to go on a milk-fast diet. But once in a while some spicy barbecue ribs, a greasy burger and fries, and yes, even some milk, isn't going to kill you. Also, I suspect that the reason why this grocer is so hard on everyone is because he's going bankrupt, and this is how he keeps his little milk shop afloat. What he doesn't realize is that his business is failing because he isn't providing what people need. Trouble is, browbeating others with guilt-trips and imaginary virtues isn't a real solution to his financial woes.

Religious people think that everyone else in the world should want the culture they're comfortable with, the lifestyle they're leading, and the concepts of virtue and heaven that they've embraced. If you don't there must be something wrong with YOU! After all, it's only a matter of time until god forces the same thing down everyone's throat anyway, right? According to these people, god is going to assimilate us all, forcing us to all be yellow pencils in a yellow pencil heaven. If “heaven” were to wind up being anything like the churches, the only thing to eat there will be one-menu-fits-all cafeteria food, but we’ll be told that it’s five star cuisine.
I find most christian ideas about what heaven is going to be like are claustrophobic and generally contrary to rest of their supposed values. Invariably, the early-adopter always believes he will be the most important yellow pencil in the box. They're merely willing to be passive in the short term in exchange for the right to lord it over everyone else for the rest of eternity. The more devout religious people are, the more layers of self-deception they have. They haven't got a clue how to get a clue about what even their own values really are. No thanks, I've lost the patience to play such games and the desire to believe in such schemes. I don't want any part of that. You can't make me believe I should want it.

But this “package deal” is the only product on the shelf of their "supermarket." There are many other marketplaces and bazaars in the world, too. There are other cultures and other ways of living. There are other churches, other religions, and even the religion of no religion at all! Yes, it's true, those other markets have lots of shelves with lots of different products on them, just like a real supermarket does. But within the narrow, religious mind, choice is equated to confusion and chaos, and this makes a supermarket little more than a den of iniquity. To be clear, I am not espousing a new cultural revolution of sex, drugs, and rock & roll. What I am saying is that the Pilgrims came to America seeking religious freedom, which is a freedom that many religious people in America today do not want others to seek, especially not those in Armstrongist cults.

Maybe I don't want the one and only product that Armstrongism is selling. I don't need that religion, lifestyle, and afterlifestyle. In many ways, it never worked for me. Maybe I actually have an allergy to it. Maybe your kool-aid, er, I meant, milk, is contaminated with E.coli. Whatever the problem, it's been making me sick. There's a lot of people who can't understand that because their minds are too narrow. The truth is, not everyone wants the same things or has the same needs. And now, if you'll excuse me, I have a hankering for some spicy barbecue ribs.


1 comment:

DennisCDiehl said...

Very true Andrew. Cultic Christian Bronze Age diets are not all there is and the punishments for not accepting the story as presented do not exist save in the pens of those who have historically endeavored to control others.

Perfect love does not cast out hate. It casts out fear, which is the true opposite of love. The Bible and most of what it spawns is fear based and love only gets a gentle nod now and then.

Certainly no one would ever say men like Weinland and Pack exhibit any hint of the kind of love that gives. They are takers.

Even as a student when HWA parroted "God's way is the way of give not get.." My BS meter, which had a snooze button at the time said, "Yeah, we give, you get."