December 09, 2005

On Beer, Jesus, Politics and Football

Last weekend, my husband went off hunting with his crazyass daddy and cousin and I got to stay home with my fat, loveable Boston Terrier and do stuff around the house without the usual interference. After dealing with the cable guys (twice), the sub-contractor working on our house, and doing all of the dishes and picking up the entire house, I decided I deserved to go out and meet a friend of mine for a couple of beers at our favorite bar. It at least sounded like a better idea than going to a surprise birthday party.

This friend is older than I am and has a child my age. In spite of the age difference, we find we have a lot in common. She's not as wild as some of my friends (or me on occasion), but we can still enjoy each other's company. So, we meet up and have a beer first talking about cooking and holiday baking. Soon we are joined by a buddy of ours who is the younger brother of a very well-known actor. This buddy is a laidback kinda dude who enjoys his Vicodin, Sauza and Budweisier and makes no apologies for it. He's great fun when he makes sense which is roughly 65% of the time- the other 35% is plain great just watching him play bumper cars with his own body.

So--- the three of us are sitting in this bar talking about this and that when the conversation turns to religion (I think we are bitching about Bill O'Reilly's made up "war" on Christmas). I had never really asked my first friend about her her views on religion 'cos I could care less, but I already knew laidback dude's ideas- "let freedom ring" he'll slur in a most hippy-ish way (he could care less who you fuck, who you suck, what you smoke or what you preach- just be a good person and don't harsh his mellow). In all, we were pretty much in agreement until the subject turned to the concept of faith. The first friend played the pretty much hopeful agnostic with an ID bent. Laidback dude didn't care. I stated my whole-hearted belief that the concept of faith is beautiful but only when rooted in joy, not fear and then it was complete bullshit.

That confession stopped them both. They wanted to know why. I explained it thusly- for me it's simple- the blind adherence to any concept out of fear or out of a desire for reward isn't true faith. It's bribery and/or capitulation to a threat of harm. It's makes the supposed "faithful" a fucking shallow, selfish asshole.

For me that's also why most organized religions never work. They have to keep morphing into something more pallatable when people catch up with the con. Seriously, have you ever looked at the crap Scientologists believe? Ghosts, volcanoes and aliens? Doesn't it really strike you as more of a story a 5 year old would tell their father about how the window was broken?? First there was this ghost and then he threw a ball and it landed near the alien's home on Mt. Vesuvius and.....and......and then the volcano blew up.......and......and tossed the ball through the window. Really...that's what happened. It's also why each of us knows so many people who profess to be good [fill in brand X orY here] and then run around lying, and cheating and stealing and saying nasty things about others, etc.. They're just dumbass kids who think they're outsmarting mom or dad and that they'll still get a lump of Jello salad at the end of dinner. Those kids suck. They tend to make up about 90% of the assholes I meet every day.

Then there are those kids who really do like mom and dad and are just really nice kids. They volunteer at the old folks' home, they make their beds and brush their teeth without being told. They get straight A's and play every sport. They're the kids you want to hate because they're so damn perfect, but can't well, because.....they're so damn perfect. This is the same person who believes in [fill in brand X or Y here] because of the joy they find- the peace and harmony that they seek for each day- not a future in Candyland, and not to avoid the snakes and other bad shit. Those things never even come into play for them.

I can respect the person with faith borne out of joy, but the asshole who tries to convert me with threats of fire and damnation and "Jesus is watching" shit can get the fuck off. And the thing is, if you really look for those people with real faith, faith borne out of joy and not an expectation of reward or safety from Hell (ever notice these concepts sound like a classic Mafia shakedown con???) you'll find them more often in small towns. It'll be the 90 year old baking cookies for her Pentecostal church's cakewalk. Or the old man so riddled with arthritis he can hardly bend his hands, but he's changing your flat tire against your protestations. It's the little girl who makes daisy chains for her puppy. Or the guy at the copy shop who finds more thrills in making his wife of 37 years blush like a new bride.

I dunno, I'm not in any way suggesting that evil is associated with urban life, but I guess I am saying that real joy often exhibits itself in the most germane of places and in the most unpretentious of people. Sometimes we have to slow down to appreciate the really inspiring things. For instance, have you ever watched ants build a hill? The sheer organization. Each ant has its part. It's pretty damn neat.

The Falwells and Robertsons and Dobsons, and LaHayes know shit about faith. They really know very little about the snake oil they're supposed to be selling. They do, however, know their market- the shitty little corner cutters who are more worried about keeping up with the Joneses than living simply. The corner cutters deserve the snakeoil salesmen and vice versa. The corner cutters will twist off on "Trading Spouses" shouting about "dark-sidedness" and tearing up checks because it's dirty money and comes from Satan only to take the money in the end for a gastric bypass. And the snakeoil salesmen will raise the idiot's picture high and show them off as a faithful god warrior. Neither will have even examined the concept of faith or goodness. They just publicly wear the mantle of what they buy and sell as faith, but they forget faith is not a commodity.

My concept of politics isn't much different than what I have just described. Right-wingers buy into the snakeoil shit because they have concerns about their security whether it be economic or physical or their goddamn social status. They're insecure fuckwit corner cutters who'll steal and lie all day to mom and dad and plead moral bankruptcy and beg forgiveness by dropping a $20 bill in the collection plate. Left-wingers, on the other hand, actually give a shit about having a society around that's peaceful and loving just because it's more fun than fighting all the time.

I'm somewhere in between I think. Not perfect, but certainly not a horrible little monster either.
Well, there. There are my views in a nutshell. Hate me if you will. I don't care. I'm not trying to get into Candyland and I could care less about what the Joneses think. I'd rather just drink with my friends and conjecture about the outcome of the USC/Texas Rose Bowl matchup. It's a whole lot less heavy. And at least we'll know which of us is right when the final gun sounds. That's a whole lot better than politics or religion.

Well, at least until March Madness.


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