Friday, April 16, 2010

The World's Worst Catholic™ Explains The Practice of Religion

To me church was always like a pep rally for Jesus and I've always hated pep rallies. Every week or so they'd drag the entire junior high down to the gym to pep on the Red Raiders of Radnor who were god awful at any sport, anywhere. The idea being that forcible pep is better than no pep at all. You couldn't just say no so I'd sit there, morose, unhappy and refuse to pep. I hated being told to be peppy and Mr. Keene, the Pepmaster, would roam the boards urging the crowd into ever louder cries of pepism. He was a master but I remained immune to his charms and just sulked on that hard, cold bleacher. And I'm guessing my little act of rebellion passed unnoticed. But some kids were into it, really into it. And by and large most of the girls were into it and now that I think about it, the peppiest guys seemed to have the most active social lives. In retrospect, I may have miscalculated by not participating, since a bespectacled, 4'10", pimply guy needs any kind of edge he can find. As I said, some kids were totally into it, dancing around and cheering, some kids were kind of into it, clapping their hands, some kids would let out a half -hearted "woo hoo" once in a while and some kids, like me, would just sit there and glare. What the fuck does this have to do with spirituality, you may ask? Bear with me. I'm crafting something here... an analogy or a metaphor or something.

Which brings me to PZ Myer's latest spittle flecked attack (it's almost like he's wearing a hair shirt all the time) on fellow travelers who don't toe the hard line. This week it's poor Massimo Pigliucci, who wrote something to piss him off. And since I like Massimo because he sounds like Father Guido Sarducci, I will come to his defense and explain why Professor Myers is completely off base.

Belief in God and, more specifically, the practice of religion is more like a giant junior high pep rally than the actual game itself, where you have clearly defined sides. The continuum is not between believers and non-believers, the continuum lies between those who are irrevocably sure of their position, whether atheist or believer and those who don't really give a shit. It's not whether you believe or not but the importance you assign to belief or non belief. If you're going to get all bent out of shape about it you're on the same side of the continuum as any devout Seventh Day Adventist or glaring kid at the pep rally. I would think that in church, as in my pep rallies, there are a goodly number of non-believers or sometime believers in the pews, letting out a half hearted "amen" on occasion and just there for any number of social reasons. And religion's handy when people die. I can attest to this. Centuries of finely honed funeral rites are handy in channeling grief, not to mention for doing something with the body. I just can't see an Atheist Grief Ceremony as being much use. So, really PZ, I'm not a believer either, but what's the harm in a little churchin'? An atheist can never be truly free until he's comfortable enough to sing in the choir.


  1. I think that what bothered me most about Pep Rallies and Church, was often there was a lack of authenticity. The only reason most people seemed to be peppy or religious, was in order to entice or otherwise pressure others into pretending to be also. The kids that truly were authentically peppy or religious, freak me right the fuck out the same way Jim Jones does, or Do from Heaven's Gate. But you are right, you cannot be free til you are comfortable singing in the choir. By then some deep part of the self has transcended all the conditioning that lead to the need to find *freedom in the first place.

    Nice post by the way.

  2. Thanks. I can almost sit through an entire funeral mass without getting pissed off. Almost.But some of the most agressive atheists piss me off. I spent 14 years being told what to believe, I'll be damned if I'm going to be told what not to believe. I find kind of silly the idea that people, whether believers or not, are going to act rationally in day to day life. There's no time for that.