Waking Up is Hard to Do

I won't believe in heaven and hell/
No saints, no sinners, no devil as well/
No pearly gates, no thorny crown/
You're always letting us humans down/
The wars you bring, the babes you drown/
Those lost at sea and never found/
And it's the same the whole world 'round/
The hurt I see helps to compound/
That Father, Son and Holy Ghost/
Is just somebody's unholy hoax/
And if you're up there you'd perceive/
That my heart's here upon my sleeve/
If there's one thing I don't believe in/
It's you.

-- XTC, "Dear God"

Taking a cue from the extensive comments posted beneath my slam on the tools that couldn't hack Colbert's truthtelling at the White House Correspondents Dinner, I learned a couple things. One is that some people don't like my rough language -- tough shit, suckas! -- and others have a problem with my severe dislike of religion and those who employ it for their various, nefarious ends. Well, I have a severe problem with that, and my problem is most capably expressed by XTC's phenomenal anti-religion screed posted above.

For those who don't know, XTC's "Dear God" smacked the Reagan era upside the head with a potent dose of finely crafted truth back in 1986, right as Bush 41 was about to be investigated for his role in the Iran/Contra scheme and his lazy son Bush 43 allegedly decided to quit drinking altogether and become a Methodist. (The more things change, the more they stay the same). It was also the year that messianic madman Randall Terry launched the Christian fundamentalist organization Operation Rescue (which now goes by the laughably transparent name Operation Save America) and began terrorizing women who were simply exercising their right to an abortion, for whatever reason.

Which, of course, was (and is) none of my business nor yours -- or Randall Terry's, for that matter. And that seems to be, pardon the pun, the fundamental problem with religion, as well as its role in the government, no matter the religion. Simply put, it doesn't belong there. Or anywhere else where free-thinkers want to disconnect from it. Period.

Of course, that's my secular take on the matter. I live by a very simple credo when it comes to religion: Do what you want, just stay the fuck out of my business. Others, 20 years after XTC's accidental megahit became legend -- ironic, considering that, probably due to its content, it wasn't even included in the initial release of its parent album Skylarking -- see it differently. They want more religion, and they want it everywhere. How we are going to avoid being called a theocracy in the process -- especially since we're frothing at the mouth to, ironically enough, nuke a theocracy for wanting nukes -- has not been thoroughly tackled quite yet. If it ever will be.

Which, like religion itself -- Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Scientology and all the rest -- is a nothing more than an optimistic fantasy. After all, one's apostle is another's apostate. Which is why Jesus freaks think Islam's Mohammed is a false idol, and why Muslim nutbags think the divine Jesus is a sham. Or why the Jewish faith more or less considers it heresy to entertain the idea that Jesus was the son of anyone else other than Mary and...who again? Who fucking cares?

These startling religious contradictions (aren't they all?) have done nothing to deter the Bush administration and its fundamentalist idiots-in-tow (and by that, I'm talking about every religious figure or organization with a horse in our current race to Apocalypse) from acting as if America was their own church. Now we have real-life false idols like Pat Robertson amping up the voltage on Hugo Chavez, giving away the Bush administration's strategical approach to the uppity Venezuelan in the process. (It's the coup, stupid.) Or faith-based organizations landing more and more hard-earned taxpayer dollars, including Pat Robertson's Operation Blessing, which grifted FEMA in the wake of Katrina's devastation. Or the military launching a new round of nuclear testing (nice timing!) under the doubly hypocritical title "Divine Strake." (They probably would've called it "Divine Strike," but Zarqawi got to it first.) Or Bush characterizing his government's misadventures in Afghanistan, Iraq and Iran and a counterattack to a World War III already underway.

Then, of course, we have Iran's lunatic leader sending a letter to our own lunatic leader that attempts, of all things, to "discuss some of the contradictions" that arise when so-called pious religious figures seek to govern. My favorite part of the letter? Booyah, grandma:

"Divine prophets have promised: the day will come when all humans will congregate before the court of the Almighty, so that their deeds are examined. The good will be directed towards Heaven and evildoers will meet divine retribution. I trust both of us believe in such a day, but it will not be easy to calculate the actions of rulers, because we must be answerable to our nations and all others whose lives have been directly or indirectly affected by our actions."

Man, I haven't read something that hilarious since The Closing of the American Mind.

The usual routine is this: Fundamentalists launch an offensive to inject their ass-backward programs and beliefs into the political and policy sphere, at which point others push back, quibbling about the so-called separation of church and state. A straw man argument if there ever was one, because what the Founding Fathers (a moniker shot through with religious metaphor and terminology) actually intended is practically irrelevant, like the Bible, to our situation today. Even if they had intended for America to be a religious nation, I could care less, because I don't think it should be and I'm not alone. Plus, America doesn't seem to remember that some of the Founding Fathers grew hemp and had sex with their slaves, so what difference does it make?

Well, it makes all the difference in the world to those of us who exercise our rights to not believe any of Christianity, Judaism or Islam's overtly excitable literary criticism while we've been degraded to feverishly awaiting a global Armageddon with the rest of heathen Earth. And for what? Because the fundamentalists (and pretty much every other "believer") refuse to see their holy texts as nothing more than the collected cultural folklore of the past? Their messy geopolitical machinations rendered in hagiographies, homilies and fables? Someone on the Post once said I talked in "gradschool-ese," which is telling, because I spent years at Berkeley and San Francisco State marking up my students' papers with red pen because their born-again authors fed every single text the profs gave them through the obsolete prism of the Bible, the Torah, the Koran, the Talmud, ad nauseam. And don't think I didn't have a good time doing it either, and not just because, although I'm a diehard postmodernist, I still can't stomach people who cannot tell the difference between a text and reality, whether ancient, modern, postmodern or all of the above.

Because I consider it heresy to have to engage in conversations about "faith" and "belief" with people who aren't in any way actually able to have such conversations. For one, if they arrive at a conversation about faith already disabused of their counterpart's belief (which is that s/he has none, at least in God) then it is not a conversation. It's an attempt at conversion. Which is not to say that I don't have any faith or belief: I have loads of it, but it is in science not religion. In physics, biology, magnetism, entropy, thermodynamics, cosmology, cultural critique, and onward. And my God, to paraphrase the detestable William Boykin, can kick your God's ass.

Here's how, and you can test my theory on yourself to see if works. First, find a cliff, a really high one. Then ask your God to keep you from falling off of it if you jump. Then jump. If you fall, then your God is a fantasy and mine, being gravity, is not. It's safe to say I'm going to win every time. Science always does.

Because whether we annihilate ourselves over who was the rightful prophet of Tha Lord or not, Earth will live on without us. Put it another way: Next time an environmentalist (even myself) whines about destroying said environment, tell him or her that we are doing no such thing. We are destroying ourselves, not the environment, which could save us if we weren't so busy killing it (and ourselves, to get coherently circular). It will live on long after we are gone, and there will be no God to turn off its lights. Only our sun can do that, regardless what religious hypocrites like Bush and Ahmadinejad say. Or who they bomb.