Why I just can’t do Religion…

Very early on in life we are taught about right and wrong.  Various means to this end all seem to have one underlying theme – we all have within us the ability to discern between the two.  For everyone, this is influenced by unique factors but for all the voice is still there – the one that weighs everything we know against a situation and allows us to make decisions.  Sometimes this is the right decision, sometimes it’s not-so-right.  Fox News knows all about the second one.

We are taught that Situation A + Action B = Result C.  We are taught, through consequences, that we have the ability to evaluate this system.  Break the rules, you’ll be punished.  Help an old lady across the street in Russia and someone with a dash cam will make you feel good about yourself.  Make top grades in your class and you’ll get a gold star…whatever.  I believe in this system of cause and effect.  It’s how I live my life and I know that, at the end of every day, my actions will be evaluated by my most scrupulous critic:  Me.

The problem I have with Religion (I have capitalized the letter R, as Religion is an entity which holds so much power over the human race that it deserves a proper name) is faith.  I know of no Religion which doesn’t require one to have faith.  Webster says faith is “firm belief in something for which there is no proof”.  No proof?  In other words, with faith, what you see and feel and touch is trumped by what someone else tells you – whether it be from a book, a pulpit, or a bible verse written on a bathroom stall at Speedway.

I see it constantly.  Under the veil of religion, people look Situation A, Action B and Result C in the eye and tell them to go shove off – that they’ve got a uniquely true version of reality supported by nothing definitive and screw anyone who says otherwise.  Obviously this issue is as infinitely complex as the flaws in our understanding which allow it to continue but the simple truth is this:  We all have, built into our bodies and minds, the capacity to evaluate the world around us objectively.  It is, absolutely, how we stay alive.

Forget the countless conflict that has arisen.  Forget the families that have been torn apart.  Forget that some of the most heinous acts in human history have been committed in the name of Religion.  This is the reason that I just can’t do Religion, and it has to do with that essential capacity which makes us human:  Religion allows us to ignore it.

 

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What I keep in my closet…

I love my closet.  Just as an action-movie hero has their secret compartment filled with guns, I have my closet.  It is, after all, nearly the same thing if you dress to kill.

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The source of my powers… The bigger, the better.

I was going through some old clothes recently and came upon an interesting flanel shirt.  It matches literally nothing else in my wardrobe, but I keep it around anyway.

My little brother, Max, has always looked out for me.  Whenever I need him, he’s there.  One night, when I was 18, I was hideously manic.  I was that kind of no-longer-in-control manic episodes.  It was just a la-dee-da, “do whatever comes to mind” type of night.  It was spring, but it was still a cold night, and the rain made it feel even colder.  This next part’s where the mania comes in.

Buzzing high up in mania, I decided that I wanted to walk through the woods behind my parent’s house, just to feel the rain against my skin.  Needless to say, I was soaked and freezing before long.

Wandering around in between the trees in nothing but jeans and a t-shirt, I became aware of a voice calling my name.  It was my brother.  When he came up to me I was shivering violently – my lips nearly purple and my skin completely white and pale.  I began to get upset, just as much with the rain as I was with myself.

My brother, wearing the flanel shirt, took it off and put it around me.  It was soaked in seconds but the gesture seemed to calm me a bit.

These days, seeing it in my closet is a reminder of how unstable things used to be, how well things are going now, and the bond that Max and I share.  That’s why I keep the shirt.