Thursday, August 31, 2006

Relig-o-Matic

Lonely? Lost? Overcome with feelings of absurdity and futility? Desperate to belong to something righteous that will make you feel morally superior to those around you? Or are you just looking for free coffee and snacks on the weekend? If you said yes to any of these questions, then religion is the thing for you.

That's right, religion has been imbuing hopelessly pathetic people, like yourself, with a glowing sense of self-worth for centuries. By simply forking over some of your hard-earned scratch, kneeling down and bending over when told to, and generally not asking too many questions, you can become a member of any number of organizations that will deliver a whole host of excellent benefits, most of which will only become available to you after you're dead. But still, no matter how you slice it, religion is one hell of a deal.

But so many religions dot the earthly landscape, how will you ever pick the right one? How will you find the one that's best for you? Well, your old pal, Wad, is here to help. I present to you a list of important questions for which you should have definite answers before committing your life to this religion or that cult.

Number one: in the case of a monotheistic religion, find out if this particular god is the one true god. This is a very important question and you shouldn't take just anyone's word for it. Best thing to do is inquire at a variety of different religious organizations and have them all weigh in on the god you're considering. For instance, ask the Discordians what they think of Jesus. Or ask the Presbyterians and the Protestants what they think of Allah. Have the Jews talk to you about Kali and Baphomet. You get the picture. Whatever they say about their own god you should regard carefully; obviously they will be biased. But the stuff they say about the other gods will be perfectly objective.

Same thing in the case of a polytheistic religion (used to be a lot more popular than they are today, but a few are still out there): are all the gods equally true or are some of them a little false? Again, do careful research before making a decision.

Number two: exactly what is the benefit package you will receive once you're dead, assuming you have fulfilled all organizational requirements and are a normal member? Are requirements negotiable? Are prizes awarded on a sliding scale? A lot of variation exists here so check around. And be sure to get it all in writing so in case something goes wrong you'll have recourse for your grievances.

Number three: will you have to kill yourself? Figure this out early on as it can really screw things up if you find out too late. Assuming you will and you're cool with that, what sort of prizes will you receive after you're dead? Often, the benefits package offered to the newly deceased gets a few bonuses thrown in if you kill yourself in a prescribed way. I've heard that at least one religion offers a butt-load of virgins if you kill yourself just right. Personally, I prefer a woman with a little experience, but whatever. I think you get a pony, too. Again, remember to read the fine print.

Number four: will killing other people be part of the deal? If so, can you assassinate people you dislike personally, or will you be assigned targets by the organizers? Again, what sort of rewards will this assignment net you and can you get any of them while still alive? This is important because if you get arrested for murder, instead of getting virgins, spending time in the joint might simply de-virginize you, if you know what I mean (and I think you do). Knowing whether or not the religion provides free and effective legal defense in this situation is a very serious concern. Alternatively, does it have a substantial enough prison following to help you make the right kinds of friends in lock-down?

Number five: consider the details and methods of daily prayer: performing ablutions, chanting, fiddling with beads, special dance moves, gesticulations. Consider the dress code: outfits, colors, hairstyles. Some religions demand an austere existence and a disciplined daily regimen, while others let you dress the way you want and pray when you want. Get hooked up with the group that works for you!

Number six: where exactly will you be going once you're dead? Don't leave this up to chance; get coordinates. Also, check to see who else might be going; it would suck to get there and find a bunch of people you don't like. For instance, if it turns out that your religion and another competing religion are actually praying to the same god, you might both end up in the same place (heaven, valhala, paradise, whatever) and it might be awkward having to hang out with people you spent so much time hating when you were alive.

Finally, lucky number seven, a few minor points to consider: some religions are very popular with the stars and joining may give you the opportunity to meet a favorite, Cat Stevens, John Travolta, or Barry Manilow for instance. Will it help you get laid? Do a lot of hot chicks attend? Do you like the free drinks or snacks this religion offers at its regular meetings? Do they have a proper coffee maker or are they serving instant (ugh)? What do you think of this particular religion's paraphernalia and will you enjoy decorating your home, automobile, and office with it? How much time will you have to spend trying to talk other people (non-believers) into joining? Do you mind being spat on and having doors slammed in your face very much?

Once you have clear, logical answers to these questions, you should have no trouble making the right choice.

Cheers!

P.S. Maybe this article seemed a little sexist. That's because religion is sexist. Sure, some exceptions exist, but mostly being religious and being a woman means getting the table scraps the men leave. For women, joining a religion should be done purely for the service of the men in your life (and for the men in the church, including the god or gods therein, which will almost always be portrayed as male). So if you're a woman and you're reading this, don't you worry your pretty little head about all of these big, scary questions, Buttercup. Just print them out and hand them respectfully to your man when he's in a good mood. And then get back to fixing dinner and taking care of the kids.

Friday, August 18, 2006

The God Thing

So many people talk about a god thing: god this, god that, god's watching, god'll get you for that. But what the hell is it? It's usually referred to with masculine pronouns, so is it a man? If it is a man, is it married? If not, is it gay? Who are its friends? Does it have any hobbies?

Those who are into this god thing tend to say crazy things when trying to describe it. Ask one "where is god?" and he will likely reply "he is everywhere," or "he is in your heart," which I shouldn't have to tell you are nonsense answers. If you ask the store clerk "where is the frozen food?" and she suggests elective surgery, how is that helpful?

This god thing, if its enthusiasts are to be believed, exists perhaps at some mysterious location, perhaps one nearby, perhaps far away, always has and always will. No rational explanation for why anyone should believe something this fantastic is ever supplied. Indeed, this is when waxing philosophies about faith usually start. And, oh, how they wax.

Florid literary meanderings aside, we have no empirical data on this god thing as an entity, as an individual. What data there are, all woven from the various available dogmas, in a practical sense focus on only two aspects: how it can do whatever it wants, and how it tends to display fairly simple emotions. We know its fury and we know its love, often at the same time, but never the conflicts of conscience, regret, sorrow, and introspection that come with maturity. Kind of like a little girl playing with her dollies—one minute, all is sweetness and light; the next, Mr. Flippy has committed some nebulous infraction and has to be punished for his insolence—this god thing never demonstrates any sophisticated reflection on any issue, merely smites the infidels when necessary. This by itself would be suspicious enough, but the god thing's vengeance upon the humans is always wrought by other humans.

Well, almost always. Natural disasters are often attributed to the god thing. Because it can do anything it wants, so it goes, rather than soil itself by dealing personally with the lowly humans it will, as its enthusiasts will tell you, wreck their stuff with floods and earthquakes and such. Again, this is very suspicious. Not only are natural disasters fairly easily explained today via simple observations of nature, but they are also very indiscriminate. The god thing gets so upset at the humans' infractions that its retribution will ruin the habitats of other species as well? Seems very petty. Sounds like what we're actually talking about is just a big baby.

Behold the god thing: it is nothing more than a reflection of its enthusiasts' psyches. While curious behavior is the norm among humans, pretending super-heroes and deities exist (super-heroes and deities that always look like humans, of course) is remarkable because it is enjoyed in nearly every corner of our little planet in many, many variations, by every different culture we have. Forgetting for the moment the extraordinarily lucrative nature of organized religion, what could have driven us to adopt such an odd practice with such enthusiasm?

People are justifiably frustrated and frightened by their powerlessness in this world. Other animals are stronger, faster, can swim better, see farther, and we are utterly outclassed by the forces of nature. So, to stave off our trembling fear, we dream up something with limitless powers and infinite this and endless that and pretend to have some control over it through organizational affiliations. Genius! We'll give the people at the head of the organization funny costumes to wear and pretend publicly that they can actually talk to the purely made-up god thing while privately we pretend to talk to it ourselves. It really is all ours to do with as we see fit, which presents an opportunity with limitless potential for putting forward our own petty grievances with our neighbors who we dislike for many reasons, but mostly because we want their land and they remind us too much of ourselves.

Our god thing has no personality of its own, no hobbies, no interests. It has no real character of any sort, no favorite foods, no favorite jokes. Infinitely malleable, it cannot contradict a political alliance or motive because it does not exist. It is an empty vessel, a concept open to interpretation into which we petty, frightened, and insignificant humans, the militant ones, can pour all of our pathetic rage, humiliation, and fears, to be meted out against one another as we see fit, with prejudice. Or those peace loving among us can pour in our hopes and dreams and prayers of salvation without fear of denial or of being tricked, because no one is there.

It provides an instant justification for any act of selfishness we can dream up, and an easy explanation for all of our many failures: the will of the god thing explains everything. No one can deny its usefulness.

Not the least of its uses, the god thing provides an easy, if spurious, escape from nihilism. The void is terrifying primarily because it is our lack of understanding about the world around us that informs it. A fantastic answer may seem preferable when the truth is, perhaps, beyond our grasp. But it's a tactical error if you want to play the long game.

No, we don't understand why we're here or where we're going or what the point of it all is or even if a point exists, but we understand more today than we did yesterday. Having just begun to understand so much, let's not hang up our track shoes so early in the race by embracing a worldview that we'll have to apologize for later, particularly one that has played out so poorly over the previous centuries.

Throw down your gods.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

progeneration

Mister Wad and Missus Wad made a Baby Wad, a Little Wad, a Tiny Love Wad. Check it out:

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us

First chance I get, I will tell her she is special.