Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Heat and Light and God

When I was visiting family week before last, I got into a talk with my brother, sister-in-law and mother about religion. As is my wont, I argued my point with more heat than light and, in so doing, failed to make my point entirely.

Let me try to do it better here.

I think religions are conceived for two reasons: on the one hand, they explain the world to people, help societies function civilly, define a place in the universe for its adherents, and are often really beautiful; on the other hand, they are powerful colonial forces, where god is an expedient way to force people to submit.

Obviously, the vast majority of religious folks are not closet colonialists. On the other hand, Pat Buchanon keeps showing up on my teevee in all his cynical company man glory.

And then there's me, and the lots like me, who just don't believe in god.

From where I sit, If God makes you happy, if he enriches your life and gives it meaning, I'll never try to sway you to my way of thinking. Shoot, I don't care how happy religion makes you or doesn't make you. I save all my evangelizing for Battlestar Galactica.

But, when those faith systems assert themselves obnoxiously into the public forum? That's a horse of a different color. When the pope says that condoms make AIDS worse, or the Church of Latter Day Saints tells us to be afraid of letting the homos wed or Christian groups assert that America is a Christian nation (thus, I am not really American), it chaps my hide.

It's not difficult for me to separate adherents to a faith from the often corrupt political organizations in which they're housed.

I wonder if it's as easy, or too easy, or not easy enough, or shouldn't be easy, or what for adherents to that faith.

I feel like I lost my point again. Do you know what I mean?