To the untrained eye it may seem like I have some sort of axe to grind with the Church. We talked Jesus and the market place, put Jesus on the cover at Easter and looked at Christian baiting. Now Jesus is back on the cover. It seems he’s taken the form of Salient 2006’s Eva Longoria, or maybe Brad Pitt. Yeah… Jesus was a good-looking guy.
Maybe I do have an axe to grind with religion: we share a checkered past. Age seven I found myself at a Christian camp where I was hounded for questioning the story of Jesus. I came home and read three bible stories a day. I couldn’t sleep. You get a seven-year old reading Revelations and it’s going to make an impression. Common sense intervened, but you soon had a nine-year old mind trying to get a grip on existentialism. I got sucked in and went along with a lot of the other good lies to tell children, but I was one of the only people I knew of who was questioning the bigger picture from the age of about eight. I haven’t really considered Jesus since I was eleven years old. I’ve toyed with agnosticism. I don’t really think about it though. I sat through ten years of church services at Anglican private schools with a cold heart and a bored mind. It wasn’t a concerted rejection, I just never quite got it.
That’s okay though. I don’t need Jesus.
My axe to grind isn’t with religious people. I think there is an arrogance in the way media and government in white Christian countries marginalises other religions with the whole ‘my god is greater than your god’ message. I don’t even really consider how it is that anyone with a right mind can’t identify science as having made religion redundant. I accept the racism, sexism and homophobia that can often spill out of the Bible. To me it’s always seemed like brainwashing – looking back on my experiences as a seven year old I feel that I was privy to sanctioned juvenile indoctrination. But I see that people need something, and sometimes that something is the feeling that we are part of something great and big and planned. I’m not even saying they’re wrong. This in spite of the fact that if I came out marketing a belief system that involved a man in the sky controlling the Earth, an immortal son who somehow managed to get executed despite being able to heal lepers and walk on water, and who forced people to inscribe a mark on children’s foreheads and tithe a percentage of their income to me, I would most likely be labeled a felon.
A decent moral code and a strong belief in the laws of science is all I carry on my shoulder. It’s enough.
Gods take away self-responsibility, and selfdetermination. God will forgive you your sins. God will take care of you. God knows best. Pay the man, clear your conscience and leave. God told me to. God believes in this. I look at religion and too often I see people controlled by guilt and fear. It seems too close to oppression. And maybe it is.
Look at the fundamental irony of Israel and Palestine at war over land that holds extreme religious significance to them both. Year after year these two groups of people toil away violently against each other, no closer to a solution than the year before. Each believing that their god is on their side. It’s unjust on them both. You build up something as fact and when you take that away what do you have? Desperation.
Faith can be a destructive force. Morissey once sang, “I have forgiven Jesus”. I’ve been thinking of that a lot recently. I can’t help but side with the guy.
In Nick Broomfield’s My Big White Self he looks at the aftermath of South Africa’s extreme white supremacy movement. One of the leader’s right hand men remarks: “you can train a man up for a Revolution, and it’s like training him for a race, but if the Revolution doesn’t come, if that race doesn’t arrive, you’re going to break him.” Those are powerful words. How can we measure the damage on those promised a salvation that just isn’t coming?
We treat our planet like a shit. Countries are at war. Someone tell me that the ‘war on terror’ isn’t as religiously grounded as it is ideological. But still a sense of self-responsibility for global problems escapes us. But no God is fixing the Ozone hole and Hurricane Katrina was not Gods penance for New Orleans tolerance of homosexuals. God does not work in mysterious ways. Tsunamis, wars and terror attacks are all somehow linked in to plans and endorsements of various Gods – but it’s just peoples actions and sacrifices made in vain.
Fuck the Christian right. Until its power is eroded and we can pull back and act as freethinking and moral individuals there will be no happy ending.
So I guess my axe to grind is with religion itself. The collective will of a group of people, possessed by a right that they feel is greater than them, scares the absolute crap out of me. Looking to a God for answers equates us with Homer Simpson banging at the door of the airplane yelling out for Jebus to save him.