Anyway, today I've got more Heavenly Father issues to work out. I blame this little phase on the world religions class I took this semester which required me to write five million or so essays on such nonsense. This one's not nearly as good as Dinner at Adolf's, but I needed to post something, so, you know, you get the second rate essay--it's like listening to a Ke$ha album when Lady Gaga accidentally doesn't sync on your iPod...
Hold the Sacrificial Lamb
I often ponder how well-adjusted and high-functioning I might be if there was no God to be disappointed in me. I imagine the craftsman style bungalow I’d share with my husband, the beefy anesthesiologist. He’d teach me how to install a sink while remodeling our master bath. Yeah, he’d be that guy—owner of numerous power tools—but he’d be sensitive, too. Our adoptive kids—Watermelon and GumBaby—they would adore him because each night he’d come home and wrestle with them, and when the three crashed into the end table, knocking the antique lamp to the floor where it would shatter into a million pieces, I’d walk into the room and just smile because I only ever pretended to like antiques. Then we’d all laugh and eat mint chocolate chip ice cream and watch The Princess and the Frog together under our family-sized Snuggie. I would have a great life, because here’s the thing. I would be sensitive, too. If the world were religion free, I wouldn’t have had a reason to abandon my own humanity; I wouldn’t have needed to become an automaton who couldn’t tolerate the touch of other humans.
I would have a lot more sex.
Of course I don’t believe such a world could exist. It seems impossible to me that the cave folk or Cro-Magnon men or whatever could have enjoyed their primitive existence without worshipping fire or the sun or a pile of rocks; after all, they needed some way to pass the time before the invention of basic cable. And we’re such an inquisitive race. Could humans have evolved without answering the unanswerable question of what happens when we die? Could we have come to this great age of modern technology and social enlightenment without constructing various means to oppress and vilify and exalt? I don’t think so. But it wouldn’t have hurt the human race to try.
The other day, I’m sitting with my aunt, wasting a Sunday afternoon; we’re watching this show called Ruby about an obese woman who’s evidently interesting because she’s obese, and I ask my aunt—who’s crazy religious—I say, “So what do you think the world would be like without religion? You know, like, if it didn’t exist?” She got this look on her face like I was coming at her with dental tools and says, “Well, that’s just disturbing. Imagine the mayhem and sorrow. The suffering. If people didn’t have God to guide them and protect them…” She let her sentence fall away before her words could navigate into that dark place where vocabulary fears to tread.
I just sighed and turned my attention back to Ruby who was crying and beating on a table with a Styrofoam bat, working out her complex-carbohydrate issues I guess, and I thought to myself, You should have seen that answer coming like the second coming. And I really should have. I won’t speak about all religious people, but those I know have proven to me time and again that when you have faith in a higher power, you don’t have to have faith in humanity.
In the religion-free world that I imagine, people are still innately good. In this fantasy world, I may have sex with dudes, but it’s cool because who cares? Sodomy isn’t sinful because there’s no such thing as sin, at least not as it’s defined in religious terms. In my world there isn’t a bunch of made-up stories taken as truth used to regulate what is right and wrong. Right and wrong are defined instead by the effects actions have upon us and others. Sure, sure. It isn’t a perfect world. You’ll still meet your occasional dick or sociopath or telephone survey operator, but if humanity is generally a well-meaning species in the real reality, why wouldn’t it be in an alternate, religion-free reality as well?
I didn’t try to explain this theory to my aunt. I just kept my eyes on the screen and imagined taking my own Styrofoam bat to a coffee table, imagined letting my feelings toward religion out with a melodramatic wail and a barrage of tears. Ruby’s therapist would encourage me. She’d say, “Tell that table how you feel! We’re all here for you! Just scream it out! Just scream!” Of course this behavior would be out of character for the carefully controlled robot-human I’ve become, but I find that the further I get from my religious upbringing, the closer I get to a life outside of the judgments and scorn that have stood in my way for such a very long time.
And even though I may never take up a Styrofoam bat and let it all out, I’m waking up to my own humanity a little bit each day—I can almost feel the woodenness softening in my limbs. This husband from my musings, he’s out there somewhere; I’m sure of it. He’s just waiting for me to find him so we can gay up that bungalow with new hardwoods and recessed lighting. I think his name will be Burt and he’ll wear driver’s caps with abandon. And when we’re ready to have all our friends over for the big housewarming party, Burt and I will be sure to leave God and all his judgy friends off the guest list. After all, God wouldn’t really want to attend our party; Burt and I will be serving hors d’oeuvres, not sacrificial lamb.
See you at the next scheduled rapture,
P.S. Resist the urge to attend the party in your pants--God's watching, sinner!