As a recovering Catholic, I grew up looking forward to the Mass on Easter weekend and the preceding observance of Lent with as much enthusiasm as a kid anticipating a trip to the dentist.
Church services that lasted an eternity, sitting on hard pew benches (that clearly weren’t ergonomically designed), kneeling, murmuring, having the plastic wafer shoved in my mouth, washing it down with the blood of some dead dude who wasn’t really dead (zombie god?) – were hardly restituted by the promised baskets us kids received afterward. I remember the bloodied Son of God agonizing on the crucifix behind the chancel, looking down at the congregants, urging us not to receive his sacrifice in vain. I avoided eye contact.
It’s been over a decade since I began the journey from believer to nonbeliever. Here are but a few things I’ve learned along the way:
Faith is illogical. The illogicality of faith, its tendency and need to quell critical thinking, is perhaps the oldest and most damning charge thrown at the church door. Despite advances in science and technology over the past 400 years, believers have yet to provide any evidence for the existence of a supreme being. Religionists merely point to the gap between human understanding and the nature of the universe and insist that God must exist in the void. But this isn’t proof, it’s only hope, and hope reveals nothing about the reality of something. I may hope it doesn’t rain next Monday, but that says nothing about whether it will rain or not.
Faith is dictatorial. Accepting that there is a God in Heaven, and that He is as the Bible and the Holy See describes Him, who would want to live in the totalitarian state that is the Kingdom of God? According to the Good Book, there are things you can’t do or even think; you can’t, for instance, have sex outside of marriage or think of having sex outside of marriage. You can’t even have non-procreative sex within a marriage! Greed, pride and gluttony are among the Seven Deadly Sins.
Does God know his own followers? Christian conservatives in this country attack the president for limiting their rights, but their “Führer” “who art in Heaven” stripped them of their rights more than two millennia ago. He rewards those who adhere to His maniacal decrees and sentences all others to eternal hellfire as part of His Great Purge. If this is the Kingdom of God, then consider me a revolutionist.
Faith is fatalistic. The most crippling consequence of faith is that a dependence on God and His will has the faithful relegating themselves to the sidelines. They say, “Jesus, take the wheel,” but by doing so, they leave no one steering the car. Should they hit a few pedestrians or wrap their car around a lamppost along the way, fellow fanatics console them by saying it was His wheel… I mean will. If disaster is averted, they say, “Gracias a Dios.” And all plans and goals are prefaced by that abominable mantra, “Si Dios quiere.” Generally speaking, the blessings in my life are the repercussions of my own diligence. I’ll accomplish what I want, si yo quiero.
So for Lent, give up religion… at least till Jesus comes back and commands you to do otherwise.