The Airing of Grievances
Monday, December 06, 2004
Religion: Am I Way Off Base?
I was just surfing the net and came across what I think is yet another outstanding quote from H.L. Mencken (the first outstanding one is here). Without further ado, here's the quote:
"The average theologian...disseminates his blather, not innocently, like a philosopher, but maliciously, like a politician. In a well-organized world he would be on the stone-pile. But in the world as it exists we are asked to listen to him, not only politely, but even reverently, with our mouths open."I could not agree more. It's always bothered me that religion, with all its variations, with all its different stories and with all its different gods, is somehow supposed to be beyond reproach. Always seemed ridiculous to me. To be honest though, I was raised completely without religion, and have never worshipped a single day in a church or a temple. So, being open-minded, I'm thinking that perhaps I'm missing something. And that's why I'm hoping you Grievers can step in and let me know if I'm way off base here.
Before you do, a little bit more on my thoughts on the issue. To me, religion in the 21st century seems like nothing more than a clique of the cool kids in high school. The similarities: (1) Outsiders suck. That is, anyone who is not part of the group is essentially a loser and, in most cases, doomed to eternal damnation; whereas on the other hand, members of the group, having seen the cool light and all, will live forever in paradise so long as they stay true to the group; (2) Fear of independent thought. Being a member of the group you very rarely, if ever, have to engage in independent thought, because what is and what is not acceptable has already been set in stone; (3) Fear of outside ideas. Mingling with outsiders is highly frowned upon, because, after all, these outsiders may contaminate your mind with ideas that lead to the feared independent thoughts, thoughts that may somehow undermine all the stuff that's been set in stone. (A brief anecdote on this point. A good friend of mine comes from a family of devout Jehovah's witnesses. She is one of the sharpest individuals I know and was recently accepted to one of the top law shcools in the country. Her mother and grandmother pleaded with her not to go. The general basis of their pleas, "they'll be filling your mind with all types of crap." Speaks for itself; (4) Unchallenged authority. In most cases, the authority figure in the group reacts indignantly when challenged; a "how dare you question me" type of response; (5) Group members can do no wrong. When a member of the group gets himself in trouble, the rest of the group does its damndest to help cover things up. I could go on, but I think you get my drift.
In any event, we all know (well, hopefully we all do) that if you see adult folks carrying on like they're the cool kids, you've come across some really weak individuals. People who you would have very little, if any, respect for. And it seems to me, similarly, when you have adult folks blindly following religion, afraid to even entertain any contrary views of the world, you are also faced with a group of very weak individuals.
However, as I said, my religious background is essentially non-existent, so perhaps I'm way off base here. So, please drop some Griever knowledge in the Comments and let me know what those who are more informed think. Thanks.