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2/29/2008                                                                                       View Comments

So, what do you worship?

By Chucky Jesus

I'm both an ex-Christian and an atheist. I almost don't think of myself as ex-anything any more, because my deconversion was so long ago; I'm 53 now and I gave up on Christianity by the time I was 18. Since then there's been one thing about Christianity in the back of my mind -- this notion of "worship." I suppose if I thought about it at all, it was in reaction to a question which is often posed to freethinkers by theists, "So, what do you worship?"

My reaction has been, well we don't worship anybody, silly -- and why do you feel the need to worship someone? Are you all syncophants? Then again, perhaps many freethinkers do worship, in a sense. I think I've decided that I worship life -- all aspects of life, which, in a way includes the entire universe, as it's all tied together. After all, the stuff we're made from and the most distant galaxies were all part of the same "cosmic" egg "before" the big-bang. This matter and energy which makes up us and our cousins the plants and insects and our earth all obey the same natural laws as do these far away galaxies and everything between.

I'm reminded of a poem by Walt Whitman, "On the Beach At Night, Alone." This was used to great effect in the second movement of the first symphony by the English composer Ralph (pronounced Raeph) Vaughan-Williams. My sister, an actress, also read it at my wedding.
On the beach at night alone,
As the old mother sways her to and fro singing her husky song,
As I watch the bright stars shining, I think a thought of the clef
of the universes and of the future.

A vast similitude interlocks all,
All spheres, grown, ungrown, small, large, suns, moons, planets,
All distances of place however wide,
All distances of time, all inanimate forms,
All souls, all living bodies though they be ever so different, or in
different worlds,
All gaseous, watery, vegetable, mineral processes, the fishes, the brutes,
All nations, colors, barbarisms, civilizations, languages,
All identities that have existed or may exist on this globe, or any globe,
All lives and deaths, all of the past, present, future,
This vast similitude spans them, and always has spann'd,
And shall forever span them and compactly hold and enclose them.

It also occurs to me that we could just as easily replace the word "worship" with "celebrate." I celebrate beautiful sunrises, the taste of chocolate, a tone-poem by Liszt, a movie by Mike Judge which makes me laugh, the canopy of stars at night, a beautiful woman, learning each day about new discoveries of science, and on and on. All of this is life and I love it, I celebrate it...I worship it.

So, the next time a Christian asks what you worship, give that person your list.

36 comments:

Anonymous said...

As a bedraggled refugee from the most ridiculous church, the "Holy" Roman Catholic Church, I find the whole notion of worship absolutely stupid. What do Christians worship? A "god" they think exists; a "god" that created the World; the son of that "god" who they claim died on a cross for their sins. What is this all based on? A silly book that was plagiarised from other pagan religions, especially Egyptology; a book whose authors are unknown and that has been mistranslated and altered to suit the stupid ideas of these "believers". To make matters worse these Christians have built these massive edifaces in which to conduct these ceremonies of worship at a cost that should have been spent for the welfare of the poor.

THere is nothing to worship and the sooner the poison of religion is wiped off the face of this World the better.

Lorena said...

Chucky Jesus,

I read your nice post and thought, I like that. He makes a lot of sense. There is nothing wrong with enjoying the world we live in and its creatures.

Then I read the response some anonymous gave you and thought, that's exactly why I do not call myself an atheist and never will. Because I refuse to be so "fundamentalist" as to bitterly reject all sentiment, beauty, and joy of life.

I want to remain free to enjoy beauty, even if it is a statue in a Roman Catholic church. Or a majestic musical composition, even if it's called the Ave Maria. Or a masterful poem, even if metaphoric ally places angels among us.

I will never give up my right to feel, even if I don't believe in God. Therefore, I will never call myself an atheist--unless, of course, I want to sound retarded and uncultured like the poster who preceded me.

If I wanted to be that close minded, I would have remained a Christian.

Jim Earl said...

Hi Chucky Jesus;

I enjoyed your post and wanted to let you know that.

I really don't understand what it is about the word "atheist" that gets some people in such a tizzy. I don't consider myself closeminded just because I don't see any reason to believe in a god. I still enjoy beautiful sunsets, the beautiful night sky, beautiful, man-made objects of many types, and many other things too numerous to mention. I just have never seen anything that I consider worthy of worship.

ou812 said...

Thank You Chucky, This ever changing universe becomes more beautiful to me everyday. Maybe it's because my mind isn't littered with religious crap anymore and my weekends can be spent on enjoying to freedom of doing whatever I please. Take time to smell the roses.

eejay said...

Great post. And good points. I have to say that my sentiments are very much like the dirst anonymous poster. Lorena, I admire the fact that you are able to appreciate some beauty in churches, but many of us are not able to do that. Many you reached deconversion a different way, or could possibly be at a different level of healing. Unfortunately, some of us here had an extreme amount of being suffocated with religion. Please bear with those of us who may still be recovering. I am to the point right now that as long as someone doesn't get in my face I am all right. But start to push it on my and I can get bitter and vulgar. I am trying not to, but I have such residual anger from my earlier life. If anonymous wished to wished to vent anger he/she should be welcome to without being called retarded. We all got here through different life experiences.

chucky jesus said...

Thanks for all of your comments to my musings. I can understand the feelings generated by the word atheist. I suggest we all just relax -- it's just a word. In some ways I don't like the term, because it forces us who are atheists (and let's make it clear -- there's virtually no difference between that term and the term agnostic; atheism means without theism, it doesn't mean that you claim there is no god, just that you are without the belief, which is not very different from agnostic)to define ourselves regarding what we fail to believe, rather than what we believe. We don't go around saying we are "aleprachaunists" or afairiests," and yet we are. Anyway, I use the term mostly because it's a convenient handle. I don't know; I rather prefer the term freethinker, but then it seems rather vague and ambiguous.

Also, I can understand reaction to the word worship. Like I originally wrote, replace it with the word celebrate if you like.

trancelation said...

Christians are not given any other options; ALL people must worship SOMETHING. This is part of the indoctrination process. By forcing this belief on their flock, Christian leaders are better able to control said flock. I have been asked this question by many Christians as well, especially younger ones. It implies that something MUST be worshipped, but this is not the case at all. In the same vein, I've been asked by many, many, MANY Christians what I believe in. Again, belief is not necessary. Worship and belief are both functions of a brain that does NOT function. Belief requires a lack of evidence, and worship requires submission. To top it all off, Christian leaders convince their followers that these are GOOD qualities - that only GOOD people don't ask questions. Sounds like a Stormtrooper to me.

eejay said...

I agree with you trancelation. That is why that my path to deconversion, took a while. Somehow that ingrained feeling, that you absolutely 'have' to believe in something, wasted many more years of my life searching for the right god, the right religion. Though I didn't buy x-tianity at all, I wanted to believe in something.Fortunately, I did come to the realization that I really didn't need any. And I am comfortable with that now.

Shaggy Maniac said...

As a an atheist, I do find that the worship experience is something that I miss. I enjoyed singing hymns and liturgy as a member of a community. Never did I feel that church worship was an act of submission; it was a choice that I made because I found it to be enjoyable. When I discovered/admitted to my lack of god-belief, it simply didn't make sense to attend church and worship any more, but I do still miss the experience of it.

SkyEyes said...

Whenever a christer asks me what I worship, I just say, "Cats!" It never fails to leave them gobsmacked, effectively shutting down the conversation before it gets preachy.

And in my case, it ain't that far from the truth.

A Wagerer Shits Not said...

Everybody, be they Christian or other, worships something. Whether it is God or Allah or money or the earth or the power of your own understanding, everybody worships something. it is in our nature to revere and place something over our own being.

dm5372 said...

I think one can cut through all of this by asking why would an infinately intelligent and powerful being create creatures and expect them to beg,crawl,kneel,intone,and otherwise worship it.It must not be very enlightened.

trancelation said...

Wagerer:

Revering and placing somthing above ourselves does not equal worship. When a firefighter places the safety of someone else's life aove his or her own, is he worshipping that person? Of course not. When a moviegoer reveres a certain movie, are they worshipping that movie? Of course not. Those two things are part of BEING HUMAN, not worship.

trancelation said...

http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=define%3Aworship

A Wagerer Shits Not said...

From wikipedia: In its older sense in the English language of worthiness or respect (Anglo-Saxon worthscripe), worship may sometimes refer to actions directed at members of higher social classes (such as lords or monarchs) or to particularly esteemed persons (such as a lover).

We do worship things other than Gods. To worship is being human. And I do understand your points that you made but I feel that we as a people, Christian or not, need to feel that we are not at the top of the universe, that there is something greater than ourselves, even if it is another person or group of people. And even if we are not aware of it, I believe we need to worship something, anything. It is different for each person.

Free Thinker said...

ther is no cause to "worship", bow down to or kneel to anyone or anything. Erich

Sandra said...

After becoming an atheist I found no need to worship anything, but I do appreciate the world around me. There is so much beauty around exspecialy the sunset in New Mexico. It looks like the sky is on fire.

Anonymous said...

Nice post Chucky, I'm an atheist with more than 30 renditions of the Catholic Mass in my collection of CDs - I just love the polyphony of Palestrina, Byrd, Victoria etc. and of course the great J.S.Bach - I love it all. I'm just glad it's all in latin!

P.S. Dear Webmaster, in choosing an ID to post, there was, last time I posted, the option of "Nickname" (or someting), other than "Anonymous" - Which was great 'cos I knew what that was. Whereas, Google/Blogger, OpenID and Name/URL... well I know they'er not latin... but? Forgive my ignorance :-\
Boe

No god/No fear said...

I am proud to call myself an atheist. It simply means I don't believe in a god. And I don't care if people feel I'm an intolerant atheist either--I want religion (superstition) wiped out of existence. That doesn't mean I can't appreciate the beauty of a cathedral but, when I do, there is always that part of me that pictures what if all the money and time would have been in the pursuit of scientific discoveries, medical care, or agricultural science instead? Where would the world be then?

Sophia

trouble may care said...

Lorena,
I want to remain free to enjoy beauty, even if it is commissioned to exalt the Third Reich. Or a majestic musical composition, even if it's composed within the Reichsmusikkammer. Or a masterful poem, even if metaphoric ally places Gott mit uns. In The 1930’s the Nazis sponsored the most amazing innovations in engineering and science. What’s not to admire?

I will never give up my right to feel, even if I don't believe in the Aryan Master Race. Therefore, I will never call myself non fascist, unless, of course, I want to sound retarded and uncultured like the poster who preceded me.

Grrrrrrr.
Look, few destructive toxic systems are unable to claim some merit. Any Reverend Jimmy, Jim Jones Jim Baker Jim Swaggart ( Is there a Pope Jimmy?) can be said to have inspired and moved many people deeply. Even the most repressive Islamic nations will have amazing architecture or art. Listen to music overlay on various terrorist clips praising Allah. The vocals are honestly beautiful.
But only the biggest F’tard would call the victims of any deceitful organization , (the Catholic Church is historically the grandmaster of deceit), retarded and uncultured for protesting the abuse and deprivation they went through,
Calling the victim of a rapist retarded and uncultured for failing to be inspired by the good things the rapist did is a perversion on a level I had never imagined I would ever see.

Clark Kent said...

Well as a heterosexual male, it's almost impossible not to worship a gorgeous well-kept female with a short dress with nylons and garder belts showing as she bends over, I find it practically impossible to not be distracted as my mind melts from sexual highened euphoria.

In my mind, there is no greator sense of peace and calm to come over me as I look at a beautiful female.

I know this may sound perverted, but I can't help myself, I do not think I am alone with this situation.

Dave8 said...

AWSN: "Everybody, be they Christian or other, worships something. Whether it is God or Allah or money or the earth or the power of your own understanding, everybody worships something. it is in our nature to revere and place something over our own being."
To worship requires ritualistic habits.

I do not engage in ritualistic behaviors for things I value.

A person proportionally devaluates their self value, as they rationalize something to be of greater value.

I can’t think of a good reason to engage in self devaluation or self loathing. Wagerer, do you have a good reason to convince your self that you are less valuable than something else?

Dave8 said...

Let me add, that I have a long list of things I value greatly, music, car trips, nature, etc., but the value I hold for these things is no greater than the source of valuation - me.

In the process of self devaluation; one discredits their self as competent to make value judgments.

:-) But, I do have a lot of things in my life, that I value, and I have no problem telling people that I value a hot-dog more than the word God.

chucky jesus said...

Wow -- I'm amazed at the nerves I touched with this. I can't reply to everything, except to emphasize again that the word worship can just as easily be replaced with the word celebrate, if that makes you feel more comfortable. I suppose there is a sense of the term worship which implies syncophancy, but that's not what I'm referring to. Thanks again for all of your thoughts.

Sandra said...

So Chucky Jesus, are you worshiping nature when you admire a beautiful sunset, or a nice spring day, or a good meal, etc... just want to know?

Dave8 said...

I'll celebrate life then :-) However, I would use the word celebrate in a mixed U.S. crowd instead of worship, to prevent any confusion.

I suspect the majority of U.S. citizens to contextually conclude that one who worships to be an obsequious acolyte to that which they worship.

I attempt concise communication to convey specific ideas, so that I can receive contextually appropriate replies.

Vague words enable contextual confusion & miscommunication.

A comedy triumph that illustrates this concept is; "Who's on First?" by Abbott and Costello.

Vague and arbitrary words like; God, god, spirit, angel, demon, etc., are easily confused when a person uses them in metaphor, while another interprets them literally.

Using the word worship to metaphorically mean celebrate, is okay with me, as long as those who I talk with understand the metaphor :-) Again, I would not make such a presumption when talking to people I don't know in society.

Chucky, thanks for the article, it has inspired thought, and I do celebrate or metaphorically worship life – Have a great one

xrayman said...

I hate to break the news to you Lorena but you are an atheist : D

Great topic Chucky. I might add that it took me a good many weeks of reading your nickname on these pages before I could do it without laughing my ass off. Very funny.

Along the lines of Clark Kent I will freely admit I worship the area where my wife's thighs come together. That particular area of my wife's anatomy control more of my actions that an imaginary God ever could.

Seriously I worship nothing, but exercise is my religion. I have been working out five days a week for over twenty years.

trancelation said...

Wagerer:

The OLDER version of the word? LORDS and MONARCHS?

Now you're reaching.

And the fact that you're reaching - trying desperately to fit any kind of activity that you can into the area of 'worship' - shows me how faulty the idea that everyone worships really is. Not everyone worships. I don't; several posters here have said that they don't. That's proof enough. Christians love to come on this site and try to convince themselves that we HAVE to believe in God, no matter how persistent our atheism, and now I see one trying to convince me that I HAVE TO worship something, no matter how persistent my NON-worship.

The claim that everyone worships something is nothing more than an excuse for the religious to justify their superstitious behavior. If it were true, Christians would not have that aspect of scrutiny to crumble under. But they do, because not everyone worships something - no matter how much word-wrestling you want to engage in to fit any and all activities under that word to justify your or other people's behavior.

I simply don't love anything unconditionally; and nothing sure as hell loves ME unconditionally. I simply don't have that kind of faith in anything, to hold it above all scrutiny and examination and uconditionally REVERE it. THAT is worship. And I don't do it.

Cousin Ricky said...

Lorena, there’s nothing about atheism that calls for “bitterly reject[ing] all sentiment, beauty, and joy of life.” That notion is a Christian straw man. Atheism is the absence of belief in any gods, no more, no less. That also happens to be as “fundamentalist” as atheism gets. There are no implications of other beliefs, world views, or personality types.

Since Christians believe that God is the source of all beauty, many make the illogical non-sequitur that those who don’t believe in God cannot appreciate beauty. This non sequitur is bandied about among Christians, and has thus become a stereotype. It doesn’t help that the stereotype is confirmed in Christians’ minds when they encounter angry atheists, and it doesn’t occur to the Christian that the atheist is angry because he’s being preached at, not because he’s an atheist. But this is a stereotype, not a definition.

Lorena wrote: “I will never give up my right to feel, even if I don't believe in God. Therefore, I will never call myself an atheist--unless, of course, I want to sound retarded and uncultured like the poster who preceded me.”

If you don’t believe in God, then you are an atheist, by definition—no matter what you feel. You don’t sound retarded and uncultured by calling yourself an atheist; you sound uncultured and retarded by saying stupid things. As you probably know, (through no fault of our own) atheists have an image problem. It doesn’t help when decent atheists shun the word because of a baseless stereotype.

buddy said...

I can tell you what christians worship; It's the emtional feeling of self-righteousness and the self-exaltation and religious superiority over nonbelievers they so admire, long for and covet.

They have been paraded in front of other believers and debased and subjugated and humiliated like a group of farm animals and held under undue duress to uphold and pledge an oral allegiance to a dead man that was a god that came to earth in the form of a man, whom anyone would should realize with their born-with common sense know it is all a total lie.

Now that they have made this public pledge and commitment, they have appearances to uphold, they must impress other christians and if they can lead another unsuspecting fool into their cult, then that's one less person that will think they are a total fool, because they are just that, a total fool.

notabarbie said...

Xrayman...you are such a guy, geez.
Anyway, I too work very hard to stay fit. I was once told by a Christian friend that I needed to be careful because I could be in danger of worshipping my own body...I was a Christian then and her comment actually made me stop working out for a while...sad. I do feel good about how I look, but it comes from hard work, which makes me feel good too, but I don't worship my body...my husband does :-)
I do like the word celebrate more than worship, but in any case I would say I worship/celebrate every breath I take. I appreciate the life I have to live so much more than when I was a Christian.

black swede said...

Xrayman Said:
"Along the lines of Clark Kent I will freely admit I worship the area where my wife's thighs come together. That particular area of my wife's anatomy control more of my actions that an imaginary God ever could"

Wait a minute Xrayman.....You don't need a wife........Jesus is all you need according to my former "Singles Minster" from my old Church Days...........LMAO!!!! (Just kidding Xrayman) :)

You know speaking of those days, I went to that same asshole "Singles Minister" who use to discourage dating in our Sunday School Class and who use to tell us that "Jesus was all we need" (This same minister just happened to be married btw) and I asked him what business was it of his to be telling all of us that.

I even went as far as asking my former "Singles Minister" what was he doing married, and I reminded him that "Jesus was all he needed, and that he did not need a wife".

He looked at me with a frown on his face and asked me, "So are you recommending that I get a divorce"?

Then he went on to say that if he ever lost his wife that he would probably never marry again anyway.

These preachers talk real big, and for a church that promoted "It's good to be single for Jesus" every single minister in my old church just happened to be married. It seems most of these pastors talk out of both sides of their mouths.

black swede said...

Just to add to my last post, I am a lot more happier in my relationship with my beautiful woman than I ever was with some imaginary ugly bearded man named Jesus.

That's for damn sure!!!!

Stephen_Richard_Webb said...

Its really amazing how atheism itself is becoming a religion, one so close minded as that which it openly rejects...that is the epidemy of hyposcracy in full swing. Those who say there is no god and believe in the scientific method need to realize that the existence of god has yet to be proven false as well. Personally I celebrate life and peace as well, and I love science and all of its wonderful findings - I beleive that the scientific method is the fruit of reason which is a gift regardless of where it came from - I suspect that my personal beliefs [which are all based on observation] don't matter too much to anyone at all, and thats ok - thats why they are personal. A wise man once said that the middle road is the one least traveled, yet it is the only one that is truly free from conflict, so to all theists and atheists it is imperative that each side see that there are two sides to the coin and so long as this isn't realized, there will be conflict on both sides - and that isnt freedom.

Trancelation said...

Stephen:

Of course the existence of God has been proven false. Any and every notion of something called God on this earth has been shown to be false. All one need do is open up ANY holy book to see the fallacies, contradictions, lies and outright exaggerations in them to see that the Gods in them are false. That leaves us with one other option: those Gods are lying. And why should we worship, let alone acknowledge, such a being?

The only other alternative is that there is a supreme being out there we don't know about. But such thoughts are useless speculation. I am an atheist because there is no evidence for gods; this does not mean that I don't want to believe in gods. There is simply no evidence. So why why should I spend my time worrying about whether or not there's a supreme being out there that I don't know about? There's no evidence for such a thing! When there is evidence, I will consider it. Until then I am happy to admit that I do not believe in gods because there is simply no evidence for gods. Gods don't have to be disproven; there is no evidence to prove them!

Atheism is not a religion. Many so-called 'middle-of-the-roaders' love to come to this site and preach their religioin through veiled liberalism. Calling atheism a religioin just shows how biased you really are, and how little you know of atheism. I've said it before, I'll say it again: atheism is not a religion. It is a lack of belief in a theistic system. NOTHING MORE.

Where people go after that is up to them. Communism, secular humanism . . . none of these things really has anything to do with atheism. Any extremism attributed to communism (fascism) or humanism (posthumanism) or even environmentalism (PETA, anyone?) can only be attributed to those beliefs, not to atheism. People are not communist because they are atheist, nor are people secular because they are atheist. Atheism is atheism, Stephen, and atheism cannot be extreme or close-minded. Atheism has no set of core values, no texts to misinterpret.

Christianity, on the other hand . . .

AtheistToothFairy said...

Stephen_Richard_Webb wrote:
Those who say there is no god and believe in the scientific method need to realize that the existence of god has yet to be proven false as well
----
Stephen,

Nice try, but, just how many gods would you suggest that science set out to try and disprove?

Should mainstream science also waste tremendous resources on disproving every supernatural belief that some person dreams up to?
Such niche passions would be for better suited for someone like James Randi, not the scientific world in general.

It's obvious that gods have been invented from human desires and their fear of the unknown, throughout history, and not from any empirical evidence that preceded those desired beliefs.

If evidence for any human suggested god being, requires science to go digging through mountains of hearsay evidence, wishful thinking and so forth, then obviously such a god being doesn't give a hoot about us.
So why would anyone choose to believe in such a 'hidden' god then, if there is no human benefit for doing so?

If there is a god somewhere that gives a damn about people, then 'it' should make itself very well known, with far more evidence than rumors and books penned by the hand-of-man.

So that said Stephen, tell me what advantage there is to believe in a god who can't be proven to exist?

If some god is real, and CARES, then I'm SURE we won't have to work very hard to prove that this god is of our reality, wouldn't you agree?


ATF (Who doesn't think middle-of-the-road stances, are always a good thing)