As I drive to work I see dozens of cars with Christian bumper stickers and fish symbols, and at times it strikes me how amazing that is. A man lived 2000 years ago and died. Some other people wrote stories about that man and a religion grew. And here we are, 2000 years later, and for $6.99 I can buy a gold plastic fish to honor this man. Who is dead.
I think of all those people who spent this morning talking and reading and listening and spending time attempting to communicate to a man who is dead. Buried. Decomposed and his atoms are now integrated into the rest of the world. I pass by church after church that spent millions of dollars to build and operate all because of one man who doesn’t hear a word they say. Because he is dead.
I recall the governments that were raised and wars fought, and ideologies imposed. The families that are torn apart, friends divided, people that refuse to speak to each other for decades. Because of their belief in a man who died 2000 years ago. Just died. He is not in heaven. He is not looking down. He is not something to be prayed to. He is dead.
It truly boggles my mind to think of all the money spent—Billions, even Trillions, all for the approval of this man. Who is simply…dead. It is sad and troubling to contemplate on the hours spent and the relationships destroyed over a corpse that does not care if we ate fish on Fridays. Or whether “damn” is a bad word. Yet as we look about us, and start tallying the numbers it becomes almost scary to scrutinize how much effort is being placed in a dead man.
As we all know, last Thursday a Hindu gave the opening prayer in the U.S. Senate. And, as we also know, some conservative Christians shouted out statements to disrupt the prayer, with the intent to glorify Jesus. Some other Christians support this action.
In the grand scheme of the universe, a prayer, or its content before the Senators of the United States got down to the serious business of screwing the American Taxpayer is quite meaningless. Whether it was interrupted by an elephant passing gas, or words shouted by a counter-religion is equally meaningless.
I reflected on these protesters. I don’t know anything about them, but I can imagine they are quite normal people. Hold normal jobs. Dress appropriately at the appropriate events. Attend their friends’ graduation parties. People that would be aghast if I appeared in their church in a bathing suit, or disrupted a wedding with catcalls of “Way to go, Bud! Knock ‘er up on the first night!”
I’ll bet I could pass those same people in various situations 99 times out of 100 and not even give a passing thought as to their behavior. But for one instance—that moment in the Senate, these people decided to break the decorum and become disruptive. Something they would never conceive of doing at any other time and would be shocked at anyone else doing the same.
Why? Because of belief in a guy who is dead. A corpse.
What makes people willing to do these things? Because they believe they have a God-Mandate. A calling and order from a higher source than the U.S. Senate.
Imagine you were a government agent. And you were secretly ordered by the President of the United States to do everything in your power to stop a local village from passing an ordinance. What do you care if you are ridiculed? Some day it will come out that you were acting on orders of the President and will receive all the glory. What if you are arrested? So what—the President will provide a pardon and explain.
This is exactly what was going through the protestors’ minds. They don’t care about being arrested or ridiculed. They picture Jesus, smiling and nodding at them, with a very, VERY severe frown at the Senators. They envision that someday, Jesus calling them special up to the throne, and in front of all the Congress, and all the press, and all the people that disagreed with them and at that moment Jesus will praise them. In fact, the more people jeer them; the louder they believe Jesus will applaud them. The more they are “persecuted” for doing what Jesus wants, the more Jesus will give them crowns of glory.
While the thought of the sums paid in adoration of a dead guy boggles my mind, the eagerness to act upon a perceived mandate of a dead guy scares me. This is truly a terrifying prospect.
I often waffle between the ideas of whether Christianity is more beneficial than harmful. Christianity certainly provides a convenient opportunity for charitable giving, as well as giving people a belief that is comforting. I find it hard to work up concern over the fact that the basis of those benefits is a person who is dead.
But when I see people—normal, rationale people—that are willing to perform all sorts of actions on the conviction that a dead guy has given them approval over all other forms of decency and propriety—well, it is hard to see the benefit in that.
We see people willing to disrupt a government, people willing to disrupt funerals, people eager to be rude, hateful, spiteful and people willing to even kill—all based upon the belief that “someday” Jesus will smile upon these actions with a stamp of approval. A belief that a God, mind you, is backing them with full support no matter what some puny humans may protest.
Look—Jesus is dead. I am sorry to be the one to tell you. Yes, I know about all those other people acting like he is not, and all those funds spent based upon the conviction he is not, and all the effort and time utilized with the underpinning that he is not. Yet, even with all that—he is dead. A Corpse. He is not smiling upon certain actions, nor frowning on others. He is not happy you bought a plastic fish, or mad you didn’t eat a real one. He is most adamantly NOT approving certain actions like what those protestors did in the Senate.
Amazingly many Christians will agree with me that Jesus does not approve of certain actions done in his name. In fact, they believe he IS approving their DISapproval in what others claim he IS approving! And we enter the fascinating world of people bickering over what a dead guy supports!
I don’t recommend you contemplate too long on all the things being done in search of approval of a dead guy. It both boggles and horrifies.
Online Reading List
- An Outline of Intellectual Rubbish by Bertrand Russell (1943)
- Bible Teaching and Religious Practice by Mark Twain
- God is Imaginary
- Is there an Artificial God? by Douglas Adams (1998)
- Skeptics Annotated Bible
- The Age of Reason by Thomas Paine (1795)
- Which Way? by Robert Ingersoll (1884).
- Why I Am Not A Christian by Bertrand Russell (1927)