Sunday, September 26, 2010

The Church of the Fremont Courtyard

Another Sunday morning passes with my barely noticing. The patina of quiescent silence has settled upon the red-brick neighborhood, which I assume indicates how well the people around me beat the drum last night. My lady and I did not "step out," as they used to say. We stayed in, and watched a film. Aside from a panic attack and a modicum of existential angst, it was a fine evening.

And lorazepam kept the 3 in the morning thoughts away, by rendering me asleep.

The courtyard below my window is like an empty playground. Children frequently create quite a din of yelling and laughing, and making noises that confuse the two. Right now, despite a lovely day, albeit cloudy, they are absent. I'm enjoying it. Something on television, or perhaps they are at church.

I've no use for church, myself. There is no god, of that I'm certain. Some people in my life, people I respect, have chosen a belief in Christ and have earnestly tried to relate their enthusiasm to me. My spiritual exploration of the world led me to a very different place. Not a place of melancholy and a lack of moral scruples as some religious folks are wont to say. The unseen magnetic power that guides my moral compass is empathy, which leads to compassion. Mahayana Buddhism is beautiful to me in how it celebrates compassion, more so than any other religion on Earth. But one doesn't need a magic show to know that compassion should guide us all. It is logical.

Christianity has its own pulchritude, but I find it to be a hateful religion, as it is used by Christians. The Beatitudes strike me as elegant and alluring, and the Sermon on the Mount. But too much of this religion is used as a cudgel against gays, women, and most of the world that is not Christian but something else. And the political agenda of many Christians sickens me, although it would be unfair to label all that way. Many Socialist friends of mine, enlightened and kind, embrace Jesus Christ.

The biggest mistake theists make is that they assume too much of non-believers. That we haven't looked for god, that we are not listening carefully to the voice of the almighty, presumably blowing in the trees and glistening off the water on a sunny day. I've listened and looked for god with a quiet, open mind, and I reject any possibility that a Christian god exists. I won't go into why.

One reason that I feel such animosity towards Christianity goes back to my volunteer work at an abortion clinic some years ago. My job was to escort, and shield, women from the verbal attacks of good Christians outside the clinic. I'll never forget the bravery of the women who ran that gauntlet. Who were called murderers, sluts, cunts, bitches, whores and who were sometimes threatened with violence. As in, "I know where you live." That sort of thing is unforgivable to me. To harass a young woman who is already afraid and upset and simply looking for advice (few were actually getting an abortion, many were getting counseling to help make decisions).

For that, and a thousand other reasons, I've had my fill. There are a lot of good Christians, motivated by compassion. Just not enough. Too many are cruel hypocrites and bullies. Why would I embrace a group that has vigorously worked to make so many of my dear friends miserable? Gays, for example, are told that they are an "abomination." I have many gay Christian friends, some of whom are married. They are generally kinder, more tolerant and more thoughtful than the heterosexual Christians I know.

Christianity simply comes at too high a price. Not worth it, by a long shot. There are beautiful aspects, but it's ugly overall. I prefer this quiet Sunday morning, with the wind in the trees, to any dogma. If there is a god, he or she or it is available to everyone, and can be found in nature and the eyes of a loved one. Not in so many small, bigoted minds. Cruel fools who use god as a weapon. A wedge. It is they who need to listen. To the cries of pain their bigotry causes, to the hateful message.

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