Monday, June 11, 2007
God as a Button You Push---a Tr-th
What you are about to read is hardly well-written or complete, but I thought I'd throw it out there. Let's say you're at a party. A big one, and you don't know everyone by a long shot. Not the most thrilling shindig you've been to, but, come to think of it, you really don't have anyplace else to go, and couldn't imagine where you'd go if you left. And you've been there forever, but the party's got enough to keep you going back to the buffet and to the bar, and there are plenty of folks to chat and interact with.
We've all been to such parties. The wine isn't great, but it ain't bad. Such a big party. Jazz music in the living room. Vintage honky-tonk on a boom box in the backyard garden, where people laugh and slap their calves against the mosquitoes. But for some reason you'd like to be out of the party. You'd like to be anyplace but here. You could make a scene. You could throw something from the balcony, potato salad maybe, onto the folks on the patio. You could scream, set the toilet paper roll on fire, be the person that kills the party for everyone else, but why? It's a party, and others are having fun, and that in itself makes the party enjoyable for you, if you think about it; even though you aren't currently talking to someone, are strolling about, looking at the photographs on the wall in the hallway, inspecting the freshly-dusted tchotchkes in the corner cabinet on the landing, hearing various people making unsubtle advances toward others in other rooms as you smooth out the rumpled runner. You're there and the wine is free and the cheeseball is only half gone, shedding its slivered almonds.
It's been a topic I've mulled over a bit in the past couple of years, but recent reading has brought it back from the backest of burners. It's the idea held in more than one religious camp that the final judgment, or the final rapture, or instantaneous transport to Paradise, the big end of the party, is a matter of placing the right events to come to pass in particular order. I am hardly an expert in these matters, but the opinion of certain experts is horrifying.
I'd read earlier someplace about a faction of Christian conservatives--here in the United States, among other places, and they aren't poor or uninfluential--that are actively [yet quietly] lobbying against peace in the Middle East. The reason? Peace in the Middle East, from their particular theological perspective, will get one nowhere toward the Final Judgment. According to scripture, the Jews need to be returned to Jerusalem, and not in a way that makes them good neighbors with people of other faiths next door. Returning the Jews to Jerusalem is one step in some ideologies toward ending things early. Jews and Muslims need to fight each other on a particular field of Megiddo, and with that accomplished, they have one of the fiery hoops one must set up and light in order to activate (surely there can be no other word) God to start His own rule, whereupon those that orchestrated this great slaughter on a patch of sand in the desert will expect to step to the front of the line for the Pearly Gates.
Of course, this is hardly the only example I could include here. The stories are easily available on the Interweb. Further examples of religion used as a wall or a weapon instead of a bridge or personal solace. God as a trigger, as a button one can push, once the stipulations have been fulfilled, to bring about the end of the world and give one Gold Star Status in the starry sky of a final reward. As if salvation can't occur any other way. As if God doesn't have a memory. An ultimately selfish, and therefore fatally flawed, bid toward heaven. People of faith, who proclaim to hold God above all things, reduce, in their arrogance, in the letter of the law as opposed to the spirit of it, that very God into nothing more than an ancient mechanism, the potential energy that only a certain Rube Goldberg device (we've seen it in how many different action films of the past 15 years?) will enable to turn into kinetic energy to end the party, to transcend the party, to obliterate the party with another reality that isn't certain, but is certain only in one's faith that it will be. And in that reality one's enemies, whoever they are, will be obliterated, and one's compatriots, whoever they are, will all be spared, and the party can continue, on a different floor in a new building, with no uncertainty as to scruples or social dicta. This is the big After-Party in the sky, in the VIP lounge, where the drinks (not necessarily alcoholic, if that is forbidden) are all free, and the laughing goes on and on, and no irritating song ever comes up on the iPod mix...
Linkage action forthcoming..