The Wheel of Masks (yulicorn) wrote,
The Wheel of Masks

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Onward Heathen Soldiers

I've seen quite a few affirmations like this from the conservative Christians within a few degrees of separation from me. And I think it's time for me to make a similar declaration.

Needless to say, if you are a Christian and it has never been a wedge between you and me before, it's not necessarily going to become one now, especially if you're one of those evil wishy-washy quisling liberal Christians. ;p I realize "Christian" is a very wide category. (Quakers, especially, seem to keep showing up on my side of politics. ^_^ ) I still like most of what Christianity has to say about basic love, forbearance, and compassion. And I am enormously grateful to my Christian friends whose faith in God's plan is broad enough to encompass True Love between a wayward rat and vixen.

But let's put it this way: If you really believe in Christian morality -- not just the admirable precepts of "love your God and love your neighbor," but all the moralistic baggage about the fundamental evilness of this world and all its pleasures, I will be working at explicit and intentional cross-purposes to you for the rest of my life. I would be happy to help an "immoral", worldly society triumph if it lived up to my own ethical values -- even to the point of bearing arms for it -- and I will not pretend otherwise. [Edit: I would rather have our worlds co-exist, of course. I'm militant precisely to the extent other people's militancy forces my hand. I'd be fine living alongside a Christianity that leaves me the hell alone. I think Christianity is in error, but I can tolerate that error.] If you can't deal with that, well... even culture war is hell. If you don't feel even a little conflicted about the Church's position on homosexual romance, not even when you hear me moon over what a wonderful person postrodent is and how happy we are together... kiss me goodbye. (No, not on the pointy end.)

And let's make one thing perfectly clear while we're here: you don't even necessarily have to support gay marriage. I actually still have a bit of sympathy for the opinion that this is a social change being forced upon American society way too quickly. But if you think that my relationship with postrodent is wrong in any way for being same-sex... especially if you believe it's no more than a mental illness or genetic aberration and we'd be better off if it were "corrected"... no, I'm afraid you and I really can't be friends. You're lucky I don't box your ears. I have the right to choose my company, and I enthusiastically unchoose yours. "Gee, I'm sorry, Rosa, but I do think your kind belong at the back of the bus, and I'm sure you'll respect my beliefs. I hope we're still on for Bridge next Tuesday." >_< "Loving the sinner" is patronizing nonsense, too. If the "sin" you speak of is "falling in love," I am quite disgusted with you.

I am finding I am indeed becoming somewhat anti-Christian. The more I find myself on the opposite side of the fence from them, it's getting harder and harder to see traditional Christians as people I can co-exist peaceably with. Let's face it -- some of the things the Bible says are utter anathema to me. I think they're, dare I say it, immoral. Christianity holds that there's an ultimate Arbiter of good and evil and Its will has been made known; if somebody thinks that the best things in my worldview are among those this Arbiter has condemned as "evil," there's really not much room for accommodation, compromise, or even friendship, is there? How can "the things you cherish most must never, ever be allowed to prevail" ever be anything but fighting words?! Why should I pretend tolerance towards those who hold tolerance as a sin?

I'm for just about everything conservative Christianity is against. I believe pleasure is good, and forbidding pleasure is no substitute for learning to give and take pleasure maturely. I believe morality can and should change to accommodate the real needs of real people, not flow from an ancient, unchanging text. I think humans should feel free to alter any condition of their existence, so long as they do it with wisdom, compassion, and restraint. I believe anyone who thinks they have an ultimate answer to a metaphysical question is fooling themselves. I think anyone who thinks they'll be helping others by making them live by their own Ultimate Answer must be quite ignorant of human history, and all the pain such crusaders have caused. I think it's impossible to divine a single, clear, absolute meaning from a text, especially from a muddle like the Bible. I believe that conservative Christianity is holding back necessary progress in social experimentation. I think the nuclear family is not an ideal configuration. I believe conservative Christianity is the backbone of a naive ruralism that favors tradition and faith over open debate and healthy doubt, and I blame that in large part for our current political climate.

I believe any belief that's regularly transmitted from generation to generation without serious intellectual examination, especially if it carries a threat of punishment if it's not followed, should be treated with extreme mistrust. I believe Richard Dawkins has offered one of the best-ever explanations of Christianity: it thrives not because it is true, but because it is cunningly engineered to exploit human psychology. I think there is no such thing as God, as any monotheist religion would recognize It. I think the man known as Christ died, was buried, and rotted away like the rest of us. I believe much of the Bible's narrative makes sense only in a pre-rational society and modern science renders it utterly useless as anything but allegory. I think the conservative Christian worldview is factually incorrect, utterly contradicted by common sense and perception, and typically hangs on a thick web of rationalization and psychological need for certitude. I find it absurd that I have to deal regularly with people who call contemporary literary theory "lunacy" but still believe in evil spirits. (I also find it maddening that I've lost arguments with some of them. Of course, I'd probably lose an argument with Archimedes Plutonium, or any other fanatic. :p )

Bluntly put, I think that if Christianity were no longer a force in the world -- if it were replaced by the secular humanistic ethics in which I believe (and not the pale, insulting shadow of them scorned by the Lew Rockwell crowd) -- my life in America, possibly everyone's lives, would be substantially better. I might be able to take a simple walk naked in the sun, with the body nature gave me, without fear of arrest or opprobrium. I might be able to have my spiritual union with Postrodent recognized as the harmless, mature, beautiful thing it is. I might be able to explore my consciousness without the threat of imprisonment. I might be able to buy booze on a freakin' Sunday. I might not have to fear for the lives of my transgendered friends, because I would not be living in a society obsessed with the "naturalness" of biological gender.

I wish with every ounce of my being that the pagans had triumphed at Merry Mount, and not the Puritans1. And if it comes down to a second battle, I will fight with every ounce of my being to render this nation something other than a Christian one, because it is increasingly obvious that that which makes this nation Christian is also that which makes it hostile towards the things I love. If I could eliminate Christianity without bloodshed or coercion, and replace it with something better adapted to the modern human condition, I would do it in a heartbeat. [Edit: On further reflection, what I want to fight for is a society where Christianity is not an authority.]

I just can't say it any other way: I am so very, very glad I am no longer Christian. No other single act has fulfilled me so very throughly, has opened up so many opportunities for joy, has resolved so many self-induced psychological issues, as renouncing what for me was a stifling and parasitic belief system.

1 Speaking figuratively, of course. AFAIK, there was no real incident at Merrymount in the American colonies as described by Hawthorne.
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