Dear Pathetic Bob,
I am filled with despair. I can make no sense of all the trouble and tragedy going on in the world. Life seems meaningless. To gain some hope and understanding, I am considering joining a religion. Can you suggest a religion that would help me?
Desperately Seeking Sense
You know, I’m supposed to be an advice columnist. So, I don’t mind that much when people write and complain about how their boyfriend or girlfriend likes to wear Mickey Mouse ears or diapers during romantic interludes, or that they bitch about how their wives’ or husbands’ family members like to taunt salmon when they are visiting, but your metaphysical whining makes me wish I’d gone into another occupation, such as phlegm extraction. However, the cheap bastards here at the newspaper won’t pay me unless I answer your question, so let me begin with a quote by the Nobel Prize winning American physicist Steven Weinberg:
“With or without religion, you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion.”
In other words, Desperately, there is no religion that is best for you. Life is meaningless in and of itself; it is you who adds value to it, not religion. Religion adds guilt, shame, dogma, sexual subjugation, intolerance, ignorance, and a lot of unnecessary death to the human experience. Religion has nothing to do with a God; it has everything to do with control. It’s a sure bet that no matter what god or goddess you feel is the big Kahuna, religion has co-opted him or her for personal gain and power. I live in a house with two humans, one of us is an atheist and the other is not. We seem to tolerate each other pretty well and don’t try to tell the other one what they should believe, nor do we bicker about the bullshit our friends believe. We are both assholes, but at least we are assholes who know they are assholes, so we try to be reasonable assholes. I think there may be many people like this, people who believe tolerance is the best policy, but when I look at how screwed up the world is, I also believe there are a hell of a lot more people that have been infected with a deadly strain of religious virus. I’ve also got to say there are a lot of atheists out there who seem just as intolerant as religious fanatics. All of you should tone it down and stop acting like soccer fans.
About right now, you are probably saying, “Jeez, all I wanted was a religious recommendation, and Pathetic Bob seems to be preaching to me; what’s up with that?” If you are asking yourself that, here is the answer: No, I am not preaching to you. I am simply reminding you what an asshole you are.
The number-one thing you can do to help yourself with the confusion about what religion you should join is to realize religion doesn’t solve problems; it exacerbates them. Religion seems to be all form and no substance. If you really think your god cares if you wear a burka or a bikini, a yarmulke or a nun’s habit, a beard or a nose ring, a suit and tie or a ball and chain, you are an asshole. If a religion teaches you that you have to spill blood (human, sheep, goat, or other animal) to make your god happy, it is a fucked-up religion. If anyone in a church asks you for a “love offering” or a “prayer offering,” you are in a religious scam, not a relationship with your god. Heed the advice of the late, great Lenny Bruce, “If a man says he is a man of God and owns more than two suits, he’s a con man.”
If you are one of the assholes who doesn’t know he’s an asshole and simply must belong to a group that depends on an imaginary friend for guidance, I suggest you use the following checklist in your search.
1. Does their God or Goddess kill or maim people because of what they eat, wear, say, or do?
2. Does their God or Goddess require blood, money or virgins as weekly dues?
3. Is the group’s leader the only one who can understand and interpret the language and meaning of the God or Goddess?
4. If you spank the monkey will the God or Goddess blind you?
5. Will the God or Goddess return your calls?
6. Does membership require you to participate in rituals such as symbolically (or actually) eating a dead body, drinking blood, mutilating yourself, bowing down and chanting a number of times each day, or handling snakes?
7. Does the group claim their God or Goddess can heal people yet he or she can never seem to grow back an amputee’s leg?
8. Does the group claim it is your nature to sin then gives you shit if you do?
9. Do the men in the group hold all the power?
10. Does the group believe if you follow all their rules, you’ll receive some fabulous prizes—after you’re dead?
If you answer, “yes” to all the questions except number 5, the group is probably not for you…unless you are a masochist. I’m sorry, Desperately, but shit happens, and it’s going to keep happening over and over again. It’s called “nature,” and no invisible person can cause it or stop it. It’s up to you to deal with it. Look to nature for what you should do. Humans have strayed so far away from nature they don’t even realize that they are part of it. You will find all the answers you seek in the trees, animals, water, winds, fire, mountains, and sky if you will only shut the fuck up and look and listen. That’s pretty much it.