Sunday, August 28, 2011

(Un)holy Sunday

You know, I'm supposed to be in church right now. Don't get me wrong, I'm still as areligious as ever, but I had actually been looking forward to accompanying a couple of cute Mormon gals to their church this Sunday just to see what a Mormon service is like. It sort of fell through because of an unexpected schedule conflict.

And the tally is: 3 Christians, 2 Mormons, 2 Jehovah's Witnesses, 1 Muslim, and 1 Catholic.
I still don't believe in the god as described and ascribed by the religions, but I do get curious about those who do every now and then. Lately I seem to run into many more religious ads on television and even on the internet than ever before. Practically every couple of videos I view on Youtube are now preceded by an 'I'm a Mormon!' ads, and every time I go out on the town I come home with at least one Christian evangelical pamphlet. The photo above shows the religious pamphlets handed to me in the period of 2 weeks. I must look like a prime target or something! Smiley

On a more serious note (since it's Sunday after all and a very hot one at that), I do admire the genuine goodwill behind the evangelization attempts -- with the caveat in that the attempts aren't too persistent or done in poor taste. The folks that handed me those pamphlets above were quite decent and were fine with taking 'No, thanks,' for an answer. But then there also are other types of evangelicals evangelizing today who aren't as harmless to have around. You know, the type that wear 'Jesus Died For You!' (you sh*tty ungrateful bast@#$*!) t-shirt who barricade the entrance of non-religious events and shout their pitch at other people from their speakerphone.

Lest you think I'm exaggerating, it ain't fun having to walk past stuff like this while going to a concert. They were blocking the only way in and out of the venue!
Jesus didn't die for me. He probably didn't even want to die in the first place. He got executed! To be honest, had he managed to not get executed after being condemned to death by the Roman procurator, that would have made this story of him being supernatural a lot more convincing. And even if I were to take it as fact that he thought he was dying for me, I'm still not grateful because; first off the act was misguided in a very megalomaniacal manner; and secondly, any god worth worshiping wouldn't allow any innocent to be blamed for the crime that someone else committed in the first place. None of us are guilty of the sin of Adam & Eve (which, basically, is the sin of being). And there is no justice in allowing people to get away with murder and other crimes simply because they claim that an innocent man is willing to take the blame for them. That sort of thinking is injustice in disguise as a sheep.

That said of the religious, there are also some wacky 'militant atheists' out there who can't seem to find more constructive things to do in life than to go around trash-talking at any religious people they can get in the face of. I can understand getting frustrated by the organized churches' attempt to turn countries into theocracies and the unending attempts by a couple of religions to misrepresent their faith as something that ought to be taught in science classroom at our school, but a few of these militant atheists are actually going around baiting religious people who are just minding their own business. Fervor isn't natural to atheism or skepticism. You've better take care and remember how attachment to fixed idea can warp even atheism into something as religious as religions themselves. Remember the Soviet Union??? That place was as bad as any theocracy there ever was. 

Anyhow, hopefully I'll get another church date with the Mormon gals in a few weeks (I'm out of town so much this summer my bed hardly even recognizes me anymore). They were quite good about discussing what their doctrine is about and didn't seem to mind my many questions. I'm afraid they haven't been able to analyze their religious positions from outside the box yet (and I'm easily tired by circular reasoning, being impatient and always wanting to get somewhere before the ice-cream is all melted), so our conversations go a bit awkward after a while. I'm not trying to turn these gals from their religion. I'm the one being evangelized to, remember? I just wish that people would do more theological homework before going out trying to convert someone else to their way of thinking. But then I did that and that quite resulted in me not believing in any religion anymore... So there you go. smiley #8886


Andrei Bolkonsky said...

Hello Smorgy

By golly, that is a very large number of evangelists indeed!!! I don't even come across that many in a year!

I'm surprised that you were planning to check out a Mormon church. But then, I would be curious too.

I find that some of the over-eager young ones get all panicky when you tell them that something that they're quoting actually means something else, and then they go away all confused.

Best regards from Melbourne. We are having lovely Spring weather over here!!

Smorg said...

Hiya Andrei,
Now you make me want to move to Australia again. :oD It hadn't always been this way here, actually. I used to only run into one or two actively evangelizing church folks every month or two. Lately, though, they seem to be storming the town.

The Mormons used to only do quiet evangelizing, sending missionaries to do house-to-house stuff (the Jehovah's Witnesses still do that). Now they're practically blitzing the media with tv and internet ads. The local Christian churches tend to camp out at the major public transport transits, so I run into them quite often. I rarely get approached by Muslims at all, and haven't run into any Sikh since I moved away from downtown San Diego (the last time I ran into one the nice gal gave me a free copy of the Bhagavad Gita and kept asking me to drop by for free dinners at their temple in Pacific Beach. Really nice folks, though they're rather strict vegetarians). The Buddhists seem content to just leave their booklets at some local Asian markets for you to pick up if you feel like it. A lot of those are in Chinese, though... One of these days I've got to try to learn Mandarin. :o(

Thanks so much for stopping by! Hope Melbourne is being pleasant and musical! :oD

Anonymous said...

You are obviously in a thoughtful and reflective mood just now, Smorgy. I'm really glad that someone such as your good self, takes the time to put down thoughts of this nature as it is an aspect that many of us neglect. I also read with interest your post on becoming areligious a while back. I only wish I had the motivation/expertise with words/other stuff, to write thoughtful articles like these. Ah well. Some of us must learn from others.

Smorg said...

Hiya Eyes,
I guess I was in a reflective mood indeed. Those Mormon gals sort of reminded me of myself in my teenage evangelical Christian years... Though even back then I could contemplate what I thought 'god' was. My block was that I didn't think out the connection (or the lack thereof) from that 'god' to the credibility of the bible/church.

What really struck me when I talked to the gals was that when I asked them to describe exactly what they thought 'god' was they were stuck on the 'God is your father and he loves you' line. It's nice and comfy, but it doesn't tell me anything. :o( They might as well have been saying that 'Ooud is your father, and he loves you'...

And you're too kind! :o) Sometimes I think I write about too many different stuff here and probably turn a lot of people off for it, but I'm too lazy to open multiple blogs and specializing them to specific topics. :oP I'm learning a lot reading your blog and listening to all the wonderful quiz as well! You have a gift for teaching, I think. I love how you encourage your readers to explore and come up with the answers on our own. That reminds me of my favorite math prof in college. :oD He was willing to slow the pace and only give hints to allow the kids to work it all out. I miss that dude. :o)

Thanks a bunch for stopping by. Hope your week is going well!

Anonymous said...

Well - teaching has been a large part of my career, including children with Special Needs. But probably the most challenging group is an amateur men's chorus. Bless them. They can learn the notes but when the book goes down then we are in trouble and then .... ask them to move around and ( heaven forbid ) dance or march and generally chaos ensues and I have to plead with directors to adjust their expectations!! In a musical context it is really true what they say about men and multitasking :)

Georg said...

Bonjour Smorgy,

You wrote there a really thoughtful post and you managed to do this in a really pleasant manner.

Not so long ago I read somewhere that the United States are as religious as Pakistan or Iran. An astonishing statement but could be there is some truth to this.

When I open my blog, on the upper portion I find a place to click called "next blog". I did this and was quite astonished that about 3 of 5 blogs were "Jesus praisers", so the above statement might be true.

As to the Mormon service, oh yes, I would like to see that, too, especially when being accompanied by two friendly girls.

Keep up the good work, Smorgy.


Andrei Bolkonsky said...

Hello Smorgy

You'd be welcome in Melbourne any time. We just got listed as the World's Most Liveable City!!!!! Woohoo!!!

I actually do see Mormons and 7th Day adventists around, it's just that they don't talk to me.

Best regards from Melbourne

Smorg said...

Hiya Eyes: Ha! But then men don't have to multi-task much when there are women around, ay? ;oD Opera fans are usually too busy watching the gals anyhow, and hopefully won't notice how the chorus guys are setting the stage on fire with the candles...

Hallo Georgy: Thanks very much for compliments! There's a fine line I like to walk on indeed, especially on touchy subjects like religion. Hopefully I'll manage to stick to specific issues and not generalize too much. It seems a lot of time religious/philosophy discussion turn awry when someone starts generalizing and putting up strawmen instead of addressing what the other side actually states.

I don't think the USA is as religious as places like Iran and its neighbors... though it is probably more religious than most of us are comfortably with, the religious folks included (because most of them, I think, don't approve of the other religions contributing to the USA's religiosity).

It speaks volume when every single American political candidate is compelled to portray his/herself as religious (if 'personally' rather than evangelical). Not publicly asserting that one belongs to a church or not saying 'God bless America' at the end of each speech is akin to commiting a political suicide here. I don't know which is worse for public figures here; being a closeted atheist or being a closeted Muslim or Buddhist or Sikh or Hindu, etc. Either way, if you aren't a 'Christian', you are still practically unelectable in the USA... and that is sad. :o(

Privet Andrei: Perhaps you don't look as blatantly atheist as I do? ;oD Seriously, though, I guess I smile too easily and that encourages people to talk to me in real life. It's a blessing and a curse; a blessing because I like listening a lot more than I like talking, a curse because it gets tiring after a while listening to all sort of things I have no interest in at all. :oP

Melbourne is definitely on my bucket list of places to see before the sickle-weilding horseman catches up with me. Will be sure to let you know when I do get to go. :oD

Smorg said...

Ha! The week started well. The Mormon gals are coming over for lunch Thursday, and will take me to their church Sunday... if they survive my cooking once more, of course. :oD

On the menu... egg sandwiches (you didn't really expect fancier stuff, did you?).

Andrei Bolkonsky said...

I thought it would be a grilled cheese sandwich, so that's slightly higher than my expectations.