Friday, 26 December 2008

Jingle Bells, Batman smells...

So, Christmas has come and gone once more. Frankly, I'm glad. Now before I sound like a humbug, I don't really object to Christmas as such. I'm just glad when it's out of the way. I've spent most of the festive season drinking Caucasians and watching films. All three Jurassic Parks, The Muppet Christmas Carol, Scorpion King, E.T., Home Alone, and Supertroopers, to name a few. I've also eaten a lot of turkey, of course.

Other than that it's been pretty quiet. Went to my sister's house on Christmas Day for dinner, and spent most of my time there playing with my nephew's radio control helicopter. It actually flies! You can't control it at all, and it's clearly going to end up taking someone's eye out - but it's a lot of fun.

Present-wise I did pretty well. Got the Dark Knight and Batman Begins on DVD, a live album from Joe Bonamassa, who I mentioned on here recently, a slow cooker for my kitchen, and a new hoody, to keep me nice and warm. My favourite present though has to go to my new t-shirt, which looks very much like this:

Ain't it a beauty?

In other news, I tried to trim my beard the other day, had a little accident, and ended up having to get rid of the whole thing. Never mind, hair grows, as Sabrina the Teenage Witch's annoying mate once kept repeating.

Anyway, hope all of you had a lovely Christmas, and enjoy your New Year celebrations. Until 2009 (unless I think of something else to say), I'm out.

Friday, 19 December 2008

On God, Sin, and Morality

Yeah, I know, I haven't posted here in ages. Whatever, I do what I want!

Anyway, I was stirred out of my non-blogging funk the other day, when someone presented me with the pressing need to have a good old-fashioned rant. So here it is:

I was accosted by a person the other day, who completely unprovoked and with no knowledge of my life, thoughts, or deeds, declared me to be a sinner, an immoral person, and told me I was bound for Hell.

Normally, this kind of thing washes over my head. If someone thinks I'm going to Hell, fine. Personally, I don't believe in Hell, and in fact, archaeologists (and my old priest, Father David) say that when the Bible says that after you die you go to a place full of fire and brimstone, it means it literally - there was a place outside Jerusalem where "unclean" bodies were burned, to prevent the spread of disease. Personally, I'm fully behind the idea that so long as it doesn't harm anyone else, people should be able to believe and do whatever they like. I have friends who are Christian, Hindu, Sikh, and Jehovah's Witnesses; and I've never had a problem with any of them or their beliefs.

What got me on this occasion however, was the assertion that if I don't follow the Bible and its teachings, I am therefore an "immoral" person. Immoral, as in not in conformity with accepted principles of right and wrong behaviour. Excuse my language here, but what the fuck does that have to do with believing in God? The implication here is that even if I live a life of complete morality, because I don't believe in the Christian God, I get an eternity of torture?! That seems a bit much, and I'm pretty sure that's not really the view that most Christians have.

I thought about suggesting that maybe being moral because you were afraid of the consequences in the afterlife is in fact not so much morality as selfishness. I thought about pointing out that arriving at your own set of morals and sticking to them, not because you believe a higher power told you to, but because you believe that people deserve (on the whole) to be treated fairly and with respect, makes you more moral, if anything. I even, for a moment, thought about pointing out that judging me as immoral based on what I do or don't believe rather than how I act is downright prejudiced and goes against (again) what most Christians believe.

But I didn't, I bit my tongue. I understand that Christians are told to "spread the word of God". My mother is a Christian, and I'm confirmed, not because I believe in God, but because when I was baptised my mother promised God that she would ensure that I got confirmed. While to me that's a promise to nobody, to my mother it means a lot, and I respect that, and went through with the process. I still occasionally attend church with my mother, at Christmas time usually. I don't do the proclamation of faith ("I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, maker of Heaven and Earth, who for us men and for our salvation, came down.." - see, I paid attention in Sunday School), because that would be disrespectful and patronising, but I'm there. So I understand why this person felt the need to try to convince me that the Christian life is the way forward. However, I don't see why he would feel the need to be so fucking rude about it.

I've read a lot of the Bible, I've read some of the Koran, and a bit of the Talmud. I've flicked through copies of the Watchtower, read Richard Dawkins, and studied Taoism and Buddhism. I don't believe that there is a God, but I would describe myself as a non-theist, rather than an atheist - someone with the convictions of an atheist, but the evidence-based approach of an agnostic. None of this makes me a good or bad person. I'd like to think I do alright. I hold the door open for people, buy drinks for girls even if I don't want to sleep with them, smile at old people on the streets, and rarely kill babies.

This guy however, judges someone as worthy of an eternity of torture based on one single question: "Are you a Christian?" Try replacing the word Christian with "white person", or "heterosexual", and see how far you get with that argument. I'm a decent person, as I'm sure you'll agree. That guy, however, was a prick.