Tuesday, November 21, 2006

More brilliant furniture: This time, it's a chair that converts to a table, using the same technology as a rolltop desk.

Meanwhile, I've been thinking lots of heavy thoughts about religion, largely, I think, because I've been running across a lot of religious books at work. And also because I got a new Flying Spaghetti Monster Gelaskin. Bertrand Russel used to compare a belief in God to a belief in a giant teapot the size of the Earth on the opposite side of the sun. Neither was provable or disprovable, but both were equally ridiculous.

That always bugged me, though, because no one ever quit drinking and cleaned up their life because of a giant teapot on the other side of the sun. Christianity as it currently exists marries Eastern compassion and introspection to Western individualism and drive to change things, combined with the Rabbinical tradition of scholarship and inquiry, and the impact on history was unmistakeable. And I can't escape the fact that my values have been shaped irretrievably by the church upbringing my parents gave me.

But it's not all a positive. Those values came with a boatload of guilt and judgement, mostly over stupid stuff. Kids raised in that environment are exposed to a heaping load of bigotry alongside the "judge not lest ye be judged", and the cognitive dissonance is bound to do some damage. And nobody ever burned down an abortion clinic or shot a doctor because the giant teapot told them to, and nobody ever drowned their kids in a bathtub because they believe the teapot's ancient adversary had possessed them.

And that's not even getting into politics, where the loudest voices proclaiming themselves Christian are the ones who want to turn our public schools into pulpits for their particular beliefs and enshrine those beliefs into law, all while dismantling our social safety net, looting the treasury, and lying us into a war of choice, all while shouting from the rooftops about their moral superiority. Nor have I mentioned the guy who brought all the wisdom his 22 years had given him to bear to the task of telling me why I was letting God down by getting a divorce, or the members of my liberal churche who brought a different flavor of guilt to bear on me for resisting my first wife's desire for a divorce.

All those negatives don't erase the positive feelings I have associated with church, but they do explain why I don't think I'll ever be comfortable setting foot in church again. There's just too much baggage and no benefit. It'd be one thing if I really, truly believed that what the Bible says is true. But I don't. I just think that it has been, to a certain degree, a socially useful message. That's just not compelling enough for me to put up with that knot in my gut. Or give up Pajama Sundays.

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