“How do you convince someone they’re not thinking clearly, when they’re not thinking clearly? What we’re actually saying is no magic, no afterlife, no higher moral authoritative father-figure, no security, and no happy ever after. This is a tough sell.”
—–Phil Plait, astronomer and skeptic, in a talk called, “Don’t be a dick” at The Amazing Meeting 8, a conference put on by the James Randi Educational Foundation, held in Las Vegas in July, 2012.
“There’s an old saying that God exists in your search for him. I just want you to understand that I ain’t looking. ”
—Leslie Nielsen, actor and freethinker, Esquire Magazine interview, April 2008
From time to time a scene from classical painting emerges on the Internet depicting the trials of the Christian Savior. Given the story line of his final days, it is often a scene from the torment he received at the hands of the Roman government. He taught that He was the Son of God which was viewed as an act of blasphemy. The paintings are usually gory, blood being the major feature, while bruises and cuts make for a sobering latticework of rip-torn flesh. There may be a thorny crown forced across his brow with drips of crimson traced upon his forehead and a face twisted in agony as if he had just been beheaded. Grim, sad and very graphic, these depictions of the Christ cause one to wonder just how painful the course of salvation must have been. It is believed that Jesus died for our sins. And as despicable as those sins are, so also should the look of the dying Savior be as well. No doubt about it, the artists have captured it.
More contemporaneously, the movie going public have nearly tasted the blood of an exhausted Christ while watching screen antics produced by a Jew-hating actor/director. There were even undisguised whimpers and weeping during the scenes of great passion and throughout the movie called, “The Passion.” The fascination with blood, guts and gore are not the exclusive domain of the warrior but appear to have a charm for the Christian as well. Many Catholic churches sport the cross with a dying Christ portrayed centrally in their mass and visuals that make plain what the grand sacrifice accomplished for humanity.
A question comes to mind: to what purpose is the blood, guts, and gore presented? Is it to entice one to look more directly at the message? Am I to be impressed with an interpretation that has as its purpose, shock? To what objective would a visual portrait or a moving picture show convince me and my will to become a follower of this bloodied Christ? Is it the canvas or film drama that convinces?
A fascination with drama of this kind begs the question, why? Why do we need to see this? Why do we need religious symbolisms forced upon us displayed as crucifix, bleeding heart, or nails thrust through the palms of the Savior’s hands? If “gross” is appealing the Christian church has an ample portion what with a ceremony that displays the body of Christ in one of three forms depending on the resident theology. We are presented with “gross” as if it were a Sunday drive to Grandma’s, a pure, simple, and trusted journey. But, is it really? For years witnesses recounted the Golgotha debacle without writing it down allowing further elaboration to make the story as fascinating, creative and original as one could imagine. If the story be true as claimed and that the message produced personal wonders of salvation and healing, then why would it be necessary to frighten or disgust someone viewing these macabre classics for the first time? Don’t we have enough violence as part of our culture? And, why would Christian hands wish to add blood to their reputation?
“I believe that religion, generally speaking, has been a curse to mankind–that its modest and greatly overestimated services on the ethical side have been more than overcome by the damage it has done to clear and honest thinking.
I believe that no discovery of fact, however trivial, can be wholly useless to the race, and that no trumpeting of falsehood, however virtuous in intent, can be anything but vicious. . .
I believe that the evidence for immortality is no better than the evidence of witches, and deserves no more respect.
I believe in the complete freedom of thought and speech . . .
I believe in the capacity of man to conquer his world, and to find out what it is made of, and how it is run.
I believe in the reality of progress.
But the whole thing, after all, may be put very simply. I believe that it is better to tell the truth than to lie. I believe that it is better to be free than to be a slave. And I believe that it is better to know than be ignorant.”
—HL Mencken, journalist and freethinker, Mencken’s Creed
Though I am fine with people praying, I find that government sponsored prayer of any kind, to any god, by any group, an abuse of power and influence.
Flaunting this, as through a show of force or numbers, is wrong while the encouragement of such divisive maneuvers undermines the very heart of our Constitution. You can be in favor of prayer in public for all government activities but merely favoring it does not make it right. This is a put-down to any non-religious or non-Christian religion. I defend their right to be considered as equals and above any effort to “Christianize” our government and its employees.
“The Constitution is not like your bible; you cannot just invent interpretations for your theocratic urges.” -Seidel