|Religion is a bandage of false hope that replaces the fear of death with faith in an afterlife.|
Religious faith overrides the questioning of authority and is employed by authority to generate fodder for war.
|All I ever wanted from life is wisdom.|
The only real wisdom that my life has handed me is the understanding that there is no afterlife, and I feel good about that.
The achievement of this understanding did not come easy, my mother's metaphysical embrace of Christianity held me back for many years. After years of self-torment and spiritual searching, ranging from yoga to spiritualism to the belief that she had be possessed by a demon, my mother found Christianity in a most dramitic way. The culmination came when my sister and I bore witness to the exorcism of this demon by two evangelists from the church that she had taken up with.
I was psychologically compelled to adopt a religious standpoint, afraid that not to do so was to condemn myself to hell. But Satan was whispering in my impressionable ear; I coundn't commit myself fully. For one thing, a teenage boy in a puritanical society will, no matter how hard he tries, be riddled with the guilt of his biology. The main thing that held me from embracing religion was, however, my love for music; music deemed by my mother to be evil. I could not believe that something that made me feel so good, something so deeply spiritual, could be bad.
On first hearing Neil Young's 'Thrashers', a song that professes the fatalistic embracing of an inevitable death with pride; pride at having gone the journey without sacrificing yourself to any of life's dead-ends, I was thrown into deep sorrow and confusion; the song drew me in with the beauty of it's sentiments and yet it excluded any prospect of heaven.
Neil Young ~ Shepard Fairey
When the thrasher comes
I'll be stuck in the sun
Like the dinosaurs and shrines
But I'll know the time has come
to give what's mine.
The crushing realisation of life's apparent meaninglessness was too much to bear and I steered clear of that particular song until some years later, when I was subjected to some rather strong doses of that particular brand of meaninglessness that only the military can offer.
Right through my twenties I clung passively to religion while searching out everything that denied it in music, art and literature; not an easy task in the restrictive and censorious society of Apartheid South Africa.
Only after many years of evading the issue by living a dual life of exterior nonchalance and interior guilt did I come to the understanding that the inevitability of death is what makes life worth living; the understanding, spelled out so clearly in that song, that my life is the only thing that I can truly call 'mine'.
A line in Jaques Brel's 'My Death' goes:
But whatever lies behind the door
There is nothing I can do
Angel or devil – I don’t care
For in front of that door there is you
I eventually came to the conclusion that I want no part of a god that demands his creations run the maze with maps that contradict the body's needs and the mind's questioning nature; a god that decrees failure to comply with these maps will result in unending punishment of a diabolical nature.
Who needs a god that has no concept of fair play, his creations being handed random starting points, random abilitys, random access to resources, and then ordered to compete for a prize that comprises of eternal bordom, where nothing ever happens - heaven. Surely if the stakes were that high, there would be at least a spark of fairness in it?
The demons of my youth sometimes mutter discontentedly, toothless in the light of wisdom.
When this kiss is over
it will start again
it will not be any different
it will be exactly the same
Talking Heads ~ Heaven