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Monday, October 26, 2009

Blessed is the flow chart...

Over on Unreasonable Faith, VorJack recently posted a brief piece titled "What I Don't Miss About Being Christian". Rather than settle for a snarky, "everything,"* he instead gave a fairly interesting explanation via a joke:

A man by the name of Ole lives to a ripe old age and dies. He awakes to find himself in Hell, which is a bit of a surprise. Still, he figures he might as well get a look around before the torture starts. He wanders over to another lost soul, who turns out to be the preacher whose church he attended as a kid.

“Father Dunn!” Ole exclaimed, “You’re a Godly man, what are you doing in Hell?”

But the preacher wouldn’t meet his eyes. The man just gives him a sickly smile and shuffles off.

Feeling unsettled now, Ole wanders over to another lost soul. Ole immediately recognizes the face from one of his textbooks: it’s Martin Luther.

“Martin Luther!” Ole shouts, “What are you, of all people, doing in Hell?”

But Luther just mutters something in German and points over to a third lost soul in the distance. Perplexed, Ole hikes up to this final man. As he draws closer, he recognizes (somehow) the figure of Saint Paul.

“Saint Paul,” cries Ole, now completely befuddled, “what’s going on?”

Paul looks at Ole for a long moment before breaking down in tears. “Works!” he weeps, “It was works all along!”

No longer being Christian means no longer having to ask, “Am I doing it right?” [emphasis distinguishes VorJack's commentary from the joke]


This is an interesting point and is another one of those things that helped drive me from Christianity in the first place. In short, it simply boggled my mind that eternal salvation or damnation might hinge on whether or not I said one particular variation of a particular prayer, or did or did not rely on faith alone for salvation. Indeed, however large or small the differences may be between religions, the supposedly meaningful disitnctions between denominations often vanish into meaninglessness and seem a poor standard against which to judge someone's eternal worth. Now, that said, I would observe that as an atheist I do find myself asking, "Am I doing it right?", meaning life, but at least my question doesn't have the unsaid commentary "Because if I'm not I'm going to burn for all eternity" coming along with it. For me, not living my life well is its own punishment, because this life is all that I have.

Still, given the deep existential pain that can result from not being sure what religion to follow, please allow me to pass on this helpful flowchart courtesy of Holy Taco. This is your one-stop theology shop!



Now, if only someone could explain the Raelians...


* Actually, I don't think I would answer "everything" either. Personally, the thing I miss most about being Christian is the automatic acceptance that comes along with it. No matter how wacky your sect may be, if you can plausibly claim to be "Christian" you're automatically at least somewhat okay. As an atheist, on the other hand, I am viewed as automatically suspect by most people, even members of my own family.

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1 Comments:

Blogger LemmusLemmus said...

"No matter how wacky your sect may be, if you can plausibly claim to be "Christian" you're automatically at least somewhat okay. As an atheist, on the other hand, I am viewed as automatically suspect by most people, even members of my own family."

You should consider moving to western Europe. Seriously.

Monday, October 26, 2009 12:07:00 PM  

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