by Jake Block
During times of crisis, such as this, it’s not uncommon to see some of the most vocal detractors of Christianity have a change of heart and “get right with Jesus.” For some reason, people seem to think that life threatening events such as tornadoes, hurricanes, plagues, quakes and tribulations of every manner and sort are somehow targeting them, specifically, even though they might be regional, national or worldwide calamities. Guilt can play heavily upon the minds of the weak and insecure.
Over my lifetime, there have been a few times when I’ve been threatened with the possibility of personal doom and even death. I’ve been ill, and thought that I might die, and I’ve been on two aircraft that stood a better than 50% chance of crashing, and there were times in war that it I thought that this might just be the day that my luck runs out. Being that I’ve never kept the fact that I am a Satanist a secret, there have always been those who felt that it was up to them to point out that I could have absolution for my “sins” or a better life, if I would just turn things over to Jesus. In each of these cases, I’ve never once had the urge to hedge my bets, just incase a roll of the dice came up snake-eyes.
While I was in the military, I was laid low by Malaria, that I had contracted when in Vietnam. I was hospitalized while in mid-hallucination, spiking a fever of 105°, and well on my way to the point where organ failure and death are definitely a concern. My wife got me to the hospital and had filled out my admission paperwork, upon which was the question, “Does the patient request a Chaplain?” Of course, she checked the “NO” option on the form. They told me it was touch and go for a while as they had to put me in an ice bath to lower my temperature, got me into isolation and put me on IV fluids and meds.
I slipped in and out of consciousness for the next several hours. My wife told me she was napping in the waiting room, when she heard a commotion coming from the room where I had been placed. She admitted to being amused when she saw the door burst open to see me shoving an obviously concerned Chaplain roughly out the door, while I yelled, “NO. I DON’T WANT YOU HERE! LEAVE ME THE FUCK ALONE!” The ward nurse got there just as I collapsed on the floor. I had apparently come to for a moment while the Chaplain had taken it upon himself to pray over me, and I had pulled the needles out of my arm and gone after him. I remembered nothing of the incident the next morning when my doctor smiled and said, “Sarge, I think you’re going to hell for sure, after last night!” For the rest of my time in the hospital, the Chaplain never bothered me again.
I suppose that the Malarial fever got the better of me and lowered my tolerance. Under normal circumstances if someone had confronted me with an offer to share their religion, I would either have just said, “No thank you,” or told them to mind their own business and do their job.
And this, I think, is my main problem with Christian Evangelicals, and those of their brainwashed ilk, like to descend on people when they are at a low point in their lives, so that they can offer them the “love and comfort of Jesus” schtick. Those who are in crisis are often susceptible to this tactic, and Evangelists never fail to make promises that life will always be better, if you only believe. Of course, you might have to wait until after you’re dead!
Two things that those of us on the Left-Hand Path need to know and remember is that “nature,” and “the universe” really don’t give a damn about us. Good things happen to both good and bad people, and bad things happen to everyone as well, and that, to put it bluntly, sometimes, “shit happens.” You can’t take it seriously unless it’s something that you had a hand in on an up close and personal level. The weather, the capriciousness of destiny, luck, kismet, or serendipity are simply ideas weighted to the positive or negative by the subjectivity of the human mind. What matters is how we handle the cards that are dealt.
Consider as well the idea of the influence and personal interactions into our world by gods, demons or angels. Consider with intellect and with dispassionate objectivity, because unless one can see and interact with beings in reality, rather than sense their “realness” in the gossamer fabric of belief, they are simply conditioned emotional reaction to circumstances. As such, they have no real power over us for good or for evil. These concepts are again human values transposed onto the constructed mythos used by ancient man to explain the unexplainable, due to man’s technical ignorance, intellectual ineffectiveness, and simple lack of experiential evidence to help him explain cause and effect relationships. The now simple relationship between thunder and lightning was at one time fearsome and used to indicate the displeasure of the gods for some action or inaction of man. Humorous to us today, the ancients lived in dread that their failure to adequately please the gods could bring down their thunderous wrath, and those who initially began to understand the weather driven relationship were wise enough to exploit that fear for their own purposes of power and profit.
Those who still cling to the belief in gods and/or devils controlling our lives in some personally interactive way can quite easily conclude that a god angry at humans, might well punish them with a virus in retribution. From there, it’s not a large step toward their considering that a specific group of people might be chosen for punishment. In the mind of the ignorant, this leads to elitist thinking then, that those who were stricken were for some reason inferior or less in favor in the eyes of the gods. So, they do what they can to “get right” with their god, lest they too be stricken. “Getting right,” unfortunately, often entails punishing those they believe are in their god’s disfavor unless they can convert those people to their god’s service, or eliminate them entirely from the earth. It surely must be “God’s will” that they should be gone.
Crisis or no, as rational human beings, we must retain control of our own destinies. As comforting as it might be to think that some benevolent god savior will always hold us gently in the palm of his or her hand, reality must be served. Our sovereignty and survival depends on our being able to have the ultimate power to control what we do in our own best interests. We can’t depend on the infallibility of some ancient deity, simply because some village in some ancient land decided that their sacrifices of sheep entrails might sway a god to their favor, or that the capriciousness of the blowing winds, dispersing a column of smoke from the sacrificial fire surely showed a god’s displeasure. Comforting as it might be to think that life is that simple, the complexities of the world as we know it clearly prove that wrong.
Beware of the mortal man who knows what his god is thinking, especially if his interpretation compels you to abide based on their interpretations. The reason I say this, is that their belief in their particular god or deity might be absolute, however their belief is in no way a mandate to compel anyone else to share in their belief or, quite frankly to even give a damn what the hell they believe at all.
Critical thinking in any circumstance is something that should be practiced at all times. If something doesn’t seem right to you, if there are too many loose ends, or if there is always some just a little too convenient reason for the discrepancies in someone’s working theory, then it’s the wise person who takes a step back from the brink and waits for more and better information, and indeed proof. Marvin Gaye said it best in his hit song, I Heard It Through the Grapevine.
“People say believe half of what you see, son,
And none of what you hear.”
It is said that Karl Marx once opined that “Religion is the opium of the people,” however this is a paraphrasing of his entire statement, which was (translated to English), “Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people.” This can be found in his work, A Contribution to the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right. (1843)” This, to me is a more accurate description of the role that religion, with its anthropomorphizing, plays in the lives of believers. They serve as a numbing agent for most who are simply people struggling to survive and unable to understand that the burdens they bear are not personal; that all people have burdens, but learn to cope with them, rather than trusting their fate to the agents of their pantheons.