|View single post by booklover|
|Posted: Mon Aug 20th, 2007 04:06 am||
|Well, this is what happens to me when I'm trying to read too much at once...it takes me forever to get a book finished. Truth be told, I didn't finish this one so much as decide to stop reading it. Before I go into any further detail, let me give you a little background as to where I'm coming from.
My childhood experience with religion started out like most people in that we went to church both Sunday morning and night. I was obviously too young to get much out of the sermon but I did like the singing and the games we got to play. All that changed in June of 1969 when at the age of 39, my father died of a massive heart attack (I was the youngest, at age 5). We went to church a little bit, but very few people from the church ever tried to help or support us. My mother raised four children by herself, never asking for welfare or food stamps, although we would have more than qualified. There were some good people from the church who helped out but most people ignored us as if we were lepers. My views of organized religion went even further south when, at the age of 10, I got a visit from "some good people from the church" who decided that it was their responsibility to save my soul from perdition. I was listening to them when one said something that to this day tells me all I ever needed to know about organized religion and the church. This man told me that if I didn't accept Jesus and didn't start going to church, when I died not only would I not go to Heaven, but I would never get to see my father ever again. I told this idiot that I would believe what I wanted and they could believe what they wanted. From that day forward I only went to church under protest.
Fast forward to about six years ago. My mother was diagonosed with colon cancer which had spread to her liver. By this point in my life I had pretty well decided that I would never call myself a Christian and that I had no business praying to something that I wasn't sure even existed. To me it would be the ultimate hypocrisy to pray for my mother's recovery when I refused to pray for anything else. Of course I wanted her to get well, but if anything saved her, it would be modern science. After the realization came that my mother was dying, I began to get angry, especially when people would tell me that I couldn't understand this because it was all part of some magical plan that only God understood. If my mother's slow painful death was part of a plan of God, then God is a cruel and unmerciful bastard that I want nothing to do with. You know the hardest part of seeing someone die? It isn't the actual death because you can prepare yourself for that. It's watching someone who raised four children on her own and who was the most vital person I've ever known unable to control her bowels and crying after having an accident and not being able to clean it up. It's seeing her reduced to wearing a diaper like a little baby because of it. It's lying next to her hospital bed hearing her moan and cry because when she could fall asleep, she couldn't hide the fact that she was in immeasurable pain.
The only conclusion I could draw was 1) God is cruel; 2) There is no God; 3) or God is not all-powerful and could not cure my mother. If it was 1 or 2, then there was no reason to be a Christian. If it was 3, I couldn't see any reason for God to even exist. As I said in one of my earlier posts, I don't hold anyone who believes in God up to ridicule because they have just as much right to believe as I do not to believe. And that brings us back to Hitchen's book.
Much of what he wrote I agree with. In most cases religion came about because people were either trying to escape their fear of death or to understand natural phenomina that they couldn't explain. Far too much violence and pain has been caused by religions of all stripes, not just Christianity. Much of what is written in the Bible is just too difficult to believe and much of it doesn't make sense. Let me give you an example. I asked a co-worker who wears her virginity on her sleeve to show me in the Bible where it says that two people cannot have sex before they are married. The only thing she could come up with is when Paul tells the Corinthians to flee from sexual immorality. OK, who decides what is sexually immoral? Jesus never said anything about it. It came from Paul, who seems to me to have obvious issues with women himself. In fact, much of the New Testament came from Paul. I know many will say that it was inspired by God, but you should read many of the books available on what was left out by the early Christian fathers and how the King James bible was put together.
What I didn't like about Hitchens' book is that he says much of this in a sneering tone that isn't helpful to someone who is truly trying to figure out what he or she believes in when it comes to God and religion. But having read Hitchens for several years now, I don't know why that surprises me. I would have a hard time recommending someone buy this book, even though I do agree with much of what he said.