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The Man in the Sky

July 27, 2011

Presbyterian Church Sunset

I got “The Invention of Lying” on Netflix because it stars Ricky Gervais. I’ve loved him ever since the first “The Office” where he played the vain, vapid boss, David Brent. And no, Michael Scott (from the American “The Office) cannot measure up. There, I’ve said it.

ANYWAY, The Invention of Lying. Meh. I didn’t like it, buy it, or believe it. Maybe 2.5 stars. BUT there was one redeeming section, where Gervais’ character invents religion and the audience’s response is perfect. (Sorry, it can’t embed).

“There’s a man who lives in the sky who controls everything.”
“Did he cause my mother to get cancer?”
“We have to stop that evil bastard before he kills everyone!”
…”But he also does good things.”
“So he’s kind of a prick but kind of a good guy, too?”
LOL. It made me laugh so hard because if people tried to found new religions now with the same tenets our old religions have – if people had never heard those tenets before – would anyone believe them?

I grew up without those stories. My family didn’t go to church, didn’t have a religion. The closest I got was when I went to Vacation Bible School as a 9-year-old because the neighbor kids went, but it didn’t stick.

So the first time I read them, I was more shocked and horrified than drawn in. For instance, this:
4 Before they had gone to bed, all the men from every part of the city of Sodom—both young and old—surrounded the house. 5 They called to Lot, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us so that we can have sex with them.”

6 Lot went outside to meet them and shut the door behind him 7 and said, “No, my friends. Don’t do this wicked thing. 8 Look, I have two daughters who have never slept with a man. Let me bring them out to you, and you can do what you like with them. But don’t do anything to these men, for they have come under the protection of my roof.”

What the heck kind of book has, as a hero, a man who attempts to mollify a crowd bent on rape by tossing his virgin daughters out into their midst?

But I guess that is a minor point in the litany of violent Biblical horrors. I couldn’t get with the MAJOR point, either – the one about God loved people so much he sacrificed his only son so he wouldn’t have to send us to suffer eternally for doing bad stuff on earth for 80 years or so.

It just didn’t sit right then, and it doesn’t sit right now. I’m a non-believer. I mean, I do think there is a higher power and I have my beliefs about it, but I don’t believe in the Bible at all. I guess that’s painting it with a pretty broad brush, but I can’t get that part to make sense to me.

What about you? How did you get or lose religion?

  1. July 27, 2011 16:07

    I went to Catholic school my entire life but am sort of a lapsed Catholic at this point. I still believe most of the major tenets but I am so sickened by the leadership of the church over the past 30 years and the blatant misogyny embedded in the doctrine that I cannot bring myself to raise my kids in that religion. I’d like to find a church and start going again, especially now that my kids are starting to question things (ie. “Heaven is where you go when you die, and they fix you up and send you back good as new, right?” Um…not quite. Maybe in Hinduism. But not in Catholicism.) But I’m procrastinating on it because that would mean figuring out my own beliefs.

  2. Mischief Farm permalink
    July 28, 2011 09:11

    I was raised Catholic and stopped going to church the minute I had a choice, and have absolutely no interest in ever going back to any church for any reason, weddings and funerals of friends excepted. I think the order and structure of the existing cosmos is pretty amazing, and that we are all a part of the whole. I practice “situational ethics”, i.e. I try to do the best thing in each situation I find myself in. I do mostly an ok job of that, but sometimes I don’t always make the best decisions. However, I refuse to beat myself up over my mistakes. Reflect, analyze, and try to do better next time. I don’t need a religion to tell me how to do that. It’s who I am.

    Religion is based mostly in ritualistic superstition (if we appease the mighty one, bad things won’t happen) and I am not a superstitious person. Today it is mostly used to promote tribalism, the I win/you lose mindset (us versus them, OUR god can kick YOUR god’s ass), and money-gathering. Long-term human continuity needs to promote the win/win mindset in order to survive. If you look at each situation, and try to make sure everyone (people, animals, the earth) wins, things can’t help but be better than they are now. Most religions say they do that but, in actual practice, don’t do that at all. The hypocrisy is unbelievable.

    • July 30, 2011 15:51

      Sadly, I think you’re right about this:
      Religion is based mostly in ritualistic superstition (if we appease the mighty one, bad things won’t happen) and I am not a superstitious person. Today it is mostly used to promote tribalism, the I win/you lose mindset (us versus them, OUR god can kick YOUR god’s ass), and money-gathering.

      To me, there’s a difference between religion and church. I go to a super liberal and non-dogmatic church to have a family of people who are working on trying to be kinder, more loving…but I don’t expect us to all share the same beliefs.

  3. July 28, 2011 17:17

    I am not religious. I am an atheist. We went to Episcopalian church as a kid because my mom made us, but she’s now an atheist too. I like to think i lead the way for her.

    • July 30, 2011 15:48

      It’s interesting how many people have said atheist and no agnostics so far.

  4. July 29, 2011 06:34

    I’m a liberal heathen Christian – grew up Episcopalian, went to some fundie churches in my twenties, then walked away from religion altogether until recently. I’m back in the Episcopal church now as a matter of choice, because as a straight ally I could never attend a church that isn’t LGBT friendly, and also because of their acceptance of different interpretations of scripture.

    I believe God can be found in many different ways, and love the diversity of faith in this world. I’m not a fan of fundamentalism, but I support everyone’s right to choose their path so long as they respect that same right in me. 🙂 My dad is an atheist and my mom is a lapsed Episcopalian, so I had a very wide open upbringing when it came to matters of religion. I believe in God, love Jesus, have lots of questions about stuff from the bible and why things happen the way they do, and I hope that someday I’ll understand why human beings do the things they do to one another in God’s name.

    • July 30, 2011 15:47

      The last part will take a lot of understanding.

  5. July 29, 2011 10:53

    I was brought up Christian. At about age 20 or 21, there was a very painful moment where I thought “Wait!! But….this makes no SENSE!! And if it IS true, I don’t WANT it!” It took several years to adjust. And now, when I hear my parents talk about religion, I feel incredulous—-like, how can this make sense to anyone? and if it does make sense, how could they want to follow this guy who lets children be ripped apart by bears for making fun of someone’s baldness? And yet, I still remember it making sense to me. I think it’s like those salespitch-training things, where they teach the salespeople the sounds-like-it-makes-sense answer to every single thing a customer might say. It all sounds like it fits.

    • July 30, 2011 15:46

      Swistle! Hi!

      Like those people who tell you their brand of diet powder is best because it contains enzymes and molecules?

  6. July 29, 2011 13:37

    I forgot to add to my comment this morning — my partner’s dad on his FB page under “relgion” listed: “Pantheist. I hope it all pans out for everyone in the end.”

  7. July 30, 2011 12:57

    I’m with you on the Lot story. Disturbed the crap out of me when I was a kid.

    And you know, he goes on to impregnate his daughters, when they’re refugees out in the hills? But he’s not guilty of incest, because the girls plotted together and got him drunk, first. As evil women do.

    Have you seen Bill Maher’s “Religulous”? He has a great line about that– “And this was the GOOD guy in town.”

    I’m an atheist, and proud of it.

    Explaining how I got to be one is longer than a good comment, though– so I’ll just say it’s nice to know I’m not the only non-believer in this corner of the Blogosphere.


    • July 30, 2011 15:45

      Family values much? Rape, incest, drunkenness and I assume teen pregnancy…

  8. July 30, 2011 22:39

    my dad was in foster families growing up, two of them were ministers and that cured him of organized religion. (one locked him in the grain silo until sunday, when they marched him in front of the congregation to talk about what godly people they were.)

    so growing up, i didn’t go to church. unless, of course, the neighbors caught us outside on sunday and hauled us off to their catholic church. at around 8, i asked a priest a couple of questions ’cause i didn’t understand and he told me that the answer was faith. when that didn’t make sense either, he told me that i believed or i was going to hell. that ended the sunday church services with the neighbors.

    (my question was that i didn’t understand how god sacrificed his son since his son was right there next to him.)

    sometimes i’m jealous of those with a strong faith in god, it must be comforting to believe there’s someone up there looking out for you.

    personally, i think it’s likely that we’re some young upper being’s ant farm.

    • July 31, 2011 12:50

      Seems like I read a sci fi like that…we’re being farmed for our emotions by some beings who feed off of them…

  9. August 8, 2011 10:41

    I got an education (according to my sister). No…really I started questioning early on. I was raised Southern Baptist. Not one of my Sunday school teachers could explain dinosaurs to my satisfaction. The education just helped solidify the deal. It is a liberal arts education which makes it extra sinful.

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