There is no I in religion

5 March 2012

The sun was out in Utah this weekend. However, the son (of god) was being obscured.

As you well know by now, I was once an avid (and rabid) Christian. The last time I actively tried to participate in religion was when I began graduate school in the fall of 2004. (I say “tried” because I went to a Catholic mass and found that I was simply anxious and uncomfortable the entire time.) Nearly eight years on, I am still talking about religion and how damaging and infantile it is. (In case you missed it, I believe religion should have no role in politics and blame the unrelenting number of recent anti-abortion regulations on state-sanctioned Christianity.)

Last week, I began reading a book I should have read a couple of years ago: god is not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything by the late Christopher Hitchens.

The book sparked some great conversation with GF’s family over the role of and reason for religion and religious beliefs.

For me, the book pointed out that Christianity is not the only religion out there of which I should be critical. I often focus on Christianity in my critiques, but every religion ultimately is wrongheaded, misguided and immeasurably dangerous.

Because of the book, I began thinking about everything in which I do not believe. In much the same fashion as John Lennon’s “God,” I would like to list everything in which I do not believe.

I do not believe in:

  • god
  • religion
  • religious guilt
  • sin
  • spirituality
  • karma
  • hell
  • heaven
  • the afterlife
  • reincarnation
  • astrology
  • fate or destiny
  • eternity
  • humanity

However, much like John Lennon notes, I do believe in my loved ones and myself. That is about it. While I previously identified as atheist, I have to agree with Ricky Gervais that such a term should not even be necessary. Why should theism (or deism) be the default? I consider myself a-religious and a-spiritual—neither concept has any place in my life, my decisions or my morality (which, I might add, is far superior to the “morality” I claimed as a drooling, mind-numbed Christian).

So I’m curious, lovely reader—what do you believe? What do you not believe?

God isn’t that Boron

5 January 2012

Since departing from my Christian beliefs, I have been fascinated by the sometimes vitriolic and blustering debate between science and religion. Part of my fascination is simply the mental picture of God fighting Stephen Hawking, pastors fighting scientists and church-goers fighting students.

But I also appreciate that science enjoys disproving itself and has a seemingly inherent disdain of immutability.

Tether ball

5 August 2011

I was dressed and prepared for work quicker than usual this morning, most likely because “casual Friday” affords me the opportunity to slacks off a bit in my attire.

With the extra time, I scrolled through Twitter to read the latest news and came upon a story about Texas Governor Rick Perry preparing to hold a revival tomorrow “to pray for what he calls ‘a nation in crisis'” according to NPR.

Let me put aside my belief that no one in a governmental leadership position should ever lead by or speak about religious beliefs publicly while in office. (Rick Perry and others calling on God’s guidance to lead public policy is no different, although perhaps worse, than me calling on the spirit of Jacob Marley to lead our economic policy. Either one is beyond poor policy-making.) Let me instead, if you will allow, speak to the fact that Mr. Perry and his ilk are completely off-base with the entire point of their rally.

The US is not in a shit hole because gay people exist, or people have sex outside of heterosexual marriage, or people get divorced, or people are atheist or women can use birth control or hold public office. The US is in a shit hole because we believe in business over humanity. We value corporations more than human life.

I seethe when I read ignorant, damaging rhetoric. Part of it may be a proclivity toward self-affliction casting outward because I used to be dogmatized. I used to walk around and spread the cheer of the Gospel (because only Cheer gets your Gospel whites whiter) and try to convince people to accept Jesus. Maybe that’s the problem. We’d rather have people accept Jesus than accept themselves or each other.

I got a card from my friend today. He wrote the card five years ago, but just mailed it. He mentioned a tethered, oppressed mind. That’s where we are as humans in the US. We are mentally tethered to ideas that are outdated, outmoded and outrageously devastating to our humanity.

Into the neighborhood

30 July 2011

GF recently injured her back. She feels more comfortable lying down than sitting. However, we do not have a television in our bedroom (how un-American), meaning that she cannot zone out to Project Runway while healing.

In a fit of inspiration, I dragged our bed (mattress) into our living room.

Our den of slack (and healing)

I performed this task on Thursday. The new feng shui (literally “found suede”*) helps us feel as if we are on vacation (or holiday for our readers in the United Kingdom).

However, the “found suede” also makes us feel as restless as an illiterate kitten in a cat library. (Where one can find the collected works of William Shakesfur and D.H. Meowrance.) So what better solution than to explore our suburban neighborhood?

After walking up a hill in the heat, we spotted a house.


We were almost taken in with the pastel porch when we spied a serious message.

Safety is not corny-a.

Despite knowing we were under the “Watchful Eye” of the neighbors, we slogged on in the searing heat.

And speaking of watchful eyes, here’s where you go when you’ve sinned and you’re in God’s dog house.

In the Lord's dog house

However, if you repent you can attend the festivities.

Minor miracle: Feeding 47 with one watermelon and two cheese cubes.

GF then contemplates the joys of heaven and the wages of sin. (Or perhaps just considers the watermelon.)

For the watermelon of sin is death.

After our near-religious experience we happened upon something else sticking to the straight and narrow.

Straight and narrow

Righteous angle


So, we continue on, wandering in a part of the neighborhood unfamiliar to either of us. Ahead, some brick spire things. (I’m sure astute readers will recognize them.)

Walking toward brick things.

As we began speaking of Slurpees and milk shakes, we saw a chimney GF’s father would appreciate (for its precariousness) and one dog a-barking.

Stoked to see this chimney.

Bark. Bark.

We finally saw our destination ahead and knew the difficult walk, the profuse sweating, the threats of surveillance and the punishments for sin were worth it. We made it. We hit the summer mecca. The height of heat-busting enjoyment.

Oh, thank heaven!

After much debate, GF settles on her beverage of choice.

Shilling for the Slurpee.

We ended the journey with a stop into a European market (where I purchased jalapeno chips and some non-US version of a Mounds bar) and a front-row stand for construction work.

European Foods.

We had to crane our necks.

Moving stuff 1

Moving stuff 2

Moving stuff 3

Moving stuff final

With sweat, salty chips, a new perspective on our neighborhood and an invitation to a watermelon social, we trudged back to our cool apartment.


*Many years ago I internalized the deft prose of Dave Barry.

Background and nudity

22 July 2011

Today is the third day of my week-long vacation.

So far, I have watched loads of television, listened to new music and thought about my latest creative projects.

Yesterday I posted the latest episode of my currently-monthly podcast The Joseph Richards Show. About three episodes ago, I decided to abandon a script and just see what happens with a loose list of possible topics. You be the judge.

On to important tasks. I have gone back and forth on what to choose as the background for this blog. I began with a picture of downtown Irwinton, GA, the town where I was born and raised. However, the title of the blog blended into the sky of the booming metropolis.

I am currently settled on the chalkboard at Cafe Marmalade in Salt Lake City, where Joey Cougar & The Starfish played prior to finding a drummer.

You can see the sorts of dilemmas I have when I have too much time on my hands.

Speaking of hands, I started watching the documentary Naked States today. As may seem obvious, the picture has me thinking about being nude. So strange that nudity and the naked body are so charged with anything. I’m sure that the boring, White Christian God, if he was not imaginary, was really upset that the first humans were ashamed of their nakedness. Strange also that knowledge came from eating fruit. Common knowledge says that fruit was an apple. I don’t think so. I think it had to be strawberries. What other fruit would have made them realize their naked sexuality so? I’m sure they just started rubbing strawberries all over each other and licking and getting all sexy in the garden and then non-existent Deity strolled up and caught them. (If the Garden of Eden is not an archetype for parents’ basement, I don’t know what it.)

So of course, they thought they would be punished. Instead, the fake Man upstairs was just going to bring them a Tantric book he just invented (immediately after creating Gordon Sumner). But, no! Those scared jerks doubly-handedly created guilt, shame and the fashion industry.

And now that guilt is in our jeans.