Voting for God

I became open about my atheism back in the early 1990’s. For a while I just blended in, ignored the overt, and often hypocritical professions of piety from my friends and co-workers, and stayed silent. However, being silent about a subject is a tacit expression that either your opinion is not as valued as a majority opinion, or that it’s wrong. So I began to speak out against religion, and the reaction was as strong as it was predictable. 

People whose lives are deeply rooted in religiosity not necessarily the beliefs and the actions, but the civic perception, are those who most want to stamp out any mention that there is no supernatural old white man living in a cloud bank, wearing a bathrobe and sandals, waiting to roast people who masturbate in a lake of fire for all time. Those were, and still are, the people who have the biggest problem. 

For years, decades even, because churches were the only form of mass socialization, society was shaped by what the herd thought was right. Those people who did not go to church were marginalized, and those who were walking through the door every time they opened were thought better of, even if they didn’t behave any better than anyone else. 

The idea that a person could say one thing while totally living their life in a manner opposite of those words, was baptized in America churches.

Social media has religionized nearly every opinion. It’s sanctified politics. It’s drawn a line of holy and unholy between people who would vote for one person, or another, when that line, like every god except the one you believe in, doesn’t really exist. 

Worse, infinitely worse, these lines are now being drawn in the streets, between friends, inside of families, and the nation is becoming both more divided and less informed. Religion does not inform but instead indoctrinates. The harder you believe, the less intelligent your decisions will be. Belief is not an educated choice but one derived from feelings. 

This isn’t to say that people who believe are stupid. This is merely pointing out that to truly understand why an apple drops from a tree a person could study physics, yet to believe that a Jewish zombie could bring everlasting life requires nothing more than faith, and a support group who repeats, endlessly, that this is so. 

Even the people I agreed with were becoming religious about their opinions. They demonized the people who disagreed with them, and they settled in to an echo chamber of opinions that matched their own. To break with the herd as blasphemy. 

Trust me. I know exactly how this feel and looks. I feel it again. I see it again. I’m leaving it again. 

Take Care,

Mike

Shoulders, by Naomi Shihab Nye

A man crosses the street in rain,

stepping gently, looking two times north and south,

because his son is asleep on his shoulder.

No car must splash him.

No car drive too near to his shadow.

This man carries the world’s most sensitive cargo

but he’s not marked.

Nowhere does his jacket say FRAGILE,

HANDLE WITH CARE.

His ear fills up with breathing.

He hears the hum of a boy’s dream

deep inside him.

We’re not going to be able

to live in this world

if we’re not willing to do what he’s doing

with one another.

The road will only be wide.

The rain will never stop falling.

Naomi Shahib Nye, “Shoulders” from Red Suitcase

Martha Graham Quote

There is a vitality, a life force, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique, and if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium; and be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is, not how it compares with other expression. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open. You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep open and aware directly to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open. No artist is pleased. There is no satisfaction whatever at any time. There is only a queer, divine dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive than the others.
Martha Graham

Detroit

It was on this night in 1967 that an uprising began in Detroit. An all-white squadron of police officers decided to raid a bar in a black neighborhood where there was a party to welcome home two recent veterans of the Vietnam War. The police stormed the bar, rounded up and arrested 85 black men and began loading them into vans.

The riot that broke out raged for five days. Thousands of soldiers from the Michigan National Guard were called in, along with tanks. The National Guardsmen fired off more than 150,000 bullets over the course of the riot. Citizens were terrorized, beaten, and murdered, as depicted in the movie Detroit (2017), based on the recollections of witnesses to the Algiers Motel Incident.

Forty-three people were killed and whole blocks of the city went up in flames. After the riots, many of the white residents of the city moved to the suburbs in “white flight.” Detroit became one of the poorest cities in America. (stolen from The Writer’s Almanac)