“So, so you think you can tell Heaven from Hell..?” – Pink Floyd (Wish You Were Here)
The following is a true story.
My wife had a conversation with a former coworker during which she revealed that we don’t attend church. When she was asked why, she simply stated that she and I have problems with organized religion and don’t really accept the bible as unimpeachable fact. The man with whom she was speaking sadly shook his head and replied, “I really feel sorry for you both.” “Why’s that?” my wife asked. “Because you guys are going to hell,” was his response. Thing is, this knee-jerk judgment-disguised-as-concern was coming, at the time, from a man who had TWO families, one of which was completely unaware of the other. I’m talking two “wives,” two separate homes, two sets of children. Yet, here he was, perched condescendingly in self-righteousness, pitying my wife and me for daring to question the unassailability of the Good Book.
Thing is, this knee-jerk judgment-disguised-as-concern was coming, at the time, from a man who had TWO families, one of which was completely unaware of the other. I’m talking two “wives,” two separate homes, two sets of children. Yet, here he was, perched condescendingly in self-righteousness, pitying my wife and me for daring to question the unassailability of the Good Book.
This incident was not, in fact, the last of its kind. On several occasions either my wife or I have been proselytized to by someone who’s more concerned about my lack of “faith” than their own moral shortcomings. Without exaggeration I’ve had thieves, drug abusers, fall down drunks, adulterers, fornicators, liars, gossips, men who beat their wives, dudes who solicit prostitutes, women who neglect their children, and folks who generally feed their egos by treating other people like shit tell me that I need to get right with God. Apart from being insulting and not just a little hypocritical, it intimates that the Lord above cares more about whether or not, and in what way, I worship Him than He does about the actual behavior of His devotees. I don’t know about you but I find that troubling.
Make no mistake about it, I’m no saint and I certainly don’t expect everyone who preaches the Word to be completely above reproach. Yet, I can’t help but wonder what crime against humanity you have to commit to not be in the position to condemn me because I don’t spend a couple of hours a week sitting worshipfully on pews. Every time I see the buffoonish Bishop Don Magic Juan, the former pimp turned preacher and Snoop Dogg companion, I have to conclude that he is an extreme example of the shameless, repentant sinner who uses his professed relationship with God as a buffer as he sins again with impunity. After all, he is beyond man’s petty attempts to evaluate him. Who but the Almighty can judge him? I’m sure if I were ever unfortunate enough to have a conversation with the Bishop it would vacillate between concern for my soul and “hos” on the stroll.
I’d like to end this with one final revelation (for lack of a better word) that I’ve had recently. I don’t think most of these Christian backsliders really believe that they will one day have to answer to a higher power. They might have, long ago, convinced their unquestioning selves of this idea. But in their heart of hearts, I think this is a part of the dogma that they reject. Otherwise, they simply wouldn’t do half of the shit that they do. And they wouldn’t have the temerity to evangelize while they do it.