Miscellaneous Mental Musings of an Emerging Artist
I explain, when the subject comes up, that I have what can charitably be described as “a distance” from organized religion, that I and institutional faith have not been roommates for some time, that indeed I left the neighborhood, I left the city, I left the state. I don’t care to see it anymore. I don’t send it postcards and I don’t want it to find me on Facebook and ask to be my friend.
And somebody will ask me how I can go through life without a moral compass. They ask me how I will teach my children right from wrong.
There is no question more frustrating than this one. There is no question about my agnosticism that makes me see red quite like this one.
And the question I do not ask, in response, is more complicated than what would likely be my over-emotional answer:
What, exactly, is your religion supposed to be doing?
Is it supposed to fill you with the spiritual light of the universe? Is it supposed to create a community, is it supposed to save your immortal soul from the damnation of hellfire? Is it supposed to teach you how to live and love and be the best human being you can be? Is that what it’s supposed to do?
Or is it supposed to give a small handful of black-hearted, self-important miscreants the power to claim divine superiority, to claim the right of judgment handed down from on high?
Is your golden glowing faith supposed to look on while a nine year-old girl in Brazil is raped by her stepfather and becomes pregnant with his twins? After the child’s mother and doctor intervene to save her life by aborting the fetuses, is that when your religion finally injects its moral compass into the proceedings, to condemn and excommunicate the doctor and mother, but continue to treat the rapist as a cherished member of the flock?
Is your fount of all human ethics the same one that orders an elderly woman to be lashed forty times because she was “mingling” in a room with two younger men who were simply delivering bread?
From where do I get my moral compass without the guiding force of religion? I get it from the sense of common human decency that tells me you do not treat rape victims worse than their rapists and that you do not exact bloody punishment on the elderly for briefly existing in the same space as another human being.
A compass is supposed to help you find your way in an unfamiliar terrain. It is not supposed to grant you the power to reshape the terrain based entirely on your own petty prejudices. Just because you believe the forest should be a mountain does not mean it is not a forest.
I believe in God. I refuse to believe that God believes in this nonsense.