We make some of our greatest gains
when we see old things in new ways
As a youngster, I once found myself in a conversation with another kid who was keen on Santa Claus. He told me that if you really, really believed in the jolly old man at the North Pole you could absolutely count on an annual outpouring of presents.
However, skeptics like me would gradually slip from His official list of Good Little Boys & Girls. The jolly old man would then no longer watch over us while we slept and He would no longer judge us that we might be found truly worthy of His nifty toys. Alas, we'd eventually have to resort to asking our parents for things like electric trains and where, after all, was the magic in that? "So tell me," I asked, "how does He get all His packages in one sled and travel all around the world in one night?" Befuddled for only a moment, the kid assumed a smirk and in a superior tone said, "When the time comes, YOU won't get any presents!"
Now let's fast-forward to just the other day when some lady was telling me all about how God saved her from breast cancer. It seems she discovered a lump, which was subsequently removed and, as the story went, "they got it all." This led me to a couple of questions. If they didn't "get it all" would that be God's doing too or would that be the surgeon's fault? And why didn't God save her the pain and suffering of having to have the operation in the first place?
Sure it could have been worse but if your boss runs off with only half your pension, would you say he saved you from total poverty? Would you start wearing a Business Swindle Survivor bracelet? But, leaving that aside, why would breast cancer be so bad anyway? Wouldn't it put you on the inside track to your eternal reward up in the sky, and isn't that why you spend so much of your life down here sucking-up?
It sounds to me like this reflects a shaky faith at best - certainly nothing like those true believers who blow themselves to bits just to get their hands on a bunch of big virgin breasts. Funny, when you think about it, just how much fanciful belief hooters can generate.
But instead of pursuing that line of thought, I asked the lady, which God exactly had taken such a personal interest in her frontage? She was stunned. "There's only one" she stammered. "Zeus?" I said. "No - God" she said. "But what's his name?" Having no idea that Gods typically have names she finally said, "The God of the Bible."
Rather than point out that there were almost two dozen official versions of the Bible (all of which are translations of translations of mostly dead languages), I figured I'd go with King James and said "Jealous?" Clearly confused and clutching her breast (singular) her eyes (plural) got huge as I quoted "For thou shalt worship no other god: for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God." (Exodus 34:14)
Befuddled for only a moment, the lady assumed a smirk, and in a superior tone said, "YOU have all the questions but when the time comes will YOU have all the answers?" In other words, it looks like I'm going to miss out on the presents yet again!
These two events came back to me as I watched a new and very excellent documentary titled The God Who Wasn't There. You can order copies at www.TheGodMovie.com, and I'd suggest sending them to all your friends for Christmas. Indeed, nothing could be more appropriate during fantasy season with Santa Claus for the children and Jesus Christ for the adults - both cut, as it turns out, from the same whole cloth.
The man behind this little gem of a movie, Brian Flemming, does little more than ask a few questions and review a bit of history, but the result is positively staggering to anyone with half a brain. The bottom line is that any notion of an actual historic Jesus, a guy who really walked around two thousand years ago, involves a flight of fantasy that goes even beyond putting out milk and cookies on his birthday.
The facts are readily available yet Christians remain totally ignorant of their religion's origins. Flemming lays these out in simple, connect-the-dots fashion. His approach is so straightforward there's zero room for debate, and yet not a single one of the folks he questions on camera sees the light. They believe because they believe, and when the time comes, YOU won't get any presents!
But as much as I enjoyed and personally recommend The God Who Wasn't There, I have to take strenuous exception with Flemming on one very important point. He, like so many others, makes the mistake of playing Doctor. Allow me to explain. Somewhere, perhaps midway through the show, he introduces a fellow named Scott Butcher who runs a Rapture site. This guy, believe it or not, collects letters that he promises to send out right after the people who wrote them are "Raptured" up. No kidding! These "I-Told-You-So" notes will explain to friends why they haven't seen you around lately and, I suppose, show up as emails to former wives explaining why they shouldn't expect any more child support checks. Talk about getting the last laugh!
Hi There, I'm in Heaven and you're not. What's it like? Well - would you believe all the women are virgins with big breasts? Gotta go. And in case you're wondering about what will happen if both the pilots on your jumbo jet get Raptured up at the same time, have no fear. Butcher tells us he's heard that the airlines never schedule two Christians in the same cockpit for the same flight. Phew - now there's a load off my mind!
And speaking of minds, Flemming tells us that, despite seemingly obvious evidence to the contrary, Butcher is A-OK in the head. He shows "no signs of mental illness. He simply believes crazy things." Oh yeah? Well, "Doctor" Flemming, just what in the Hell do you think mental illness is?
Religious people who think and act in terms of an imaginary realm have, pure and simple, lost touch with reality. Why they should be given a free pass is beyond me. Their break with reality is as obvious as that of any ninny talking out loud without a cell phone. And that's my beef with all such apologists for faith based lunacy. They are as ignorant of brain function as the Christians they defend are of First Century history.
You have forty-four percent of Americans believing that Jesus is coming back to judge the living and the dead in the next fifty years; you have a President of the United States looking for a Supreme Court Justice who will follow the will of Zeus; you have hundreds of millions of dollars paid to see Mel Gibson's splatter flick - The Passion of the Christ - by audiences outraged by a fleeting glance at just one of Janet Jackson's boobs - and you're going to tell me the inmates are NOT running the asylum? I don't think so.
Look At It This Way
The brain is like any other organ in the body - only more so. If your liver function is compromised, your eyes might get a little yellow, but you might not even notice. If, on the other hand, your brain function is compromised, you may well strip naked and run around the street in circles. Because the brain manifests itself in behavior, disorders are readily apparent - but only if you know the symptoms.
Patients suffering from temporal lobe epilepsy, for example, often present with religious hallucinations. This is the most likely diagnosis in all those cases where individuals living during the Dark Ages imagined that they were hobnobbing with spiritual entities. If they happened to be observed chatting up an Angel, the individual would be made a saint - if a Devil, it was a quick trip to the stake. And yet, clinically speaking, it matters not one iota if you're praying with angels or pillaging with devils.
The degree to which behavior is based on an insane belief is the degree to which that behavior itself is insane. Cultural acceptance of certain forms of madness in no way makes them any less pathologic - whether you're making plans to be Raptured up or running naked in circles makes absolutely no difference. Anyone who builds a castle in the sky and then attempts to move in has gone over the edge.
Please send all promises of presents directly to Dr. Mason at DrSBMason@aol.com - especially if you have big breasts.