Archive for June, 2008

George Carlin

Friday, June 27th, 2008

George Carlin died this week. I could say “passed on,” or any number of other euphemisms, but for him, that would be the ultimate in disrespect. George was perhaps the best I’ve ever known for telling the truth without pulling any punches. And he did it while making you laugh.

I didn’t talk to God about George’s death. To George, God was an invisible man in the sky who was the ultimate oxymoron, an all-powerful, perfect being whose every work was fundamentally flawed and destined to fall apart. So I honor his memory by living this week in a universe that exists without a God, a universe that is controlled only by the fundamental constants of physics.

I’d like to say something funny about it all. I’d like to find the humor in his being gone, but it would probably take me years to write anything worthy. So let me just say, here’s to you, George. If you get an afterlife and you run into God, I know you’ll give him hell.

And I’m sure he’ll thank you for it.

Just as soon as he’s done laughing.

The Golden Prayer

Friday, June 20th, 2008

I was talking with God about the apparent ineffectiveness of prayer, and I wanted to know what he looks at when evaluating the worthiness of a prayer. The thing he brought up that I found interesting was that some people operate under a kind of golden rule of prayer. They pray for others because they would like others to pray for them.

The theory behind this seems to be that it would be greedy to pray for yourself but that by operating in a “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours,” sort of mode, they should get all the benefits of the greedy behavior without the downside. According to God some people have this goal without even being consciously aware of it. I pointed out that this was pretty much the same thing as one theory of how society works. The idea being that if we all just treat each other right then we’ll all be being treated right. No religion needed.

God then pointed out to me a few reasons not to discourage these people. First, while they’re praying, at the very least, they’re not causing any trouble. Second, the act of praying for other people reminds them to be good to other people. Third, the sheer repetition of it programs them and helps them to be good to other people merely out of habit.

Of course, most people have enough empathy to just be good to each other because it feels good, but for those that don’t, it’s not a bad idea to have another way to push that agenda. Just don’t go thinking that praying for people is the same thing as being good to people.

Working Out the Kinks

Friday, June 13th, 2008

I was talking with a boy I know, the other day, and he mentioned that he’d seen a TV show with perverts in it. I asked him what made them perverts and he said that a guy had done “this” to a woman’s chest, indicating a circular rubbing motion with his hand. Now I don’t know about you, but in my book of perversions, rubbing breasts is barely even a footnote.

So I brought the subject up with God. The first thing she said, was that when it came to sex, leaving out the foreplay was far more perverse than including it. We talked a little bit about the difference between perversion and fetishism, but of course the two are somewhat orthogonal. Fetishism after all is about having a strong attraction to a particular type of thing; whereas perversion is about having an abnormal attraction to a type of thing or a type of act. So a man being fond of breasts is a normal and healthy thing. A man being really, really, really fond of breasts, has likely raised his fondness to the level of fetish. And a man who is so afraid of his fondness for breasts that he has the bare breast on a statue of Lady Liberty covered with a sheet when he gives a speech in front of it has definitely crossed the line into perversion.

Then God pointed out to me that the difference I should really be discussing is the distinction between perverse and kinky. Rather than make me work it out on my own she pretty much came right out and told me. She said that perversion is when somebody does something that you don’t approve of, and kinky is when they do something that you didn’t think of.

Make Up Exam

Friday, June 6th, 2008

God admitted to me today, that almost all religions are based on stuff that somebody just made up. Now he doesn’t have a problem with that. The question, he says, isn’t whether or not they are based on lies but on whether or not they do good things.

Of course, when it comes to doing bad things, religions have produced some doozies. But today is not the time to discuss the Crusades, suicide bombers, or pedophiliac priests. I do wonder, though, whether those enormous bads are made up for by the countless and uncounted small goods. What complicates the equation is the unknown value of how many good deeds done in the name of God would still have been done if there were no religion or notion of gods.

Getting back to my original point, the reason we were discussing the fictive nature of the origin of religions was because I was doing some light reading about Mormonism. As you may or may not know Mormonism was founded on information revealed to Joseph Smith by the Angel Moroni. I asked God if it didn’t not only show that Smith was making things up but that he had contempt for his audience that he claimed to get his information from his “moron I.”

God told me that through the millennia he’s found religions vastly entertaining but has been very disappointed at how little most people apply their endowments of reason to determining the authenticity of their spiritual leaders and stories. I suggested that maybe he had built a blind spot into most people’s sense of reason when it came to religion because he was afraid that if we really thought about it he would disappear in a puff of logic. He just tousled my hair and smiled.