Am now back from in-law family reunion by a lovely mountain lake in which I swam like a little seal.
Being around really religious people is always strange for me, since I grew up wholly heathen, with barely even a tiny amount of lip service ever paid to that way of life. And even my grandparents, who were nominally Christian, weren’t actually religious. They called themselves Christian just because everyone always had, and so far as I could tell it served primarily as a means of allowing them to bestow grand disgust and hatred upon people of any other persuasion. They certainly didn’t talk about Jesus as though he was a real and present part of their lives, and GOD KNOWS their ostensible “beliefs” didn’t seem to influence a single one of their behaviors or choices, or even infuse their worldviews with the tiniest shred of empathy or respect for others. In fact, this probably describes most of the religious people I’ve encountered in my life. Since most people are basically thoughtless creatures of habit, it makes sense that whatever religious mantle they choose to shrug into would be similarly thoughtless and based on just the habit of going somewhere on a proscribed day or whatever. I don’t find this version of religion compelling, useful, or even minimally interesting to debate.
But then there are people who are really actually RELIGIOUS, in all-caps. People for whom their religion is a major unifying force behind every decision, every reaction, every daily activity. This is the kind of person I have not traditionally been around much in my secular humanist upbringing, surrounded by either cool hippies or just sort of vaguely mindless people for whom the word “Christian” is no more meaningful than the word “chair” or “heterosexuality” or “western style toilet,” or other things similarly preferred due mostly to a total ignorance of any other way of doing something and a lack of interest in finding out about anything beyond the realm of the completely familiar.
Anyway, I don’t need to really dig into their individual religious experiences but it is just surreal to be around people who talk about “when Jesus returns to earth” in a completely literal, untroubled way. They aren’t even trying to needle you–their statements don’t come from a place of insecurity. They’re just like, well obviously when Jesus comes back, we’ll need to do x, y, and z. We visited one of them at their house and they had so many sons I couldn’t keep track and still don’t know how many there were. Every time I felt like I had gotten a handle on the number of sons a new one would come down the stairs, or I’d look behind the couch and there’d be a baby back there I’d never seen before.
I know it sounds like I am building up toward some political statement but really I am just like “!!!”
To each his own, and all that, I GUESS. I do think the way some of these religions fetishize procreation is completely appalling, disgusting, socially dysfunctional, narcissistic to the point of madness, and should probably be criminalized, but again, whatever. And anyway rich godless idiots do that too, did you see that NYT about the rich women competing to see who can have the most babies? So yeah, I guess my point is that I wish Jesus would come back ASAP and get it over with already
I swam in a lake and there was a sailboat out there and I clambered up on it and pretended I was Jude Law in the Talented Mr. Ripley, pre-oar-murder. The old man and I took a kayak out and sailed it around the world. I met relatives I’d never met before. We had many stupid conversations and many interesting cool ones too. We saw many horrible children and several great ones. We ate a lot of awful food and no good food. I did not get a sunburn. I did not get sucked into a discussion of Obamacare. We sat by a campfire and talked about life phases. We slept great, listening to the waves on the lake, wondering why lakes have waves, is it God or the Devil
Tomorrow is my birthday and I am cresting that hill in your thirties where you start speeding up toward forty. But it’s okay because we all have to die.