Thursday, August 27, 2009

Belief Systems

Here is what I think may happen during the next go round. I will reach the pearly gates (or sandalwood entrance) and whoever is there will say, "You know, Mr. Sagnier, your entire belief system is crap. And worse, it's crap you tried to make look good to others. The fact that on very rare occasions you succeeded in doing so is not to your credit. So we are putting you in a special place, along with all the other folks who thought spreading their pointless opinions was necessary."

I will remonstrate to no avail.

"Be quiet," the gatekeeper will say. "You had nothing to say then and you have nothing to say now. So go and stand with the other guys who have duct tape on their mouths. We'll let you know when to take the tape off."

"How long will---"

"A couple of million years should teach you silence. Now go. You're beginning to bore us. We'll be in touch later."

And so for a very long time, I will be in the company of people who have strong opinions about the toilet paper roll facing in or out, GM being better than Ford, the moon landing being a hoax, that Elvis is alive and that there were three shooters on the grassy knoll. This probably won't be a lof fun.

But it makes me wonder about modern religion. Take Mormons, for example. Lets say Grampa is in Holy Roller heaven, which he has earned by living a good healthy life. Now he's allowed to drink, smoke and carry on, unaware that his grandson has become a Latter Day Saint, and that this particular religion allows for post-death baptism of relatives into the Mormon faith. So grandson decides he will baptize Grampa and shazam! Grampa in now in Mormon heaven, which is like a Hilton in Peoria without room service. That doesn't sound fair, or fun either.

That's the problem with the afterlife--it's so uncertain. The Catholics, of course, figured this out very early and found that keeping the faithful guessing is keeping the faithful in line. Because really, short of being a martyr for the church, there are very few garanteed ways to get to heaven, though there's no dearth of ways of going to hell. It's pretty much the same for Islam; the endless supply of virgins for the sacrificial victims (male only, please) is a novel way of getting a young man's atttention--if you like virgins, that is. Do martyrized Islamic women get virgins too?

It reminds of the cargo cult. You might recall that during World War II, the Allies brought food, medicine and other supplies to previously isolated islands in the Pacific. Natives of these islands were distraught when the Allies left and the cargo vanished, and in noting the events that had occurred prior to its arrival assumed they had caused the cargo to drop from the sky. So in an attempt to bring back the supplies, the islanders created structures that visually resembled control towers, carved headphones out of wood and made large-scale model airplanes.

We do it slightly differently. We try to please our gods by behaving in god-like manners and building edifices that we think might resemble heaven. Then we wait for the good stuff--our cargo reward, as it were. It worked in the past--just read the Bible.

Thoughts like these are not likely to land me in a good place, so what I am hoping is that god has a sense of humor (if you want to prove god has a sense of humor, tell him your plans) and that I can sneak past while he is laughing.

Unfortunately, most of my jokes are stale, and the rest aren't that funny.

I think I'm screwed.

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