Monday, July 11, 2011

Rockin' Religiosity

I have a co-worker, we'll call him Ben, who is quite the religious fellow. If you ask him how his week was, he'd tell you right out the gate about how the Wednesday service at church was 'full of the Holy Spirit' with lots of 'casting out of demons.'  You'll usually hear that the pastor had a 'powerful message' that 'challenged the soul.' You certainly couldn't go a day without hearing how 'God had changed' his life, and nary an hour without hearing that something was a 'blessing' or 'gift' from 'God.'

Ben is a Protestant Christian, in case you didn't gather. Pentecostal or maybe one of those random Southern Baptist sub-denominations. You know those movies set in the Bible Belt where you would see a church filled with people yelling hallelujah and someone would faint and someone else would have seizures in the aisle or start speaking gibberish? Yeah? That's not fiction. Those places and people actually exist.

Scary, I know. Scary that people get so worked up and excited about something that has no scientific basis whatsoever. Other than mass hysteria and herd mentality, of course, but I don't think that's what they're going for. Scary that such madness is a lynchpin of their life. It informs how they think (or don't think) about science, how they vote on things like gay marriage (against), and how they deal with their fellow human beings (with pity for the unsaved).

But then I got to thinking... Have you ever been to a rock concert? The kind where the band comes back for three encores because the crowd is cheering so hard? Where there's a mosh-pit up front that could turn into a bloody riot and everyone is chanting the band's name to get five more minutes of stage-time? Sounds a bit like something else I've heard of...

It kind of adds up. Where else are you going to hear people yelling 'do me!' (or 'save me!') at the top of their lungs? Speaking in tongues or rock 'n' roll screams? Hand-waving to 'Amazing Grace' or lighter-waving to 'Bohemian Rhapsody'?

In these kinds of churches people rush to the front at the end to be saved (or 'meet Lord Jesus'). At the end of concerts you rush to the front to meet the band. Wear your Sunday best, wear a rock shirt. Pay a tithe, buy a ticket and shirt. A bit too far on that last one? Probably.

I definitely won't go so far as to say buying over-priced liquor is like taking communion. Communion wine is the worst.

Kind of odd, though, the similarities between a 'sincere' religious service and a 'for fun' rock concert. You'd almost think that both were just different forms of community and entertainment, based around a similar interest. But you'd be wrong.

Because my taste in bands doesn't influence my views on science, equal rights, or the non-existent state of people's afterlife. If it did, then I think I'd qualify as a hipster.

And then you'd have to kill me.

Monday, July 4, 2011

One Helluva Mountain to Climb

So, I'm trying to quit smoking.

That's hard.

That's really f#$king stab everybody in their facehole hard.

I've tried for two weeks and I've cheated every damn day.

Dammit! I'm a skeptic. I know all the bad shit smoking does. Hell, I worked in a hospital a few years, I've seen what it does. Logic-brain should be "hey, dumbass, this is what's going to happen. Cut that shit out." And I love logic-brain. He tells me not to do stupid stuff. He asks all the fun questions about science and gives me sweet debates to get in to.

But addict-brain is "tasty tasty fuckin' awesome gimme a cig gimme a cig fuck yea! fuckin' awesome! screw the gum fuck ya just-"

Addict-brain is really predictable and really really hard to argue with. He wants cigarettes. Fuck it, I want cigarettes. I think I'm a smart guy and then I bought a frickin' pack on the way home. I want them so damn bad and I know they're so damn bad for me but, damn, the hooks are deep.

I want to quit smoking, but then the other part of me doesn't and then I realize I really don't but I do and goddammit I really do because-

*slow breath* I gotta. I'm 25 and I am this much a slave to anything. Cigarettes own me. No one, no sentient sapient being, should have lost it like this. I can't go from work to home without breaking? Fuck health, I gotta do this to show me that I'm strong enough to do this.

I'm a being with free will. I've got to own this addiction. Not for anyone else, not for my friends or loved ones, not to prove a point to the Christians around me that have said an atheist doesn't have a reason or a source of power to quit addictions, not to show my strength to my dad who kicked it even though he started at the age of eleven and beat it (to which I say, damn!), not to my bank account that'd love $200 a month more, but for me.

This is for me. This has gotta be for me. And that's not selfish. If this is for anyone else, anything else, then it could fail. People and things can let me down, but I'm the only me I have. I just gotta show myself I can deal with this so I can move on. If I can conquer this, I could walk up stairs without breathing like an asthmatic and maybe climb mountains like a pro and maybe conquer the fucking stars. Because if I can beat this...

I can beat anything.

But fuck, I want a cigarette right now.