06 February 2017

The Power (Or Lack Thereof) of Prayer and the Folly of Nazi Punching, a Blog Post in Two Parts

“The whole image is that eternal suffering awaits anyone who questions God's infinite love. That's the message we're brought up with, isn't it? Believe or die! Thank you, forgiving Lord, for all those options.” - Bill Hicks

There was a prayer at the end of my friend’s memorial service on Wednesday. I dutifully listened without either bowing my head, closing my eyes or attaching any importance to the words being said. This is my custom when I'm in hearing distance of a prayer. Towards the end of this particular prayer the — I think he was a minister — asked god to please see to it that all of us in attendance got home safely. What a relief.

I had been agonizing over the ride home for days wondering if the missus could safely navigate the roads during our 20 minute ride. Now I knew that the almighty had been awoken from his slumber and alerted to the fact that the three dozen or so of his creation who were at this particular service required safe passage. Alerted to this, I’m sure that the creator would see to it that the streets, lanes, sidewalks, highways and roads would be free of dangerous obstruction and reckless drivers who might imperil us. Also, jehovah would make sure that we drove at a reasonable speed in the proper lanes and applied our brakes in a timely manner as needed. Hallelujah.

But what of the aftermath of our return trip? What of when we returned to our abodes? Were we to be on our own? Would there be no protection from falling chandeliers, bathtub pratfalls or electrical fires? Sure enough when I returned home the vulnerability was palpable. I hesitated at every step, with every move I knew that the lord and master of the universe was no longer keeping an eye out for me.

I guess the short version of the preceding three paragraphs is that — at the very least — some portions of prayer are utterly ridiculous. I realize that prayer is comforting for some people and gives them a sense of empowerment in situations in which they might feel helpless. When a loved one is sick, you’re desperate for a job, or there’s been a national tragedy, people can feel powerless. Prayer at least gives them a sense that they’re “doing something.” That’s nice. But the fact is that prayers do not cure cancer, land you a job or make a devastating earthquake or horrific shooting palatable. Stuff happens. I would never try to dissuade anyone from praying but I would also not encourage it and I will also mock it when it seems so ridiculous and arbitrary as the for the attendees at the service. (Seriously, if you’re going to ask god to get us home safely and you think that’ll work, then why stop there? Why not ask her (or him, whatever) to protect us for the rest of the day, or week, or month, or year? Why stop at the ride home?

I have other — let’s be polite and say — qualms, with the christian religion and pretty much all others for that matter. Jesus loves me but if I don’t accept him as my lord and savior I will spend eternity in hell where there will be weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth (if you gnash your teeth for even one century won't they eventually grind down to nothing?). So Jesus’ love is not unconditional. Not a bit. I’m saying that if the son of god really loves us he’ll cut us a break on that going to hell business.

As for god, what an ego maniac. Some people buy into this. You ever heard someone — usually an athlete — say “all the glory goes to god”? What does god need more glory for? He (it must be a male to be so frickin’ arrogant) supposedly created the universe and has all power. More than Superman and all the leaders of the world combined. Yet this deity wants to be “worshipped” at least once a week. Give it up already buddy. I mean, “worshipped”? Worshipped for what? Cancer? Birth defects? Mental illness? Megalomaniacal leaders? War? Genocide? Torture? Murder? Rape? Kidney failure? Fox news? If god wants credit for creating us he’s got to own all of it. You’re telling me he couldn’t have kept us from all the horrors that visit humankind? Many of which are suffered by small children and babies and others who were completely innocent. Here’s another thing: look at how much of this — war in particular — are done in god’s name. Shouldn’t the almighty have shut that shit down? How about a little smiting of some of these fundamentalists and Catholics who are more interested in lining their pockets and protecting their “good names” than serving the poor and disadvantaged or furthering social justice? The vast majority of evangelicals in this country voted for Trump, a man who is so far away from christian values that he couldn’t see them with a telescope. Come on, god, why the hell do you let this happen? And don’t you dare put this on Eve because she disobeyed you and took a bite out of an apple. You’re telling me for that we got Hitler?

When a person dies you’ll often here a religious person say: he’s in a better place now. If its really better why don’t we all drink the arsenic kool aid and go there ourselves? Why are we wasting our time dealing with stomach flu, traffic jams, poison ivy, back pain, heat waves, flash floods and forest fires? Horsehit.

Conservative evangelics are some of the worst scum on Earth.  They are the ultimate in hypocrisy Their world view is in complete conflict with the Jesus depicted in the bible. You think Jesus would support the rights of gun owners? I actually heard some knucklehead christian NRA member on TV say that jesus would be packing heat if he were with us today. The one good thing to come out of christianity has been the teachings of Jesus. (Some historians say he may not have been god’s offspring but he did indeed exist and others doubt that there were ever such a dude and of course some say, exist? hell he walked on water, was born of a virgin and raised the dead.) The Jesus of the bible was closer to being a hippie than a Jerry Falwell or Pat Robertson. He preached love, non violence and he chased the money changers out of the bible.

Speaking of non violence….

“Peace is not merely a distant goal that we seek, but a means by which we arrive at that goal.” - Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

There’s been a lot of buzz on the internet, especially on twitter, where I log a lot of time, about punching Nazis. You may recall that Richard Spencer, a white nationalist, was socked in the puss while being interviewed on camera last month. A lot of my brothers and sisters on the left took great satisfaction from it. There were many a chortle at Spencer’s expense and quite a few leftists would like to see more Nazi punching. I for one do not.

First of all, if you saw Spencer getting clocked you know it was a sucker punch and only a real bottom feeder hits someone when they’re not looking or expecting it. Secondly, just no. No. This will get us nowhere. Does anyone think that once a few Nazis start getting punched they’ll just say “the hell with it,” and fade away? Is the moral high ground won by stooping to their level? Are we in a position that requires fist fights? No. So yeah I think this is wrong on a million levels.

I have made note on this in response to some tweets and heard back from some morons who strongly advocate an escalation of Nazi punching. The first person to retort gave me some sage advice: “Educate yourself!” How the hell do you respond to that? One could ask the person be more specific but why waste the time.

In my exchanges with Nazi punch supporters I always invoked Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. who was somewhat of a stickler for non violence having studied the teaching of that Jesus fella I earlier discussed. One person told me that King only opposed violence in certain situations. Wrong. The late great minister was unequivocal in his belief in non violence. Still another idiot said in reference to Dr. King, “hey do you want to hear what he said about you personally, ‘worse than the Klu Klux Klan.’” Ouch. I wasn’t even aware that Dr. King had known me well enough (I was 14 when he died) to develop a strong opinion about me. This mental deficient was alluding to King’s distaste for “white moderates” who thought they knew best when it was time to protest. Well I admit to being white but I’m way, way, way, way far to the left of moderate. Also I was not recommending against marching (I’m all about marches) I’m against hitting some dumb sap when he’s not looking. I kind of doubt Dr. King would have despised me for that. I’m pretty sure that Malcolm X would have sided with me. He believed in self defense, not cowardly attacks.

You want to punch a Nazi? Fine. Look the motherfucker in the eye and do it. Or do it because he’s putting you or someone else at risk. In both the short and long runs this kind of idiotic act is not going to do one whit to advance the causes of justice and equality. It’s like those idiot anarchists who totally hijacked the demonstration against Milo Racist in Berkeley last week. They caused terrible harm to the left by breaking windows and setting fires and making it look like Cal students were responsible.

There may come a point when people are pushed against the wall and need to physically fight back. We’re not there yet and one way to avoid things getting that bad is by using every legal, peaceful, honorable method at our disposal to resist trump’s move toward fascism and further the causes of equality. Power to the people.

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