Blessed if You Do, Blessed if You Don’t

A sincere credulous belief in religion may be the single best stress-reducer possible. Whenever something bad is happening in your life, you can turn to your religion as a sure-fire placebo to make those worry symptoms vanish! Yes that’s right, folks, step right up, and we’ll cure what ails you.

Something bad about to happen? No worries, God loves you and he’ll make everything okay! Just swallow this.

*gulp*

All that praying didn’t stop that tragedy from ruining your day? Don’t worry—this life-altering excruciating experience is just a small step in God’s greater plan! You’ll look back on this and be glad that God gave you this experience someday! Now take this, talk to yourself for a while with your hands pressed together, gaze tearfully at the sky, and pray that everything ends up okay. It’ll be all over soon, and then your infinity of bliss awaits! And remember—if anything else happens to you, it’s probably just a sign that you don’t love God enough (because you’re a terrible sinner who deserves eternal torment).

*gulp*

That’s enough troubles for today; have some levity!

How Not to Respond (Again)

Here’s a follow-up to my last post:

This is pretty much exactly what you should not say to survivors of a shooting:

I’m very, very happy God spared you.”

So, what, God descended from heaven to intervene to “save”* some members of a church, but not to stop the shooting in the first place? What this vestment-shod sociopath is saying is that God’s opinion is, “Yeah guys, y’all are cool, and I’m willing to alter reality to save your lives, but those other people who got shot? Yeah, I couldn’t care less about them. Sure, I could’ve stopped the whole thing at any point, but those other poor bastards just didn’t love me enough.

Sigh.

If you attempt to reason that God saved someone because of X, you’re also implicitly saying that God did not save everyone else because they lacked X. By thanking God for sparing you from this sort of tragedy, you are thanking God for bestowing it upon someone else in your stead. Frankly, that’s quite morbid.

What I also find fascinating is how no one ever seems to attribute malicious acts to God, even though he’s said to be a vengeful angry god—one who regularly destroyed the lives of a multitude of people in the Bible. How eager Christians are to overlook those atrocities, though! I’m so incredibly sick of hearing “God is all-powerful and all-good.” Reality disagrees.

Feelings of helplessness are miserable indeed, but this is not the way to cope with them.

* Saved from physical harm, that is. Who knows how much mental trauma the survivors will have to endure.
Sure, it's better than death, but it's hardly protection is it?

How Not to Respond to Crises

I dislike prayer.

Okay, that’s an oversimplification and thus a lie. Praying when you’re in a crisis is perfectly understandable. I can see how this might make it easier to cope with bad things that are happening to you. (I find no comfort in this idea, but hey, whatever floats your boat.) It’s not the act of prayer itself that bothers me—context is important. What I’m referring to is when religious believers who weren’t involved in the crisis say “I’ll pray for you” or “Let’s pray for the victims.” As I have said, the words are not the problem, but what happens after this pledge? It’s far too common for believers to approach prayer as if it’s the solution to a problem. It isn’t.

When someone says “I’ll pray for you” to someone in crisis, what I hear is this: “Gosh, your situation makes me feel bad, but I’m not actually going to do anything to fix it. In order to assuage the feeling of guilt I will experience for my inaction, I’ll just think about it in the general direction of the sky, and it’ll be just like I’m helping!” As far as I can tell, prayer is just a method of cognitive dissonance removal.

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