Thursday, December 10, 2009

It’s Against My Religion

I found religion. As it turns out, it was in the cushions of my couch, where I assume it leaked up my exposed legs and into my body, infecting me. I had this epiphany while watching a young adult on TV who is the child of deaf parents discuss her difficulty as a hearing person when dealing with people who are deaf.

My sister went to college with the intention of entering deaf education. She hears just fine, and she was especially interested in speech therapy which works with deaf people in an attempt to help them learn to speak. It turns out there is a lot of resistance to this. The deaf think of themselves as an insular culture, one which is minimalized by “hearing” culture. The intentions of my innocent sister were an affront to their way of being.

The child of deaf parents on TV spoke while signing, and discussed the stigma she felt when communicating with the deaf. Deaf people often ask very early in a conversation whether you are deaf or just know ASL (American Sign Language). They ask, of course, because it matters to them. Deaf people treat the hearing differently.

At this point, my mind immediately jumped to the sociological implications of this. Everything is like a religion. Religion is nothing but a cultural vehicle. It is a word with Latin origins, and St. Augustine was one of the first to expound fully upon it. To him it meant “reconnection.”

I feel reconnected, but not to anything divine. Atheism has always been a “religion” to theists. They jeer the phrase “Atheism is a religion,” like hurling a dozen rotten eggs, the smell of which we can’t get out for days. Why try to fight it, I wondered… I have a religion, it’s just not based on faith and it’s not even based on atheism.

Every atheist makes the choice for themself. Is atheism a religion to you? To me, it never has been, and I can’t imagine it being one, but that doesn’t mean I lack religion. I have rituals, I have habits, I have likes and dislikes, I have ethics, I have exaggerated stories of my greatness. I have everything you need for a religion. I am a veritable Cult Depot.

So what does the Cult of Ginx entail? I’ll start with my weird habits, since religion is just contagious obsessive compulsions.

I don’t like whipped cream. I don’t eat anything with whipped cream like filling, such as Twinkies or Ding Dongs. I’m not against junk food, by any stretch, I just prefer peanut butter and chocolate based products like Reese’s Cups or those chocolate dipped peanut butter wafer things by Little Debbie.

I don’t pour milk in my cereal; I eat it dry. I don’t eat cheeseburgers, but I enjoy burgers and I love cheese. It has nothing to do with “don’t boil a calf in its mother’s milk,” although I think a chicken omelet is something only a serial killer would order.

I don’t drink any hot beverages, be it hot cocoa, tea, or coffee. I also don’t drink alcohol. I didn’t get caught drinking and driving without pants, nor am I on any wagon, nor have I ever had a drinking problem (I drank, got drunk, passed out in my own bed, no problem). I’m just surly and talkative enough, and even if I was a drinker, people without jobs shouldn’t incur drinking bills.

I also love stuff I think of as RTMPs (room temperature meat products). Kippered herring, pickled beef sticks, beef jerky, turkey jerky, smoked beef nuggets, those beef sticks packaged with room temperature cheese. I love eating that stuff; it’s like going camping without leaving the house.

I love seafood of all kinds, from lobster, crab, shrimp, prawns and crawfish to salmon, flounder, tilapia, and tuna. I would not be surprised if I had mercury poisoning, and frankly, it would explain a lot.

How long can a guy talk about food and have people still pay attention to him? I assume some of the people reading this have read the Bible, so I’m banking on you guys having a good attention span for this stuff.

I don’t like vegetables. I will eat most salads - though buy lettuce? Rarely. I hate the texture of cooked veggies. I don’t mind them in soup, but I eat around them in just about anything else. I am picky about what I’ll put on my fork, but I don’t send things back. That’s part of my moral code.

I have never worked as a waiter, but I know a lot of people who have. I always tip at least 15%, and that’s if they spilled boiling hot soup on me. I tip usually about 20%. To be honest, I’m unemployed and haven’t gone out to eat in a long time. It’s usually a special occasion these days.

And you don’t send back food. I don’t care if your steak is still fucking mooing and you ordered it well done. You eat your bloody fucking hunk of meat.

I have a deep-seated fear of my belly button. The Bible lacks segues and it’s the top selling book of all time. You can’t argue with success.

When I was little, my parents told me to look out for bats during the daytime because they were probably rabid, and if I was bit, I would have to bring the bat so they could chop its head off to check. If I got bit by a rabid bat, I was told, I would have to get 99 shots in the belly button. Not long after hearing this, I saw the movie Gremlins.

One nightmare of Gremlins in doctor’s masks pinning me down to a gurney while they stuck six-inch hypodermic needles into my belly button later… and I will break your fingers if you try to touch me there. Also, deathly afraid of needles. I request restraints when I have to get shots, but they think I’m kidding.

So maybe I’ll add to my religion: no scaring your kids with bullshit stories of inordinate pain resulting from improbable events. And while we’re at it, don’t scare your kids into hating strangers. I remember seeing some Winnie-the-Pooh special about not trusting strangers. When did xenophobia become a value of Winnie?

You can scare us as kids so that we grow to never trust anyone, to the point that we all walk blankly down the street, eyes on the ground in front of us, fingering a bottle of mace in our coat pocket… but why? Child abducters can still take your kids because they’re adults and kids are small and stupid. You don’t have to scar everyone for life just to appear to help a few.

Also, I hate people who say you shouldn’t talk about religion or politics. Am I the only one who thinks people who say this are just saying it to try to prevent us from seeing how stupid they are? They say it is to be polite, but people talk about sports all the time and there’s certainly no civility there. In fact, I think I’m going to start using my new-found religion to get out of talking about sports.

I stopped paying attention to all sports about a year ago, but it had started long before. Football was the last to go, and my favorite player Brett Favre’s trade to the Jets pretty much cemented my disinterest in the sport. Like Charles Barkley retiring from basketball, I just sort of lost all interest. I found myself much better informed about the rest of the world and having much more time to enjoy other things.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying my new religion will oppose sports. Play “Hockey” for all I care, but next time sports comes up, I’m going to gracefully bow out of the conversation by saying, “It’s against my religion.”

Every religion needs taboos, and I think talking about sports is a great one. Sports conversations are mindless ramblings of drunken speculation and projected anger. “Yeah, they’ve never been the same since the trade. They need to pick up some decent talent in the support positions during the off-season…”

Let’s put it this way, when I was single and you guys were having your sports circle jerks and playing fantasy football, I was playing other fantasies with the ignored girlfriends. Girls like a guy who can talk about gay stuff like “books” and “feelings.” In my religion, it’s only wrong to cheat on your significant other, not to facilitate someone else’s cheating (of course it’s hardly cheating if she sends him the pictures that night).

Note: I do not recommend attempting to have a serious relationship with someone who has already demonstrated to you that they will, in fact, cheat on their significant other. Knowing this fact would have saved me from about 5 years across two different relationships.

My religion is against censorship of any kind, so I can’t recommend telling people to stop talking about sports. Instead, I recommend giving them a designated area, like smokers. A small, windowless room with poor ventilation, or some steps outside, should be adequate as long as you provide cheap domestic beer. Also, since meeting my wife, I can’t fuck your girlfriends and wives, but I can get them to divulge embarrassing things about you while you mindlessly drone about meaningless children’s games.

Sorry for the aimlessly wandering post, but that’s just how religious experiences are, I suppose. I don’t know what I’ll call my religion, maybe Orthodox Ginx. One thing I’ll certainly be doing: looking for new things that are “against my religion.”


  1. I'll offer a slightly more optimistic definition that still keeps close to your "cultural vehicle" idea.

    Religion is "the narrative framework through which people understand and interpret the events in their life and in the greater social life around them."

    Kind of symbolic-interactionist if you ask me, except I don't know anything about the SI paradigm.

  2. Well, I suppose you're labelling the religious lens, and I'm labelling the religious dogma. Damn you, semantics!

    My Roman Theology professor said "religion is ritual." I asked him if brushing your teeth was religious and he wouldn't answer.


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