No thank you, I’ll go my own way…

As most of you are probably aware I don’t have much time for religion. I really don’t care for somebody demanding something of someone to speak to their deity on their behalf. The other thing that really pisses me off about religion is the bigotry and intolerance it can (I’m not saying will or does because you can be religious without being an arsehole) be used to justify.

Now  I know that a lot of this has been said before, not only by me but also by those with more eloquence and education. I’m still going to get my two-pen’orth in…

What bothers me about the bigotry thing, well maybe not the most bothersome thing about it because it really doesn’t come close to homophobic murder, racism, culturalism, violence (of all sorts) against women – actually this list is too long to even contemplate – but it does kick in just as I’m trying to drift off… is what sort of heaven are these people going to get?

As far as I’m aware most of the organised religions have some sort of heaven/paradise/afterlife reward system… and of course every one of them have their rules for entry – both official and unofficial… Now the official ones are (obviously for reasons of exclusivity) going to be quite difficult to match up to… Virtue, Celibacy, Honesty to name but a few and Anoia knows they are the easy ones… But it’s the unofficial ones that the bigots make up that are causing me to lose sleep…

Now I’m not going to do a stupid name and shame of various Internationally recognised organisations or fringe groups because they all have their problems and rehashing their various crimes, hypocrisies and morally questionable behaviours is a waste of my time and yours…

No, what I want to do is imagine what the heaven would be like for these various nutjobs “fundamentalists”… You see the problem with bigotry is that it is learned behaviour and as such it will always need a target…

OK, so let us set the scene… (For the purpose of this scenario I will play against type and step into the shoes of a bigot – I just hope my experience in Am-Dram comes in handy)…

I have reached the promised “afterlife”… I have done all the things that the mainstream religions have proscribed… I have never lied, never coveted another’s belongings, I’ve said all the right words at the right times, I’ve only ever eaten the foods I’m allowed to… basically I am a dried up old man with no sense of humour or real personality… and because I have allowed others to speak to my deity on my behalf and believed them when they have told me what my deity thinks, I have a few more proscriptions and attitudes that aren’t specifically mentioned in the holy texts but have been “interpreted” from the mind of an ineffable being…

So in “my” post-breathing reward area there are no people of a particular gender, sexuality, colour, other religion, culture, geographic birth-place, work ethic, political persuasion, musical taste – you get the picture… you name it, somebody, somewhere has said they are “not getting in”

In a world of nearly 7Bn people I would make a -completely arbitrary and unsubstantiated – estimate that about 5.76 thousand (ish) people (or there about)  have exactly the same beliefs as me… right down to the thing about shoe size…

This means that at any one time some, many or all of them are going to be turning up in “paradise”… Here’s where the learned behaviour of bigotry and intolerance kicks in big time… I’ve made it to my heaven… everywhere I look there are people exactly like me… we are never hungry, thirsty, or without each and every one of our wants instantly satisfied… I can reach up an pick whichever fruit I want whenever I like… not that I need to but it’s one of those promised rewards… Every drink is Ambrosia (alcohol and sugar-free of course)… I have my pick of all the things I was never allowed while I was alive… But…

But, wait a minute… that guy over there… you see him?… no not him, he’s OK… him, up by the tree… that’s the third fruit he’s picked this morning… and he had five yesterday… that’s a bit much isn’t it? I mean, yes we can have anything we want… it’s all up for grabs… we’ve all earned our place here and were told that the rewards of heaven we infinite, ever-lasting and worth all the shit we had to live through back in the days of our vitality… but he’s just taking the piss… I mean, I only had two of those yesterday, and I haven’t had any today… What? No I just think he’s being a bit greedy is all… and he’s never been known to turn down an Ambrosia… Well, yes we can have as much as we want… yes I know he’s earned the right to be here… I just think there should be a line somewhere…You agree with me right? It’s just not OK for people to be like that… people like that shouldn’t be allowed in…

and actually, that first guy you pointed out… he snores!

And so it continues… Now I’m sure that for some people the idea of endless afterlife with only themselves for company is actually quite appealing, not necessarily because they hate others but because they like themselves… but for most I would suggest that they would like at least a few others to spend eternity with…

Bigotry won’t allow that though… As I said, bigotry and intolerance are learned behaviours and as such will always need a target… Once you have began to only see the difference and perceived failings, faults, sins, unholy behaviour of others you will always be looking for them… Nobody will ever be “worthy” of your little corner of Valhalla… You will constantly be complaining, “othering” and excluding those that don’t measure up…

Your little bit of Forever will be home to just one… Alone… forever…

Is that really heaven? Can one person, totally alone forever, really be said to be in Paradise?

Not forgetting, even though they are now “allowed” to enjoy all those things that they have, in their piety, forgone throughout their life they have been conditioned to believe that even the thought of such things is sinful and therefore cannot truly enjoy them…

Not really my idea of Paradise…

Actually, it sounds a lot like hell to me… Forever alone, all those rewards within reach but never touched because that would be “giving into temptation”… Never truly knowing your deity because you know deep in your heart, thanks to years of teaching and reinforcing, you are not truly worthy.

Well I tell you what, I don’t think I want to join you there anyway… If I’m wrong and there is a deity (or group thereof) and the reward system is in place I want to be in a place where I FEEL WELCOME… not judged, not tolerated, not there through some special dispensation or affirmative action…

Besides who wants to spend the rest of time with an all-powerful being that spends their entire time criticising everything you (and EVERYBODY else) think, say or do?

anyway, that’s my current pre-sleep mind-kicker… I’m sure the next one will be equally pointless and cyclical…

You are welcome to come back when the next one spawns one of these … these…. these…. whatever this is…

Peace x

 

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