Thursday, December 01, 2011

No atheists in foxholes or ICUs.

I was motivated to post again today. Maybe it has to do with my own crisis of faith, recently, when I had my event. Oh, I wanted to ask for Divine help, and I finally did. (Though I consider myself a realist and a person of basically secular inclinations, I've also made clear on this blog that, for whatever reason probably having to do with the conditioning of my youth as well as my sheer wonder at the magnificence of the "natural" world, I've always harbored an instinctive belief in...Something. And yet, because my rational side has also, always, prevented me from worshiping in the joyous, hosanna-in-the-highest tradition, part of me feels that if there is indeed a God, He's pretty disgusted by now with the idea of hearing from people like me mostly when we're frightened that we're about to meet Him or whatever. Religion is not something you should do halfway if you really expect to be taken seriously Upstairs, is how I see it. Designer religion, the kind of user-friendly, no-sacrifices, all-about-me spirituality popularized by Joel Osteen and his Church of Ralph Laurenwhere you "follow" a gospel that consists of little more than what you were going to do to please yourself anyway, with or without God in your lifeis no religion at all. Same for our New Age friends like James Ray and his Universal genie, who appear to argue that God and the Ever-Abundant Universe exist simply to feed your innate narcissistic tendencies.

On second thought, I guess what brings all this to mind is the news of the death of 76-year- old Judy Lewis, the secret love child of Clark Gable and Loretta Young. I was reading the obit linked above when this passage stopped me in my tracks:

"Gable, then 34, and Young, then 22, fell into an affair while filming 'Call of the Wild' in Washington state during the winter of 1935. When a pregnancy followed, Young had no choice but to go into hidingbeing a staunch Catholic, an abortion wasn't an option. "Wouldn't you [unhappy] if you were a movie star and the father of your child was a movie star and you couldn't have an abortion because it was a mortal sin?" the actress was quoted as saying by Lewis in her 1994 memoir 'Uncommon Knowledge.' "
So there you have it. She couldn't have an abortion because she's a "staunch Catholic" and abortion is a mortal sin. Now I could be wrong, but I think there may be a little entry in Catholic doctrine about extramarital sex, too. It think it might even be a mortal sin in its own right. Understand, I'm not judging Ms. Young for having the baby, or even for having sex with Mr. Gable. I'm simply judging the cafeteria Catholicism that makes it so difficult for me to abide people who present themselves as members of the faith in good standing while picking and choosing which religious laws they consider personally relevant. They appear to give themselves a nice pious pat on the back for avoiding certain extreme behaviors (e.g. abortion) while totally ignoring the piety implications for other behaviors that may be more enticing and thus less comfortable for them to forgo (e.g. adulterous sex with fellow movie star Clark Gable).

Trust me, there have been times over the past several weeks, typically at night, when all gets quiet and it's just me and my thoughts in the dark, when I only wished I could give myself to God with full passion and belief. But I just couldn't. I'd be insulting Him, wouldn't I? How can you ask someone for help that you've disrespected so many times in life? I can't even say His prayer with conviction. What kind of worship is that?

19 comments:

Kathryn Price said...

"What kind of worshiper is that?" The same kind as many of us. Why not allow yourself some grace? Why deny yourself this reaching towards something that you're feeling, even if you have shaken your head at it before? How do you know it is not reaching towards you? Insulted? I would guess not. I wonder if what we call God is half as pious as we think we are supposed to be.

a/good/lysstener said...

I am heartsick to hear that this was apparently that serious, Steve. Hard to imagine; you look so fit and younthful for a man your age. And you didn't even let any of us from your SHAmblog family know. We could have added our prayers, at least, for what it's worth. I will surely remember you in mine.

Please take care of yourself and have a full recovery. I'm sure I speak for all when I say we've missed you.

RevRon's Rants said...

I copied the last line of your post, and was going to paste it as the opening gambit of my response. Kathryn was quicker. Prettier, too, but that's another topic altogether. :-)

Steve, my own children have at various times hated and rejected me, but the thought of withholding my love from them never entered my mind, even during the worst of times. And if there is a Divine Being/Creator watching over its creations, it (he/she?) would have to be more compassionate than I am, or humanity would have been toast many millenia ago.

What attracted me to Buddhist teachings in the first place was the lack of importance the Buddha placed upon piety and ritual. The primary teaching is to strive to think, act, and live in a manner that does no harm. Not because some scorekeeper is tallying your credits for some eventual reward or punishment, but because it is the most holistic approach to our existence. We all look to "something other" for guidance and strength, but when all is said and done, it really doesn't matter how we define that "other," or whether the strength comes from "above" or within. It is there, and that is what's important.

Cut yourself some slack, my friend. Despite what might fit better intellectually for you, the truth is that the fat lady ain't sung yet. And there are plenty of issues still that await your attention.

Now, accept a group hug, and do the exercises your therapist prescribes. I'm living proof that one can be a less-than-stellar typist and still make an acceptable living! :-)

roger o'keefe said...

All I can add at this point is best of luck and do what the docs say. If it's what it sounds like, medicine has made amazing strides in preventing these acute events from becoming chronic worries. The psychological part is often the toughest part, as you hint. But you have to do what you're told and embrace healthy living as way of life.

Rational Thinking said...

Steve - just to echo what Ron said. Cut yourself some slack. Conditioned responses are incredibly strong, and now is probably not the best time to try to fight them - or it may be a good distraction, if that's your mood.

Just wanted to say you're in my (and I suspect very may people's) thoughts.

Though here's one thought: why insist on 'something' having human characteristics? We might feel that consistency is a virtue, but 'something' might not have the slightest notion that such a thing is important :-)

Jenny said...

Kathryn wrote: "I wonder if what we call God is half as pious as we think we are supposed to be."

Good way to put it.

Steve, it is no secret (pun intended) I have been attracted to your way of seeing things because it is so inclusive of the widely differing ways in which people can view life.

As it so happens, I just finished reading Susan E. Isaac's memoir, "Angry Conversations with God." Very funny in parts, and yet I still have my (major) doubts about the existence of a God.

So glad to see you posting again. Welcome back!

Anonymous said...

Tell me why I'm supposed to feel sympathy for you in your hour of need?" Look at how you've crapped all over other people in tragic circumstances, like Cindy Bassett's husband.

RevRon's Rants said...

I wonder how many other "tragic circumstances" resulted from people following the Bassets' program to cure depression, the efficacy of which was probably best demonstrated by what happened to Dsvid Barrett himself. And anon says it is Steve who crapped all over someone? Typically blind apologist's response.

Steve Salerno said...

Rev et al, my point, thoughout, here, has been to try to prevent sad, desperate people from suffering the further pain o being conned/played for suckers. I never delighted in "crapping all over" someone. But if I felt there was a point to be made, or an irony to note, I made it/noted it.

Anonymous said...

Feel better Soon, Steve - we need you.

Love Always
Londoner

Cosmic Connie said...

Steve, I know I'm really late in joining the voices here, and I apologize for that, but I wish you a speedy recovery. I miss SHAMblog!

Steve Salerno said...

Thank you, Connie. I miss me too. ;)

Anonymous said...

Oh how pious, "my point, thoughout, here, has been to try to prevent sad, desperate people from suffering the further pain o being conned/played for suckers. I never delighted in "crapping all over" someone. But if I felt there was a point to be made, or an irony to note, I made it/noted it."
We the 'desperate' thank you for your 'ironic notation' but when given evidence to further your causes/soap box sermons, all we the desperate hear back are *crickets*...Now THAT'S ironic, doncha think! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jne9t8sHpUc&ob=av2e
They say 'GOD DON'T LIKE UGLY,' if so I gotta feeling he HATES us all...

Jenny said...

I am curious about Pious Anonymous and whether s/he feels "crapped on" by Steve and, if so, why and what happened? At least we can engage in a dialogue while Steve recovers and (I hope!) returns soon in much better health.

RevRon's Rants said...

In keeping with the spirit of the season, I choose to refrain from taking the bait and encouraging our visiting troll to continue.

Be well, Steve.

Jenny said...

Seasons greetings, RevRon. Steve's SHAMblog is about exposing fraud and deception and his "comment" section has evolved into what seems to be a forum for the same. In that spirit, it seems only fair to offer space for a person with an obvious grievance to talk openly about it, anonymously or not. I respect your choice to call the person a "troll" but it doesn't change whatever happened to him or her that prompted the comment. Maybe we all can learn something?

(Word verification: slayno)

Anonymous said...

You seem like a good lad to me Mr Salerno, so I hope you do good.

RevRon's Rants said...

Jenny, I'm all for talking openly. That isn't what our troll is doing. No context, no personal involvement beyond gratuitous sniping at the blog owner. Everybody has a spleen, but most people know better than to go to another person's "house" and vent it on the owner.

Anonymous said...

Hi Steve,

Here's another troll from your past--you barred me once for 'defiling the blog' but I am a stubborn cow and continued to post under a very small variety of aliases.

I haven't been following your personal story very closely, so any advice from me is worth exactly what you paid for it--so with that proviso:
Ignore all advice and do whatever you want--only you know what that is.
Dump the 'worship' notion--its complete bullshit.

None of us know how long we've got on this beautiful earth--no doctors, scientists or religious folks have any answers to that biggie--so fuck 'em all and fill your days with whatever gives you pleasure--right up until the last moment. (try not to kill too many customers, a la DeathRay, while you're doing it, though)

To save you the trouble of barring me yet again, I'm signing off--at least in this current incarnation. I have problems of my own with the UK plod (et al) which require some sorting if I am to follow my own deplorable advice.

And it is deplorable advice, even I can see that.

In the meantime, even as a much reviled previous troll, I do wish you all the best for 2012 and beyond--prove the evil fuckers and naysayers wrong and live as long as you feel comfortable doing it.

Here's something Italian (sort of)for you. I will think of you when I listen to it--as I frequently do. I've learnt a lot reading your blog, even as a troll/scumbag:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TJ-VNgUm5kc&feature=related

to be immediately followed by a listen to this one--very short but pithy:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-CWV0N6JcgE&feature=related

Not much help to anyone really, but that is this non-doctor's only prescription for the trenches. It sufficed for far better persons for either you or me so I guess it will do another turn.
Take care,
ellen.