Monday, May 01, 2006

The "god is good" oxymoron

Here's one that REALLY fries me. I have heard and read countless times:

"Life is good" or "god is good."

These statements are uttered after ritualistic recitals of how someone’s pet cat was saved by a miracle, or some such bullshit.

Really, that's usually the story, somebody's fucking pet doesn't die and bingo, "god is good".

I can tolerate, and even embrace, statements along the lines of "god has been good to me" or "I am grateful to god." But I rarely hear or read that.

What I do hear, time and again, are statements equating the goodness and wisdom of some personal deity based on some petty, selfish, MINUSCULE favor bestowed directly on some quivering, two-legged mass of protoplasm, and their saved kitty.

Or how about this one?

"I bought these shoes?

And they didn't like, fit?

But the next day I walked around in them? And I'm like,




They feel so much better today!

God is good".

I witness this kind of belief system from people with college degrees, jobs, homes, people with arms and legs and heads...people who by any criteria look like ADULTS. Do I live in the same universe as these people? I wonder...

By the time I was seven, I was spending some serious chunks of time wondering why there was so much suffering in the world and what I could do to help change that.

By the time I was 11, I had seen film clips on TV of bulldozer pushing thousands of skeletal human corpses into huge pits.

A disclaimer is in order: as an atheist jew, my thought analogies drift toward "my peoples’" experiences, but I am not, in any way, implying that "our" pain is larger than someone else's pain. I do not believe that it is. There are six thousand million humans on this planet, and from moment to moment, I would estimate that the majority are living under conditions that might closely resemble, by almost anyone's criteria, hell.

Or let's be more specific, on the one hand, we have the god-saved-my-kittten people, on the other hand…

well….go to:

My great grandparents escaped the pogroms of Russia.
My grandparents escaped the nazi holocaust.
Question: as a freethinking progressive in the USA, where the fuck am I going to escape to?
Question: once global warming, global dimming, and the die-out of plankton reach critical mass, where will we ALL escape to?

Maybe then, god won't look so good to anyone but the hare krishnas.

Hannah Arendt posited "the banality of evil". Imagination and compassion are closely intertwined. Although I am aware of many moving acts of compassion in my own immediate experience (on a daily basis) , as well as from my less immediate experiences, I am still crushed with dismay at the general lack of imagination, by the numbness and paralysis, by the narcissism of my fellow humans.

Is some of what I’m describing a kind of existential “doublethink” (as per Orwell). Time and again, the concept of clinical narcissism comes to mind.

I try to view things as a Taoist. It ain’t easy, but it’s all I got. Being judgmental is stupid. What is, is. But still…I do get pissed off. Mostly though, this shit makes me sad.