Nietzsche Was Right
Friedrich Nietzsche was right.
Growing up, going to church was simply something one did, like breathing and pooping. You didn’t think to question it; you just did it because everyone you knew did. The ‘why’ of it all was never questioned.
Of course, when I became an adolescent, I did begin to question. Those mandatory Wednesday night catechism classes became opportunities to torture all those poor believers who volunteered to teach. It was at that time that I began to fall in love with and perfect playing the devil’s advocate. As inarticulate as I was, debate became my ‘thing’. That ‘deer in the headlights’ look on the teachers’ faces fueled my love of pointed banter.
And then, once away at college, church became an afterthought. Theatre became my new religion. I didn’t have time for anything else.
After that, a variety of religions, religious expressions, thoughts of mind, and philosophies became my norm. I tried them on like hats. I was impressionable, to say the least. My naiveté would lead me down one dead end after another. The journey was as entertaining as it was disheartening.
Five years ago I returned to Catholicism and began to attend church regularly, singing in the choir and serving as cantor. I did so, out of a need to please my mother. She and my father had recently moved into my neighborhood at my insistence. My father, as you may know, has Alzheimer’s, and as his illness has progressed it had become more difficult for my mother to manage. The house across the street from me came up for sale. My business partners and I purchased it, renovated it, and moved them in.
In order for my mother to acclimate, I took her around to various churches. She chose one and it became part of my routine to accompany her. It went well for the first three years. I got swept up in the music and the sense of community the church provided.
Unfortunately, I also became all too aware of the church’s attempts to prevent gay marriage from coming to Minnesota, as well as the on-going sexual scandals involving children, adolescents, and young adults. Oddly troubling, too, was my discovery that a good percentage of the active clergy are gay – troubling, only in the sense that these men must live their lives in a way that supports the very thing that condemns them for who they are.
Since returning to the fold, I’ve listened to countless sermons that plead for accepting others as they are, sermons delivered in a kind of code, skirting around the political reality that is the Catholic Church. But until the church as a whole openly embraces gay people, I’m afraid those words, while truly meant by the individuals speaking, will continue to ring rather hollow and false.
Two years ago, during the Easter season, I began to wrestle with my conflicting thoughts and feelings. I quit the choir and cantoring that Easter morning, though I continued to attend mass regularly until about three months ago. By that time I couldn’t rationalize attending anymore. Not that I didn’t feel welcome, I always did. No, it was because I could not reconcile the life I was being told to lead and the world I live in. When I looked at the world around me and the evil things men and women do in the name of God, the whole concept of God became something that made no sense.
Yes, people like Michele Bachmann and Archbishop Nienstedt had robbed me of my ability to believe. Their irrational world views and the fact that the world had given them and their ilk a means of spreading their fears, hatred, and harmful rhetoric defied common decency and common sense. The fact that we live in a world where people actively reiterate garbage theology and support political platforms that work against their own self-interest appalls and amazes me - to say nothing of the everyday violence that is allowed to go unchecked; violence committed through some delusional sense of superiority, violence committed against one another, animals, and our planet - to say nothing of disease, illness, deformity, cruelty, homicide, genocide, hypocrisy, segregation, ignorance and greed.
And so, if one is to remain logical and place events and people within some type of context, one can come to but one conclusion: there is no God.
God is a construct upon which we place our hopes and desires. God is a wishing well. God is a comfort for mind and body. God is a means of controlling ourselves and others.
But we made him up.
This planet is really populated with nothing more than a bunch of animals trying to gain advantage over one another by any means possible.
It has left me heartsick.
And, of course, when my mother asks why I’m not going to church anymore, I can’t tell her any of that. Her concept of God is all she has. It’s the pillar of her whole life. It would be cruel on my part to start ripping away at the fabric that is her life.
So, when she asks… I say nothing.
I’ll start believing in God when the likes of Michele Bachmann and Archbishop Nienstedt do the same.