We all need to believe in something.
It might be our lovers, our baseball teams or the purity of the Kanye-Kim connection.
But there has to be some element that helps us rise above the inevitabilities and give us hope.
For many people, this something is organized religion. That is, religion that utilizes an organ.
At least, that’s how it seems in the Western World.
Lately, though, I’ve been wondering if anyone can be sure whether any of these Western religions can show us how to live.
First, there was the Pope.
This seems to be a humble man who understands that all the shiny gold of the Catholic Church is about as appropriate as a Pope wearing Prada. Which the last one rather did.
So he’s extending a simple hand toward those who aren’t rich or perfect.
Which, honestly, is still the majority of humanity.
He gave a sermon recently in which he offered that Atheists were, you know, alright. He even gave them a good chance of going to Heaven, if they keep their noses (and several other parts) clean.
Hell-bound if you drink it?
So many normal, downtrodden, hopeless folks suddenly thought they might enjoy this Eternal Life thing that Catholics always seem so proud of.
For here were his words: “The Lord has redeemed all of us, all of us, with the Blood of Christ: all of us, not just Catholics. Everyone! ‘Father, the atheists?’ Even the atheists. Everyone!’
It was as if a vast church door had creaked open and there stood a comely lady suggesting one comes in for a glass of fine Cabernet.
She was a mirage. For, very quickly, the Vatican offered a clarification. The Pope had been at the Malbec.
Atheists are, after all, bound for Hell. Non-stop. No chance of parole.
Apparently, if I know about the Catholic Church and am somehow dubious — or, indeed, “refuse to enter her or remain in her,” then I am bound to take Eternal Heat.
I wonder whether any Catholics imagine this sounds slightly extreme. Insisting that I join an organization that has enjoyed such a wayward reputation with the way it treats children and covers up that treatment seems like bad marketing. As well as a trifle rude.
Worse, there’s the “or else” element.
It’s Catholic Way or Hell Way.
Doesn’t the Church know that being always right isn’t terribly attractive? And, wait, isn’t the Pope supposed to be infallible? Can you take infallibility back? Do you go to a repair shop and say “My infallibility valve is on the blink?”
Is it possible to hack the Pope’s Infallibility Code?
No sooner had I suffered through this hope and torture than I discovered that if I want to be a good Christian, I must never go to Starbucks.
For David Barton, a former evangelical pastor, was quoted by the Huffington Post as saying that there is “no way” a true Christian can drink such heathen coffee.
Is this because it is created by people who take the Lord’s name in vain, use curse words or have carnal desires toward their pets?
Is it because that logo looks a little like something you’ve seen above an altar in the woods, as naked people are having sex with each other on prickly brambles?
It is not. Instead: “The question is, ‘Can a Christian give money to a group he knows will use it to attack what God supports? If you know that when you buy a cup of Starbucks, 5, 10, 15 cents is going to be used to defeat marriage, can you do that? The answer is ‘no.'”
Oh, dear. Starbucks supports gay marriage, so if you down a grande non-fat latte, you are going down to the grande cauldron below.
How can you even commit yourself to a way of life, if just one small step can damn you to infinite suffering?
How can you even function on a daily basis, if you have no idea which godly rule you might be breaking?
Can anyone possibly keep up with every company’s stance on gay marriage, guns, pornography and all the other alleged vices that are supposed to keep up from spending timeless days by a warm pool, sipping Miner Family Viognier and Honig Cabernet Sauvignon?
Might I offer one simple rule to guide you through this morass?
Treat people very well.
Those that don’t treat you well can go to Hell.
Image: ElArteDePau/YouTube Screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk