Home > philosophy, religion > The Road To Atheism XX: Death Cults

The Road To Atheism XX: Death Cults

As an elementary school kid I used to get into trouble with my teacher on a more frequent basis than I would have liked. Mostly, it was for the typical kid stuff: not doing homework, talking in class, gum, etc. There were of course the religious disputes that I have discussed before but there were also different times. I suppose with the religious stuff the teachers figured that they could steam roll me into just accepting the dogma for the assignment’s purpose, I’m not really sure but these other times had to do with the content of some of my assignments. They concerned what was then deemed to be a prevalence of violence in my creative writings and art assignments. 

I believed then, and still do that this was an overreaction. It’s not like I was making violent images of specific actual people, the content no where near approached the level of a torture porn movie like Saw. It was more of the comic book variety, which makes sense given that I was really into comic books then. What concerned the teachers, and then my parents, was the source of the violence. So after several of these meetings they sought to root out my inspiration and begin to remove various entertainments from my life for weeks at a time. Unfortunately for them they little understood that all a kid really has on their side is time, and if they have patience they can simply play the game. I remember doing that, I remember that they would take something away and I would complain but then I would just wait until everyone forgot. I’m getting ahead of myself: they would take away the usual suspects: comic books, television, movies, video games. They never took away my music because I was never into music in the way that people who say they are into music are into music. If you think about it, they just went down the list of things they didn’t understand. 

This is actually typical if you look at the succession of generations in, at least, American society. “Seduction of the Innocent” was a book aimed at demonizing comic books because of an alleged rise in juvenile violence during the 1940s and 1950s. The rock and roll panic in the 50s and 60s, Satanic cults, Dungeons and Dragons, Doom in the late 90s, etc. Everything was seen as a bad influence on my developing brain. Learning video games then has actually helped me now, because once you get passed the shooting and the explosions alot of video games are about problem solving…at least then they were. Now, they have more of a focus on narrative and are more like interactive movies than in the early 90s, which isn’t bad it’s just different. Although, as an aside, some of the narratives are so well done I would rather they just made a movie than force me to play it, but that’s a different story. Taking away my comics was just odd, because comics really foster the desire to read and the ability to tell a story which I suppose is bad. You get where I am going though, they seemd to think that something must have been wrong and that I had the idea that violence was a way to solve problems.

All of their attempts and meanwhile every day I went to school, every classroom, I was forced to stare at the image of a beaten, tortured man, being hung to die on a stick; all the while being told that it was good that this happened to him. Being forced to look at an image of supreme violence and then wandering around clueless as to why the person you have forced to view it has violent imagery in his writings shouldn’t be this much of a mystery. A lot of Christianity is about focusing on death, moreso than I think any other of the current religions. If you’ve ever been to a Catholic school, every classroom has the image of Jesus on the cross hanging from the wall somewhere. It’s grotesque and to force children that young to view would be considered child abuse in any other context. Don’t believe me? Fine go up to child and show them a graphic depiction of torture. Normal people should shirk at the idea but if you are a minister in a church doing the same is somehow necessary to the moral fiber of the individual. 

How can staring at death, worshipping death, in fact making the most significant holiday in your religion about death not be about the denial of life for the individual? Any religion that promises an eternal reward is one that focuses not on the life of the individual but on the death of that individual. The idea of death is so tied in that it should be no wonder that a just teenager has a focus on it. Especially one that was, at the time, so devoted to his religion. Isn’t the birth of the savior more important than the death? Yet it’s the death everyone focuses is on, the “passion,” it’s so important they even made a movie where they torture and kill a man for two hours. That movie was required viewing for members of many congregations, many of whom told me how terrible the violence was but it made their faith stronger. Huh? Isn’t the whole point of these religions about the message of peace and understanding; but to celebrate it we get to watch a man get whipped, hung, and speared? Sure I guess. 

The main problem with all of the death worship is that it’s built on a fallacy. See, everyone calls it a sacrifice but how is it really a sacrifice? Odin plucked out an eye, stabbed himself with a sphere, and hung himself on the Yggdrassil for 9 days to gain wisdom but despite the pain involved it wasn’t a sacrifice because he knew he would come out in the end. Same with the guy on the cross. Beaten, tortured, and nailed to plank of wood is nothing if you know what the end result is going to be. If the Christians are right, then there is no sacrifice because knowing that immeasurabe pleasure awaits you makes any suffering basically a layover in Atlanta. It’s like watching Aliens and having to endure the part where Paul Reiser tries to pretend anyone wants to see him. We know the good stuff is coming, it’s just a matter of time. 

If the message, which is a good one as long as you leave out the divide the family against itself part, was more important than anything else why is it focusing so much on the horror and violence of the third act? Why tell toddlers and children that they have to stare at this gruesome image (as happened to my daughter a couple of month ago) and think that it won’t have the effect on them that would be anything other than beneficial? Charity and peace ought to be the lesson here but I haven’t really heard anything about helping my fellow man from the alleged Christians who have the loudest mouthpieces. Instead the entire thing comes off as nothing more than another cult of death. 

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Categories: philosophy, religion
  1. Catherine
    November 23, 2012 at 3:05 pm

    Just a couple things: usually Easter Sunday is considered more important than Good Friday (i.e. the triumphing of life over death is considered the most important day in the Catholic Church).

    Also, I think there might have been more going on than Christ thinking “Oh, it’s okay if I get killed. I’m going to rise again on Sunday.” He definitely understood that at some time before the whole event, but during the agony in the garden (when he prayed for it to be taken away) and especially on the cross when he cried “Father, why have you abandoned me?” It sounds as though he was at least temporarily without any confidence that things would work out. Since he went through with it nevertheless, I would say that’s a sacrifice.

    Ultimately, though, it’s a sacrifice because he could have stayed in the “immeasurable pleasure” [if that applies to God’s life in heaven] the whole time rather than becoming incarnate and suffering at all. The fact that he did so–for our sake, not his own–is a sacrifice, regardless of how long it lasted or whether he knew it was temporary. Long story short: something is a sacrifice if it is a free acceptance of suffering for the sake of another; whether or not it is temporary, or known to be, is absolutely irrelevant.

    • rdxdave
      November 24, 2012 at 2:27 am

      It’s not that I think Easter Sunday is less important than Good Friday, just that the symbolism does not represent that fact. It’s not an image of the risen savior that adorns every classroom, church, and neck of the faithful. It’s the image of a corpse on a cross that does so (corpse depends on when those depictions occur within the time frame of the story). It’s an image that depicts the victim of one of the more horrible methods of execution that humans have designed. Why not focus on the victory rather than that?

      I don’t think the scene in the garden works like that. How could Jesus not know? He’d been walking around for years explaining that he was the fulfillment of the prophecy then the day before he suddenly forgets that, even temporarily. My interpretation was the he didn’t want to do it precisely because he knew that it was really going to painful, and not wanting is, of course, not the same has not knowing.

      I do not mean to imply the pleasure as being some sort of hedonistic enterprise. I meant it relative to being here on Earth for which heaven must be inconceivably better or else it wouldn’t be called heaven. My use of the word “pleasure” was probably not the best. I don’t see exactly what the sacrifice was knowing how the eventual outcome benefits everyone including himself. If I die to save another person, we would say that it’s a sacrifice precisely because we all have some doubt as to what the next leg in the journey is, but for someone who has direct knowledge of what that next step is going to be, unfailing knowledge at that, I am not convinced that the sacrifice is nothing more than a temporary inconvenience.

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