Saturday, January 5, 2013


Rationalization - aka making excuses - is something we all do. I had a conversation with my Mom on Christmas, and she asked me if I remember being taken to sit on a fake Santa's lap at Christmastime when I was a child. I told her that I didn't think she ever took me, at which news her relief was audible. She then appeared to rationalize that she must have not wanted to lie to us about imaginary characters. It sounded as if she was making it up as she spoke. That was thoughtful of her - not wanting to lie about imaginary characters - but as she approaches the ripe old age of ninety, she has become more religious. I see a conflict there. And also old age. Could be more of the latter, facing her eventual demise.

Now, ***I*** rationalize as well. I'm approaching sixty, and as I try to piece together my journey through religion into more rational ways of thinking, the internal narrative often goes something like this: I was Episcopalian, then briefly Pentecostal, during which time I fervently believed in Jesus, Heaven and Hell. The New Testament was a profoundly holy book - until I read the Old Testament. Then a few decades of vaguely deist/quasi-pagan/agnostic, "non-religious but spiritual" life followed(1), culminating in a more focused and persistent attempt at learning about the philosophy of religion, logic, and religion itself. Finally, 99.999999% atheism.

Except for that brief supermarket sweep through Pentecostalism, I've generally been unconcerned with religion except as an academic topic. RATIONALIZATION ALERT!!! Actually, the Bible freaked me out for a while. I'm not sure why, but now that I'm more mature(2), relaxed and honest, I can cite three possible reasons the Bible scared me for years. Reason One: I was afraid that it was true, and that by rejecting it, I was tempting God to smite me, or booglerize me, or whatever he's supposed to do to back-sliders. Reason Two: I was afraid of getting sucked into a cult, and thought that the Bible had enough persuasive power to lure me back in. Reason Three: Bad Acid Trip. I read the first few chapters of Revelation while having a Bad Acid Trip in my teens, and was afraid that reading the Bible again would set off a flashback. Did I mention "Bad Acid Trip"?

Summary: my rationalization is that I was generally non-religious for most of my life. The flaw in thinking that is that religion has affected me in subtle ways, and for several decades until I reached my mid-forties. I haven't raped any altar boys or participated in a crusade or jihad, so I guess it all worked out okay.
(1) Dog, I hate that phrase now!
(2) I hope!

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