The Opiate of the Masses

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Happy Easter.

Remember that I am, technically, a Christian, this despite my commie pagan fag pro-government tendencies. I disagree with mainstream Christian teachings on a few minor points, viz., I don’t believe in hell and I don’t think Christ is the only way to salvation. I think one religion’s as good as another and, if you press me on it, I’ll probably concede that atheists get into heaven.

Hardly worth calling myself a Christian, if I have to disclaim it so much, but what can I say? I like Jesus, and what he had to say. I think Christianity at its core—dare I say it, at its fundamental core—is a sensible, peaceful, meaningful religion.

I don’t go to church for three main reasons, in this order:

1. I am too lazy to get up on Sunday mornings.
2. I hate groups.
3. My interpretation of Christianity is very different from anything preached at most pulpits.

Funny story: guy came up to the desk looking for the Left Behind series. The LB books are a fundamental, evangelical, post-Rapture-but-pre-Apocalypse series. Jesus came, whisked off the good Christians to heaven, and gave everyone else seven years to shape up or get sent to hell. These books are extremely conservative and extremely popular.

For political and aesthetic reasons I dislike the series intensely, but I’ve made myself do a modest genre study of so-called Inspirational Fiction. I don’t care for it, but my patrons do, so I read some of the books. That’s dedicated librarianship, that is.

So guy wants the first book in the series. Without needing to look it up in the catalog, I trot him over to L for LaHaye. Along the way I give him a short plot synopsis.

The guy’s really impressed and pleased. I’m pleased. Happy patron = happy librarian.

Then:

“Do you go to church?”

Um. That’s not an appropriate question, mister. I refrain from telling him so, and answer instead with a simple “no.” He probably assumed that meant I didn’t have a Christian faith, but I didn’t feel like getting into details with him.

“Then how do you know so much about the books?”

Sigh. I know about the books because I’m a librarian.

What makes me sad is that the guy had a simple, but erroneous, conclusion in his head: Liking LaHaye means you’re a Christian, and not liking him means you’re not.

Too many people think like that. Too many people think Christian means conservative. This is why I don’t care to even disclose my religion, not without ample opportunity for caveats.

Just finished a book today on a very peculiar group of Christians, the Mormons. Mainstream Christians do not acknowledge Mormons as being Christians. Guess that gives me something in common with them, but the similarities stop there. They’re a conservative, sexist, racist group. That’s not slander, by the way: they happily acknowledge their sexist racist conservativism.

Book I read was Krakauer’s Under the Banner of Heaven. It’s about the history and practice of Mormonism, with a focus on two contemporary Mormon brothers who, acting on a command from God, killed a woman and her toddler. By the time I was halfway through the book I was really angry with Mormons generally and with the killers specifically. I was rooting for the death penalty for them—strange for me, considering how strongly I oppose capital punishment. Very thought-provoking stuff, especially when you realize that the Latter-Day Saints constitute the fastest-growing religion in America.

Where was I? Right. Happy Easter. And happy Good Friday, two days late. It’s a bit of a morbid holiday but, from my perspective, it’s the most important one in the Christian pantheon. It trumps Christmas, which was very impressive, what with the virgin birth and all, but suppose Jesus had caught the flu and died as an infant? His adult life was more important than his birth (though, I grant you, he wouldn’t have had an adult life if he hadn’t been born. Obviously.) Far more important is Easter, the conclusive proof for Christians that Jesus was divine. Ha! Try coming back from the dead if you’re NOT the son of God!

But Jesus’ return from the grave is not the crux of the religion. His death is. That’s where the salvation comes from, and that’s why I think Good Friday should be the most celebrated of the Christian holidays. It’s actually really disturbing to think about. My religion is based on the extremely violent death of a perfectly innocent man. You get into heaven thanks to a blood sacrifice.

As I said, I don’t believe that Christianity holds the exclusive key to salvation. But I think it works for a lot of people, and if you’re one of them, cheers! Happy salvation!

Friday marked another important holiday, my twenty-sixth birthday. I got two really awesome gifts, an electric kettle and a coffee/tea press. The electric kettle boils the water in, like, a minute, no exaggeration. It’s amazing. The press allows the water to get cozy with the beans or leaves, far more so than a traditional coffee pot or tea ball. The result is a veritable taste sensation.

Mom and Dad were up for a few days. We did some touristy stuff and Mom visited Hairdresser Jeff. She got an awesome haircut. It looks just like mine in the back, though hers is brown, not fading purplish-red. Then we all played a game of Scrabble. Mom apparently forgot that you’re supposed to let the birthday girl win. Harrumph.

Late that day, Dad figured out how to fix my teevee. It works now! For future visits, we won’t have to sit around in uncomfortable silence! But they left late Friday, possibly because there were no movies to watch, or maybe just because they wanted to drive through the night. So then I called LaFriend, who had gamely offered to make sure that I wasn’t sitting at home by myself on my birthday. We went to Tequila Rose and discussed our cats. Only fanatical cat-lovers think that’s a good way to spend a Friday evening. Me, I don’t think you can beat cat-talk and a pina colada.

I had spent the morning at work. It was a calculated approach: some people stay home on their birthdays, but I was hoping I might get some birthday booty out of them. (Plus it’s hard to get time off, now that Melicent has absconded to Outreach.) They really came through. Bookish Jet got me a birthday card. Youth Services made me a personalized birthday card and all signed their names. Lord knows we never do anything like that for them. Wow!

And Adult Services? Well: let me take this opportunity to formally rescind everything I ever said about my coworkers being bloodthirsty Visigoth sociopaths. There was pizza. There were balloons. Currer Bell loaned me her tiara. Persepolis got a carrot cake from Ukrop’s. And there was a birthday card with personalized messages!

You must realize that no one else in my department has gotten a birthday party, not in the nearly six months I’ve been here. I see two possible explanations:

1. I am the most popular librarian ever.
2. My birthday coincidentally fell on the Friday of a holiday weekend.

Okay, it’s probably choice 2, but I was still really pleased, and I hope it signals a new trend. I’m not saying we need a full-scale party for each birthday (that’d be fourteen parties a year, not counting holidays) but I say we start getting cards for one another, and maybe do quarterly birthday parties.

My only complaint was that I didn’t get World Peace like I had asked for. Come on, people, we can do better. Let’s get working on that for next year.

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2 responses »

  1. I really enjoyed reading this! It’s nice when I can find something to read that is enjoyable and I don’t fall asleep reading it. Funny that I work in a library and don’t like to read, mainly because it always puts me to sleep, even if I’m dying to read the book, I fall asleep. It’s not that the subject matter is boring because I can find it interesting but the act of reading for a long period of time just makes my eyes close and next thing I know, I’m out! 🙂 Allergic to books, I guess. But I can make it through magazine/newspaper articles and blogs! 🙂 I once took a short story class in college thinking I could make it through short stories, but no…anyways, your blog is a good read! I think I’ll pass this entry on to my wife to read, I think the discussion on religion would interest her. Oh, and the birthday parties and cards is a good idea….we in Automated Services joined together with Technical Services and we do birthday cards for all of us and we have something like a quarterly party…we may have slimmed it down to 2 parties a year I think.K-Man

    Reply
  2. No, K-Man, we just don’t invite you to the other two! Hee hee!

    Reply

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