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Religion Without Responsibility

I’ve had this post drafted since Easter.

I’m not a believer, but I consider myself somewhat religious. I’m ethnically Christian—does that make sense? I would like attend church on Sundays. Unfortunately, most churches are predicated on blind, nonsensical belief, which I can’t accept. Also, a significant portion of them are boring.

the gorgeous ceiling of Notre Dame cathedral
Notre Dame is un-boring based on the decor alone. Photo by Paul Bica.

Since today is Easter, I went to church with my family. The singing parts were nice, but the sermon combined dullness with idiocy. The pastor insisted that to be ~righteous~ in the eyes of the Lord, all you have to do is believe in Jesus Christ. He claimed that “works”, meaning self-improvement and efforts to alleviate the suffering in the world, are not the basis of worthiness. It’s all about that faith, baby. Ugh.

semi-disturbing Jesus graffiti
Semi-disturbing Jesus graffiti. Photo by Leonski Oh Leonski.

On the one hand, I choose the principle that human beings are valuable regardless of their personal attributes, because I think that leads to a better society. Which means, yeah, works aren’t the crux of your moral status. On the other hand, it’s pretty lazy to claim, “Oh no, I don’t have to try to be a good person. I just believe and Jesus takes care of the rest.” To me, that seems like a cop-out of developing rigorous individual ethics.

On the third hand—I need a third hand for rhetorical purposes—devout Christians do want to be good people, according to whatever rubric they subscribe to. And then there’s the fourth possibility, which I’m not quite arrogant enough to dismiss: maybe I understand nothing!

Frank Underwood: "I pray to myself, for myself."
Frank Underwood: not preoccupied by any of this nonsense.

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