Hello everyone, it’s Sunday July 28, 2013 (or it was when I wrote this), and this is another sermon by The Revenant.
Today, we’ll be discussing the mentality of the religious worshiper. After all, much has been made of whether to believe or not and, in general, it comes down to a personal choice. But, given that said person chooses to believe, what is it that would make them worship God? After all, there many billions the world over that believe, but the number of fundamentalist worshippers for each religion (especially Christianity) are far fewer. So, given all we know of God from the religious texts, given everything He, and his avatars, have done on Earth — positive and negative — and given that He, simply put, is just another sentient being, albeit grander in scale than us, let’s explore why someone would worship such a being.
To do this we’ll look at the types of believers and how their propensity to worship is a reflection of their form of belief.
1) Most common type of belief, at least in the west, is simply the intentional ignorance of the liberal Christian. They feel there is ‘something’ else, ‘something’ bigger than us out there. Not necessarily the Christian God, they don’t necessarily believe in Jesus, but they associate themselves with Christianity because, well, that’s the culture they live in.
There’s not much to analyze here, really. This type of person may, or may not, go to church, but they tend not to give any deep thought to their beliefs and are basically just following the crowd. These are the non-worshippers who go to church occassionally, and on religious holidays, because ‘they think they should’.
2) Atheists, of course, don’t believe in deities and therefore don’t worship. I mention this group only as a counter to the fundamentalists, as atheists tend to be more individualistic, more free thinking and, as a consequence, less prone to any form of worship. This is not in every case, however. Any group of people with similar views will have those who enjoy ‘belonging’. And atheists in particular have those who will be prone to the ‘rebel’ attititude; resisting the establishment (i.e. the established religions) simply because it is the establishment, without properly understanding the issues.
3) Fundamentalists believe dogmatically. Books have been written on the why: psychology, sociology, economics, neurology, biochemistry, but as we’ve already seen with liberal religious, belief doesn’t always translate into worship. So, why does this group worship devoutly? Just what do they hope to achieve from it?
A) Well, many will say they worship out of respect. A relationship akin to child-father. Perhaps. But in the modern age, a father who demands that much obedience, and dishes out that much pain and suffering, is more often than not considered to have some serious mental issues.
My own parents were from the spanking generation, and it is effective… to some extent. I grew up as a child who was afraid to cross my parents to such an extent that, if I was painfully hungry, I would not ask for food or think to take anything from the kitchen until supper time. If told to stay in the car while my parents were shopping, my sibling and I would not think of leaving that car until my parents were finished. On occassion this was on the order of an hour-long wait. Now, I don’t want to paint a picture of my parents as violent dictators, they weren’t. And we didn’t fear violent reprisals from the actions I described. But we had been so instilled with the idea of obedience that, for a long time, we lost any will to question them.
More importantly, did we grow up respecting my parents? For a while, yes. But as soon as we neared our own maturity, that respect faded. As a parent now, I continue to respect what they did in raising us. Any parent doing the best they can to raise their children earns my respect automatically. But this view comes with the insight of shared experience, not out of belief that their methods were effective or correct. As a youth, there was a long period were I was not interested in having anything to do with my parents and was more than happy to finally leave the nest to make my way alone.
So, is respect the reason they worship? For some maybe, but it takes a special type of person to respect those that continually do you harm or that threaten you if you don’t respect them. Or perhaps a particular type of brainwashing ala the Stockholm syndrome. Even on a slightly more positive side, this type of parental action is just as likely to drive the child away, as it is to bring them closer.
B) After reading some fundamentalist websites and forum posts, highlighted in Sermon #6: The Right to Believe I’ve come to the view that respect is not the reason many worship. Instead, it’s a matter of strength.
Whether they fully realize it or not, fundamentalists who dream of living in heaven and serving god, dream of being serfs in a feudalistic society. God is the ultimate king, the all-powerful, all-knowing monarch who imposes his will on everyone. Those that listen prosper, those that don’t suffer. The very idea that whatever God does is, by definition, good, is highly reminiscent of complete dictatorships over a brainwashed population (North Korea comes to mind). Of course, that their God seems to preach exactly what such people wish to hear, complete with small-minded bigotry, is a fortunate convenience for them.
In many ways, this mentality is like being a devout sports fan; the kind that supports their team no matter what, the kind that buys all the paraphenalia, that watches every game, and calls the team ‘my team’, never realizing that they are nothing but an insignificant cash cow, a serf farming money and passing it to the royalty of the franchise.
Only, sports teams don’t threaten wayward fans with eternal torture. At least, not that I’m aware.
So, despite all the horrors God has admitted to visiting upon humans throughout our civilized history, the devout fundamentalists worship him essentially because He is the toughest kid on the block. They follow Him, a flock of sycophants begging for a kind word, or a hint of notice, out of little more than what amounts to celebrity worship. Only, they are attracted to physical power instead of fame. God can do, and has done, absolutely anything to them, and they will continue to follow, justifying His lack of concern for their well-being as ‘mysterious behaviour’. They will fight for Him, they will kill for Him, and they will die for Him, and he offers nothing but vague promises in return.
It takes a truly ‘special’ mind to worship a being like God.
Insight and longevity,