I believe in God. Why? I always figured it was because I was a Libra, and Libras crave affirmation, but they also crave balance, so some larger force needs to step in and say "you don't actually need every single one of those people to like you." What, you don't believe in astrology? That's okay, some signs are into astrology, and others aren't, and I've never met a Libra (or a Scorpio, for that matter) who didn't occasionally emit some idiotic babble about Mercury being in retrograde or Saturn returning, which sort of backwards proves the stuff is for real, albeit maybe in that way the placebo effect is real, and yeah that's the sound of Christopher Hitchens beating off because he can't hate-fuck me right now.
Moving on! God. Sooooo I was sitting in church on Sunday to memorialize the tragic suicide of a childhood friend. I was thinking about all the things you're not supposed to think about during mass, but stop feeling guilty about when you realize you have those same thoughts during sex and sex is a whole lot less boring and by the way you have ADHD. Anyway, so I was thinking nonspecifically of sex when I heard the priest say the words "contraception" and "not natural." I'm sure he caught the attention of the man behind me, too, because at that moment that guy prayerfully bowed his head down to the optimal position at which to stare at the package of birth control pills sticking out of my purse. I think he chuckled. I admire this generation of people who bow their heads and pray for God to forgive the priest when he takes his chance to inspire them and shits all over it with a rant informed exclusively by his own life's total lack of mirth, but I am not part of it. I stared at the priest. He had been acting spookily all mass. He had beaten his chest and looked at us creepily. He was a one-man case for going back to the old practice where the priest says the mass with his back to the congregation. Which, by the way, they're bringing back, along with Latin. Unfortunately, this guy was speaking English.
"It's very clear what the Catholic Church says about abortion," he was saying. "And yet you're not listening. Look at how you voted in November."
My grandmother rolled her eyes. "Abortion has never looked so good!" whispered my sister.
He continued with a speech about the breakdown of the family. Um, did he not hear the one about the plummeting divorce rate?
And then: "I would make my homilies 10 minutes shorter if more of you showed up to mass."
Then everyone rose to shake one another's hand in the ritual that is still called the "Kiss of Peace" (even though, duh, Catholics aren't actually literally gay like that), a tradition most people think of as one of the church's nicer, more heartening, more worthwhile practices. But the priest didn't want to have anything to do with it. He skipped right past it. When the time came for Communion, he refused to allow the volunteers (this is something women are actually allowed to do in the Catholic Church) to pass it out, and when the time came to bless babies he refused to do that, too. At the end of the mass my mom, who'd organized the thing, approached the priest, shaking slightly, and said, "So Father, what do you have against the Kiss of Peace?"
And he said, "It's an option. You have all week for such superficialities." There was a weird sociopathic look in his eye. Who was this man?
He turned out to be a retired nuclear physicist named Vincent P. Bork. Rumor had it that he was the son of the crazy psychoconservative Robert Bork, which would make sense in the vast right-wing conspiracy sense, though it didn't show up on Wikipedia. Anyway, here's the thing: Christopher Hitchens is right. Something is fucked with organized religion! And it's somehow gotten worse.
God and Jesus and the Ten Commandments and all the stuff that taught us how to act is not worth the sanctimony and hate and warped bile that churches are peddling these days. People are probably just better figuring out this shit for themselves, and forming personal mottoes to inure themselves to the contagious effects of other people's craziness. For instance, I once had dinner with Heidi Fleiss, who, like Jesus, has two personal commandments she repeats to herself to get through life. They happen to be "Men Will Fuck Mud" and "All Men Cheat," and while that might seem like some cynical sex-worker talk to you, to me it's sort of a message of acceptance, forgiveness, and not taking personally the slights (or dalliances) of others. Like what they tell you in AA! Where I am totally not headed.