Wednesday, November 3, 2010

(I had a really bad idea for a title, but I changed it)

Ladies love it, old guys preach it, and most people generally try to avoid the subject altogether...


Some of your eyes may have just glued themselves to this post, but more than likely you had the urge to roll them.

It's mere mention can bring a two-hundred mile an hour conversation to a violent halt within milliseconds. Nobody wants to talk about their beliefs in higher beings and there's plenty of reasons why.

Namely, it's awkward as shit.

Not so much when you're at church gabbing with the old ladies there (where do they GO after service?), but rather when you're at the lunch table, and bringing up Jesus may offend somebody in your direct vicinity.

I'm a wavering Christian, God and I have ups and downs. By no means does it define me. But, I mean, did you see how defensive that last sentence sounded? Why are people so embarrassed to throw themselves into a stance of forged faith? I don't get what it is about God that makes people so pretentious, but non-Christians can be total assholes about Christian people. Maybe that's what makes us so shy. The consistent scoffing and guffawing of self-righteous atheists (as opposed to non-self-righteous atheists, because they exist too) is enough to turn a vulnerable young teen struggling with his identity into a sharer of that belief. It's easy to be condescending and judgmental. I've had my flirtations with pretending to be above everyone before, and it's easy. By putting someone down you're essentially making a positive comparison to yourself. It's kind of like how every action has an equal/opposite reaction. E.g. "You're fat. (I'm not.)" "You're stupid. (I'm smarter than you.)" If you were ever wondering why asshole kids make fun of fatties in elementary school, bam. That's why.

Anyway, in a separate paragraph that should have been the second half of the previous paragraph, it's hard to grow up a Christian, commit to the faith, keep it, and then be able to broach the subject without it being practically beaten out of you.

What if someone's religion is different? If I proclaim that I love Jesus, does that offend my Jewish friend sitting three spots down from me? I've always wondered how I would feel in that situation, but I suppose I never will know. The fact is, if you are a true believer in God, it is a HUGE part of your life. HUGE. As in, it effects your family life, who you befriend, how you treat people, and your activities outside of school. It doesn't necessarily make them better, either, that isn't what I'm trying to say. However you pray before dinner, you celebrate Christmas in more ways than presents, you don't make friends with the middle school badasses (though you really want to), you try and be charitable when possible, also you have things to do on Sundays and, of course, summer camp.

All this, and you barely mention it to some of your closest friends.

When you hear kids talk about bible camp, and why it's so awesome, they'll give you a bunch of bullshit, but the fact is they feel great about loving God. Church camp works like this. Take hundreds of kids who are Christian enough to agree to suffer through a week focused on God, put them with other kids who share their beliefs to a certain degree, make them talk about the bible, and then let them talk about other stuff. Now see what happens. First off, ice? Broken. Everyone here is guilty of being Christian (or of the same religion, because other religions have camps too, I'm just using Christianity as an example). Anyway, everyone here is Christian. They can talk about their beliefs, what led them to their faith, aka family. You can't talk about your family with kids you meet at school. It's just not as easy. So within a couple days, you have a good foundation to form friendships on.

It's great, it's fun, it's easy to make friends. But, most downplayed is the fact that it's also easy to get close to God. To think with extra benevolence, and to regard even your enemies with compassion. It works. For like two weeks, maybe three if you're serious. The reason why this feeling of faith and belief (which is amazing, by the way) doesn't last? Because when summer camp is over, the real world reclaims its hold over your life. You face your parents' restrictions, you face schoolwork, you face the cool kids, you face Lil Wayne's music and phase out those praise songs that are catchy as hell, simply put, this world doesn't want you to hold your faith in high regard. If it's there, that's fine, it guesses, just don't make a big deal out of it. That's when it gets awkward.

So, what is God? Is it a dude? Is it a chick? Or is it just an economic tool? Is it a way to sway the people and keep them under control? Frankly, we don't know. We can believe one thing or another, but somebody of contrary belief will be waiting for you to shove some doubt into your head the moment you believe you've reached clarity. Why do we put other people's beliefs down? (Quick, use the theory we created earlier!) Because it makes what they believe seem more right by comparison. Nobody wants to feel wrong. Everybody has been taught that their religion is pure and preaches peace. Isn't it kinda fucked up that religion provokes so much violence?

I'm not certain when religion was created. Maybe it was when someone thought, "how the hell did I get here?" or later on "why the hell am I here?" "what am I supposed to do while I wander this planet?" Maybe it was "what happens when we die?" (quick aside: I used to plead for a zombie outbreak, that was before I moved to Champaign. Now if that happened? I'm fucked) or maybe it's "how do we keep people unafraid of death?" it could have been "how do we keep people from acting selfishly and being total assholes?" All are tough questions. All might cause ones to throw their hands up in the air and wish they could push their problems on to someone else.

The big question: is there an answer? Does divinity exist? It's hard to proclaim that yes, there is a God. It's a weighty claim. But perhaps it's even harder to say no. At least for me. Because I want to believe. On my better days I do.

So why not believe? Maybe it's too big of a risk to take. The fear of being let down is too much. Maybe you don't want to care, to be roped into the intense ferocious debates. Maybe it's because your older brother doesn't believe in God and he's right about everything. Maybe you don't want to sound pretentious like those other boastful Christians that your friends make fun of. Maybe you just didn't have time.

Who's got it better? The believers and faith-filled or the non-chalant passive atheists? I've got my beliefs, and though you may not see it, I cherish them. I choose not to boast because frankly you probably don't give a damn. You're allowed your beliefs. Allow me mine. Religion is a big deal. You have to acknowledge it, at some point or another. If you think you won't, ask yourself again when you have minutes to live and still are interested in your personal future. What happens when we die? Because, let's recall, we all die. I don't know what it is, but damn, it's gotta be something right?

At least I'd like to think so. Thanks for listening.

--Eliot Sill

PS-I titled it "God Post", but most of you never would have gotten here.


  1. I think that modern society's want to keep everything "politically correct" has crushed people's ability to express their religions in public without being thoroughly judged as conceded and prejudiced. That's really too bad, because it sort of defeats the purpose of religion. I wish it wasn't like that, but it's the world we live in. To those people who continue to express their religion despite what society says about them, I give you props. I aspire to be more like you someday.

    -Classic Brian

  2. This post suuuuucks. Why did you write thisssss.


  3. You know, this is an interesting study in the different sides of America, I think. I'm from rural Oklahoma, and people at my high school never shied from talking about religion. A lot, actually. It was a really big deal to be an atheist, and I kept really quiet about it because it could really alienate you. (More quiet than I'm really comfortable admitting now, honestly.) Now that I'm at college the religious diversity is one of the main changing points--and one I really appreciate. That said, ideally there would be room for everyone to discuss their beliefs without it being, as you said, awkward as shit--otherwise, someone on some side of things is getting screwed over.