Wednesday, 26 November 2008

RELIGION : Paradise & praise the lord

When Mohammad Atta boarded his plane on 9/11, seven years ago, he was freshly starched and washed, clean inside/outside, ready to embark on his historical suicide-killing spree. And all that because he knew after his death he would go to paradise.

His kind of paradise is truly enticing, at least for a man who happens not to be gay and who is in excellent health. Imagine: 72 beautiful virgins at your service, good wine, good food, soft bed. All this free of charge and no end to it.

Compared to this Five-Star-Paradise the Christian one looks drab. When I was a little boy, I was told up there the good, deserving people would sing in a choir praising the Lord and/or polishing the stars and anyway, I would be an angel able to fly around with the help of my wings.

Both have at least this in common: they are somehow childish. A modern paradise, revealed these days, would probably look different and if someone of my readers has any ideas about it, don't hesitate to explain what happens there.

The three big religions with their monopolistic god have lots in common. They all come out of the desert, those dry, sandy stretches, too hot during the day and too cold at night. And they don't like women.

The male Jews thank god in their prayers not to be made a woman. the Muslims don't allow them to drive a car (Saudi-Arabia) or give them only half the value at law suits (Iran) etc., etc, etc. The Christians (Catholics, Orthodox) don't consider them good enough to be priests or pope.

And here comes something truly astonishing. in all those three religions women play an important role. Not on top, sure, but on the lower echelons they are aplenty. How is this possible?? Not one of these big three One-God-Religions has to complain of a scarcity of women!

If I would be a female I would quit an organization that considers me inferior. But they don't seem to see it in this light.

Next point: in a remote corner of our garden is a little aunt heap. They live there and I leave them alone. I don't ask the aunts to praise me for that and I would be slightly amused if I would learn that they are praising me for letting them going after their business.

But in religion that is not so. On the contrary: Praise the Lord is mandatory, here on earth and it even seems to go on in paradise. I can't help thinking this praising activity is just an oriental, Near East habit. In this part of the world, when you happen to meet your cheikh, sultan, padishah, bey, king or emperor, better tell him this: "you are splendid, wonderful, your face is shining with wisdom, your decisions are always right, I am mostly wrong, thanks for letting this insignificant servant live on nevertheless, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you". .....

And there is another aspect to it: this praising activity is a pious attempt to corrupt your god into giving favors, frequently totally undeserved. What about replacing this praising activity by doing something useful?

Last not least, there is this little poem written by the American Joe Hill, probably nearly hundred years ago:

You will eat (You will eat)
Bye and bye (bye and bye)
In that glorious land above the sky (Way up high)
Work and pray (Work and pray)
Live on hay (Live on hay)
You'll get pie in the sky when you die (Thats a lie)


  1. Georg, congrats for doing this post. Great courage you have shown. Zero comments till now shows how difficult it is to critcise religion. You are lucky that you are in France. Had you been somewhere in those desert lands, they would have by now converted you into dessert for creatures in the desert for being blasphemous!

    Why are people so afraid?

    Joe Hill was one who clearly "crossed" the hill of faith. Hey, hey, live on hay, live on hay, after you die, that pie in the sky, will make your day! Those promises. it seems, did not work in the manner that was anticipated when religion was beginning. That is possibly why THREAT was introduced. If you don't follow my one and only real God, you will rot in hell for eternity after you die! Since people were not buying this story too, some people took it upon themselves to deliver them to that horrible place summarily.

    The third strategy is the only real one that has worked for centuries, and is still being used effectively in some parts of the world to keep the flock under firm control. That is why men have killed more men in the name of their god than they for any other reason.

    Surely Georg, God would have known that if He even whispered that any one who did not "accept" Him would go to hell, his followers would commit the most horrendous possible crimes to break others into "believing" in Him, as has happened right through history.

    So, my understanding is that lure and fear were both introduced into religions not by God but His followers as a means to increase their own power and influence. The question that arises then is that God should also have known that this would happen. Why then did He allow men to torture and kill men in His name for centuries? Why then did He complicate things even further by "sending" His representatives more than once, with the newer one saying that the God of the older one was false?

    Do you have any answers, Georg, or was Joe Hill right?

  2. Hallo georg!!
    tu vas me donner des cours d'anglais (Europe oblige héhéhéhé!)
    Je ne maîtrise en effet pas assez cette langue pour en comprendre tous les mots, particulièrement l'histoire de Joe hill et sa conclusion. (j'ai bien aimé la version de la superbe et sublime Joan Baez).
    Cependant j'ai compris que ton billet avait pour but de se "questionner" sur les motivations des profondes des fidèles de certaines religions.
    Si tout ce que tu dis sur les trois religions monothéistes est très vrai, je tiens à ajouter quelques réflexions personnelles (que beaucoup partagent, souvent sans oser les dire) :
    - Une religion n'a pas évolué comme les autres : L'islam. Bien que certains israélites orthodoxes soient du même niveau.
    - les athées, protestants, catholiques, agnostiques... n'hésitent pas à condamner les éventuels agissements négatifs de membres de leur communauté (se souvenir de l'Irlande il n'y a pas si longtemps). Je ne vois que rarement les israélites condamner le vol des terres palestiniennes ni les massacres de Sabra et Chatila mais j'entends encore moins la communauté musulmane condamner le 11 septembre, le train de Madrid, les assassinats perpétrés contre des chrétiens en Malaisie (je crois)il y a qq années et ces jours-ci, alors, personne se disant musulman même modéré ne dit quoi que ce soit sur les petits cons qui ont perpétré ces massacres en Inde.
    Mais quand le monde civilisé va-t-il se reveiller et dire aux musulmans "Vous nous faites chier, bande de cons rétrogrades". Pardon pour ces mots orduriers!
    Ah oui!!! c'est vrai!! ils ont du pétrole!! Pour le moment.

    Et dernier questionnement.
    - Je ne comprends pas ces gens qui se convertissent à l'Islam pur et dur. Et plus particulièrement les femmes. Et souvent des femmes "féministes".

    Ceci dit,je l'avoue, il y a quelques "cathos" qui ont des idées pas mal obscurantistes: le mariage des prêtres, le divorce, l'avortement surtout.

    Merci georg pour ton courage d'avoir osé dire ce que tu pense.
    N'hésite pas à me dire si j'ai mal interprété ton texte et toutes remarques qui s'imposent.

    Je t'ai répondu sur mon blog. merci pour ton passage.
    Bon weekend à toi et ta famille.

  3. j'ai trouvé Georg! merci quand même

    La nuit passée j’ai vu Joe Hill
    Vivant comme vous et moi
    Mais Joe ça fait 10 ans qu’t’es mort
    Je n’serais jamais un mort
    Jamais un mort dit il

    Il était auprès de mon lit
    Vivant comme vous et moi
    « Mais ils t’ont condamné à mort »
    Je n’suis pas mort dit Joe (bis)

    Les patrons t’ont fait tuer pourtant
    Un fusil n’suffit pas
    Ce qu’ils n’ont pus tuer dit Joe
    Sera toujours vivant (bis)

    Joe Hill n’est jamais mort dit il
    Il est près des chômeurs
    Dans le combat des ouvriers
    Ma place est dans leur cœur (bis)

    Partout ou l’on combat dit il
    On se souvient de moi
    Nous sommes des millions dit il
    Nous ne mourrons jamais (bis)

  4. Hallo Vinod: thanks for those remarks, really. And you are probably right in your analysis why there are so few comments.

    You don't need very much courage to say what I say, here in France. Religion is not really a subject over here due to indifference of most people. That's the difference to the "desert countries", as you say.

    Right now in Mumbai/Bombay everyone can see what religious fanaticism can achieve. I just hope you'll be able to grind these people down to dust.

    Vincent : merci pour ton commentaire et tu as tout à fait raison. Il ne faudra plus se laisser faire, sinon tout est à recommencer.

    Merci aussi pour ce text de Joe Hill, la traduction française. Comment as-tu trouvé et où? Est-ce une chanson chanté par Joan Baez en français?


  5. tu poste ce lien dans le moteur de recherche et tu as tous les chants révolutionnaires.
    ça n'est pas ma tasse de thé mais ces chants sont magnifiques

  6. Georg- not being that bright, I suddenly realised you might have a blog and thought I'd click on your name and come over and comment. You are right about the role of women in religion. What I find more interesting though is the whole issue of prayer- both because of the problem you identify (if God will do the right thing anyway why does he need reminding- if he won't because you pray then your prayer contributes to evil) but because of another more simple one- can't God hear your innermost thoughts, so why do you need to say these words out loud for him to register them.

    Anyway I will be over more frequently from now on!

  7. Hallo Gracchy,

    Thanks for passing by and commenting. What you say about prayers is certainly right though it never occurred to me.

    Religion is an inexhaustible subject and I think we should take it up. Otherwise it could well be that it engulfs us.


  8. Well, I find, especially moving here in the midwest that religiously, you always say one thing, but believe another.

    Since I've never found anything to lure or entice me, I remain one of the unchosen: (

    As Alfred E Newman once said: What Me Worry?

    Although I am not perfect, I do believe that what you do here, "here and now" is what matters, not anything once you are dead and gone ; )

    Cheers to you and yours!

  9. Hallo Coffee,

    You are in good spirits, I see. Great. Don't know who Mr. Newman is but "what me worry" sounds good.

    Let's remain to be one of those unchosen.

    So you are living in the Midwest. Is this already the "Bible Belt"??


  10. Dis donc chez toi il y a des bavards!
    J'ai beau être une femme je suis beaucoup moins bavarde que ces messieurs.
    Tu as raison de dire qu'on ne devrait pas rester dans une religion qui met les femmes en infériorité, mais je vais te confier que je connais deux familles complètement athées et les femmes! je ne voudrais pas y être je ne le supporterais pas.

  11. George,

    To be honest for me choosing a side Between being religious or secular is not easy. Looking at these three main one-God religions , raise a lot of questions for me.
    If there is one God, and he is the kindest, the wisest, the most powerful, the most generous and the most forgiving, many things that average people recon of him are absolutely wrong. The way they practice and put themselves into a lot troubles to make him happy does not make any sense. It’s like God is a cruel, demanding king, sitting up there and waiting to see when you forget to say your pray, etc to give you a hard time. It’s just does not make any sense.
    Long time ago, when I was a teenage girl I said to myself this is rubbish, if there is any God, he can not be so demanding and all these mandatory rules must be man-made.
    Well right now I don’t know many things but I know one:
    To live happily I should learn not to hurt people, to respect them and to be kind,
    to be honest , to be …not to be..
    I know I don’t need anyone threaten me with hell and huge fire to stop me from being a liar or worse.
    I know I don’t need the promise of heaven to be kind to other and love them…
    As Buddha said “Religion is like a boat helping people to cross the river, and you should be a fool to still carry the boat after crossing the river…”

  12. Georg,

    Oh yes, this area is part of the so called bible belt.

    Seems there's a church for every little group of people who do not want to embrace the other groups of people. Very strange.

    They don't seem to like anyone but themselves, and if you're different, or from another part of the usa as we are, forget it, unless you join all their crazy little groups. ; (

    Oh. Alfred E Neuman (sp sorry)the mascot of MAD MAGAZINE ; )

  13. Hallo Hiva,

    Very interesting statement. But I particularly liked old Buddha's saying about the boat. He must have had a splendid sens of humor.

    Naturally his followers mostly seem devoid of this. I have been in Buddhist regions once and only saw primitive underdeveloped people using stupid praying machines and pictures of demons.

    These people did not only carry the boat but the water, too.

    Coffee my friend, old Bible belter:
    at least you are not in danger of getting bored by lack of spirituality.


  14. Hallo Viviane,

    Evidemment, le caractère n'a rien à voir avec la religion et les convictions. Comme dans la politique, la couleur du parti n'a qu'une lointaine relation avec l'honnêteté.
    Avec une différence : quand il s'agit d'un Corse, vaut mieux s'en méfier avant de démarrer quoi que ce soit.Ha, ha, ha.


  15. ah Georg you felt into the temptation of talking about religion, glad you followed your promise to Vinod, you are a good friend!

    I agree with Hiva, that the only thing is up to us (humanity, regardless of creeds) is to help one other and don't mess around much with others, plain old-fashioned 'try-to-be-as-nice-as-possible', i think the conflict starts when mister Mohammad Atta doesn't care about having to kill thousands of people to get to his paradise... at least Christianity and Judaism, as far as i know, ask for not human sacrifice

    now when it comes to women and the way we've been treated by you more-powerful-physically men... it does feel in my heart, like i shouldn't stop typing this... go and organize a bunch of PMSing amazons against you men!! and show you all the rage of the female!! and our idea of paradise... heh heh, but not to worry, i am lazy enough to do that, and i wouldn't think many of my female peers are too soundly attached to their males to join the revolution anyway...

    remember, it's hard, very hard, to erase the precept that you've been taught for a whole life! regardless of how senseless they might sound to other cultures, like the 72 repressed virgins waiting for a ugly chauvinist muslim up there...

  16. georg~
    I have been busy with family, so I have not been for a visit.
    First Thanks for coming by to comment
    and no prozac is not like Viagra, prozac is a anti depression drug.makes you happy.
    I have enjoyed reading your religious post, very humorous, and full of subtle sarcasm.
    The thing about any religion is how much we can blame God for things that go wrong, and how much we can blame mankind for what goes wrong.
    all these ridiculous choices..
    ( i mean that in a funny way)
    We all believe what we want to, and in the end..

  17. The problem that I see with most afterlife visions is an astonishing lack of variety. Even the most wondrous things can lose their splendor if nothing else is available.

  18. Georgyporgy's to my dear readers:

    Berenice: thanks for explaining the abbreviation. This being clear, it reminds me the words from the French King François I (he lived around 1550 AD and was quite ugly):

    souvent femme varie
    un fol qui s'y fie

    meaning something like women vary frequently, only a fool would ....
    well, would what: I'll leave it to you to complete the sentence.

    But one thing is clear: women need and should have a special private paradise catering for heir needs.
    I'll leave it to you to fill in the specifics.

    For Sorrow:

    I have a friend here whose words are always "family comes first", sound advice anyway.

    You are right, religion and how we "use" it says a lot about ourselves. May be its like in politics: people have the religion they merit.

    To Cyan:
    First thanks for commenting. Well, this is a new idea. A paradise where you are able to compose your own menu: for the Muslim male for instance: 72 virgins, ok, but no wine, only sherbet and orange juice , the latter being organically grown.

    Cyan, this idea merits to be patented.

    Cheers to all of you

  19. Hi georg, here on Vinod's recommendation and have been reading all ur commentaries with great interest and admiration....

    When we are not able to comprehend or explain incidents/phenomena, we start thinking of that unknown entity we call God, Allah, Bhagwan...

    The unknown is always looked upon with awe and sometimes fear....

    To my mind...the genesis of all religions are rooted in the exploitation of this "awe n fear" that exists in the minds of ordinary ill informed masses by the few powerful intellectual elite of the times...

    What better way to get a whole mass of humanity to do something than by proclaiming it as the word of that "god"

    Stories and myths were probably put forth and propogated as Gospel

    Muslims must bathe on friday, grow a beard in those hot deserts, eat out of the same plate.... because "allah" said so?

    I for one think not...! The wise guys of those times probably thought that in the desert one needs to save and use less does one enforce the practice?...go back to "god"

    We laugh and deride Muhammed Atta's misplaced and diabolical, but passionate committment to his cause and even his anticipation of 72 virgins...

    How different is it from the belief of millions ( George Bush included ) of Christians that the son of God was born to a Virgin??

    And if it can motivate him to fly into an iconic building and convert a plane into a humungous bomb...welll more power to the 72 virgins...we all know who had the last laugh.

    God, poor guy....i'm sure wants no part of all this..we don't even know who he is..whether he is really here or not??

  20. Hallo Rati,

    Thanks for commenting and thanks to Vinod.

    Religion is an interesting and disturbing subject. Naturally, it informs about a special religion but more so, it says a lot about the people who adhere to this or that creed.

    In other words, if you know how someone practices a given religion, you know at the same time a lot about this person.

    There is one special point that has always interested me, though, naturally, no answer is available: those on top, the people who sponsor and are responsible of their religion (but not the founders, who were mostly pure), those popes, ayatollas, grand muftis, Sultans, protectors of faith, ARE THEY REALLY BELIEVERS OR JUST PROFITEERS?


  21. My spiritual connection with that unknown power/entity ( can we call him God?) is deeply personal...and I should be in DIRECT communication with him.
    That is the philosophy promulgated in the Vedas and subscribed to by the Arya Samaj...My 90 year old aunt can perform the "havan" , basically chanting of mantras and sholkas, herself and she is no priest.The moment a priest steps in the purity of that communion is diluted.
    Pandits, priests, muftis and maulvis and popes and Imams have a vested interest in controlling and deciding how we communicate with our chosen god. It gives them a socio-economic hold over the masses and therefore immense power.

    The movement is then structured and corporatised, like the Church, with the Pope at the helm. Or the philosophy twisted as with Islam to produce the mass murderers we hear of everyday....It then becomes a numbers yes I agree with u...

    And Georg, i believe it is the biggest flaw to "practice" a religion...It immediately brings to mind a straitjacket. Do prayers 5 times a day; must go to church on Sunday and take the holy communion....

    What i believe is that i must put "into practice" all the positive teachings of my scriptures in my daily life, and the Hindu way of life ( i won't call it religion ) gives me the freedom to do so...I do not HAVE to go to a temple on a designated day or time...I need not go to a temple at all.... i will not be castigated for it and nor will i be considered less devout than a person who visits a temple everyday.

  22. Hallo Rati,

    I think you give a very good description what religion or faith should be and what it should not be.

    Yesterday, at the telly, we saw a movie about St. Petersburg and naturally they showed us those Orthodox churches and the popes dressed in gold studded heavy cloth.

    Well, it looks expensive and impressive, a bit garish and barbarous, but the most important point to me is: Christ was walking barefoot and dressed in simple linen.


  23. I think we are on the same wavelength here.... :)

  24. Excellent article, Georg! The after life is a weird concept, isn't it? I guess it was easier for me to accept the idea when I was young and overly optimistic (and hadn't learned to second guess authority), so I thought that living forever in a heaven sounded like a great deal for nothing.

    Actually... getting something for nothing rather than by merit was a rather cool idea for lazy young me. I'm older and crankier now and so I actually like to earn stuff. ;o)

    I've thought about the Christian and Islamic notions of 'heaven' since I swore off religion... And the more I think about it the less appealing the idea. Just the thought of having to live forever strikes me as a terrible condition now (really, is there a better way to cheapen the value of life than to make it endless?).

    And the idea of having to live forever in a place where everything is good sounds even worse! If everything is good, then nothing is good... It'd all be just normal. I wouldn't appreciate what nice things others do for me simply because that would just be what I would expect of them. That'd just take all the fun out of living!

    So... I'm glad I'll die one day. Everyday is a lot more precious that way. ;o)

    Thanks a bunch for another thought-provoking read. Hope it is cooler where you are than it is here now (we got as hot as 36.7C today. It was brain-boiling!).

    Smorgy :o)

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