I do, however, believe that we do not know all there is to know about the world and our reason for being, and that one day it might be possible to scientifically prove the existence of the soul. I can't help but believe that I have one, that this particular spark (to crib a metaphor from every philosopher ever) belongs to me and me alone, and that my particular particles somehow make me a part of something bigger. (A really intricate Jello mold?)
Yesterday I had the distinctly tragic experience of attending a Catholic funeral in all its pomp and glory. (As an aside, the circumstances of the death still have me reeling, and if I think about it for too long - like, oh, say, two seconds - I get really, really angry and really, really sad. The hypocrisy of the Catholic church infuriates me, but that is a blog for another time, a time when the wound is not as fresh and I can express my thoughts without becoming overwhelmed by emotion.)
Revulsion for the Catholic church aside, I found the experience to be rather interesting from an anthropological point of view. All the sitting and standing and singing reminded me of kindergarten. There are colourful pictures to look at on the walls, and you get snacks if you are a good child of God. (Are the believers filled with the joy of the holy spirit when they consume the "blood" and "body" of old J.C., or do they simply enjoy the tasty little treat as they (humbly) sashay their way down the post-eucharist runway?) There is comfort in the repetition of the rituals and the words, the way small children ask to be told the same stories over and over again, and comfort in the priest's soothing voice, lulling the children to sleep, pacifying their grief, smoothing over their indignation and their fear.
I rather enjoyed the heady perfume of the incense the priest used as a symbolic way of consecrating the air, the bible, the corpse in the casket in front of us, despite being pretty sure that incense was the medieval way to offset the stink of the unwashed masses before the advent of aluminum zirconium tetrachlorohydrate and Colgate, and therefore also feeling sort of insulted. I also enjoyed the acoustics and the choir of school children, although I think the hymns need an update and the hymn writers could probably use a rhyming dictionary and maybe a refresher course in melody. (Man, do those things drag.)
What goes through the minds of the faithful when they are asked to pray? Do they really give serious consideration to Christ and the promise of everlasting life, or do they remember to add fabric softener to the grocery list? And what's up with that inane practice of shaking your neighbour's hand? (I refused on lack of religious principle, although I felt like sort of a dick afterwards. I will respectfully sit and stand and sit and stand and sit and stand again, because I am in your house of worship and people I love are grief-stricken and shattered, but I will not otherwise participate in your cultish bleating and blind obeisance.)
Catholicism seems to me to be full of archaic customs and oversimplified sentiments that speak to that childish part of ourselves, that part that is afraid of the world and wants to be comforted and protected and assured that there are no monsters under the bed, if only we believe hard enough.
As much as I would like to believe otherwise, life in all probability is a complete accident, and therefore irrelevant except to those around us whose lives we impact because we all share in this extraordinary happenstance. So hide your head beneath the covers if you must, tuck those feet in and turn on the nightlight, bow your head in humility and recite the Lord's Prayer and beg to be forgiven for sins that mankind, not God, has created to keep you in line.
But know that I think you are a moron and a coward with no trust in your own ability to behave with decency and respect to the people with whom you share this earthly world. Think of how much blood has been spilled and how much wealth has been spent glorifying gods throughout the ages when the Golden Rule is the only principle anyone really needs. Organized religion is the goddamn worst.