Undoubtedly, Loyal Readers™ will recall with immense gratitude and appreciation the Palace’s ongoing mission to extract $82 billion worth of benefits from the Religion-Industrial-Complex on behalf of U.S. taxpayers on account of our $82 billion yearly taxpayer subsidies to same. We do this primarily by regularly mocking a church sign in the small town where my mother lives because (a) we can, (b) we thoroughly enjoy it, and (c) somebody has to fucking do it, people. These church signs aren’t just going to mock themselves now, are they? No.
Oh wait. Yes. Yes, they are. To wit:
Holy Mother of Dog. And when, pray tell (<—ha I crack myself up) might it be “hardest to pray”? Just off the top of my head:
- while driving and unexpectedly careening toward another vehicle, a formidable non-vehicular object, a person or other animal, or a deep trench.
In moments like these, there is only one thing you can absolutely count on, and that’s the fact that Jeezus is not going to do jack shit to interfere with the laws of physics on your behalf. Praying harder to Jeezus instead of…oh, I dunno, focusing on altering your trajectory out of harm’s way, isn’t just stupid, it’s reckless in the extreme. And this sign is encouraging it. Christ.
- when you learn of an overwhelming human tragedy like a natural disaster.
If you have even an ounce of compassion, the sheer scale of damage and suffering in the wake of such catastrophic events can shock you into numbness, frequently followed by a commendable urge to help the survivors. Here’s the important thing, though: praying will not help even one survivor. And that is because nothing fails like prayer.* Think about it: what could be more useless than praying to the exact same evil fucker who just wiped thousands of people off the face of the Earth? And left thousands more including children without access to clean water, food, shelter or medicine? Nothing, that’s what. FFS go do something useful, like donating a couple bucks to the Red Cross or something.
(I recognize that it very well might be just me, but every time a U.S. president says something demonstrably false like “we’re all praying for the people of India/the Gulf Coast/Mumbai/Missouri/Pakistan/whatever” I have an overwhelming inclination to moon him.)
- someone you know is suffering from a terminal disease.
“Tell so-&-so I’m praying for him!” Just NO. Unless the person has specifically asked for your prayers. In which case it is perfectly acceptable to lie to their faces and tell them you are praying for them when in fact you are doing no such thing. And that is because instead of praying, you will actually be doing something helpful. If you can, go visit them in person and brighten their last days. If you cannot visit, write a letter and enclose some photos, inquire if they’d like to Skype with you, or send them a video of yourself conveying warm and sincere thoughts to them. Offer to assist close family and friends with a home-cooked meal, child care, pet care, or whatever else you can do. It helps to be specific, and ask “hey, I’m free on Saturday; would you like me to drive the kids to soccer?” or “I’d be happy to take Fido home with me for a few days, if that would help you out?” as opposed to “let me know if there’s anything you need…”
Praying wastes time. There isn’t any time to waste.
And if there’s some medical breakthrough and the person goes into remission or recovers, thank the NIH and the People of the United States for the research grants that funded the cure. Or the medical professionals who kept them alive long enough to benefit from it. Thank the scientists who dedicated their careers to working on it. But for the love of dog do not thank the same Lard that put someone through all of that horrible shit in the first place. If that was “god’s plan,” it is not mysterious. It’s sadistic.
Which brings us to the next sign these dingbats put up:
And while you’re at it, don’t forget to blame god for every disaster, cooking-related or otherwise! After all, if you have to grovel and tiptoe around solemnly announcing your appreciation for every scrap of subsistence thrown your way, and yet you can never offer even the slightest criticism for fear of some petulant egomaniac’s sadistic wrath, you are in an abusive relationship. (There is help!)
How ’bout this instead:
- Thank the people who prepared your meal.
- If they’re local, thank the farmers and workers that produced it and brought it to market.
- Toast the ancient Georgians who were the first to produce wine in 6000 BCE.
How retchingly humiliating is it to sit down to a fabulous feast that took you hours or days to shop for and prepare, only to have some pompous ass thank some lazy-assed Lord for it instead? He didn’t even bring a hostess gift. And while we’re at it:
- Thank firefighters for rescuing people and putting out flames, not Zeus.
- Thank police for saving lives and solving crimes, not Aphrodite.
- Thank the decent person who returns your lost property, not Vishnu.
- Thank the nurses, EMS workers and doctors who saved someone’s life, not Shiva.
These people are just like the cook: they do something amazing to help you—some of them even risk their own lives—only to see some ungrateful shithead on the 11 o’clock news thanking an invisible sky wizard. Don’t be that shithead: get into the habit of showing appreciation to real people. Thanking someone who makes your world a better place makes their world a better place.
The flip side of the thank god coin is even worse: forgiveness. It’s a get-out-of-accountability-free card for “free-market” capitalists and shitweasels of every stripe. Because no matter how badly you screw people over, don’t worry about it, @$$hole! You can relax, smug in the knowledge that Jeezus forgives you. And isn’t what really matters to you is that you get to
keep screwing people over go to heaven with all the other smug @$$holes? Priorities: you have them.
This sign has an easy fix:
Last, we have this pearl of wisdom:
So true. And yet clergy keep talking.
Oh, hey that reminds me. Here’s a timely and important warning to Christians that they must not put up Christmas trees.**
10:1 Hear ye the word which the LORD speaketh unto you, O house of Israel:
10:2 Thus saith the LORD, Learn not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the heathen are dismayed at them.
10:3 For the customs of the people are vain: for one cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the axe.
10:4 They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not.
Best to learn not the way of the heathen, amirite?
I think Loyal Readers™ can probably guess what I did this weekend. Here’s a hint: the Palace is filled with the intoxicating scent of evergreen.
*h/t Dan Barker, co-president, Freedom From Religion Foundation.