For obvious reasons, I've devoted a bible's worth of thought to organized religion and those who choose to participate. My conclusion? It's like pledging a fraternity or sorority in college. Seems like a good way to navigate the inclement waters of college, right? Look! Likeminded folks socializing and having fun. A kegger! I'm there. A hot tub party! Count me in. Or you are Legacy, meaning you're Greek bound because your parents came before you, maybe even your grandparents.
On paper fraternities/sororities state their purposes as some variation on the theme of aiding college men/women in mental, moral and social development.. To create personal worth and character. These institutions urge you to listen to the voice of your "Big Brother" or "Big Sister" who is your God and your Redeemer in the Greek system, therefore you must obey. Cut to crazy jungle juice parties, alcohol poisoning and date rape.
That's not so very different from: A potluck! What should I bring? A church mixer! I'll be there with bells on! Or you're there because your parents came before you, maybe even your grandparents. Sounds like a good way to navigate the inclement waters of life.... Right?
On paper most churches state their purpose is some variation on standing for truth, righteousness and so forth ('Cept maybe them snake handler churchgoers.. and really, they're just redneck escapists from the mental hospital so we won't count them here) Other, only slightly more redeeming religions generally urge you to listen to the voice of Jesus Christ, your Lord, your God and your Redeemer, whose word is quick and powerful. Cut to my bishop asking me inappropriate sexual questions whilst fondling himself beneath the desk, priests diddling altar boys and money laundering.
Religions and fraternities provide one with a community of people that share the same beliefs and ideologies.. Folks can meet & greet! Mingle! Have a dialogue and maybe meet a future spouse in the bargain. Hot diggity!
"Hey can I join?"
"Yeah, but you gotta memorize wacky Greek letters and participate in weird ceremonies and stuff. Then you'll be initiated in a formal ceremony."
"Sounds kind of strange."
"You may not fully understand right now, but all will be revealed to you after you're initiated. Besides, everybody's doing it. Trust us."
"Hey can I join?"
"Absolutely. But you gotta memorize wacky scriptures and participate in weird ceremonies and stuff. Then you'll be baptized in a formal ceremony."
"Sounds kind of strange."
"You may not fully understand now, but all will be revealed when you die. Besides, everybody does it. Have faith."
Best I can figure, it's sort of a lemming thing. You know about the lemmings don't you? That group of rodents known for periodic mass migrations that oftentimes end in drownings. Why do they drown? Contrary to popular belief, it isn't suicide. When food pickin's get slim, the group heads to greener pastures.. They fall off cliffs because they end up in unfamiliar territory.. don't know where they're going.. They're confused, scampering around, bumping into each other asking questions...
"Hey Earl! You know where we're going?"
"Have no idea Fred. I'm just following Lennie!"
"Hey man, I don't know either, I'm just following Debbie. She says her Ma and Pa told her this was the right way." Lennie shouts.
"Sounds good to me." Fred says.
"Me too." Earl agrees. "As long as there are refreshments when we get there."
At that moment Debbie's Ma and Pa lead the whole dadgummed group right off a 100 foot cliff.
"Shit!" Pa shouts on the way down. "We thought this was the right way."
"I followed you! I was doing what you told me to do!" Debbie screams.
"Turns out we was wrong." Ma manages to squeal before she hits water.
"But I wasted all this time following you!" Debbie whispers before she too, splashes into the water.
Pa and Ma thought they knew where they were going. Debbie, being an obedient little lemming, wasn't far behind. She convinced Lennie to come along.. and so on.. If enough people follow the folks that claim to know where they're going... potluck dinners will spring up faster than beer bongs at a kegger.. And well, we've all seen what happens when free food and beer is available..
Far be it from me to begrudge anyone from pledging a fraternity... Hey, I may even swing by for a party or two. I may not like some of the songs you play but I'm cool with your gig. Just don't make me pledge.