you don't love jesus, do you.

yesterday, i sat in on a discussion about initiative 1000, the washington proposal to legalize the "death with dignity" act. it's a complex issue, and eventually, predictably, it got all tangled up with abortion. one student opposed assisted suicide for "religious reasons, but [he] could think of a plethora of philosophical reasons as well." i wonder what part of the bible told him not to support assisted suicide. was it where herod's stepdaughter asks for john the baptist's head on a platter? maybe it was when lot's daughters get him drunk and ride him in a cave.

people who take the bible literally have never really irritated me all that much. some of my friends and other classmates really can't stand it when these religious fanatics use their beliefs as argument, or when they quote certain parts of the bible. but to me, these guys are a lot like hardcore fiction geeks. you know, like those guys who are so into buffy the vampire slayer that they write their own stories based on the characters, or else roleplay in various buffy themed chatrooms. that's all churchgoers and the religious right are to me - avid readers, lovers of fiction.

i don't get church. i used to go to church every weekend because i had to. when i got my driver's license, i told my mom i would go on my own, but i didn't. i became a non-churchgoer and a liar all in one year. instead, i drove somewhere else. sometimes i would just drive. gas was cheap, so it didn't matter. those were the days when i could just drive and drive because it was cheap and i was too apathetic and too alone to care anymore about salvation. after 9/11 happened, i went to church with my parents. my mom said, "it took an act of war to get you to go to church." i could tell she was disappointed, but i didn't care.

i once tried to talk to my mom about what i had been learning in my theology classes. i wanted to convince her that religion was bullshit, that it was all just made up stuff some random people strung together many, many years ago. but she wasn't having any of it. she said something along the lines of, "i believe what i believe," or "i have faith," and that was the end of it. no discussion. she felt that she was too old and had invested too much to try and think otherwise.

once, when i was really young, my mom said, "you don't love jesus, do you?" i didn't even know the guy, how was i supposed to answer? i answered vaguely. "umm, yeah, i do. i guess. why?" "you never say it." "when am i supposed to say it?" "when you pray." "alright, i'll say it when i pray."

when i got to college, it turned out everyone was either really religious or atheist. i started going to church with my roommate, though i don't know why. it was a smaller chapel, and people were my age, so i thought it would finally be a chance to be a part of a real catholic community, unlike what my family experienced at st. ignatius. let's face it. i wasn't hippie enough for ultimate frisbee, and i was too lazy to join an actual sports team, and what were we gonna talk about in the asian-american club? catholicism was the answer. a bunch of young, repressed, guilt-laden individuals were ready to embrace me.

it didn't quite turn out that way. church was church. it was the same boring stuff. heard a passage i've heard before. sit, kneel, stand. another passage i've heard before. sit, kneel, stand. chant something. homily. bread and wine. go forth in peace. another hour wasted when i could've been watching the simpsons and malcolm in the middle. i went to church after my grandma died in february 2002. mary saw me going. "gonna offer up some prayers?" she said. "yeah," i said. andrea, my roommate's temporary love interest, offered a "prayer for a friend" aloud, and i wondered if that was for me.

eventually, i stopped going. i didn't quite understand why i had been going again, even when i didn't have to. was it because my roommate was going? did i feel better after it was over? was it just something to do on a sunday night? i once complained to some friends that all these students i saw in church were a bunch of hypocrites. i said i knew that they were a bunch of druggies, rotten fornicators, what-have-you. but the truth was, i didn't know what i was talking about. i didn't know any of these people, or what they did when they weren't seeking salvation.

the argument doesn't make sense. if it did, we should all be afraid to say "voldemort" out loud, and we should observe the mad tea party every may 4th. why don't we all just live our lives according to every piece of fiction we've ever read? because it wouldn't make sense. but going to church every weekend and praising three entities who are actually one god does. people argue, it's directly from the word of god. but god's in everyone, so isn't every writer also god?

i am god and you are god and this is what god has to say: words are words. nothing holy or sacred about them. nothing at all.

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