I would have a lot of nerve complaining. The truth is, aside from the occasional bump along life’s highway, I have it pretty good.
And I’m told that I should be “thankful”.
But exactly to whom should I be thankful? An invisible deity who I don’t believe in, and yet has still decided to bestow such good fortune upon me? Did he give me all of this cool stuff? Was he the one who gave me the big house and the wife with the gravity defying knockers? It wasn’t my work ethic, the decisions I’ve made, or the associations I’ve chosen? It was god? I must be pretty damn wonderful.
This is the common thread I hear from good Christian folk as they go about their annual day of repressing guilt with gluttony. God is good. Just look at all he’s provided. “Thanks, lord, for making us middle class American suburbanites… the iPad and flat screen TV really come in handy… and thanks for NOT having us born into a part of the world that’s ravaged by war, hunger, disease or poverty… whoever those people are, they must have really pissed you off… But mostly, thanks god, for giving us the ability to rationalize what awful human beings we all are… and for giving us the ability to invoke your name so that we can make it easier to live with ourselves despite not having any real empathy.” Who wants gravy on their turkey?
The narcissistic self indulgence it takes to believe that an omnipotent creator had you singled out for a divine birthright into a wealthy country that happens to favor your religion –while simultaneously gifting you with carpeting, and high speed internet access– while preborn souls less favored were slotted for lives of pain and anguish shows an utter indifference to human suffering. But who are we to question god’s will? Apparently, god plays favorites, and obviously, you’re among the chosen. Now who wants some apple pie?
As a self indulgent narcissist, even I am staggered by that degree of self aggrandizing egomania.
If one is to credit god by giving thanks for all that one has, then by extension they must acknowledge that there is pain and misery that their all powerful, omnipotent deity could quell with the snap of his almighty fingers. If their god does exist, then he is either omnipotent, and is control of everything, or he is not. Either can help the unfortunate, but chooses not to (which would make him a sick, twisted sadist), or he is unable to (which would make him impotent, rather than omnipotent). They see the good, and never the bad. Their job promotion was part of god’s plan, while the next door neighbors kid with leukemia is something else. It’s like Christian America is suffering from celestial Stockholm syndrome.
So as Christians feign humility for their fortuitousness, while simultaneously doing the equivalent to an ethereal end zone dance… they more often than not neglect a few misdeeds of their god. Roughly fifty thousand people will die today of starvation after having needlessly suffered for years. People live in parts of the world where negotiating land mines a part of their daily routine. Women around the world are beaten and raped based on the precepts of religious patriarchy. America is the richest country in the world, yet has the second highest rate of child poverty. Good, hard working people have had their lives torn apart for multiple reasons, many of which are out of their control.
But you have it pretty good, especially compared to others, so you give thanks. “Thanks god, for this table full of food. You’re really a swell deity. By the way, can you do something about my electric bill”? And as we roll into the annual retail celebration of baby Jesus, consider this: If you were an unfeeling, unsympathetic asshole yesterday –regardless of whether or not you’re legitimately humbled by your good fortune today– You’ll still be an asshole tomorrow. Believing in god doesn’t make you a good person.
Your actions do.