It Was a Dark and Stormy Day

by And the White Lion Roars!

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The weather here in North Central Texas has been a bit springy this weekend, which means we’re having some fall-ish weather. It’s been cool and rainy, and right now, when it should be sunny and light, it is dark. There is thunder and lightning outside; the kind of storm I love to sleep through. But the weather has also made me (and some of my closest friends, with whom I spent a big part of the day yesterday) a bit introspective.  I’ve been deconstructing some romantic notions, and romanticizing some deconstructed notions. So, I need to call bullshit on a years long existential crisis I’ve been having regarding religious people and what I once considered to be their “wishful thinking.” I’ve often said to friends who are aware of my non-theism that if I had to choose a spiritual path, I would want it to involve reincarnation because I wish I could believe that there are do-overs. And this week I realized that this is the same kind of wishful thinking that I’ve accused Christians of when they talk about how hard life here is, but they have a “reward” coming after they die. I think it also wishful thinking that it doesn’t matter what they do as a “saved” believer because they are forgiven. That would be pretty much the same as my offhand comments about karma, wouldn’t it. No, I haven’t suddenly become a believer in that magic man in the sky who makes everything happen and dispenses justice to all. But in some ways, I am very similar to them in that I want to believe that things could be different and better.

I was also coming of age in the late nineteen-sixties and seventies, and like so many of us developed really romantic notions around the Beatles trip to India, and the enlightenment they found there. And so many others from my era claimed that they found similar enlightenment in Eastern religions. But so much of what I’ve learned about India contradicts those notions that I must now call bullshit on that as well. Now, I suppose that one could say to me that religion is supposed to transcend earthly realities, but that just doesn’t work for me; and when the gang raping of young girls is a frequent news story, transcendence is not a convincing idea. The devaluing of girls and women, and many people who are just not from the right caste is just too pervasive. Not to mention that it is accepted culturally for a husband’s family to kill a bride if her dowry is too small. I would say that in that sense India has not come as far as the United States when it comes to gender equality, and the United States has a LONG way to go. I guess, besides the news stories of the gang rapes that leave young women and girls either dead or desperately wounded, I got to thinking about all this because of the Alanis Morrissette song “Thank You, India.” It seems she found enlightenment and the ability to forgive the people who had hurt her in life during a trip to India. it’s a great song, but after considering all these things I have to say that I think that enlightenment of any sort can only come from oneself realizing great truths, whatever those may be, and can’t be connected to a place or a particular religion. And later on, of course, we find out that even the Beatles discovered that, just like so many mega-church preachers in the United States, many of the gurus of India are just charlatans out to make a buck (or a million) off the dupes the promise enlightenment to.