God is Hitler
Monday, February 4 2013
It was a bitch of a cold morning, and, since Gretchen had to leave early, it was my job to walk the dogs. It didn't take long for me to get out of range of my broadcasted podcast (in this case the 267th episode of Planet Money about whether or not Iceland should own up to the debts resulting from the crash of 2008). So I switched over to the local low-power Christian station as I often do, where I soon heard a song called "Even If" by a band named Kutless. Here are the lyrics:
Even if the healing doesn't come, if life falls apart and dreams are still undone, you are God, you are good, forever faithful one. That sums up the whole idea: God is either negligent or a total asshole, but we're so afraid of Him that we tell Him that He is perfectly good, all-powerful, and otherwise completely awesome. I hadn't ever thought of this before, but perhaps when Christians say that God is always perfect and good, they mean it in the same way that a German citizen in the late 1930s was expected to say such things about Hitler. They don't necessarily believe it, but they are hostage to a force much more powerful than they are and so they go along out of fear for what might happen if they do not. And if you believe Christian doctrine to even a small extent, you also believe that God is inside your head reading your thoughts in a way that would have been impossible for Hitler. So the good Christian, despite his or her doubts, finds himself or herself policing his or her ideas and forcing them to conform to the idea of a perfect God while doing the best to wall off all doubt. It's a form of tyranny, and it affects a huge number of people. Meanwhile back in my mind, I'm free to think about anything I wish. If I want to masturbate to thoughts of George W. Bush as a three year old, there is nothing stopping me (not that I actually want to).
In addition to our everyday experiences of natural disasters and windfalls, of random fortune and misfortune for both the good and the wicked, there is of course also a record of such things (complete with direct attributions to God) in the only book that matters to pious Christians. For a good overview of things the Bible says about God that should cause you to question His purported eternal goodness, I offer this link: If God Is Dead, Is Everything Permitted?. (Thanks Al!)
At some point today I posted the following on Facebook:
after much deliberation i've decided that depeche mode is my least favorite band. huey lewis & the news are about ten times more awesome.
This caused someone to post a YouTube link to a clip from the movie American Pyscho in which a dude chops a guy to death with an ax while blaring "Hip to be Square," by Huey Lewis & the News (a band I have always despised). I'd never seen American Pyscho but that was a devilishly compelling scene. So today I downloaded a copy of the movie and gradually watched the whole thing. At first I wasn't clear that this movie (made in 2000) was set in the mid-to-late 1980s, and I found it puzzling that a high-powered businessman would sit down at a desk that contained no computer and there would be no laptop (or much of anything) in his briefcase. The haircuts are a little long and mullety for 2000, but not enough to immediately harken me back to the 1980s. (There's a strong tendency in Hollywood to tone down the very real style excesses that ruled in the 1980s, as any yearbook from that period will quickly demonstrate.) I can't say I ended up loving American Pyscho, but it had its moments of brilliance. I loved the scene where the douchey investment bankers are all sitting around trying to one-up one another with their business cards, all of which look pretty much the same. I also delighted in that scene where Patrick Bateman, our sociopathic protagonist, murders a colleague in a carefully-protected region of his fancy apartment while blasting Huey Lewis & the News. The detail with which Bateman has considered all the shallow details of his life, including the vapid music he "enjoys," points to someone who his doing his best to carefully erect a façade of success and conformity from which he can launch excursions of monstrosity, a form of personal success that caps everything. The final third of the movie was a bit of a let-down for me. I wanted more scenes dwelling on his meticulous vapidness and fewer of him killing people and blowing shit up (assuming that even ocurred; at the end of the movie we're left unsure that what had been shown had even happened). There's also this point: it would be very difficult to kill a woman by dropping a chainsaw on her. It's possible to put a chainsaw in a mode where it runs at full throttle without the trigger needing to be depressed, but Bateman's saw didn't sound like it had been put in that mode when he went to drop it.
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