Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Religion and the Decorum of a Good Insult

In which our genteel Lady insults Karl Marx. 

Religion is a big part of my life.  Sometimes I feel like an island in a sea of atheism, what with all the media that consistently and loudly states that there is no God.  Jon and I love movies and books—and guess what’s in them—a nearly constant barrage of voices claiming to know that there is no God out there.  Interestingly, these voices offer either nothing to replace the idea of God, or fall back on the age-old, and in my opinion out-dated, view that science answers the questions of life, as if the indefinite and ambiguous name of ‘science’ was a broom to sweep up the centuries of religious belief. 
Intriguingly, my new experiences with cancer have shown me that there are a lot of people out there that do believe in God.   It would appear that the media sadly misrepresents and manipulates our cultural views in this instance especially.  Not only was I astounded to have so many people say they were praying for me over the last few months, but I have often had chance, and somewhat odd encounters with people all over Anchorage that support the idea that God is a real and benevolent being.  
For instance, I went in to get new eye glasses at Cook Inlet Eyewear, and mentioned that I did not want contacts because they didn’t lend themselves to chemo if I had to do it.  “I have brain cancer,” I said.  Matt, the man who was helping me, simply held up his hand as if to say, this is just my belief and we don’t have to get further into this, but here it is: “God is with you,”  and proceeded on to the eyewear.  I was heartened by his proclamation. 
Another time, my dental assistant, after hearing what had happened, began to tell me about her Church here in Anchorage.  I think she was trying to convert me.  I thanked her and told her that the more cancerous I get, the more Mormon I become.  Again, I was pleased to hear someone willing to offer me what they probably considered the best thing they could give me, under the circumstances.
And yes, I am becoming more religious as I go, and specifically more LDS or Mormon.  Much of the time, this belief or faith is described as naïve by those who don’t understand it.  I suppose we have Karl Marx’s famous quote “religion is the opiate of the masses” to partially thank for that.  But I fight back against the declaration that religion is a drug, and therefore deadening and bad for your health.  If anything, my religious belief makes my life a hundred times more meaningful and vibrant.  Without it, the world would be a sad black and white representation of reality for me.  I gives color to my life to know that there is meaning and direction to the choices I make, the reasons I do things.  Furthermore, it is in no way naïve to have faith in something.  Naivety indicates a kind of youthful stupidity on one’s part, a falling in with societal norms and not being able to think for oneself, especially against harmful or adolescent kinds of behavior.  My faith is not born of naivety.  In my view, it is naïve for anyone else to assume that I haven’t thought long and hard about God, but instead just swallowed religion whole.  But I digress. 
I am glad to have the comfort of knowing that my suffering from cancer is not just suffering for the sake of suffering.  I am glad to think that it may have a purpose.  This is not naïve—but hopeful.  And I am glad to know that other people—the lives we briefly touch on a daily basis—may have this belief as well. 
Saucy Postscript:
Dear Marx,
Cancer sucks, but it would be worse if I didn’t have religion as my “opiate.”  I think you’re a smart guy, and your ideas are intriguing, but you seriously destroyed religion’s potency by your ill-thought-out statement.  And by the way, how dare you inadvertently call me naïve?  To get back at you, I will pointedly say that your socialism and intellectualism is your personal opiate.  Good luck with getting positive results from that. 
Admiringly yours,


  1. Come on. A political cop-out on Marx? You can do better than that. Maybe you should mention his big nose. That'll get him...

  2. Good point, Marel. I'll try harder next time.