Life After Kool-Aid

Can family be truly good without religion? Of all the things that religion claims to rescue from decay and corruption, the family figures pretty high on the list of the saved. Without religion, children would sprout dissociative identities along with body hair, cook meth in the basement and worship cthulhu. Parents would bake their kids into pies, buy shiny cars and do LSD. Religion offers an easy-to-follow, time-tested blueprint because higher-order brain function is not everyone’s cup of chai. Plus, there’s something solid about belonging to a long chain of systematic stymying that links one back to the first blinkered patriarchs with delusions of grandeur. These stalwarts of bygone days demand that willpower, a non-renewable resource for many, be used up for the most mundane tasks thus priming “believers” for membership into their zombie horde. Briefly tasting freedom in youth, all of one’s creativity and originality now flows into the telling and retelling of childish misadventures that were rewarded with such and such a punishment from so and so authority figure.

Most people, especially the very young, lack the ability to instinctively recognize the injustice and incoherence inherent in their environment. This is more true for muslims. They have a 100% pure, unmessed-around-with book that stands immutable to the vagaries of time and trends. A fixed transcendental signified, i.e. God, lords over and orders all existence into a series of binary oppositions, which, while simplifying the world into small digestible, mushy chunks, has a lobotomizing effect on the mind making it suitable only for the aforementioned fare. I do not reference literary theory glibly. People who structure their lives around the fixed edicts of a single book lay themselves wide open to deconstruction. But I do not want to critique a book or a people; I want to talk about going through the looking glass with my children.

No, we did not get sucked into a swirling sludge of sliding signifiers. Lying, thieving, cheating, getting drunk and wasted, murder, Fox news, body odor are all still bad. Reading, volunteering, friendships, leftists, charity, acts of kindness, Doctor Who are all still good. Nothing has changed much — I still feel loved and see messy bathrooms in my dreams — except for an easing up, an opening of the mind and spirit. Big daddy, benevolent and indifferent, is wholly absent. I pass on to my children this sense of ‘nothing-there’. We fill it with junk because it makes us happy. We fill it with love for our fellow man because all that the losers on this planet have is each other. We fill it with hope because we believe in people and their capacity to be humane. But mostly we leave empty spaces be because we do not know. And nothingness rocks.

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Sam I Am