photo by Sheri Dixon

Monday, April 8, 2013

Cutting Out the Middle Man

So there is this heartwarming little thing floating around the interwebs- something that supposedly shows us how good god is and how he works through people in wonderful ways.

The story goes that the author pulled into a gas station and noticed the man standing at the pump next to her was crying- he was wearing flip flops and no coat in a Minnesota winter and his wife and daughters were huddled in their old car. She asks him what's wrong and he says, "I'm so ashamed I can't provide for my family". So she slides her debit card in his pump and tells him to fill up. Of course she also says something like, "Jesus died for you". Whatever the hell relevance THAT has with this man's plight. Make him feel guiltier?


She then tells him that her entire car is loaded with stuff that she's taking to goodwill and her wife and daughters should just come take what they want to. And they do.

Seeing all this, other people step forward and give stuff to them, too- money and gift cards (?) and other stuff.

This is supposedly proof of god's greatness and how he works in wonderful and mysterious ways.


What if?

What if it had been me? Because I've done shit like that. Actually I've done lots of shit like that.

I just don't post it on the interwebs in a thinly veiled "Lookit what a great Christian I am" way.

And if anyone ever does notice or say something I get really pissed when they say things like, "You're really going to be rewarded in heaven", or, "God will bless you for your kindness".

Because I'm like most evil heathenous non-believers.

I do compassionate shit because it's the right thing to do, not because I wanna have the most gold stars on god's score card and/or am fearful of eternal damnation if I misbehave.

I do it because people have helped ME when I could never ever repay them. Some have been Christians, more often they haven't been.

I do it because it's the HUMAN thing to do- helping other HUMANS because we're all, yanno...the same species.

Was the help I received from non-believers of an inferior quality? Did it mean any less? To me? To them?

Is the help I offer somehow tainted because it's coming from me rather than a Christian?

I have yet to have that help turned down...even FROM Christians. Perhaps they accept it and tell themselves that I'm sort of a closeted believer. Deep down I really truly still am a good Lutheran girl from Wisconsin.

Sorry, Dorothy. I'm not.

I believe that humans are inherently good. That we ARE supposed to help each other because we're a social species and because bad things just randomly happen and that at some point we all need help.

I do not believe in the Middle Man.

I've cut him totally out of any equation in my life.

Am I angry at god? Nope. To be angry at something you have to believe in it first.

Am I thankful for my life and for my family and home and all the wonderful things in front of me? Of course I am. I'm lucky. And I cherish every good thing and person around me.

Not because I need to behave in a certain way or it'll all vanish at the whim of some jealous, really strict and punitive father-figure god.

But because bad shit, stupid shit, unbelievably unfair shit happens all the time to everybody- believers and non-believers both.

Believers need to believe that there's some order to it, some system of punishment/reward, some sense to be made of the randomness of existing.

That if there's no rhyme or reason, the world becomes a terrifying place filled with evil and violence and desolation and depression. If there's no rhyme or reason- no magic words or rituals- then everyone is vulnerable.

That's reason to despair and give up, right?

On the contrary. Once I realized that it's ALL random and there is no rhyme or reason I was able to focus on what really matters- the other people in my life, my society, my planet, my country, my existence. On being able to concentrate on making things better because it's the right thing to do- before I get recycled like every organic life form does, to leave this place better than when I got here.

Everything good becomes more precious not because it's a gift from god or done in his glory, but precisely because it's not.

Do I go to work, pay my bills, did we save and scrimp and bleed for the things we have on this Earth? Yes. Yes we did. But bad shit still happened to us. And it's not because we don't believe in god- I see the same shit happening to believers- the exact same things or worse.

The woman at the gas station did a good thing. So did those around her. They were there at the right time to help out a family who needed help.

Why bring god into it at all?

Why is it so impossible to believe that people will do good things all on their own? Why is it believable that without god's invisible finger nudging us all to do good works and away from 'sin' that we'd all just run around nekkid and murdering and raping and killing babies?

The lesson to take away from this story is NOT "God is so wonderful", as the author claims.

The lesson is "Keep your eyes and ears open and help each other without expectation of reward or repayment". Yanno- be Human.


  1. What irritates me is when somebody you know that had very little to do with religion in life dies and has a funeral and the family just sort of leaves it up to the funeral home or whatever to arrange everything, and they get some random preacher and there's a 10 minute generic speech about the deceased and his family and then they launch into the "Lets hope he went to heave, act now and make sure your salvation isn't in question" schpeel. If I hear one syllable of that shit at my funeral I'll rise from the dead and ear their fucking brain. And that'll be a trick because I'm supposed to be cremated.

  2. I dunno- I think earing their brain would be more...graphic somehow :)


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