Hocus-Pocus and Complete Bullshit
Honey, listen. Daddy’s got something to explain to you. Some of the things I’ll say will be scary, and I might curse a lot. But understand that I’m doing this because I love you very much and I want you to be a happy, healthy, well-adjusted, and critically-thinking (that means you ask a lot of questions) human being. Above all else, I want you to know that you can trust me, and that I will always tell you the truth from this point forward. I promise.
You see, Daddy has been lying to you. Not directly…but lying “by omission.” It means that I’m not telling the whole truth. I didn’t mean to do it. I know you’ve seen the uncomfortable look on my face when Aunt Betty comes over for dinner and asks you to say grace. You’ve probably overheard me talking about “praising jeebus,” or “those stupid, fuckwitted, mouth-breathing Christians,” when you’re almost out of earshot. This is a pretty dishonest way for me to try to teach you something I think is very important, so I’m going to stop it and tell you already.
Also, before we get started, understand that many people in your family (and more so, the world) would disagree with what I’m about to tell you. They all have different reasons for what they believe, but I assure you that those beliefs are based on the traditions, hocus-pocus, and/or complete bullshit that they were taught when they were children like you.
Allegory is the word we grown-ups use for stories like Aesop’s Fables. An allegory, according to the dictionary is, “A story, poem, or picture that can be interpreted to reveal a hidden meaning, typically a moral one.” What that means is, the story is trying to teach you a lesson about how to be a good person.
For example, what’s the moral of “The Boy Who Cried Wolf?” Right. If you lie all of the time, people won’t believe you. Or how about “The Tortoise and The Hare?” Well, that one’s a little more difficult to figure out, but the gist of it is: Don’t be a loud-mouthed asshole, or else you will be made to look foolish by some slowpoke turtle….or something like that.
Now we’re getting to the point, kid. Stay with me.
When your cousin Pete was about your age, I heard a funny story about something he said during his Catholic school religion class. I don’t remember the exact quote, but it went something like, “I want to learn about dinosaurs. All we ever learn about is this stupid magician!” I remember being shocked and amazed at the level of perception a little kid could have.
Pete is part of the reason I think you’re ready to hear what I’m about to tell you. The magician he was referring to has a name I’m sure you’ve heard many times before; Jesus Christ. [No, his middle name is not “Fucking,” contrary to what Daddy says when he forgets to mute the commercials while he’s watching sports or hears that Mommy was letting you listen to LMFAO in the car on the way home from school.]
Ok. What if I told you that a few days ago, Daddy’s co-workers tortured and murdered him, buried him in a cave, then sealed it with a giant rock. Now I’ve risen from the dead, escaped from my tomb, and I’m sitting here talking to you. Would you believe it?
I’m sorry, honey. Don’t start crying now. Maybe that was a bad example.
How about if I told you that I was able to turn water into beer when we ran out during the BBQ last weekend? Or, if I said that I could go down to old, blind Mr. Abbott’s house and make him able to see again, just by putting my hands on him?
That all seems pretty silly, right? If I could do those things, I’d be the best magician that ever lived. Or, at least I’d have a good shot of winning America’s Got Talent.
It’s good that you’re making the “Dad, you’re an asshole” face. That’s critical thinking. And you’re right, those things are impossible.
But it stands to reason that if those things are impossible, why should you believe that anyone, anywhere could have done them, ever?
The answer is: you shouldn’t.
Lots of people believe that Jesus the magician actually did those things. They will swear that he, in actual, real reality, did all of that and more. And that kind of magical thinking makes it possible for them to believe (and, more importantly, DO) all sorts of ridiculous stuff.
The point is, God and his miraculous son Jesus are no more real than the talking animals you’ve read about in Aesop’s stories. All of those stories in the bible about Jesus, and God, and Noah’s Ark, and the talking, burning bush are allegories. They are traditional tales which are attempting to teach you that you should be thoughtful, kind, and good.
Those are all good lessons to learn when you’re a kid. The problem is, somewhere along the line, some crazy person decided that those allegories from the bible were the “word of God” and should be followed, to the letter, or you will burn in Hell forever. That’s an incredibly scary prospect for any kid to process.
Let me tell you, once and for all, that you have nothing to be afraid of. Hell, and for that matter, Heaven, do not exist. They are nothing more than the inventions of people who were scared of not having The Answers To Everything. So they imagined stuff to help them make sense of things that, quite often, do not make sense.
In an attempt to keep these foolish beliefs in circulation forever, they fill children’s minds with the fear of going to that burning, scary place because they’re the only ones impressionable (meaning: stupid) enough to believe that it’s true. Then, as they grow up and begin accumulating concrete evidence that most of those bible stories CANNOT POSSIBLY BE TRUE, many of them eventually choose to turn off that nagging, critical thinking part of their minds and just have “faith” that God exists and that following his every word will help them avoid being sent to that fiery time-out forever.
If you were to become one of those people, I would feel that I have failed as a parent. I have faith that you won’t.
I know these are hard concepts for a kid to understand. You may want to ask me, “Dad, why should I believe you? People have been believing this stuff for thousands of years and have gotten along fine.”
First of all, that’s more critical thinking, which is very good. Keep doing that.
Second of all, people have NOT gotten along fine. You don’t have to look very far to see mean or stupid things that happen because people believe that the stories in the bible are literally true. Many of the wars that have been fought (and the people who were killed in them), discrimination against people who think differently, and Christian rock bands are all fine examples.
But the most terrible effect of those beliefs is that investing all of your energy into learning and acting on them, like many True Believers do, is a complete waste of time. It might not seem like it at your age, but our time on this planet is limited. Your time would be better spent doing things to make yourself a better person and to help improve life for everyone around you, any way you can.
You should be nice. You should take other peoples feelings and thoughts into consideration before you act. You should react to hate and intolerance with love and understanding. You should respond to confusion with reason and logic.
If you don’t understand something, find out about it from as many different perspectives as you can. Embrace and adapt to change. Know that you are far more connected to everyone and everything around you than you realize, and act accordingly.
You should do these things, not because some alleged sky wizard (or your Daddy) said that they’re the right things to do, but because that’s what it means to be a good human being.
Of course, you will inevitably fuck these things up over and over again during your lifetime. But, that’s also part of what it means to be human. The important thing is to learn from your mistakes, try your best to fix them if you are able, and try not to repeat them.
I love you, honey.
Now run along and spread the good word to some of those doe-eyed Christian children down the street.