Tag Archives: God

9 Secrets Only Happy People Know (And They Ain’t Tellin’!)

18 Sep

You see predatory lists like this on Facebook all the time. “21 Pictures So Creepy You’ll Barf” and “You Won’t Believe What This Dad Beat His Child With at Disneyland!” and “15 Sexually-Harassing Text Messages So Obnoxious You’ll Fart a Hole Clean Through Your Underwear.” George Takei seems to have made a career re-posting these clickbait lists that exist primarily to install spyware on your computer. Most ludicrous are the ones that clearly have no factual basis behind them: “18 Secrets to Being An Awesome Parent” and one of them is “Encourage your child.” I decided to do my own take on one of these banal lists in hopes of encouraging your actual happiness, and not to make you feel shittier because projecting self-satisfaction is yet another thing at which you fail abysmally. So here are nine things that happy people know and employ in order to maintain their status as a happy person:

9. They Delude Themselves Into Believing Fate Exists

“Everything happens for a reason,” stated some dumbass who is coping with the death of their newborn child due to hospital negligence. And that person believes that because they are a self-important idiot. No ethereal agency or half-baked belief in cosmic justice is employed when things happen to you; things happen to you because time and space exist. In a cosmic sense, your fatal cancer is just as big an occurrence as a cow pooping, but if you want to appear happy and full of yourself, then you should believe that there is actually some causation between your existence and random, uncontrollable events. This is the way schizophrenics think, and they seem to be a jolly bunch!

8. They Outwardly Embrace Change Even If It Is Inducing a Panic Attack

One way to appear happy is to never be caught complaining, and the easiest way to do that is to appear as if you accept change even if it is making you insane inside. While people are bemoaning the weather, or some horrible news item, the happy person will just shrug and say something meaningless like, “When God closes a door, He opens a window!” Which is total bullshit, by the way, God is technically the arbiter of galactic equality so if He decides all the windows and doors should be shut, they will be shut. Or he might close a door on Earth but open a window on Planet XB-331 where the windows are more like intelligent sphincters that react to certain stimuli. The trick used here by happy people is the same one used by teenagers to seem cool and disaffected. Just brush off whatever comes and announce your unfounded belief that it is all part of a grand design of which they are a vital component!

7. They Pretend Not to Need Validation

You might hear someone refer to themselves as a “free spirit,” and, as those of us who are tethered to this dimension know, self-reflective announcements like this are almost always lies. It’s important to appear as if you don’t need anyone’s collusion or approval even if it is the very thing you crave most, and one of the shortest routes to get there is to be outwardly cavalier about criticism. “I march to the beat of my own drummer,” says the dilettante, and pretends not to notice the awe they have inspired in the plebes around them. This is an especially useful trait if you like to consider yourself an artist without actually practicing or producing any art.

6. They Act Supportive of Others’ Accomplishments While Silently Dying Inside

Not much will get you as many accolades as supporting and promoting other people in your field, because it makes you seem uncompetitive and therefore non-threatening in general. Secretly, you can wish death upon the author who got published before you, or the colleague who is newer to the job but got promoted ahead of you, but in public it should be all smiles and handshakes. What a great person you are, because you are so self-satisfied that you don’t need recognition or money, and you seem to be ridiculously buoyed by the accomplishments of others! This is also a good tactic because it will take some suspicion off of you when that accomplished person dies in a suspicious fire.

5. They Say That They Only Live In the Now

This must be pronounced at least once a day to someone within earshot: “I don’t worry about yesterday or tomorrow,” or “I live in the present, not the past.” Of course unless you have severe damage to the memory center in your brain, you likely torture yourself with the stupid things you’ve said and done years prior. That’s what we call human nature. This idea that we should willfully not regret anything is like pretending not to know English when bill collectors call. Again, it’s how you appear to others that matters here, not how you actually feel, so make sure a few people know that you are a right here, right now kind of person every single day, and they probably won’t detect your many crushing life regrets.

4. They Don’t Act Like a Victim While Explaining How They’ve Been Victimized

If you catch yourself complaining about a situation, you must be sure to pepper that discussion with a lot of dismissive phrases like “whatever, though,” and “but really, I’ve got no one to blame but myself!” People will consider you very independent and resilient even if you are seething with revenge fantasies against every person you believe to have slighted you. Your parents are probably the most to blame for your current misery, so be sure to talk a lot of shit about them while rolling your eyes and muttering, “Parents, right?” If the person you’re talking to starts looking horrified, you’ve probably gone too far and should interject, “But parents are parents. I still love them to death.” This phrase will work well because then you can imagine their deaths which will put a noticeable spring in your step.

3. They Are Very Body-Positive Even if They Are Moments Away from Adrenal Failure

If you’re fat, make sure you exclaim how you will not be fat-shamed and how much you love yourself even though you often eat an entire gallon of ice cream while crying. If you’re skinny, then just act really smug about it even if the lack of nutrients in your blood stream makes you feel like you’re on a robust LSD trip every day. The gym rats and people that revolve their lives around having a certain body type often have the worst body dysmorphia, so they are often the most vociferous about their look while be condemnatory of others. If you are not one of these people, you can put one on the fast track to suicide by commenting, “You look great! You really have lost/gained a lot of weight,” and then walk away. They will hang on that idle phrase for the next ten years.

2. They Feign Having Faith In a Higher Power

This one seems tough, but it actually very easy. You don’t need to subscribe to any of the available Gods and Goddesses that are regularly worshiped around the world, you can just claim to believe in a nameless “higher power” or just say you are very “spiritual.” It’s all meaningless, no matter how you slice it, but people are always amazed by what appears to be blind and unflagging faith. Many of these people project their own blind faith to others but will still be mesmerized by yours. Another good trick is to say you believe in the God of a specific religion, but then strip away every aspect of that religion so it appears you are actually communing with this all-knowing ghost. “I don’t think God is really against gambling, despite the evidence presented in this book containing the things God said.” It’s like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole by disassembling the puzzle and turning it into a birdhouse.

1. They Smile All the Fucking Time

You have to have a placid, natural smile on your face at all times that you can be seen by others. This is a lot more difficult to achieve than one might think, because most forced smiles look like pained grimaces. Try to think of things that genuinely do make you smile, like the anguished, tortured screams of people you hate or naked people as your preference dictates. I like to think about how many people I see walking around each day are actually pedophiles or drug addicts. Sometimes, it’s even people in power who are judging the morality of other people’s actions–now that’s just funny enough to make me laugh out loud in the street! Your smile will both warm and annoy the people that see it, so be sure to wear one proudly every day!

Have You Ever Heard of God?

18 Feb

I have about a hundred pages left in Rapture Ready! by Daniel Radosh. I mentioned the in another essay, but for those who didn’t read it and don’t like to click links, the book details a year of Radosh’s life among Evangelical Christians, soaking up their burgeoning pop culture. It’s a decent read, I’ll probably review it when I’m done, but reading the book has made me recall other brushes with Evangelism in my life.

One sort of funny incident happened when I was in my twenties and visiting a friend at a college in upstate New York. We were hanging out on a porch swing outside an ice cream parlor–yes, it was that innocent–when a kid about our age came over and asked, “Have you ever heard of God?” We all chuckled and I probably made a snide comment. Have I ever heard of God? What the fuck kind of question is that? Most people define themselves by which God, if any, they believe in. As I recall, we jeered him until he sneaked away bashfully into the night. Of all the nerve!

You know, I hadn’t thought about that incident in about fifteen years. I routinely chat up religious pamphleteers and proselytizers because…I don’t know why. I think it’s fun. I don’t try to poke holes in their beliefs, I don’t contest them, but I will lie and say I belong to a religion that I don’t. “I am a lapsed Lutheran,” I might tell a Jew for Jesus, “but I am looking for some kind of spiritual insight.” Part of me wants to hear the spiel, part of me wants to chortle inwardly at another person’s earnestness. However, there is part of me that wants to engage this person because I want them to know that people are listening, even if the chance that I will ever attend a sermon or even seriously consider the literature being handed out is so remote, it’s more likely that I am the son of God than I will ever accept a messiah. It’s sort of a strange tendency I have to prove that people are good when, in fact, all evidence points to the contrary.

I am like this with girlfriends, too. There have been more than a few women I’ve dated because their stories about being mistreated by men in the past touched me deeply, and I wanted to prove that all men aren’t the same. So I went through the motions of being a Good Boyfriend, offered lots of platitudes and promises for the future. Eventually, reality catches up with the facade: I can’t rightly pretend to be deeply in love for the rest of my life. The truth that I don’t really give a shit comes before too long. That’s usually what happens, and these relationships end with me ironically being the worst boyfriend that woman’s ever had.

But back to this kid who asked if we’d ever heard of God, in reading Rapture Ready! I’ve come to see this kid (who could be a pedophile meth addict now, I have no idea) as being particularly brave, if a little naive. “Have you ever heard of God?” is a pretty good ice-breaker, it makes people chuckle and puts them at ease for the bombshell about God’s wrath you’re about to disseminate. Another good opener might be, “Has anyone seen God? He was right here a second ago but I can’t find him.” There’s a lot going on in the question, “Have you ever heard of God?” It personifies God, implies that God is someone you can know, and also allows a dialogue where someone can begin telling their side of the story, i.e. “You’ve heard of God, but here’s the truth about the dude.”

The main problem with that kind of opener, and it’s a problem I see with a lot of witnessing in America, is that it’s only ready for a few types of responses. The best would be “Of course I have heard of God, I am a Christian.” That leaves the person asking the question a lane where he or she can start expressing what they think God’s about. However, that question isn’t ready for a response like, “I heard of God, he’s the guy who gave my grandmother cancer.” Or “I have heard of God, and what I’ve heard is a bunch of retarded bullshit.” Whatever the response to the question, the person asking it is only prepared to answer with the same shtick. You could say, “Yeah, God and I are butt buddies,” and the person asking can only reply with tales of creationism and God’s love, or they can walk away in disgust, a tacit win for the secular world.

I am a big fan of the Prayer Channel because much of the programming is so insipid and ridiculous. One of my favorite shows is The Way of the Master, which is a witnessing technique developed by some dude that looks like he deals pot to junior high school students. Kirk Cameron is the spokesperson for this thing and is heavily featured on the program, which consists of Christians stopping people on the street and harassing them. “Do you think you’ll go to heaven?” is often the first question, to which the person being asked responds in the affirmative. “Have you ever lied?” is the next question, which is also replied to affirmatively. The Way of the Master disciple then proves that the person being grilled is a sinner and is going to Hell, based on quoted scripture, and that they essentially aren’t being pious enough.

I suppose this works if the person being targeted considers themselves a good Christian. But what if they don’t give a fuck? Does Way of the Master’s way only work to guilt existing Christians into being even better Christians? If someone asked me if I thought I was going to Heaven, I would tell them that I don’t. I think it’s a stupid concept and its inconsistencies are so many that I have neither the space or time to go into them. What first needs to happen, then, is for me to be convinced about Heaven existing. Asking me if I’ve lied or if I’ve ever lusted is inconsequential. Of course I’ve fucking lied and I don’t give a shit. I lied to you at the beginning of this conversation when I said I was a lapsed Lutheran.

I guess my point is that I have to respect someone who can gather up the nerve to approach someone else and share their thoughts on theology. At the same time, it’s stupid for an interviewer to ask questions when they’re only prepared to deal with a certain set of answers. If Evangelists really want to convert people for their own good, then approaching them with such an obvious agenda is probably not the best idea. It’s like if I wanted to advertise a brand of cream soda, I wouldn’t approach someone drinking root beer and tell them they’re sipping it wrong. Instead, I’d point out that I have a drink they can use in the same way as the beverage they’re currently drinking, but it will taste a whole lot better! Only after I get them hooked on my cream soda do I ask for a tithing.

Christians, You Freak Me Out

16 Feb

I’ve been reading Rapture Ready! by Daniel Radosh. It’s a fairly good book, the writing is not amazing but it’s certainly engaging enough. So far, it’s about Radosh’s travels around America sampling bits and pieces of Christian pop culture, most of which are enough to send the average New York liberal into his reinforced 9/11 bunker. Being a lifelong New Yorker, as well as having been raised Unitarian Universalist, I haven’t had much experience with Evangelical Christians. I know a lot of Christians but few have ever tried to seriously convert me.

Reading Rapture Ready! has caused me to reflect on my upbringing. I was raised in a predominantly Roman Catholic neighborhood where virtually all of my peers went to one of two local churches. On Wednesdays during grade school, when my friends were allowed to leave a little early to attend Confirmation Class, the only kids left in the room were myself, a Jewish girl, and a smelly kid of unknown religious affiliation. I was jealous that my schoolmates were allowed to leave early until I found out what they were being taught. I wasn’t too popular as a little kid, but I wasn’t totally friendless. I think I was ostracized in part for not being Catholic, but largely for being a weird nerd in so many other dazzling ways.

I remember being in the first grade and blithely informing my friends that I didn’t believe in God. If I had been more articulate, I might have explained that what I was rejecting was this bizarre paternal figure who we’re told is peaceful and compassionate, yet heaps vengeance and punishment on people all the time. If I wasn’t six, I could have said that I didn’t subscribe to an anthropomorphic God, an all-knowing creator who gives a shit about our daily comings and goings. However, I had neither the vocabulary or the cognition to express myself fully, so I dropped my non-believer bombshell and my first grade classmates slowly moved away from me in terror. “You’re going to Hell!” they cautioned, or taunted, or both. “God hates you,” explained one girl, sadly, though she didn’t further clarify why I should care what a fictional character thinks of me. Possessing none of the emotional fortitude necessary for theological discussion, I burst into tears. I was still crying when I got home and told my grandma what happened. “Don’t worry,” she said in an exhale of cigarette smoke, “you’ll believe in God eventually.”

When I was around nineteen, I worked at a liquor store during the summer with a guy who was a self-professed born-again Christian. More than his being a Christian, I remember this dude was the BIGGEST Debbie Gibson fan I’d ever met. He had all of her albums and singles in every available format, and his most prized possessions were a half dozen unopened bottles of Gibson’s perfume, “Electric Youth.” He was a little weird and most of our co-workers avoided him, but I’d chat him up from time to time. “Being a Christian is the ultimate rebellion,” he explained to me one day, “because everywhere you go, you’re persecuted for what you believe.” I was confused by this statement, I had certainly known no one to be persecuted for being Christian in my neighborhood. Seemed to me that most everyone was Christian, meanwhile I was teased and called a Jew even though I had set foot in synagogues maybe three times in my life.

At the heart of this belief some Christians seem to share, that they are righteous and persecuted and need to keep up the good fight, is pretty much why Christians routinely freak me out. I think we should tolerate other beliefs, it’s part of harmonious society and people are so fixed in their trust in crazy shit that it’s less work to accept their craziness than it is to rectify it. However, part of my tolerance includes you not explaining any part of your belief system to me. Chances are, it’s ridiculous and going into detail about it will only make me lose respect for you. Virgin births, resurrection, wheels turning within wheels…it’s all a bit much, isn’t it? You’ll get fewer stares claiming to believe in Bigfoot than you will trying to explain the inner workings of the Mormon church. And the ridiculous part is that there’s no shortage of Mormons lining up to tell me all about it.

I guess my point is that I don’t really care if someone is a Christian any more than I care if they are homosexual. That’s something they do on their own time and it shouldn’t affect me. Similarly, I want to hear about your personal relationship with Jesus Christ about as much as I would like to see two dudes screwing. Or anyone screwing, really. I mean when you really watch two people have sex, even if the people are attractive, it’s pretty gross. But you don’t have to take my word for it, attend the next sermon this coming Sunday at my Church of Sextology. Bring a friend!

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