From the beginning, I have worked to improve my proficiency with the English language, simply to please me. There was a time when I hoped that, by knowing the details and nuances, I would be able to communicate easier and more clearly. As I added the study of psychology, I realized that my goal would never be attained. Communication is two-sided. It is not just what I say, and how clearly I say it, it depends even more on the mental filter of the person who receives the information. What we “hear” is influenced strongly by what we already believe. Democrats hear that Republicans are interfering fools. Muslims hear that Jews are treacherous, heathen, baby-eaters. Some Crackers still hear that Niggers are sub-humans.
This head-in-the-sand, hear only what makes you feel good, attitude extends across the entire social interaction spectrum, but is worst in the political and religious arenas. Only a couple of years ago, “Global Warming” was the buzzword. There were those who would have had our countries bankrupt themselves to solve this “manmade” problem. Steadily though, it was found that – this study was flawed – that report was biased – this data was manufactured….by Believers who wanted us, to believe as they did. Now, “Climate Change” is the new term, and Nature is the culprit. It seems that the Chicken Littles were a bit overzealous. The handbasket isn’t heading for Hell quite as fast, and mankind’s actions aren’t pushing it as hard as they claimed.
My current computer skills are pretty much limited to, Push On button, Poke keyboard randomly, Hope for the best. Thirteen years ago they weren’t even that good, so I didn’t have enough information to evaluate the Y2K threat. It seemed to me though, that the panic was being propagated by the usual gullible, who will believe the worst, at the best of times, and the guys selling bottled water, MREs, and Honda generators. The year 2000 came and went with only a whisper, and lots of want-ads for cheap generators, “Never used.”
The ones who saddened me the most, were the Good Christians, convinced of the imminent return of their savior because of some arbitrary number. The first problem with their belief was the fact that they couldn’t count. The end of the second millennium was the end of the year 2000, not the beginning. That’s why the title of Arthur C. Clarke’s book is 2001, A Space Odyssey. Christ’s birthday isn’t on Dec. 25th. Even if it were, the rapture would occur on Christmas, not the following New Year’s Day.
The next problem was, the calendar-keeping monks in the Middle Ages couldn’t count either. They lost a bunch of years. Best scientific estimate is that Jesus was born on April 16, 4 BC, so the Millennium had already come and gone like Y2K, quietly, un-noticed.
One day at work, there was a mechanical problem with some of the equipment and the line was down while Maintenance repaired it. Four of the women, all in their twenties, huddled around an inspection table, deep in discussion about something. After a while I wandered over to hear what had them so engrossed. I thought maybe someone was having a baby. I heard, “I go to Our Lady of the Off-ramp, and say a hundred Hail Marys.” “Well, I go to the Sacred Heart of the Down-town Butcher, and say two hundred Our Fathers.” Another says, “Oh! I go to the Blessed Sacrament of Veterinarians, and say five hundred Novenas.” They’re all worried about the anticipated return, and working like Hell (Oops), to get off the naughty list, and onto the nice one.
The Newfy girl, who lived down the street from me, looked up and asked what church I went to. I told her I didn’t, because I don’t believe in churches. “Well, if you don’t believe in God, where do you think we go, when we die?” I didn’t say I don’t believe in God, just that I don’t believe in Churches. “Why not?” Because they’re full of consistently wrong people like the one who just misinterpreted my answer, and who want me to live my life according to their mistaken opinions. I regaled them with the above information about incorrect dates, to lift their fears. Deer in the headlights time. It never occurred to them that they might be wrong, and I could almost feel the denial.
I should have stopped there and shut my mouth. I should have known better, but, the question had been asked, so I answered it as I saw things. Her mental picture of Heaven was different from mine and from each of her three friends, and the official Church view, so, if she went to Heaven, it wouldn’t be what she anticipated. Science, often declared an enemy of the church, even when it doesn’t want to be, says that there are dimensions that we humans don’t experience. Perhaps when we die, that’s where we go to live(?), and meet God.
Then I committed my worst faux pas. I suggested that, when we die, maybe we just die. She persisted, “But where do we go?” Like Spock, from Star Trek, it was an exercise in pure logic, but neither she, nor the other gals was ready for it. They wanted reassurance, not logic. I answered, “Maybe, like the light, we just flicker out, and don’t shine anymore.” I could have kicked their puppy and they wouldn’t have looked as sad and disappointed.
I felt badly for them, and sorry for upsetting four already apprehensive young women. Any of my readers who are disturbed by this tale, please remember, your belief (opinion) is as valid as mine. I only ask for the right to hold my opinion until God tells me it’s wrong.