Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Somebody, please pinch me because I'm not sure if I'm living in reality

My last post was a bit placid, I thought, and I felt almost guilty that I had betrayed my own style. But I'm about to redeem myself with this rant.

I am really tired of hearing about all things religious on campus. I am an atheist, and I hate to have to be the target of marketed events such as the recent GW Forum on Faith and Politics, sponsored by the GW College Democrats. (Ironically, the Google search for this event leads you to the Beltway Atheists Meetup group and not even the GW Dems or anything GW-related).

It's events like these that tick me off because they show that we as a nation have adopted a mindset that as long as you have faith (whatever nebulous concept *that* is), you are automatically a person of credibility and authority. Bill Maher gets it right when he talks about the fact that religions are "fables that were written by men before men knew what atoms were":

Now, I can tolerate the occasional event here or there - and like I said before, some of the Muslim Students Association's events were really informative and interesting--but only from an educational perspective. Listening to lectures about Rumi and his poetry or about Jesus as an Islamic prophet was provocative, but did they make me recite the profession of faith of Islam? No.

But the whole premise of the GW College Democrats' event is flawed. Presupposing that it is good for a candidate to talk about faith in an open and direct way may be good for campaign strategy, but it really is not good for the population that Maher calls "rationalists", i.e., those who do not believe in any supernatural being.

So I only get angry about these things when I feel that I am being imposed upon from above -- and I would regard the Forum on Faith and Politics and the underlying assumption behind it as an imposition.

But of course, I probably would not have been inspired to write this post if I had not been so angry that it took me A HALF HOUR to get across Pennsylvania Avenue today after my class on K Street. Why? Because of the Pope. And the flock of insufferable sheep -- literally and figuratively who stood behind the gates to gawk at the visitor, his holiness.

The world does not need to stop for religion and for faith... business is simply more important. This blog post, for example, is an example of business as it fulfills a class requirement that I have to take care of lest my grade suffers. I could not do this post until I got back across the street to my computer, which was an almost impossible task today. I was therefore impeded from conducting business because of the irrational beliefs of so many and their almost laughable presence en masse.

After class let out, I made the huge mistake of walking towards Georgetown - and then fell victim to my own faulty logic of "a circle goes all the way around, so I can get to the other side even if I cannot right now". Yeah, the gate was still there on 24th Street. So I ask MPD, which is just oh-so-helpful, and they tell me you cannot get across "at this time" and I say "is there a barricade, say, as far down as 19th Street?" and I get "Walk a ways down...I don't know". You don't know. YOU'RE THE POLICE!!! I mean, if you have to protect the Pope, you would know where the barricades are and are not, right?

But all of this interrupted my daily life and wrongfully precluded me from doing the legitimate things that I needed to do. (I'm not sure if the barricades are still up, but in case they are, I'm counseling anyone reading this not to even try to go near Penn Ave.).

The GW Hatchet covered the Pope's visit and I won't go so far as to deem it as not newsworthy -- because it is. But that's exactly the problem - people should not have to feel the need to stop their lives for this. And they certainly do... because there weren't just tourists - I probably saw more people with their ID badges than I ever have leave work just to get a glimpse of the Popemobile.

I'm not totally sure what the world is coming to, but this didn't help me to be optimistic. It is very hard to be in a good mood when you are surrounded by thousands of irrational tourists who are slow-moving, in the way, taking up space, impeding myself and tons of other students who actually have to care about getting to classes, completing work, and things that are on the whole much more substantially important than unfettered, illogical mania.

1 comment:

Sarah said...

Max -- I hear you about the parade today. When I left HellWell around noon, 24th street was crawling with papal well-wishers. There were giant banners with unsettlingly apocalyptic messages and everything.

Additionally, does anyone know what the deal is with the "GW for Jesus" prayer box in the lobby of Ivory? I'm a fairly religious person, and I agree with your point that discussing religion should be educational. I do think there's a place for faith-based dialogue, even on campus ... and yet I'm as weirded out by this prayer box as I'm guessing my non-religious friends would be.