Ok, so I've been neglecting my little blogosphere. I'll admit it. 2 times in two months is not very satisfying (just ask my wife!) and I know it.
To be honest, I haven't had anything on my mind that I wanted to rant/write about. I mean, I think about crazy ideas all the time (like why is it every time we have a mild winter, people clamor that it's global warming in action? We've only been recording temperatures with any accuracy for the last hundred years or so. I'm sure there have been milder winters than this one.) but most of them haven't been spongeworthy. Plus, work, busy, blah, blah, blah, and the general excuses one comes up with for not doing something regularly that they should. It's not just blogging, I haven't been to the gym in 3 weeks. So not only am I an ineffectual and impotent blogger, I'm a ineffectual blogger with a fat ass.
On to what I want to talk about.
I got into a philosophical/religious email debate with a friend of mine who shall remain nameless. I won't go into the sordid (and there are many) details, but he has recently been exposed to the Wiccan belief system by a self-proclaimed vegetarian (not vegan.) He says that Wiccans revere nature, that all of their rituals and holidays are associated with the changing of seasons and other natural phenomena. The vegetarian chosses to be a vegetarian because they don't want to consume something which they revere.
I reacted negatively to this hogwash. I'm not exactly sure why. At the risk of offending my friend, I had to point out what I thought was wrong with that line of thinking. I guess I have an argumentative nature when it comes to religion. I was raised catholic, I was married in the catholic church, I'll probably die an guilt-ridden, alcoholic, child-abusing catholic, but I don't really go to church on days that don't involve rabbits, candy or trees. That being said, I enjoy arguing about theology and religion. It’s part of what defines my relationship with my mother and father, that I argue with them. It’s not necessarily a lack of respect. I think they are blind to certain truths which I believe irrefutable, and vice versa. I have accepted the fact that what they have chosen for their life is the best for them. The catholic religion has been a place of solace and comfort for my mom. It is nothing but monotony and misguided faith for me.
Wiccans seem even more misguided than catholics, if that's possible. My friend tells me that the vegetarian (it's getting harder to keep names and situations vague but I'm going to plow through it so as not to offend) is "one" with nature and cast spells, lights candles, performs rituals and sacrifices small birds. I made that last one up. See how easy it is to make fun of? I'm a big fan of fantasy and Tolkien and D&D and various dork practices, but I realise that it's all fiction. Somehow, wiccans never got the memo and believe that casting spells is how you go about dealing with life.
But besides the craziness of Wiccan, I've got issues with someone choosing not to eat animals for any supposed connection they have with them. For one, the animal doesn't care if you eat them beyond a fight or flee instinct. #2, humans evolved beyond animals by killing them. Ancient humans were able to eat more protein, which led to growing larger brains. Also, the killing of animals led to clothing ourselves in skins, using the fat to burn, and countless other technologies. To extrapolate, civilization would not have existed without killing a shitload of cows, goats and horses.
The vegetarian counters that it's okay to kill an animal if you personally kill it, skin it and consume it. Like that distinction is ok for some reason. Once again, I say that's like taking a giant step backward in human civilization. Let me explain: I’m not a hunter. I don’t choose to spend time stalking a beast, slaying it, gutting it, skinning it, hanging it, then butchering it. I pay someone else to do that. When I buy meat from a store, I am paying the farmer, the truck driver who brought it to me, the butcher who prepared it, the cashier who sold it to me and everyone else along the way who put that meat into my hands. Those people choose not to answer phones for a banking executive (who incidentally is probably connected to the subsidies which keep the farms in business.) When I buy that meat, I am trading my time for all of theirs. That’s what commerce is all about. What is wrong with that? Am I supposed to kill and grow all my own food? If that were even possible, I would spend all of my time doing so. It is precisely the specialization of different professions which brought about the growth of cizilization as a whole.
And it's exactly this kind of sloppy thinking that bothers me about the whole wiccan thing. It sounds all cool and spiritual to say, hey, I'm choosing to love nature and love my fellow man and cast spells (roll the die!), but it's also like choosing to live in a hut for the rest of your life and eat bugs. Yeah, it's possible, even tantalizing in our busy world sometimes, but we as a race have evolved past these vague superstitions.
All of this made me think about what exactly it is I believe in. It's not much, but to me, we are the only gods. Humans have learned to use their intellect and industriousness to shape our lives and carve out a comfortable existence amidst a dangerous and unpredictable world. Even two hundred years ago, natural disasters such as the Tsunami or Katrina, would have caused so much more devastation and death than they did in 2005. That is a direct result of man, not any god.
We have evolved past the idea of personalizing things we can’t control, like nature, weather, inspiration, etc. There is no God, gods or anything else out there. It's just us, baby. Just this Earth. And no amount of lighting candles, praying, casting spells, meditating, prostrating will make the superstition real.