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If You’ve Pretensions to Calvinism, Protesting Human Behavior is Pretty Well Meaningless

In a few hours Kevin Smith will, for whatever reason, be presenting his “fuck Hollywood” premiere tour for the film Red State right here in my hometown. I’m not going simply because I don’t really have $67 to drop on a ticket for an event that doesn’t include a blowjob with the cost of admission. But neither the film itself, or my lack of oral sex is the point of this post. I will, at no point but either the name or the initials of a certain religious group in this post, as I refuse to be a party to providing them with any more free publicity than they’re already getting simply because I’m talking about the film. However, if you’re at all familiar with Red State, you know which protest-happy group of zealots I’m talking about.

See, they’re supposed to be in town tonight too, waving about their placards that tell us all about how their god hates certain groups of people. Maybe it’s because I’m an atheist, maybe it’s because I’ve studied philosophy of religion, or maybe it’s because I’m simply not batshit insane enough, but I have to wonder if they actually believe the shit they sell. I don’t mean the hating homosexuals part; fuck knows the human race has shown time and time again how xenophobic, petty, and vicious we can really be. So I don’t have a hard time believing that they hate gay folks.

The bit that gets me is that they claim to believe that their god hates gay folks, and that America is somehow being punished for not burning all “teh homos” (and if one of the man in charge’s disillusioned sons is to be believed anyone who’s not white as well). I find this hard to believe, because this particular group of numbskulls embrace a worldview that is inherently Calvinist. I realize I’m simplifying things here, but one of the central tenets of Calvinism is the idea of predestination; as most Calvinists would have it we’re already marked for salvation or damnation from the get-go, nothing we do along the way fucking well matters to whether we’re fed grapes in heaven or sodomized with burning maggots in hell.

The problem with doing this is that it renders most of the theological implications of free will meaningless (which causes a lot of other problems I won’t be going into for reasons of space and relevance to the topic at hand). Sure, I can choose to be good or bad, but those choices don’t fucking well matter much, do they? If I’m damned from day one, then why would it matter if I spend my days fucking another dude up the ass while aborting fetuses and denying the Holy Spirit? I’m going to hell anyway, right? For that matter the same applies if I’m earmarked for salvation. If I’ve already got a get out of jail free card, then why in the world when I want to go to all the work of being a good person? Not only has this god rendered free will largely meaningless, but unless I want to be Kierkegaard’s knight of faith he’s taken away any fucking reason I should do what he says.

Maybe this god is just a particularly petty one, eh? Because I can’t think of any other reason why a god who’s rendered my life meaningless would then be hatin’ on me.

Like I said, this is an oversimplification. Personally, I’d like to be able to walk down to any protest that happens tonight (as the event in question is taking place only a few blocks from my current residence), and talk to a someone representing these folks and their beliefs. I would like to hear from them how their own beliefs avoid reducing that which they believe in into unintelligibly. I’d like that a lot, really. Sadly, these people’s track record suggests that if I do try it the only thing I can expect for my trouble is shouted rhetoric. Which I think is a shame, but you know what, I’m not going to give them a pretty picture for the television cameras and newspapers, so that they can go to sleep at night playing the martyr; I’m not going to give them the self-satisfaction of thinking they’ve castigated another “sinner.” I haven’t mentioned them by name, and I hope to never speak of them again. Because the worst thing we can do to these people isn’t debate them. It isn’t, no matter how abhorrent we find their views, staging counter protests. It’s letting them scream in an empty auditorium. Sadly, with the media and it’s “if it bleeds it leads” mentality, these zealots will likely never fade into obscurity, no matter how much we beg news outlets to ignore them. After all, we’ve made it pretty clear that as a society we want to stare right at that fucking trainwreck. So I’m sad to say that it will probably never happen.

It is on that sad note that I will end, dear readers. If anyone needs me I’ll be in the corner crying bitter tears for the state of humanity, and maintaining what is by now the thoroughly Kierkegaardian hope that tomorrow you will finally start making the world a better place than it is today.

 
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Posted by on March 14, 2011 in Philosophy, Pop Culture

 

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