There was a morning wake up and time to play with my niece. Then people came. I had a nice chat with a friend of mine, whom I've known since we were so young I don't remember it. I don't see him very often, but I guess we'll always have enough in common to be able to get on well. Though I think our differences are very clear to us. He's a nice guy and it was good to see him again.
The purpose of the barbecue was to celebrate my sister and brother-in-law's wedding anniversary. Consequently, it was a gathering of their friends, all of whom are married jewish couples with children (excepting this friend of mine and his sister, who left after the first couple of hours owing to other commitments). So, I got to spend the rest of the barbecue talking to people whose lives are distinctly different to mine. In fact, they might well look down at me, from their position of a relationship with their god and posession of shed-load of family responsibility. After all, I'm that brother. I'm the one who left his religion behind him and didn't speak with his family for a few years as a consequence (it's not that simple, but I'm not going into the detail). I'm the one who's 33 and single again. They're the ones doing everything they were brought up to.
Some might consider this sort of thing depressing.
Bizarrely, though, it was a conversation with a particularly bigoted imbecile which I found more of a firm nail in the coffin of misery which I was discovering someone had defined around me.
Now, don't get me wrong. The barbecue, the atmosphere, the cooking, the chance to spend time with my old friend, sister, brother-in-law and niece, were all the highlights of the event. There were also people around whom I've met before and liked. I know that my sister reads this and I don't want to suggest that I didn't enjoy much of what happened... but I'll be honest, I had a conversation for a long period of time which was the mental equivalent of picking a scab. It was the wrong thing to do, it got quite addictive and will need recovery time.
I don't have a relationship with my god. I don't have a god. The irritating thing is to meet someone who is so convinced that he has... not just a relationship with his, but the one I should have with "mine". In other words, this person's arrogant and narrow minded view is that he's got it right and that I haven't discovered what he "knows" yet. I argued with him for a good couple of hours pointing out that he knew very little of the actual reason why he's right - only the reasons why, assuming he was right, he did a certain percentage of the things he does in the assumption that they must be done. His answer was, unfailingly, "I wish I could answer that, but I know someone who could". What's the fucking point of that answer? "Well, I believe it, but I don't know why, but I still believe it" Brilliant. Well fucking done. He said "Do first, discover why later". I believe the Nazis could have used that argument.
Sorry. Mentioning the Nazis in any argument immediately loses. Not everything comes down to Nazi Germany.
This man, apparently, later asked my sister for my number so he could get in touch. This is the man who said repeatedly "It's not brainwashing" about the organisation he's been involved with, but then proved equally repeatedly that he had more conviction and sense of self-reward from his blind faith than he had any rationale for WHY. With his medieval attitudes towards homosexuality, this man has mutated in my head to become the bastard son of Ned Flanders and Darth Vader.
It's taken me two days to calm down from my sense of outrage about this particular conversation. I can safely say that I'm not too keen to repeat the process with this fellow again. Stepping briefly into the shallow pool of his imagination was a bit like trying on those wellington boots I tried on yesterday. At first I thought they'd be okay, but they pinched so awfully at my calves, that I realised I'd lose all blood flow and maybe even get a thrombosis - there would certainly be some throbbing, and not in a good way.
It's odd. I think I believe that having a religion is a good thing for those who need some coherent system to dictate their lives. Perhaps what annoyed me about this guy was his arrogance about it and the fact that, peeping through the cracks in his self-delusion, were quite a few traits which seemed at loggerheads with the way of life he was so desperately trying to bring me into. Though maybe it's unkind of me to point to a human being with regular human flaws and say that he's no ambassador for his faith, at the same time I have to wonder whether that's not just a caricature of all religious people. They paper over the cracks in their lives with this opiate that is religion - a sense of something emotive shared with other people who claim to be able to feel it too... and if a room full of people get it, it's hard not to. I've been to a football match and given myself to the group mind and it's felt good. It doesn't mean that football is God. It's human nature.
The fact that I can see what self-delusion looks like means that although I'm not immune to deluding myself, I'm pretty sickened when I see someone arrogantly deluding themselves. Dragging yet another generation through a culture which is at loggerheads with modern wisdom. Though perhaps some modern wisdom is in fact non-wisdom (celebrity obsession anyone?), I truly fear for anyone who believe that Noah LITERALLY had an Ark with 2 of every animal in.
So, to any person who sees the world through the blinkers of their own expectations I tell you this: don't fuck with me. I'll only hold my own, you'll only notice it, tell me how impressed you are, go away and imagine how deluded I must be, while I spend a couple of days wondering what's the point of there being a you to have arguments with.
I should have just eaten more burgers instead. However, I almost managed to eat abstemiously... so that bodes well for further dieting.