I am a turd

November 11, 2010 | By | 7 Replies More

A friend handed me one of those little religious pamphlets a few days ago. It was from the “Greater Rhode Island Baptist Temple” in Johnston, RI.  We marveled at the following page–note the text near the illustration of the forlorn woman (click on the images to see enlarged versions):

“I know that I am a sinner and I deserve to die and go to hell . . . “

Egads!  How can statements so self-deprecating be encouraged, much less allowed, anywhere on earth?   If I were a god, why would I want to allow people with such low self-esteem into heaven.  I wouldn’t want to be around such people.   This is not to say people should be arrogant.  And they should certainly be humble.   But the above phrase is not humility.  It is sick.  How can someone walk around on this planet actually believe that they should go to hell?  Does anyone ever (even Hitler or Stalin) deserve eternal torture?  What is the point of eternal torture?  Do these people know what they are saying?  Do they know what “eternity” means? Does anyone who says this really believe this?

So many questions.

Lest you think that “hell” is one of those namby-pamby moderns versions of hell where the punishment is that you only get to watch TV for 4 hours per day, the same brochure shows you a photo of the flames that will be licking your sorry ass.

And here’s one more final warning:  Don’t think that you can escape the sizzling flames by being nice to other people here on earth, by doing “good works.”  That kind of altruism means nothing to almighty God, based on the authority of this mighty brochure:

So all I can say to you skeptics out there is you’d better shape up.  And quit wasting your time trying to help other people.  If you ignore this advice, you should at least invest in some asbestos clothing and hope that you can take it with you.

God help us all.

Epilogue: It is thoughts like the ones in this brochure that inspired this prayer scene in Monty Python’s “Meaning of Life”:

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Category: Religion

About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

Comments (7)

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  1. Mike M. says:

    Great example. At least this Baptist temple had the courage to clearly express their hateful and anti-human beliefs in unambiguous language. Most organized religions intuitively realize they need to bury their spirit and ego crushing esoteric agenda deep within the candy-coated shell of "peace and love" they falsely present as a front to dupe the unthinking. Once the flock (as in sheep) buys into the message that they are turds, and not the beautiful stars they truly are, then they become pliable enough to be further used and abused by the church.

  2. Mike M. says:

    Erich: You stated that "people should certainly be humble", but I don't buy into that humility trip at all. Many people may have been conditioned by their religion or other "moral teaching" to view humility as a virtue, but I feel we need to deliver ourselves from that perspective and look to humility's opposite, Pride, as the true and lofty virtue in this dichotomy.

    Webster's Dictionary definition of 'Humble': respectfully deferential; lowly and unpretentious

    Definition of 'Humbling': to lower in status or condition; to humiliate

    • Erich Vieth says:

      Mike: Looks like I've possibly misused the word "humble," or at least inadvisably used a word that has multiple meanings. When I used the word, I meant what is the first definition of the Merriam Webster On-Line definition: "not proud or haughty : not arrogant or assertive?"

      Perhaps I could have said "humbition," a word coined by Walter Kaufmann?

      "Humility consists in realizing one’s stark limitations and remembering that one may be wrong. But humility fused with smugness, with complacency, with resignation is no virtue to my mind. What I praise is not the meekness that squats in the dust, content to be lowly, eager not to stand out, but humility winged by ambition. There is no teacher of humility like great ambition. Petty aspirations can be satisfied and may be hostile to humility. Hence, ambition and humility are not two virtues: taken separately, they are not admirable. Fused, they represent the first cardinal virtue. Since there is no name for it we shall have to coin one-at the risk of sounding humorous: humbition… Meekness says: Judge not, that you be not judged! . . . Humbition replies: Judge, that you may be judged!"

      http://dangerousintersection.org/2007/01/01/faith

  3. Mike M. says:

    "Humbition" – Ha! I love when people have the courage to make up their own words. Why not? We're all trapped by our linguistic constructs to some degree.

    The late great author/philosopher Robert Anton Wilson invented the word "sumbunall"- which I find very useful. Basically it means 'some but not all', as in "Sumbunall religious people seem nutty to me" (true and fair) as opposed to the inflamatory "All religious people are nuts" (dogmatically certain and unfair).

    • Erich Vieth says:

      Sumbunall, eh? I like it. Using it might avoid so much mindless conflict. For instance, sumbunall poor people are lazy and they got into the positions they are in because of ill-advised choices. And it is also true that sumbunall poor people are victims who deserve help from society at large. These two statements are both true, so now we can start having a real conversion about what to do about the situation. Presumably, the solution will be an attempt to draft legislation that will help those who deserve it but will not be aim at those who acted recklessly and irresponsible. Most of all, that legislation would avoid creating cartoons that paint ALL like the few. It would avoid that commonly heard progressive rant that all poor folks are victims and the conservative rant that all poor people deserve what they are getting, and therefore the best policy is free market fundamentalism (= social darwinism), which equates to a perpetual moral holiday for all of us in a position to help.

  4. Tony Coyle says:

    Sumbanall provides the opportunity to indulge in non-binary thoughts — so it will only ever be used by sumbanall people, and very few of those will be influencers.

  5. Mike M. says:

    Along with 'Yes' and 'No', the universe also contains a 'Maybe'. There is 'True' and False', but let's not forget about 'Indeterminate'.

    I think humanity would be better served by operating more in the Gray Zone, as opposed to the culture's standard offering of Black or White.

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