Religious Value

Bloggified by Jake on Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Three days from now will be the two year anniversary of the morning my agent called me to tell me Scholastic had made an offer on my book, which was then called I Think My Teacher is a Superhero and featured art by Jacob Chabot (including the page to the right). The offer wound up being for a four book deal, and two months ago, I finished the final draft of Book 4 in the series.

Since that July morning that I sent off the final draft to my editor, I have taken half-hearted stabs at Book 5--for which there is no contract or even discussion of a contract--and three other projects I've had bouncing around in my head. Last night I finished the first book in a new series that I can't announce anything official about yet.

However, this is a collaborative project which was created and loosely plotted by two other guys who asked me to write it for them since their writing experience is in comics and animation, but not in prose. It proved to be quite a grind for me to knock it out, largely because while they gave me complete latitude to flesh out the characters and plot, it wasn't my story or my characters. It was a paycheck--or in this case, a speculative potential for a paycheck at some point in the years to come--but so is approximately 99% of the writing being done in the world every day.

I began struggling with my writing while working on Book 4. Being the last book of the contract with no guarantee the series will continue, I found myself focusing on some of the corners I'd written myself into and questioning whether I even wanted to continue with a Book 5. After working on the same characters and scenarios for nearly five years and not much of anything else for the past two, I found myself much more interested in exploring something completely different and unable to focus on the story at hand. But when I finally finished it and was free to work on other projects, I found myself floundering. Maybe it was because I'd been working for two years on a series that had already been figured out and I merely had to get one step closer to the already-decided-upon conclusion. Maybe it was because I was overwhelmed by the number of opportunities available and couldn't decide which way to go, like Morgan Freeman unable to pee without his boss's permission after getting out of Shawshank.

Or maybe it was because I'd already climbed that mountain and climbing it again held no interest for me.

I've written before about the number of successes I've had professionally and the subsequent disappointment I've had with said successes. I set goals, I work hard to achieve them, but once I do, I find myself asking "What's next?" I worked for years learning to be a sportscaster, then within a year of my first television job, I felt empty. After three years, I walked away and have never regretted the decision for a second. Now I wonder if the same is true of my writing career. I set the goal of writing a book that would get published, and I did it. Now is my mind moving on to "What's next?"

And this, I discovered, is the true value of religion to the human race. The idea of heaven or nirvana or paradise, the goal of achieving some perfection akin to a flawless mythical being is impossible for any mortal to achieve. Therefore, no matter how long one lives, one always has a goal to strive for. No one in the entire history of the world has gone to heaven, come back, and said, "Well, I did that. What's next?"

Granted, we all could do the same thing by setting impossible goals, except we know they are impossible. Over the summer, I took up curling. I could say I will not be satisfied by anything less than winning an Olympic gold medal, but that goal would almost do more to demotivate me than motivate me because I would know it was realistically unachievable. Being grounded in truth and realism prevents me from accepting impossibly high standards.

As such, the skeptical non-believers of the world are at a disadvantage to the religious. Those who can accept the concept of a magical man in the sky who lives in a place where all your dreams can come true can face every day never having to ask, "What's next?" Everything they do, no matter how insignificant, is a piece of the puzzle that ends with an ascent to sit at the right hand of the Father.

That's because your God always thinks the way you do. Do you hate gays and Muslims? So does God (Leviticus 20:13; Exodus 23:24). Are you accepting of other religions and sexual orientations? So is God (Leviticus 19:17-18). Do you think God wants you to be rich? He does (Psalm 12:1, 3). Do you think God loves you more than rich people because you're not rich? He does (James 5:1). If your marriage is unhappy, do you think you should tough it out because you made a commitment before God and your loved ones? That's what God says (Matthew 19:6). Do you think God would rather you find someone new who can make you happy rather than stay together and be miserable? Of course he does (Deuteronomy 24:1-2)!

Whatever you do, whatever you think, that's what God wants you to do and think. And it all adds up to your express ticket to the Pearly Gates as soon as you kick the bucket. While we atheists are trying to make the most of our time here on earth, objectively looking at our accomplishments and our impact on those around us, the religious can trudge forward through every day meaningless and without worry about their fellow man, unburdened by the madness those of us who seek truth and reality suffer as we continually try to find something else of significance.

Sanity through unwavering belief in the insane. That is the objective value of religion.

0 sarcastic replies:

Subscribe to: Post Comments (Atom)