Bad Religion

August 20, 2008

Sundays about 2 p.m. I am usually busy ignoring the procession of Hari-Krishnas who sing and dance their way down my street much to the amusement of local drunks. “Any religion that expects you to perform weird things in order to celebrate your faith, looks a bit dodgy to me”, says my wife. Not just a pretty face, is she?

I can’t be classed as a church-goer myself, but some of the things God seems to want us to do (be a good person, do not murder/steal/etc) are perfectly in tune with my own philosophy of life.
If somebody uses religion as the ultimate pain-killer (my dad does that), I don’t mind. If somebody, in order to feel that their god is truly and properly celebrated, wants to be subjected to all sorts of uncomfortable rituals (my dad does that too), I don’t mind either.
I do believe, if God exists (and as I don’t know for sure, I am not denying God, why take chances?) we all are his/her holy and innocent children until proven otherwise, no matter what gods we do celebrate and how.

To me, religion starts to stink when people try and push their religious brands down other people’s throats. Isn’t it slightly odd that some think their god would like them to put on business suits and go out selling their faith door to door?

Once, after my wife and I just had a baby, we were in, waiting for health visitors. You know how it is when a new baby arrives: you don’t get enough sleep etc, so when I opened the door at the sound of the door-bell and there were two women standing there, dressed in smart navy-colored suits, I simply said: “Come on in”.
I was a little surprised when the answer was “No, first we would like just to have a little chat”, but I quickly caught on when the leaflets appeared. According to the rules of our street I had to say “Jesus *&%$-ing Christ!” (no thank you) and shut the door in their faces (it was nice talking to you, have a good day).
I swear, the expression of extreme worry when I asked them in, changed into expression of extreme relief after I told them to f*ck-off. Is it because they only know the first step of the drill: hand a leaflet, and as people are not supposed to take one, they don’t have an action plan for the next stage of conversion? Or maybe these are like ground troops or scouts, and the next stage (a visit to the prospective convert’s house for a theological discussion) is carried out by other, much higher priests?

I recall, in the mid-nineties, St. Petersburg suffered an invasion of American Evangelists. Some of them were standing next to churches handing a free copy of the Bible to every person who was going in. Apparently they were trying to convert Russians to Christianity. In English too.

Russians are one of the most Christian and god-fearing nations in the world - this is reflected in the quality and quantity of places of worship. Moscow, St. Petersburg and other Russian cities offer an exciting selection of cultural and architectural wealth related to the Orthodox Church. Russia’s monasteries, convents and cathedrals are sights that should not be missed by any self-respecting visitor. Honest, cross my heart!

Filed under: Russia - culture and people
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