Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Lugubrious Religion

After the cold-blooded shooting of six little girls at a one-room Amish school in Pennsylvania, I wonder anew what the self-denial and lugubriousness of religion achieves. Jews have just observed 24 hours of fasting for a high holiday. Muslims are in the midst of a 40-day sun-up to sundown fast, during which hours no food or drink, including toothpaste, may pass their lips. Roman Catholics give up pleasures and fast for Lent in the spring. Amish forego all modern conveniences for a life of denial of most pleasures.

What good does all this do? A stranger to their community enters an isolated, rural schoolhouse and slaughters little girls no older than 12 in gory execution style shootings, lining them up against a wall. I often think that the Dionysians and Sapphics are the only ones who got in right. Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die.

Yet, I take comfort in praying. It eases my guilt when I inadvertently do wrong or hurt someone. It lightens the burdens of being human. It soothes anxiety and brings a peaceful moment or two. So, why not?

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