Monday, August 8, 2011

From Hypocrisy to Moby: Schadenfreude

Dear Kiley,

This is an angry letter, I confess. The central theme here is hypocrisy. I do not deny that I am guilty of being a hypocrite as well. It is, unfortunately, a part of human nature to be hypocritical at times. Our very existence as being mortal, fallible, and imperfect means that we travel with such companions as hypocrisy, frailty, and sorrow alongside happiness, vigor, and courage. No mere person can escape this, in my opinion. It is for us as individuals, as humans, to not focus so much on rising above our hypocrisies (that should be an indirect goal). Rather our focus should be to work through our concerns, problems, and insecurities while finding a way to live and tolerate the many hypocrisies in our lives.

I turn my anger towards Mormonism and Christianity and look upon them as being the same in this view of them. At the same time, I do not deny that such a labeling of "hypocrisy" can easily be applied to any religion, government, or organization that has ever existed, does exist, and will exist in the future. But for the purpose of this letter, I wish to direct the label of hypocrisy at Christianity and Mormonism.

I have been reading the book "And the Band Played On" by Randy Shilts these past several weeks. The book covers the truly tragic and pathetic history of the rise of the AIDS epidemic in the United States and Europe. I hate what I am reading, or rather I hate how the history of everything is playing out in this book. I cannot help but cry during it, grow angry, and become frustrated with the whole thing. It's like see the unfurling of a vast and interconnected web. I'm watching as the lines become revealed and see how they interconnect and become tangled. The entire time, I'm waiting to see where my line connects to this whole thing.

I've never met any of the people that I've read about so far. I already fear they are all dead, some twenty-five years after the last year that was covered in this book. It saddens me so much. The book has so far argued successfully that the ease in which the AIDS epidemic spread in those crucial early years in the United States was the result of an apathetic media, society, and government. They were apathetic because homosexuals contracted the disease. Those dirty gays got the disease so it's all right if they die. No one cares about them.

(Warning: rant about to occur. Flee now if you are allergic to rants)

Where is the Christianity that supposedly follows Christ? The Christianity that takes to heart the counsel that Christ gave in these questions "For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? And if he salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so (Matthew 5:46-47)?" Where is the heeding of the commandment to love thy neighbor as thyself? Or are those that are not your type of "Christian" or non-Christian not worth their time? This Christianity that supposedly is for peace and love, helping others...where is it? Where were they - when the children they cast out of their homes for being gay, ostracized them for daring to love what they are attracted to naturally, hated them for actually standing up for basic human rights and dignity, sought to gain influence so as to make their lives better - where were they when they began to die? Where were their mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, grandmas and grandpas?

This short excerpt from the book is the most recent passage that made me cry. The person that is speaking has just lost two of his friends to the unnamed AIDS virus. After having read Stonewall, watched the Mormon Church's campaign for Proposition 8 in 2008, listened to the hate speeches of reverends and politicians, and just heard the typical hate rhetoric of so many average Mormons here in Utah, I can understand some of the pain that this man must have felt here:

"As a harsh rain beat down, Paul again pondered the familiar imponderables. Why is this happening to me, to all my friends? Hadn't they put up with enough shit for one lifetime? Why doesn't anybody seem to care? What a fucking nightmare" (Shilts 140).

So I cannot help but wonder when I see Mormonism and Christianity why I should ever bother to describe them as good or any word similar to that. I have heard such descriptions used to describe the Mormon community: they take care of their own. What about others? I don't recall Christ doing that when he spoke to the woman at the well, healed a blind man, healed lepers, healed a Centurion's servant, or brought Jairus' daughter back to life. I don't recall reading that Christ was ever arrogant during those acts. I don't recall him complaining or telling them how evil they were.

This is where I see hypocrisy. They laud their good gifts to each other and the world but continue to ignore all the evil around them. They defend such immoral acts under the banner of Goodness. They speak with such venom and oily smiles that it makes me sick. When I read of the AIDS epidemic and of the Religious Right's rise during that time, I see them as the foul, pathetic, and disgusting people they are. I read of the sorrow and loss of those that died from AIDS or those that lived to watch their friends and lovers die, the pain that came from not knowing what was destroying them, the feelings of being helpless by those few doctors that tried to stop what was happening, the abandonment of the gay community by society in their hour of need, and the the sorrow that comes from death.

Christianity and Mormonism, what are their fruits? Hypocrisy, abandonment, death, arrogance, and hatred. Where, if such a thing ever existed, did the Christianity and Mormonism go that supposedly existed in my readings of the scriptures?

Why does any of this matter? Humans are fallible and pathetic. Yes, yes. I know, I'm taking quite the Augustine of Hippo approach. Permit me, if you will. These religions that claim to have "The Truth" should show some evidence of this. Otherwise, how are they distinguishable from any of these other "man-made" organizations? Shouldn't these religions that claim they are "good" actually do good things more often than by accident?  Yeah, I know, I'm crazy for thinking that.

Your friend,
That Crazy MoFo

P.S. Some funny and beautiful videos to cheer you up :)