Case Study #1:
My friend Greg is a spaz. He’s a great guy in every way: kind, kinky, and karing. But he’s always in motion – twitching a foot or tapping on the desk. So, we were all surprised when he took up Zen meditation. I thought it would be a fad for him, but ten years later, he still sits Zazen for an hour every other morning. My theory is that it’s the only time that he can be still, and his love for Buddhism gives him a center that his otherwise hyperactive life is missing.
Case Study #2:
I was on a long road trip with my friend Cary. We were in that post-midnight philosophical mood that you can only get after 10 hours of solid driving, when he asked me, “Patrick, if you could rape a woman and get away with it, no consequences, would you?” I was horrified, and responded back instantly with a loud, “Hell no! Why would you say that?”
It took a half hour of talking before Cary admitted that yes, he would rape a woman if nobody stopped him. In fact, he often thought about other darker things – murder, stealing – but his faith in a strict Baptist religion prevented him from doing those things. Now, Cary is not a psychopath… before that night, there is nothing in his peaceful demeanor or gentle actions towards others that would make me think he had such violence inside of him. I think that Cary needed a religion that acted like a superego… a mystical father figure who told him what he could and couldn’t do, because he didn’t trust his own suppressed animal urges.
Case Study #3:
I call myself a strong atheist. Now, this has nothing do with the intensity of my disbelief, but is more of an esoteric argument on provability. However, that’s the absence of something, and doesn’t count as a religion (and screw anybody who say’s atheism is a religion… that canard been argued over and over again unconvincingly in the US courts, or I’d start a Church of Nothing in my basement just for the tax-free building status.)
Instead, I’d like to be a humanist. I’m not there yet, but it’s where I’d like to be.This is the religion I *need*, similar to my friends above. I need it because people piss me off most of the time. Assholes in lines at the store, jerk on cells phones, other drivers. I am constantly amazed at the stupidity and cruelty of other people. I would lock myself in a room and stay on the computer if I let my baser instincts take over.