martedì, febbraio 08, 2011

Jesus of the driveway

So we got rid of our rats by boarding up the holes they were coming in through. Easy. The thing is, the agency had already put down poison for them so yesterday we got the spectacle of one slowly expiring on our driveway, and I couldn't scrape together the balls to kill it and put it out of its misery. I couldn't stop thinking about it - how it would feel when it heard the birds, or smelt a cat walking by; how its little animal brain was dealing with the pain. It gave me a bit of an existential crisis to be quite straight with you - that something as precious as life is so easily taken away because one disease vector (us) didn't want another disease vector (the rat) to be alive anymore.

Completely honestly, it gave me a total Jesus moment - it's a powerful religious story, when you get a reminder of how shitty, brutal and commonplace death is, to be told that someone who was God let himself be killed by people for no particularly good reason. Other religions are fearfully death-y of course, but I don't reckon there's ever been a deathcult quite like Christianity, in the sense of it being a religion where you are told that your God chose to share the worst fucking shit that could ever possibly happen to you, or to any animal, just to show how much he loved you.

In that vein: I question the relationship people have spent the last 100 years drawing between the advent of scientific explanations for things and the petering-out of religion in developed countries, which only seems to apply to Christianity while everyone in the world is getting more or less clever, and which assumes, I think unreasonably, that most people have a high degree of familiarity with the scientific explanations, or even an awareness of them.

I think it has more and more to do with a universal unwillingness to consider death as the end of you. Every religion makes its peace with the idea of its proponents rolling on and on into the grave, and most of them even deal with the idea of the extinguishing of you-as-a-person; even the Christian idea of heaven, depending on who you listen to, means an existence totally in harmony with God's will, rather than happily sitting around on the clouds playing harps and eating Philadelphia cream cheese, and certainly rather than continuing to be yourself up there.

I think, rather than ascribing our irreligousity to scientific explanations for things, it can be ascribed more to our utter unwillingness over the last century to admit that the Self is fragile, mortal, and will one day be utterly annihilated in both existence and memory. Christianity does offer some pretty mixed messages on that one, I'll admit, but at its core it's a deathcult ruled by an all-encompassing holy spirit and frankly doesn't leave a tonne of room for the cult of individuality, and it doesn't leave room for a society that will watch death played out balletically in its films and movies, but doesn't let its old people or sick people die at home.

Anyways, now there's a dead rat on my driveway and I'm trying to get the F-word to deal with it because it's gross.

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