Wednesday, 4 October 2006

Gods and monsters

My immortal soul is in trouble. It was my birthday last week, and my mother took the opportunity of a celebratory dinner to ask uncomfortably profound questions about my conception of God. Whether I’m ‘ready to die’ – that kind of thing. I lied to her, of course, and (using her discourse) assured her that all is well with my soul. Somewhere between the main course and dessert it dawned on me that I am, for all intents and purposes, an atheist. The religious fervour of earlier was first replaced by a numb agnosticism, and now by a rather determined atheism; or irreligiousness in any case. Which brings me to my irritation du jour. Have a read of Jon Qwelane’s latest offering on News24.

Scary stuff, I thought – and not only because I’m a woopsie myself. My status as a homosexual is largely academic: I live a celibate life, and have been for quite a while, but I take an essentialist view on this: to paraphrase Sartre, I am a homo because Qwelane looks at me…

The point of this is that I’ve decided to advocate for a strong secularism. The more I look around me, the more I am struck by the horror unleashed by the pathological projections unleashed on humankind in the name of patriotism, nationalism, ideology, religion, God, and so on and so on ad infinitum. Let us kill our gods. Let us embrace our loneliness in this cosmos as a blessing rather than as something to be covered up by primitive fears and their romanticised constructs.

I’m not pushing for some blind embrace of ignorance dressed up as apathy. One should only do this by knowing the enemy. In that spirit, I’ve thought of a quick reading list for the uninitiated, or the mildly interested. Here are four books:

I sit back and I reread all of this and I can’t help but wonder whether I’ll burn in hell.


  1. Here's a Mail&Guardian review/ article of the Dawkins book:

  2. funny you should say that, cause I was walking to work this morning and kinda thinking I can't figure out whether the Chinese world view/experience includes the concept of a conscience. can there be one without the strong awareness of transcendence that we western types get born into? I'm saying we assume, atheist or no, a certain dualism, and I'm saying I'm assuming that Chinese people, well, don't. The world seems to be whole to them from the start: no external truth, transcendent reality, i.e. higher moral/ethical erm source. What Gus is saying here is that maybe that's why they find it SO SO hard to be alone. When I'm alone, even atheist that I am, I am in dialogue with myself/conscience and use an (constructed) external yardstick to measure/relativise my actions. Goddamn. I mean: I don't litter -- not because I'm scared to be caught, but because I think it's wrong. I don't steal, kill, stare at breasts or cross against a red light because I think it's, you know, just wrong. And the Chinese? Well, I don't know why they do what they do, but I'm pretty sure it's not for the same reason as me... and that's something we need to research way more.

    Oh, also passing thought: since the Chinese state system is so seriously authoritarian and paternal father-knows-best, would it be reasonable to say they are the biggest non-secular state in the world? Here's one society that could do with seperation between state and religion!

    PS. Just read the Jon Qwelane thing, en kan ek net se: What the fuck!? Wie de fok het hierdie fool 'n pen gegee? Wie is hy anyway? En hoekom is hy so onbeskryflik dom? Jissus. Ek's bly ek's nie in daai stupid land nie.

  3. Re: Cerebus se PS. Daar is 'n vorige posting deur my somewhere oor ras waar ek ook probeer het om diep asem te haal en iets moois terug te skryf aan Oom Jon. Maar ek het sedertdien besluit hy is doelbewus daarop uit om mense te bait, en die kru aard van die argumente en hoe hy reageer op kritiek het my laat besluit om hom net te ignore.