Random Rants, Raves and Ramblings

My Rejected Submission for "Thought for the Day"

Theo's wife died three months ago after a protracted fight with a leaking heart valve, the result of a medical error that, incredibly, affected 20 consecutively treated heart patients. All of them will die soon -some already have- and they know it. They are most keenly aware when another of their number succumbs on some random date.
Visiting Theo this week was heart-rending. His two eldest children were virtually mute but the family's 3-year old is full of questions. When is Mommy coming back? Where is she? Why has Jesus built a house in Heaven for her that she's now having to live in without us? How can she be happy there?
Whilst trying to manage his own grief Theo is being forced by his religious beliefs to invent new excuses for this Jesus, just to make sure he doesn't come off as an incompetent (which has my vote) or as a psychopathic jerk. I listen speechlessly as the web of theology gets not so much spun as knitted.
"Don't hold his beliefs against him," my wife says reading my thoughts under the African moonlight on the dirt trail that is the way home. "They give him comfort."
I concede the point, more out of that deference to religion we get hammered into us as kids than actual agreement.
Now, a little later, I know I disagree. Fully and without apology. Theo's constantly having to square his religious ideas with our blind, merciless and uninterested reality where shit just happens, must be like juggling torches whilst trying to dress one's burns. It is amazing how religions manage to make one's life miserable whilst convincing one that it'd be even worse without. Well, it's not. We all go through hell, pardon my French, when we lose a loved one, but some don't need to ask God how this could have happened and then have to supply the answer themselves when none is forthcoming.
Marx' quip of religion being opium for the people is usually taken as meaning "something to keep 'em feeling happy". Well, no. Think instead of opium as something that initially makes you feel wonderful but that afterwards you need to take just to keep from sliding headlong into despondency. Marx was bang on. If Theo were to lose his religion here and now, he'd have to accept that his wife is truly gone and that he'll never see her again. In other words he'd have to go through the whole mourning process afresh. Just one of those insiduous little ingredients added for maximum withdrawal pains. If you're a believer reading this, take my advice and kick the habit while your loved ones are still alive.

Saturday 24 August 2013