Anyway. Once I decided to view the story as more of a modern parable than a historically accurate account, it was slightly more enjoyable, a tolerable mini-saga of the terrible price exacted by attempting to preserve your spiritual integrity in the face of religious intolerance. It made me consider how various groups of people react to religious issues in different ways, how the ultra-religious tend to categorize the fight to maintain church-state separation as fear or hatred of religion. I never quite understood that until very recently, say last week. It is, I believe, because that is their conditioned reaction to belief systems other than their own--fear.
I came to this enlightenment courtesy of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, of course, not so much by the power of its gospel (despite the powerful allure of pirates, to which I am not in the slightest immune), but by the vituperative e-mails sent to the Pastafarian founder by good Christian folk. Some seemed to be motivated by genuine concern for the man's mortal soul, but many others can be condensed into:
LISTEN DUMBASS YOU THINK THAT YOU ARE SO COOL BECAUSE YOU THINK SOME PUSSY SPAGHETTI MONSTER RULES THE FUCKING WORLD YOU STUPID FUCK YOU NEED TO FIND JESUS YOU STUPID MOTHERFUCKER.I just find this fascinating. Many, many of the e-mails used more permutations of "fuck" than even I drop in my worst moments--which, if you know me, can be quite a few--while simultaneously exhorting the reader to find Jesus. And then they're signed "God bless."
The consistent themes and wording running through these (at least the ones that seem to view the FSM as a genuine religion rather than the satire it's intended to be) are (1) concern that the FSM is leading people away from the True Faith, so please turn to Jesus (worded politely), (2) if you believe in the FSM you are fucking retarded, (3) if you believe in the FSM you are a fucking faggot, (4) if you believe in the FSM please go kill yourself, (4) if you believe in the FSM I hope your kids are fucked up and you get anally raped and eaten by animals.
Maybe this is an unfair assumption, but it seems a fair bet to me that the same people saying FUCK YOU IN THE NAME OF JESUS look at pictures of Muslims rioting over cartoons or blowing up each other's mosques and find it proof positive that Those People are monsters. I guess I'm equally unable to understand religious paranoia as they are to understand my lack of religious fervor, but if a perceived insult to your religion is all it takes for you to go on a physical or verbal rampage that is completely contrary to the stated tenets of that religion, well, it's time to take a deep breath. Is your god so fragile that he can't withstand the scorn of a lowly human? Does he really need you to do his judging and smiting for him? Think about that for just a second or two. If an omniscient, omnipotent being really needs humans to carry out the dirty work for him between bouts of bowing down in obeisance, is that really a deity worth worshiping?