Stop praying, you’re scaring me to death

Lately I’ve been scrolling through hollowverse.com, a website which collects and showcases many celebrity political and religious views. It’s a surprise when you cross an atheist on there, unless it’s someone already outspoken about it. In a block of 28 people, you’re lucky to find 4 atheists. I’m always disappointed to learn that a comedian cherishes a belief – Kevin Hart, Eddie Murphy. You’re wasting gifts of material! Hearing a standup defend God is like seeing a clown get overprotective about his squeaky red nose.

I try to be a laid-back atheist. When God pops up in a group conversation, I’d rather somebody else be the downer, or if the opinion is harmless just let it stand. If religion brings you comfort without breaking your thirst for knowledge, if it causes no physical or mental harm to you or those around you, I say have a blast. But I’m allowed to be petty once in a while, and this post is one of those times.

Yesterday on the radio listeners were asked one of those throwaway inconsequential questions: If you were ill, which famous person would you like to look after you? I heightened the question by imagining I was on my deathbed, trembling at the thought of the Unknown (death). Listeners typically chose a celeb crush to look after them, but it’s a miserable thought to have Kate Hudson skirting around my bedroom, horrified at the sight of my limp, tired body and my zombie-grey face.

So instead I chose the old and wise Tom Jones. With his rich, leathery Welsh voice he could coo any worries away. But, looking at hollowverse, I now see he’s a strong Christian who prays every night that he’ll keep his godly voice as long as he lives. Because of this, I’m having second thoughts on inviting Tom around.

‘Come on,’ you say. ‘Stop being so prejudice. You won’t be invited to my deathbed with that attitude.’

But I can defend my decision. While Jones’ voice could coax cancer cells to health and you know he’d give the best hugs, I’d rather not hear anything about God or Heaven as I drift away. First off I’ll never believe these things exist until I see them, so they won’t bring me comfort. On the contrary, God-speak would only emphasise how horrible it is to be dying, how it’s been something so dreaded by children and adults alike (mostly adults) for millions of years, so feared that we still rely on ancient books to help numb the pain. Kneeled at my side, Tom would pray and pray. But I don’t think it’d be for my benefit, not really. He’d pray back {his} fear, pray for the ignorance to carry on living without having to contemplate the insane inevitability of it all. He’d be better off comforting me by giving himself a foot massage.

Maybe it would ease my worries if me and Tom shared the same belief. I’d think hey, Tom’s doubling my chances of Heaven through prayer (is that how it works?) Then again, the only religious people who look forward to death are the crazy terrorist shitheads, and they prove it time and time again.  If every religious person was so confident of a blissful afterlife, we’d be having traffic jams with the amount of dead bodies blocking up the roads and traditional funerals would be a blast.

Instead of praying fear away and trying to convince ourselves that we or God has things under control, let’s just admit to and bathe in the insanity of the temporality of it all. Rip off your clothes, headbutt a streetlight, marry a lamb, because we are all doomed, bitches. And as I die, tell me how great I am. Go on, you know you want to. I’m like a God to you. You need me. The world will never be the same.

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