Tuesday, November 29, 2011


Evangelicals are not chill people.

They are not calm; they are not level-headed; they most certainly are not quiet. They won't sit and listen to your opinion with hands folded in their lap. They won't smile and nod genuinely when you say something they don't understand or don't agree with. They'd much rather lay the smack down than have a prim and proper discussion. They get their hands dirty.

We have this thing with winning. I swear, it's not me, it's everyone down there. And it's not that they want to go around and toot their own horns, it's that everything feels so darn serious to them, that it really does feel like a legitimate fight.

For many people, issues like abortion, gay marriage, whatnot are political issues. They're issues of the logistical treatment of other human beings. They're issues confined solely to this planet, at this time, right here, right now. Once we die, they cease to matter, because we cease to exist. Acceptance is always good. Rejection is always bad. This sort of thing. But for the southern Christian community, this is a matter of eternal life or death.

It sounds stupid to most people. Most people don't think about it really hard. Think this way: eternity is a long, long time. By definition, it never ends.

Imagine never-ending pain.

Take a moment to imagine the sheer reality of that. Of what would happen if you were in dire pain forever. And ever. And the entire time, you are vividly aware of what you were missing, that it was no one's fault but yours that you're stuck here forever.

It's almost impossible to get your mind around. Suddenly everything becomes really freaking important, something worth fighting for, something worth getting hurt for. There is no such thing as compromise, because compromise is death. Compromise is pain. Compromise is eternal destruction.

This is what these people are fighting about. It doesn't matter if it's real to you, or if you care. What matters is, is it real to them? If I were confronted with the choice between "marrying a chick + eternal hellfire" and "forever celibate + eternal paradise," which one really matters in the end? Assuming that their beliefs are true (which is their point of view), which one is significant? Choosing the temporary sin and the eternal punishment feels a lot like choosing a huge ice cream sundae when you could have a nutritious meal a little later. It's instant gratification. It's foolish, even childish. On a large scale, it becomes a threat, because it becomes a bad influence on otherwise obedient people.

These people spend decades of their lives trying to teach kids, essentially, to stay out of trouble. To learn delayed gratification so they can put off their sins and achieve a reward for doing so for 70+ years. To them, the rest of America looks like a bunch of toddlers crying for the ball that rolled into the middle of the busy street.

Some of them have gotten bitter and standoffish, and this is where you get the egotistical, "un-empathetic" types. They'll tell you to go get your ball, who cares if you get hit by the car? You whine about it enough, don't you? Just go run out there into the traffic and see what happens, see if I was right. Now I can say, "I told you so." Because you never listened. I tried, I really did, but you didn't care. Alternatively, they figure out ways to lock you into the yard so that even if you were to try, it's impossible for you to get the ball. They put up laws like electric fences, and if you touch them, you get shocked. You couldn't run into the street if you tried, and if you try, hopefully earthly punishments will be better than eternal damnation. These people are going for a sort of conditioning approach, where if every time you do something they don't like, you get punished, hopefully you'll stop doing stuff they don't like.

Some people think it's oppressive. That's a completely moot point. I'm not even going to comment. The real point is, you're not going to stop it until you convince them to change their morals. Anything is superior to eternal agony. Anything is a big word. Now realize that these people theoretically have permission to do anything to keep you eternally safe.

Scary, isn't it?

When it comes to social politics and morality, these people want to win far, far more than you. Even if your hatred knows no bounds, they still want to win more than you. They have the sheer energy, stubbornness, and drive to squash you, even if it takes a hundred years to do it. Stop fighting a battle you're doomed to lose, and start figuring out how to reconcile their beliefs with yours, and how to convince them of that. It's the only way. You can't say, "Just tolerate the fact that I don't believe." To them, this is as real as physics is, as real as the sky being blue or the water being wet, and you're all damn fools for not believing, so why should they support a blatant lie?

Until then, they have far more on the line, than you do. After all, you can only hurt for about 75 years. That' s trivial compared to Forever.


Ariel said...

So, given an awful lot of contradictory axioms-- how *does* one reconcile their beliefs with, say, atheist liberal generic-coast-culture? I totally believe you about them caring more because they have higher stakes, but some of what they want seems fundamentally in opposition to what I want, regardless of their reasons for wanting it. How does one bridge that gap, or even start to?

Alcor said...

Whoa hey, Ariel found out how to comment. :P

I'm not entirely sure. If I did, I'd have solved the problem, at least part-way. What I think is part of the key, is justifying other beliefs on their terms -- basically, telling them why certain things aren't immoral, but on their terms of morality. If someone argues from their own evidence, that's much easier for them to accept.

Of course, lots of people (especially the older ones) aren't going to give so easily, but one can try.