I walked to the village shop today. Along the way, I passed a quaint church and as always, when I pass a pretty building, I had a peek inside. Religious structures interest me; churches, mosques, stone circles. They are usually aesthetically pleasing to the eye, but even the ugly ones have a history, either through the architecture or its religious foundations. Many of the people here in the village are practicing Christians; they seem a nice bunch – no-one has preached to us, or been judgmentally smug. They’re warm, friendly people but not because they believe in the Christian God, I just happen to think that they are pleasant people, and would still be pleasant if they believed in Zeus, or Ra, or Apollo, or no God at all. The church I visited today was quite austere, but the feeling I got as I passed through the doors was a familiar one. I couldn’t believe I’d once been hooked by this nonsensical propaganda.
I used to believe in God. It is my strong opinion that this is a catastrophe for anyone suffering with OCD. In my opinion, believing that a divine power exists outside the realms of the natural laws of the universe only fuels the OCD engine. Science says I can’t help find a cure for AIDS by walking through the doorway thirty-three times, but I’ve still tried it, because if the laws of nature and physics were suspended in biblical times, then who knows, maybe I do have a direct influence on a medical laboratory in California. Maybe there’s only a 0.01 percent chance but it’s still a chance, (there really isn’t) so I’ll do it anyway, just in case.
“You’ll save a million lives,” says Crow. “Or look at it another way, if you don’t walk through that door until it feels ‘right,’ then you’ll be responsible for a million deaths.” It sounds ridiculous I know, and I knew it sounded ridiculous at the time, but I felt compelled to do it, lest I spend the rest of the week incapacitated with guilt. When I was young and thought I had control over a particular rumination, I would either tap the Bible (if I was in my bedroom,) and think of the word ‘goodness’, or tap my forehead (this came from the superstition of tapping wood,) and, more and more as my compulsions became less physical, (or if I was in a room with other people,) I sealed the thought with imagining a pure white light, which I called ‘The Blinding.’ These compulsions could take over a hundred attempts until they felt ‘right,’ and were severely time-consuming. Lessons in life, future ambitions, homework, everything could be discarded except these brain-melting compulsions.
It is obvious to me that the bible tapping and envisioning a white light (the Blinding,) derived from my belief, however twisted, in the roots of the Christian religion – God, the Bible, and all that jazz. It was like a blessed full stop. If I was born in India I am convinced I would have drummed my fingers on my forehead to a Ganesh mantra. Yet long after I became an atheist I continued to finish mental compulsions by visualising a searing brightness. I still do, occasionally. People flash me a condescending smile when I tell them I had to imagine a blinding white light while counting to five hundred to stop war in central Africa. But many of those people will nod their heads in approval if a person tells them they put their hands together each night and plead to an invisible being who lives in a multidimensional Utopia, who had apparently but with no evidence created the universe and everything in it with a click of his omnipotent fingers, to stop the war in Syria. How could I honestly say my counting to five hundred was any less powerful than mumbling words under my breath to God? There’s no proof for either, but one is accepted by society, the other is ridiculed. Just because an old man with a strange hat in a billion-dollar palace in a tiny independent state in Rome says the Bible is the word of God doesn’t prove that it is. Let alone that He exists. Yet I was convinced that if billions of Christians thought it true, then obviously it must be. What I neglected to acknowledge were the billions of Muslims, and Hindus and those sharp-suited Scientologists hiding behind dark glasses and flashy smiles, who all believed in something else. I ignored the word of the Imams and the Rabbis and the Druids at Stonehenge, and I certainly never brought into the equation the opinion of atheists. I could envisage Crow’s response – a raging ball of black feathers screeching in my face.
“How dare you imagine such wickedness? he screamed. “The devil will rape your family in Hell!”
I’d have to tap my fingers on my forehead reciting Jesus’ name a hundred times if I even dared to contemplate such a blasphemous idea. I performed this head tapping for over a decade. It kept me awake for long hours of the night, shuffling to school the next day with shadows under my eyes like I’d been punched in the face.
You won’t be struck down by lightning if like me you no longer believe in the God propaganda. Well, you might be, but if you are, it’s because of electrostatic discharge in a cloud, and not a supernatural being munching on a bunch of sour grapes. I’m sure he’s too busy figuring out how to explain quantum mechanics and dinosaur bones than worry about someone who hasn’t washed their hands thirty-three times before leaving the bathroom. I believe it is totally up to the individual whether they worship an all-powerful supernatural being, but for me, it was fucking disastrous. I wasted blood, sweat and YEARS on religion, and I am convinced it made my condition worse. It didn’t make it any better, that’s for sure.
So I left the church with a bewildering shake of my head but closed the door quietly in case anyone was praying inside. I may not have God but I do have the Crow. He is a metaphor for my OCD, not a real demon or supernatural being – purely a symbol I can sink my teeth into, and direct a few swear words at now and again.
The little fucker.