I walked to the village shop today. I passed a quaint church and as always, when I pass a pretty building, I had a peek inside. Religious buildings interest me; churches, mosques, stone circles. For one 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 – not preachy, or judgmentally smug. But I don’t put this down to believing their God, I just happen to think that they are pleasant people, and would still be pleasant people if they believed in Zeus, or Ra, or Apollo, or no God at all.)
The church I visited today was quite plain, but the feeling I got as I first passed through the doors was a familiar one.
Incredulity. 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 disaster for a sufferer of OCD. In my opinion, believing that a divine power exists outside the realms of the natural laws of the universe only fuels the OCD fire. Science says I can’t help find a cure for AIDS by walking through the doorway fifteen times every time I leave the kitchen, but still I’ve tried it, because hey, if the laws of nature and physics were suspended in bible times then who knows, maybe I do have a direct influence on a laboratory in California! Maybe there’s only a 0.001 per cent chance but its still a chance, (there really isn’t) so I’ll do it anyway, just in case. “You’d save a million lives,” says the 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 then too, but I still 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 (I think this came from the superstition of tapping wood,) or, 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 extremely time consuming. Childhood dreams, future ambitions, homework, everything could be discarded except these compulsions.
It is obvious to me that the bible tapping and 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. No doubt if I was born in India I would be tapping my head to a Ganesh mantra.
Long after I became an atheist I still associated finishing a mental compulsion with this searing brightness. Now people flash me a condescending smile if 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 same people will nod their heads in approval if a person tells them they put their hands together each night and beg an invisible man who lives in Heaven, 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 my 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 billionaires palace in a tiny independent state in Rome says the Bible is the word of God doesn’t a; prove God, and b; that it is his word, even if it did. Yet I was convinced that if billions of Christians thought it true, then obviously it must be. What I neglected to acknowledge was the billions of Muslims, and Hindus and sharp suited Scientologists 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 those soul-vacant, animal torturing, sin wallowing atheists. My god, those murderers and rapists! I’d have to tap my fingers on my forehead reciting Jesus’ name a hundred times if I’d dared to contemplate such a blasphemous idea. (And yes, I did this head tapping for more than a few years. It kept me awake long hours into the night and it was around this time I suffered a series of severe unexplained headaches.)
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 an electrostatic discharge in a cloud and not a supernatural being juggling 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 washing their hands thirty-nine times before they leave the bathroom.
My point is, of course it’s totally up to the individual if he or she believes in an all powerful supernatural being, but for me, it was fucking disastrous. I wasted blood, sweat and YEARS on religion, I am convinced it made my condition worse. It didn’t make it any better, that’s for sure.
Again, the crow is a metaphor for my OCD, not a real demon but a symbol I can sink my teeth into, and direct a few swear words at now and again.
The little fucker.