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"If you want to get your soul to heaven, trust in me. Don't judge or question. You are broken now, but faith can heal you. Just do everything I tell you to do. Deaf and blind and dumb and born to follow. Let me lay my holy hand upon you."

— Maynard James Keenan

Paul who? Paul the disciple? No. Paul Lai. A sophomore here at Cal. What kind of bullshit is this? You're telling me that hundreds of students wore those shirts because of some random guy? Why?

Apparently. Paul is quite "humble." This humility played a role in his being chosen as the spearhead for the cultish "Paul Week." He is so humble, in fact, that he wrote a "Testament of Faith" which was posted on campus. So humble that he agreed to have shirts printed with his name. So humble that he allowed a week to be named in his honor. To finish the job, the people behind "Paul Week" should purchase billboard space and write "Paul is so humble that you should kneel right now and bask in the glory of his humble nature."

Just know that not every campus Christian is a supporter of "Paul Week." I have had the liberty of meeting few who were more than slightly offended by last week's mind-numbing orange and blue.

Rampant hypocrisy aside, I had other issues with last week's events. One thing was the prevailing air of Christian superiority. Hence the stench of evangelism. Of course, the Paul-lovers can't just step in front of you and force-feed you a Bible. They seem to assume that by simply getting you to question your current beliefs, you will see the error of your ways. You will then fashion a large cross from store-bought lumber and proceed to beat the surrounding heathens. Yeah, sure.

Before I proceed to offend nearly all Christians, I should offer a brief disclaimer. There are many Christians that I don't have a problem with. I have problems with Bible-thumpers, the intolerant ones who preach tolerance, the ones who believe what they do because their parents told them to or accept it on faith alone. Also, I'm sure that every major religion has its problems, but I'm going to limit my criticisms to Christianity in general. I say "in general" because I'm not going to discuss any of the various flavors of Christianity.

When I think of Christianity I think of churches, not God. I really don't see the need for the number or grandeur of these churches. For example, a Sacramento church was recently renovated and can now seat a few hundred more people. It boasts big screen TVs and a slew of speakers, video cameras and other equipment. Why? So you can send God high quality recordings of the sermon? According to a local news channel, the cost of all of this was approximately $10 million. God won't hear you better since you went the extra mile on the PA system. He certainly won't let you into heaven in front of the guy with the smaller church.

When I look at how much money is given to churches that don't need it, they become a symbol of economic oppression. How do you think poor church-goers feel when the collection plate gets to them? You shouldn't have to give money to be a good Christian. If you do decide to shell out some cash, why not give it to the church in the poor neighborhood? You know, the one with the leaky roof, the broken window and the pews that leave splinters. But you don't. You keep your money close to home.

Then, there's the issue of what goes on inside the church. Honestly, I have a hard time sitting down while someone tells me that I'm a bad person and that I should listen to them in order to save myself.

I don't buy into the whole concept of sin. Therefore, I don't believe that Jesus died for my sins. If he really did exist, then he died because somebody else killed him. I wasn't the one to put the spear through his side.

To me, there is good and there is bad. I could spend thousands of words describing to you how I discern between them, but my column isn't long enough and it would be kinda boring. I will tell you that I evaluate these qualities in a non-religious manner. I also try to keep my decisions from becoming too self-serving.

What is religion, but a set of values which enables people to peacefully coexist. It is when groups that have different values begin to intermingle that peaceful coexistence falls apart. Separating people is not the answer. We need to realize the real nature of organized religion and that it does not involve intolerance or evangelism. The world has changed greatly since these religions were created. Yes, I said created. In light of so many popular religions, how can anyone say that there is but one true creator? Hell must be a very crowded place.

Religion is a tool. If I can live my life without its help, then I will do so. For some people, finding God is a necessity. Most reformed criminals have been able to lead productive lives because they "found God." It gives them a clear set of guidelines on how to live life.

Here's a scenario for you. God exists. Let's say that when I die I will be judged. Let's also say that throughout my life, I was a good person. Basically, I led a Christian life except for one thing: I never believed in God. When I am judged, he (or He) will see that I was a good person, the great exception aside. In fact, I was better than many Christians who will undoubtedly be accepted into heaven. Will I be let into heaven as well? How reasonable is God?

The bottom line is that, if it wasn't for everyone else who believes in God, I just might believe in him. Religions were created by relatively powerful men, not an almighty being. I choose not to participate in something so inherently divisive. I choose to love thy neighbor because it is the right thing to do, not because someone told me to.


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