Jen Howey

The Silhouette


One day, churches will be museums.

People will come to them to learn about times when what had been learned was smothered and soiled in fear.

They will learn not only about the Dark Ages that preceded the Enlightenment, but those that came after: those that we live in now, as we reject the progress of humanity and fall on our knees because we’re afraid. We’re so deathly afraid. Afraid of what? Fill in your own blank.

The truth: it’s really not hard to be a good person and believe in possibilities, or even probabilities. But apparently it is hard to stay true to your own convictions instead of submitting to what one Book tells you, and no others substantiate. What is this Book’s claim to fame, or to authority, one may ask? The Book is the one true Book because it says so in the Book.

You’re better than this.

What you feel in your heart may indeed be a wonderful conviction, a hope that keeps you strong and one you feel could never falter.

But here’s the problem.

Billions feels the same as you, only for something slightly or significantly different.

Are they are wrong? Yes, you say. Why? Because I have faith. Because my faith is stronger. Because, because, because …

To quote the brilliant Sam Harris: “We have a choice. We have two options as human beings. We have a choice between conversation and war. That’s it.

Conversation and violence. And faith is a conversation stopper.” I can personally attest to this. It is unbelievably frustrating when, in the middle of an intelligent discussion, the other person says to you, “I don’t have conviction. I don’t have proof. I have faith. And I can’t convince you that I’m right. But please respect it anyway, because a billion other people happen to believe it as well.” Conversation: ended. Progress: halted.

Don’t let faith be a conversation stopper. Please. If you feel a wall when you pray, if you feel doubt when you turn the pages of your scripture, if you see a darkness, a doubt, in your preacher’s eyes, know that it’s there because it’s real.

Ask yourself: what is it that you worship? Is it the same God who had to drown his own people? Is it the God who told Abraham to murder his son? The God who, to paraphrase Greville, created us sick, and then ordered us, on pain of eternal torture, to be well again?

Maybe it’s the God who inspires you to awe and wonder at the majesty of his creation. Maybe it’s the God who keeps you safe when you pray.

Is it the God who cares not about death of thousands every day? The God who says, “No, that was worth it – they’ll have a better time next time, when we share a pint in heaven”?

Why would you ever want to believe in Him? He’s not even worthy of miniscule humanity.

Believe in something worth believing in. Believe in discovery, in imagination, in curiosity, in creativity, in openness – however you may see it. But don’t claim as knowledge what you can’t prove. Don’t believe in the guy who says he created everything and then fucks with God to prove a point. Don’t believe in the guy who talks of comity between all people and then praises suicide bombers for their valour. These are two different planes entirely, one stretching with beauty and the other shrivelling with pettiness. How could they ever become equated as they have?

Oh, I know. People conveniently forget their equality.

Because people only read what they want. Which is why the fanatic stopped reading this long before you.

You need not give up hope. You need not give up possibility.You need to give up the hope that there is no other possibility.


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