This one is for Catherine.
Here in the UK, we get American television programs after a bit of lag time, so I must say the writers’ strike has had less of an effect on my television watching habits than it might have. I am just now getting to watch the one and only season of Studio 60, and since I have enough energy for about 2 hours of TV watching a week, that one season seems to be sustaining me quite well.
I can’t help it. Bradley Whitford rocks my world.
Despite the fact that the producers seemed determined to pack four season’s worth of developments into one season’s worth of shows, Studio 60 has some mighty fine, mighty smart writing. Smart like The West Wing. Smart like Sports Night. Anyone notice a trend, here?
I am a sucker for smart writing and good timing, which is why there is one line from the series that has stuck in my head. Harriet, the devout Christian/late night comedienne, is arguing with her producer/ex-boyfriend, Matt, a more-or-less secular Jew. These two characters are meant to represent the religious divide in America, yet, Harriet tells Matt, she does not even know who the two sides of that divide are and why they seem to hate each other so much.
“Your side hates my side,” Matt tells her, “because you think we think you’re stupid. Our side hates your side because we think you’re stupid.”
That about sums it up, right? The non-believer intellectuals think the believers are morons being led about by the nose. The believing moral folk think the non-believers are soulless heathens standing on the edge of the precipice, about to fall into a pit in which they will burn in hell for eternity and into which they just might pull all of America if we’re not careful. That is the divide, right?
Shit. Yet again I did not get the memo until it was too late. See, I do not fit into either camp. I am definitely not a believer, but I like to think I am fairly moral. And, while I like to think of myself as somewhat intellectual, I cannot seem to muster any enthusiasm for labeling people of faith as mindless sheep who cannot think for themselves. Always the good sport, I tried. Really I did. Unfortunately, I have known a few too many real, in-the-flesh believers, and they totally blew the whole stereotype for me.
To be fair, I used to espouse the notion that people believe in God (and angels and miracles and an afterlife) because they are not bright enough to question the “truths” they are taught in their youth. I never would have expressed it just that way, but it seemed pretty evident to me that this whole God thing was a pretty big bunch of hoopla, so people who couldn’t see past it clearly had fairly limited vision. I would hazard a guess I am not the only person ever to feel this way.
But, as I have gotten older, it has occurred to me I, myself, take a lot on faith. Global warming, for example. I almost failed chemistry. I know diddly about the process by which CO2 floats up into the sky, turns the planet warmer, melts polar ice, and is going to make our planet uninhabitable. But, the scientists tell me it is so, and I believe them. Why? Because they are scientists and they said so. How, please tell me, is that any different from believing what a priest says?
I have chosen a system of belief because it makes the most sense to me. But, because I am a bear of very little brain, I am not so sure I could argue for it in a room full of skeptics. Put me in a room with George W., and I would fail miserably to convince him that global warming is for real and he has a moral responsibility to stop it. Hell, I can’t even convince my husband to be worried, and I have a bit more air time with him. I have taken a lot on faith, and I believe it fully, but I could never prove it.
People are not stupid because they take God on faith any more than they are immoral because they do not believe. We all take some things on faith, and just because you accept one system of beliefs and I another, I have no right to decide you are a lower order of thinker. (Now, if you voted for George W. as the moral candidate, I take issue with your process of rational thought…) By the same token, a lack of belief in God in no way makes me a less virtuous soul than regular church-going friends. If we may, can we please save the label of “immoral” for the people who earn it: serial killers, animal abusers, and people who throw paper into the trash?
So, much as I would like to belong to one clique or another, I am afraid I am going to have to sit this one out. I just do not have the time to worry about whether someone else believes in angels and what that says about her IQ. I am way too busy sorting my recycling.