April 21, 2011
It’s holy week once again. It has always been our family tradition to choose a province in Luzon during Holy Thursday, where we drive around to look for seven cathedrals for our annual Visita Iglesia. During the entire trip, our voices would fill our compact car with songs of praise and non-stop chants of prayers. A really annoying and boring thing to do, but we did it nonetheless for we were made to believe that compared to what Jesus had been through, no matter what we do, our sacrifices would still pale in comparison.
Some people spend hours praying in churches, and some people inflict pain on themselves. It is at this time that we witness the devotion of people to their faiths and their remorse for having caused Jesus his untimely death.
I have always cringed at the sight of the bloody backsides of the penitents. They walk barefoot under the summer sun while flagellating themselves and mindlessly spraying blood at any poor unlucky sod who happens to come close. The stench of sweat, blood, burning candles, fresh flowers and simmering skin on concrete is enough to ruin anybody’s appetite for a week.
I once saw a group of bloody penitents in Pampanga, who were clad in jeans and had wreathes made of thorns as crowns. They weren’t allowed inside the church so they stayed by the entrance. Some kneeled and some laid face down on the floor while mumbling prayers. On my way out, I saw layers of both crusted and wet blood smears on the old yellowish marble floor, and I was careful not to take a misstep.
A National Geographic documentary entitled: Don’t Tell My Mother – I am in Manila, shows just how these religious people choose to let go of their thinking. In one part, Diego Bunuel interviewed a guy who moved from person to person, and scored the penitents’ skins with an improvised implement, made out of wood and lots of sharpened nails. He asked him why he did it and he said that it’s done to draw out more blood. The host then asked him if he’s aware that he might be spreading AIDS, and he only replied that he uses alcohol to disinfect it. In my mind, not only were they uneducated about the deadly virus, I also have a feeling that they believe, their “G”od won’t allow anything bad to happen to them since they are sacrificing themselves for him.
Some even go to the extremes and have themselves crucified on the cross, just like how Jesus was executed, in the hope of having their worldly sins forgiven. I know some people who subject themselves to such an act, and who right after their penitence return to their old habits of drinking and beating their wives. It has become an excuse to do bad things the whole year, because come holy week, they can always repent and ask for forgiveness from an non-existent deity.
I had originally planned to join my family in this year’s Visita Iglesia. Foremost, to make my mum happy, and second, to take pictures and videos to add to this essay, but I changed my mind. I don’t see any reason as to why I should suffer and endure the long travel, the heat and the boredom that this holy week brings if I don’t believe in it anymore. I don’t have any reason to feel guilty for a man’s self-inflicted suffering nor for a sin I didn’t commit. Jesus brought it on to himself, since he’s the omniscient and omnipotent “G”od, who made himself human by forcefully impregnating a virgin slave teenager, who later became his mother.
And if he’s “G”od, and he’s all-knowing, and if the father, the son and the holy ghost is one and the same, then the only reason why he came into this world is to become the hero who will save the world from the destructive forces that he himself will bring forthto the creatures who have become too evil. And yet even if he’s supposedly omniscient, and he knew that some humans will be evil, he still created them.
A critical thinking person will see that this is plain nonsense. And the stunt on the cross where he looked up to the heavens and said, “Father, why have you forsaken me?”, is one hell of a psycho shit. In that scenario, he was talking to himself. He’s “G”od and he can’t even get himself out of the cross and we’re supposed to be guilty about it?
If Jesus died for my sins, tell him that he’s a looney and he friggin’ overreacted. My sins aren’t that big to die for.
A gullible person will easily fall for this guilt trap, but critical thinkers can’t be deceived for we know how to spot baloney. We know that this is nothing but a poorly constructed story, made by ignorant people who didn’t know any better 2000 years ago. What this religion is doing, is keeping people in the dark by making them believe that they need to be saved and by threatening them eternal hellfire if they dare to refuse to take him as their saviour.
I’m awake. I can’t imagine myself being one of them anymore. Seeing the throngs of people lined up in a procession, holding candles, rosaries and flowers while chanting prayers and parading life-size statues, walking to the altar and kneeling to kiss a wooden cross held by a priest, seeing my mother cry tears of remorse for her original sin, and knowing that everything was a lie, is one disgusting sight. These superstitious people are like puppets who don’t own and who don’t control their own lives.
And the only time that I really enjoy going to church is when everybody’s gone. When the place is silent, the air is cool and the birds are chirping. The sound of my stiletto heels on the marbled floor as I walk along the aisle resonate among the nicely painted cement walls and ornate ceiling, the smell of the old wooden church pews, burning candles and fresh flowers engulf the air, while I sit and stare with awe at the church’s arrogance to claim moral superiority and its absolute uselessness.