Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Happy Blasphemy Day Ya Goddamn Atheist
Perhaps you don't know, it's International Blasphemy Day.
I thought I'd take a moment to reflect upon why it is I blaspheme.
In one sense, the words are meaningless to me. I don't believe in Jesus, I don't believe his book and I don't believe in his alleged patrilineage.
But I grew up surrounded by them. Let's face it curse words; goddamn, Jesus Christ, Fuck and Shit (among many others) are part of our cultural zeitgeist. I think I tend to use fuck and shit more than goddamn or Jesus – but they're all in my vocabulary. Possibly too much in my vocabulary, but I'm turning forty next week – old dog. Over the course of my life I have watched as these words become more acceptable, and I believe that the shift, from gasps of horror when my grandmother said 'fuck' one New Year's Eve, through Slash accepting a Grammy with a sentence set to inspire the seven second delay, was significant in my linguistic education. What was tantalizingly verboten has become pretty normal. I really only frown on the over use of cursing – which for me (apparently one of my first words ever was 'ship' – it was not what I was trying to say) is a pretty low bar. If I'm on SkyTrain and some potty-mouthed hipster uses 'Fuck' as verb, noun and adjective in one sentence more than once in a breath... they need to get a fucking dictionary.
But 'fuck' (oooh – I said 'buttfuck') and 'shit' aren't blasphemous really. In fact 'bloody' is more blasphemous than 'shit' is. (As an expletive 'bloody' refers to the blood of Christ.) 'Zounds' is more blasphemous than 'shit' is. ('Zounds' is a contraction of 'God's Wounds' – I didn't know that until Shakespeare classes at Theatre School.)
If the truly blasphemous words are meaningless to me, then why use them?
Because in another sense they aren't meaningless to me. I defy not god, but the existence of god with them.
I've been asked by innumerable Christians who fall in earshot of me "please don't say that" or "don't say that in front of me."
The first request is ridiculous. You are trying to SAVE my soul by advising me to adhere to the third arbitrary commandment of a petty god who I simply do not believe in? Good luck.
The second is really just asking for trouble from my contrary soul. Don't cuss in front of you? Goddamn it, I choose those words in part because it provokes you. Look! I just took the name of your lord in vain and no pillar of slat, no lightning bolt, no rain of frogs, no plague of locusts. None of that crap has ever happened to me, not from that first time I said 'ship!' Your god is either lame or lazy.
Blaspheming is, for me, an expression of my skin to marrow contempt for religious dogma, an expression that I exercise habitually. I grin and bear it when the fundies pollute my world with declarations of "Praise Jesus!" when their football team wins and "Thank You Lord!" when they win at bingo. So far as I am concerned, blaspheming is just my way of verbally urinating on a couple of fire hydrants in my little corner of the zeitgeist.