Thursday, May 31, 2007


This morning I had a bad start. I’m not sure why, but, suddenly, I felt weary and defeated, scared and lost and, popping into my head, came an urge to fall to my knees and pray. A picture of myself on my knees, head bowed, emerged into my consciousness.

I’ve had that urge in the past, back in my drinking days and in my early days of recovery, when despair would overwhelm me, and I usually gave in to the urge to drop to my knees back when I believed. There seemed to always come some relief in the act of lowering myself down to my knees or falling face first onto a bed or couch and letting a pile of prayer words flood my consciousness. This morning, I didn’t want to give in to the urge to pray, but I did sit down and close my eyes and silently self-talk myself. Just sitting down helped. I didn’t try to meditate, just sat there, silently talking to myself.

Finally, as my weak, ex-Christian loser emotions subsided, I asked myself why this despairing feeling happened, what was it about? This is the moment among believers that they say is proof of god. They say this desperate urge comes from god directly and is a sign that humans have a hole in themselves that only god can fill. And I must admit the feeling of lostness can be almost overwhelming. So I entertained the idea for a second, but, then, another idea began to emerge, a more rational idea.

Suppose, I told myself, this urge to lower oneself (bow down, grovel) is a purely animal instinct that animals feel when they lose a fight or feel overwhelmingly outmatched by an opponent. The urge to get down on one’s knees and pray might be the instinctual, animal self struggling with the human mental self, and, at times, human consciousness loses and just wants to surrender and fall back on all fours like the animal it once was. Praying on one’s knees is halfway back to an animal on all fours.

Now that makes good sense to me—the god idea in some of us is that animal part of us that rules over our conscious selves, pushing us to bend and crawl up the earth once more. It’s as if, at times, our minds grow tired of remaining human and standing upright, then the evolved animal body takes over and forces us to our knees. This is another proof to me that believers are, ironically, bound by their urges into agreement with evolution even as they consciously resist it. And, I suppose, neither am I totally free of my animal self or the urge to pray (i.e. be an animal on all fours) would no longer strike me.

Later, as I wrote this account out, I began to realize two reasons why I felt so defeated and needy of succor this morning. Last night, a young woman snubbed me, not me exactly, but I was talking to her boyfriend about Dancing Wu Li Masters and after a time she just got bored or threatened by the topic (my atheism) and walked away. My ancient troubles with women can still strike very deep (they echo evolutionary struggle and male defeat when I’m spurned, don't they?) and can cause out of proportion emotional reactions of helpless defeat. Then, also, this morning I overheard during a TV segment that 60% of Americans still believe that the world was created in 6 days. Their ignorance, of course, is an enemy still too huge for me to overcome so, of course, my animal self wanted to bow to that ignorance, give up and surrender, and, the irony, is that the surrender would be a victory for me, through them, because I would return closer to my animal self when I get down on my knees to pray, thus, proving to myself that evolution is true and still active in me and them.

Finally, the realization of what emotional forces were at work in me and perhaps an awareness of how deep the struggle is between the on-all-fours animal in me and the upright human in me brought me back to peace and sanity. Science, reason—the truth will definitely set us free. Religion, superstition—their lie will certainly enslave us.


In more revelations coming from investigations into the Justice Department’s firing of fair-minded attorneys and their replacement by rightwing lawyers (from Liberty University? we must ask), American patriots can see that in every which way but loose these fundamentalist Republicans have sought to turn our American justice system into an attack dog for fundamentalist Republican’s religious and political, partisan aims. This is serious stuff, folks.

Federal law and internal Justice Department rules bar taking such affiliations into account in hiring career personnel, the Justice Department has said. Yesterday's letter revealed that the internal inquiry will examine the hiring practices of Justice officials besides Goodling and outside the attorney general's office.

The expansion comes in the wake of claims by former Justice officials that selections by the Attorney General's Honors Program and the department's Summer Law Intern Program were rigged in favor of candidates with connections to conservative or Republican groups. In response, the department this spring agreed to place them back under the control of career officials.

The programs were overseen last year by Michael J. Elston, chief of staff to Deputy Attorney General Paul J. McNulty, and both Elston and McNulty approved the recent change.

The inquiry will also look at hiring practices within the Civil Rights Division, from which dozens of career lawyers have departed. The career personnel repeatedly clashed with Bush administration political appointees, who overruled them on pivotal voting-rights cases in Georgia and Texas.

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