The trite, overworked cliché, “It’s a miracle!” has been replaced with the far more arrogant “I’m so blessed.” “Praise the Lord” has always been around but it too is gaining in popularity. We hear it all the time. “We’re so blessed.” People will say this when a tornado misses their house even though it wiped out the rest of their neighborhood. Blessed? A woman who recently told me her car loan had been approved was understandably happy, but she ruined the news for me by adding, “I’m so blessed.” I was tempted to say, “Did you know that over 6 million children younger than 5 die every year? Why aren’t they blessed?” But I bit my tongue.
As recently as 2010 there was an article in the Los Angeles Times that read, “Underscoring historic recent gains in global health, the number of children younger than 5 who die this year will fall to 7.7 million, down from 11.9 million two decades ago, according to new estimates by population health experts.” Fall?! Is 7.7 million anything to be happy about? If we can say yes, then shame on us.
This same article (May 2010) points out that the USA ranks 42nd globally in child mortality rates. That is inexcusable. If you want some eye-opening albeit depressing statistics, Google the World Health Organization and see how we are not taking care of each other. It’s very sad. I also think the constant praising of the Lord who helps us find a parking space or whatever, is distasteful and outrageously selfish. But hey! At least we’re approving some car loans. Thank God!
On a recent “Judge Show” (Alex, Mathis, whatever) the litigants were fighting over a cell phone bill. After the ruling the winner said, “Praise Jesus. I knew Jesus was on my side.” Yes, thank you, Jesus! This time I didn’t bite my tongue. I yelled at the TV. Well, at least it was cathartic.
Likewise, on The People’s Court a woman said on microphone, “God is good because I got my money!” Those were her exact, excited words. Good grief! My TV must have blushed at the outraged invectives I hurled at it this time. How can anyone be that selfish, especially in an economy that is circling the drain as millions are unemployed and in desperate straits? God is good? Well, he has a hell of a way of showing it.
Blessed by Whom?
The eternally vexing problem of who is doing the blessing is naturally avoided, evaded, side-stepped and just generally ignored by all the recipients of all those blessings. And while I realize how often I pose this question, it is the Achilles’ heel of all religions so it must be asked: Which deity is blessing all those lucky enough to be blessed? The logically extended sentence about being blessed would be, “I’m so blessed by my God because my God is the only true God, which means that three-quarters of the world’s population are worshipping false gods, poor souls.” I ask you, blessed people, isn’t this what you’re actually saying?
Here in the USA the Judeo-Christian tradition still reigns supreme. Jews and Christians alike often refer to “blessings” even though the two groups obviously disagree completely on the enormously important question of Jesus. Nevertheless, for any of you who believe in blessings, I ask again, loudly and clearly, WHO is blessing you? (Spoiler alert: I know the contradictory answer[s] to that question.)
I live in a lovely part of California’s Central Valley, but here in “God’s Country” I am so frequently bombarded with those phrases “I’m so blessed” and “Praise the Lord” that I often want to smack someone. There’s nothing wrong with being happy. I would express joy or relief that a car loan had been approved for me, but I would not believe, at the same time, that there was an all-powerful God responsible for it. It would be my own good credit rating, or dumb luck, or both, but not a supernatural event. Why can’t True Believers see the problem with their God-helped petty accomplishments in a world filled with misery? What is wrong with these people?
Like many atheists I bite my tongue too often. I’m afraid of offending someone as they drone on about their trivial triumphs and their talk of being so blessed. But these people are actually gloating, aren’t they? They are flat-out saying that they deserve to be blessed because they are so deserving. It really boils down to gloating, doesn’t it? I find it ugly.
The occasional bake sales and soup kitchens are nothing more than a way of easing some guilty consciences. And guilty they should be! The term “homeless Vet” should be an oxymoron. It should not exist. What’s more, we (meaning the whole world) have the means of ending almost all of the poverty that exists. We just don’t care enough. Well, about others. We certainly care a great deal about ourselves though, and we praise God for bringing about a win for our favorite football team in the Super Bowl! Yes, indeed. Praise the Lord! We can be truly blessed on Super Bowl Sunday!
Since we are surrounded by all these self-congratulatory, “blessed” people, who are taking bows for their God’s blessings, why not point out what is obviously wrong with this picture? And that would be, How can an all-merciful God, one Sunday afternoon, offer supernatural help to a 6-million-dollar-per-year football player while allowing thousands of little children to die on that same day? Hmmm? There is something drastically wrong with this arrogant arrangement, so why should we atheists be afraid of saying so? If we are afraid of offending the people doing the gushing about their many blessings, maybe we need different friends. I think it’s time to put an end to all tongue-biting. Enough is enough.
I have been asked many times how to avoid this ticklish social dilemma, since I have done my fair share of the Talk-Back thing (surprise! surprise!) and the results were sometimes disdainful disapproval; but more often than not the results were startled embarrassment—on the part of the “blessed.” Let’s see: million-dollar football players, starving children. Who should God be blessing? I honestly believe that many otherwise kind people have simply never looked at things in such a stark but honest way. We can always, calmly and gently, point a harsh spotlight on such subjects, can we not? We would only discuss such things after someone had thanked God out loud for a touchdown or whatever. And I think we should do so. Fair is fair.
You’re so blessed? Well, goody for you. Now take some of those blessings and donate them to UNICEF. Or someone truly in need. But please stop preening about your God-given blessings, will you? It is disturbing, offensive and puke-inducing. Its disappearance would be greatly appreciated.
I am personally going to try to renew my efforts in this area and do a better job of practicing what I preach. I think . . . oh, damn! My printer is flashing a LOW INK message on my screen. And I don’t have a backup cartridge. Double-damn! Hey, just a minute here . . . Wait. Yes! I do have a backup cartridge after all. Thank God!
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Is she a hoot, or what? She's had two books published. The first one, In God We Trust...But WHICH One? is out of print, but you may be able to find it on Half.com. (I have two copies, but I'm not letting either one out of my hands because they're both signed!) The second book, simply titled The Happy Heretic, is still available from Prometheus books. I think.