Sunday, 8 February 2015

Religious angst with no names.

Recently I purchased a book entitled 1000 FEELINGS FOR WHICH THERE ARE NO NAMES authored by Mario Giordano and Isabel Fargo Cole and illustrated by Ray Fenwick. The book is a compilation of feelings we experience that have no words in the English Language to describe them. Here are three examples in the book:-
The shame at how far you’ve come with so little talent.
The delight when a baby grabs your finger and won’t let go.
The serenity of having nothing more to prove.
There are in fact 1000 of those unnamed or unnamable feelings in the book. Each of the wordy description expresses a feeling we are intimately or inimically familiar with but can’t find an English word for it. Here are two of them for your savor, “The anxiety that maybe you’re not a real man because you’ve never been to a brothel,” and “The even greater anxiety at the idea of going to a brothel.” Get the drift? And here is one that used to strike a raw nerve in my guts, “The phobia that the large Hadron Collider near Geneva will create a black hole that will swallow us all.”
If you are getting the hang of it, here are more ironic feelings for which there are no names:-
The wicked glee when your best friend’s husband also has an affair.
The grim satisfaction of removing bird droppings from the paint job.
The doubts in your own fidelity.
The slight envy about the seventy-seven virgins waiting in that other paradise.
The pride at a lie well lied
And here are a few on parenthood:-
The rage at your parents’ bland condescension.
The disappointment at your children’s boundless egotism.
The fear of admitting to yourself that you don’t love your children.
The gratification of having spoiled your sons rotten, thus raising the bar impossibly high for their wives.
Finally, this is one whereby I myself am admittedly guilty of:-
The self-contempt while checking every other minute to see if anyone’s finally react to your incredibly original Facebook post.”
Now, enough about the book. Personally I have thought deep and hard about the book’s intriguing theme and have come up with 40 nameless feelings about religion and the church. If you can keep an open mind about it, here are all 40 for your consideration:-
1) The incredulity of being told by a preacher who owns a private jet that God will only bless you if you give generously to his ministry.
2) The elevation you experience when a member of your church praises you for having a prayer led by you answered by God the following week.
3) The bubbly warm feeling of being told that God wants you to pray big because he prefers not to answer small.
4) The confidence felt when you declare after an all-night prayer meeting that God is going to bring a revival to the church to rousing applause.
5) The shame you feel when your church member catches you secretly downing cough medicine just after you’d spent the whole night preaching about supernatural healing.
6) The holy indignation (or feeling of superiority) of telling young wishy-washy believers that you have been to hell and back and thereafter having them eager beavers tailing you from a distance with a sense of awe and fear.
7) The satisfaction you feel when you happen to be worshipping in Church during those rare moments and then noticing that your projected piety is captured on the church's big screen for all to see.
8) The shock of realizing that you have just pledged your year-end bonus in a church-building fundraising service.
9) The deep relief felt when God finally gives you a confirming sign that she is God's will for you after hankering for a sign for the longest time.
10) The mental consolation of knowing that God's still small voice is rarely an audible booming voice.
11) The blissful resignation of knowing that the prosperity gospel is not the true gospel and that the prosperity preachers' heavenly mansions are no bigger than a fraction of yours.
12) The pleasure of finding that members from your rival church across the street have sneaked into the back rows of your afternoon church service (and the tinge of embarrassment that comes straight after that deeply savored pleasure).
13) The utter faithlessness you dare not express when praying for a certified hypochondriac or a miracle-sensitive congregant.
14) The raging anger rising from within when a new church member catches you quoting a scripture totally out of context.
15) The private relish you feel when the church accountant tells you that the collection for last Sunday exceeded all expectation because you told the congregation that it was your wife's birthday.
16)  The fear that others may discover you do not practise what you preach or you are still battling lust over your member's daughter.
17) The joy of knowing that speaking in tongues often has nothing to do with understanding it.
18) The vindication you feel when being told that someone had hernia the next day after telling a churchgoer that you are a boring preacher.
19) The glowing glee you suppress when a member comes up to you to tell you that every time you lead in worship, she feels closer to God.
20) The envy you feel when the preacher you love to hate is loved even by your own church member (and to rub it in...she'd even bought his latest bestseller).
21) The feeling of godsmack when you discover that your beloved senior pastor whom you had admired since conversion is only human (and that he had just cut into your lane without signaling).
22) The desperate longing that God would rapture you off tonight and then crown you with many crowns in front of those who mock you for being too spiritual for earthly use.
23) The exasperation of standing behind the pulpit on Sunday and realizing that most of your members' husbands are sleeping at home.
24) The anguish of not sharing the same spiritual conviction with your pastor that Christ is coming in his lifetime. 
25) The bland feeling of blessed assurance when you are going through one trial after another and the fear that you may just lose your mind.
26) The triumphant feeling that your interpretation of the scripture is more favored by God than your pastor's.
27) The astonishment of a believer's unqualified claim that god answers all prayers, really, all.
28) The dead certainty that those who don't believe what you believe are going to hell.
29) The guilt you feel for having a Freudian emotional slip of gladness when the prosperity preacher was caught committing adultery with his pants down.
30) The cold comfort of having been told that God works in mysterious ways.
31) The rude shock of having been told that a mother is boycotting her own son's funeral for dying as an unrepentant gay.
32) The rage you feel when a preacher under corruption investigation boldly tells his congregation that God is sorry that he has to go through all that.
33) The angst of having your prayer left unanswered while the same prayer uttered by your cell member got answered.
34) The helplessness of seeing a young life dying before you after the whole church have fasted and prayed for healing.
35) The apoplectic anger felt when the clergyman cavalierly explains that God gives and God takes.
36) The awkwardness of having a stranger from church prophesying that you are blessed with a good marriage when you have just finalized your divorce.
37) The smug assurance of a pastor who thinks that his church is the only true church of Christ and the rest are merely spiritual wannabes.
38) The feeling of pride when someone comes to you to confirm that she had the same heavenly vision as you have.
39) That cringing feeling when that same person who shares your vision is none other than someone whom the church has discreetly labeled as a spiritual nut case.
...and finally...
40) The holy self-flagellating anger you feel in the inner sanctum of your untainted soul for secretly admitting to yourself that you actually enjoyed the 50 shades of grey movie.

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