— Christopher Hitchens, God is not Great
I now wake up unsurprised that my electricity has not yet been turned back on. I spoke to the director of the school who is responsible for paying for my ability to watch episodes of the The Wire each month, and he admitted that the school had not yet paid, but feels no pressing need to rectify the situation.
So, today, because I couldn’t work on my semi-annual volunteer report and because I have an excess amount of paint in my house, I spent the day painting my walls. My friend had recently given me an audiobook version of Christopher Hitchens’ God is Not Great read by the man himself, and if you’re going to voluntarily let someone talk in your ear for over six hours while you slowly get high on paint fumes, Hitchens’ scratchy, yet sophisticated accented voice is not a bad one to choose.
Hitchens has one of those voices that make you believe everything he says, but it’s not just because of this that God got me thinking.
The Beninese society is a religious society. But not just that. It’s an aggressively religious society. The fourth question people always ask you (after your name, where you’re from and what you’re doing here) is where you go to church. Every Sunday my neighbors ask me where I went to mass that day. People have tried to convert my Jewish postmate more times that he can remember.
Hitchens spends most of the book outlying his argument against the institutions that religions have created. What I didn’t realize until reading (or listening) to his arguments is that I agree with most of them.
I’ve talked with other volunteers about where, if you wanted to try to create a timeline of the development of a country, you would place first the rise of religion and but then, how this would be followed by the rise of other beliefs, including those that question the necessity of religion and the decrease of the power of religion in other aspects of society (like politics).
I don’t know if it’s because when you live a life where you sometimes don’t have money to feed your children that you need to believe that there is something out there looking out for you or if it’s because these ideas came from a person who came from a different land where you perceive life is better that you believe so wholeheartedly in what comes from a book that was written 1900 years ago.
I do know that Hitchens is not going to appear on any high school reading list here anytime soon.