Cultists of a god of hate
A couple of years ago, I went out with a cultist for a few months. She was a nice enough woman, pretty after a fashion, good to talk to, but
she had a problem that she couldn't overcome: she was a cultist.
I'm a tolerant person. It's part of the English psyche, socialised
into us, I think, because we live in a crowded small country. One way
we rub along is to let people believe what they want and just not
bother them too much about it. England is full of (mostly harmless)
eccentrics and we like it that way. It was more of a problem that she
was not at all tolerant of my beliefs, which run no deeper than a sort
of good-natured scepticism and an understanding that science provides
a decent, although not by any means complete, explanation of what there is.
I mean, on the whole her beliefs, although they were a bit weird,
didn't really affect the day to day. The only place they had any real
effect was inside her head, which was a quite disturbed place. She
would insist her beliefs brought her peace, but they didn't seem to.
They seemed the source of a lot of the turmoil that existed in her
What did affect us were her fellow cultists. I never met any of them
but I was aware of them, because they disapproved of me. I felt this
was a little judgemental, because actually I'm a nice guy and was
decent to her. But they didn't like that I wasn't a cultist. That
alone trumped everything about me. That it didn't really have any
effect on her or our relationship, that I didn't try to bar her from
professing her beliefs, that I respected them even, although they are
by no means respectable in themselves, didn't sway them.
I'd go as far as saying they hated me. I shouldn't have been
surprised. They were cultists of a god of hate.
They didn't even need to meet me to hate me. It caused her pain
because they started to hate her too: they began to shun her, to talk
shit about her, to inform her that the god of hate would do foul
things to her if she didn't restrict herself to fellow cultists. Well,
I suppose that if you join a cult that revolves around hatred, one
thing it will be very good at breeding is hatred.
Don't ask me why anyone would want to join a cult that directs you to
hate your fellows. Certainly I wouldn't. I am not attracted by "moral"
teachings that consist of instructing you to hate the world and
everything in it, to despise your own flesh and the inclinations and
drives that make you what you are. I could never agree that we are bad
*just because* we are human. I am a humanist, after all. I believe
being a human is a good thing. Why wouldn't I? I am one. Like most
people, I'm somewhat tribal. I tend to believe that the things I am
Indeed, most of what she believed is entirely contary to my own
beliefs. She believed it was good to lie, so long as you lied about
the world and how we are to each other, and about what is possible for
humans to achieve. She lied about what is important, focusing on
things that are, in the big scheme of things, not really important.
For instance, relationships are important; but really, marriages
aren't. What I am saying is that it's important to have people to
love, to show love to, and to be loved by, and in as far as marriage
is a way of labelling and symbolising those relationships, it's
valuable. But it's the relationship that counts, not how you label it.
People often make that mistake, even to the extent that they think
it's actually important to be able to call something a marriage that
is not in fact a marriage. Can you believe it? They actually believe
it is morally more valuable to have something called a marriage that
is in reality dogshit than it is to have a respectful and loving
relationship. I have had both; and I know which one I preferred.
(Which is not to say that you cannot have both rolled into one, nor
even to say that I didn't have both at the same time.)
She believed sex was "wrong". How can it be wrong? It's just a natural
consequence of human beings' being human beings. It's just something
we do. It doesn't really even symbolise anything. It's just fucking.
We don't consider it important when dogs do it, but somehow, in our
desire to elevate ourselves above the brute animals we share the world
with, we insist we are doing something different. Not that she didn't
enjoy it. She really did. But she believed that was wrong too. Her god
of hate, she believed, would punish her for enjoying it.
Her cults, it seemed, may also have been concerned that she might be
having uninhibited sex. There's nothing they hated more. Above all
else, the cultists hate having bodies, because bodies want to be with
other bodies. They just do. You can't do much about a human body
wanting to be with other bodies because nature's like that. But
despising nature is their ritual.
Wait, I would say, why would he endow you with this wonderful thing,
which you really enjoy, which let's face it feels good (#humblebrag),
and hate you for doing it? Well, that was kind of the point. The more
he hated her humanity, the more she loved him for it. To me, that is
the definition of an abusive relationship. Why abide with someone who
hates what you are?
The prophet of this god is thought to have been celibate. In my view,
people who don't do a thing are usually poor judges of its value. Why
people listen to the pope's view on sexuality is a mystery to me,
since he has spent so much of his energy in suppressing his. He's the
last person I'd ask for advice on sex. He doesn't even like it. It's a
bit like asking a vegetarian how you should cook a steak.
That prophet's view was that we should hate this world. He said so
often. Hate the things of this world so that you can gain entry into
another, better world. Of course, there is not a better world. The
thing is, humanists understand that we can *make* a better world, and
we can make it here and now. We cannot rely on some other entity to
create it for us. Many of us consider it a fallacy even to believe
that governments, who are supposed to be collectives representing a
will, can improve the world. Strangely, many of those who think that
fallacious are also cultists of the god of hate.
It's actually hard for the rest of us to work on making this world
better when we are surrounded by cultists who hate this world and
themselves so much that they don't want it to be any better. It would
even be a diminishment of their god for us to improve this world. He
relies on the gap between what we have here and what he offers being
huge. The more suffering there is in this world, the more he likes it:
it just makes his world seem more attractive. The problem is, this
world is all we have. If you do not believe that the 80 or so years
you are spending in this world is all you are going to get, you are
just lying to yourself. You are just the emanations of a brain in a
human body. How could you be anything else?
There's worse. Can you believe it, her god hates us so much that he
believed we should sacrifice in blood to him to make up for our
deficient natures! He tells you it's in your nature to be shit.
Imagine if your parents had brought you up like that.
Worse, he endorsed racism and was willing to indulge it by killing
thousands of people and encouraging his followers to do the same. I
don't know about you, but I don't find those who urge genocide
praiseworthy. I might fear them, respect their power, but I don't sing
songs about how great they are.
I sometimes feel like I too would like to join a cult. It's a great
comfort to believe, to have fellows who want what you want, understand
what you understand. But if I am to join one, it's going to have to be
the cult of a god of love. I don't have sufficient hate in me for it
to be the motivating force in my life. Sadly, for her, it was, so we
split up. I wonder whether she is happy, worshipping her god who hates
The paint is peeling from the wood of the Guides' hut. Inside, my girls are listening to a fat woman with a shrill voice telling them about something I'm not sure what, I'm not listening. We are standing out in the cold, dutiful parents in the best place we can be: serving our children.
The hut is ageing but it will likely outlive me. I was thinking, no one will sing over me. Am I sad that there is no magic in my life, or that there is no magic in this world? It has always seemed prosaic to me; sometimes wonderful, true, but nothing beyond what there is and how that makes us feel.
But I wish love really was eternal so that I could love my golden girls forever, so that there was a little piece of remembrance of my love for them throughout time.
I was reading today that a physicist, a true hierophant of naturalism, theorises that there is no dark matter, and the unexplained pull that we know is there but cannot find its source is the echo of a deeper universe, that all we perceive is the froth on an ocean that we cannot see, touch or feel.
I like the idea. It suggests that the universe is not random, but that what we perceive of it seems random because we cannot discern the underlying pattern.
And sometimes I like to think I want to know the answers, but other times I feel it is just as satisfying to have to make your own. Sometimes I have wanted magic, and I have felt envious of those who are able to have faith that it is there. I find their god unsatisfying but that does not mean there could not be one that offered a better fit.
The other day, I was thinking, maybe the rightists are not wrong. Maybe it really is just a dog-eat-dog world, devil take the hindmost, and I have just been hindmost. I worry that that is why I am on the left: not that I believe in community, but that I believe in the underdog because I am one.
But, you know, they are ugly and the world they paint is ugly too. Whyever I believe what I believe, it leads me to believe in a world that can be beautiful, in the goodness of my fellows, however little they show it, in a numinous "better".
I will take aesthetics if I can find it. Without it, we have to just be angry apes in a hostile world, and really, do you want that?
We move through the night, the cold fogging the windows. I am thinking about the people I have loved and how clueless I am about why they just slipped away. I am just not good at it, and in thinking that, I wish I knew whether I mean, at being loved or at anything at all. It is so hard not to just be hollow, to let the currents of your life echo inside you.
I grab Zenita and hug her. I love you, she says. My every cell sings. It doesn't matter what this really is. It doesn't matter how you explain it. It exists. That is all we need.