Wednesday, February 11, 2009

100 Proof: God In The Mix

After reading yet another AA meeting testimonial at the Times Proof blog, I decided to get the opinion of Brandi and Guinness, a couple of my barfly friends, on the whole alcohol and religion thing. (Guinness -- real name Glinda, and if you call her that she’ll hit you -- has to make a dinner reservation for three whenever she goes out with someone -- one for her, one for her dinner date, and one for the chip on her shoulder. Brandi –- real name Anne Brandui -- makes Pollyanna look like a manic depressive suicide case, and has been cited in the Journal of American Medicine as the major cause of diabetic shock in the tri-state area.) So a couple of nights ago I met them at the upstairs bar of The Naughty Pine, handed them a printout of the column, and let them go at it.

Guinness: This is crap.

Brandi: Be nice.

Guinness: I am being nice; if I wasn’t being nice, I would say it was fucking crap. Alcoholics finding God is just one addiction replacing another. It’s not a cure; it’s a redirection. They used to drink whiskey; now they drink scripture. It used to be Jack; now it’s Jesus. Alcoholics becoming Religioholics.

Brandi: But if it helps them, how can it be crap?

Guinness: Because it’s trading across. Trading across is not a cure. It’s a substitute.

Brandi: And what they’re substituting is something good for something evil. And the stronger the evil is, the deeper they need to go into the good for strength.

Guinness: Like a higher power.

Brandi: If that’s what you want to call it.

Guinness: Because they have a disease.

Brandi: Exactly.

Guinness: So if this is a personal disease, then why are they always trying to cure the rest of the world of it? Do I have the disease? No. But that doesn’t stop them from trying to shove the cure down my throat.

Brandi: They’re not really trying to do that.

Guinness: They say “It’s me, it’s a disease in me.” And when you walk up to them and say “Well, I drink and I’m fine, so it’s not me,” they go crazy and say “No, no, no –- you’re lying to yourself -– it’s you too. It’s everyone.” Which is the worst kind of religious bigotry -- you’re only telling the truth when you say what they want to hear.

Brandi: It’s not truth; it’s a belief.

Guinness: Exactly! And you don’t tell other people what to believe.

Brandi: But if it’s potentially damaging, and it’s damaged you, and you’ve found a way to undo the damage, don’t you have an obligation to say “Look what happened to me; and here’s what I did to make it better?”

Guinness: Of course! But what you don’t have the right to say is, “If this never happened to you and you don’t do this , then you’re a self-deluded lush.”

Brandi: Which is just an opinion.

Guinness: Exactly.

Brandi: The opinion of people you have no intention of listening to.

Guinness: Exactly!

Brandi: So why are you so angry? Why do you care about the opinion of people you don’t care about?

Guinness: Because charlatans shouldn’t be treated like experts!

Brandi: How are they charlatans? If it works for them, where’s the deception?

Guinness: The deception is in their religious zeal to convert the entire world to their beliefs. It’s like Freud saying “I just got a hard-on thinking about killing my father and sleeping with my mother; therefore every man in the world must want to be Oedipus.”

Brandi: And do you believe in Freud?

Guinness: Hell no.

Brandi: Then don’t believe in the religious sobers.

Guinness: It won’t stop them from preaching at me.

Brandi: Then preach the joys of drinking right back at them. Another round?

Guinness: I can’t.

Brandi: Oh come on.

Guinness: No, really.

Brandi: How about we split one?

Guinness: You are so bad.