I have never understood why people kill for God

Image courtesy of the Look and Learn History Picture Archive by way of a Creative Commons search.

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) – Thousands of Muslims ransacked churches, banks, shops and cars Thursday after a Chinese Christian trader reportedly insulted Islam by complaining about loud evening prayers, police and witnesses said.

I have never understood why people kill for God.

The ransacking I can understand. Ransacking can be fun, AND profitable, unless you’re the ransackee – most definitely if you didn’t attach the special “ransacking” rider to your insurance policy.

But do people really think God gets his feelings hurt over snarky remarks about the Pepsi Clear in the baptismal? Maybe the tough love God of the Old Testament, who destroyed worlds if you looked at him cross-eyed. But not today’s kinder, gentler God.

Besides, mostly it’s not God who gets skewered, but religion. You know – that thing invented by man. And one man’s Mass is another man’s goat sacrifice – but try explaining that to God’s assassins.

I should talk. My own religious training can best be described as “uncertain.”

We went to church on occasion, not as infrequently as I would have liked. I remember sitting in the pew as a tiny kid, my spine pressed against the hard, cold wood as the minister droned about sin, knowing that soon the candles would ignite all those fancy tablecloths spread across the furniture and then we would have some fun!

Later, Mom and Dad went us to summer church school, where the teachers served us warm Kool-Aid, soft ginger snaps and incomprehensible Bible stories with “lessons” that were totally lost on us kids. What I remember was the white shirt I wore to those sessions. It was starched into a kind of tool of submission. If I dared make a sudden move, it would cut me. Putting on the shirt was an act of contrition. I was sorry every time I did it.

I went many years after that without setting foot in a church, convinced if I did I would spontaneously combust. But the notion of heaven and hell persisted.

Televangelists came and went, endless theistic battles wore on, and while I did not consign religion to the cynical “opiate of the masses” I had little use for it. But now I am more tolerant, and I take that as a sign of growing up. I see religion as a foundation of faith, one I choose not to partake of, myself.

But I remain puzzled by fanatics who kill for God. Can’t God do his own killing? Don’t these people realize that by killing for God, they admit God isn’t as powerful as, say, that god over there? They are falling behind in the God race.

Another thing: I don’t think God cares which football team wins.

Here’s another pseudo-word that ought to be a word: “aquadextrous,” as in possessing the ability to turn the bathtub faucet on and off with your toes.

This column was originally published in the Wednesday, Feb. 5, 1997 Northwest Florida Daily News and is used with permission.

About the author:

Del Stone Jr. is a professional fiction writer. He is known primarily for his work in the contemporary dark fiction field, but has also published science fiction and contemporary fantasy. Stone’s stories, poetry and scripts have appeared in publications such as Amazing Stories, Eldritch Tales, and Bantam-Spectra’s Full Spectrum. His short fiction has been published in The Year’s Best Horror Stories XXII; Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine; the Pocket Books anthology More Phobias; the Barnes & Noble anthologies 100 Wicked Little Witch Stories, Horrors! 365 Scary Stories, and 100 Astounding Little Alien Stories; the HWA anthology Psychos; and other short fiction venues, like Blood Muse, Live Without a Net, Zombiesque and Sex Macabre. Stone’s comic book debut was in the Clive Barker series of books, Hellraiser, published by Marvel/Epic and reprinted in The Best of Hellraiser anthology. He has also published stories in Penthouse Comix, and worked with artist Dave Dorman on many projects, including the illustrated novella “Roadkill,” a short story for the Andrew Vachss anthology Underground from Dark Horse, an ashcan titled “December” for Hero Illustrated, and several of Dorman’s Wasted Lands novellas and comics, such as Rail from Image and “The Uninvited.” Stone’s novel, Dead Heat, won the 1996 International Horror Guild’s award for best first novel and was a runner-up for the Bram Stoker Award. Stone has also been a finalist for the IHG award for short fiction, the British Fantasy Award for best novella, and a semifinalist for the Nebula and Writers of the Future awards. His stories have appeared in anthologies that have won the Bram Stoker Award and the World Fantasy Award. Two of his works were optioned for film, the novella “Black Tide” and short story “Crisis Line.”

Stone recently retired after a 41-year career in journalism. He won numerous awards for his work, and in 1986 was named Florida’s best columnist in his circulation division by the Florida Society of Newspaper Editors. In 2001 he received an honorable mention from the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association for his essay “When Freedom of Speech Ends” and in 2003 he was voted Best of the Best in the category of columnists by Emerald Coast Magazine. He participated in book signings and awareness campaigns, and was a guest on local television and radio programs.

As an addendum, Stone is single, kills tomatoes and morning glories with ruthless efficiency, once tied the stem of a cocktail cherry in a knot with his tongue, and carries a permanent scar on his chest after having been shot with a paintball gun. He’s in his 60s as of this writing but doesn’t look a day over 94.

Contact Del at [email protected]. He is also on Facebook, twitter, Pinterest, tumblr, TikTok, and Instagram. Visit his website at delstonejr.com .


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