Feb 26 Paul Zimmer: The Day Zimmer Lost Religion

I gave up sugar for Lent. It is now the middle of Lent and, man, do I miss sugar. I’ve lost five pounds – turns out sugar took up too much of my diet (as it does for many). I suppose I could have given up sugar on my own without Lent, but my love of the sweet substance needed something harsher, more firm than the idea that doing so may help my health, fend off diabetes, slim me down – those things seemed kind of unreal to me as they were maybes. But fear of H-E double hockey sticks, well, if embedded in a young mind (as it was in mine), that’s a whole other story.

I am currently reading a book called “the Power of Habit” in which the author describes how AA was formed (perhaps sugar could be described as addictive – like alcohol it can pre-occupy some people more than others). The man was an agnostic and an incurable alcoholic, but when his drinking buddy refused a drop of their pitcher, it gave him pause. “Why not?” asked the man and the other man proclaimed that he didn’t need to liquor any more now that he found god. Eventually, the man, a bit of a cynic, had reached such a low point that he decided as well to give in to god. “Here, god, you take my habit,” is basically what he said and it worked and he spread the good word, so to speak.

The book explained that even though studies at the time disclaimed AA as just a bunch of quacks, the recent studies showed that people don’t give up disastrous habits – will power NEVER cuts it – they just replace them with something else. The ones who end up doing so positively replace the habit with something positive (replacing an eating binge with jogging) or something neutral (replacing alcohol with god).

I think that I used god as an excuse to give up sugar, to put me on the holy path to being healthy (not that I wasn’t healthy before, but healthier). I’m the kind of person who only looks slightly over-weight, usually eats well and exercises regularly, but felt myself slowing lately especially after the holidays and since New Year’s Resolutions are written on tissue paper that wasn’t going to cut it. I needed something with deeper roots. And I never really thought of myself as a terribly religious person. I don’t go to church, I don’t take the sacraments and as for the Pope telling me I can’t use birth control, screw that! But I did like what Jesus had to say and I think it’s more to do with universal compassion and not as much as what all those holy men said it’s supposed to be about all those thousands of years – after all they were the ones who said that the Spanish Inquisition was okay – the Pope okayed that which I don’t think Jesus would’ve liked at all! So, even though I’m not very religious, it’s still always had a profound influence on me.

So, maybe, for all their secularness and the decrying of the superstitious religious folk, the guys in Monty Python were closer to Jesus’s true meaning when they stated the moral at the end of their movie “the Meaning of Life”, “Be nice to one another.” And maybe even though it’s simple, it’s still a beautiful and powerful moral.

The Day Zimmer Lost Religion

by Paul Zimmer

The first Sunday I missed Mass on purpose
I waited all day for Christ to climb down
Like a wiry flyweight from the cross and
Club me on my irreverent teeth, to wade into
My blasphemous gut and drop me like a
Red hot thurble, the devil roaring in
Reserved seats until he got the hiccups.

It was a long cold way from the old days
When cassocked and surpliced I mumbled Latin
At the old priest and rang his obscure bell.
A long way from the dirty wind that blew
The soot like venial sins across the school yard
Where God reigned as a threatening,
One-eyed triangle high in the fleecy sky.

The first Sunday I missed Mass on purpose
I waited all day for Christ to climb down
Like the playground bully, the cuts and mice
Upon his face agleam, and pound me
Till my irreligious tongue hung out.
But of course He never came, knowing that
I was grown up and ready for Him now.

About penneloppe

I like to write horror, dark fantasy and crime fiction. Sometimes, I'll write science fiction, but usually I like to write science fact. I also write screenplays and stage plays. My day job is office work. I live in Seattle and I have a cat.
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