the end of mr. y

I love when a book summarizes all the thoughts you’ve had and never said. When you come across words like these, it feels like you’ve found a very old friend.

“Surely religious leaders are supposed to be somehow wiser than the rest of us? But I realised then that there was nothing special about this system at all, nothing that made it more profound and extraordinary than the rest of society. If someone who had given up his whole life to think about goodness and rightness and truth still expected nuns to cook him fish fingers (because, after all, nuns haven’t got anything else better to do, and none of them are ever going to become priests or the Pope, because women aren’t good enough for that), then something was very wrong. How could he have missed the bit about everyone being equal in the eyes of God? If this was the wisest Catholic, I certainly never wanted to meet the stupidest one.

Perhaps this is similar to the anthropic principle, but I am a woman, and after a lifetime of experiment I know I am capable of everything men can do, except things that specifically require a penis (like pissing standing up). I mean, it’s so obvious it even sounds a bit silly to repeat it, a bit like saying ‘All humans have heads.’ So what does religion know about me that I’m missing? Am I worth less in an a priori sense? But that would be utterly nonsensical. How is possible that religion, which claims to be more profound than anything else, still has less of a grasp on humanity than any personnel department in the country?

It’s not just Christianity, either: how could the Buddhists have missed the bit in their thinking about freedom from desire, when most of them seem to desire to be reincarnated well, and in such a way that they can be a man, and be called a ‘venerable master’, and tell other people what to do? Why is religion so disappointing? You expect it to tell you something you don’t know, and all it ends up telling you is the stuff you’ve known for years, and that you long ago decided is wrong.

Over to my left is the big grey wall in front of the church.

Are we the Thoughts of God? a poster asks.

No, I realise. It’s the reverse.

I put out my cigarette and stop thinking.”

[Extract from The End of Mr. Y by Scarlett Thomas, Chapter 22, p. 402-403]
Read it if you have the chance.

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About A.M. Harte

A.M. Harte writes twisted speculative fiction, such as the post-apocalyptic Above Ground and the zombie love anthology Hungry For You. She is excellent at missing deadlines, has long forgotten what ‘free time’ means, and is utterly addicted to chocolate.
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