The following excerpt is taken from one of my favourite books and illustrates the alienation most religions bring along with their other unworldly concepts:
“Sir, be proud: today you came close to a happy death; and behave in future with the same nonchalance, knowing that the soul dies with the body. Go then to death after having savoured life. We are animals among animals, all children of matter, save that we are the more disarmed. But since, unlike animals, we know we must die, let us prepare for that moment by enjoying the life that has been given us by chance and for chance. Let wisdom teach us to employ our days in drinking and amiable conversation, as is proper to gentlemen scorning base spirits. Comrades, life is in out debt! We are rotting at Casale, and we were born too late to enjoy the times of the good King Henry, when at the Louvre you encountered bastards, monkeys, madmen and court buffoons, dwarfs and legless beggars, castrati and poets, and the king was amused by them. Now Jesuits lascivious as rams fulminate against the readers of Rabelais and the Latin poets, and would have us all be virtuous and kill the Huguenots. Lord God, war is a beautiful thing, but I want to fight for my own pleasure and not because my adversary eats meat on Friday. The pagans were wiser than we. They had their three gods, but at least their mother Cybele did not claim to give birth and yet remain a virgin.”
“Sir!” Roberto protested, as the others laughed.
“Sir,” Saint-Savin replied, “the first quality of an honest man is contempt for religion, which would have us afraid of the most natural thing in the world, which is death; and would have us hate the one beautiful thing destiny has given us, which is life. We should rather aspire to a heaven where only the planets live in eternal bliss, receiving neither rewards nor condemnations, but enjoying merely their own eternal motion in the arms of the void. Be strong like the sages of ancient Greece and look at death with steady eye and no fear. Jesus wanted too much, awaiting it. Why should he have been afraid, for that matter, since he was going to rise again?”
[Umberto Eco, Island of the Day Before, Random House, pp. 59 – 60 ]
How fresh and relieving Nietzsche’s concept of a clear sky:
“Oh, just look at those tabernacles which those priests have built themselves! Churches, they call their sweet-smelling caves! Oh, that falsified light, that mustified air! Where the soul – may not fly aloft to its height! But so enjoins their belief: ‘On your knees, up the stair, you sinners!’ Rather would I see a shameless one than the distorted eyes of their shame and devotion! Who created for themselves such caves and penitence-stairs? Was it not those who sought to conceal themselves, and were ashamed under the clear sky?
And only when the clear sky looks again through ruined roofs, and down upon grass and red poppies on ruined walls — will I again turn my heart to the seats of this God.”
[Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spake Zarathustra, II.4]