Another Overheard Conversation; or, God is a Sociopath

1 October, 2008

Last Sunday (wait, TWO weeks ago Sunday) I flew out to a fire in Oregon.  My first flight was on a Delta Embraear Regional Jet (comfortable, fast, and don’t take forever to load or unload) which left at 0600.  The plane was almost full.  The five seats behind and to my right were occupied by a family of five — Mom, Dad, and three little girls.

About an hour into our flight, the oldest of the three little girls (age about 6(?)) spoke up:

“Daddy.  We’re missing church!” she said, loudly.

Dad answered, “I know, honey, but God understands.”

“But Daddy, we’re missing church!”

“I know, honey, but our airplane ride is today.”

“But Daddy, you said God hates people who don’t go to church!” she answered in a louder voice. (By this time, I was fighting a case of the giggles.)

Dad sighed and said, “He does, but we were at church last night, and Friday night, and Wednesday night, and Monday night.  So God won’t be mad that we missed church today.” (Okay, why would someone go to church four or five times a week?  I really do not understand.)

She persisted, getting louder and louder.  “Daddy!  You told me that only Sunday counts!  God’s gonna punish us!”

Dad tried one more time:  “God knows that we fear Him and love Him.  He will forgive us this one day.”

“Okay, Daddy.  But what if God makes the airplane crash?”  (I could hear the sense of desperation in her voice.)

“He won’t.”

“But what if God blows up the airplane to punish us?”

“He won’t” (I heard a snigger from someone near the front of the plane.)

“But what if God . . . .”

“He won’t.”

“But what if God lets . . . .”

“He won’t.”

“But wha . . . .”

“He won’t!”

She finally got the hint and stopped talking.  Then her little sister (about 4(?)) pipes up and asks, “Daddy, are we going to church today?”

Mom finally joined the conversation:  “Honey, don’t.  Daddy’s having a mood.”

The third one (in diapers) did not try to join in the conversation.

As we got off the airplane, the family paused at the end of the hall to await their gate-checked stroller.  As they stood there, an older gentleman walked past and asked of the older girl, soto voce, “Are you going to church today?” and walked away.

Dad snarled, “Fucking asshole!”

So God loves this little girl.  She fears Him and loves Him.  Yet she is terrified that if she misses one day of Sunday church, He will kill everyone on the airplane (all 48 of us) just to punish her for missing church. 

Apparently her God is a sociopath.



  1. What a brilliant example of brainwashing and indoctrination! Yes her god is a sociopath.

    I pissed myself laughing at the last bit where the older gentleman asks the question, and the dad’s response.

    Good to hear that you and the other 47 passengers survived the girl not going to church. lol

  2. Well, maybe someday she will open her mind.

    I damn near pissed myself, also. I thought the father’s comeback really showed what kind of a person he really is.

    I’m glad we survived her sinning, also. That would have been a really sucky way to die. I can just hear the TV commentator: “The plane crashed because a little girl did not go to church.”

  3. I think their god was what was in the father (and probably the mother) saw looking back at them from their mirror.

    But, I’ve heard people discuss things like a plane crash discussed in ways that imply that everyone involved somehow deserved it or that others are just sort of stage props in the drama of their life.

    My parents were southern baptists, so Sunday was Sunday school, church, training union, and evening church. Every weekday was bible reading and morning devotions before breakfast. Through the week was bible study, choir practice, prayer meeting, and a few other odds and ends.

    When I was able to escape it was a relief. Strangely, I didn’t drown while fishing and was not hurt or killed while racing or showing horses on Sundays.

    But that poor little girl. Well, when I was in Germany as a child we were forbidden to eat local milk products because of tuberculosis in the German dairy herds. I ate some ice cream and was in a sweat lest my parents found out.

    In school they gave us tests for tuberculosis, and like the other tests I took in school I flunked this one, too. Came up positive. My first thoughts were, “Oh no! I’m in reeeeaaal trouble! They’ll know I ate ice cream down town”! That’s kids, I guess.

  4. But what if their god is “having a mood”? What then?

    Too bad the girls didn’t follow up with, “But Daddy, how do you know that?”

  5. The only glimmer of hope is that the little girl has a tendency to ask questions. If this trait isn’t squashed over the next few years she might actually develop it into a useful skill and begin asking bigger and better questions that free her from the chains of religion.

    Okay, the odds of that are low

  6. Sarge: Fear works wonders, don’t it? It doesn’t actually prevent the behaviour, but it creates guilt out the whazoo.

    Philly: If God were having a ‘mood,’ how the hell would we know? Would there be war, starvation, rapacious wealthy people, floods, fire, drought, global warming, political strife, high gas prices? Or would He just flick his middle finger and drop a 747 out of the sky? I suspect that if the kid had asked ‘how do you know that,’ dad would (most likely) have either mentioned the Bible (which version?) or something the preacher said. Either way, an appeal to non-existent authority.

    Tungtide: Always the optimist. I suspect that, like many kids, that questioning will be removed through non-answers, answers designed to suppress discussion, and just plain grumpiness on the part of the questionee.

    Dad needs to learn to answer questions a la Palin: obfuscate and ramble, adding in the usual right-wing talking points. It seems to work for a surprising number of adult children.

  7. Great post. I feel sorry for those poor kids. I hope that little somehow hangs on to her inquisitiveness. I can imagine her giving her father some hell in a few years.

  8. Chappie: Unfortunately, right-wing Christianity does not tend to tolerate questions. If people ask too many questions, and realize the answers are contradictory, they either become free-thinkers or right-wing economists.

  9. You’re probably right (((Billy))) but I need a few more years of morale-crushing stupidity before I completely give up on optimism.

  10. […] Billy recounted an overheard conversation in an airplane that really gets to the point of our hypocrisy. If God wants us to be in church every Sunday morning, and we tell our children nice things like how they will burn in hell if they don’t attend church (a convenient all-purpose threat), then how do we reconcile that with our need to sometimes take a trip and miss church? [Read the article.] […]

  11. Great stuff, another demonstration” as if we needed it ” of get em young and you’ve got em for forever.
    The only hope, is when they grow up they will develop their own independent mind and realise that religion is a mental illness, but a little bit of therapy ie exposure to reality will soon cure them..

  12. Jimmy: Welcome to my blog. Optimists are always welcome. I hope that, if they are exposed to reality, they have the capacity to recognize that reality is real. I’m not betting on it.

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