Dan was an atheist and fond of many atheist bumper sticker slogans, his favorite being “I don’t believe in ‘organized’ religion.”
This being a composite story about a composite atheist (myself being among the composites), let me tell the story of poor old Dan.
Dan became an atheist at 19 while in college at an elite eastern university. He came from a Christian background (well part of the composite did anyway), so his newfound revelation about religion was a refreshing turn for him and he was anxious to explore the limits of his new found freedom. He began in the classrooms of his university by announcing that he no longer would put up with this organized madness of reading, study, grading, paying tuition and was pleased with himself when his own grading system gave him straight A’s as he flunked out of the more formalized education he was getting in the classroom. After flunking out Dan was able to enroll in a much more satisfying school called the “School of Hard Knocks” where he excelled at absolutely nothing, but honed his un-organization to the max. Classes were held in the local park in tents in the open air under the stars, moon and sun. Dan had a sterling career in the park and was able to pay his educational way by diving into dumpsters and searching for the treasures they contained. On several unguarded occasions however, Dan discovered himself in an actual ‘organized’ job at an ‘organized’ company, doing ‘organized’ tasks making ‘organized’ widgets that were actually selling quite well in the ‘organized’ community which surrounded him.
One night Dan was mugged and beaten badly by others in his ‘un-organized’ educational campus and limped and crawled to a nearby ‘organized’ emergency room at a hospital where the ‘organized’ medical staff treated his wounds and gave him a comfortable bed in an ‘organized’ hospital while he recovered.
Dan was of course quite ticked of by this assault, and when he got out of the hospital he went to the nearby police station to file a complaint against his assailants. Much to his surprise, the police station was closed down as was the City Hall next door. When he queried some folks standing idly by he was informed that the people in the city decided they no longer believed in ‘organized’ civilization or ‘organized’ government and that he was on his own. Rather than being confused, frightened or disappointed by this news Dan saw it a a seminal and welcomed victory of societal evolution towards anarchy; the ‘un-organized’ idea was catching on rapidly through out the entire city. His elation was was further heightened when he visited his family home only to discover that his mother had shot his younger siblings and ran off with a gang of bikers (dad meanwhile was off somewhere with a colony of male homosexuals). Mom was easy enough to find since the entire biker gang had run out of gas at the edge of town due to the shutdown off all ‘organized’ businesses including gas stations. Dad was never heard from again.
Dan returned to his his classes at the School of Hard Knocks at Zuccatti Park in Manhattan (which in the meantime had been renamed Occupy Wall Street) to continue his ‘un-organization’. He was able to hang on there for several months haphazardly planting various seeds in an organic farm plot, catching rats, squirrels and other tasty and natural morsels.
But it didn’t last. Dan (the part that had a Christian upbringing) made his way back to the church of his childhood and miraculously found it still functioning in a highly ‘organized’ manner. Dan (that Dan) quickly saw the contrast with his recent life and repented of the error of his ways and became an active and productive member of this tiny island of ‘organization’ in a city of chaos and madness. Over time this tiny church with its ‘organized’ values and principles and its ’organized’ congregation was able to positively influence the surrounding community and lead it to a prosperous and ‘organized’ recovery.
One of the other Dan’s was not so fortunate and starved to death at the occupy campus since there were no outsiders to take care of his needs.
Another Dan was captured and executed by the tyrannical government that sprung up as a result of the spreading anarchy and chaos.
My friend Dan (yes that Dan) went back to school, an ‘organized’ Christian school where he learned to become a pastor, and quite a good one. One of his favorite sermon topics is the value of organized religion in a sometimes not so organized society.
Don Johnson – May 2012