Sunday, July 11, 2010

Cosmetic Brain Surgery

Some time ago, I wrote about a church sign with an offer for a free trip. Well, the same church had come up with another offer, though it has since been taken down and I could not get a picture. I need to give myself more time to travel between jobs, so I can stop to take pictures of these obnoxious godvertisements. Anyway, this time their sign read, "Need a new look? Come in for a faith-lift!" As with last time, I came up with a few questions and concerns while mulling over their offer.

Unlike the trip to Heaven, this offer didn't have "free" anywhere in it. Is this faith-lift included in the "10% of your income for life" price of membership in their organization, or does it incur an additional charge? I just moved and had to pay double rent for July, so money's tight and I can't afford to be spending on unnecessary procedures. Do they offer installment plans? Or is it maybe like the Templeton Prize, where they pay you for your trouble in order to get free advertising?

As for the procedure itself, how exactly is it performed? Do they just permanently affix a god-walloping grin to your face? What if I want to express emotions besides generic oblivious felicity? I've heard that they can go in through the ear, with boring music and uninspiring sermons which are very slightly less anesthetizing and invasive than putting you under and cutting on your face. But if everyone's getting this routine procedure every Sunday, I don't know if it's really worth it. I mean, cosmetic surgery is all about looking better than your peers because you can afford to spend loads of money on superficial beauty. I'm not sure that the procedure to which they allude is really in keeping with their overall mission as a spiritual institution. Or maybe I'm coming at this wrong and it's spot-the-Hell-on.

Finally, I'm at least a little worried about complications. I've heard that these sorts of operations can leave one with eyes glazed over, taking the sharp edges off the world and making it look less dangerous than it really is. Also, making room for all that religion in one's head can require that chunks of the frontal lobe be completely removed, impairing one's decision making and critical thinking skills. What's more, I've heard that some people can come out so hopped up on God-smack that they've been left permanently desensitized to the plights of others, and thinking that this one procedure is a panacaea - like it doesn't matter who you are or where you live, all you need is more Jesus and your problems will go away. I've looked into the research, and some of the signs of a botched faith-lift include: thinking of one's demographic as a persecuted minority perpetually on the verge of acquiring the influence it already in fact enjoys, anticipating the end of the world with apocalyptic glee, advocating against real-world solutions to real-world problems because one is no longer capable of grasping coherent arguments or basic implications of evidence gathered through research, and experiencing diminished outrage against pedophiles when said vile monsters happen to also be priests.

You know what? I don't think I'm going to risk it. The offer seems sketchy, the procedure is of dubious value, and the risk that something will go horribly wrong and leave me with a lifelong cognitive impairment is just too high to ignore. I mean, I guess if you want to be able to feel more self-righteous than other people, and you don't mind abdicating reality to do so, maybe a faith-lift is right for you. Count me out, though.

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