Going back to Huck Finn:
WELL, I got a good going-over in the morning, from old Miss Watson, on account of my clothes ; but the widow she didn't scold, but only cleaned off the grease and clay and looked so sorry that I thought I would be- have a while if I could. Then Miss Watson she took me in the closet and prayed, but nothing come of it. She told me to pray every day, and whatever I asked for I would get it. But it warn't so. I tried it. Once I got a fish-line, but no hooks. It warn't any good to me without hooks. I tried for the hooks three or four times, but somehow I couldn't make it work. By-and-by, one day, I asked Miss Watson to try for me, but she said I was a fool. She never told me why, and I couldn't make it out no way.
I set down, one time, back in the woods, and had a long think about it. I says to myself, if a body can get anything they pray for, why don't Deacon Winn get back the money he lost on pork ? Why can't the widow get back her silver snuff-box that was stole ? Why can't Miss Watson fat up ? No, says I to myself, there ain't nothing in it. I went and told the widow about it, and she said the thing a body could get by praying for it was "spiritual gifts." This was too many for me, but she told me what she meant I must help other people, and do everything I could for other people, and look out for them all the time, and never think about myself. This was including Miss Watson, as I took it. I went out in the woods and turned it over in my mind a long time, but I couldn't see no advantage about it except for the other people so at last I reckoned I wouldn't worry about it any more, but just let it go. Sometimes the widow would take me one side and talk about Providence in a way to make a body's mouth water ; but maybe next day Miss Watson would take hold and knock it all down again. I judged I could see that there was two Providences, and a poor chap would stand considerable show with the widow's Providence, but if Miss Watson's got him there warn't no help for him any more. I thought it all out, and reckoned I would belong to the widow's, if he wanted me, though I couldn't make out how he was agoing to be any better off then than what he was before, seeing I was so ignorant and so kind of low-down and ornery.
yeah... Twain nails it about a million times better than I ever could have. I am a somewhat religious fellow- although it doesn't come entirely naturally to me- and I will right away admit that it is the secret of my success in so many ways- religion that is- but there are certain types of religious people who I just can't stand: The dumb ones, you know. By dumb I don't mean the less educated folks with a very simple faith- I mean the ones who seem to chose to be deliberately brainless and mean.
Ok... So maybe mean isn't quite the word I am after.
Here is what really digs me: The ones who think they have somehow managed to boil all the mysteries of the Universe (and all other universi) down into one simple, digestible ball of cheese.
Once during my short stint at BYU, I was taking a Book of Mormon class and I had to write a paper on some area of the BOM where it quoted Isiah. I wrote a very good paper (got a 100% on it) that assaulted a view exposited in the class textbook. It centered around the meaning of the phrase "familiar spirit" which any slightly decent student of the Old testament or of Dungeons and Dragons (I was both) could tell you means "a demonic power in partnership with a witch". There is no other intelligent interpretation. Well, the textbook tried to claim that it meant something else entirely-- (that the Book of Mormon would have a familiar feel to it if you had read the Bible, actually.)
I didn't have an alternative interpretation ready to hand yet, I could only tell that the textbook's interpretation was flat out lazy scholarship and nonsense.
I was kind of into this paper and started telling some of my friends about it. I immediately ran into resistance. The problem was that nobody could handle just Not Knowing the Answer. After I came up with an alternative interpretation, everybody I talked to was like : "Oh yeah- cool- the textbook is obviously wrong" but almost no one could handle the straight, unspun words fresh from the book.
But the fact is, life is all about not Knowing. The sphere of stuff we don't know is always a bazillion times bigger than the sphere of stuff we do know.