Does God exist? Fuck if I know. I gave up on the Catholic Church at fifteen after seeing Jesus Christ Superstar. Christ was a megalomaniac, and I wanted to do Mary Magdalene. But I’m holding out hope for the hereafter. This week, the Harvard Community of Humanists, Atheists, and Agnostics (HCHAA) has invited me and my two lady Roommates to their meeting, to drink wine which ostensibly has little relationship to Christ’s blood and to talk about God, or the lack thereof. Atheists like wine because they don’t have spirits.
André Extra Dry: “crisp with notes of apple and citrus”
(“Egregiously a little over four dollars,” says my host)
André is like my sophomore year sex life: Sweet, dependable, and utterly unthrilling. Its bubbles go straight to my head in a sorry attempt to sweep me off my feet, but I am merely left headachy. At the same time, André is solid. André is faithful. André is someone in whom I can believe.
Lest we think humanists, atheists, and agnostics lack beliefs, a wall decal in the Humanist Hub—the center in Harvard Square devoted to all things ungodly—kindly offers a list of values for our consideration. Seemingly gleaned from the corporate training manuals of vastly disparate sectors, these abstract nouns include: reason, passion, creativity, justice, integrity, awareness, environmentalism, feminism, equality, science, authenticity, pluralism, skepticism, dialogue, diversity, progress, service, love, and intersectionality.
“Do we ever feel like intersectionality is the one they throw in at the end not really knowing what it means, but because it sounds like a catch-all?” my Roommate—a former HCHAA honcho herself—asks.
Replies resident atheist operative: “It’s more about the stereotype of atheists as angry white guys.”
I ask what activities happen at the Humanist Hub besides male caucasian anger. I am told that the Humanists host speaking series, sing songs, encourage children to make happy birthday cards to Charles Darwin, and, apparently, drink cheap wine with snarky lesbians. Diversity!
Purple Moon Merlot
($3.99 at Trader Joe’s. I have never seen it elsewhere.)
Purple Moon Merlot, which previously tasted like the lead-in to lesbian shower sex, now has overtones of the holy wine at Catholic mass. Considering the sheer quantity of nun-themed pornography available free of charge on the internet, these flavor profiles are probably more similar than one might think. This is especially true considering Purple Moon’s spoOoOoOoky, Twilight-resonant branding and the fact that lesbians, vampires, and Catholics all ritualistically ingest human blood.
The wine is dull, chalky, forbidden to minors, and with the vague tang of other people’s spit.
I regularly drank holy wine in my Catholic youth. That was the brief, glimmering period between when I became old enough to be permitted holy alcohol and when I was told by my doctor mother that holiness does not actually prevent the transmission of germs. This realization coupled with Jesus Christ Superstar to leave me faithless.
Well, not quite. As I finish the last of my Purple Moon, it occurs to me that I do in fact have a faith: Mommyism. Based on the Gospel of Mommy, revealed to me and my fellow disciples/sisters between the years of 1992 and 2011 in the burned-over district of New Jersey, the central tenets of Mommyism include:
1. You don’t have to be friends with everyone, but you have to be nice to them;
2. Breathable cotton panties;
3. If someone is mean to you, they are probably having problems at home;
And, for good measure,
(Presumably also “egregiously a little over four dollars.”)
My Roommate calls this “virginity champagne.” It is “fruity with notes of raspberry and honey,” which is indeed the vaginal bouquet secreted by virgins (the breaking of the hymen triggers a flavor shift to barbecue seitan and day-old sushi). Unfortunately, I didn’t think to take cunnilingus exit surveys until quite recently, so this particular gustatory phenomenon remains largely undocumented.
“This wine is thus, like virginity, a construct,” Roommate concludes, blushing with champagne and her own radical wit.
It is now 6:25 pm, almost time for Roommate’s piercing appointment (a great thing to do while tipsy), and time for the Reina-and-Roommates train to glide away. Tipsy, sparkly with environmentalism, feminism, and equality, we don our coats with a flourish and bound out.
We pass the Humanist Hub’s wall of values; we stop, on the way down the stairs, to gawk at the acolytes of Bikram yoga through the studio glass; we step out into the rain holding hands.
We are skeptical, we are holy, we believe in ourselves, and as we leave to get a metal rod pushed through the complicatedly swirling skin of Roommate’s snail-like ear (“Oh God. Oh God.”) we most of all have faith in each other.