The Godless Priest

Ather Sharif
7 min readFeb 19
hand with a walnut on it

“I would not like to live in a world without cathedrals. I need their beauty and grandeur. I need them against the vulgarity of the world. I want to look up at the illuminated church windows and let myself be blinded by the unearthly colors. I need their luster. I need it against the dirty colors of the uniforms. I want to let myself be wrapped in the austere coolness of the churches. I need their imperious silence. I need it against the witless bellowing of the barracks yard and the witty chatter of the yes-men. I want to hear the rustling of the organ, this deluge of ethereal tones. I need it against the shrill farce of marches. I love praying people. I need the sight of them. I need it against the malicious poison of the superficial and the thoughtless. I want to read the powerful words of the Bible. I need the unreal force of their poetry. I need it against the dilapidation of the language and the dictatorship of slogans. A world without these things would be a world I would not like to live in.

But there is also another world I don’t want to live in: the world where the body and independent thought are disparaged, and the best things we can experience are denounced as sins. The world that demands love of tyrants, slave masters, and cutthroats, whether their brutal boot steps reverberate through the streets with a deafening echo or they slink with feline silence like cowardly shadows through the streets and pierce their victims in the heart from behind with flashing steel. What is most absurd is that people are exhorted from the pulpit to forgive such creatures and even to love them. Even if someone really could do it: it would mean an unparalleled dishonesty and merciless self-denial whose cost would be total deformity. This commandment, this crazy, perverse commandment to love your enemy is apt to break people, rob them of all courage and self — confidence and to make them supple in the hands of the tyrants so they won’t find the strength to stand up to them, with weapons, if necessary.

I revere the word of God for I love its poetic force. I loathe the word of God for I hate its cruelty. The love is a difficult love for it must incessantly seperate the luminosity of the words and the violent verbal subjugation to a complacent God. The hatred is a difficult hatred for how can you allow yourself to hate words that are a part of the melody of life in this part…

Ather Sharif

PhD student @uwcse Accessibility, Visualization, Personalization | SWE Lead @comcast | Founder @evoxlabs | React developer | 🐱 dad | 🍩 eater | 🦅 🔔 #philly ❤