Why Heaven Exists (Or, 'How I Take All Your Chips Away in Poker')
For those of you who play Texas Hold 'Em:
Ever notice how often it is that when it's your turn for the Big Blind, and you want to see what the flop is, some asshole like me always somehow winds-up with all your chips sitting at his disposal?
Ever wonder what that has to do with the existence of Heaven?
Allow me to elaborate:
In poker, if you're the Death Star, the Big Blind is your thermal ventilation shaft. It's the point where you're at your weakest, because A) it's where you're forced to make your largest, zero-judgement investment, and B) because you're automatically throwing chips into the middle of the table, you get a false sense of security regarding your ability to see the flop. You're on Big Blind, so why not - of course you'll meet any bids to see what lands.
It happens all the time. People get an 'okay' hand on a Big Blind, but not a big points hand, and they'll start meeting small raises. Just a few chips here or there - and the bigger the pile gets, the more reluctant they become to back-off. They want to protect their investment! Sometimes they'll even up the ante, trying to bluff their way out of it - but it's often too late. They gave away their secret several bids ago when they only met raises in kind.
Before they even know what happened, all of their money is inexplicably sitting in the center of the table, and they're in a cold sweat on the river, hoping against hope that, against all odds, they somehow take the pot with a bad beat.
Christians: The church you go to every Sunday? They're doing the same thing with your judgement that people like me do with your poker chips.
They typically get you when you're young, naive and unable to make an appropriately informed decision about investing time and energy into their activities. They put a prize in front of you - Heaven - and force you to make initially small, but ever-growing investments in your judgement and resources in order to claim that prize. You structure your life according to the pious rules, you attend service, you give prayers... pretty soon, most of your chips are in. You don't want to let reason and rationality fold you out of this hand, because you've already invested so much. 'Why lose it? I've got to protect that investment!''
The thing is, you're not holding the right cards. There's no prize you'll ever be collecting. What you've already thrown away already is just that - thrown away. The best thing for you to do at this point is cut your losses and move on with the game. There are other pots you can happily collect on, afterall.
"Natasha has just come up to the window from the courtyard and opened it wider so that the air may enter more freely into my room. I can see the bright green strip of grass beneath the wall, and the clear blue sky above the wall, and sunlight everywhere. Life is beautiful. Let the future generations cleanse it of all evil, oppression and violence, and enjoy it to the full."
- Leon Trotsky, Last Will & Testament
February 27, 1940