Back in 1963, Frank Sinatra gave a memorable Playboy interview in which he said:
“I don’t believe in a personal God to whom I look for comfort or for a natural on the next roll of the dice. I’m not unmindful of man’s seeming need for faith; I’m for anything that gets you through the night, be it prayer, tranquilizers or a bottle of Jack Daniel’s. But to me religion is a deeply personal thing in which man and God go it alone together without the witch doctor in the middle. The witch doctor tries to convince us that we have to ask God for help, to spell out to him what we need, even to bribe him with prayer or cash on the line.”
Sinatra voiced contempt for most organized religion — and said he realized that speaking openly could hurt his singing career.
Country songwriter Kris Kristofferson turned Sinatra’s words into the classic “Help Me Make It Through the Night.” But Kristofferson didn’t recommend prayer, tranquilizers or Jack Daniel’s. Instead, he wanted a lover for nightly companionship: “Take the ribbon from your hair, shake it loose and let it fall. Lay it soft against my skin, like the shadows on the wall. Come and lay down by my side, till the early morning light. All I’m taking is your time. Help me make it through the night.”
Kristofferson offered the best choice.
A nightly bottle of whiskey could produce deadly cirrhosis or helpless alcoholism. I’m unsure what nightly tranquilizers do, but it sounds unsavory. As for prayer, intelligent people know that Christianity is a fairy tale. Its supernatural claims are bogus. There is no personal god watching everyone. There is no invisible Jesus offering salvation. There is no afterlife in a magical heaven or hell. There is no Virgin Mary or Satan or miracles or prophecies and the rest. Therefore, believers who devote their lives to churchgoing waste their time and money.
Americans donate around $120 billion yearly to religion. Over decades, that’s a waste of trillions.
This year, a longtime pastor identified only as Kyle quit the church and went on social media to proclaim that “Christianity is a waste of time.” He said his 40 years of ministry “yielded nothing but wasting my time as a human being.” He contended that he never saw any life-changing results.
As for getting through until daybreak, I’ve always loved the melody of the aged Welsh lullaby, “All Through the Night.” But it says God will send guardian angels to tend the sleeping tot. Lying to babies is questionable — and it certainly should halt as they grow older.
A freethought group once posted the online motto: “We are not alone in the universe. We have each other.” Together, we can make it through the night without supernatural help.
James A. Haught, syndicated by PeaceVoice, was the longtime editor at the Charleston Gazette and has been the editor emeritus since 2015. He has won two dozen national newswriting awards and is author of 12 books and 150 magazine essays. He also is a senior editor of Free Inquiry magazine and was writer-in-residence for the United Coalition of Reason.