Massicotte thinks your religion is stupid

Playwright maintains his romanticism without the help of a bearded God


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Stephen Massicotte doesn’t believe in God. Not like in that apologetic half shrug you give to avoid debates at parties, or discovering that God is dead at the end of a Slayer album. Massicotte is a hard line atheist, and he’s not afraid to say so while chatting at a local Starbucks.

“The ideas are stupid, and I don’t think we should respect stupid ideas. I’m tolerant of people,” he says when the discussion about his new play, The Clockmaker, turns to religion. “Every time I invite Jehovah’s Witnesses into my house, I always want to stick it to them, but I end up having a conversation with them about people and the nature of good. I really do think most of their ideas are reprehensible. I’m not picking on Jehovah’s Witnesses; I think that about all religions.”

Yes. That kind of atheist. The kind that quotes Richard Dawkins, believes all people should question their beliefs and is ready to bludgeon any and all religions with a sack of facts. Not expecting blasphemy with her afternoon chai latte, the woman sitting behind Massicotte scrunches her face as he describes the Catholic practice of transubstantiation as an act of zombie-ism. In the past, Massicotte probably wouldn’t have made such an incendiary judgment. He would have done what he now recognizes as the usual liberal thing to do and just tolerated it all, keeping those feelings behind a tight-lipped smile.

Before becoming an internationally acclaimed playwright, before a career as a screenwriter, before his brief stint in the advertising world, Massicotte was a Roman Catholic. He left that behind in his youth and spent much of his adult life as an agnostic. During that time, even just before he became an atheist, he still saw God as many people do: a disapproving old white guy with an unkempt white beard. It was the death of his stepfather that pushed Massicotte into questioning his own spiritual beliefs, especially those concerning the hereafter.

“When my stepdad died, my brother and sister were explaining where grandpa was to my niece,” says Massicotte. “I overheard the talk, and I just sat there thinking ‘that can’t be true.’ I didn’t say anything, because she’s not my daughter, but I just had all these questions about heaven. I love the little book the Jehovah’s Witnesses give out. It has this elaborate painting of heaven where people are in their Sunday best and surrounded by all these animals. It looks like a petting zoo. Some religious experts would say I’m being too literal [in my critique] about what heaven is, but I don’t know how else to see it.”

The Clockmaker, without spoiling any plot details, is a metaphysical love story. Considering Massicotte’s feelings about religion, you’d expect his new play to be a condemnation of all things religion. In actuality, it’s more of a gentle ribbing; nothing too controversial, or at least not enough to get parishioners to picket the Martha Cohen Theatre.

“There’s no sense writing a play that scolds the audience and tells them they’re all wrong,” he says. “If you come at people and start saying ‘there is no God,’ and they paid a ticket for it, then they’re steamed. I wanted to write a play that gently got people to stop and think about something they haven’t given much thought to before. I have a play I’m thinking of writing next that will be the condemnation.”

Throughout Massicotte’s work, even in his dark comedy Pervert, you can find at least a sliver of romanticism. Atheism didn’t transform him into a cynical bastard with a monotone wardrobe. On the contrary, for Massicotte, the opposite is true (well, OK, the Mathew Good T-shirt he’s wearing is kind of monotone). For the first time in a long time, Massicotte feels he’s appreciating and experiencing all that the world has to offer. All he had to do was stop believing in God.

“I thought the world would be colder when I became an atheist, but afterwards, I felt more wonder about everything, because all this was made without God,” says Massicotte. “Love is just a biological function of our evolution. It sounds cold, but at the same time, it’s important to remember how wonderful that is. So, I guess I’m still a romantic.”

Comments: 3

jeffersonian theory wrote:

Ugh. Massicotte is clearly capitalising on the recent trend of in-your-face atheism in order to generate buzz about his work. As is typical of him and most "hard line atheists", he is prone to repeating the words of others rather than coming up with his own ideas. It's easy to quote Dawkins, and it's easy to call others and their ideas "stupid". It's easy to spread more hatred by being offensive. This "interview" is Massicotte playing it all very toned-down and outwardly reasonable. But if you've ever spoken with him face-to-face about religion, you'll find there's a lot of hatred in there. He's just not that tolerant, making him just like every other zealot out there, religious or not.

on Mar 5th, 2009 at 10:37am Report Abuse

The Flying Nun wrote:

Well, this should definatly stir up some haters. (as jeffersonian) Massicotte is a lovely writer and The Clockmaker is a wonderful and thought provoking play. To me it just doesn't matter what his religious views are, he is a refreshing talent who I will continue to watch for in the future.

on Mar 5th, 2009 at 1:29pm Report Abuse

GohD wrote:

Hey... God here... um, what's up?

Just wanted to drop in briefly, as I'm pretty busy what with overseeing every single aspect of my creation and micro-managing all your petty human lives.

Let me just say that, as your Supreme Being, I created everything - and that includes atheiests. They're all part of my grand plan - which is flippin' awesome, trust me. I mean I really do have a plan. It's sort of like LOST - you think it's going nowhere, but I really do know where this is all going. Also like LOST, my whole plan involves a four-toed statue and Matthew Fox... but I won't spoil anything.

So go ahead - believe in me, or don't - I couldn't really give a flip. Way I see it, the less people who believe in me, the less annoying prayers and petty requests I get. So what if I killed your only child, or destroyed your house with a tornado? I said I've got a plan - so suck it up and don't forget to thank me when you win the Super Bowl.

Oh - also - Heaven is not a bunch of clouds with animals and harps and whatever. It's basically just a big bowling alley with a pinball machine. And that's how I like it. God loves two things, bowling and pinball - and it's my heaven, so shut up. Oh, I also really like those claw-games where you try and grab stuffed animals... oh, and one more thing God, aka Me, totally loves - gay people. I don't know where the douche-nozzles who wrote the "Bible" got their info, but let me tell - I have a lot of gay friends, and they're wicked. So Fred Phelps can lick my scrote, if you know what I mean.

So, I guess that's about it - just wanted to say 'hey' and let you all know that I don't really give a crap what religion people are, or if they stick erasers up their nose, or if they think Jesus was a real person or not (FYI, He was a real person, but I swear - I did not touch that girl... I had one drink with Mary at Applebees, and that was it. I don't mess with virgins, they don't know what the hell they're doing down there most of the time.)

Anyway - believe whatever you want, it's your life - I gave you free will, so go use it. Use your minds, think logically, be critical, and quit effing killing people in my name, or I swear to me - I will smite you so fast your intolerant little pin-head will spin.

BTW - to Tilly Millbanks in Fort Collins, Oklahoma, I got your prayer about getting your husband to give you a diamond necklace, and don't worry - I'm totally on it. Oh, and all that genocide too - I'm gonna get to that as well... just got a little behind. It's funny, you go on the internet for one thing, and then next thing you know it's two hours later and all you've done is look at pictures of cats... ROTFLMAO... I just learned that... saves so much time.

Kay - gotta run, my and Gandhi are gonna go bowl a few frames before the hot-wings get here. God loves him some spicy nibbles.

Peace out!


on Mar 5th, 2009 at 4:38pm Report Abuse

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