Cosmology / Religion /
2016 02 15 The Pope (the Roman Catholic Pope, that is) is in Mexico. He’s celebrating a mass conducted in three languages. Astonishing: the Church is now honoring native cultures! That’s the same Church that once led the suppression of native culture! It’s always seemed to me that having formerly been tyrannical, the dictatorship has no right to pretend to have become liberal. I don’t want the Nazis to conquer the world, then become AnaChrin. Jews shouldn’t allow learning to be displayed either, neither should US.
But while on the title subject I report: I remember a couple of multi-lingual celebrations I myself attended. The first I recall took plance around 1951 or ’52. I went to a Sunday service at the East Harlem Protestant Parish, East 104th Street or thereabouts. I dressed in my “zoot” suit, pk version: light blue suit, dark blue shirt, white knit tie, blue suede shoes, long (4′!) gold-painted plumbers-chain key chain. The service was conducted in English, then repeated in Spanish.
1969 my mother and I were driving cross country, more specifically from New York’s Long Island to Denver. In Taos we visited the pueblo on Christmas Eve. The RC priest led a service around the grounds in Latin; the women sang in Spanish, the braves followed the procession chanting in Pueblo!
Back to East Harlem in 1955: The pastor, Presbyterian, hed invited me to dinner after the service when I first phoned to introduce myself. His manse was an apartment in the condemned tenement next door to the church. The ancient floor was at a crazy tilt. I’ll never forget: a roll fell off the dining table, itself slanted, and careened to the wall.
That pastor had visited my church as a mendicant for his parish. He told my congregation how poor they were, how paint was peeling, how everything needed repair, renovation. I, aspirant to Christianity, pictured myself with a paint brush, a broom, a mop. The pastor received me, fed me, and declined my help: he had asked for help, now he made it clear: he didn’t want any help: he wanted money. And, obviously, I didn’t have any!
So why did pk want to go into NY and start painting?
Cause it was Harlem! I was a jazz nut. Jazz meant black, black meant Harlem. Harlem, poverty very much included, was the holy land.
I was an idiot in more than one way that visit: I took the Long Island RR from Rockville Centre. My mother warned me to make sure I went to Manhattan, not to Brooklyn. I took a subway to 125th, asked directions to East 104th. I was told it was an enormous distance away: I’d subwayed to the upper west side, I wanted upper east. So I took a bus, then walked from 125th. Very late: but the preacher was giving two services that morning: his congregation was double the church’s capacity.
So here was devout charitable pk, sitting among Puerto Ricans carrying umbrellas. What an idiot: forgivable I hope at age thirteen or so.
2015 07 14 God bless Edward O. Wilson, whose work I didn’t know, shame on me, till just a few days ago.
The predisposition to religious belief is an ineradicable part of human behavior. Mankind has produced 100,000 religions. It is an illusion to think that scientific humanism and learning will dispel religious belief. Men would rather believe than know… A kind of Darwinistic survival of the fittest has occurred with religions… The ecological principle called Gause’s law holds that competition is maximal between species with identical needs… Even submission to secular religions such as Communism, capitalism and guru cults involve willing subordination of the individual to the group. Religious practices confer biological advantage. The mechanisms of religion include (1) objectification (the reduction of reality to images and definitions that are easily understood and cannot be refuted), (2) commitment through faith (a kind of tribalism enacted through self-surrender), (3) and myth (the narratives that explain the tribe’s favored position on the earth, often incorporating supernatural forces struggling for control, apocalypse, and millennium). The three great religion categories of today are Marxism, traditional religion, and scientific materialism… Though theology is not likely to survive as an independent intellectual discipline, religion will endure for a long time to come and will not be replaced by scientific materialism.
paraphrased by Michael McGoodwin
I repeat: as I read in a book on Shakespeare’s Sonnets in the 1960s:
Atheism is not a stable creed.
No matter how we vow no longer to say “God this or that“, the next day, next month, next year, we’ll be saying God this or that again. Ineradicable assumption. Do notice though: the meaning of “god” changes from usage to usage.
2013 03 28 God is that entity that, if he existed, would explain to sinning humans, at Judgment, doomed humans, why the earth became unlivable: for humans:
and for related species.
(The funniest part is imagining that humans would understand a truth if God explained it! Cheez, what vanity.)
Preaching to the Choir
2008 08 10 I awoke this morning with the phrase preaching to the choir running through my head. Of course I understand that it normally means trying to convert those already converted; but this morning my thoughts had a tincture of irony. The members of the choir I knew at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in the middle 1950s were all Jews: and those Jews were typically outspoken atheists.
But they loved Bach. They were musicians, they loved Bach, so they volunteered for the cathedral choir.
I sang in the choir at my church. I don’t remember doing much Bach. But I sure learned to love Handel: we sang the Hallelujah Chorus from The Messiah every Easter. Mrs. Smith, my church’s organist, the mother of my classmate, Winston, would play Bach in the church as prelude and postlude, and there was some Bach in the hymnal, but not much, and some Bach in the choir’s repertoire.
The atheist Jewish jazz musicians I knew who sat in the choir at St. Johns kept silent about their atheism during services at the Cathedral.
Music aside, I have a second irony I’m savoring as I think of “preaching to the choir.” Christians are told to go out and to convert the heathen to Christianity. Church empties out: Oh, Boy, I’m going to start converting. But everyone standing on the corner, everyone getting into their cars, was just in the same church service you were in. Waiting till Monday to try again at school I realize: half the class were Jews! It would be rude to try to convert the Jews. They were still Jews because they had already resisted conversion.
Everyone left in the class was again already Christian. Some bunch of them were Catholic, but once again, it would be rude to try to convert the Catholic: Catholic were beyond reasoning: leave them alone.
These problems didn’t deter my Uncle Roy. We’d gather at his house for Thanksgiving. We’d have the feast, then the adults would all get drunk, then, sure as taxes, Uncle Roy would begin to try to convert all present to Christianity. His wife and daughter knew to stay silent while the master of the house ranted. I tried to pipe up and agree, but I was shushed.
Time after time, Christmas, after Thanksgiving, more than twice a year at Roy’s house, it always came down to the same thing: Uncle Roy would wind up picking on my poor mother, his younger sister, whom obviously he’d been bullying all his life. Uncle Roy would pick on my mother, poor Norma, to convert to Christianity: and every time my mother would humbly yield.
Understand: it wasn’t that she ever resisted; but by the end of Roy’s preaching, when it was long past the time to have gone home, mother’s head would be bowed lower. Roy had told her for the umpteenth time that HE, not she, was the Christian, he, not she, was saved, he, not she, was beloved of God.
Predatory Christianity, Imperial Monotheism
2016 05 14 Notice how predatory Christianity routinely proves. Other religions are similar I suppose, but it’s Christianity, not the other religions, at least in my experience, that misidentifies itself.
There’s an irony here you’re not likely to get without having been in the room: holidays, secular and religious at Uncle Roys, my mother was the runt of the litter. But had my mother not been present, or, had my uncle, Norma’s brother Charlie been present, Charlie the eldest, biggest, strongest of the four, Roy would have been the runt! Had Roy tried to convert big brother Charlie he would have found his nose punched to the back of his skull: and he knew it! Actually I don’t think he would have fared much better had Alice, the second oldest, been present. No: Roy and Norma were the two runts. My mother was the last, the final, runt. Unless you include me.
2008 05 21 When the Koran says There is but one God and his name is Allah, how much of that is truly an insistence on a specific brand of monotheism and how much macho rhetorical of the Vince Lombardi sort, with a little unsmiling dumb-male humor thrown in? What is it the Green Bay Packers coach was famous for saying? “Winning isn’t the most important thing; it’s the only thing”?
No one understands old Coach Vince to have been literally denying the existence of losing. And I can’t imagine his supports seriously defending the idea that some people weren’t even in the game: was no one planting rice in China, oblivious to Green Bay’s championship game against the Cowboys? Lombardi wasn’t arguing that every single person who oever lived was a winner, there being no other states of existence possible; he was emphasizing winning. He was combining several time-honored forms of rhetoric: hyperbole (overstatement), fractured logic, oxymoronic absurdity as humor …
I love as well as hate such male bluster. (Females too could employ it, and on occasion a Joan Rivers might get a laugh with it, but we don’t want to hear it from JLo or Beyonc&eacture; or Scarlett.) (I extend my aside with one other example of unsmiling male joke-bluster, not related to my title point about theology: “Not on my watch.” (I’ll expand later, maybe move the example elsewhere.)
Christians paraphrase the Koran as though that brag were Biblical. The Bible has God tell Moses to tell the Jews that they shouldn’t have any gods before God. That is: celebrate this brand name god (God) as hierarchically more elevated than the other gods. Don’t confuse General Grant with President Lincoln. Don’t mistake the half-back for the quarter-back. Mars is a god, but don’t think he’s more powerful than Jupiter. Jupiter is a god, but compared to God, he’s … a wimp.
Male a-rational bluster. Football humor.
2016 01 15 I make my main points again and again. I find evidence of one or two people, fewer than several, who read me, then read more of me, reread me: but fewer than four let me know. So: I write again, I write more. I get older, deafer, blinder, stupider … I used to say things well, now I say things badly: should I have just shut up all along? When God recruited me should I have told him to jump in the lake?
A few days ago I thought I had a good way to express a point. A diarrhea of prose has spewed forth. Have I finally made myself clear? Or am I just stinking up the outhouse? I try again:
We go to church. That’s good, maybe. Maybe that’s a necessary first step. We hear about Original Sin. Do we get it? Millions of us accept Original Sin as something that must be true: but do we get it? Do we understand this truth?
No. We skip right past understanding to the mistake that proves the axiom: we skip straight to a purchase of the church’s promise of salvation. That’s what the RCs do, so does Billy Graham: I believe in Jesus: so I’ll be OK.
No. No. That’s not right at all. We have to confess. and mean it. We have to atone. And mean it.
We have to say God, I see our behavior as not one whit better than the behavior of the Romans who nailed Jesus on the cross, not one whit better than the Jews who suborned the Romans.
I didn’t crucify Jesus, but I pay taxes to the mass murdering terrorist kleptocracies. I pay taxes for schools run my morons. I accept the law’s assigning me and my children, to these schools for morons.
Is my church one whit more innocent than the Temple that instigated Jesus’ arrest?
Have I done what Jesus said? Have I don’t what Francis said? Have I done what Ivan Illich said?
Did I help pk to fund the Free Learning Exchange? Dating services have made money since 1971: but they only do a fraction of what FLEX offered? Was FLEX able to pay its staff? to hire programmers to write software for a voluntary internet? In 1970 when pk offered it?
How is defrocking Illich, starving pk, sabotaging public copies of Deschooling Society, not publishing pk … putting pk in jail … bearing false witness … all so we can drop more bombs on more gooks, proof of our faith?
Isn’t it obviously the opposite?
2008 06 05 The Jews present themselves as chosen by God. The Christians present themselves as loved by God. The Muslims present themselves as loved by Allah.
We’ve heard these things claimed again and again. At what point are any of the claims verified by God? or by Allah? (I’d also like to see the claims of who’s god contested by God, by God, and by Allah.)
The Romans presented themselves as favored by the gods. The British presented themselves as favored by destiny. These secular self-deifications are not quite as bald as their religious counterparts, but still, anyone cooperating with my meaning rather than resisting it, should see what I mean plenty easily.
Cosmetic mirrors come with kleptocracy. The guys with the biggest bombs and the baldest lies and the least shame get to edit the mirror, the lighting, the news … history … the Bible, the truth.
Still there’s a truth that cannot be edited, will not cooperate with makeup and wardrobe … will not take direction.
Christians say that the Jews stood around with their hands in their pockets while Jewish priests and Roman bureaucrats, Roman soldiers — you know, peace keepers — crucified Jesus. That was all yesterday, and there are no fossils, no uncorruptible way to tell. But there are things that we can tell much clearer: the Christians stood around with their thumb in their mouth while the Pope sought to have Luther assassinated. And recently Christians and Jews stood around with their thumb in their ass while the Church defrocked Ivan Illich. But is that worse than Americans standing about with their hands over their eyes while Illich’s books disappeared from bookstores, from libraries? or while pk, his disciple, remained unpublished? got interupted by his professors? got arrested by the FBI? got jailed, then
censored by the fed? The fact is kleptocrats will stand around for anything so long as they believe that they’ll inherit some part of the property or privileges of the abused.
I’ve said and written that a hundred times, a thousand. I’m still compelled to restate it.
Ditto the following: The fact that we still have the same social strucuture, vertical, the top with enforcing power — authority, for good and ill — convinces me that we have no right to talk about right, wrong, God, law, rights … anything. And absolutely not Judgment, heaven, hell …
“Jesus” may symbolize “a truth teller” without a specific Jesus being a truth teller. The model for the Virgin at Chartres was a whore, so what? the statue is the symbol, the model was just the model.
My gods, God, and god “scrapbook” was reproduced above. Both the gods original and the gods scrapbook are bears of code, treacherous to edit. Today I add a couple of thoughts that belong with the scrapbook: I’ll jot them here and merge them later:
The concept of god can boil down to a few sub concepts:
Is there consciousness in existence independent of human consciousness? or even partly independent of human consciousness? That is: is there a model of the universe apart from human modeling?
If so, that’s “god.”
Is there such a “thing” as “value” in existence?
If so, that’s “god.”
2014 05 22 Here’s a beaut:
… There is no religion without love, and people may talk as much as they like about their religion, but if it does not teach them to be good and kind to man and beast, it is all a sham …
Black Beauty, Chapter 13, last paragraph