Thursday Night Update- rant on religion

For the record, I hate to do laundry.

Between loads I walked across the street to a grocery store and bought mini marshmallows for my hot cocoa, a six pack of Ebenezer Ale (Bridgeport Brewing, here in Portland), some glazed donuts, and a big bag of squirrel and critter food.  I’ve been throwing leftover bird seed and cooking nuts out onto my balcony.  The result?  Squirrels having the nerve to scamper around the patio while my two cats paw the ground, roll around, growl, and wag their tails in frustration.  HA!

Wow… just noticed that I have 61 friends on Facebook.  I’m starting to like Facebook better than MySpace.  99% of those on my friends list I actually know and consider my friend.  Yet everyone on it I’d change a flat tire for them in the middle of a rainstorm on an old dirt road.

I’ve been flipping through a couple of books of late.  Last night I fell asleep reading a transcript from a 50’s (or 60’s) television show (BBC?) about the importance of Descartes on modern philosophy.  Tonight I started on a section of Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason but got sidetracked by a current episode of CSI.  I have to watch all my CSI’s on Spike, so they are old seasons.  I’ve worked and gone to school and have no idea what is going on currently.  What’s up with Sarah?  And Warren died?  OMFG!  And, to top it all off, I see an announcement that this season will have Grissom’s last episode.  WTF!  He’s the reason why the show is so damn good.  I love Grissom.  Without him I’ll not care about the show any more.  I don’t like any of the other CSI’s.  They don’t grab me.  It isn’t so much the twists and plots and pseudoscience of a futuristic forensics that has yet to be developed… its the characters that I’ve grown to love.  I am of the notion that the story is not as important as the characters within it. 

I’ve added a book of Celtic Mythology to my growing library.  I wish I had more mental stamina in reading.  I can rarely make it a few pages before I am compelled to get up and do something.  At college in Arkansas I’d walk laps around a field while reading.  During the summer I’ll take a book and will read at various park benches, a page here and there.  Sometimes I cannot go but a few pages until I get very sleepy and fall asleep.  It is striking to me how the nature of things, at least as far as we can understand them through distorted writings passed down by Christian Monks that wrote down the stories.  They do tend to put their stamp on things (see Beowulf,  it is filled with stark contrast between a Pagan world view of virtue and that of Christian and is as clear as day and night).  The notion of the Underworld in other mythological structures, for example, Greek, is that of an underworld that is not connected with this one save by some sort of road or mystic path.  One might find the enrance to it via a cave.  One might be led there by the great psychopomp Hermes.  The entrance to this world is generally found only by heroes with the aid of the gods, or by dying.  Contrast this with the Celtic view of the Otherworld and it is more like a flipside to what we see.  It is the shadow of what we see here and now.  It is the spaces betwen the threads of this tapestry of life.  What is of interest here are borders of things.  Borders like lakes and wells, tree tops, ocean beaches, and such.  Also times… like the border between day and night, or seasons (like Yule or Midsummer or the Equinoxes).  There are times and places when one might inadvertantly slip from this world into the other world and back.  This leaves a lot of room for chaos to happen. 

I also read fifty pages of Robert Graves’ book “King Jesus”.  Good stuff.  It would behoove people to read some other sources about the histories (plural, more than one, many writers) of the various religions to come from between Babylon and Egypt.  Since so many people profess to enact laws, violence, war, and abuses or curtails to various human rights through their fundamentalist understanding of their own religion’s history (read also narrow, misinformed, misguided, tyrannical, unjust, fearful and so on) we ought to indeed broaden the teaching of histories in our schools.  I am not against religion any more than I am against poetry, for both are stirrings and longings of the heart in trying to understand it all… our own heart’s stirrings, our relation to each other and to the world.  Fundamentalist are a bane to the enlightenment of mankind.  Note, I did not say ‘traditionalists’ or ‘conservative’.  No… fundamentalists are, generally speaking and with few exceptions (at least any that I can think of at this moment) to be opposed in all areas of the intellect. 

Reminds me.  I called into a talk radio show one time to give my support of Christmas displays as a nonChristian.  The host, instead, picked up on a side comment and went off on a tangent and hung up on me.  So much for showing support for Christmas.  Christians have their Christmas, we have our Yule, an older holiday by a long shot and model for the Christmas one.  And there are ties with Advent among the Germanic tribes as well that is preChristian.  I am against the display being at seats of government but not against it at Fire Departments, Schools, and so on.  That is as long as equal attention/respect is given to other holidays.  Last I checked, there weren’t any displays of Ramadan at the State Capital and I don’t want any.  Likewise I want no Pagan symbols at the seats of government.  Seperation of church and state.

Along that topic, isn’t marriage a religiously defined institution?  Am I allowed to have my pagan handfasting (our version of a marriage)?  If the reason not is because that it goes against a definition of marriage as defined by the church (they seem to be the ones up in arms about it) then this is a violation of church and state.  It is, to me, a clear violation of church and state that fearful churches insist that marriage is only between a man and a woman.  They love to claim that the bible is against homosexuality and yet will not quote verses right next to the one’s they love to bring out.  Leviticus is a favorite among the hateful and I wonder if they are so zealous in condeming same sex marriages if they would not mind my selling their daughter into slavery or if I can count on their attendance at a public stoning, and why, pray tell, many of them have shaved their beards, worked on Sunday, and have eaten shellfish.  All you shaved men going to Red Lobster after work on Sunday afternoon are going to be shamed.  Insisting upon the letter by letter authority of the Bible instead of its legacy of meaning is to rid one of all responsibility of thought.  It is to rid one self of free will, a central theme among many Christian teachings.

Side thought, if I force you to do a good deed that deed is not done out of virtue but instead fear.  It carries not the same weight as one who willfully does good.  Likewise, one who attends a particular church or holds a particular religious creed because of the fear of a hell hanging over his/her head is no more virtuous than the person who knowingly does wrong.  The difference is that the ‘believer’ is obedient, which is one of the central virtues of the early Christian church.  A god that desires such obedience is at odds with the teaching that ultimately we have free will and that the freedom to exercise this will is key.  If our spiritual growth (see one of the arguments in the philosophical debate over the existence of evil if God is omnipotent and all loving) is dependant on our growth through hardship, it stands to reason that there are different paths to Heaven/enlightenment (pluralism, it is found also in Christianity today though it is drowned out by the Religious Right). 

This tangent will carry me onto a long rant here.  I am not against Christians.  I’ve stated it time and again that I am for love wherever it exists.  Yet many think that the ‘reason for the season’ was first only Christ and anything away from that is a detraction from truth.  First, it wasn’t the original reason.  The date of the birth of Jesus wasn’t set until some three hundred years after his death.  The tradition of the birth of a child divinity corresponding with a solar deity of the Winter Solstice (shortest day of the year, the days grow longer from here on out) is many centuries older than the birth of Jesus.  The mother/child birth/death cycle goes at least as far back as ancient Egypt prior to Moses.  It has been argued that a lot of the beliefs of various sects of the Jews came from their enlsavement in Babylon (Zoraster- teachings of light/dark and a war between good/evil and mankind the battle ground and a doomsday of recknoning) and Egypt (reincarnation, mother/child, death and rebirth).  No, I’m not against Christians and their Christmas.  Merry Christmas to you!  Just don’t casually discount the ancient lineage of my own Yule holiday, its importance to me (and hundreds of thousands of other pagans across the world), and insistence that yours is the only way.  Especially when you know so very little about the history of your own religion as to warrant a truthful label of ignorance in its purest form.  Quick quiz (I ask this of foaming at the mouth types who insist I am wrong and need to read the Bible)… did Paul (yes, the one who wrote all those letters and had such a lukewarm regard for marriage) ever meet Jesus?  What book of the New Testament was written first?  Which was was written last?  Who was created first, Adam or Eve?  Who was created first, animals or humans?  According to your own book(s).  When I tell the answers I am met with anger, sometimes a few choice curse words, and flat out denial. 

So, tell me.  Socrates said that democracy was the worst sort (or among the worst sorts) of social rule because it is a ‘rule by the mob’.  That is, most people do not care to read and learn and are as ignorant about what they know as what they do not know.  He said that fashion rules the interests of the mob (Plato expanded on this notion in The Republic) and that truth and justice are not always sure to bear out.  I have a bit more faith in humanity.  However, truth does not increase with numbers.  That is, if a thing is absurd in the mind of one fool it does not become true if a thousand fools utter the same words.  If I need to give examples of this then I am sorry.  The education system has failed the reader miserably in both critical analysis as well as an understanding of history.  Yet, suffice it to say that the Earth is not flat, women are not more stupid than men, ‘negroes’ are not animals, beer is not made by a miraculous touching by God (maybe this one is true… no… it is yeast), the Earth is older than 6000  years old, an Ark did not exist that could carry two of every animal on board (think about this with a calculator and some graph paper… get a zoologist to help you out.  I’ll grant you having only to get just the four legged mammals only aboard, forget about all reptiles, birds, insects, and so on… and I’ll even spot you the food to last), clear cutting old growth forests is okay and healthy, smoking is okay for your body, and so on. 

Actually… its time to go finish laundry and either to read some more (am flipping through a book of environmental ethics, a book about elves and goblins, two books on PTSD, a collection of philosophy, a collection of Norse writings,  and so on…. or I might write some more in a book I am writing (nearing 100,000 words).


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