Saturday, July 03, 2010

Go God Go

I had a long conversation with a young man in a book store about how dangerous and dysfunctional religion is on this crowded, contentious planet. He stood his ground and forced me to see his side of it -- that while fundamentalist religions ARE ludicrous and dangerous, ridding the world of them won't make much difference in solving humanity's biggest problems. He urged me to watch a two-part South Park ("Go God Go" and "Go God Go XII"), in which Cartman (second from right, below) uses a time machine to go into the future to get a new video game console, and sees how people live in a world without religion. Cartman notices that the future world, which had by this time jettisoned religion, is still just as fucked up and violent as our world is now.


I thought of this when I read a very interesting Chris Hedges essay, "Religious Institutions Are Ruled By the Morally Bankrupt -- But Should We Be Cheering Religion's Demise?" the other day, which deals with the same topic. Though Hedges is as sickened and repulsed by everyday fundamentalist religions as I am, in this essay he defends the existence of religion. His prose is beautiful, and he can nail religion better than anybody, but he is leery about throwing out the baby with the bathwater.

Hedges writes that religions in their early forms "challenged the power of the tribe, the closed society. They offered up the possibility that human beings, although limited by circumstance and human weakness, could shape and give direction to society and their own lives. [The early] religious thinkers were our first ethicists. And it is perhaps not accidental that the current pope, as well as the last one, drove out of the Catholic Church thousands of clergy and religious leaders who embodied these qualities, elevating the dregs to positions of leadership and leaving the pedophiles to run the Sunday schools."

Unlike me, Hedges is not in a big hurry to eradicate religion. After reading his beautifully written short essay, I definitely see his point. Although intellectuals blame religion for arbitrarily dividing people into oppositional groups, thereby leading to persecution, ethnic cleansing, and wars, it is likely simply a matter of human nature to be territorial and divisive and have wars against others, with or without religion.

Of course I still think religion has got to go. But now I realize that I've been acting as if eliminating fundamentalist religion was THE solution to fixing the human condition, when in fact, elimination of fundamentalism is just one of the main ingredients of the solution.

Humans will do really bad things completely outside of religious influence--for money, to have sex with the more attractive woman, for pride. Just to pick one problem out of the air, a problem as huge as religious fundamentalism, it is this: humans lack reverence for nature and the environment. The BP oil spill doesn't have anything to do with religion.

According to Chris Hedges (and me), Americans are already incredibly immoral. Hedges writes:
The consumer culture, as Nietzsche feared, has turned us into what Chalmers Johnson calls a "consumerist Sparta." The immigrants and the poor, all but invisible to us, work as serfs in this new temple of greed and imperialism. Curtis White in "The Middle Mind" argues that most Americans are aware of the brutality and injustice used to maintain the excesses of their consumer society and empire. He suspects they do not care. They don’t want to see what is done in their name. They do not want to look at the rows of flag-draped coffins or the horribly maimed bodies and faces of veterans or the human suffering in the blighted and deserted former manufacturing centers. It is too upsetting. Government and corporate censorship is welcomed and appreciated. It ensures that we remain [Nietzsche's] Last Men. And the death of religious institutions will only cement into place the new secular religion of the Last Man, the one that worships military power, personal advancement, hedonism and greed, the one that justifies our callousness toward the weak and the poor.
Hedges thinks that without religion, we will get even more callous. That seems plausible to me. Every Southern plantation owner had a Bible in his home, as the plantation owners brutalized millions of African slaves. Almost every family that supported Hitler had a Bible in their home, and Germany had beautiful cathedrals and churches everywhere. If cultures STEEPED in the loving teachings of Jesus could be so cruel, imagine what it might be like when the stupid among us no longer fear God. Maybe things would get worse!

Some of you are wondering: Why does Jeff hate religion so much? Well, I've got millions of good anti religion quotes, including these great ones from our Founding Fathers, but here's a new one from SF Chronicle columnist Mark Morford that says it all:

"The Bible? Cute cluster bomb of childish oral-tradition mythology told by angry, sexless white men and then translated from multiple dead languages and re-written and re-edited countless times throughout history for the sake of power and political gain and to control the ignorant masses via guilt, shame and fear. Oh, and also a lie. But, you know, a well-intentioned one. Sort of."

I went to a protest at Ocean Beach in San Francisco last week (see several pictures below), and I really felt like I was wasting my time. Why protest to get the attention of our representatives, when we don't even HAVE any representatives. We are living in a fascist state, period. I've been doing zen meditation for years, and coping very well with the cruel insanity of our empire. My kids are happy and healthy and both are the at the top of their classes. But I'm losing it. I just can't believe how horrible it is to be an American. (Ah, I know that line will rub some people the wrong way, but that's because they're ignoring the 7 million people we've murdered starting with the 3 million in the Vietnam War, plus a million Cambodians, a half million Laotians, a half million Central Americans (under Reagan), and under Bush 1, Clinton, and Bush 2, a good 2 million Iraqis.)

We either have to engage in violent revolution (which I don't have the stomach for) or start engaging in totally focused boycotts and strikes. We cannot tolerate any crossing of the picket line, so to speak. Or else we just have to suck it up and accept it that we live in a corporate-run state (the definition of fascism) with a puppet "president" named Barrack and a puppet Congress comprised mainly of prostitutes.

The American colonists used to tar and feather any neighbor who supported the British. If we ALL boycotted BP or GM or whoever we wanted to fuck with, they would be ruined quickly and they would start to see who their real bosses were and what America is really supposed to be about. Or if we bombed their assets, destroyed their data, and imprisoned their criminal CEO's, they'd start to see where the power in America really lives: We the People. Otherwise, we just have to bend over and take it. Protesting isn't going to work unless the crowds are in the millions. We had about 600 at our beach protest. Maybe the oil spill will wake people up, but I'm not holding my breath.

After you look at the cute protest pictures below, scroll all the way down for a tiny article called "Human Extinction." What do you think? Are these two prominent scientists right?







11 comments:

  1. hey Jeff

    Good article and references.

    I linked from my blog.

    Re - being unheard and unseen.

    You can PLAY like the artist you are.

    Post blogs because YOU LOVE THEM.

    You are probably a modern day

    Van Gogh

    ... ears ahead of your time, slightly crazy but insightful and accomplished.

    Perhaps one day in the far future your post will be discovered...and like Van Gogh your body will be well and truly DEAD.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Jeff,

    I am a follower of Christ who you once called a man with a crutch, the Bible. You said here
    "If cultures STEEPED in the loving teachings of Jesus could be so cruel, imagine what it might be like when the stupid among us no longer fear God. Maybe things would get worse!"
    You, along with the rest of the world, call these murderers Christian. They are not, though they say they are. One can call themselves a dog but it does not make them one. Jesus said put away the sword and love your enemies.
    Jesus is appalled at those killing in His name whether the victim is an abortion doctor, Muslim, or any other. You follow Zen and I am quite sure you know what that belief is all about. If this isn’t the case, you shouldn’t call yourself one. My point here is that 92% of the people calling themselves Christian have no idea what their good book says. They don’t spend any time in it. Those who are not Christian and make judgments of us who truly are, stand just as wrong. You make decisions about Christianity based on those who say they are, but truly are not. The bible says only 1 out of four who call themselves Christian make it and half of that quarter aren’t ready either. It doesn’t say the rest of the world can’t be with God, it says they are a law unto themselves. God makes that decision, not the true Christian or non Christian. The bottom line, there are two commandments given: love God above all and all other earth dwellers as themselves. If these two were adhered to, all would live in peace. One can love someone without liking them. One doesn’t have to agree with others but can avoid them without killing them. You speak of the Crusades and Spanish inquisition in so many words and blame Christians for them. These were not Christian, they were the Roman church. It called itself Christian but followed their own doctrine, not Christ’s. How could they survive a time when Christians and Jews were being killed by Rome when they existed in the center of Rome? They were sleeping with them. Religions are not Christian whether Catholic, Lutheran, Methodist, Baptist, etc. These follow man’s doctrine not Christ’s. I don’t say none of these will see God, just that they don’t follow their own good book. Most religions only teach what good things God can give, not his wrath. They have, as you say, lost their fear of God. I judge no man, that’s God’s job; I judge their fruit. Is it the fruit of God: love, peace, joy, temperance, long suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, and meekness or of the other side: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and the like? Without the latter there would be no need for laws but since they are always with us, man must have jails, prisons, etc.
    [continued in next comment]

    ReplyDelete
  3. [continued from above]
    The bottom line, there are two commandments given: love God above all and all other earth dwellers as themselves. If these two were adhered to, all would live in peace. One can love someone without liking them. One doesn’t have to agree with others but can avoid them without killing them. You speak of the Crusades and Spanish inquisition in so many words and blame Christians for them. These were not Christian, they were the Roman church. It called itself Christian but followed their own doctrine, not Christ’s. How could they survive a time when Christians and Jews were being killed by Rome when they existed in the center of Rome? They were sleeping with them. Religions are not Christian whether Catholic, Lutheran, Methodist, Baptist, etc. These follow man’s doctrine not Christ’s. I don’t say none of these will see God, just that they don’t follow their own good book. Most religions only teach what good things God can give, not his wrath. They have, as you say, lost their fear of God. I judge no man, that’s God’s job; I judge their fruit. Is it the fruit of God: love, peace, joy, temperance, long suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, and meekness or of the other side: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and the like? Without the latter there would be no need for laws but since they are always with us, man must have jails, prisons, etc.

    ReplyDelete
  4. [continued from above]
    There have always been men and nations who desired to rule the world. These have changed their tactics from war to defeat from within. Why do we have a world bank if it isn’t the elite of the world setting the rest of us up? They say it is for ease of trade and the gullible world has fallen for it. Why did the Soviet Union and iron curtain fall? It wasn’t because Regan demanded it; they all go to the one world government meetings and have succumbed. If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. Everyone in this country is so busy blaming the other party that they can’t even see that they are both in bed with the World Bank. They are puppets of the elite. Who controls the stock market; those who have the money to take it up or down. Who are the CEOs, the elite. Who does economic crashes hurt, not the elite. Who got the money for the bailouts, the banks who still owned the corporations, the elite. Since Obama’s wife said it, I trust that he is probably Kenyan. I really don’t care but if the republicans weren’t in bed with the Dem’s, why didn’t they have him taken off the ballot? It was the Dem’s turn to run the show so the people could think they won. How does anyone in this country know who actually won anyway since it is the elite who give the final tally. It doesn’t matter who counts if the numbers are spoken by the elite. Even wars are decided by the elite world bankers to push their agenda, control of the world through economy and finances. Why is health care an issue? If either side actually wanted it for the people, they would just make it so and put it on the ssn card of the person and it would be the same as they have? It is only for the elite at our expense while they have the people blaming the other party. The answer is simple, the people aren’t the elite upper class. The elite say that the top 5% of the people pay 75% of the taxes. Maybe it’s so or maybe it’s propaganda, it really doesn’t matter because they are paying theirs through taking it from the little people anyway. The elite, not Obama, put czars in place to take even more money through “jobs for the elite”. The elite children don’t need jobs but control is easier with more people in place. Because I am a true follower of Christ, none of these things bother me personally. I am only saddened because the educated people of this country and the world can’t or won’t see it.
    [continued below]

    ReplyDelete
  5. [continued from above]
    There have always been men and nations who desired to rule the world. These have changed their tactics from war to defeat from within. Why do we have a world bank if it isn’t the elite of the world setting the rest of us up? They say it is for ease of trade and the gullible world has fallen for it. Why did the Soviet Union and iron curtain fall? It wasn’t because Regan demanded it; they all go to the one world government meetings and have succumbed. If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. Everyone in this country is so busy blaming the other party that they can’t even see that they are both in bed with the World Bank. They are puppets of the elite. Who controls the stock market; those who have the money to take it up or down. Who are the CEOs, the elite. Who does economic crashes hurt, not the elite. Who got the money for the bailouts, the banks who still owned the corporations, the elite. Since Obama’s wife said it, I trust that he is probably Kenyan. I really don’t care but if the republicans weren’t in bed with the Dem’s, why didn’t they have him taken off the ballot? It was the Dem’s turn to run the show so the people could think they won. How does anyone in this country know who actually won anyway since it is the elite who give the final tally. It doesn’t matter who counts if the numbers are spoken by the elite. Even wars are decided by the elite world bankers to push their agenda, control of the world through economy and finances. Why is health care an issue? If either side actually wanted it for the people, they would just make it so and put it on the ssn card of the person and it would be the same as they have? It is only for the elite at our expense while they have the people blaming the other party. The answer is simple, the people aren’t the elite upper class.
    [continued below]

    ReplyDelete
  6. [continued from above]

    The elite say that the top 5% of the people pay 75% of the taxes. Maybe it’s so or maybe it’s propaganda, it really doesn’t matter because they are paying theirs through taking it from the little people anyway. The elite, not Obama, put czars in place to take even more money through “jobs for the elite”. The elite children don’t need jobs but control is easier with more people in place. Because I am a true follower of Christ, none of these things bother me personally. I am only saddened because the educated people of this country and the world can’t or won’t see it.
    The thing I find comical is that these elite are so into themselves and their agenda they can’t see that they will eventually fall to the Muslims. How can their armies defeat cells they don’t know exist? How can they defeat an army that doesn’t stand and fight them. They aren’t extreme Islam, they are fundamental. Most Muslims don’t know the Koran any better than Christians know the bible. It says kill all non Muslims and that they should lie until they can overcome. The elite are going to get theirs because they lost the fear of God and treat men so. Though Islam will control the world, they will also get theirs. This is all predicted in my crutch, the bible.

    Have a good day
    Dennis

    ReplyDelete
  7. Thank you very much Dennis for your energy in writing your long comment.

    You write that most "Christians" have no idea what their good book says. But what you fail to realize is that NOBODY really CAN know, since the Bible is so full of contradictions and childish mythology. The Bible, as a whole, isn't important, but like Thomas Jefferson said, Jesus' words are extremely important. Jefferson said it is obvious what is Jesus' and what is the insanity dreamed up by his biographer thanks to the "lustre" of Jesus' words. Jefferson said they stand out from the religious nonsense in the Bible like "diamonds in a dung hill."

    > Why do we have a world bank if it isn’t the elite of the world setting the rest of us up?

    I agree with you there.

    > Since Obama’s wife said it, I trust that he is probably Kenyan.

    This is a great example of the fearful, narrow working of a "Christian" mind. Why then were birth announcements placed in three Hawaiian newspapers? Did your holy "Elites" know at his birth (like the 3 wise men) that he would someday be a president? Only the fearful and paranoid hang on to this nonsense about Obama's nationality.

    > they can’t see that they will eventually fall to the Muslims

    Yeah, right. The Muslims are stuck in the 14th Century and are no threat to us. What will kill us is the IGNORANCE of our own people. Almost half of us voted for Bush 2, which resulted in the costly war crimes we're presently committing in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan. 70 percent of Americans supported bombing crowded Baghdad in 2003 for absolutely no reason, because they let their idiot prince whip up a feeling of fear and nationalism in their hearts.

    The Muslims will destroy us only in the sense that drugs destroy a drug addict. We are bleeding our national treasure and killing our bravest soldiers because of our addiction to the Muslims' oil. They would be almost insignificant to us if we did what we logically and morally should do: became energy independent and switched to clean, renewable energy sources.

    Jeff Syrop

    ReplyDelete
  8. Hi Jeff
    I din't speak of the whole bible, only what Jesus said which you seem to somewhat agree with. People don't even know what He said. Love your enemies and put away the sword.
    I don't care where Obama was born, my point is they are both on the elite's team and I said I DO NOT fear any of them. Are you just being argumentative?
    Idiot prince #1, Bush, started it and idiot #2, Obama, keeps it going.
    Idiot #2 is ALSO keeping us dependant on Muslim oil.
    Dennis

    ReplyDelete
  9. Hey Dennis

    Jeff being argumentative.....never!

    Oh wait......well sometimes i guess.

    Like me he is want to sometimes get carried away....on fire with the spirit ...of good intentions....spraying one and all with assumptions
    love can sometimes come out as righteous indignation...in my body/mind/personality.

    It's good to be "CAUGHT OUT" or brought to awareness of when my thoughts and emotions run away with....me ....and my actions.

    love and thanks keith/swaraja

    ReplyDelete
  10. Quote from my book Husbands' with authors permission....I must state here for the sake of my own sanity that I do have a profound belief in God, squarely rooted from years of study of the metaphysical world, a transitory world that encompasses a vast Universe and the infinity beyond, which has no boundaries of prejudice or punishment for the sinful.
    However organized religion on the whole, does find it necessary to bind our beings to its doctrines by threat of default sinning and making up to God for that transgression of sin.
    This concept is so intrinsically flawed that it can not be truth.
    When one studies the metaphysical, one searches for ‘truth’. Truth is not manifested in a singularity but in the dual nature of all things. However in fact, it may be more in-depth than even that idea for to support this conceptualization, we as intelligent beings would have to understand physics outside of our own perimeters, once discovered, therefore ‘truth’ as we understand it would also be so much more dimensional than many of us believe it is presently.
    In light of the fact that I just bitch slapped both ‘truth’ and ‘physics’ then it stands to reason that there can be no fixed law of sins and thereby of punishments and therefore as well, we can have no defined image of God.
    To say that we can ‘sin’ is so absurd a concept that it is corrupted by the definition of the word alone.
    It is sheer madness to believe that any particular religion has a fix on which of our actions are good acts verses evil ones or right values verses wrong values. Mankind should be adult and intelligent enough to make those decisions guided by his own mind and his own consciousness or self awareness of himself and not through or thereby because of some religious doctrine that forces prejudged prejudices upon his actions or in most cases his private thoughts.
    In fact I believe that what causes people to sin, ‘if’ that is truly a concept, is the idea that such is possible and not because it is intrinsically a law or truth of the Cosmos.
    Why? Well life at best, as this book describes so clearly is perchance, all of the characters written of prior to this point had choices, just as I did, in Mormonism, it is called ‘free will’. But long before Joseph Smith had a CE3K and more than likely re-visitations from the same damned aliens who f**ked his head up so royally that millions of people follow this flawed and very destructive religion as though it is the only righteous path back to God and redemption, life went on fairly much as it is right now by a series of accidents.
    Each of us has before us at any given moment in time, tens of millions of choices that can be made over just one simple act.
    How many of those do you believe are sinful in nature? How many good then, or in Gods favor?
    It is absurd to believe there is a number because it is in motion and motion is unpredictable and what may be a sin one moment, that same identical act may be necessary in the next moment, and by necessity, not a sin. Then what happened to the sin? Was it there to begin with?
    Only organized religion would bypass the rational processes it takes to realize this simple ‘truth’ and only organized religion would have you chained to a fixed list of sins, specific in nature.
    If, I have found God to be anything, the concept of God to me is both logical and as chaotic as all get up.
    There is only one place for concrete thought and that is at the bottom of a pit where my mob buddies would have the final say so on some issue thereby judging somebody’s sin in a most scrupulous manner.
    So back to the Mormon Church and my attendance at such a monument to utter depravity.
    I was there trying to find my own God, in a place more serene than the mad house I lived within because I continued to have some mundane notion that ‘if’ one were in a house, built to commemorate and respect God, then perhaps he had his PBX trunked into that house better than lets say, the super market.
    Peace and Love.... hang in there Jeff they may grow brains yet...Shaba/Marsha

    ReplyDelete
  11. hey shaba / marsha

    would you like to be friends on face book

    and /or

    write me

    keithnightingale at hotmail.com

    I enjoy your insights

    ReplyDelete