New Years 2010

“To do the useful thing, to say the courageous thing, to contemplate the beautiful thing: that is enough for one man’s life.” – T.S. Eliot

Brothers and Sisters of the Imaginary Church, we are gathered here for the last time this year.  I will be taking a short sabbatical in order to recharge the holy batteries with a much needed trip to the City of Angels and the Holy Temple of the Las Vegas Strip.  As we prepare to celebrate the New Year it’s customary to make resolutions.  What can we do better?  How can we improve ourselves in some small ego driven way?

Well, I for one am already perfect so that seems like a tremendous waste of time.  Besides, the dark cold days of February kill off the best of intentions with a frigid laugh.  Instead, I’m going to offer a list of qualities that I’d like to increase as well as shit I could live without.  This seems like it might be more useful.  Or not.  Only time will tell.  Feel free to make your own list.  Or be lazy and use mine.  What the hell.  And so it goes.

Oh great and mighty unfeeling and uncaring Universe, hear my intentions and take note.  Even if you don’t give a fuck.  I would like my 2010 to include:

More joy and more music.  More fun and more rum.  More compassion and more beauty.  More freedom and more tolerance.  More training and more riding.  More friends and more sex.  Better food and a calmer center.  And more kids made a little bit more content.

Fewer judgments and less anxiety.  Less worry and less fear.  Less religion and less hatred.  Less caution and less repression.  Less greed and fewer corporations.  Oh, and well we’re at it, let’s kill off Fox news.

So there you have it.  My plans for 2010.  See you next year.  Vaya con Dios and Viva la Revolucion.  Amen

War, part 4

“It isn’t enough to talk about peace. One must believe in it. And it isn’t enough to believe in it. One must work at it.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

Okay.  The final war post, at least for the time being.  I truly believe in balance.  Yin yang.  Finding the middle by holding both extremes.  It’s the core belief that all my other beliefs are built on.  All good things rise out of balance, both individual and societal.  And now it’s time to look at the ‘other side’.

In my first war post I professed a support for the military and the necessity for war.  I also strongly support anti war groups and pacifists.  They help keep our society honest and provide a needed conscience.  They also help keep us out of stupid useless wars and idiocy fueled adventures.  So where the fuck are they?  We’re currently fighting not one but two pointless wars.  They’ve been going on for 8 god damned years and there seems to be no real resistance.  When I was a kid there was only one small war going on and the pacifists were running around everywhere.  College campuses were hot beds of antiwar sentiment.  Now, almost nothing.  The occasional Pink Lady protest.  Move On bumper stickers.  Come on people.

I would hate to think that the protests around the last war were just about rich white kids not wanting to be drafted.  (Although that may well be true.)  These wars suck just as much as Vietnam.  The kids who come home in body bags are just as dead.  The innocent casualties are just as horrific.  Why aren’t there giant parades and rallies?  Where are the militant groups threatening violence?  Get off your lazy asses and bring this thing to an end.  Do you think Obama would order 30,000 more troops if his constituency was marching in the streets calling for peace?

Part of the blame here is going to have to be shouldered by the artistic community.  40 years ago the pop charts were peppered with Bob Dylan, The Byrds, Peter Paul and Mary and Pete Seeger.  Joan Baez, Judy Collins, John Lennon.  Now we get nothing but political silence.  It’s shameful that a large percentage of the American casualties are African American soldiers but the hip-hop world is more concerned with buying jewel encrusted cars.  I mean really people, what is public television going to play during pledge drives in 2035 if there isn’t great protest music being written?

It might sound like I’m kidding, but I’m deadly serious here.  Are we so controlled by the corporations that profit from war that we can’t get music published that has different opinion?  Are we all sheep?  Sometimes I wonder if even Pete Seeger looks around and gets a little pissed off.  So let’s get off our asses, leave the comfort of our televisions and our video games, and get to protesting.  I don’t want to have to tell you again.  Vaya con Dios and Viva la Revolucion.  Amen

War, part 3

“Fear is, I believe, a most effective tool in destroying the soul of an individual — and the soul of a people.” – Anwar Sadat

So, loyal parishioners, now we are well into our discussion of war and the US of A.  Last time we, or shall I say I, decided that we needed to get the hell out of Iraq and Afghanistan post haste.  Today I’m going to go one step further.  I’m going to describe what our military policy should be.  I expect these changes to be implemented immediately.

Like or not we’re an empire, albeit an ineffective one.  Hell, the average American is so drugged by tv and walmart that they don’t even know that we’re an empire.  This has to end.  It’s just stupid.  We currently have SEVERAL HUNDRED military bases in about 100 countries that aren’t ours.  The actual numbers are hard to come by, which is interesting in itself.  Why are we doing this?  How many billions of dollars does this cost?  What do we really get from it?  Jeez, what a mess.

As I said, I’m not antimilitary and I understand a strong presence is sometimes necessary.  I’m even willing to concede that the occasional war is okay.  But we don’t need bases from wars long past.  Do we need to be in Japan and Germany even though WWII ended 65 years ago?  South Korea?  The Philippines and Guam because we beat Spain 100 years past?  We don’t need to be policeman to the Earth.  It’s just silly, and you’re paying for it.  I haven’t noticed any foreign bases on our soil.  Why are we there?  What gives us the right?  What good does it do?  All it does is provide vast wealth and power to the military industrial complex that Eisenhower warned us about.

So, step one of the new reality is close EVERY foreign base.  Bring all the stuff and all the brave soldiers home.  Is there any other country that is so dumb that it can’t protect it’s own borders or police it’s own ports because it’s soldiers are in Turkey?  Didn’t think so.  I think the budget deficit just got way more manageable.

Step two- Let’s re-negotiate who our allies are.  If you’re bagging your women, we don’t need you.  If Israel is truly our friend, agree to protect them.  And let everyone know that we’re happy as hell to fight a war if you attack an ally.  But we’ll fight in your country and we’ll use big missiles full of nukes.

Step three- Build the military to reflect the world as it is, not as it was.  We need  to be able to go in and get small groups very quickly.  Figure out what we need, build it and train for it.  Since the military will be here it shouldn’t be an insurmountable problem.

Step four- Stop being a pussy about nuclear weapons.  Yep, they’re scary.  And as Americans we’re just crazy enough to use them.  So fuck with us and we’ll nuke your ass.  End of story.

We’re Americans.  We have a long history of innovation.  We were the original freedom fighters and nasty guerillas.  We can do this.  And we can use the extra money to educate ourselves and maybe get some healthcare.  Get to it.  NOW!  Vaya con Dios and Viva la Revolucion.  Amen

War, part 2

“Why of course the people don’t want war. Why should some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece? Naturally the common people don’t want war neither in Russia, nor in England, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the peacemakers for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.” – Hermann Goering

So where were we?  Ahhh yes, war.  In the previous post we discussed war in general.  I thought that was important because I don’t want to be accused of being a flaming liberal.  (Even though it’s frequently true.)  So, now onto our present wars and what we should, and shouldn’t, do about them.

I voted for Mr. Obama.  I still hope he succeeds as president, although I’m beginning to have real doubts.  (Actually, as you may know, I think things are so fucked up that no single person could fix it.)  Anyway, I like the guy.  But he is totally fucking wrong in expanding the war in Afghanistan.  And here’s why…

1-  We can’t afford to keep doing shit like this.  We’re broke.  We need to make tough, maybe even selfish, decisions.  So far we’ve spent about 1.25  trillion dollars in Afghanistan and Iraq and we will get NOTHING in return.  Wouldn’t that pay for healthcare?  Or infrastructure?  or education?  I’m sorry, but Afghanistan doesn’t make my top 10,000 list of priorities.

2-  If it isn’t fixed in the first 8 years of occupation, it isn’t likely to be fixed with one more.  Kind of simple really.

3-  The Taliban and Al qeada are bad but they probably aren’t much of a threat right now.  Our debt is a threat right now.  Americans dying for no real reason is a threat right now.  If you’re worried about Al qeada then make Homeland Security do it’s fucking job.  Killing some guy in a cave won’t help.

4-  This country has been a mess forever.  It’s the place where empires go to die.  Figure it out.  Afghanistan is good for one thing, growing poppies.  If you really want to help them, make hash legal and let them grow it for the world market.

5-  I know Pakistan is a fucking mess.  This won’t help.  If their nuclear arsenal is the real problem, be a man and blow it the fuck up.  From a distance.  It’s the American way.

6-  It’s a crying shame that the American kids who died in Iraq and Afghanistan may have died for no real purpose.  Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld should be publicly tortured to death for ordering it.  But sending more kids to die in order to justify the earlier sacrifice is just as obscene.  Don’t do it.

7-  You’re making this decision out of fear.  If you pull out and we get attacked you’ll be blamed.  Decisions made out of fear are always wrong.  I thought you were better than this.

8-  As you’ve said, the world can be a very dangerous place.  Well, if you do this you’ll leave us with very few soldiers in reserve.  What if we actually need our army while you have it fucking around in useless country?

9-  American soldiers are amazing and valuable.  They need to be respected and protected.  By bringing them home.

10-  Don’t tell me we’re going to get Al qeada.  If that’s the real plan why aren’t we invading about 20 countries that have more members than Afghanistan or Pakistan?  In fact, shouldn’t we invade Saudi Arabia first since that’s where they started?

11-  Didn’t you just win the Nobel Peace Prize?  Don’t you understand that you’re morally wrong here?  You should.

I could go on but you get the idea.  So here’s the new plan.  Immediate withdrawal from both Afghanistan and Iraq.  Bring everyone home as quickly as it’s safely feasible to do so.  No more casualties.  And bring all our stuff home too.  If those countries devolve into chaos they can find their own way to civilization, or not.  I know this sounds kind of hard hearted, but it really ISN’T OUR BUSINESS.  Half the countries in the world are screwed up.  All we can do is lead by example and help when it seems like we can affect real change.  And this ain’t the time or place.  Vaya con Dios and Viva la Revolucion.  Amen

War, 1 of 4

“A coward is incapable of exhibiting love; it is the prerogative of the brave.” – Mahatma Ghandi

Brothers and Sisters of the Congregation, we need to move on to more serious topics today.  Enough cow hypnotism and golfers getting their balls cleaned.  Our duly elected President and Commander in Chief had decided that we need some more war.  Apparently the last eight years of pointless killing and destruction weren’t enough.  Now we need to send 30,000+ more troops to Afghanistan in order to save the world.  Wrong wrong wrong.  But I’ll get to that later.  Let’s bite the proverbial bullet and talk about war.

War is a juicy subject.  I’ve given it a lot of thought and I’m going to give it some serious blog space.  Four posts in fact.  My next three will cover our current wars, my view of what should happen after we end our current wars, and the antiwar movement.  I may even use actual facts!  But first I’d like to talk about war in general, giving you some background on how and why I think what I do.

As a Reverend I am a Man of God.  As a part time Buddhist I believe that as a species we should strive towards peace.  Pacifism and nonviolence are wonderful ideals.  And like a lot of ideals they’re worth all the energy you can spare in working for them.  But they’re IDEALS, they’re GOALS, not workable blueprints for the world we live in.  Keep them in your heart and in your mind.  Teach your children their value.  But understand that they are limited at the moment and live in the real world.

Humans are violent little fuckers.  Each and every one of us.  In the right circumstances I would kill another man.  So would you.  Hell, I might even enjoy it.  It’s part of who we are, and we shouldn’t be ashamed of it.  Ghandi said that only a man who truly understood his own capacity for violence could make a meaningful choice for nonviolence and I heartily agree.  By accepting our nature and coming to terms with it we might stand a chance of making some more peaceful choices.  Otherwise, we’ll just keep doing the same shit over again.  And a lot of that shit is horrifically violent.

If you think an individual human is violent, let me tell you that when a bunch of them get together it gets even worse.  Our collective history is defined by war.  Epic battles, revolutions, uprisings, ethnic cleansing, nation building and other various other atrocities.  Empires rise and fall, tactics change, sensibilities grow, but war is always there.  And as we’ve gathered into ever larger groups those wars have gotten to be pretty fucking spectacular.  And that’s not likely to change any time soon.  Even if our country could get together and choose a peaceful path (I know it can’t, just play along) it wouldn’t matter much because much of the world is hundreds of years behind us when it comes to human rights.  So war is here to stay for the foreseeable future.  It sucks, but there it is.

Having accepted this unfortunate fact, we come to another grim reality.  Losing sucks even more.  Being conquered would totally blow.  A soldier dying is bad, but a soldier you know dying is worse.  All in all it’s way better to win.  And to win you need a pretty good military.  Unlike most lefties, I appreciate the military.  I think there’s value to the military way of life.  Discipline, sacrifice, service.  Those are all good qualities.  A standing military with superior training, the best weapons, and brilliant commanders is a damn good thing.  All for it.  In this case Einstein was wrong.  You can prepare for war while simultaneously pursuing peace.  In fact you must.

Having said that, the military is very limited.  Since they have a lot of fucking hammers, they think everything is a nail.  The military must ALWAYS remain under civilian control and have NO political power.  That Village Idiot who used to be our president was very fond of saying “I just do what my generals say”.  Wrong, you poor excuse for a human being.  The generals were supposed to do what you said.  That’s why we have a fucking constitution, not a military dictatorship.  Dumbass.

The military also needs to kept in perspective.  We won WWII because of our technology and our manufacturing.  These are the things that will keep us truly safe in the long term, not extra soldiers or wars against terrorism.  Wanna know why we triumphed over the Soviet Union?  Because we didn’t send some of our smartest people to prison for thought crimes.  Wanna know why we’ll beat back Islamic extremism?  Cause girls are smart too, and we let ours get educated.  Wanna know why we’ll ultimately prevail over China?  Cause the free exchange of ideas wins EVERY FUCKING TIME.  God doesn’t win wars, big infantries don’t win wars, science wins wars.  The fake patriotic idiots on the far right of this country would do well to remember this.

So let’s be real.  Wars will happen and we need a strong, supplied military to win them for us.  But let’s also keep our eyes on our real strengths; freedom of thought, equality, open ideas, and freedom from religious oppression.  That’s fucking patriotic!  Tomorrow, the war in Afghanistan.  Vaya con Dios and Viva la Revolucion.  Amen

It’s Christmas Time in the City…

Christmas is forced upon a reluctant and disgusted nation by the shopkeepers and the press; on its own merits it would wither and shrivel in the fiery breath of universal hatred.  G B Shaw

Merry Christmas my ass.  Already my email inbox is filling up with ‘Defend Christmas’ and ‘Keep Christ in Christmas’ propaganda.  And Lord knows my television can’t seem to keep itself from imploring me to buy shit to celebrate the ‘holiday’.  So you know a rant is coming…

Dearly Beloved, we are gathered here not to praise or damn Christmas, but to reclaim it with hard cold facts.  I’m going to provide you with a quick history, illuminate the ways the squirrels have fucked it up almost beyond redemption, and show you how to truly celebrate this ancient festival of passion and light.

THE ORIGINS AND GROWTH:  A few of thousand years ago people became aware of the cyclical nature of the seasons.  In the northern hemisphere this meant that the sun, that all important provider of heat and light and grower of food, spent less time in the sky throughout the fall.  In late December (on our calendar) that process reversed itself and the days got longer.  That meant spring was coming again.  Could there be a better reason for a wild party?  So most every culture celebrated with a combination of imploring the local gods, thanking the sun itself, a feeling of tremendous relief, and good old fashioned orgy of drunkenness, gluttony, and sex.  Makes sense.  Throughout the fall it’s getting colder and darker and we carefully  prepare for the worst.  When the sun turns back around we can relax and let out all that anxiety.  And fertility always means sex.  Good times.

In the 4th century the Roman Emperor converted to Christianity.  He also converted most of the Roman empire.  Not everyone was thrilled with this idea and they needed a little convincing.  As part of the negotiation he promised them that they could keep their largest pagan festival, The Saturnalia.  He declared the date of birth for Jesus to be December 25th, not because he was actually born on that date but because that was the birth date of the Mithras, a version of the Greek sun god Helios.  His birth was also witnessed by three shepherds under a north star.  In fact much of the modern story of Jesus’ birth may have been ‘borrowed’ from Mithraism.  The Mithra birthday party was the height of the 12 day Saturnalia celebration which included gift giving, drunken debauchery, feasting, and repeating ‘Ho Saturn’ three times upon meeting friends.  This last custom was eventually shortened to ‘ho ho ho’.  Sound familiar?

Over the next thousand years Christianity spread throughout Europe.  And since the tactic of pagan party adoption had worked so well, they kept at it.  The druids brought evergreens into the house around the solstice to represent the re-greening of the fields.  Germans and others hung apples and other ornaments on trees for the same reason.  The Norse burned a Yule Log.  Southern Italians forced minorities to run naked from house to house singing songs.  Many cultures had a father or prankster figure that brought gifts.  In short, Christmas became a cultural vacuum cleaner for everyone’s solstice celebrations.

HOW THE HELL DID WE GET HERE:  What we consider to be a ‘traditional christmas’ is actually pretty modern and, like every culture before us, it represents our current god, the Great and Almighty Commerce.  The current incarnation of Santa Claus found everywhere is based on the work of an illustrator named Haddon Sundblom who worked for Coca-cola.  The bright red and white were representative of their corporate colors.  Card companies and department stores have long used the holiday to bring out the shoppers.  Almost every modern christmas ritual was either designed by or promoted by a retail company.  Just like the Christians before them they’ve adopted the ancient festivals for their own purpose of conversion.  By celebrating modern Christmas you are celebrating the greatest god of our time Consumerism.

CHRISTMAS AND CHRISTIANITY:  One of the ironic things here is that Christians have been complaining about losing their stolen holiday for hundreds of years.  Early American Christian churches knew their history better than the current crop does and tried repeatedly to outlaw the holiday.  In fact the puritans succeeded in making christmas celebrations illegal it in New England for a while.  English newspapers were complaining about the over commercialism of the holiday as early as the mid 1700s.  The central conflict between Christian joy repression and solstice time revelry has always provided a tense background for the holiday.

The modern ‘War on Christmas’ crap isn’t new. the christians just keep changing sides.  Christmas was actually never a truly christian holiday and it isn’t a christian holiday now, it’s a commercial one. Of course you can choose to worship a dead jewish carpenter’s son during the celebration if you’d like.  But it’s RIDICULOUS and WRONG to insist that it defines the holiday.

CELEBRATE GOOD TIMES:  So what is a modern, relatively aware, non-christian to do?  What if you don’t want to worship at the altar of Macy’s?  What if you think Consumerism and Commercialism and Jesus are all false Gods?  Well, for the last few years I’ve tried to ignore Christmas and, much to my surprise, it didn’t go away.  So this year I’m going back to it’s roots.  An orgy of wine, gluttony, and sex.  Light and nature and fun.  Sure, a christmas tree.  Why not.  Candles, friends, and laughter.  No gifts, no Jesus, no forced somber moods.  The sun is returning and I’ll welcome it back with open arms.  And then I’m going to LA for two days followed by 5 more in Vegas.  A true old fashioned, traditional Bacchanalia.  Chasing around pretty girls while I’m fueled by rum, cigars and big thick steaks.  Ho ho ho indeed.  MERRY FUCKING CHRISTMAS.  Vaya con Dios and Viva la Revolucion.

– Archbishop Angus

Leave Tiger Alone

A man is only as faithful as his options-  Chris Rock

What the FUCK?  Let me get this straight.  The entire country has it’s collective panties in a bunch because a good looking, uber-talented, rich, famous, powerful athlete likes to put his penis in a willing cocktail waitress every once in a while.  Oh, come on.  First of all, it is not anyone’s business.  At all.  All the ass-monkeys saying that he owes us an explanation should be savagely beaten with their microphones.  Secondly, well duh.

Gather around boys and girls for your injection of truth in a world full of bullshit.  I can’t believe I have to go over this again.  Humans like sex.  Sex is good and healthy.  Men like attractive women and frequently want to have sex with them.  Women like to have sex with powerful men.  This shouldn’t be a fucking news flash, but the media can’t seem to figure it out.  It’s a fucking revelation every time it happens, which is every god damned day.  If I were Tiger Woods my life would be filled with hot and cold running bimbos.  So what?

Oh, I can already hear the anti-joy police wringing their collective squirrel paws.  Go ahead, give me your best shots.  I’ll kick your argumentative asses back into the puritan holes they crawled out of.  (Please excuse the poor sentence structure.  I liked the way it sounded.)  Here they come.  Line them up for me…

The Christians-  Adultery is a sin against God.  Shut the fuck up.  Christian sexual repression has led to hatred and fear all over the world.  God is not concerned with our relationships.  Sanctimonious scumbags claiming to speak for God care about this shit, usually while fucking an underaged male prostitute.

The Monogamists-  He has sinned against his wife.  The sacred vows of marriage have been broken.  Please.  Marriage is an arrangement between two people.  As consenting adults they may live by any rules they choose to negotiate.  No two marriages are alike, and MANY very GOOD relationships allow for a little hanky panky on the side, explicitly or by implication.  His hot little Swedish wife might be pissed off.  If so, they’ll have to work it out and come to some accommodation.  Or not.  It’s none of our business.

The Sanctimonious-  He lied to his wife.  He can’t be trusted.  We don’t know that.  And even if he did, she’ll probably forgive him.  Will the first person who has never lied in a relationship please let me know so they can be Sainted?  Sure, lying about affairs is dumb.  I assume he’ll stop doing it or get better at it.  Don’t care.

The Social Commentator-  He created an advertising image and now he needs to answer for his behavior.  This is just ridiculous.  Did you really think he was a god because he was really fucking good at hitting a little white ball with a stick?  Nike and Gatorade will continue to pay him because he WINS.  As long as he’s a good golfer he’s a good spokesman.  And what he does with his other balls won’t change this one whit.

The Femi-nazis-  He treated his mistresses like sex objects.  He needs to punished.  If he needs to be punished I’m sure his wife will see to it.  And yes, he treated his mistress like a sex object.  Men like sex and attractive women are the objects they most want to have sex with, ergo women are sex objects.  Men are sex objects too.  It’s part of the human experience.  Get over it.  And you’re far wiser than I if you can figure out who gets used more in these kind of situations.

Let’s face it.  Puritanism in all it’s forms is the fear that someone, somewhere, might be having more fun that you are.  And this makes Puritans judgmental, petty, jealous, and mean.  I say good for Tiger.  Bury yourself in pussy.  I wish I were famous enough to have little hotties throw themselves at me.  (And no, this will not be news to my wife.)  But I won’t let any envy I may feel get in the way of his good time.  Vaya con Dios and Viva la Revolucion.  Amen.