Forgive and Forget…

“Resentment is like drinking poison and waiting for it to kill your enemy.” spoken by Nelson Mandela.

Well, my little virtual and quite probably imaginary parishioners, how are you on this fine Thursday morning?  How am I?  Thanks for asking.  I’m feeling a bit contemplative today so if you’ve clicked in to get a good old fashioned dose of righteous anger I’m afraid you’ll be a little disappointed.  Not that there aren’t plenty of good things to rant about.  False apocalypse idiocy.  Assaults on the constitution.  Idiocy and obsession with where a body builder put his penis.  I will not snap at any of that particular bait to today, tempting as it might seem.  But read on anyway.  My ego demands it…

A few years ago members of the world’s various monastic communities gathered at Gethsemene to discuss aspects of the devoted religious lifestyle.  All monks have given up the pleasures of the world in order to concentrate fully on spiritual advancement.  During the discussions a singular theme emerged and it wasn’t what you might think.  Not how much they missed meat, or sex, or drugs or alcohol or tobacco.  Nope.  How much they missed anger.  Poverty and chastity were a breeze in comparison to being even tempered.  Whether Buddhist or Benedictine, the issue that most vexed the monks was how easy it was to get pissed off.  What the fuck?

I think about this a lot because it would seem to be important.  That and I have too much free time.  Anyway, one of the things I’ve decided is that getting angry isn’t the problem.  Anger is perfectly natural and frequently justified.  Anger can be a great short term source of energy or motivation.  A lot of really good things have happened because somebody got their panties in a bunch and did something about it.  Humans are the angriest little monkeys on the planet and in a lot of ways it’s worked pretty well for us.  The problem is carrying that anger with you over time.

I think anger is like milk.  It’s healthy enough when it’s fresh and clean.  It can even be refreshing or a useful ingredient in a larger recipe.  But you don’t want to carry a bag if it around with you.  It’ll get gross pretty quickly, souring and congealing before eventually turning to poison.  What a great fucking metaphor if I do say so myself!  I’m a freakin genius, except for all my retarded parts.

Sorry, I got distracted there for a minute.  Where were we?  Oh yeah, carrying anger.  There’s so many ways we have doing that unsavory little task.  We hold grudges.  We have feuds.  We feel entitlement.  We relish our regrets.  We blame others in the past for our current situation.  All that milk rots inside us making us bitter and, I think, old.  Yeah, old.  The poison of retained anger ages us in ways that time can only envy.  It’s weight and vitriol bends our bodies, pinches and wrinkles our faces, gnarls our joints, and eventually crushes our spirit.

Look around you.  Check out the people in your life who are in their 40’s, 50’s,or 60’s.  I bet some of them are ‘old’ while others still look and act like people half their age.  Sure, some of it is genetics but I think more of it is anger and resentment.  Those humans that can forgive will thrive while the rest will eventually be crippled by a poison of their own making.  Karma in it’s purest form.

I was recently reminded of the Chinese parable of the vinegar tasters.  Three old men stand around a pot of vinegar, each representing an aspect of Chinese, or in fact human, thought.  The first, Confucius, has a sour expression on his face because the taste of the vinegar has reminded him that life is sour and needs lots of rules and regulations to be tolerated.  The second, Buddha, has a bitter expression because the vinegar has reminded him that life is suffering and one must detach one’s self from it.  The third, Lao Tzu the Taoist, is smiling because the vinegar tastes exactly as vinegar should, reminding him that all things are as they should be.  It’s no accident that practicing Taoists are renowned for their youthful appearance and long lives.

I think all of this is a useful reminder that forgiveness and gratitude must be the basis of every spiritual life.  Sure, I get pissed off.  I can whip up a storm of righteous anger in a split second.  Don’t even get me started on the way people drive.  But I’m going to keep working hard on letting it go as quickly as I can.  I want to forgive anyone who has ever trespassed against me and I’m pretty damn sure I can.  Can you?  You might live longer and look younger.  In the meantime, Vaya con Dios and Viva la Revolucion…

Chicken Little bullshit…

As some of you may know, the world is going to be ending on May 21.  A ‘biblical scholar’ and radio preacher says so and he’s busily putting up billboards and funding outreach vans to save as many souls as possible.  So do your christmas shopping early folks, there’s only 10 days left.  Or not.  I’m a little skeptical since this is approximately the 10,412th time the world has ended and that’s just since I started keeping track.  But it got me to thinking (and we all know how dangerous that can be).  So, time to sermonize…

Why is religion so fucking obsessed with the end of the world?  Conservative christians on the right reading ‘Left Behind’ and actively steering foreign policy towards the apocalypse.  Hippie dumb-asses on the left driving ugly cheese wedge cars to forestall the warming flood that will kill us all.  Well I’ve got a simple message for all of you.  SHUT THE FUCK UP.  Your sour assed, fear drenched drivel is making the world a shittier place RIGHT NOW and I suspect that god, the goddess, mother nature, and the great Tao hate you.

Let’s start with the fact that you’re just flat out wrong.  The world is fine.  Jesus, an exceptional prophet whose consistent message was love, egalitarianism, and forgiveness, isn’t coming back.  It’s been 2000 years of ‘any day now’.  Jesus would undoubtedly tell you that we are all God’s children and that you should live your life now rather than plan for the end of the universe.  The old testament vision of four horsemen and a final battle for souls ain’t happening either.  Magic beings aren’t going to come out of the sky to save a few select sects while condemning the people you don’t like to torture.  What evil bullshit.  If you have any faith in a loving God this idea should make you physically sick.  Oh yeah, and the polar ice caps aren’t going to melt overnight and flood NYC and San Francisco.  Super viruses aren’t going to appear and turn everyone into zombies.  Not happening.  Never has, never will.  Sure, things change.  And the world adapts.  But no cataclysm.  Sorry to disappoint you.

Here’s what’s going to happen.  The earth will go on spinning through space.  Humans will be born and die.  They might evolve a little or they might eventually find a way to make themselves extinct.  In a billion years or so the sun will burn out and the planets will cool and tumble through space.  And do you know how much importance that has in your life?  None.  Zero.  Zilch.  The earth will be here for your entire life, and the lives of your kids. grand kids, and great grand kids.  And beyond that it sure as hell ain’t gonna matter to you one way or the other.

So, as the man said to the horse, why the long face?  Why do we keep fantasizing about the ‘end of times’ and why do so many people want you to plan for it?  Maybe it’s part of understanding your own mortality.  Somehow the idea of your own demise is easier if everything else goes at the same time.  At least you won’t miss out on anything!  Some of it is simple petty vindictiveness.  “I’m saved and you aren’t.  Just wait ’til I get to go to heaven with angels while you burn in sulfur.”  Okay, I get that.  Humans suck sometimes.  Both those ideas are selfish but totally understandable.  Death is one scary motherfucker.  But why preach it?  Why obsess about it and scare everybody?  Oh yeah, I remember now.  Evil squirrels want to fuck up your life in an attempt to satisfy their closed hearts and empty souls.  And Lord knows both the right and left are full of joy deprived fucktards trying to justify their sad little lives by messing up yours.

People who want to control you need to scare you first and what better way to do that than tell you the end is coming?  Don’t have fun.  Don’t find joy.  Don’t take responsibility for your actions or think for yourself.  It’s okay that we have all the power and wealth in this world cause it’s gonna end anyway.  The sky is falling so do what I tell you in order to be ‘saved’ or ‘part of the solution’ or ‘chosen’.  And it works.  Everyone fears death and by stoking that fear they get you to give up joy and love and fun.  And that, my friends, is the very definition of evil.

No, chicken little, the sky isn’t falling.  Loving gods don’t destroy planets.  Silly hippies don’t know very much.  Human’s aren’t ‘killing the planet’.  The end isn’t here.  Put aside your fear.  Accept that your time on earth is finite and fill it with love and sex and service and personal responsibility.  Create the second coming in your very own heart.  Choose joy.  If enough of us do it the evil little squirrels might even have to deal with their own fear and face the repercussions for their own actions.  Hey, we all have our fantasies.  Vaya con Dios and Viva la Revolucion.

(If you like my blogs, go buy my books.  Click on Temple of the Circus Monkey on the right and go to the Testament pages.)

Whistling in the Wind…

Okay okay, I know I promised in my last post to speak a little bit more about the Temple of the Circus Monkey but that’s going to have to wait cause I’m TOO DAMN PISSED OFF at the moment.  So gather round the electronic pulpit cause here we go again…

There are, on this planet, two categories of governments; dictatorships and democracies.  Oh, I know, that’s a gross oversimplification but it’s basically true.  Either people get to assemble, speak, elect leaders and vote on shit or some dude gets to decide everything for everyone.  Here in the United States we preach the narrative that democracies are inherently better and that we’re the shining example lighting the way for the rest of the world.  And I agree.  Or at least I used to.

Come with me to a midsize town on the coast of Lake Michigan called Benton Harbor.  It used to be where they made Whirlpool appliances but now, not so much.  Like a lot of formally industrial towns it’s fallen on some hard times but it has the usual proud citizens, etc.  It also has a beautiful 90 acre park on Lake Michigan so even if you don’t have much money you can take the kids on a picnic.  A little while ago a developer asked if he might buy the park, the town’s only real asset, and build a gated community and golf course on it.  Not surprisingly the town declined the offer.  End of story, right?  Issue came up, the people’s duly elected reps voted.  That’s how democracy works, right?

Well, funny thing, that.  It seems the republican state legislature expanded a law in Michigan that gave the governor a new power.  If a town OR OTHER ELECTED ENTITY is in financial trouble he can appoint an overseer.  Who decides if they’re in trouble?  The governor.  And who does he appoint?  Whoever he wants.  And guess what!  That guy can do anything he wants.  Literally.  Don’t believe me?  Ask the town of Benton Harbor.

I bet you can see what’s coming.  The governor decided Benton Harbor’s finances were bad (they were) and he appointed an overseer.  The first thing this guy does is fire the mayor, disband the city council, and make it illegal for them hold public meetings.  Really.  Here on American soil.  And next he’s going to sell the public park to the private company to build it’s gated golf course.  Of course it’s corrupt. It also has ugly racial overtones too since Benton Harbor had a black mayor and mostly black city council.  But I’m not even gonna touch those issues.  I wanna know why this qualifies as democracy.

Let’s review.  ONE GUY gets to DECIDE if there’s a problem and he gets to appoint ONE GUY of HIS OWN CHOOSING to fix it.  They get to disband the elected body, send the mayor home, ban the rights of the citizens to congregate, vote, or complain, and they get to stay in power until THEY decide they’re no longer needed.  There are a thousand things to say about this but I’d like to make three general observations.

One-  I bet you thought when all us liberals were complaining that the county was being turned over to corporations you didn’t think we meant literally.  Now if a big company wants a town to do something and some local municipality says no they can make a big donation to the governor and get the town, AND IT’’S PEOPLE, turned over to them.  No votes, no dissent.  How’s that for democracy?

Two-  Why the hell is the supposed tea party voting republican?  How is this not the biggest damn government of all?  The republicans DO NOT represent your stated interests.  If you guys are serious, vote libertarian.  All of you.  Otherwise shut the hell up cause you’re just being used by the very forces you fear.

Three- Can we talk about precedents for a minute.  This law doesn’t just apply to cities.  School boards are being taken over too.  Where does it stop?  Can the governor decide the state is in trouble and send the legislature home?  Can the president decide do the same on the federal level?  Sure, it’s just a small town in Michigan now but how do we qualify this as democracy?.  The ability to disband elected officials, overturn votes and deny dissent is the very definition of dictatorship.  The powers of the appointed local dictator are, by law, pretty limitless.  How can this possibly be a good idea?  Our laws work on a system of precedents.  If it works here it can work in your town too.

This is not just another chicken little, sky is falling moment.  It represents a seismic shift in the philosophical outlook of the United States.  Think about it.  What you’re really saying here is that democracy and democratic institutions can not solve our problems.  If things get tough we need to abandon the constitution and elections and retreat to authoritarianism.  It’s a real theme lately.  Terrorists are coming so we give up our right to privacy and search and travel.  Money is tight so we give up our right to elect leaders.  And we’re always, always at war.  We have NO FAITH IN OUR OWN FORM OF GOVERNMENT.  The American Dream flickers out and no one seems to care.  What the hell, at least we have cable.  Anger turns to sadness, rage turns to mourning, powerlessness sets in and we don’t get to be the good guys any more.

Not me.  I’m still pissed.  I wanna see heads roll and faith restored.  I’m not going down without a fight.  Fuck all y’all.  Vaya con Dios and Viva la Revolucion.


May Day

Well, according to my really cool ‘babes in coffins’ calendar it’s May Day.  Are you celebrating?  Did you even know it’s a holiday?  Hell, it’s actually two different holidays and it also happens to be the launch date for the Temple.  So let’s ruminate on how these three things come together in the great cosmic whatever.

The original May Day was celebrated in Gaelic countries as a festival called Beltane.  It was considered the beginning of the summer season.  The crops had been planted and the herds had to be moved to their summer feeding grounds.  Like most festivals it marked a period of transition, in this case from spring to summer as it’s roughly half way between the equinox and the solstice.  In the last 150 years or so years May Day has come to celebrate the labor movement.  You know, those weirdos that think the people who cash paychecks are just as human as the people who sign them.  More recently the day has been co-opted by various anarchist groups.

So how all this comes together?  We have an ancient agrarian festival and power to the common man with a little anarchy thrown in.  Or, put another way, we have an appreciation for the cycles of the universe, egalitarian thought and a little dash of chaos.  All three tap deeply into the uniquely human trait we call hope.  Could there be a better day for unleashing the Monkey?

As some of you know I’ve been a busy little writing bee for the last few months.  Now, on May Day, it’s time to move the cows to the mountains.  Time to see if the seeds I’ve planted will grow.  Time to let the world judge the fruits of my labor.  Time to stop using so many metaphors.  Well, that last one seems unlikely…

Welcome to the Temple of the Circus Monkey.  There will be three new blog posts this week explaining how I got here and what it all might mean.  In the meantime go check it out.  And yes, I know Mayday is also a call for help and yes, I’m aware of the irony.  Vaya con Dios and Viva la Revolucion.