Just Another Weirdo Theory

All right, so lately I’ve been thinking about the world and this whole terrorist, Islamist, Free speech, fundamentalist, blah blah blah mess that seems to be the defining conflict of the moment. It’s impossible to pretend that a real problem doesn’t exist because, after all, shit keeps blowing up. So I’ve been ruminating about that most interesting of questions… WHY?

None of the current explanations please me. Is it freedom lovers vs freedom haters? Not really, there seem to be plenty of freedom haters on both sides. Maybe East vs West? Nah, too simplistic. Is Islam itself at fault? Eh, probably not. I doubt it’s much worse than any other group that defines itself as ‘chosen’ or ‘blessed’ at everyone else’s expense. Perhaps it’s a giant conspiracy between the big banks, the ghost of Che, Exxon, the Bush family, and Bigfoot? Oh stop it. How about modern vs medieval thinking? This explanation intrigues me but ultimately it isn’t satisfying. The battle between old and new has been going on for as long as there have been humans and it rarely seems to get more violent than “Hey, you kids get off my lawn” or “Modern music sucks” (And yes, modern music really does suck. I’m old.) No, all of these are too small.

My instinct is that something deeper, more primal and biblical is going on. You know, Good vs Evil, Angels and Demons kind of shit. A true fight for human souls and psyches, and I don’t even believe in your run of the mill, holy book type God. Do I have any actual proof? Of course not. It just feels that way, and hell, my opinion’s just as valid as any of the meat puppets on TV or in the government. Besides, I’m far less constrained by their petty ‘reality’. So buckle up, bitches, the rest of this rant is likely to get kooky…

We human beings are dualistic creatures. Give us a bunch of almost anything and we start dividing and redividing them into categories. Sports teams, M&Ms, animal classifications, atoms, whatever. Once we have them separated than we immediately begin arguing over which group, that we ourselves created, is better. Henry Ford once said that the first car race took place five minutes after the second car was finished. I’m sure he was right.

Our favorite thing to divide is, of course, humans. Race, religion, skin color, place of birth, number of possessions, I could literally go on for pages. Nearly every human religion, philosophy, political system and thought is founded on of this kind of division. Even Buddhism and Taoism, two religions that seek to move back to a unity, quickly devolve into this vs that practices. To be dualistic is to be human. I guess it’s all part of our questionable charm.

In some ways this current crisis is so frustrating because we can’t quite get the divisions clear in our heads. Every time you pick a side you find that someone or something you loathe is on that side too and that doesn’t sit too well in our consciences. It would be very easy at this point to suggest that we all grow the fuck up and get past duality but let’s be realistic, that is NOT GOING TO HAPPEN. And besides, that suggestion would just be preachy pompous bullshit and I much prefer useful pompous bullshit. So instead I’m going to provide you with a duality that will help you decide which side you’re on. That way you can root for the right team and blow up the correct stuff. It might even provide us with a clearer understanding, but let’s not get our hopes up too far. So here goes…

Joy. Joy is the dividing line. Do you believe in Joy? Is it important to you? Do you have any? Is it ever a fucking priority? Or does it scare you, give you the heebie-jeebies? Does it threaten your beloved misery and hate? Does your frail little ego, or belief system, quake in Joy’s presence? That’s what this battle is about. What side of Joy are you on?

Joy- noun- Great delight or pleasure caused by something exceptionally good or satisfying. In my considerably less than humble opinion Joy is one of the main reasons we’re here. Joy transcends ego and can even hold judgment at bay. Those who find Joy also tend to find compassion and I don’t think that’s a fucking coincidence. Joy can heal both the body and spirit. It’s why we invented music and art. It’s why we make good food and distill grains into the nectar of whiskey. We know we’re going to die. We know that life is full of pain and loss. We know that on some level every damn thing we do is for naught, but we do it anyway. Why? Because we can balance all that shit out with a little craic, a good joke, a great guitar riff, or a rare steak followed by a cigar and a single malt. (Your Joy ingredients may vary.) Joy is our best weapon against despair and a lot of people fucking hate it.

Everyone is capable of Joy but much of the world chooses misery instead. Don’t ask me why. I’m sure they’re just as mystified by Joy as I am with their choices. Most religions preach misery. Misery is your ticket to heaven. Misery makes you one of the ‘Chosen People’. It shows the whole world just how holy and pious you are. Most politicians and political parties thrive on misery and it’s misbegotten children Fear, Righteousness and Outrage.

The miserable the world over share one really hideous trait: They want everyone else to be miserable too. What do Islamic terrorists, Christian fundamentalists, Fox News, both political parties, PETA, and the Just Say No campaign have in common? Misery. They can’t fucking stand the idea that you might be having a good time. Think about it. They all hate the same things. Sex, good food, inebriation, freedom of expression, creative beauty. And they always have some dumb ass reason. Does someone of the same sex make you smile and get horny? Well, God hates you. Do you like pretty girls? You sexist bastard, go feel guilt instead. Like to have a drink? You’ll probably end up as an alcoholic. Are you female and do you enjoy orgasms? Slut. Some 2000 year old book said so. Judge judge judge. Shame and guilt. Be miserable or we’ll kill you. Libertines like you belong in jail. We’re watching you.

Unfortunately that’s the strength of the miserable. They care about my Joy and view it as an enemy while I couldn’t give a shit if they choose to be glum all the time. That’s the base of this conflict. Because, see, in spite of it all JOY IS WINNING. Especially in the West. There’s more freedom, more love, and more compassion than any time in history. Sure, we’re just getting started, but we ARE FUCKING STARTED. Chris Rock recently joked that in spite of all the racist shit in the USA it’s still the best time ever to be of African descent in the West. It’s a million times better to be female or gay or just plain weird today than it was 50, 150 or 250 years ago. Our Western Society, as frustrating idiotic as it may seem, allows for more Joy than ever before in history. And the Lords of Misery can’t stand it. More laws, more bombs, more god, more ‘traditional values. They’re pulling out the all the big guns, and they’re still fucking losing.

There it is. This isn’t about East/West or Islam. It’s about Joy vs Misery, fun vs glum. Fundamentalist Christians are just as evil as Fundamentalist Moslems. Women in bags and women under NSA surveillance are both oppressed. Cartoons are subversive and funny whether being bombed by terrorists or hidden by a corporate media. Love of any kind is wonderful and legislating it in any way is cruel and stupid. Now take a good hard look at you life and see what side you’re on.

In one of my first blogs I posed the following question: If God appeared and put his face right up to yours and demanded that you be happy, could you do it? What if instead of sacrifice and worship God ordered you to practice Joy and Love for your fellow humans? What if, perish the thought, your God created pleasure for YOU to enjoy, and he was royally pissed that you were ignoring his gifts? You know it’s just as fucking likely as the other option. I have long believed that if Jesus, or Mohamed, appeared today their own followers would kill them as heretics. That’s because too damn many of them are on the wrong side of Joy.

If someone else’s pleasure is threatening to you or your ideas perhaps you’d better shut the fuck up about Islamic terrorists. You’re on their side. But you can change. Joy is the ultimate renewable resource. There’s always plenty for everybody. If you already live with Joy you might want to keep an eye on the news. The forces of misery are out there, and in here too. I can’t guarantee we’ll win, but at least you won’t be ashamed of the other people on your side. And we’ll have a good time in the battle! Saor Alba, Vaya con Dios and Viva la Revolucion my friends.

Sacrifice This…

A core teaching of most religions is the principle of sacrifice.  In order to know God or reach Nirvana it’s always necessary to give up Joy.  What a big fat load of poppycock.  God does not and would not demand sacrifice.  Old men demand sacrifice “in the name of God”.  They are wrong and, most likely, God weeps for them.

All of us, regardless of religion, need to accept a simple fact: The rich control our religious organizations just as surely as they control our government and to pretend otherwise is willful blindness.  The church, most any church, has long been an instrument of subjugation.  The many complaints of Martin Luther are just as relevant today as when he nailed them to that big wooden door.  Same as it ever was.

It’s kind of funny really because those that make the most noise about faith are actually the most cynical.  The Pope sits draped in silk on a golden throne while preaching about the piety of poverty.  Megachurch pastors berate their flock about choosing God over worldly pleasures while they count their millions and play golf with millionaires.  Ayatollahs live in a palace while demanding their subjects try to scratch out a living.  I’ve got mine and God wants you to be poor is the worst kind of cynical bullshit and borders on the evil they’re pretending to fight.

Of course I’m generalizing.  Each and every religion is filled with wonderful, pious people expressing their spirituality.  However all too often those people are simultaneously violating some tenet of church policy.  Spirituality is a deep human need and should be expressed in whatever manner is meaningful to the practitioner.  It has almost nothing to do with the large human made entities that pretend to represent God while they actually serve the rich ruling class.

Now, what do the rich want more than anything?  To stay rich.  Duh.  So it’s not exactly rocket science to put these two simple ideas together.  Rich people run the church plus rich people want to keep their unequal share equals churches that tell you to behave and embrace poverty.  Now think about this for one second.   Why in heaven would God want YOU to be poor and hungry while that dude over there is buying gold toilets to shit in?  Does that really sound divine or does it sound more like the ideas of mister gold crapper?  Yeah, I thought so.  God does NOT want you to sacrifice for him, Mr. Richy-rich does, and pretending that God loves him more is the height of cynicism.

Unfortunately the rich motherfuckers running churches are only part of the problem.  They have an ally in the repressed the joy killers.  You know the type; pinched and cranky looking men and women who are so poorly   integrated that they can’t stand to see anyone having a good time.  No sex, no drugs, no meat, no alcohol, no compassion, no Love and no fun.  The modern day puritan that is so often caught at some sleazy motel 6 with a nose full of cocaine and dick in his mouth.  Mr. or Mrs. “I can’t handle my urges so I have to stifle yours”.  They fill the churches and meeting rooms of every religion and most political movements, from the Islamist bagging up women to the PETA idiots crying over bacon.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Puritanism- the fear that someone, somewhere, is having a good time.  They make me laugh and they make God sick to his divine stomach.

So now it’s election time and the ‘we must repress and sacrifice’ forces are lining up to protect the haves from the have-nots.  Their churches are preaching against birth control and choice.  Their political representatives are wringing their hands over gay marriage and women serving in combat.  Rick “please don’t google me” Santorum recently gave an interview stating that the real core problem with America is that women take birth control.  Once women started having sex for pleasure our society started to crumble.  Really Rick?  Women having orgasms magically took all the middle class wealth and moved into a few rich pockets?  Wow, must be fun to be your wife.  Meanwhile the banks and the rich keep hoovering up all the wealth while shutting down your local school.  Are we really that dumb?

Look, I’m no fan of the current president.  I think he’s kind of weak and a little ineffective.  He is NOT, however, a radical, a socialist, or waging war on religion.  (If he were any of these things he’d probably get more of my support.  At least he’d be something.)  I’m certainly not suggesting that you vote for him.  What I am suggesting is that your religious organization doesn’t have your best interests at heart and probably is much further from God than you are.  Guess that makes me a heretic.

There is absolutely NO REASON to think that God asks for sacrifice.  It’s seems extremely unlikely that we would be created with a tremendous capacity for art and joy only to be asked to repress it.  It’s heretical to me to suggest that God loves Americans more than Argentineans or white people more than brown people.  It’s obscene and cynical to think that God likes greedy rich people better than those who serve others.  God gave you joy and sex.  God wants you to help others and care for each other.  Cynical, repressed old men ask for sacrifice, and the resounding spiritual answer to them should be “Fuck You”.  Vaya con Dios and Viva la Revolucion.

Christmas Presence…

As usual I’m disgusted by the behavior of my fellow humans.  Last Thursday was the one god damned day we put aside for gratitude.  We stop our hectic lives and give Thanks for all that we have.  What a wonderful, spiritually rich and evolved idea.  So now how do we fuck that up? Oh yeah, the greed festival that is Black Friday.

Of course the rich men who control our lives couldn’t possibly let an entire 24 hours pass without commerce.  Start the sales at 4:00 am.  No, start them at midnight.  No, start them at 10.  Let’s make sure our peon employees have absolutely no time for themselves or their families.  And like good little mindless sheep many of you queued up outside Walmart to save a few bucks on some shitty Chinese made piece of crap.  If that isn’t enough you managed to shoot each other, pepper spray some kids, and start a couple of riots in your never ending pursuit of a cheap xbox.  Jesus must be very proud of his followers right about now.  I feel a huge and ugly rant coming on…

Nope.  I’m going to surprise you (and perhaps even myself).  I’m not going to give in to the rage.  I’ve decided to let all the vitriol and disgust over Christmas shopping just flow out of me like so much curdled eggnog.  Instead I’m going to be solutions oriented and suggest a positive alternative.  Christmas Presence.

We have about four weeks left until that most holy of Christian days, or Solstice and New Years for the rest of us.  Let’s replace Christmas presents with Christmas Presence.  Here’s how it will work.  First, instead of thinking about what we’re going to give and who we’re going to shop for we’re going to take those 30 minutes every day to pray or meditate.  Listen to the universe.  Talk to Jesus instead of shop for uncle Harry.  Reconnect yourself to the greater IS every single day.  I know you’ll have time if you give up thinking about gift lists.

Now that we aren’t thinking about buying shit, we can stop the shopping itself.  Instead we’ll all take an hour every day to exercise.  Go for a walk.  Lift some weights.  Do a little yoga or Tai Chi.  Imagine how much calmer we’ll be!  Can you think of a better gift for those in your life than a calmer, more confident version of you?  What a cool way to start the new year.

Over the next month you’re going to invest quite a lot of time and money.  Doesn’t it make more sense to invest in yourself and your God rather than in Macy’s and Walmart?  I’d much rather have the knowledge that the people I love took good care of their bodies and souls than some wrapped up box.  Wouldn’t you?  Enlightened self interest, the ultimate subversive gift.  Vaya con Dios and Viva la Revolucion!

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…

Begging for trouble…

Forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair. -Kahlil Gibran

Jesus H. Fucking Christ.  Freakin Moses and Mohammed.  I have had enough of the whole lot.  By the way, if you’re deeply religious in a god kind of way, you might want to turn to another channel.  I’m going to piss you off.  But I just can’t stand it any longer.  So here goes…

I, the Right Reverend Che Gonzo, have had it up to here with the three big monotheistic religions.  That’s right, Christianity, Islam and Judaism.  If there is a hell, every god damned one of you pious mother fuckers probably belong there.  I mean really, let’s start with the basis of your beliefs.  A big, anthropomorphic guy that just happens to look EXACTLY LIKE YOU created the universe and runs everything in it.  What are the odds?  I can’t even begin to wrap my head around that kind of arrogance.  So God is the “father” and he loves you and wants to bring you home?  This is some weird kind of Freudian shit going on here.  And I’m just getting started.

The ten commandments?  Sure they seem to be a pretty good idea.  But I haven’t noticed very many of you bothering to live by them.  There is ABSOLUTELY NO CORRELATION between monotheism and kind, moral living.  Sure, some of you do, but so what.  Good people are good people and evil fuckers are evil fuckers.  And that’s that.  Religion has ABSOLUTELY NO CONNECTION to moral behavior.  And you can’t argue otherwise or I’ll spend the next ten years listing evil shit done in the name of your specific god.

I understand that there’s a real danger in judging religions by the actions of a few.  Except you fuckwads do it all the time.  Right now many “good Christians” have their panties in a bunch because some Moslems want to build a community center 3 blocks away from where some other Moslem’s blew up the WTC.  Okay, by this logic we better not let Christians build their church next to playgrounds because so many priests seem to like sucking on little boys penises.  My point is that people are either good or bad, extreme or moderate, kind or cruel, based entirely on who they are, not on which temple they pray in.  But all three of these giant religions claim the moral high ground and to represent the will of god.  Bullshit squared.

Here’s something you’ll never hear a religious leader say; “Gee, I find this issue to be totally morally repugnant, but my God doesn’t agree with me so I guess I’ll go along with it.”  Nope, won’t happen.  Because ‘God’ just happens to agree with THEIR ideals and morals EVERY FUCKING TIME.  Again, what are the odds?  It’s amazing, ‘God’ is all powerful, but his very serious followers can’t even agree on whether he wants us to eat pigs?  Really?

The whole Judeo-Christian-Moslem world view is deeply fucked down to it’s very core.  The whole construct is based on the idea of ‘we’re right, we’re chosen and special, and everyone else is wrong’.  How can this philosophy help but lead to conflict, dehumanization of others, and war?  Do you want to believe in a monotheistic god?  Good.  Be my guest.  Do you want to follow the Koran or the Talmud?  More power to you.  I’ll defend those choices and your right to make them down to my dying breath.  But as soon as you start to talk about being the ‘chosen people’ or ‘the one true path’ or sending out missionaries or evangelicals to convert others you’ve crossed the line.  You’re no longer religious.  You’re arrogant, stupid and evil.

All three of the major old testament religions are constantly guilty of this.  The jews actually refer to themselves as the ‘chosen people’.  Moslems think they can kill people for drawing a picture of their prophet.  Christians, well, never mind.  You know as well as I do about missionaries and shit.  And all three of you want to make sure that everybody else follows your repressive, anti-sex, anti-joy, anti-fun, and all to often anti-kind agenda.  Even if some of us think the idea of a talking snake and a big guy in the sky is really fucking silly.  Even if we happen to believe that the spiritual part of the universe rejoices in our orgasms, our joy, and our tolerance.  So fuck you and your talking snake.

And that brings me to the final part of my heartfelt, sacrilegious rant.  (And I hope you stayed with me, because I think it might be the most important.)  The creation story that you all agree on, the one with Adam and Eve and the Apple, actually guarantees that you’re going to get it wrong.  If you believe this story, you’re screwed, and here’s why:  According to the bible, Adam was happy in Eden until the serpent and Eve tempted him onto biting into the “fruit of knowledge”.  Upon doing so Adam became ashamed, covered his nakedness, and was kicked out of paradise.  In this delightful little story the apple represents self knowledge or self awareness.  That new found self awareness is what makes Adam start casting about for fig leaves.  Now according to church doctrines, we are all ‘born into sin’ because of the knowledge gained by Adam.  And by following the church, we can ge forgiven and returned to Paradise.  In other words, the church is telling you that self awareness, self knowledge, personal growth and actualization is a sin.  Smart is bad, stupid is good.  And if you’re good enough, contrite enough, and dumb enough, you’ll get to lose all sense of yourself.  I’m sorry, but that sounds like a shitty deal.  It flies in the face of what we KNOW to be true.  That by becoming freer, smarter, and more self aware we get to be better people, not the other way around.  Although that back-assward  world view does explain why people like Sarah Palin seem to find so many followers.

So, here are the new rules:  Everyone gets to believe whatever they want.  No one is persecuted because of their beliefs.  No one gets to apply their religious beliefs to ANYONE OTHER THAN THEMSELVES.  No one is allowed to recruit, evangelize, or have missions.  Belief systems that celebrate joy, inclusion,tolerance, and self awareness will be given preference over hate filled bullshit.  And I know these rules are right because I talked to God.  He looked just like me, and he thinks I’m always right.  What a wonderful coincidence!  Vaya con Dios and Viva la Revolucion.

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

Some Thoughts on Religion

“We don’t see things as they are… We see things as we are.” – Anais Nin

Okay, brothers and sisters.  Just a quick thought today.  Since I am a Reverend and you are my faithful, if imaginary, flock you probably deserve to know my thoughts on religion.  So here goes.  Regardless of a belief in God, any and all religions are institutions of man and therefor flawed.  Every church represents the thoughts and order of the time of it’s birth.  That’s why the catholic church is set up along medieval lines.  Religious people rarely make that distinction in order to adopt the privileges of the divine for themselves.  They commit the sin of hubris, showing themselves for the self centered scum suckers they are.  True spirituality is manifest in only ONE way, joyful kindness to others.  Any other expression is selfish, ego driven, manipulative bullshit.

We are all divine.  The universe is manifest in all of us equally.  If the universe is infinite, we can all be the center.  Anyone who represents that they have the ear of God, or knows what God thinks, or volunteers to interpret God’s will should be immediately tarred and feathered.  Or at least treated with scorn.  Because he is implying that he is holier than you, and that is evil.  Kick him in the nuts.  Now let’s go out and blow some shit up.  Viva la revolucion.  Amen.

Finding God

“You can tell whether a man is clever by his answers. You can tell whether a man is wise by his questions.”  -Naguib, Mahfouz

Who am I to ruminate upon God.  Who am I not too?  I’m not a Christian.  I follow no religion and while I think there is much of interest in the bible, I don’t believe it’s the literal word.  It’s man’s interpretation, and therefor fallible.  If pushed I probably wouldn’t use the convention of God at all.  Too anthropomorphic for me.  But I have my own version of faith and I do think about it a lot.  And here’s what I’m thinking today…

I think people are asking the wrong questions.  Atheists ask if there is God.  I think that’s an irrelevant question.  We aren’t going to prove it either way so why waste time with that particular mental masturbation?  Shouldn’t you try to live an ethical, kind, compassionate life regardless?  Competing religions as how is God.  How do we worship?  What does he/she want us to eat?  What’s the best way to pray?  I can’t imagine an omnipotent and omniscient force would take that too seriously.  Sounds like a man made conflict to me.  Some religions ask where is God?  Where is the sacred space?  Where is the temple?  Who cares.  I suspect God finds all areas to be equally sacred.  Philosophers ask what is God.  Good luck with that one.  Ask Job.  No, I think there’s only one good question, and I think we avoid it because it might ask too much.

The real question is and should be ‘Where Is God’?  Not as in ‘where does he live’.  But where in my life is God?  Where in the actions of my day is he represented?  A much harder question.  Is God there when I teach?  I think so.  Is God there when I get angry?  Probably not.  God is in my life when I’m compassionate, centered, kind, joyful and appreciating beauty.  God is nowhere around when I’m petty, mean, or mad.  He’s not there because I’ve banished him with my actions.  Fortunately he is forgiving and immediately reappears when I calm down.  That’s what I think.

Look at your life.  Bring some awareness to it and ask where is God?  Is God present while I’m cursing some idiot who cut me off or undercutting a coworker?  Is God there when I vote to bring misery to some group of people?  Is God there when I laugh and hug?  I think a lot of supposedly ‘religious’ people might find this a daunting task.

A Note on the “Man”

“Some things you miss because they’re so tiny you overlook them. But some things you don’t see because they’re so huge.” – Robert Pirsig

Okay, so sometimes I come off as a paranoid nut job waiting for the black helicopters to come and whisk me away.  I’m not quite that far gone so perhaps I’d better explain.  I grew up in the late 60’s and early 70’s.  Besides being heavily influenced by the ethic of the time I also picked up a lot of the language.  Because I tend toward the stubborn and ornery, I haven’t given it up.  So I still “Fight the Power” because “The Man is keeping me down”.  I know.  How delightfully anachronistic.  But there it is.

When I use the term “The Man” it’s a useful shorthand for all those forces and people that are aligned to keep people from being free, finding joy, and making the world a more beautiful and just place.  No, not in some pre planned giant conspiracy overseen by Dick Cheney from a super secret mountain bunker.  (Although that idea is kind of appealing.)  In fact not in any organized or conscious way at all.  But working against us never the less.

Power wants to stay in power and will act in a way that insures that it won’t have to share.  Rich wants to keep what it haves.  By law corporations must act in their own interest even if it kills people.  Those who live in fear of their own desires will try to control yours.  Anger is scared to death of forgiveness and understanding.  Ugly dislikes beauty.  Any and all of these groups use fear, violence, and distrust to advance their own goals.  Sometimes they work together, sometimes they work against each other but they ALWAYS work against the principles of Love, Beauty, and Joy.  Combine this with the very human traits of self interest, apathy, and laziness that we all share if we’re not vigilant and you have the “Man”.

In short, any group,individual, or personal impulse that tries to keep you from being free, feeling compassion, or manifesting joy is the Man.  And any group that uses fear and repression to control your behavior or destro beauty is an instrument of evil.  I hope that clears things up.  And I hope Dick Cheney calls off the black helicopters over my house.  Stay tuned.  I’ll put up the promised racism post tomorrow.

Divisions, Categories, and Bullshit.

“Those who will not reason, are bigots, those who cannot, are fools, and those who dare not, are slaves.” – Lord George Byron

The Tao (or God, or Goddess, or Universal Is, or whatever) wants unity.  This seems simple enough.  Most, if not all, religions teach you to strive toward oneness and compassion for those seen as ‘other’.  However the Man wants divisions.  He seeks to stifle our spirit by dividing to conquer.  Here’s an idea?  Why don’t we ignore the stupid fucker?

ALL divisions are false.  This is most spectacularly true in matters of the heart, matters of the spirit, and matters of the soul.  Let’s start with soul.  Jews, Moslems, and the 400 kinds of Christians all worship the exact same God.  Hindus divide that God into various smaller components.  Buddhists find that God in themselves.  Animists find that God in the world around them.  Pagans find that God in nature.  Atheists choose not to look.  The important and unifying principle here is that everyone is tapping into a higher source.  But the Man doesn’t want us to agree.  He wants to harp on the man made differences to keep us separate, lonely and mad.  He figures if we keep arguing about which meat God hates or which day is holy we won’t notice that we actually agree on about 85% of this stuff.

I have a really good and wise friend named Paul.  He’s a conservative Christian.  I’m a wildly liberal nutcase.  Most of the time we AGREE on stuff.  Sure, we have our differences.  Many of them are cosmetic and all of them are irrelevant.  He wants to be a better person, cares for his family, helps those he can, etc.  I strive to do those same things.  Why in the world would we focus on the few places we don’t agree and lose out on the vast majority?  Yet this is what the Man tricks us into.  Are we that stupid?

When I was a kid there was music and there were radio stations.  Those radio stations had employees named DeeJays who played the music they liked.  They played rock, country, R&B, whatever they liked.  This kind of artistic inclusion drove the Man crazy because it helped fuel the hippie movement.  So the Man changed radio.  He ghettoized it.  He created ‘formats’ and began to get rid of the artistic DeeJay.  Now there are country stations and hip hop stations and pop stations.  And everyone os supposed to like or dislike entire genres of music.  You know where I

first heard Rappers Delight in the very early 80’s?  On WNEW, the rock station in NY.  The DeeJay liked it and played it.  Could that happen today?

Music is powerful.  It brings people together and reminds them that they are joyous creatures.  All music.  Michael Jackson just died.  Why was he so important?  Because he defied categorization.  He sang songs that had elements of R&B, rock, opera, country, whatever he liked at the time.  He was a ‘crossover’.  Really?  A crossover from what to what?  Bullshit. So why do we allow the Man to separate us into our little musical ghettos, keeping us from joy and inclusion?  My Ipod is full of disco, country, rap, rock classical pop, bagpipes, whatever I like.  And if some weasel in a marketing department can’t figure my taste out, tough shit.

What’s true for music is true for all the arts.  I won’t elaborate.  Apply your critical mind and figure it out yourself.  Is Casablanca a love story, a murder mystery, or a war movie?  Etc Etc Etc.

The cruelest way these divisions are applied is in matters of the heart.  It is damn hard to find someone to love, who loves you, and is willing to work hard on a long term relationship.  Frankly the odds suck.  But the Man knows how powerful love is, so he fucks with the odds to make them even worse.  You have to be heterosexual.  You have to date your own race.  You have to date your own social class.  You can’t date coworkers.  It goes on and on,  How about this?  Love whoever you fucking want to.  Be loved by whoever will.  And do the hard work of the relationship without the extra stress of race, sex, social class, etc etc.

Two quick notes.  First, I’m going to the Gay Pride parade tomorrow.  I’m not gay and many of my gay friends HATE the parade.  But I’m going for a very good reason.  Homosexuals have been told that their love is unacceptable for our society to officially sanction.  To that I say “Fuck You”.  I will stand with those who have lost a civil right.  Secondly, my next post is going to be about the falsest division of them all, race.  So stay tuned.  And the next time someone asks you which form of art or love or religion you prefer, strike a blow against the Man and say ‘All of them”.