"The great trouble with religion – any religion – is that a religionist, having accepted certain propositions by faith, cannot thereafter judge those propositions by evidence. One may bask at the warm fire of faith or choose to live in the bleak uncertainty of reason – but one cannot have both." ~ Robert Heinlein
Exclusive to STR
November 14, 2007
In the beginning Man created God; and in the image of man created he him.
And Man gave unto God a multitude of names, that he might be Lord over all the earth when it was suited to Man.
And on the seven millionth day Man rested and did lean heavily on his God and saw that it was good.
And Man formed Aqualung of the dust of the ground, and a host of others likened unto his kind.
And these lesser men Man did cast into the void. And some were burned; and some were put apart from their kind.
And became the God that he had created and with his miracles did rule over all the earth.
But as all these things did come to pass, the Spirit that did cause man to create his God lived on within all men: even within Aqualung.
And man saw it not. But for Christ's sake he'd better start looking. ~ Jethro Tull (Aqualung)
The propaganda blitzkrieg calling for a jihad/crusade against Muslims has reached a fever pitch. In World War IV: The Long Struggle Against Islamofascism, Norman Podhoretz leaves little to the imagination in the title as he lionizes Neocon policies in this recent book. David Horowitz is currently barnstorming the country with his "Islamofascism Awareness Week" show on American campuses. Pat Robertson recently threw his principles in the trash by throwing his support behind Rudy Giuliani because he looks like the best candidate to carry on the crusade in the Middle East. So-called Christian Values Voters recently booed Ron Paul when he referred to Jesus as the Prince of Peace. Finally this silly, meaningless term was brought up one too many times by one too many of my Christian friends as a matter of fact. Further, I was called naïve for questioning it. Oh really?
If Horowitz, Podhoretz, Feith, Wolfowitz, Lehman, Perle and that bunch of nutcase Straussians are representative of modern day Jewish intellectuals, then the bar has certainly been lowered for admission to that exclusive club. I think it's more likely that the latter are low level Mossad operators and compatriots of Jonathan Pollard than loyal Americans serving this country. Their un-holy alliance duping right-wing Christians into being unquestioning supporters of the Military-Industrial Complex and the client state of Israel is indeed a powerful political coup. This World at War mentality fostered by cowards and charlatans must be exposed as the foolish venture it is. This does not mean Osama Bin Laden and his over-the-top nutcases are any better, they're certainly not. I think they all deserve each other if they could just leave the rest of us out of it. But who's the biggest threat to our safety, our liberty and our principles: the nutcases in Central Asian caves or the nutcases in Washington, DC?
The ability to remain calm in the face of agitated behavior reveals confidence in one's position. A hallmark of maturity is the power to stand up to threats with peaceful composure. A defining characteristic of immaturity is threatening physical harm against people who disagree. Resolving intellectual conflict by physical means, commonly referred to as "might makes right," is juvenile behavior in its purest form. Substituting matters of faith for intellectual conflict in this equation reveals naked insanity. So how did so many juvenile delinquent mental cases assume so much power over the rest of society? How do the rest of us survive in this crazy world?
There are three "major" religions that fight for supremacy in the world (I have yet to hear of a power-crazed, murdering Buddhist). Two of these religions are branches of the other one. So the conflict is between people who have a common point of historical reference (Abraham) yet disagree over the standing of certain subsequent leaders or prophets. The schisms further lead to violence between internal branches such as Protestants vs. Catholics and Sunnis vs. Shiites, but they always join together against the other major branches. Once again it is organized collectives spawning conflicts as opposed to individuals.
People who profess to speak with God can be very healthy individuals, even if they narrowly focus their philosophical studies along paths predetermined by their elders. To humble a human ego before the majesty of all creation reveals recognition of powers in the universe unknown to the limited human intellect. Fair enough. However, people who profess to speak for God reveal a human ego that has gone "to infinity and beyond."
Individuals speaking with God seeking inner peace, wishing to resolve the cognitive dissonance that growing up in the world often brings, are typically not a threat to their fellow humans. Indeed, they are usually among the most peaceful of creatures, and love will emanate from this personal spiritual relationship with the powers of the universe. But people who claim to speak for God do so with the intention of promulgating changes in society by invoking omnipotent retribution to those who are "unbelievers." Peaceful cooperation is not popular in a society that has competing worshipers of the dictates of various ancient texts. Faith in un-provable past and future events is undermined by the very existence of alternative faiths. Those weakest in faith are loudest in condemnation of alternative beliefs.
Agendas formulated to control general behavior are always a serious threat to personal liberties. A collective seeking sovereignty over the individual will cultivate frustration, anger and hate. Leaders seeking sovereignty through the collective spiritual relationship of followers with God encourage this same hate. Agendas elevated to the status of pious admonitions from All-Powerful All-Knowing Punishers (APAKPs) as interpreted by a special class of "true-followers" are particularly insidious. The self-anointed gather followers with a hate-filled esprit de corps that eventually consumes what love is left in the hearts of the individuals who submit to the authority of the priest-caste. When mob rule takes on a theocratic essence, violence will be the result no matter how often the leaders preach love and peace. These hypocrites who twist fellowship into bloodlust through peer pressure deserve a special place in Hell. And whose brilliant idea was it to "bring democracy to the Middle East"?
In the beginning there were pagans who identified the powers of nature as life-giving and life-taking. Some saw harmony and balance in the natural order, others saw struggle and instability and the need for a new order (do-gooders have been here from the start). When people accept that there are many Gods, then some may be more "powerful" than others, but they are all legit. Even when believers claim "my god is better than your god", they still recognize that yours is still a god. It is difficult to claim to speak for all gods and therefore get conquered tribes to submit "heart and soul."
So in order to centralize ruling power over larger populations, centralizing rituals and traditions around fewer deities led in a natural progression to, of course, one Deity. The court intellectuals began to teach that there was really only one God and people who believed in many gods were, wait for it, intellectually inferior. You could say sub-humans that cannot be reasoned with (this worked well all the way up to the Manifest Destiny days, when entire populations of heathens were wiped out with nary a bit of guilt). Thus the new order of monotheism displaced polytheism, and that's where the conflicts really began. From now on there could be no other gods but mine. The symbiotic relationship of political and spiritual caste interests merged into escalating scales of institutional tyranny. Follow the leader or be cast out a heretic: or God is jealous and so are we. Competing gods became demons to destroy.
People who follow demons are a threat to all that is good and therefore evil by nature. The only way to deal with demons and their evil followers is death (or maybe torture and then death). After the Pharaohs of Egypt and the Zoroastrians got the ball rolling, the slaves turned the tables on them and monotheism (of sorts) started to catch on. Of course, it wasn't all wonderful, as God isn't always clear on His meanings and can be a cruel taskmaster. But submission to those who speak for Him is required or you have no chance at all of getting into the Afterlife. And that is the big enchilada: "Tell me again how I get to Heaven; okay I'll do it."
So these slaves wondered around for 40 or so years looking for the Promised Land (God didn't give them a map), and after many trials and tribulations, lo and behold, they found it. A deed from God trumps all other previous claims, including deeds from other gods that aren't really gods. That it turned out to be the only land in the Middle East with no oil shows that God has a wicked sense of humor. To make a long story short, Moses talked to God, in private, and came back and laid down The Law. Somehow the stone tablets got lost, pity (maybe they are hidden in Utah).
The hubris associated with people who claim to speak for God doesn't take long to manifest into claiming that they and their followers are God's Chosen People. You know, The People who are special, better than everyone else; the Ones who have a God-given Right to rule over the Earth and be with God in Heaven to the exclusion of all others. God is ruthless and God is on our side, so it's okay for us to be ruthless in spite of His Commandments and our rhetoric praising them. The Old Testament is an orgy of violence as the God of Abraham smites and smotes, drowns, creates pillars of fire, and turns people into salt with all sorts of creative destruction. Vengeance is a way of life.
Thou hast also given me the necks of mine enemies, that I might destroy them. ~ Samuel 22:40-42
Show no pity: life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot. ~ Deuteronomy 19:20-22
You could see where that was headed and then, miraculously some say, a member of this tribe came along that was a most remarkable man. A philosopher without an agenda to rule over others, but with a message that love will triumph over evil. Every person could have a personal relationship with God free from church interventions. He said that the only way to stop a cycle of violence is to be the first to stop it. And he had the courage of his convictions. A true Prophet if there ever was one because his Word was truly original; you could say inspired.
'Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.' ~ Jesus (Matthew 5:38-39)
'Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.' ~ Jesus (Matthew 5:38-44)
Jesus refuted the violent paradigm of the Hebrew religion and exposed the corrupt nature of the powers that be. That just isn't done (they probably thought he was insane), so he paid for it with his life. The priestly politicians successfully conspired to shut him up, but unleashed the true power of his message. It could be honestly said that Jesus sacrificed his life to provide an example of the power of love, for that inspiration has fostered more love than any other event known to modern man. Jesus never sought to establish a church institutionalizing the collective power inspired by his teaching. That was done later by other, lesser men. Then as soon as Christians gained political power, it wasn't long before people were killing other people in the name of Jesus. Same as it ever was.
Then a few hundred years later in a land not so far away, a pagan went into a cave and came out a changed man. A man that came out claiming to know all the answers to life, because God had told him so.
Behold! Allah said: "O Jesus! I will take thee and raise thee to Myself and clear thee (of the falsehoods) of those who blaspheme; I will make those who follow thee superior to those who reject faith, to the Day of Resurrection: Then shall ye all return unto me, and I will judge between you of the matters wherein ye dispute. As to those who reject faith, I will punish them with terrible agony in this world and in the Hereafter, nor will they have anyone to help. ~ Mohammed (003.055 and 003.056)
Unlike Jesus, Mohammed had no qualms about using the sword to spread his message. His followers became downright enamored by the process. "Either your with us or agin' us" is not an original thought by our Fearless Leader. Of course, nobody I know has ever accused G.W. "Bring-It-On" Bush of having an original thought. I'm sure the irony that he follows the ways of Mohammed in direct contradiction to the ways of Jesus is totally lost on the Great Decider and his sacrilegious followers. The justification of killing evil-doers (and anybody who happens to be near them as collateral damage) by invoking faith in Jesus Is Lord is the sickest kind of insanity.
So where does that leave us? I'd say in a world full of competing, self-delusional, power-hungry hypocrites. Dangerous minds know no compromise with alternate belief systems. "Live and let live" is not possible to the hobgoblins of self-reinforcing myths generated by thousands of years of blood-feuds. Christians had an out from these feuds for over a thousand years until Christian leaders in Europe saw a chance to occupy Palestine and maybe make a profit for the few. Then it was several hundred more years after that fiasco until Christian and Jewish leaders in the United States high on the fumes of Empire sought to bring on the great battle between God and Satan, and maybe make a profit for the few. Satan, as usual, is all too happy to comply.
Theocracy, monarchy, democracy and republican forms of government are all susceptible to the "animal spirits" that were supposed to be washed away with paganism. Cultists arrogantly imposing their personal views on the rest of humanity for the good of humanity don't all work for the state. But they sure do want to control the state to impose those views. The state is but a tool of the elite of which religious fanatics are a powerful subset. When competing elites start aligning along the lines drawn by ancient myths, then Armageddon becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
The Jews are pretty consistent, "We're Number One and don't screw with us or else." They make few excuses for their violence and arrogance, but then turn around and drone on and on about how they're always persecuted. "Oh and sorry about that Jesus thing, he's not the real Messiah you know so get over it and don't get me started on that false prophet Mohammed (why does everybody hate us?)." The Muslims say "Peace be with you" but will stab you in the back if you are an infidel with little remorse (why doesn't anybody trust us?).
But violent Christians have become the worst because they should know the truth about love and yet openly forsake it. Usually out of fear, claiming self-defense while quoting Edmund Burke over and over. Most modern Christians are simply cowards that do not have the courage of their convictions (though there are notable exceptions). Many Christian leaders believe just like many Jewish and Muslim leaders that: "After we kill all of the non-believers, then we can have peace."
The first time Jesus came, he spoke of the power of love and forgiveness and was killed for it by his own people. In spite of all those who pray daily for His return, I'm not so sure He would fare any differently today. When a politician refers to Jesus as the Prince of Peace in a debate before a Christian audience and they boo him, I can hear Satan laughing . . . . If Jesus came back tomorrow and told President Bush to stand down in Iraq and bring home all the troops, do you believe he would? Does any Christian really believe that Jesus in a debate about first-strike nukes would say: "We can't take anything off the table?" Would Pat Robertson endorse Him if he didn't?
Grown-ups must stand up and assert their maturity over the Children of God or we will perish in the sibling fight that seeks to consume the whole world. People with a death wish because they think being dead is better than being alive are scary, no matter what religion they profess to follow. Whether blowing up yourself to kill infidels or voting to send others to drop bombs on infidels does not matter. Satan wins either way, you bloody fools. Now stop this bickering before the United States Imperial Federal Government invades Iran and fulfills the insane wish for Armageddon. My god, show some faith.