Friday, June 27, 2008

P.1 Jesus & the Big Fish

As an avid fisherman I’m quite familiar with the “Fishermen’s Tale”, which of course can be told in the same manner as I’m going to lay out in any sport, hobby or recreation.

The story evolves over time, and generally flows in the following manner:

1.) A person we’ll call Joe catches a fish and comes home to tell about it.
A.) In his retelling of this magnificent event that just transpired, he is theatrical; he’s playing the motion of the rod and reel in his hands as if it’s happening in real time. His eyes are wide open, he’s exited, he’s yelling, screaming, he’s quite frantic. You’re being pulled through every last detail of the struggle until finally this monster is pulled into the boat (it’s almost as if you’re there with him and you’re hanging on his every last word).
B.) He then proceeds to tell you the size of the fish, which in this case was 5 pounds and 22 inches long (or you may also get the hands apart gesture, "it was this big").
Now this is a rather nice Walleye, of course nothing to write home about, and not a catch of life time, but a good story to cap off a trip.

2.) Without beating around the bush; months transpire and Joe finds himself in an appropriate discussion that reminds him of his earlier catch.
A.) Something is different this time however. The excitement and theatrics that held the first telling are now gone. Somehow the thrill of the moment is now lost, it seems so long ago; and now a funy thing has ahppened. Joe’s fish…. Got bigger.
B.) What did he say it was, 5 pounds and 22 inches, and how far apart were his hands again? Hm, suddenly this thing has grown a inch or so and gained a pound.

3.) As the years pass, so does the size of the fish grow…..

So what’s happening here, is he purposely trying to lie about the fish’s size, is this simply some cheap white lie? Does he really want you to believe this crap?

The funny thing is about tales such as these(or one thing to keep in mind about them), is that the further away from an event you get the less emotionally attached you are to it. Furthermore, the harder it is to remember all those mundane details, and the less excitement remains regarding the event. As a result of this, the fish gets bigger. This subconscious phenomenon compensates for the fact that Joe is unable to convey to you the “feeling of the moment”, and by increasing the size the listener is left to imagine himself in this position, surely understanding this now 8 pound 26 inch fish is quite catch indeed.

So this begs the question, what in reality is actually important? When we tell a story and convey ideas, is truth all that essential? I say no. What is important when we tell stories like these is the way the event made us feel, this is what we’re trying to convey to the interested party. Size and reality in general are completely meaningless. When horror author Stephen King for example, spins a tale of suspense and horror, the fact that the objects in his story are completely unfathomable are beside the point. He wants you to feel fear, that’s the point.

Is Joe a liar? No. He is conveying to you the reality of the situation as he now see’s it.

Jesus, I feel, is this same big fish………

More to come.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

P.1 The Cowboy Motif

What is the essential essence of the cowboy? I don’t mean the prototypical cowboy who herds cattle, I mean the sensationalized cowboy of the wild west. The cowboy that the youth looked up to through the 50s.

Consider these characteristics: (The Cowboy Motif)
1.) Drinker
2.) Gambler
3.) Murder (killer over games and heists)
4.) Womanizer (he always got the bar whore)
5.) Thief, back robber, train robber

This is the picture of the cowboy which kids knew and loved. He represented a kind noble western freedom, he was a hero, he was wild, he was untamed. To countless young he was an idol. Little kids ran around with guns in they’re play holsters, pretending to rob banks, fight with Indians, you name it.

As a culture we never saw a problem with this. Little boys grew up in cocnservative Christian homes where the model for living was right there in front of them. As a result it became obvious that what was before they’re ears on the radio, and eventually before they’re eyes on TV was just fantasy.

It seems that this motif has is now gone from society, but is it.
Consider the motif again, but with a few modern tweaks:
1.) Drinker, (marijuana user)
2.) Gambler (Dice player, bones player, card player)
3.) Murderer (at least sensationally)
4.) Womanizer (in this case for bitches and ho’s)
5.) Thief

This is the motif of the modern day gangster rapper, and parents are afraid to death of it. White suburbia blames this culture for all sorts of downfalls. (not to mention the fact that they're black, which has to scare whity even more. Perhaps the table would be turned if these where white folks, but's that's realy beside the point)

(Does this picture below depict "cowboys" on they're hourses, guns drawn and ready for action?)

The problem today isn't so much that this motif is a bad influence, or is in itself responsible for the degredation of society as much as what's missing is that houshold which maintained a strong enough image of reality that left the motif to fantasy. Today kids are raised in poverty within single parent households where right outside they're door the motif of the cowboy is playing vary powerfully before them. It certainly must be a powerfull alure and an easy way out of they're struggle.

Due to high rate of poverty in this country this motif still lives on, the west in many respects and in many neighborhoods in still wild. But whity in suberbia fails to see this and keeps they're eyes and ears shut to it........

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

P.1 What's Wrong with Moral Relativism

I'm not sure I entirely see the issue here.

What's wrong with moral relativism? It seems to me that an arguement against moral relativity is an argument for a universal morality, i.e. God/religion. Surely this is a stretch, but what's the alternative?

Might, seems to be the opposition here. Where might is always the moral right.

On an episode of "Star Treck the Next Generation", Picard and crew came upon a civilization of people who euthanized they're old people when they reached a certain age. It was looked at by these people as a celebrated occasion, a taking the next step. A party was held in the person's honor the evening before the euthanization, there were drinks, music, dancing and laughter.
Now as you'd imagine this whole idea didn't sit well with the enterprise crew, what with they're western American ideals and vision of life. The main character of the story was an old man who became highly respected by the crew, (for reasons that are not important here). When they learn that in just a few days he will be "PUT TO DEATH", they are appaled. Understanding that this is they're cultures way, they nonetheless try to reason with the old man and his family that he doesn't have to die. However the western spin eventaully falls upon deaf ears and the crew looses the battle.
With respect to the euthanizing culture, the story played on the logic that, at one point they simply took to this course of action due to the issues that came about in caring for the elderly. The practice had become so much a part of they're culture that no one saw anything wrong with it, and in fact looked forward to some respect to the occasion.
Certainly if a homogenous society is our goal, then pockets of differing moral ideas is a bad thing. But I find it damaging intellectualy to suggest that there is a moral right.
And what is good, Phædrus,And what is not good...Need we ask anyone to tell us these things? (Pirsig, ZMM)

Monday, June 23, 2008

P.1 Thoughts on the Chief Seattle Letter

One of the interesting things this letter shows is the vast casm that exists between the perspectives of the native Americans of the time and white westerners in general with respect to mans place on earth.

What I'd like to argue is that one of the themes which is weeved into the Christian tradition via the first book of the bible is the idea of entitlement. Here is the world created on the one hand, and man created on the other. God takes man, places him on earth from outside and gives him dominion over it and the animals.

Genesis 1, 26 (NIV)

Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, [b] and over all the creatures that move along the ground."

This idea of entitlement follows it’s way through the OT. In the book of Joshua we find the Hebrews with entitlement handed down from God laying siege to the land of Canaan.
Joshua 3:9
9 Joshua said to the Israelites, "Come here and listen to the words of the LORD your God. 10 This is how you will know that the living God is among you and that he will certainly drive out before you the Canaanites, Hittites, Hivites, Perizzites, Girgashites, Amorites and Jebusites. 11 See, the ark of the covenant of the Lord of all the earth will go into the Jordan ahead of you. 12 Now then, choose twelve men from the tribes of Israel, one from each tribe. 13 And as soon as the priests who carry the ark of the LORD -the Lord of all the earth—set foot in the Jordan, its waters flowing downstream will be cut off and stand up in a heap."

This is a dangerous way of thinking indeed, that somehow we have total dominion over that which we lay claim. At first the question of, "how can one buy or sell the land", seems almost rhetorical, but it is in fact a serious question. We westerners "BELIEVE" in ownership and entitlement, and it is this fact that creates the drive towards greed in our human nature. And it is a cultural phenomenon derived from our western philosophical/christian traditions that creates this. Surely there are other societes that share this belief, however they're stories of creation also share the same theme of man being placed here and having dominion.......

Chief Seattle

The Earth does not belong to man, man belongs to the Earth.

Chief Seattle's reply to the US Government (1852):
Chief Seattle was one of the last spokesmen of the Paleolithic moral order. Around 1852 the United States Government inquired about buying the tribal lands for the arriving people of the United States and Chief Seattle wrote a marvelous letter in reply. (Joseph Campbell, 'The Power of Myth') .

"The president in Washington sends word that he wishes to buy our land, but how can you buy or sell the sky, the land... the idea is strange to us...

Every part of this earth is sacred to my people. Every shining pine needle, every sandy shore, every mist in the dark woods, every meadow, every humming insect. All are holy in the memory and experience of my people. We know the sap which courses through the trees as we know the blood that courses through our veins. We are part of the earth and it is part of us. The perfumed flowers are our sisters. The bear, the deer, the great eagle, these are our brothers. The rocky crests, the juices in the meadow, the body heat of the pony, and man, all belong to the same family.

The shining water that moves in the streams and rivers is not just water, but the blood of our ancestors. If we sell you our land, you must remember that it is sacred. Each ghostly reflection in the clear waters of the lakes tells of events and memories in the life of my people. The water's murmur is the voice of my father's father. The rivers are our brothers. They quench our thirst. They carry our canoes and feed our children. So you must give to the rivers the kindness you would give any brother.

If we sell you our land, remember that the air is precious to us, that the air shares its spirit with all the life it supports. The wind that gave our grandfather his first breath also receives his last sigh. The wind also gives our children the spirit of life. So if we sell you our land, you must keep it apart and sacred, as a place where man can go to taste the wind that is sweetened by the meadow flowers. Will you teach your children what we have taught our children? That the earth is our mother? What befalls the earth befalls all the sons of the earth/

This we know: the earth does not belong to man, man belongs to the earth. All things are connected like the blood that unites us all. Man did not weave the web of life, he is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the web, he does it to himself. One thing we know: our god is also your god. The earth is precious to him and to harm the earth is to heap contempt on its creator.

Your destiny is a mystery to us. What will happen when the buffalo are all slaughtered? The wild horses tamed? What will happen when the secret corners of the forest are heavy with the scent of many men and the view of the ripe hills is blotted by talking wires? Where will the thicket be? Gone! Where will the eagle be? Gone! And what is it to say goodbye to the swift pony and the hunt? The end of living and the beginning of survival. When the last Red Man has vanished with this wilderness and his memory is only the shadow of a cloud moving across the prairie, will these shores and forests still be here? Will there be any of the spirit of my people left?

We love this eath as a newborn loves its mother's heartbeat. So, if we sell you our land, love it as we have loved it. Care for it as we have cared for it. Hold in your mind the memory of the land as it is when you receive it. Preserve the land for all children and love it, as God loves us all. As we are part of the land, you too are part of the land. This earth is precious to us. It is also precious to you. One thing we know: there is only one God. No man, be he Red Man or White Man, can be apart. We are brothers after all."

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Christian Preparedness

Little would be christian boys and girls are told that if they're good all year round, the last day when they lay they're heads to sleep (special note that the bible often refers to death as sleep)........
(Is this God, oh I mean Santa, reviewing the sinners I mean "naughty and nice" list?)

....Then on the last day when you lay your head to sleep you awake to all that your hearts desire, gifts a plenty......

But if your bad little boys and girls then what do you get? You get coal.....

(Santa doesn't look to happy here. You know what coal is good for kids?)

It's good for HELLFIRE! YEAH! So be good you little bastards.

P.1 Institution and Religion

Imagine if you will a young boy.... He’s s a normal all American lad, 6 years old, being raised in the ever changing, and always open, secular society of the west.

Behind the walls of an unassuming home little Johnny's parents share a dark secret. John is to marry Sarah, the next door neighbor girl who is also 6. He is to love her, cherish her, give her children, spend the rest of his life with her; with the following caveat
- He is to love no other. Any feeling of love or desire towards another woman is the work of the devil and any pursuit of such sinful evil love is punishable by an eternity in the pit of hell.

Now as one may imagine it this was all well and good for young John as his personal interests lay elsewhere, just as you'd expect from a normal 6 year old. After all what is marriage to John, what is "having children", what is “love”, and lets face, girls have koodies…….

Many things could happen to John when he reaches the age of maturity (let’s say 16), he may indeed develop quite a fancy for Sarah. However lets suppose that what happens is what seems to happen to all young men as they come of age. That is, he essentially wants to stick his d#ck in everything that moves, breaths, has long hair and breasts. The torment of having such emotions in the face of the above caveat (which no doubt has been preached to him on a daily basis) must be tremendous and confusing.

Fast forward a bit further and we begin to see a John in the stage of maturity where he begins to have feelings of love, sentiments and emotions for women whom he’s surrounded by in life. However once again, he will not interpret these feelings as love, he will interpret these feelings as deceit. All the while he’s struggling internally about his feelings for Sarah, he doesn’t not know what he feels about her, however they are married and now have children.

The problem John has is that he cannot separate the emotion “love” from the institution of marriage that he has learned it to be attached to since he was six. He has learned that any feeling outside this institution is the work of the devil and thus has no genuine idea what the love of a woman is or feels like because he denies it. He has been robbed/rapped/stripped of his humanity, he is in a prison, a personal hell.

So what does this have to do with religion? I think it’s obvious. Religion, like marriage, is an institution. On the one hand marriage is the institution of love. It is, when the time comes and the choice has been made, an institution whos purpose is to formally recognize (by the community at large) the bond between two people such that we all see he is hers and she him. This way nobody can/should, bonk my wife on the head and drag her off to a cave somewhere.

In the same way religion is an institution of the human emotion spirituality, (for the lack of a better word and to keep this short for now). And before you old enough to comprehend the world at large you’re already being told (at 6) how the world is, why it is, where it came from, how you should act accordingly. Your spirituality is being connected to a language and way of seeing things that come from a preachers mouth translated out of the bible. To become older and imagine or think about the nature of things under any other interpretation outside the bible, to formulate a new language that fits your vision of things is a ticket to hell. To use any other word other then “GOD”, “Christ”, is heresy.
Men were spiritual and seeking first I say, it was only afterwards that pages were filled with words such that we could all communicate the glory we were feeling inside. But when does it stop making sense? When should it change to fit modern thinking? Where is the line between religion and institution?

Saturday, June 21, 2008

More Jesus Camp

This really doesn't require comment.... Does it?

Jesus Camp

"Jesus Christ!" is the first thing that came to mind after seeing this on the TV. From a woman holding up a cardboard cutt-out of Goegre Bush and telling all the kids to say prays and sing praises for him, to an interview with a 12 year old child saying he feels sorry for all the non-christians out there on account of them being lost.

Then it goes to, well, this.....