Here's a good cartoon from the Jesus and Mo web site. Yeah, what if the truth isn't factual?
Well, then it isn't true. Not that this would bother religious believers, because their "truth" is whatever they want it to be, whatever their faith commands.
Which doesn't make it true, of course.
Doesn't something have to be factual to be true? It seems obvious that this is the case with objective reality, where facts are the common ground that enable different people to understand the same phenomenon.
Yet it also appears that even subjective reality, such as an emotion or dream, also requires factuality to be true. If there is no fact-ness to a supposed truth, whether objective or subjective, how could it exist?
Problem is, for religiosity, even if a subjective perception is factual, this still leaves it in the realm of Minimal Truth. Meaning, it truly is a perception in the mind of a person (like Jesus or Mohammed), but it doesn't possess any objective truth.
In the course of de-cluttering my office yesterday, I came across a long-forgotten piece I'd written for RS Greetings, a spiritual magazine published by Radha Soami Satsang Beas, back in the days when I was a member of this India-based guru-led organization.
As I said in a 2004 post about the article, "Sadly, ego-loss didn't arrive in the mail," I'd argued with the editor of the magazine about their policy of not including the author's name.
So I told the editor that their Anonymous policy prevented readers from offering valuable feedback, and from authors learning from those readers. That’s the way of science, open discussion and review of purported findings. The magazine powers-that-be apparently felt, however, that not publishing authors’ names was spiritually healthy. I guess not being recognized for a charitable article contribution earns more karmic Humble Points than having your name attached to it.
Naturally the first thing I did after getting a copy of the piece twelve years ago was write in my name in thick black ink. The second thing was curse at whoever failed to notice that the title of the essay misspelled "enlightenment."
Leaving that aside, when I finished re-reading "My Mini Enlightenment" after so many years I thought, Man, that's some damn fine writing, if I say so myself, about myself.
Here's the piece, which in addition to its humor makes some semi-serious observations about what leads to happiness. Interestingly, I ended up buying a Mini Cooper S in 2011. I still have it.
I predicted at the time, "My 2011 Mini Cooper S should bring perfect happiness." I was almost right. Every time I drive it, the car makes me happy. Not perfectly happy, but happier than I am when I drive any other car.
Often you hear the adage, material things don't bring happiness, positive experiences are what make us happy. But I don't get this. What if you need a certain material thing to have a positive experience? Anyway, read on...
My Mini Enlightenment
by Brian Hines
It was a great day when my consciousness attained a state of pristine clarity that I had never experienced before. Finally, after more than thirty years of daily meditation and deep study of the world’s most profound religious and philosophical writings, I finally knew in my heart of hearts what would bring me genuine happiness.
A Mini Cooper.
More precisely, a Mini Cooper S, racing green with a black top, navigation system, Xenon headlights, sunroof, and premium sound. I didn’t doubt that having this car in my garage would be the missing link in my spiritual evolution, because such was the evident message coming from God.
How else would you explain this miraculous series of events?
One Saturday I opened the newspaper to the weekly Auto section and found a glowing review of the new Mini Cooper. Until that day I had seen only a single Mini Cooper on the streets of my city. Then, walking to a downtown class later that morning, I espied a yellow Mini with a white top tooling down the street.
I ogle it. I go to my class. After class, I head back to my boring Volvo station wagon.
And there, at the very intersection where I had seen it two hours before, drives by the same yellow Mini with a white top. At that moment I knew that God does not speak more clearly than this to His beloved sheep, namely me, whom He wishes to make happy by generously bestowing the glorious gifts of His creation, in this case a supercharged Mini Cooper.
However, when I got home and enthusiastically shared my divine revelation with my wife, Laurel said, “How do you know it is God sending the message?” Well, the nerve! Who else could it be? “Doesn’t God want us to lessen our worldly desires rather than add to them?” she asked irritatingly. Then, as Laurel turned back to the stack of women’s clothing catalogs she was drooling over, she added, “Plus, I hate how Mini Coopers look.”
A distressing jolt of theological truth shook my psyche: man proposes, God disposes, and then the wife has the final say.
After thirty-one years of marriage I should have known that a Higher Power controls my destiny, and her name is Woman. Further proof of this came a few months later when Laurel prominently displayed a page from an issue of TIME magazine so I wouldn’t miss the article called “No Price Tag on Happiness.”
To make sure I got the point, she crossed out “Porsche” and wrote in “Mini Cooper” on the first sentence: “Think that Porsche and boat and beach house you have been dreaming of would make you happy? Think again.” The article went on to say that Richard Easterlin, an economist, had found that “while healthy people are generally happier than unhealthy ones and married people are happier than unmarrieds, increases in wealth and material possessions improve happiness only briefly.”
Well, since I’m healthy and married this was good news as regards my happiness potential.
But since I had been counting on being even happier once I was healthy, married, and a Mini Cooper owner, this also was bad news. So I chucked the magazine in the recycling bin and looked forward to forgetting all about this happiness research, memories of which were taking up brain cells that I needed for more fantasies about my dream car.
Unfortunately, soon I couldn’t help noticing another article on the New York Times web site about the same subject. This article had an even blunter title: “The Futile Pursuit of Happiness.” It went on in this vein for seven pages. After I had finished reading it I could see my Mini Cooper dreams being crushed in the harsh wrecking yard of psychological research reality.
The gist of the article was that people aren’t very accurate in predicting what effect an event will have on their happiness. “On average,” I read, “bad events proved less intense and more transient than test participants predicted. Good events proved less intense and briefer as well.”
So according to researcher Daniel Gilbert, “Things that happen to you or that you buy and own—as much as you think they make a difference to your happiness, you’re wrong by a certain amount. You’re overestimating how much of a difference they make. None of them make the difference you think. And that’s true of positive and negative events.”
It seems that each of us has a happiness set point that we have a strong tendency to return to, no matter what we do or what happens to us.
Like sine waves, we cycle up and we cycle down, but overall we don’t stray very far from the straight line that is our inherent level of happiness. We imagine that this or that will make us much more happy or much more unhappy, but we aren’t good at predicting our level of future happiness once this or that happens.
Not that it matters much. Because whether our happiness trends up or down in the short-term, most events in our lives don’t have a lasting effect on our basic sense of well-being. And this is where happiness research seems to have some profound spiritual implications.
If we can’t tell what will make us happy, and if our happiness tends to revert to a base level, then we shouldn’t worry nearly as much as we do about seeking out supposed good things and avoiding supposed bad things. For we can’t predict what is “good” or “bad.” And even if we could, so what? For soon our happiness level will come down from the good that made it rise, or will bounce back from the bad that made it fall.
The implication is that it is more important to raise our whole happiness set point to a higher base level. This is one of the effects of enlightenment, spiritual illumination, satori, psychological breakthrough, whatever you want to call it. Not relying on outer events or other people to make us happy is the true key to happiness. Since happiness is within, that’s where we’ll find it, not outside.
Marcus Aurelius, the philosophical second-century Roman emperor, wrote in his Meditations, “Happiness, by derivation, means ‘a good god within.’” Such is the meaning of eudaimonia, the Greek word for happiness. Thus happiness and spirituality go hand in hand.
I know this. I really do. Still, I can’t forget a conversation I had with a Mini Cooper S owner, Bill, in which we managed to arrive at a wonderfully supportive pseudo-Taoist foundation for our autoholic tendencies.
We reasoned that to be attached to non-attachment is itself an attachment.
So if it doesn’t matter whether things are this way or that, whether one owns a Mini Cooper or not, then why not have a Mini Cooper? So the Mini Cooperist sage detaches from non-attachment, and attaches himself to an automotive attachment, so that he stays centered close to the divine still point between detachment and attachment.
Now, since I’d like to aid Bill’s further spiritual progress, I figure that what he needs to do at this point is detach himself from his present attachment and sell his Mini Cooper to me for a song. Research predicts the car won’t make me happy for long, but since I feel that God wants me to test that hypothesis, who can stand in the way of sacred science?
Two people, unfortunately: Bill, and my wife.
After many years of searching for wisdom in all the wrong places -- holy books, teachings of gurus, new age'y claptrap -- I've found a better wellspring of inspiration.
The Sunday comics.
Though this "Pearls Before Swine" strip refers to the futility of worldly pursuits where the carrot of fulfillment is always just out of reach, it points equally at religious promises that are continually around the corner: salvation, enlightenment, bliss.
Benny the Beach Bum has seen through all that. (click to enlarge)
This comic strip reminds me of an anecdote I related in a 2006 blog post, "Paving over paradise."
Back in the 80s I spent some time on a Fiji island. There wasn’t much to do at the small resort where we were staying. That was the idea. Not doing much. One afternoon a Tahitian girl showed us how to make a native something or other. I don’t remember what it was. I do remember the girl.
She was gorgeous. A classic Tahitian beauty. Wise too. My fellow vacationers were mostly from Australia and the United States. Someone said, “Have you ever been to America?” “No,” she replied. Then she was asked, “Would you like to go?”
She tossed back her long dark hair and smiled. Her words stuck in my mind.
“Why would I want to? In America you live in big cities, work hard, and then die. Why should I leave here?”
There was an awkward silence. I could sense that we all were thinking, “Good question.” In an instant the proud U.S. citizen belief that ours is the land everyone wants to come to had been buried under the sparkling Fiji sand. I thought to myself, “Why do I want to go home? That’s the real question.”
A Sally Forth comic has a similar message.
The teenage daughter, Hillary (OK, Wikipedia says she is perpetually 12, but she seems teenage to me), reminds me of myself a lot of the time. Also, of most people I know.
We've got to-do lists that are never completed. Before one thing is done, we're thinking of the next thing that needs doing. Whatever is happening Here-and-Now is viewed as a barrier to a seemingly more important There-and-Then.
Of course, when that moment happens, it isn't really satisfying or fulfilling, because there's something else awaiting our attention.
And so it goes. Just like religious believing. The promised land is always, well, promised. What is, is always viewed as less than what could be.
Happiness, of course, has to be ours now. Or it will be never.
Trae Crowder is a comedian who says some damn funny stuff in his "Liberal Redneck" You Tube videos. But his mocking has a serious side to it, because often he's making fun of small-minded dogmatic religious believers.
Here's four short Liberal Redneck videos that I liked a lot.
Being familiar with a southern accent, United States style, I had no problem understanding Crowder. Other English speakers might have some difficulty grasping what he's saying.
Even if you don't get every word, though, give him a watch. This Liberal Redneck has an engaging style and outlook on life.
My wife and I hugely enjoyed seeing The Book of Mormon musical in Portland last night. I enjoyed the show much more than I thought I would.
My uncertainty about The Book of Mormon wasn't because it is the creation of Trey Parker and Matt Stone, who came up with the animated South Park series.
I'm a big South Park fan. I love profanity, bathroom humor, and gross jokes. I expected these marvelous qualities to be in The Book of Mormon, and they were!
What I was unsure about was how funny Mormonism could be. Sure, Mormons have weird beliefs (there's a listing of 101 of them). But all religions do. Can this be made humorous enough to warrant the price of spendy tickets to the musical?
I'm not going to give away the plot of The Book of Mormon here, especially how the show ends. But there's no harm in sharing my main takeaway philosophical conclusion of the final act:
Weirder is better when it comes to religion.
This fits with a review of the show I read on my iPhone while we were sitting in our seats, waiting for The Book of Mormon to start.
Of course, there are also countless potshots at Mormonism. But for all the criticism of the 190-year-old religion, the show is never cruel. Sure, the characters mock believers' unflappable optimism and the faith's Upstate New York origin story. The message is never anti-religion, though. Rather, it's uplifting and spends just as much time mocking the musical genre itself.
Mormonism is simply a front to point out all the absurdities in life. And in mocking religion, the show is, in a way, endorsing it: If you need an absurd story to get you through the horrible parts of life, then by all means, have it.
Most of the musical centers around the problem a bunch of Mormon missionaries have in converting Ugandan villagers to their religion. They succeed only when the already-weird Mormon teachings are made even weirder.
I liked this plot twist a lot.
If you're going to believe in strange stuff, why not go all the way to the farthest reaches of strangeness? Since religious supernaturalism is unbelievable, why not burst the bounds of believability to the fullest extent possible?
Like Janis Joplin sang back in the '60s, "Feeling good was good enough for me." If it feels good, do it. This isn't a statement about the nature of reality -- just a reflection of human nature.
Everybody needs some help to get them through the tough side of life. Religions are one of the crutches people lean on. If a crazy belief relieves anxiety, pain, suffering -- I'm fine with that, so long as it is recognized that the belief is just that, not a truth about the cosmos.
Here's some videos that will give you a feel for The Book of Mormon. Be sure to check out "I Believe," as this song reflects a core theme of the show.
YES! In under five minutes this guy does a great job at showing up the ridiculousness of guru worship through the powerful medium of mockery.
I learned about the video from a Church of the Churchless commenter. Thanks. Great stuff.
I'm a big fan of getting my cosmic inspiration from the comic pages and Comedy Central. This week has been a bonanza in that regard.
Here's what today's Pearls Before Swine had to say about the meaning of existence. In three panels, it nicely encapsulated the human condition. (click to enlarge)
Even more profound was the most recent South Park episode, "Grounded Vindaloop." It blew my mind, and I wasn't even under the influence of any psychoactive or hallucinogenic substances.
If you watch the episode after taking LSD, I predict that instant enlightenment will be yours. Or insanity. Or both.
Thankfully, since spending twenty-some minutes watching "Grounded Vindaloop" will tell you much more about the nature of reality than any religious book, the episode can be viewed on Hulu for free. And currently there is a You Tube video of the episode.
Enjoy. While it lasts.
There's already a detailed description of the episode on Wikipedia, but naturally it doesn't capture the full existential, paradoxical, and The Matrix'ish flavor of "Grounded Vindaloop." Read it if you must, though.
The episode starts off with Cartman fooling Butters that he is wearing an actual virtual reality (VR) device, Oculus. Which is a real product, slated to be sold in 2015. I'm excited about it, having just watched a You Tube video of a 90 year old grandmother trying out a pre-production Oculus.
I found lots of philosophical profundity in "Grounded Vindaloop." Along with mindless humor, a nice blend.
Right off the bat, Cartman's assurances to Butters that he was experiencing a virtual reality-enhanced world, even though Butters was just looking through fake goggles and listening to Cartman over a headset, struck me as a metaphor for how religions do much the same:
Make people think they are experiencing another dimension of reality, whereas actually they are living in the same world they always were -- along with the rest of us.
Butters is astounded at what he sees: "My hands!" Yeah, Butters, they look so real because they are real. You've just been fooled by Cartman into believing that the fake goggles give you a heightened perspective.
"Grounded Vindaloop" really gets rolling when the calls start coming from Oculus customer support, who naturally is an Indian guy, "Steve." Soon we are completely confused about what is real reality, and what is virtual reality.
The episode puts The Matrix to shame, having more illusion within illusion loops. Is what's happening a dream? Or could it be a dream within a dream? Or maybe the real world that just seems to be a dream? Or something else entirely?
Steve plays a central role in all this.
I loved how Steve comes to need customer support himself and ends up talking to a version of himself (or maybe it was himself; couldn't tell). This scene fulfils the fantasy of everybody who ends up calling customer support and getting a pleasant guy or gal with an Indian accent who asks, "Have I answered all of your questions and provided good customer service?"
I was curious how the South Park writers would get out of the looping paradoxes and bring the episode to a satisfying conclusion. Pleasingly, Steve's oft-repeated question above was the key. All the South Park guys needed to do was say "Yes."
Make sense? No. Which is why this was a wonderfully fitting way to resolve the episode. One disgruntled reviewer of the episode said:
I have no idea what actually “happened” in “Grounded Vindaloop.”
Well, duh, dude. His next sentence was right-on, though.
I don’t think I’m supposed to.
Just like life, man. Just like life. Get used to it.
Back in 2010 I put up a post called "Non-dual cartoons point way to enlightenment (or not)." It started off with...
Saying that, of course, means that I haven't learned a thing. But who gives a shit? A smile is close to enlightenment, which is one of the idiotic cliches that MonkMojo enjoys demolishing.
Here's some sample MonkMojo tweets. (RT means a re-tweet; what follows the || is MonkMojo's add-on).
RT @Yojinbo: wasn't impressed w/ the response I got from Houston Zen Center when I was in prison: no response. || Sounds pretty Zen 2 me ;)
Me to wife: While you're out there doing all your "important" stuff, I'm tweeting the fuckin' answers to life!
RT @TaoTeaKing: @MonkMojo i don`t believe that you got "the point" . Believe me ... :-) || Pretty much sums up my life. ;)
All I want to do is hang on to my stories and die bitter. Is that too much to fuckin' ask?
RT @amoz1939: Being excluded / Agony undergoing / The loss of good friends #haiku || Fuck'em ~#itiswhatitis
RT @ookiee: What's more important: that you believe in God, or believe in yourself?|| Which hot coal should one grasp more tightly? Neither.
Kindness happens, then a me swoops in and kills it with a my.
MonkMojo morphed into Mojo1000, who morphed into 2020mojo. The dude (anyone called 2020Mojo clearly deserves that appellation) is a master of pseudo-spiritual aphorisms.
Except I'm not sure why I added "pseudo," since I like 2020mojo's pithy Twitterisms more than most of the spiritual crap that litters my bookcases.
You can read them by clicking on the link. Here's a sample of some recent tweets that I like.
I’m not sure if I'm here now, but I'm certain I wasn't there then.
You gave up your truth to help maintain balance in the system. Fuck the system.
Becoming demystified is a mystical experience.
Do we have a lot in common or are our delusional trances just overlapping at the moment?
You people mean a lot to me, so I just wanted to pause for a moment and send all of you a hug and some inappropriate touching.
Goddamnit, I left all the cool shit in my repressed unconsciousness.
Hey fuckers, I'm learning about respecting emotional boundaries.
I’m not looking for answers here, I’m looking for fellow explorers.
What does it mean when your wife keeps saying words at you?
“We're fucked.” - The first human conscious thought.
You can’t hide in the now forever, the past is on your heels and the future is coming for you.
I'm all in on this present moment stuff, but it’s helpful to understand what the fuck happened.
I used to be anti blame-it-on-your-childhood, then I finally took a look at mine. There’s gold in them thar hills!
I remember when God used to watch me masturbate. It was weird, but it made me feel important.
There is nothing special about awakening, it is your natural state. An absence of drama may be the only sign.
They tried to beat the me-ness out of me. What the fuck were they thinking?
That broken feeling you have deep down inside is what having a soul feels like, or it could just be gas.
I couldn't live in the truth, it’s way too uncomfortable, but I usually feel better after a visit.
Super nice people don’t give or receive honest feedback, that’s why you want to choke them to death.
Western psychology helps me to identify the issue, Eastern philosophy helps me to loosen my grip on it.
The multi-billion dollar spiritual business is becoming about as bad as religion.
Yet, in spite of it all, here you are, inexplicably triumphant over nothingness.
All the scientific hard evidence we discover is within a mystical realm we call consciousness.
Deep down inside I have an inner life coach that must be on acid or something.
What you refuse to accept, the world will creatively find a way to shove up your ass.
“I'm spiritual but not religious.” is code for “I’m confused but not super cluster mega fucking confused.”
Personal growth consists of your angry “I don't give a fuck.” becoming a peaceful “I don't give a fuck.”
Damn those Buddhists! I knew they were up to no good. Had to be some malevolent plotting going on behind those serene smiles.
The Onion has revealed the truth in "Buddhist Extremist Cell Vows to Unleash Tranquility on West."
WASHINGTON—In a 45-minute video posted on Tibetan websites Thursday, Tsuglag Rinpoche, leader of the Buddhist extremist group Kammaṭṭhāna, threatened to soon inflict a wave of peace and tranquility on the West.
Speaking in front of a nondescript altar surrounded by candles, burning sticks of incense, and a small golden statue of the Buddha, Rinpoche did not specify when or where an assault of profound inner stillness would occur, but stated in no uncertain terms that the fundamentalist Buddhist cell plans to target all Western suffering.
“In the name of the Great Teacher, we will stop at nothing to unleash a firestorm of empathy, compassion, and true selflessness upon the West,” said Rinpoche, adding that all enemies of a freely flowing, unfettered state of mind will be “besieged with pure, everlasting happiness.” “No city will be spared from spiritual harmony. We will bring about the end to all Western pain and anxiety, to all destructive cravings, to all greed, delusion, and misplaced desire. Indeed, we will bring the entire United States to its knees in deep meditation.”
“Wisdom and virtue to America!” continued Rinpoche. “Wisdom and virtue to all living things on earth!”
Won't happen. Can't happen. We will resist.
Here's something questionably/ definitely/ absolutely not (take your choice) spiritually significant. Click on segment 1.
Listen. Smile. Laugh. Learn. Loved the ending. And comic Klein's attitude. More and more, I think comics are the wisest people on Earth. In addition to the funniest.
Age old moral here: be yourself. Not the person you believe either you or someone else wants you to be.
Bonus extra visual addition: if you listen to Klein's podcast and are intrigued by her mention of Blake Lively, here's a photo. (Klein speaks the truth.)
Double bonus extra visual addition: if you listen to Klein's podcast and are intrigued by her mention of the TIna Fey Saturday Night Live sketch, "Brownie Husband," here's a video.
Once in a while I find some Christian beliefs that I can heartily agree with. Such as this excerpt from Sharon Hodde Miller's "How 'Modest is Hottest' is Hurting Christian Women."
Second, we must affirm the value of the female body. The value or meaning of a woman's body is not the reason for modesty. Women's bodies are not inherently distracting or tempting. On the contrary, women's bodies glorify God. Dare I say that a woman's breasts, hips, bottom, and lips all proclaim the glory of the Lord! Each womanly part honors Him. He created the female body, and it is good.
No argument here, Ms. Miller.
I didn't want to spend a whole lot of time searching the Internet for a photo to illustrate the glory of the Lord, so will content myself with a quickly chosen selection from Google Image's "Sports Illustrated swimsuit 2013."
There's really nothing to say about this awesome (or ass-some) miracle: an obvious image of Jesus appearing in, or as, a dog's butthole.
A picture is worth more than any amount of words I could utter in praise of Almighty Dog. (click to enlargenfy)
This explains why dogs spend so much time with their noses up each other's asses. They're looking for Jesus!
Like I did in a post, this Tom Tomorrow comic points out the absurdity of prayer and thanking God for death/destruction. (click to enlargencize)
It's worth a read. Excerpt:
With that in mind, the below clip, which ended comedian Louis C.K.’s HBO special ‘Oh My God,’ while hilariously funny (and worth watching on those merits alone), points to the deep rift we humans suffer on a daily basis: the distance between what we think and how we, at least sometimes, act. Or, at the very least, the conflicting chorus of voices that consistently ring out in our heads, oftentimes at the most inopportune moments—what he refers to as ‘Of Course’ and ‘But Maybe.’
Kudos to Louis C.K. for being able to get laughs by talking about children dying from nut allergies. Humor is marvelous.
We're reminded that, sure, life can be really tough and serious. Nothing to joke about. Of course.
But maybe... everything is a joke. On some level.
Of course... that probably is wrong. But maybe... And so we go.
Here's the video clip.
Today's Portland Oregonian has a religiously-themed story that I actually read: "Four-Footed Ministers program employs a canine to connect to the divine."
As far as Portland resident Jerilyn Felton is concerned, it’s no coincidence that the word “dog” is “God” spelled backwards.
Felton coordinates a dog-ministry program called the Four-Footed Ministers Pastoral-Care Program at Maryville Nursing Home in Beaverton.
She designed the program while pursuing her doctor of ministry degree at George Fox Evangelical Seminary.
Felton believes that the presence of dogs can help foster a connection to the divine. The physical connections the residents make by interacting with the animal can lead to spiritual comfort and care, she says, while dogs also bring residents closer to each other.
I'm pretty sure that cats, if not evil, are much more aligned with a devilish than divine nature. For proof, have a heart-warming (and heart-chilling) look at "The difference between dogs and cats :-)"
I'm not a big fan of rigid commandments.
So when I came across "Ten Things that are Bad for Us that Can be Good for You if Practiced Mindfully," I figured it would fit with my loose moral inclinations. I was right. Nothing astounding here; just a good reminder that Buddha got it right about that "middle way" stuff.
Here's what the author, Waylon Lewis, said about mindfulness itself:
Spirituality and religion can help us to be kind, and patient, to learn, to connect with community—or they can become fixed, dividing, materialistic dogma. Mindfulness itself can be meditation, at its root—training us to connect with our own basically good human nature—or it can be a spiritual shawl, self-serious religious veil we draw around us to look and pretend and busy ourselves with the act of “being spiritual.” The difference?
Mindfulness, at its root, is meditation: in Buddhism, it’s called a self-burning flame. Or a self-cutting sword. So remember: we’re doing all this not to look or act serious and cool. But to lighten up, ground down, stand tall and smile sadly—acknowledging the sadness and weight of the suffering and confusion of this world, and at the same time appreciating the elegance, joy, compassion and fun that is our human birthright, if only we choose to claim it.
So meditate. Don’t do it as a religious act, but as a practical one—like brushing your teeth, you can do it twice a day, just after we wake, and when we prepare to go to bed.
I wasn't aware of the Elephant Journal before reading this post. There's a lot to peruse on the site, which is focused on mindful organic non-religious Buddhist'y spirituality -- or something like that.
Browsing around a bit, naturally I had to click on "10 Signs you're a true Hipster." Given my age, 64, I was pretty sure that I wasn't going to qualify as one. But I did OK, scoring nicely on...
2. You read labels. Your eyes dilate when you see an organic certification, and narrow when you see “all natural!”
3. You don’t count calories. You count how many days a week you work out. And by working out, you mean “climbing” or “yoga” or “mountain biking” or “road biking” or “hiking”* or “kayaking” or “snowshoeing” or “skiing” or “snowboarding” or something human-powered, generally. You don’t like plugging in your bicycle and walking in the same place in sweatified, toxic, un-cocooned air.
5. You drink coffee. You drink more coffee. You drink more coffee. You drink tea. You drink pu-erh. You don’t drink mate anymore. You don’t drink kombucha anymore. You don’t drink bubble tea. You do drink smoothies, and instagram them.
9. You rescue dogs and cats and are vegan or vegetarian... [rest of this item didn't fit very well, but, hey, my wife is a volunteer at the local Humane Society and we're both ardent vegetarians].
So I'm 4/10 of a perfect hipster. Cool! But I don't really consider myself a hipster.
10. You deny being a hipster.
Which gets me to 5/10. Halfway. 50 percento. Super cool!!!
Shifting gears, but still sticking with the mindful moral theme, I re-read Alan Watts' "Creative Morality" chapter in his The Wisdom of Insecurity this morning. Good stuff. Here's some quotes:
The urge is ever to make "I" amount to something. I must be right, good, a real person, heroic, loving, self-effacing. I efface myself in order to assert myself, and give myself away in order to keep myself. The whole thing is a contradiction.
...The would-be saint walks straight into the meshes of this web because he would become a saint. His "I" finds the deepest security in a satisfaction which is the more intense for being so cleverly hidden -- the satisfaction of being contrite for his sins, and contrite for taking pride in his contrition. In such an involved vicious circle the masks behind masks are infinite.
...Released from the circle of attempted self-love, the mind of man draws the whole universe into its own unity as a single dewdrop seems to contain the entire sky. This, rather than any mere emotion, is the power and principle of free action and creative morality.
...Its interest is not in itself, but in the people and problems of which it is aware; these are "itself." It acts, not according to the rules, but according to the circumstances of the moment, and the "well" it wishes to others is not security but liberty.
...Everyone has love, but it can only come out when he is convinced of the impossibility and the frustration of trying to love himself. This conviction will not come about through condemnations, through hating himself, through calling self-love all the bad names in the universe.
It comes only in the awareness that one has no self to love.
Watch this You Tube video. In four and a half minutes you'll have a much better understanding of how gurus, prophets, masters, and other "spiritual" celebrities get so many people to believe in them.
Fascinating, how easy it is to delude us humans. Our tendency is to follow others like sheep.
(Thanks to a blog visitor for sending me a link to this video. It's got over 4 million You Tube views, but I hadn't heard of it before.)
I figure it's time to prepare for my hoped-for veneration, exaltation, and worship as an enlightened godly being.
True, I don't believe in enlightenment or in God.
But why should this stop me from being worshipped? I founded this here Church of the Churchless. I preach about stuff all the time. I'm venerated in my own mind. Maybe the exaltation I feel toward myself will spread someday.
So in case someone ever builds a shrine to me, here's photos of the meditation chamber where my perfection becomes more perfect every morning.
I hereby give permission for it to be recreated in any artistic medium desired, including gold and other precious metals, so long as a large royalty check is delivered to me monthly.
My not-so-sacred Meditation Chamber was hewed out of a (usually) unused shower in a part of our house that was designed by the previous owner for an invalid mother-in-law who never lived there. I have to move my stuff out when someone comes to visit, as my daughter and granddaughter did this week.
I cover up the shower nozzle with a curtain. I like the metaphor: how my already pure/pristine consciousness is becoming cleansed of even the most minute imperfections through my meditative surroundings. Details follow...
Today I learned that redshirt freshman Marcus Mariota's wait to be quarterback of the Oregon Ducks football team is over. When they beat USC in November and then win a national championship next year I will not only be even more divine, but also really happy.
The photograph of an evergreen tree growing among golden aspens is a symbol of something or other. I could tell you, but you wouldn't understand, so figure it out yourself.
I am a habitual highlighter and scribbler of profound thoughts in margins and bland end pages. These are my weapons. You can see my backups on the lower shelf. If an evil genius ever corners the market on highlighters, my unending spiritual evolution will be stalled, but not ended, for my upward (or downward?) progress is unstoppable.
Lastly, we see here the true keys to my exalted state of being: coffee and books. Caffeine and the printed non-fiction page serve as booster rockets which propel my unsoul into profound regions of reality during my 20 minutes of so of perfected meditation each morning.
(Methamphetamine probably would work even better than coffee, but I also love naps, so have to strike a balance between a heightened and lowered consciousness.)
So...behold! My not-so-sacred Meditation Chamber.
Feel free to print copies of these photos and venerate them as you see fit. Or re-create my space in your own shower. I recommend an unused one, but each to his/her own.
Congratulations to the former Snoop Dogg, who now raps as Snoop Lion. He has found his true inner Rastafarian self.
Details are lacking as to whether his true self was discovered in a psycho-active smoky haze.
Snoop Lion has not only found himself, he's discovered that he's the reincarnation of Bob Marley.
Finally, a religious awakening that has a ring of truth to it.
I've got no idea who "the Universe" could be. Or if it is a "who." Or if it is, at all. Regardless...
The Universe seems to be trying to communicate an important message to me.
It also comes in a different cadence and punctuation.
Today I came across the Mother Ship source of the first link, a cool xkcd comic. Read it. Maybe the Universe is out to give you the same message.
Here's an excerpt from the comic that I liked a lot:
I don't know how to jolt myself into seeing what each moment could become. But I do know one thing: the solution doesn't involve watering down my every little idea and creative impulse for the sake of someday easing my fit into a mold.
It doesn't involve tempering my life to fit into someone's expectations. It doesn't involve constantly holding back for fear of shaking things up. This is very important, so I want to say it as clearly as I can:
Fuck. That. Shit.
I've got to give credit where credit is due: one of my most avid non-fans does come up with some marvelously creative (and alliterative) insulting comments.
Often these go into a Typepad spam filter, where I just discovered some heretofore unnoticed gems.
Usually I ignore hate mail, but these communications struck me as possessing an admirable "Howl" style (Allen Ginsberg's classic poem) and deserved to be shared with a wider audience.
why you such a two bit second grade hypocritical coward you miserable little runt eyed prat, what you so goddamn chicken about you pitiful little two faced rat? You a typical two faced insincere coward who is too cowardly to face any facts.. Lemme tell you how its gonna cut you cowardly little pitiful prat... reality gonna dawn on you so hard you gonna bust apart and cry big tears like the little chicken arsed two faced unscrupulous insincere back biting coward you are.
about time this pseudo psycho asshole derelict dimwit dumb ass Hines got down from his self made defunct cocoon of ignorant denial driven disillusionment and opened up his defunct derailed brain and let a little bit of open minded light into his dark cavernous debauched brainwashed bullshit baffled bewilderment.
you churchless chump morons think you clever, the entire gamut bang shoot of you churchless anti RSSB champing clowns are decidedly and absolutely stupid... and it shows...
The author of these messages, of course, considers that he/she is not decidedly and absolutely stupid. I'll leave it to the reader to determine where the balance of stupidity falls most heavily.
Who knew? Certainly not me. Just got this email from Rev. Shawn Malloy, my "brother in Jesus."
Dear Brother Brian
My brother in Christ I want to say I love the sight [site?] and I pray that your Facebook launch will be success. You are doing the work of Our Lord so my prayers are with you.
Your Brother in Christ Jesus
Reverend Dr. Shawn M. Malloy DD
Founder and Senior Pastor
Excellent news. If I learn after I die that I'm wrong, and Jesus truly is the Son of God who died for our sins, I can whip out this email at the Pearly Gates and demand admission.
Except...I just looked at Rev. Malloy's Facebook comment and Twitter tweet about this blog. I suspect that my "work of Our Lord" is providing Malloy Ministries with a way to get links to its web site spread around the Internet.
Is this virtuous enough Lordly work to save my soul (assuming I have one)? Don't know. Am pretty sure the Bible doesn't say anything about cyberspace holiness.
On last Friday's Real Time With Bill Maher, the "New Rules" segment got it exactly right. Atheism is not a religion. It's the absence of religion.
And finally, New Rule: Until someone claims to see Christopher Hitchens' face in a tree stump, idiots must stop claiming that atheism is a religion.
There's one little difference. Religion is defined as the belief in and worship of a super-human, controlling power. And atheism is…precisely not that.
Got it? Atheism is a religion like abstinence is a sex position.
Now…believe it or not, I don't really enjoy talking about religion all the time. In fact, not only is atheism not a religion, it's not even my hobby. And that's the best thing about being an atheist. It requires so little of your time.
But, there is a growing trend in this country that needs to be called out. And that is to label any evidence-based belief a religion. Many conservatives now say that belief in manmade climate change is a religion, and Darwinism is a religion. And of course, atheism, the total lack of religion, is somehow a religion, too, according to the always reliable "Encyclopedia Moronica."
Now, it's a dodge, of course, straight out of the grand intellectual tradition of "I know you are, but what am I?" It's a way of saying, "Hey, we all believe in some sort of faith-based malarkey, so let's call it a push."
No. No, no, no, no. no. It's not fair that people who can't defend their own nonsense get to create a fake, fair-and-balanced argument, the way they do in asserting that evolution and creationism are equally valid.
I'm not saying that atheists are perfect thinkers. Everyone has blind spots. I'm sure there are atheists who think ponytails look good on a man. And pineapple belongs on a pizza. And Ayn Rand was an important thinker. But, when it comes to religion, we're not two sides of the same coin. And you don't get to put your un-reason up on the same shelf with my reason.
Your stuff has to go over there on the shelf with Zeus and Thor and the Kraken. With the stuff that is not evidence-based, stuff that religious people never change their mind about, no matter what happens. That's not atheism.
I'm open to anything for which there's evidence. Show me a god and I will believe in him. If Jesus Christ comes down from the sky during the halftime show of this Sunday's Super Bowl and turns all the nachos into loaves and fishes, well, I'll think two things. First, how dare he interrupt Madonna; she is going to be pissed!
And two, oh, look at that, I was wrong; there he is. My bad. Praise the Lord.
But, that's not going to happen. And, short of that, if you still insist atheism is a religion, then it's only fair that we get to do all the loony stuff that you get to do.
And I'm going to start tonight by un-baptizing Mitt Romney's dead father-in-law. [slide shown of Edward Davies] Yes, in case you didn't hear, it was discovered last week that Edward Davies, Ann Romney's father, an enthusiastically anti-religious scientist who called organized faith "hogwash," was posthumously baptized in the Mormon tradition, 14 months after he died. They tried to do it sooner, but he wouldn't stop spinning in his grave.
So, here then, is history's first un-baptism ceremony right now. [he produces framed photo of Edward Davies] [he puts on wizard’s hat and produces a wand and candle] For the late Edward Davies.
[Lights go out, church music heard] Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today in the presence of math, gravity, evolution and electricity…to honor Brother Edward, and to send the powers of SEAL Team 666 to rescue him from Planet Kolob so that he may spend eternity with the kind of free-thinkers he chose to hang out with on earth.
So, by the power granted to me by the Blair Witch. Schlemiel, Schlimazel, e pluribus mumbo-jumbo! Expecto-Petronum, Sussudio, Yo Mama…I call upon the Mormon spirits to leave your body the f**k alone!
Brother Edward, in this world, you had to put up with Mitt Romney. You've suffered enough!
Via an email, someone just reminded me about a source of ageless wisdom that I'd tapped into some years ago, but had forgotten about: Puppetji.
l can also recommend "What is Sacred?" as providing a meaningful answer to this oh-so-important question.
Today is apocalyptic. God-loving quarterback Tim Tebow and his Denver Broncos play Tom Brady's New England Patriots in an important NFL playoff game.
This isn't only a football game. It's a battle with cosmic significance. Will in-your-face, obnoxious, Christian "Tebowing" win out, leading fundamentalists to believe that, indeed, God is on the Nuggets' side?
Will a quarterback who says he's still a virgin (Tebow) triumph over a guy (Brady) who fathered a love child with another woman and now is married to supermodel Gisele Bundchen?
God, I hope not! Like some of the Patriots, I'm tired of Tebow talk.
So fellow atheists, agnostics, unbelievers, infidels, pagans, and other irreligionists, we've got to start praying intensely for Tebow to not only lose today's game, but to be crushed, humiliated, blown off of the gridiron in an embarassing fashion.
Except...wait...let me think for a moment...
Shit! We don't believe in prayer. We don't believe in supernatural interventions. Damn.
OK, then just watch the game; enjoy it; accept the reality of the final score. Then go on to other things of life, not making more or less of an AFC playoff game than it deserves. Yeah, the Broncos are 13 1/2 point underdogs.
But upsets frequently happen, without God.
Hafiz is pretty cool, for a religious'y guy. He's a Persian mystic poet who did his thing in the 14th century.
Daniel Ladinsky has written a book, "A Year With Hafiz," that contains 365 poems that are versions of Hafiz, in much the same sense that Coleman Barks has popularized Rumi. Meaning, liberties are taken. These aren't word for word translations.
Fine with me. I'd rather get the spirit of a poet, than the letter of what he or she said.
Here's the January 17 poem, "Watch Out for Spiritual La-La Land."
Watch out for spiritual la-la land, where you might wind up comatose.
Some early warning signs are:
A. You start wearing all orange or white and count your beads in public.
B. You chant something mysterious in Sanskrit or some language from another planet while burning incense that (unknown to you) is laced with potent hash, that makes you think you are on the right track when naked devas start appearing.
C. You start believing some basically regular guy or gal with drowsy eyes -- who parrots wisdom -- is a saint.
D. Even with those imaginary devas running around (who you would have thought might have stimulated your lower chakras), your wife or husband or lovers start to think: Gosh, what happened to my sweetheart? We used to do it in the car, in traffic jams, behind our tinted windows to pass the time constructively, and now look, yes, now just look...my sweetheart hasn't gone down on me in three months, and may never again.
E. Your high school graduating class pitches in for the best cult deprogrammer in the world for you, as a birthday present. Especially if you were a runner-up, or ever even remotely considered most likely to succeed.
Ooh, that last one hurt. I indeed was the male deemed "most likely to succeed" by my Woodlake Union High School class of 1966.
Probably should have, since I joined up with a crazed Christian-Hindu-Whatever yoga teacher in 1969 and had some pretty darn strange experiences with him. Yeah, I was off in spiritual la-la land. Stayed in that realm for many years.
Now I can say, reality is better.
He observes that gay and atheist presidents didn't get us into wars or financial crises. No, "It took some God-fearing vagina penetrators to pull that off." The solution: "Leave the governing to sodomites and infidels."
Sounds good to me.
A few nights ago Stephen Colbert told a joke about God on The Colbert Report.
The audience, along with Father Martin, laughed at the end of the joke. Me, I was more puzzled than amused. As soon as I heard the punchline I thought, "Wow. This is profound."
But I didn't know why.
Yes, the joke is funny. But it's the sort of humor that's funny because it's so true, and truth often isn't funny at all. So I wasn't sure what to make of it. Two days later, I still don't.
Here's my transcription of Colbert's joke:
Now, I'm not really a comedian. I don't really make jokes up all that often. I have one joke about God. I'd like to try it on you.
OK. So a guy commits suicide. And he goes to heaven, he gets to heaven.
And God greets him there, and the guy said, "I'm so surprised I'm here. First of all, I thought there was no God. Second of all, I thought if you killed yourself, you know, you were damned forever."
God said, "You know, that's a complicated issue. Everybody at least thinks about ending it, you know, killing themselves at some point." And God says, "Even I've thought of it."
The guy said, "Can I ask, why didn't you do it?"
And God said, "What if this is all there is?"
Think about it. Or, don't. Regardless, this is a great question.
Maybe the greatest question. The answer we come up with, consciously or unconsciously, has a huge impact on how we live life, how we feel about life, even whether we keep on living.
What if this is all there is?
Stephen Colbert is musical, and knows a lot about music. Almost certainly he's familiar with the 1960's song by Lieber and Stoller, "Is That All There Is?"
The lyrics as sung by Peggy Lee are powerful. For example...
And when I was 12 years old, my father took me to the circus, the greatest show on earth.
There were clowns and elephants and dancing bears
And a beautiful lady in pink tights flew high above our heads.
And as I sat there watching the marvelous spectacle
I had the feeling that something was missing.
I don't know what, but when it was over,
I said to myself, "Is that all there is to a circus?"
Is that all there is, is that all there is
If that's all there is my friends, then let's keep dancing
Let's break out the booze and have a ball
If that's all there is
...I know what you must be saying to yourselves.
If that's the way she feels about it why doesn't she just end it all?
Oh, no. Not me. I'm in no hurry for that final disappointment.
For I know just as well as I'm standing here talking to you,
when that final moment comes and I'm breathing my last breath, I'll be saying to myself,
Is that all there is, is that all there is
If that's all there is my friends, then let's keep dancing
Let's break out the booze and have a ball
If that's all there is
Not a bad philosophy of life, not bad at all, to break out the booze and have a ball. Have a listen.
I like "Year of Sundays." Especially the tag line under the blog's name: we go to church so you don't have to
Thanks, Joel Gunz and Amanda Westmont, who are fellow Oregonians.
I've taken you up on your offer. You're both terrific writers (after each visit to a church or other spiritual gathering, Joel and Amanda compose separate descriptions of their experience).
Portland, Oregon's alternative newspaper, Willamette Week, gave them a 2011 "Best Divine Dilettantes" award.
Joel is a recovering Jehovah's Witness. He's got another blog where he trashes his former religion. Good for him. Religious true believers usually are annoying. When they knock on your door uninvited and hand you literature, they're super annoying.
(I've learned to only waste a few seconds with them by taking the Jehovah's Witnesses piece of dogmatic crap propaganda, say "Thanks, I'll get this in our recycling bin right away," and close the door in their preachy faces.)
I saw that according to the Year of Sundays sidebar, a post about their visit to a Jehovah's Witnesses service was #1 on the most popular list. Written by Amanda, it was indeed entertaining.
Having been forced to go to a Catholic Church when I was a kid, and stumble my through the first communion ritual (I had trouble swallowing the wafer and almost coughed it out), I didn't realize that some Christians pass on what's offered in the bread and wine/ body and blood part of a church service.
Amanda explains that Jehovah's Witnesses believe that only 144,000 Christians will be with God in an afterlife. These already have been selected. You're only supposed to take the Jehovah's Witnesses version of communion if you think one of those 144,000 slots is reserved for you.
Given that Joel had become a Jehovah's Witnesses reprobate, her description of what happened when the wafer basket came around to their pew was churchlessly marvelous.
The service itself was bland, largely unremarkable and without the cult-like flavor I was expecting. I did learn a few things, however, like how only 144,000 people will receive the afterlife and since those words were written 1,987 years ago, it’s a pretty safe bet that heaven is already full.
It took me a few minutes to put it all together what with the speaker’s superfluous analogies about giving gifts to your cousin’s uncle and what if the wrong person got your gift or… something? It was too dumbed down for a non-believer like me to understand. I think he was basically trying to say that heaven is like a giant game of musical chairs. There are only so many spots and the music is getting faster and louder.
I also learned that apparently you can only partake of the sacraments if you actually believe one of those chairs has your name on it.
...Of the 18 million people who attended the Memorial service worldwide in 2010, only 11,200 of them partook of the Lord’s evening meal, which is less than one percent (actually it’s .062 percent).
Well, that didn't take long. God has already reacted to Texas Governor Rick Perry's prayer rally.
The Supreme Being isn't pleased. Turns out he isn't even supreme. Read the revelation. Here's part of God's blunt message.
Let me tell you something else, Rick: I didn’t give you those commandments and I didn’t send my only begotten son to help you out. I don’t care whose ox gores a foreigner or what you do with your neighbour’s ass. And I certainly never had an interest in first century Palestinian virgins. They’re all stories Rick, stories.
The fact is, I’ve never really done anything, so you can’t count on me to change the market place, or people’s cheatin’ hearts, or fish you out of the financial swamp you’re making for yourself. You know how you prayed to me (you used to call me “Merciful God” and cry when you were loaded) to make “everything OK” with the girl you thought you got pregnant ? Sorry I couldn’t help–not even offer you a tissue.
In a Newsweek story, "Roseanne Mouths Off (Again)," Roseanne Barr's rather untraditional Judaic approach to meditation is described.
Barr’s hair has gone gray and she has feather hair extensions—she looks like a hippie (check), grandma (check), stoner (check: every Friday night for Shabbat from sundown until 2 a.m., she gets high, drinks red wine, and does a meditation Rav Berg taught her).
Nice. My only question is what proportion of time each activity takes from sundown until 2 am.
I could follow this form of Kabbalah if, say, sundown was at 8 pm and the pot-smoking/wine-drinking lasts until 1:40 am, at which point I'd do my usual twenty minutes of meditation. Any longer than that would be a disproportionate amount of meditation.
Unless the meditation is getting high and drinking red wine. That could make me convert to Kabbalah.
It looks like I've been too harsh on Islam, because Indonesia's Obedient Wives Club has made me realize how this religion can come up with some really great ideas.
A new club in Indonesia that encourages women to be totally obedient to their husbands and focus on keeping them sexually satisfied has generated an outcry from some activists.
The Indonesian branch of the Obedient Wives Club, launched early this month in Malaysia, claims to have about 300 members in several cities. Group leader Gina Puspita said the club would offer its members a package of teachings including how to treat their husbands in bed.
"A wife has to be 100 percent obedient to her husband in all aspects, especially in sexual treatment," she said.
...The club was founded by the conservative Islamic group Global Ikhwan in Malaysia, where hundreds of women are members. Organizers claim they can cure social ills such as prostitution and divorce by teaching women to be submissive and to keep their men happy in the bedroom.
For once, I can't find anything wrong with fundamentalist religious dogma. The teachings of the Obedient Wives Club make perfect sense to me.
My only problem -- and it's a significant one -- is getting my wife to join.
I have a feeling that if I suggested this, she'd make a counter-demand that I start acting like the guys in the hilarious, and unfortunately all-too-true, "Porn for Women" book.
Bow down to me, religious believers, because I am the exalted one, God's most favored favorite, the beloved of whoever or whatever divinity -- assuming such exists -- lies at the heart of reality.
How do I know this? In the same way the true name of God, Galobet, came to me in a French Roast-fueled revelation five years ago.
So after sipping my way through some pre-meditation reading, my consciousness was marvelously attuned to Galobet’s divine message. I was flying high on the swiftly beating wings of caffeine. This proximity to Galobet’s heavenly realm allowed me to hear his words (I’m not sure if Galobet is a “he,” but since I am, and I’m Galobet’s chosen messenger, I’m going with the masculine pronoun.)
“I am all of the gods so far known to humankind. And yet I am so much more, my beloved Brian. You are destined to reveal my nature to the world.”
Understand, Galobet hadn’t yet spoken his name to me. All I knew was that a godly entity was communicating with me. This being had the power to form thoughts in my mind, so akin to my own that there was scarcely a hairsbreadth of difference between them. Such is the glory of Galobet—Oneness.
Today it happened again. As I was exercising at our athletic club, vaguely pondering what I was going to write about on this here blog when I got home, another message from the supremely supreme being popped into my mind.
"Dude, you're The Man! I dig you the most! Because you haven't fallen for any of the fake gods that scam up your world's religions. Your sacred mantra is I don't know shit about God. That's so real. Take a bow, Brian. Proclaim your Most Beloved of God status in a blog post tonight. Bask in my adoration of your atheism."
I said, "Thanks, God, nice to hear from you again." Not aloud of course. Inside my head, where Galobet/God and I have so many wonderful conversations.
Driving home, I sought confirmation of the divine truth that had just been revealed to me. And glory be, such was given to me. I heard the same clear voice speak its wisdom: Holy fuck yes Brian, God loves unbelievers like you above all others.
(God is fond of profanity. Which makes me feel good, because so am I.)
So fellow churchless skeptics, atheists, agnostics, brights, humanists, devotees of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, and other proud deniers of religious crap, rest assured that God, whether or not she exists as the hot sexy babe I envision spending eternity with, loves you.
A lot. And yes, in that way. Also in any other way you can imagine. Cool, huh? No need to worry that if you're wrong about this God stuff, your afterlife could be nasty.
Relax. It's been revealed to me that God adores whatever. My daughter will be pleased to learn this, because this was her favorite word when she was in high school. Sample usage: "Do you want to get a pizza tonight?" "Whatever, Dad."
God loves this sort of faith, this sort of surrender. That's why God loves me and other unbelievers so much. We're happy to flow with whatever. If we live on after death, great. If not, we'll do our living here on Earth as fully and passionately as possible.
God let me know that she gets irritated when someone believes they know all about her: what she's like, what she wants, what she does, where she hangs out. "Those assholes have it all wrong," she told me, "but they're so fucking annoyingly dogmatic about how right they wrongly believe they are."
An utterly open mind, a heart without fences, a tight embrace of whatever -- this is what turns God on.
How do I know for sure? I don't. And so, I do.
Recently I came across The Thinking Atheist web site. It's slick and sophisticated looking, which distinguishes it from my Church of the Churchless minimalist blog design.
But when I turned to the FAQ page and read the witty Q and A's of The Thinking Atheist, I realized that I was in the presence of a kindred non-soul. Namely, someone with a sense of humor who has had to deal with many of the same questions and issues that I have.
This guy was a Christian of 30 years and a former Christian broadcaster. He says:
I finally started "thinking" for myself, ultimately rejecting the world view and lifestyle I’d once assumed as truth.
This site is a response to my own childhood indoctrination, the overwhelming wave of religious messages in our society, and the countless throngs who make ridiculous claims and dismiss skeptical voices with warnings of eternal torture.
Whether you’re religious or non-religious, I invite you to examine these pages, challenge superstition with an objective eye, take courage from the stories of others and embrace the charge to determine what is real, what is right, and what is rational.
Assume nothing. Question everything. Challenge the opposition.
And start thinking.
Well, amen to that. Here's some of the FAQs that I particularly related to. I urge you to read all of them, as The Thinking Atheist has an engaging writing (and thinking!) style.
Doesn’t hating something assume that it exists? This is like asking if I hate the Easter Bunny, Lord Voldemort, Santa Claus and The Tooth Fairy. (Actually...I do hate The Tooth Fairy. Cheap little @#$%!)
Awesome. Which god? Yahweh? Allah? Thor? Wotan? Zeus? Isis? Osiris? Loki? Odin? Mithra? Lolth? Aphrodite? Poseidon? Cronos? Horus? Beddru? Krishna? Zarathustra? Baal? Dagon? Dionysus? Enki? Gaia? Helios? Hermes? Marduk? Quetzalcoatl? Ra? Seti? Vishnu? Shiva? Xenu? Akuma? Raiden? Gekka? Bumba? Eshu? Jupiter? Romulus? Ilia? Venus? Abaangui? Ewah? Imhotep? Periboriwa? Dagda? Ishtar? Baldur? Tyr? Quetzalcoatl? Ixchel? Qi-Lin? Dievas? Adonis? Xanthus? Kali? Akka? Anubis? Sif? Mercury? Juno? Brahma? Frith? Eric Clapton? Or one of tens of thousands of others?
The people, no. The beliefs, yes.
The people, yes. The beliefs, no. Here in the 21st century, if someone states that the earth is flat and expects his belief to be "respected," he shouldn’t be personally attacked, but he should prepare himself as his outlandish assertions are stacked, skewered and roasted over the white-hot fires of science, reason, evidence and common sense. In this crazy world, some things are deserving of mockery.
Christianity is my background. Debunking my former belief system is what I’m passionate about. For the record, I believe all religions and cults are superstitious nonsense. As TTA evolves, I hope to tackle other religions with greater frequency. But for now, I’m pretty focused on the bible and mainstream Christianity.
Sure. And not smoking is a habit.
This idea confuses church with community. People should feel free to connect and celebrate the things they have in common. I think opposition to superstition qualifies as a common denominator, and human beings shouldn’t isolate themselves because they’re scared of labels. The Thinking Atheist and other online communities have given thousands the opportunity to make friends and find support all over the world.
It’s like before you were born. Non-existence.
What’s sad is watching people squander decades of this life under the delusion that they’re super heroes on a divine mission with eternal reward. Carpe Diem, folks. This is the only time around. And you don’t need an afterlife to make this earthly one meaningful, rich and happy.
Here's a (lengthy) You Tube video podcast featuring The Thinking Atheist and an interviewee. I only listened to a few minutes, but liked what I heard.
If you've followed my musings on this blog since I started it in November 2004 -- and shame on you, you churchless sinner, if you haven't! -- I can see why you might think that I've mellowed out, anti-religion wise.
Indeed, it's true that my most rabid rants against religiosity were written in the early Church of the Churchless years. Now I'm more inclined to ignore dogmas than to foam at the mouth about how ridiculous they are.
In short, I don't take religions as seriously as I used to.
What irritates me the most are the effects of fundamentalism and blind faith -- such as prejudice against gays because the Bible supposedly says that homosexuality is an abomination.
(Of course, the Bible also says that slavery is fine, so it's absurd that Christians selectively pick and choose their scripturally-based morality.)
Religion is a joke. Yet since billions of people take it seriously, I do too.
Every day countless atrocities and injustices are committed in the name of an imaginary divinity. Until the world is rid of make-believe gods, those of us who worship at the altar of reality have to be cognizant of the dangers lurking in the faith-based shadows.
Laughter, though, is an entirely appropriate response to true believers who prance about pompously, proclaiming how superior they are because of their special relationship with some invisible supernatural entity.
Mental hospitals are filled with people who harbor similar delusions. However, when a delusion is shared widely, cultures call it "religion" and offer up a free pass against accusations of insanity.
The ridiculousness of religion can be seen more clearly through the lenses of the many parody religions.
With some parody religions, only ex-members of the specific group being parodied may understand it or be interested in it. Other parody religions are aimed at highlighting deficiencies in particular pro-religious arguments — the thinking being that if a given argument can also be used to support a clear parody, then the original argument is clearly flawed (an example of this is the Flying Spaghetti Monster, which parodies the equal time argument employed by intelligent design creationism).
Several religions that are classified as parody religions have a number of relatively serious followers who embrace the perceived absurdity of these religions as spiritually significant, a decidedy post-modern approach to religion. For instance, in Discordianism, it may be hard to tell if even these "serious" followers are not just taking part in an even bigger joke. This joke, in turn, may be part of a greater path to enlightenment, and so on ad infinitum.
Before coming across this Wikipedia article, I'd never heard of Discordianism. Naturally my first stop to learn more about it was another Wikipedia article.
Discordianism is a "Ha Ha, Only Serious" 'joke', using humor to subversively spread what its members regard as a valid philosophy. To keep said beliefs from becoming dangerous fanaticism, they rely on self-subverting Dada-Zen humor, with varying degrees of success. It is regarded as a joke religion, though to what degree is disputed.
It has been likened to Zen, based on similarities with absurdist interpretations of the Rinzai school. Discordianism is centered on the idea that chaos is all that there is, and that disorder and order are both illusions that are imposed on chaos. These are referred to, respectively, as the "Eristic" and "Aneristic" illusions. Discordianism recognizes the positive aspects of chaos, discord, and dissent as valid and desirable qualities, in contrast with most religions, which idealize harmony and order.
Not surprisingly, the home page of the Discordian Society doesn't offer much evident help in understanding what Discordianism is all about. I was met with "There is no definition" and "As you learn more you will understand less."
Reading a few pages in the unholy scripture of Discordianism, I liked what I saw. Heck, what's not to like about these opening paragraphs:
You hold in your hands one the Great Books of our century fnord.
Some Great Books are recognized at once with a fusillade of critical huzzahs and gonfolons, like Joyce's Ulysses. Others appear almost furtively and are only discovered 50 years later, like Moby Dick or Mendel's great essay on genetics. The Principia Discordia entered our space-time continuum almost as unobtrusively as a cat-burglar creeping over a windowsill.
In 1968, virtually nobody had heard of this wonderful book. In 1970, hundreds of people coast to coast were talking about it and asking the identity of the mysterious author, Malaclypse the Younger. Rumors swept across the continent, from New York to Los Angeles, from Seattle to St. Joe. Malaclypse was actually Alan Watts, one heard. No, said another legend -- the Principia was actually the work of the Sufi Order. A third, very intriguing myth held that Malaclypse was a pen-name for Richard M. Nixon, who had allegedly composed the Principia during a few moments of lucidity. I enjoyed each of these yarns and did my part to help spread them. I was also careful never to contradict the occasional rumors that I had actually written the whole thing myself during an acid trip.
Wanting to learn (but not understand) the ultimate secret of the cosmos as quickly as possible, I clicked on the final chapter in the table of contents: Salvation. Hey, sounds good to me.
The human race will begin solving it's problems on the day that it ceases taking itself so seriously.
Here's a classic (all the way from 2002) expose of the ridiculousness of some entities that deserve to be ridiculed: the Old Testament and Dr. Laura Schlessinger.
Dear Dr. Laura:
Thank you for doing so much to educate people regarding God's Law. I have learned a great deal from your show, and try to share that knowledge with as many people as I can. When someone tries to defend the homosexual lifestyle, for example, I simply remind them that Leviticus 18:22 clearly states it to be an abomination.
End of debate. I do need some advice from you, however, regarding some of the other specific laws and how to follow them: [here's one of many]
...Lev. 25:44 states that I may indeed possess slaves, both male and female, provided they are purchased from neighboring nations. A friend of mine claims that this applies to Mexicans, but not Canadians. Can you clarify? Why can't I own Canadians?
Thanks to Brook, my wife's churchless niece, for passing on this link. And to the Humanists of Utah for hosting it. Being a humanist in Utah must be as challenging as being a vegetarian in an Eskimo village.
Wow, who knew? I had no idea that Muhammad was this good looking. And that he was a woman. Plus, alive!
Check out what she has to say in a You Tube video, "Muhammad tells it like it is." It's a whole new Sharia law, Muslims.
The proof of spiritual attainment is shown by transcending "I." Is anyone else made a wee bit suspicious that "I" believe this?
Along this line, after I watched about half of The Advaita Trap cartoon I figured out that the dark brown creature must have written most of the books that I've bought about non-duality.
Check it out. I confess that once I got to the five minute mark my head felt like it was going to explode, so I didn't watch the rest.
I watched the first half of the rally on C-Span, so got to see Father Sarducci's benediction. It was appealingly comedic, though not without some fairly serious philosophising at the expense of true believers.
Noting that there lots of religions in the world, each of which believes that it knows the truth about God while the rest are mistaken, Sarducci asked God to send a sign to the massive crowd: let us know which religion is right in some unmistakable fashion.
So he called out the names of various Christian denominations and other religions, then waited for a miracle to materialize in the sunny, clear October sky, or on ground level. I can't remember all the choices -- Baptist, Catholic, Judaism, Islam, Rastafarianism, Buddhism, these come to mind.
Cleverly (I bet most people didn't get the joke), after saying "Buddhism" and waiting a few seconds before saying "nothing," Sarducci added "But that could be the sign." After all, Buddhism is big on nothing.
Since there was no evident sign of God at the rally, just as there is no evident sign of God anywhere else, nor has there been at any time in the past, it makes sense to worship Nothing -- if someone feels a need to worship anything.
As would be expected, when Father Sarducci called out the names of the denominations and religions he'd get cheers from people in the crowd. (As might also have been expected, given the seemingly youthful tilt of the attendees, Rastafarian supporters seemed to outnumber Buddhists.)
After the first cheer, Sarducci told the crowd that these displays didn't count as signs of God, since God wouldn't show him/her/itself in that fashion.
Great point. But that's the only evidence religions have for God: human "cheering" of various varieties. "God spoke to me!" "I had a vision of God!" "These are God's commandments!"
There's never any objective, unarguable, super-persuasive sign of God's presence. Like another Sarducci request to God during his benediction:
Since you haven't responded when the names of the various denominations and religions were called out, could you annoint a person in the crowd with a halo, or an instant tattoo on their face? Then we can ask that person, "What religion are you?" That'll tell us which faith God favors.
Sarducci asked rally attendees to make friends with those around them, given that no one can see his or her own face and would need to be told if they have a miracle halo or miracle tattoo.
He waited for responses. Again, nothing. God continued to be a no-show. Which means that churchlessness is still the best unfaith for those who seek truthful sanity.
There's a lot to say about the pros and cons of a metaphysical belief in cosmic oneness, but it's hard to put it much better than the Duh Master does.
We're all connected, like one big organism.
So, no, I would not say that "I" still have "your" lawnmower.
Because it's sort of scary when ridiculous stories can be taken seriously by lots of people. How can the United States, or the world, manage its affairs properly when a near-majority of so-called Homo sapiens are more validly called village idiots?
The New York Times story is called "A Niche of the Unreal in a World of Credulity."
ChristWire has lately reached new levels of popularity, in part thanks to an Aug. 14 column, “Is My Husband Gay?” Written by Stephenson Billings, the piece is a 15-point checklist to help wives detect possibly closeted husbands. “Gym membership but no interest in sports” is one warning sign. So is “Sassy, sarcastic and ironic around his friends” and “Love of pop culture.”
Oh, by the way: ChristWire is all one big joke.
Not the readership — which hit a high of 27 million page views in August — but the content, the opinions and the fake authors who write the stuff. (There is no “Stephenson Billings.”) Neither of the two founders is a conservative Christian. They are just like-minded 28-year-olds who met on the Internet, have never seen each other in person, and until this week had never given their real identities to a reporter.
True to form, the ChristWire folks reacted vehemently to Mark Oppenheimer, who wrote the Times piece.
I cannot begin to understand what lies behind the minds of men like Bryan Butvidas, Kirwin Watson and Mark Oppenheimer. If maybe one of them had contacted me or any of the other representatives of Christwire, we would have set them straight. Maybe they hoped to profit by strong-arming their way into this site. Maybe they hatched some illicit advertising scheme and wanted to cash in. Maybe they are addicted to publicity, like the dimwitted and lonely men who confess to crimes they did not commit. Could this whole blowup be the result of a pharmaceutical insufficiency or a pharmaceutical overindulgence? Looking at the photographs of these two online does make one wonder about mental health. There is also a chance that they are nothing more than highly-placed atheists seeking to discredit established Christian moralism.
I had a great time browsing around ChristWire after I learned about the site today. So far my favorite post is "Gays Invent New Wii Sex Toy, So Blacks Can Have Virtual Sex With White Women."
Two forces have come together to take their sexual lifestyle’s to a whole new level. One side likes inserting their satan scepters into other men’s sewer holes and the other likes to brainwash young white youth with 8-bit music and turn your lady home makers into “ho” makers. The two have combined forces to virtual sneak into your house and violate your American wife while you are hard at work trying to get by while Obama steals you health care plan.
I present to you the WiiRape toy by Nintendo! Now I know you’re asking yourself “Mr. Bowers, why would these two groups need to join forces to create this? I know the African American community is not fond of gays.” well I have a easy answer. The Afro-Saxon community is not very good at building electronics or handling money, so they asked the homo gay agenda to develop the product for them. Also, gays have a lot of money saved up because they work as bar tenders or florists and collect gay welfare at the same time. In return, the Afro-Saxon’s would make sure that each item that is sold, would come with a list of children in the buyers neighborhood. Now what Ellen marriage believer wouldn’t want that? A whole list of fresh meat to pray on?
So now that this product is in “A Store Near You!” Rappers can use the hipped hopped music they play on Bravo or TLC to brainwash your wifes and tell them to goto the nearest Circuit City and purchase the new Wii “Toy” with of course your hard earned cash. The item comes with a free game disgusted as a Opera CD, so that for sure a real male would never bother checking it out. What it really is, is a dating game that displays images of large black twiddle rompus’. Your wife can browse through categories like “Balla”, “Big Playa”, “Deez Nutz” and other hipped hopped lyrical terms. Once she picks what type she wishes to “play” with a video screen appears where your wife can be swindled by satan like sexy speak. Once your wife has been put into a trance, she will be asked to plug in the new Wiimote and on the other end the predator will be able to control the speed and has electric tips so the womens fish cave can be shocked. I think this is what is refereed to as “The Shocker.”
Now, you may ask “Where is little Billy, while mom is playing sin games?” Well, he is alone and looking for attention, which is what a homopedo predator looks for in a victim, before he plays twinkie stick rape games.
Nintendo should be ashamed for such vile inventions. What is next? The Lesbian Lick controller? or the Rainbow Butt Heckler attachment? I say we call for a recall on all Nintendo products before your wife and children are victims of hate crimes. Oh and guess who is a backer and fan of this product?
You also should take a look at "Jezebel.com Claims There Is No Such Things As Pandagators, Pandadogs." The post features a You Tube video that indeed shows proof of China's intent to build animal hybrids that they'll unleash upon our shores.
And there's some difficult-to-argue-with (unless you're a woman, but since you don't have a Y chromosome, your logical arguing faculties are handicapped, so don't bother) theological truths in the post.
Let us also remember that the Bible orders all women to remain in silence and observe. Do not forget that breaking the order from the Bible is a sure-fire way to have Satan order you up with a side of marinated sin, to digest for all times in the lowest belly bowels of hell.