Yesterday the New York Times "outed" ChristWire, a web site whose banner reads "Conservative Values for an Unsaved World." It's hilarious. And also kind of disturbing, in the sense of The Onion.
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.”
“Is My Husband Gay?” was picked up on The Huffington Post and mentioned by Ryan Seacrest on his radio show; so far it has been viewed 8.3 million times.
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?
Well isn’t that a surprise?
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.
Example #[infinity] of why religions are so ridiculous: Pakistan shuts down Facebook over a page that promotes "Draw Mohammed Day."
The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority issued the order a day before "Everybody Draw Mohammed Day," scheduled by a Facebook group with the same name. "Obviously it (the blocking of Facebook) is related to the objectionable material that was placed on Facebook. That is why it is blocked," said Khoram Ali Mehran of the telecommunication authority.
Check out Everybody Draw Mohammed Day! on Facebook. No reason not to -- aside from defying the will of Allah and being damned for eternity, along with having your throat slit as a godless infidel. (Seriously...death threats have been made by Islamic crazies._
I thought of submitting my own caricature of Mohammed, since this is prohibited by a few supposed hadiths (sayings) of the prophet, and I like defying religious conventions.
But I'm a lousy artist.
And on the Facebook page I found a drawing by someone who shares my artistic sensibilities. So I'll share this drawing of Mohammed as my contribution to the cause of laughing at religious fundamentalism.
With all the talk going on these days about sleazy financial deal-making, I've been wondering why Wall Street doesn't hire more religious experts. They seem even better suited than mathematical wizards to be able to fashion can't-miss investment schemes.
By "can't-miss," naturally I'm referring to the 100% certainty that the purveyor of the deal will profit. As is so often the case, the poor suckers who buy into it aren't guaranteed anything -- which is why the scheme is structured as it is.
There are lots of variations on the religious "Invest Now and Reap the Rewards Later" pitch. I'm most familiar with the guru-centered mystical/meditation variety, so that's how my scheme will be focused.
However, this is a template for how most religions try to reel in the gullible and unwary. If you've ever been a true believer, I'm sure you'll be able to recognize your own faith in some or all of the promises below.
Want to be spiritually wealthy? You've come to the right place! Invest with us. We guarantee salvation!
We promise to teach you how to save your soul, know God, become enlightened, and/or reap the reward of heavenly bliss in your eternal afterlife.
Do what we tell you, and results are guaranteed.
But not necessarily in this life. So don't worry if your spiritual investment returns aren't obvious on your deathbed.
In your next life, which might be here on Earth, or it might be in some heavenly region, you'll be able to reap the rewards that you didn't enjoy in this lifetime.
Skeptical? Don't be. Trust us.
You have to. Because regretfully we are able to provide any evidence of the spiritual wealth that our clients have accumulated. This isn't in our control.
The Divine Securities and Exchange Commission has certain regulations that must be complied with. (Sorry, but we can't show you those either; you'll have to trust us about this also.)
If anyone, including our Guru/CEO, revealed the extent of the wealth that has been accumulated by investing with us, those assets would be taken away.
You might be wondering, "Why?" By asking this question, you are demonstrating a lack of trust in our investment approach.
In order to become rich -- not that anyone will ever know you are, maybe not even yourself -- you'll need to stifle the negativity that raises questions. Focus on two simple positive words, "Trust us."
Remember: you can't become spiritually wealthy if you're not actively investing your faith, time, money, emotions, and intellect.
Give up on our investment strategy, even if it seems like your assets are declining or staying steady, and that's how you become a loser.
Remember: all of our clients become rich. Some day. In some life. Outside of sight. Secretly. You can take that to the bank. Some day...
You can rest easy knowing that each of our clients enjoys a deeply personal relationship with his or her very own investment advisor, a clone of our CEO. The clone will be with you every moment of every day, overseeing your spiritual wealth-building.
You won't see any sign of this person. The clone isn't visible. And won't communicate with you. Or show any other sign of its presence.
But as we like to say, trust us.
None of our clients has failed to gain tremendous spiritual wealth. You'll see for yourself after you sign up with us.
Eventually. Probably in another life-time. Because our CEO clones like to preserve your new riches by not letting you be aware of them.
That way you won't be able to waste your capital by spending it on silly stuff. Like knowing that you've saved your soul, known God, become enlightened, and/or reaped the reward of
heavenly bliss in your eternal afterlife.
The richest person is the one who doesn't know that he or she is rich. That motto works for us, for sure.
So sign up now for our 100% guaranteed spiritual wealth-building program. It'll take a hell of a lot of time and effort for you to make it work, but here's the best thing about it:
You'll never know if it worked. You can't lose, if you have no way of knowing whether you won!
Some forty-two years ago, back in 1968, I had a revelation: The universe is a paper bag turned inside out.
Now, at the time I had some reasons to doubt the veracity of this insight into ultimate reality, since it was fueled by mescaline and dissipated the following day. But another guy and I intuited this truth at the exact same moment.
Today I've gotten confirmation that, indeed, the universe is a bag turned inside out. Tucson, a regular Church of the Churchless visitor, left a comment on this blog post that said, in part:
Our perception is like a plain plastic bag. Turn it inside out and it is the same yet entirely different.
We do have a doctrinal difference, though. Is our perception of the universe a paper or plastic bag turned inside out? I don't want to get into a holy war over this. Let's just say that I'm right on that detail and Tucson is wrong. (Makes sense to me.)
The important thing is the confirmation that ultimate reality really is best explained by viewing it as a bag turned inside out. Those of us who have experienced this truth, via psychedelics or otherwise, know what we know because we know that our knowing is really knowledge.
While that last statement certainly should convince the skeptics, I devoted five minutes this afternoon to producing concrete experimental photographic evidence of the truthiness of what I and Tucson speak. Here is a paper bag. It is covered with information. This is the universe as normally perceived. Happiness is 15% off Everything. Here is the paper bag turned inside out. Doing this teaches valuable lessons. First, it's damn difficult to turn a large paper bag inside out. I ended up crumpling and ripping the bag. But that's the price of enlightenment.
Second, all is one. The appearance of the bag now is a seamless whole. (Leaving aside the crumpling, the rips, the dents, and the lettering that can be glimpsed through the paper if you look close enough.) Third, samsara is nirvana, illusion is reality, atman is brahman, and whatever other out-dated non-dual adage people used to spout before the revelation the universe is a paper bag turned inside out replaced those lesser insights.
From my iPhone's God's-eye view we see that everything still is 15% off at Office Max. Manyness is completely compatible with oneness. Now it is just hidden on the inside rather than obvious on the outside -- having changed places with formless unity.
So all is revealed, praise Bag.
(However, if what I've said and shown isn't totally revelatory to you, consider taking some mescaline and then re-reading this post.)
Since I love my iPhone, and it can reliably guide me to earthly destinations, I figured that spiritual enlightenment also would be available via one of the many downloadable applications for this marvelous device.
Buddha must have been looking out for me, because I came across this app on the very last day, October 17, that it was still free. (As of now, you'll have to fork out $2.99 for enlightenment. Plus the cost of an iPhone, if you've got bad karma and don't have one yet.)
I liked how most of the meditation lessons fit on a single iPhone screen. The introduction was a bit wordier, requiring some scrolling, but ended with an appealing offer.
Meditation is about developing your mind. It requires a significant amount of energy, determination, discipline and patience. The goal is awareness and concentration. The reward is real and unconditioned happiness, peace and a true understanding of what, why and how things are.
Cool. At least the reward part was.
I wasn't so wild about the significant amount part. Hey, this is an iPhone app! I assumed that Guided Insight Meditation should go as quickly and smoothly as everything else Apple'ish does.
So I was ready for instant enlightenment yesterday morning. I took my iPhone with me onto my meditation cushion, as I always do.
(Making my way past another level of Ragdoll Blaster each day is a big part of my spiritual path, for reasons that won't be understandable to anyone who hasn't experienced the mystic bliss of shooting ragdolls out of a cannon while figuring how to hit a target in a manner guided by immutable laws of physics.)
After dutifully spending five minutes or so reading about meditation misconceptions -- for example, I wouldn't be running away from reality, or, sadly, getting high -- and the correct attitude (accept yourself; experience everything; let go; and so on), I was ready for my guided meditation.
I pressed the "start session" button. A male voice led me through ten minutes of instruction.
I sent out loving feelings of kindness toward everyone and everything in existence (I wanted to make an exception for Fox News, but stifled the urge). I took three deep cleansing breaths. I followed my inhalations and exhalations. I was especially conscious of certain sensors in my nostrils (upper right corner of my right nostril seemed acutely breath aware).
Wanting to assure my rapid spiritual progress, I kept on meditating for ten minutes after the instruction stopped. Twenty minutes total. The timer on my iPhone chimed.
Yay! I was enlightened. Had to be! iPhone apps almost always work as promised.
It's difficult for me to convey what enlightenment is like. Just as Zen masters say, my life doesn't seem to have changed, in line with the adage "first there is a mountain, then there isn't, then there is."
Yet obviously I now have a true understanding of what, why and how things are. This is what the Guided Insight Meditation app promised, and so this is what I must have achieved.
I'll do my best to remain humble, though this is difficult for me now that I know so much more about the cosmos than almost everyone else. If you don't believe me, consider this:
I am so enlightened, I don't even feel any difference from my previous unenlightened state. This shows that I've been enlightened from birth, a Bodhisattva. All the iPhone app did was make me aware of my pristine awareness.
I'm not sure what to do next. Traditionally, I gather I'm supposed to help all sentient beings attain Buddha-hood.
I was in an Apple store today and got to play briefly with an iPhone 3Gs, the most powerful iPhone ever. Seemingly my enlightenment would be even more enlightened if it was transmitted over a 3Gs rather than a mere 3G.
Unfortunately for all sentient beings, I'm not eligible to upgrade at a reasonable price for nearly another year.
Way to go, you churchless citizens of the United States. You're responsible for everything that's wrong in the country. So saith Glenn Beck. (Fortunately, this means you don't have to take that crazy accusation seriously.)
For I have learned there is nothing else to know, no greater mystery to decipher, no image of reality better worth contemplating.
From the Holy Goatonapole web site:
"Goatonapole is the philosophy of being that holds that there is a Goat
and a Pole and that the Goat is on the Pole. In the relation of Goat
and Pole we Goatonapolists find an eternal thread of unfathomable
cosmic significance, a point of reference in which all opposites
dissolve into a unity of infinite breadth, a universal truth underlying
the very fabric of existence. Upon contemplation of the Goat, the Pole,
and their relative positions, one cannot help but realize that we've
always been talking about Goatonapole. Whether we accept, reject, or
live in ignorance of Goatonapole, we are all Goatonapolists."
I haven't absorbed all of the wisdom of Goatonapole yet. But already this passage has filled me with a marvelous sense of yesness.
We as conscious beings are the product of innumerably
many acts of balance, new being arising out of extant being and
perpetuating its improbable existence upon the substrate of its
progenitors. To picture the place of your consciousness in the
universe, one must imagine countless goats stacked one upon another, a
new goat constantly replacing the uppermost goat as the height of the
pole increases. As the Goat-raising progresses, the lower goats cease
to be goats and become all one improbably tall pole on which sits a
single goat. This is the Goat-raising in its essence.
Yes! Yes! Yes!
What could be more true? And...any more incomprehensible? Naturally it is the sense of huh? and what the fuck? stimulated in me by Goatonapology that leads me to believe in it so deeply.
Goat and Pole work in mysterious ways. That the teachings of Goatonapole are cryptic -- some would blaspheme and say "non-sensical" -- is the best evidence of their validity.
Further, I've received an indisputable sign from Goat and Pole to embrace their truth. This very morning, as I was pondering the possibility of writing this blog post, I was drawn to pick up a copy of "The Essential Teachings of Zen Master Hakuin" and found this verse:
Perched motionless at the tip of a hundred-foot pole The man has attainment, but he hasn't made it real. He must advance one more step beyond the tip, Reveal his whole body in the ten directions.
"A couple of people whom I sent that website about the goat took it seriously. Am I misinterpreting something? I had found myself laughing out loud and really enjoying how the site was put together. Is it possible that it's for real? I guess in this day and age with so much wacko stuff out there, it could be for real. Yikes."
As for how real Goatonapole is, that's for you, Goat, and Pole to decide.
Which, rather paradoxically, is a national holiday in the United States where the goal for most people is to do as little as possible -- since the long hot lazy days of summer are coming to an end.
So I'm going to take it easy on my churchless blogging today, simply sharing some multimedia that tackles in cartoonish and musical fashion an important question:
WIll God fuck you up?
One of my favorite comic strips, Pearls Before Swine, seems to argue in the negative in this August 30 offering (I say "seems" because it's tough to tie down a philosophical position in seven cartoon panels).
On the other hand, it might be wise to keep in mind the Biblical alternative: God will fuck you up.
I like the guy's sense of humor. Here's part of his self-written bio:
John R. Butler is a Southwest Florida musician/singer/songwriter/forward-slash user. Gross Exaggeration Monthly magazine called him "perhaps the most important songsmith of his--and any other--generation."
Butler has played on stages before thousands of audience members all over the country...just before having been ejected by security, in order that the scheduled acts could get started.
Ignorance may not really be bliss... but it'll do in a pinch. Tomorrow, I will live in the present. Little things add up. If every day u found just 1 penny, after a 1 year you'll only need to borrow $1.05 for a Venti Frappuccino. If you want to be respected by others, start by respecting yourself, and then give them money and flatter them for no reason.
Nice. I felt pleasantly de-enlightened already.
That feeling got strengthened with a visit to the Duhism web site. There I learned that while Bob Tzu's birthday is between 1962 and 390 BC, his writings only extend back three months.
So it didn't take me long to absorb the essence (heck, for all I know, the whole shebang) of Duhism. For obvious reasons, to me this seemed to be the most important teaching.
My cousin Lao Tzu says the Tao that can be told is not the real Tao. It's the same with The Duh. The real Duh cannot be spoken. Only blogged and Tweeted.
Realizing that I'd found a source of spiritual wisdom that is as attuned to the almighty "Who the hell knows?" as the crap I write, I downloaded for free The Duh of Success.
The price was a bit steep, given what I learned from the book.
But it was nice to be able to start reading it at 9:24 am and be done by 9:25 am. I like my cosmic wisdom to come fast and hard, which is one of the more unintentionally erotic lines I've written recently.
Since my personal path to de-enlightenment is firmly founded on a t-shirt base (see here and here), I was pleased to find that Bob Tzu's web site had a link to some great t-shirt wisdom.
I figured that today would be an auspicious time to make a momentous announcement: by the grace of God, I've realized that my churchlessness has been a dreadful mistake -- the result of egotistical delusion.
So I've decided to simultaneously embrace evangelical Christianity and return to the Sant Mat fold. May my heretical sins and karmas be forgiven by Jesus and the Guru, who I hope will get along as my co-spiritual guides, notwithstanding their doctrinal differences.
In an astounding calendarical synchronicity, today Google also announced an amazing development. We are on the same enlightened wavelength, mine religious, Google's being artificial intelligentish.
I've been spending so much hours watching the Olympics every evening, I figure I might as well try to suck some cosmic significance out of my TV time.
Some spiritual (and profane) observations:
…How come godless China has way more gold medals than the godly United States? Our president ends every speech with "God bless America." What's gone wrong with our blessing?
…While watching the opening ceremonies that were choreographed for marvelously disciplined thousands, I wanted to move to China and become part of an egoless society where the individual is a cog in a societal machine. But then I realized that I don't even like to stand in line for more than 30 seconds at the grocery checkout lane, and cancelled my immigration application.
…Usain Bolt, the record breaking sprinter from Jamaica, crosses himself while in the blocks and points one finger at the sky. After winning, he then engages in an astoundingly self-centered celebration. Got to admire his cognitive dissonance.
…A Cuban runner had on the biggest gold cross that I've seen yet at the games. So much for godless communism (if you're a star athlete, at least).
…Lauryn Williams, who dropped a baton for the U.S. team in a relay race (causing disqualification), said that "Maybe someone has a voodoo doll out on the U.S." That's a great theory, since the men's team also dropped the baton. Nice to hear voodoo mentioned on national TV as a supernatural force, rather than Jesus.
…It's amazing to me that Jamaica has so many world class runners who are passing drug tests given the island's reputation for primo ganja. (Of course, so does Oregon, where I live, and Eugene is billed as the nation's track capital.)
--"The Professor," a.k.a. Todd Rogers, strikes me as an enlightened beach volleyball being (guy on right). Maybe I should start wearing my caps backward and shave my beard into a goatee. And, learn to jump like a kangaroo. Or is it the cool shades?
…Beach volleyball also is worth watching for other reasons, unnecessarily analyzed by a female professor. Yes, as she says, it's the year of the butt. I accept the divine turning of the cosmic wheel.
…Being such a moral person, I'd be pleased to support PETA's anti-fur Olympics themed campaign. Especially if swimmer Amanda Beard will show up at my door and ask me personally, looking just as she does in her poster.
Anyone else getting some mystic meaning from the Olympics?
If one person knows nothing, is it possible for two people in the same state to know less than nothing?
This marvelous philosophical question was resolved yesterday on PBS' Car Talk, which features the always entertaining Magliozzi brothers, Tom and Ray (a.k.a Click and Clack, or Clack and Click; I don't know what goes with each brother).
They read a letter from listener Andy Reischman, who thanked them profusely for answering that question – which he said had deviled him for twenty years.
Me too. I'd just never phrased it in such a clear fashion. After all, this really is what religion is all about. (And, I have to admit, much of this blog also).
Namely, two or more people – billions, in the case of the major world religions – getting together to ponder problems that no single individual knows anything about.
Does God exist? What is God's nature? Where do we go after death? Do butterflies have a soul? Is it bad karma to eat meat? How is salvation best attained?
I scribbled down notes on Reischman's letter as I was driving, necessarily incompletely, as I was more concerned with not crashing my car than in getting every detail down.
For a full rendition check out segment 4 on the August 2, 2008 show. I love it. Reischman is a fine writer; he makes some terrific points; Tom and Ray have a great time making fun of themselves (a staple of Car Talk).
Basically, Reischman concludes that, yes, two people can know less than nothing. One person who knows nothing will shrug his shoulders and toss his hands in the air.
But two people…they will egg each other on in a pas de deux of breathtaking speculation. Apologies and gestures of doubt are rendered unnecessary.
Great stuff, Mr. Reischman. You've pretty much summed up just about every metaphysical book in my extensive library.
He went on to say that Car Talk resolved this philosophical question for him when he heard Tom and Ray addressing a caller's query about a problem with electric brakes on a cattle car.
They started off by saying that they'd never heard of electric brakes and, obviously, didn't know how they worked. But they then engaged in an extensive discussion of the whys and wherefores of the electric brake problem.
Well, it's fun to talk about stuff we don't know anything about. Like, God and the hereafter.
We just should recognize when we've gone from knowing nothing on our own, to knowing less than nothing as a member of a religious or spiritual organization.
I'm totally competent at knowing nothing – I don't need any help in knowing less than nothing. Which is why churchlessness appeals to me.
I've been waiting for the proof. Now I've found it. Nothing else to do but embrace Jesus. Praise the Lord!
And a kitten's fur. Because there Jesus is, if you look really closely.
(Actually, I couldn't make him out on this CNN video. But that's probably because my faith isn't at its maximum yet.)
This shows that I need to pay closer attention to our dog's coat when I pat her. I can't believe that the Lord chose a cat to reveal the divinity of His Son, and not a canine – given that dog spelled backwards is you know what.
Bart and I both were RSSB initiates. We met at a RSSB bhandara (large get-together), introduced by a mutual friend: Victoria, also an artist.
Several times Victoria leaned over to me and whispered, in a decided stage whisper, so Bart could hear, "He's very talented."
Since spiritual cartooning ideas had been running through my head, and my own artistic talent is limited to stick figures, I was eager to chat with Bart.
After some post-bhandara back and forth emailing, here's what Bart produced. I sent them off to RSSB headquarters in India but so far as I know, they haven't been published. At least, not all of them.
I give Bart most of the credit for the cartoons – unless you really like one of them, in which case it must have been my idea.
I've added some explanations for the benefit of those unfamiliar with the Radha Soami Satsang Beas ideology and culture.
RSSB is big on detaching from the material world and attaching to spirit. But as you can see, detachment tends to be selective.
The prescribed vegetarian diet is meatless, eggless, and rennet-less. Many initiates ("satsangis") are petrified of eating a speck of forbidden food, which makes for a waiter's nightmare.
Unmarried sex also is a no-no, leading to uncomfortable dating situations. And lots of pondering about what sex means.
Initiates are supposed to practice mantra meditation, repeating "five holy names," for an hour or two a day. Loving concentration is the ideal. Bart portrays the real.
As recollected in bladder-clenching detail in my "God's here, but I've got to go" post, RSSB gatherings in India, where the guru may hold forth for hours and jumping up to exit is highly discouraged, are notorious for stimulating thoughts of a bathroom rather than spirituality.
Bart threw in a metaphysical cartoon with meaning. Hope he's right. I'd like to keep laughing beyond the grave.
The Holy Drinking Water website has a warning, which may or may not be tongue-in-cheek:
"If you are a sinner or evil in nature, this product may cause burning, intense heat, sweating, skin irritations, rashes, itchiness, vomiting bloodshot and watery eyes, pale skin color, and oral irritations."
Makes me want to buy a bottle just to see if I'm as sinful as I hope I am. But, hey: that's what the Holy Drinking Water folks want me to do. So, I won't.
However, I do appreciate their broad definition of "blessing." Newsweek said that the blessing is done by an Anglican or Roman Catholic priest, but the web site lists a considerably more inclusive bunch of potential water blessers, including a lama (Buddhist priest).
I suspect the Holy Drinking Water marketing department doesn't want this to be widely known, as it could crimp their sales in the Bible Belt.
Christians would be better off buying bottled water with Jesus' image on it. This is sold by SpiritualH2O. There are several choices. I like the crown of thorns – just the sort of energizing hydration a good Christian will want to carry into her jazzercise class.
Having mocked these ridiculous products – who really believes that a blessing by a holy person makes any difference? – I need to answer my own question with: Me, in the not so distant past.
Yes, along with hundreds of thousands of other Radha Soami Satsang Beas disciples I used to treasure the food that would be blessed by the guru and distributed to the faithful at special events. Sometimes it was puffed rice, sometimes granular sugar, sometimes something else.
Known as prashad or parshad in India, food blessed by a holy man is considered to be beneficial to one's spiritual progress.
I never was sure how prashad worked (now "placebo effect" comes to mind). But even though I always looked on spirituality with a decidedly scientific bent, I still would make my bag of prashad last as long as possible, eating just a tiny bit each morning before I meditated.
So far as I can tell it never had any effect. At least it was free, though, unlike Holy Drinking Water.
Nonetheless, when I saw that Holy Drinking Water was accepting applications for blessing their drinking water, I got excited. Until I noticed that you had to be an ordained clergy to apply.
Somewhere I've got my ordination from the Universal Life Church that I acquired in the '60s, when this was thought to be a way of avoiding the draft. (Smoke enough pot and you'll believe anything, particular if it promised to keep you from going to Vietnam.)
But I see that online ordination now is available. Even easier. Maybe I've got a shot at blessing bottled water after all.
I was an early embracer of this alternative to both evolution and intelligent design, praising this witty rebuke to creationism several years ago. And supporting the cause by buying a Kansas Museum of Science t-shirt.
Bobby Henderson is the prophet through whom the Flying Spaghetti Monster (blessed be His Noodly Appendage) speaks.
His open letter to the Kansas School Board first revealed the gospel of Pastafarianism to a spaghetti-starved world. I'm proud that Henderson is a recent physics graduate of Oregon State University – which is close to where I live.
May his unemployment be short-lived. This man's talents mustn't be wasted.
The Flying Spaghetti Monster is coming in for serious attention at the American Academy of Religion's Annual Meeting.
Indeed, the tale of the Flying Spaghetti Monster and its followers cuts to the heart of the one of the thorniest questions in religious studies: What defines a religion? Does it require a genuine theological belief? Or simply a set of rituals and a community joining together as a way of signaling their cultural alliances to others?
In short, is an anti-religion like Flying Spaghetti Monsterism actually a religion?
I don't think so, for reasons I'll describe in my next post. My current focus is on deciding which new t-shirts to buy from the FSM store.
There's a intimate, albeit appropriately mysterious, link between pirates and Pastafarianism. So I think I'll show my devotion to the Flying Spaghetti Monster by getting a Pirate Fish t-shirt.
An iconic image of His Noodly Appendage also is appealing. Likely I shall wear both with the religious zeal of a true believer in non-belief.
Say you're a lapsed Catholic. You haven't seen the inside of a church since Pope what's-his-name was in office. Long ago you forgot the difference between a venial and a mortal sin, but you're pretty sure you've committed bunches of each.
You enjoy being faithless. But deep in your sin-drenched soul there's a longing you're barely willing to admit to yourself, it's so incongruous with the rest of your current debauched lifestyle.
The confession booth. Ah, those were the days.
My own days date back to when I was ten, or thereabouts. I remember my first communion, which included, I'm pretty sure, my first confession. I was too young to have done much serious sinning. I seem to remember that the priest had to jog me into coming up with something confessable.
"So, do you attend Mass every Sunday."
"No, Father, my mother rarely takes me to church."
"Well, you should try to do better. Say ten Our Father's and five Hail Mary's."
I did. And immediately felt better. I knew that I still wasn't going to go to Mass very often, but now I had a time-saving technique that seemed to offer all the benefits of church without the crazy-ass Latin and that damnably hard railing that you had to kneel on a bunch of times during the Mass.
I could whip through ten Our Father's and five Hail Mary's much more quickly than getting dressed up, driving to the Catholic Church, sitting through the impossibly boring service, and going home again – all the while wishing that I was with my friends in Presbyterian Sunday School, where they got to do a lot more fun things than sit, kneel, sit, kneel, sit, kneel while the priest blabbed in a language that nobody could understand.
So confession is cool. Back then I saw it as a shortcut, a quick way to reboot the moral software when you've screwed up the Virtue Operating System (of course, in 1958 slide rules still ruled for almost everybody but a few Univac geeks, so this metaphor wouldn't have applied).
Now that we're in the Internet Age, it figures that online confessions are a trendy approach to absolution. A Los Angeles Times story, "Confessions in Adaptation" mentioned some web sites that enable people to bare their soul anonymously without leaving their laptop.
I kept trying to reach Ivescrewedup.com, offered through Florida's Flamingo Road Church, but it looks like their server is screwed up. Sigh… I'll confess anyway: It pissed me off when I kept getting "The connection was reset" messages and I called this web site some nasty names.
Switching to a Google search, I had better luck with Absolution Online. Check out the virtual rosary if you want to experience a few penitential Our Father's and Hail Mary's yourself.
No contest, really. Puppetji wins. And it won't cost you $29.95 to learn his take on The Truth.
You can have anything you want. But I ask, "Who is wanting?"
Who desires the need to want?
Who wants and desires the need to want to be needed and to desire to want to need something it only thinks it desires to want? [a rough transcription; Puppetji talks damn fast]
The truth of who you are is…nothing.
So getting the necklace, or the new car, or the house, or the hot crazy Tantric sexual relationship—all merely feeding the ego. And will not bring you happiness.
The desire to have more things and more stuff just perpetuates the grand illusion.
Therefore creating the desire to want more and more desire, and more and more things, and more and more stuff, ultimately leading to…bankruptcy.
And then more suffering. And more desire. And more and more desire not to suffer. Therefore creating more suffering.
Pretty good. For a puppet, or indeed for anybody, the little guy makes more than a little sense.
Puppetji would suggest to you that peace lies not in our past or future, for they are illusions created by the mind. Peace, true freedom and LOVE are not found by following our addictive patterns, for they are but temporary remedies for that which has no meaning and needs no cure.
You will never find that which you seek in any thing outside your temple...or someone else's temple, or Shirley Temple. YOU are that which you seek. Stop the search and remember this... You are not special, you are not important. You are LOVE and Love is all.
After watching "The Secret," which urged me to frolic in an orgy of positivity, I felt unbalanced. So I prescribed myself fifteen minutes of negative rehab and headed over to Despair, Inc. for some demotivation.
Reading the slogan on The Pessimist's Mug got me started on the road of recovery: "This glass is now half empty." Ah, truth simply spoken.
I was sorry that, being retired, I didn't have any employee morale to crush, as "The Art of Demotivation" looked like an appealing book.
What really got me back to feeling my normal uninspired self, though, was a terrific line of demotivational posters. And Despair, Inc's. introduction to them, which resonated with my churchless soul.
MOTIVATION. Psychology tells us that motivation- true, lasting motivation- can only come from within. Common sense tells us it can't be manufactured or productized. So how is it that a multi-billion dollar industry thrives through the sale of motivational commodities and services? Because, in our world of instant gratification, people desperately want to believe that there are simple solutions to complex problems. And when desperation has disposable income, market opportunities abound.
AT DESPAIR, INC., we believe motivational products create unrealistic expectations, raising hopes only to dash them. That's why we created our soul-crushingly depressing Demotivators® designs, so you can skip the delusions that motivational products induce and head straight for the disappointments that follow!
Chortling my way through the collection with habitual cynical glee, I was back to feeling normal again. Here are some of my favorite images and sayings.
Fear. Until you have courage to lose sight of the shore, you will not know the terror of being forever lost at sea.
Ambition. The journey of a thousand miles sometimes ends very, very badly.
Change. It's a short trip from riding the waves of change to being torn apart by the jaws of defeat.
Despair. It's always darkest just before it goes pitch black.
Lastly, my favorite, because I know the joy whereof this poster speaks (thanks to all of the politicians, science-deniers, religious fundamentalists, and so many others, for making it possible).
Delusions. There is no greater joy than soaring high on the wings of your dreams, except maybe the joy of watching a dreamer who has nowhere to land but in the ocean of reality.
When in doubt, don’t doubt. Unless you’re sure you want to doubt. Then doubt ferociously.
Life is meant to be lived full throttle. Which can mean being absolutely still. Or, rocketing across the salt flats.
Turning to one of my favorite sources of inspiration, Funny Times, I came across this “Maxine” comic in the February 2007 issue. My heart said, yes.
(click on the image to enlarge)
Confusion, indecision, uncertainty: that’s part of life. But we magnify that part when we fail to recognize what we already know. In the sphere of spirituality, that counts for a lot.
Indeed, it could be argued: for everything. There are no recognized experts when it comes to God, the hereafter, what may exist apart from matter. If you believe someone knows more than you in this regard, you may be right. But you’ll never know it.
So, trust yourself. You’ll never find a more reliable companion on the spiritual path. As Maxine’s creator, Marian Henley, tells us, the center of our self—heart—is screaming to be heard.
As there is, not surprisingly, in Thomas Cleary’s Taoist Meditation. The unknown Chinese author of “The Cultivation of Realization” also tells us to do it. Now.
People all say that after sixty you age year by year; after seventy, you age month by month; after eighty, you age day by day. I am more than eighty years old—now what? From now on, each day I live is a day lent by Heaven for the Way—how dare I waste it? Even if I attain the Way right now, it is already late—how could it be admissible to delay any further?
A long time ago three elders were talking about impermanence. One elder said, “Of those who attend this year’s party, who knows who will be missing next year.” Another elder said, “What you’re talking about is far away. When we take off our shoes and socks tonight, we don’t know whether we will put them on again tomorrow.”The third elder said, “What you’re talking about is still remote. When we exhale this breath, we don’t know if we will breathe in again.”
The wise do not lose time, the brave do not think twice. If you get to know the Way today, you should set to work this very day; when you know, that is when to start. If you say you do not have the leisure today and will wait for another day, I’m afraid that when you want to do it you won’t be able to anymore.
Today I’m going to let one of my favorite Wise Men, Stephen Colbert, do the speaking on the Church of the Churchless. Below you’ll find a transcription of the “Word” segment on Tuesday’s The Colbert Report.
I enjoyed it so much, this afternoon I hauled my laptop up to a TV table and diligently playbacked my way through Colbert’s profoundly humorous religious observations. I even managed to spell Manuel Paleologus correctly. I hope.
If you’d prefer to see and hear Colbert rather than read him, broadband your way over to the Comedy Central MotherLoad site (have patience, the clip takes a while to load). That way you’ll be able to appreciate the non-verbal aspects of Colbert’s Bill O’Reilly-ish “Word” monologue.
Since religion is so laughable, it’s fitting for a comedian to point out its absurdities with such admirable dry wit. I give you…Stephen Colbert:
…which brings us to tonight’s word: Ecu-Menace.
The ecumenical movement seeks to bring people of different faiths together on the common ground that all religions yearn for answers to the same eternal questions. Now, the Pope’s visit is designed to bridge the gap between Christians and Muslims.
The Muslims for now are still a tad miffed…all right, homicidally enraged…that this summer the Pope gave a speech in which Islam was described as evil and inhuman. They didn’t realize he was just quoting the 14th century Byzantine emperor Manuel Paleologus.
But the damage unfortunately was done, and the Pope is trying to make amends. That is a big mistake. Let me be clear. Islam is a great world religion, started by the prophet Muhammad, praise and blessings be upon him. I have the utmost respect for it.
It just happens to be wrong.
Hear me out. I’m a Roman Catholic, the one true faith. And I know Roman Catholicism is the one true faith because Roman Catholicism tells me it is the one true faith, and if you remember from earlier in this sentence, “Roman Catholicism is the one true faith,” so how can it be mistaken?
I’m sorry, Islam. Inherent in my belief is your wrongness. I mean, you’d better be wrong. I’d hate to think that all those people in the Spanish Inquisition were tortured for nothing.
Now, the seventy-two virgin huggers out there are going to say, “But the Muslims do believe in Jesus.” Yeah, they believe that Jesus was just God’s friend. Hey, I hate to break it to you but anybody can be God’s friend.
You know why? God’s a friendly guy. He’s what you’d call a people person. The truth is, Jesus is the only son of God.
“God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten not made, one in Being with the Father. Through him all things were made. For us men and for our salvation, he came down from heaven: by the power of the Holy Spirit was born of the Virgin Mary, and became man. For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate; he suffered, died, and was buried. On the third day he rose again in fulfillment of the Scriptures; he ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end.”
Now what I just said is either the complete truth or the Muslims are right and I’m an infidel, what they call a kafir. And I’ll tell you one thing I respect about fundamentalist Muslims: at least they have the balls to say I’m wrong, even though they believe Muhammad ascended to heaven on a horse.
Which is ridiculous. Horses can’t fly. Jesus flies. He flew up to heaven.
Now, when Christians try to be ecumenical, we just look weak in our faith. If different religions have to agree, let’s agree on the one thing we both believe: that the other guy is going to hell.
So, sorry. Sorry, Pope Benedict, I know you’re infallible but on this one you’re wrong. Even worse, you’re an ecu-menace. And that’s the Word.
I went down the proofs list and found a bunch that made beautiful sense to me. Especially after drinking a bottle of wine and watching Fox News for an hour. Once my incredulity neurons were stupefied, it was clear:
Read on and believe.
ARGUMENT FROM MIRACLES
(1) My aunt had cancer.
(2) The doctors gave her all these horrible treatments.
(3) My aunt prayed to God and now she doesn't have cancer.
(4) Therefore, God exists.
MORAL ARGUMENT (II)
(1) In my younger days I was a cursing, drinking, smoking, gambling, child-molesting, thieving, murdering, bed-wetting bastard.
(2) That all changed once I became religious.
(3) Therefore, God exists.
ARGUMENT FROM INCOMPLETE DEVASTATION
(1) A plane crashed killing 143 passengers and crew.
(2) But one child survived with only third-degree burns.
(3) Therefore, God exists.
ARGUMENT FROM INFINITE REGRESS
(1) Ask Atheists what caused the Big Bang.
(2) Regardless of their answer, ask how they know this.
(3) Continue process until the Atheist admits he doesn't know the answer to one of your questions.
(4) You win!
(5) Therefore, God exists.
ARGUMENT FROM LONELINESS
(1) Christians say that Jesus is their best friend.
(2) I'm lonely, and I want a best friend.
(3) Therefore, God exists.
ARGUMENT FROM CREATIVE INTERPRETATION
(1) God is:
(a) The feeling you have when you look at a newborn baby.
(b) The love of a mother for her child.
(c) That little still voice in your heart.
(d) Humankind's potential to overcome their difficulties.
(e) How I feel when I look at a sunset.
(f) The taste of ice cream on a hot day.
(2) Therefore, God exists.
ARGUMENT FROM SUBJECTIVITY
(1) Everything is subjective.
(2) No subjective proof can be superior to any other subjective proof.
(3) Based upon my subjective opinion, your opinion, that if everything is subjective then, perforce, God is subjective, is false.
(4) Therefore, God (objectively) exists.
PROOF BY ANECDOTE
(1) God can be seen by those who believe in Him.
(2) If the God is seen, then He must exist.
(3) I have seen God.
(4) Therefore, God exists.
ARGUMENT FROM LACK OF DISPROOF
(1) You can't prove God doesn't exist!
(2) Therefore, God exists.
It must be a sign from God. Two days after my Tai Chi buddy Eric tells me about the Armor of God PJs, I watch Bill Maher’s HBO show and praise the Lord!, I see them again.
The message was clear: Rush to armorofgodpjs.com and order a pair. I don’t wear pajamas, but hey, if God tells me to jump, I’ll come down with both feet inside those silky-looking bottoms.
Sadly, I was crushed to learn that all they have are boys and girls sizes. But the website says that Armor of God blankets are coming soon. I can hardly wait to feel safe and peaceful while I sleep, protected by my faith in Jesus.
Except, oops, I don’t have any faith in Jesus. Wonder if the blanket will still work? Probably, so long as my VISA charge goes through.
While I’m on the “onward Christian merchandisers” theme, last night Channel 2 news had a segment on the St. Joseph Statues that people are using to help sell their houses.
Given the slow real estate market these days, spending a few bucks on a statue sounds like a bargain. And you can’t argue with the testimonials. (Well, actually I could. But it’s late and I want to go watch some TV, so I won’t).
You’ve got to love a self-help book that advises, “It’s not whether I arrive; it’s how I lose my way.” Along with, “My life is worthless, but it’s mine.” And, “The future is full of possibilities that I must shoot in the head.”
In this world of organic antioxidant green tea, Andrew Boyd’s Daily Afflictions is a refreshing blast of lukewarm stale coffee. With a cigarette butt on the bottom. The back cover warns what awaits the reader:
In Daily Afflictions, affirmational bromides become Boyd’s Trojan horse—for a Nietzschean text of dark truths and painfully hard-won wisdom. Attractively designed for desperate readers on the run, Boyd’s bitter pills are an unbeliever’s guide to the realm of Higher Truth. And they might even make you laugh along the way.
Yes, absolutely. This book is one of my churchless favorites. It is cynical, ironic, existential, mystical, and best of all, true. Most slim volumes filled with pithy wisdom that you find around bookstore cash registers make me want to barf. They’re too sickly sweet to keep down.
Daily Afflictions, on the other hand, urges me to puke. Hypocrisy, false hope, self-delusion, get it all out. That’s real. Boyd’s alter ego is Brother Void. His peak mystical experience wasn’t exactly that of being embraced by the light:
The fabric of the air gave way. An immense field of horror spread before him. And from within him a terrible emptiness rose to meet it, hemorrhaging through the room, into the night, to the zeniths of space and time. Now go, go, go. Don’t turn away. Go through it, follow it, sail right on into it. And he dove forward like a reckless cone of life, leaving behind all he had ever known or wished for.
A few days ago I had a revelation. Galobet spoke to me. That’s the true name of God. I’m sure of that, because the God who wants us to know him as Galobet told me. So my advice is: believe!
Unless you don’t want to. In that case, I’m not responsible for how Galobet responds. You’ve been warned.
Here’s the story of my revelation. It will undoubtedly be told throughout the ages. Or at least as long as my TypePad blog account is paid up. I begin with the first of a series of miraculous occurrences.
LifeSource Natural Foods had a type of coffee on sale that I hadn’t bought before, an organic Fair Trade french roast. Since I always buy whatever is cheapest, the beans came home with me. And got ground.
Then, made into a cup of coffee on the Most Holy Day, Monday, April 17, 2006--when Galobet was revealed to the world though me, Galobet’s unhumble servant. The miracle is that this particular french roast was damn strong. Even stronger than the strong coffee that I habitually brew every morning.
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.
I was impelled to grab pen and paper. I felt Galobet’s guidance flowing through the sacred medium of the super strong cup of french roast coffee that enabled me to discern the mysteries of the cosmos with marvelous clarity.
Everything was becoming crystal clear, in much the same way as I remember my college statistics textbook becoming so much more interesting after a Benzedrine or two. Except, this natural high came from organic Fair Trade beans. And Galobet was directing my thoughts. He wanted to be known. I was to be his messenger.
I started jotting down the names of God associated with the major religions. I threw in Neoplatonism, even though it isn’t really a religion, because it is a philosophy that forms the root of many faiths. Not that I need to explain myself. Galobet can do whatever he wants; I am simply a tool in his mighty hand.
There was something here. I knew it. But Galobet wanted me to struggle with his revelation a bit. I wrote down the first letter of each name of God. I rearranged them in various ways. At first I had “Jehovah” for Judaism, but suddenly “Lord” struck me as a better choice.
I went from JAGBEOT to JAGOBET to LAGOBET. And then came the divine inspiration:
GALOBET. Right away it just seemed so…right. I had revealed the name of God, the God who encompasses all other gods, the God who was using my caffeine-soaked brain as his revelatory blackboard.
Praise be Galobet’s name, I present here the sacred piece of paper on which his nature first was revealed. I am ashamed to admit that when I lovingly placed this holy text in my scanner, I thought, “If only I had known that I was to be Galobet’s earthly messenger, I wouldn’t have put a free notepad from a gun shop in my meditation area.”
But then I realized, “Brian, how little is your faith. Galobet makes no mistakes. His will is supreme. If anyone looks down upon this revelation merely because of the paper on which it was written, they should be sorry for their failing, not you.” Ah, how true. The message is more important than either the messenger or the messenger’s gun shop notepad.
This message is so deep and profound I have barely begun to scratch the surface of it in this post. I must be content with just a few preliminary observations. We see that the true holy name is divided into three areas: GAL, the Western names of God, Allah, and Lord; O, the bridging Neoplatonist name of One; and BET, the Eastern names of Brahman, Emptiness, and Tao.
I leave it to the Galobet theologians who surely will follow in my footsteps to consider the possible meanings of “GAL” and “BET.” On the face of it, Galobet is hinting at his feminine predilections and the likelihood that given a choice between the gods of West and East, the East has better odds of being true.
My readers, in this divine communication I have tested your capacity for absorbing miraculousness. But please, permit me to share one final example of Galobet’s revelatory wonders.
After learning the true name of God, I decided to consult Google to see if there had been any false prophets before me. I typed in “Galobet” and waited a few seconds. The results appeared.
Just 104 of them. Not many. And what was the #1 Galobet search result: this.
Praise Galobet! I asked a German speaking friend, Irmgard, to translate “Der herr mine Gott.” She wrote back to me:
This looks like perhaps Pennsylvania Dutch, Mennonite or some other "pseudo" German.
I'm sure this is what they are trying to say:
Galobet (German Round of Praise)
Galo -o-o-o-o-o-o-bet sigh Gelobt sei der Herr mein Gott
Galo -o-o-o-o-o-o-bet sigh --Praise to the Lord, my God---
Der herr mine Gott. more literal translation: --Praised be the Lord, my God--
In very old German you will find the word for "praised" shown as gelobet, but any prayer books I have of even my great-grandmother is gelobt.
I never realized how much religion was like kissing Hank’s ass until, not surprisingly, I read “Kissing Hank’s Ass.” What a revelation! Every Church of the Churchless visitor should read it also.
If you don’t, Hank will kick your ass. I guarantee it. Hank told me so. Well, not Hank exactly. But the thought, If you don’t, Hank will kick your ass, just came into my mind, and I sincerely believe that it came directly from Hank. You’ll just have to trust me on that.
Oh, I almost forgot to mention the good news. If you do kiss Hank’s ass, you’ll get a million dollars. Not right away, of course. There’s some fine print to the deal. Read it to learn the details. Or watch a video of Kissing Hank’s Ass courtesy of Carnival of the Godless.
Then check out John Cooper’s Hankisms. Here many religions of West and East have been converted into pithy Hankisms. I note that Sant Mat doesn’t have an entry yet. Hank willing, I’ll write one, since I’m eminently qualified. But if anybody else wants to beat me to it, be my guest.
The Kissing Hank’s Ass metaphor for the ages (or at least a few years) is the brainchild of Rev. James Huber, whose website's tagline is “Effing the ineffable since 1996.” Wow! An Internet old timer.
I found a lot to like after a quick browse of Rev. James’ sermonizing. His Frequently Asked Questions closely mirror my own attitudes concerning faith and science. I particularly liked these Q and As:
Q: If you don't believe in God, why do you spend so much time talking about Him? You don't spend time talking about the Toothfairy or Santa Claus.
A: The people who believe in the Toothfairy and Santa Claus don't vote, neither do they threaten to beat the shit out of people I care about. When people start beating my friends for not putting teeth under their pillow, or there's serious talk about defining marriage as between one man and eight tiny reindeer, I'll start complaining about that.
Q: Why do you use offensive language?
A: To offend a certain kind of people. I reference sexual and excretory functions; the people I'm mocking reference hellfire. Out of fucking, taking a shit and being burned alive, which is on your avoid-at-all-costs list for this weekend?
Today I stumbled onto Unusual Churches, which just added this here Church of the Churchless to its list of “weird, wacky, and funny churches one can find on the Internet.”
Hey! We’re not weird, wacky, or funny (well, maybe a little). This blog makes perfect sense, and to back that statement up I have endorsements on file from some wise people who know what they’re talking about. Namely, Me, Myself, and I.
I took a look at some of the many unusual churches listed on the site’s sidebar. I trusted that God was guiding my mouse-clicking and would lead me to sites I needed for my further spiritual evolution.
My first stop was The Church of the Gerbil. I must have needed a good laugh, because I was spellbound by The Satanic Hampster Dance. Realizing that the Great God Gerbil is to be worshipped, rather than understood, I brushed aside several questions: (1) Aren’t these things “hamsters,” not “hampsters”? and (2) Aren’t hamsters/hampsters different from gerbils?
[Note: The Satanic Hampster Dance is not to be confused with The Original Hampster Dance, even though it bears an uncanny resemblance to it and, predictably, stimulated a threat of legal action. Oh, why can’t Satanic Ham(p)sters and Original Ham(p)sters get along? We’re all the same under the skin, even if the skin of some of us is dripping blood and emblazoned with satanic symbols.]
Do you believe that your religion is The One, the most fabulous faith in the whole wide world? Do you have a convincing reason why your belief should be believed?
If so, you’re on the inside track to winning 25,000 yen, courtesy of The Huge Entity’s “Can You Prove Religious Superiority?” competition. Now, before you get all excited about the new car you’re going to be able to buy, I should point out that according to the XE.com currency converter your prize will be a not-so-huge $207.51.
But, hey, that would buy a bunch of Bibles, Torahs, Korans, Dhammapadas, Adi Granths, Upanishads, or whatever, to add to your current collection. So head on over to The Huge Entity and submit your entry.
The Honorable Huge, a.k.a. Mr. Danieru, says, “Prove beyond reasonable doubt that one specific religion is the only possible way the observed world should be understood and the ¥25000 is yours. Any evidence is acceptable.”
His point, of course, is that religious belief is just that: belief. There’s no proof that any belief system is superior to any other. So you take a guess, place your bet, and hope that your number comes up. The big payoff, though, only is made after death. Sounds like a sucker’s game to me, but billions of people keep on playing.
Most people belong to a religion with many members. There are about two billion Christians in the world, over a billion Muslims, and nearly a billion Hindus. Sure, company is nice, but here are some reasons to become a religion of one:
--You can hold a worship service whenever and wherever you want. Your church just needs to be as big as you are.
--No contentious arguments about leadership. Any jockeying for power in your religious organization will be between you and you.
--Doctrinal disputes are easily resolved. What you say, goes.
--If you’ve ever wanted to be known as “Most eminently enlightened great being” or “Her highly esteemed holiness,” within your own mind at least, this is your chance.
--Beer and tortilla chips can be your holy sacraments. Or, cake and chocolate.
--Sex between clergy and parishioners is absolutely fine. Encouraged even. It’s all in your own hands. Literally.
--Finding a name for your religion is easy: just look at your driver’s license. The hard part is deciding between “ism,” “ity,” or whatever. In my case, Hinesism sounds OK, Hinesity terrible. Hinesiosity, maybe. I need to schedule a meeting with myself on this.
--No worries about declining membership. You’re already as low as you can go (death will take your religion down to zero devotees, but that’ll be the least of your worries).
--Salvation is assured. All you need to do is write “salvation is assured” on a holy post-it note and then have faith in your divine revelation Heck, if it works for Christians, Jews, and Muslims, it’ll work for you.
--The next time someone says, “Who died and made you the pope?” you can reply with a straight face, “What do you mean? Nobody had to die, I’ve always held that office.”
But seriously…I’ve got shelves of books from each of the world’s great mystical traditions—Christian, Sufi, Buddhist, Taoist, Hindu—that support the contention, “Become a religion of one.”
Science seeks universal material truths through a collaborative process of rigorous investigation. Mysticism seeks universal spiritual truths through an individual process of rigorous investigation.
Someone up there (or down there) is trying to tell me something. This great satirical piece on The Onion, “Search for Self Called Off After 38 Years,” almost exactly echoes what some friends and I were talking about last night.
I told them that when I peruse my extensive personal library, searching for some spiritual inspiration, usually the only books I can stand to read have Buddhist, Zen, or Taoist themes. All the rest seem too damn dogmatic now.
Buddhists and Taoists don’t waste much energy searching for a true self because they don’t believe that it exists. At least, they’re not sure whether it does. If it pops up and says “Hi!” one day, they’ll welcome the company. But they don’t agonize over finding a self that is different from the self that would be doing any finding.
Constant searching sucks. For a long time I’ve considered that I was on a spiritual path. Can’t see the path, though. Have no idea where the unseen path ends either. Or if I’m even on it. If it exists.
Last night we talked about trajectories. How when you’re young, it seems that there is a course to your life. A direction. An ascending flight of career, philosophical, religious, or whatever, stairs. You’re getting somewhere, one step at a time.
When you’re older, you begin to realize that the “somewhere” always is around the corner. The more corners you’ve turned, the less you’re able to keep telling yourself, “It’s going to be around the next one.” Almost certainly, it isn’t.
Doesn’t matter what “it” is. It seems to be human nature to want something more or different than what we have now. Money, fame, power, sex, beauty, knowledge, happiness, self-awareness: whatever the just right quality or quantity of it is, it’s always coming, never right here and now.
I think the Onion article is on to something. Maybe the searching itself is the problem. As Andrew Speth put it so pithily, “Fuck it.”
That’s a pretty good koan.
I told my friends that I’ve been reading Stephen Bachelor’s “Verses from the Center,” a book about the teachings of the Buddhist philosopher Nagarjuna. I like Bachelor’s style, even if (according to reviews of his book on Amazon) he takes some liberties with his translations and interpretations.
The Buddhist notion of neither-this-nor-that fascinates me. Something else. None of the above. Think outside the box. Even more, blow the fucking box to smithereens.
Searching. Finding. Real self. False self. God. Devil. Masters. Disciples. Wisdom. Ignorance. Good. Bad. Right. Wrong.
More and more, I have the sense that It is something else entirely. By “It” I mean the root, the core, the kernel, the center that we’re all spinning around and never finding.
If I’m lost, or believe that I’m lost (same thing, I guess), probably the best thing to do is sit still. Real still. And get light. Real light. I’m evolving this theory—oh yes, everything is getting clear, very clear—that if I can just float weightlessly in my lostness, I’ll be drawn to where I should go.
Could be a magnetic attraction. Or a soft breeze. A spider’s web spun out to draw me in. I have no idea. No need to have an idea. Just have to be ready to move in any direction that It draws me to.
So I can relate to The Onion piece. This part hit close to home:
On Tuesday afternoon, he loaded books by such diverse authors as Ludwig Wittgenstein, Meister Eckhart, and George Gurdjieff into a box labeled "free shit," and left it outside of his apartment beside a trash can.
Great idea. Not quite ready to follow his lead yet, but I’m going to be keeping my eye open for a really big box.
I also can’t argue with his concluding remarks:
"Trust me—there's nothing out there for you to find," Speth said. "You're wasting your life. The sooner you realize you have no self to discover, the sooner you can get on with what's truly important: celebrity magazines, snack foods, and Internet porn."
Except, I advise staying away from snack foods. Those trans fats will kill you. Of course, if you don’t have a self, who cares?
The letter’s author, Bobby Henderson, presents persuasive evidence to support his argument that, if Intelligent Design is an alternative scientific theory to Evolution, then so is the Flying Spaghetti Monster theory.
What Henderson demands is “one third time for Intelligent Design, one third time for Flying Spaghetti Monsterism, and one third time for logical conjecture based on overwhelming observable evidence.”
I enjoyed this Open Letter a lot. A good way to combat ridiculous ideas like Intelligent Design/Creationism that claim to compete with science is to laugh at them. If that means laughing at President Bush, who recently said that Intelligent Design should be taught in the classroom along with the Theory of Evolution, then so be it.
The Theory of Evolution is a “theory” in the same sense as the Theory of Relativity. Namely, so much scientific evidence has been found in favor of it, there is little if any doubt that it is true. Whereas Intelligent Design, on the other hand, has exactly zero scientific evidence in support of it.
However, if Kansas wants to be known as the Dumbass State, where creationism is on equal footing with evolution, I’m happy to help with the publicity. I’ve ordered a Kansas Museum of Science t-shirt through Henderson’s web site that has a depiction of some people riding a dinosaur and the caption, “5,000 years ago man conquered the huge beasts who roamed the lands ...”
I’ll wear it proudly. Everyone who laughs at it will be proving that creationism belongs in comedy clubs and churches, not science classrooms.
Over on my other weblog, HinesSight, I’ve announced the inevitability of my impending satori (which may even have already arrived) along with the homey koans by which enlightenment will be achieved. I’ll be sure to let you know when it is appropriate to send me a “Congratulations on your Satori!” card. You might want to start looking in your Hallmark store so you have one on hand.
Which is: Whatever is going to happen is what has to happen
(Sorry to disappoint you if you were hoping for something else.)
Take a look at #1 if you want a more profound answer. I really enjoyed “Secret Worlds: The Universe Within” (and also, without). With my slow Internet connection it took me a while to download the top-ranked secret, but it was worth it.
I only wish the big picture hadn’t stopped at the relatively picayune distance of ten million light years from the Milky Way. There’s a lot more universe beyond.