The Family (Or most of them)

The Family (Or most of them)
The Family

February 25, 2008

Someone Saved My Life Tonight*

NO, REALLY!


ALL SOMEONE HAD TO DO WAS DROP THESE TWO LITTLE CARD THINGIES IN MY MAILBOX, AND NOW ALL MY PROBLEMS HAVE DISAPPEARED!
(*This post examines and criticizes the notion of all religions from my point of view; it is not intended to offend. So please stop reading if you do not want to run the risk of being offended.*)




It's the Church of Sc(i)entology, which worships all things that smell, except for that (i) in brackets.

And while no one knocked on my door, I expect a couple of clones of a famous Hollywood actor were the culprits, passing along the word of Omigod, just to save me...


...Save me from life's perils, the worry over the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, the Republicans actually getting re-elected again, our own Canadian blubberment led by Steven (Let's Get Even) Harper...

And it all comes from here, some glittery star-struck haven in L.A. or Vegas or wherever it is...


Yes, Sc(i)entology is going to sharpen my senses, rescue me from pollution, greenhouse gases, my own procrastination, this cold winter we've been having, my mountain of debt...it'll give me all the answers, right here, right now.


And I don't even have to think for myself! All I have to do is join and absorb the message!
WHAT A CONCEPT!

This reminds me of the brother of two of my very best friends in my teens and early 20s. He disappeared. They found him in New York. He had become a Moonie, one of Sun Myung Moon's mindless disciples.




WHO WOULDN'T WANT TO WORSHIP THESE TWO SUPER-HUMANS?

They're all followers, that is...not thinkers, followers. Mindless. Searching, my friends' bro was, as we all sometimes do, and they found him, like a deer blinded in life's headlights and paralysed by fear. And they brainwashed him.

He was eventually rescued from being "rescued," in the real sense, by his family and friends, and spirited back home and deprogrammed and unbrainwashed and now he's doing fine, thinking on his own again.

That means he's human. That means he makes mistakes and he pays the consequences and lives a real life. Good things happen to him, bad things happen to him. He does stupid things, he does smart things.










The point is, HE'S the navigator, he's the captain of his own boat sailing the sometimes calm or sometimes rough seas. His life is governed by him, not by some deity or religious belief system that he can grasp to save him.

And so with that, we come back to the subject at hand.


Where did religion come from? ALL religion? This is what I imagine, and I'm going to use the most historically correct mass media production of all time -- Monty Python's Holy Grail -- to illustrate the point.

The historical timelines and years don't really mean much here, and so they won't be accurate in my depiction. Suffice to say that long before organized religion, living on Earth was a very dark place.


It was no picnic, apparently. And we have these historical pictures to prove that. Violent deaths awaited many. For those who survived that fate, they lived very short, difficult lives in squalid conditions.




While the lives of regular townsfolk and villagers was a living hell and dominated by the fight just to get enough to eat and to stay alive, wars were commonplace and towns and villages were pillaged often, with horrifying results.




Only the soldiers and warfaring upper-class had any fun at all.

It became clear, as history stumbled along, that this wasn't going to work. The upper class wanted to continue its lifestyle and its need to go to war and conquer others, which resulted in tremendous power and riches.

But it couldn't do this without a middle- and lower-class that could survive and thrive (if only in a mundane, far more poor manner) and continue to support the warriors and merchants while they did their thing -- make war and make money.

And the upper class needed to be able to recruit strong young men from the lower classes to be able to sacrifice themselves in war for the greater good (that is, for their good).

So they got together one day and they invented religion.

Something for the masses to believe in, to fall back on, to look to for strength and spiritual nourishment, for morale, for a reason to keep on living, for the answers they didn't have.

At the same time, those villagers and hut-dwellers were getting together themselves in the town squares, kicking at the dead rats and eating dog meat. None of them had any teeth, but that's besides the point.

One elder stood up and gummed, "You know what? We have no clue what we're doing in this life. We're invaded all the time and our women and children are raped or killed and we get the shit kicked out of us.

"Or we sharpen our spears and axes and arrows and we go and do the same thing to them. But we have no idea what we're doing or whether any of it makes any sense at all! We need a belief system!

"Gimme that ole time religion!"

So realizing they had no way of proving there was any point to their measly lives or having no answer to why they were here or what they were supposed to do or how they could possibly cope on their own, they were prime subjects for the upper class's new religion.

And so it happened. The scholars started writing the Bible, developing incredibly unbelievable scenarios that they dared you to buy into, such as parting seas, burning bushes and the like.

History's first mass Public Relations campaign was put into motion, as these pictures from that critical juncture in Earth's history clearly suggest. An idea was planted of a supreme being up above and all you had to do was look up to God.




Heaven and hell were invented, God and the devil were devised. Tales of lore were penned. Holy places of worship were constructed, popes were appointed, priests grew out of the woodwork, monks started combing the countryside.


They wrote a book about people dying on crosses and three stars and salvation and after-lives and this and that. Ten Commandments. Seven sacraments. This and that in other religions which I'm not privy to.

And as the upper class cemented into the collective consciousness the religion of their region and the need for the population to believe, they made it stick by including guilt and the threat of eternal damnation if you DIDN'T believe.

So while the masses were held to this new religious standard and burned at the stake for not believing and were told to embrace things like the Ten Commandments, the upper-class was breaking all of those same rules.

Eventually, a great war was waged. In fact, since the advent of religions worldwide, many great wars have been waged, continue to be waged and will always be waged, often because of religion and the need for power and resources.

But that's besides the point too, I guess.
























The whole thing is, this religion thing has all been an extremely poorly done PR campaign. It clearly hasn't worked and will never work. It's a divisive force, not a unifying one, in the global sense.

Yeah there's the Far Right, the Christian Right, the Mormons, the Jehovah's Witnesses, Islam, all with their own belief systems and all of them at war with each other, either in the media or with actual weapons.

And it's all about going to Heaven and avoiding eternal damnation. Or surviving in a screwed up world. Or whatever. Billions of people feel they have to believe in something beyond just who they are.

And even as we speak, even as we've had all this proof that religion just doesn't work as a crutch or as a unifying force or as a placebo or real cure for what ails us inside or out, new religions continue to be trumpeted onto the scene.

What are they lookin' for? Whatever it is, I don't think they or their followers will find it.

As a final incredible addendum to this post, I today, perhaps by divine intervention or just because religion spams just as bad as everyone else, received this Dear John email:

Hello John,

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Join us now.http://peakofvision.com/bop/

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This ad is from 3540 W. Sahara Unit 6E, #683Las Vegas, NV 89102________________________http://peakofvision.com/ to unsubnow

33 comments:

  1. I think I am scared now.
    Nice to see you back in a sense.

    T

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  2. I always found in interesting that all these religions believe there is only one god, and all religions believe that god is on their side... So when they fight, each accuses the other's god of being false, never willing to concede that their own god might be the false one (or, of course, both of them...)

    This is why I'm a Satanist. I am my own god, I believe in independant thought and looking out for myself, I believe in enjoying this life on earth because there will be no other. Did you know Walt Disney was a Satanist? Although frankly I loathe Disney on principle, I concede that it's founder must have been a very interesting individual.

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  3. So..
    then...

    you're NOT going?


    What if Tom Cruise is there?
    or Travolta?
    or Kirstie Alley, Priscilla and Lisa Marie Presley, Anne Archer, Dharma whatsherface, Edgar Winter, Isaac Hayes, and NO!
    Not Catherine Bell from JAG!!??
    Say it ain't so!

    Scientology is super expensive, to get your e-metre read costs a fortune so you pretty much need to be a celeb just to be able to afford their 'cure'.

    We should go? It would be super interesting.

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  4. Take the personality test and report back to us.

    Do it for the sake of the blog!

    Consider your readers.

    Then start a cult called "Spaceship Orion" in which we sing the hymn...

    "waiting to take you
    waiting to place you
    in a world exactly different
    from the one you leave behind"

    Ain't it divine?

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  5. oooh good one MJ!

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  6. Inside, Outside:

    Scared of what?

    Nice to see you back...in a sense.

    Stace:

    Well, if my wacky theory holds any water at all, that's the whole point behind the formulation of religion, or one of them.

    It can be a rallying cry, if not the main reason, for war to be tolerated and for war to be declared or continued.

    Religion is all about we're right and you're wrong. So is war. The two go hand in hand.

    War is ugly. Religion, I think, was designed to hide that fact or to somehow overwhelm it with all these beautiful thoughts of heaven and sacrifice.

    Both war and religion require a mindless discipline and sacrifice of individual thought for the ultimate goal of winning resources or land or, spiritually, for the right to enter Heaven and have an afterlife.

    Well, I'm droning on here.

    I don't know about the Satanist theory.

    But I do believe that if there is a higher power, it only makes sense that that higher power wouldn't want to reward subservient monkeys with an afterlife, if there is one.

    Instead, the ultimate test would be each individual being as good as they can be, separately and in every way, to themselves and to others.

    That makes a lot more sense to me than man-made religions that have guilt and suffering built into them and which are based on entirely unprovable fables and which show, with each passing generation, that they don't work.

    Homey:

    No, I'm not going. Well, maybe if Catherine Bell is there, I'll go...OK, I'M GOING!

    No doubt if we did go, we'd have to pay some huge fee just to get in or we'd get pulverized by Scientology body guards...

    MJ:

    I like THAT cult! And that's a great mantra for my new cult, if I do say so myself!

    You must become the high priestess secretary of the world's new order. I'll take the test immediately.

    Homey:

    Yeah, wasn't it?

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  7. I like the juxtaposition, of Monty Python alongside your dialogue. I loved that movie, saw it like 3 or 4 times the first week it came out.
    You make very good points. It all operates now with the current administration here. I was raised Catholic, but find myself becoming more agnostic/atheist. Not necessarily anti god, just without god, and for many of the reasons you outline.

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  8. As my first order of business as High Priestess of the Spaceship Orion, I order Homey and WW to kneel before my altar buck nekkid.

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  9. Annie:

    Your experience is almost exactly the same as mine.

    I was raised Catholic too and I certainly agree that Dubya's administration almost completely encapsulates the government motivated by, founded upon the principles of and even directed by the Far Right religious zealots.

    Religion has been a big part of my life, and there may be a place for it, somewhere. But not in its current form.

    It's exactly the opposite of what it needs to be, a catalyst or excuse for war and other stupid government policies (like ignoring the theory of evolution, the effects of greenhouse gases, etc.)

    I liked your "not necessarily anti-God, just without God," but I would add: without the God they've programmed us to believe in.

    :-)

    MJ:

    Uh, I think there was a misprint on your computer. You would be the high priestess secretary, not the high priestess, period.

    So it is you who would have to submit to such orders of appearing buk nekkid, should I so deem.

    Homey, he'd be busy watching David Suzuki or something.

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  10. Dang.

    I resign.

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  11. MJ:

    It's hard to find good help nowadays. OK, I'll write your request into your contract.

    But you still have to take notes.

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  12. Satanist theory is more or less summed up in three sets of broad guidelines issued by the Church of Satan: The Nine Satanic Statements (a list of what Satan represents to a true Satanist), the Eleven Satanic Rules Of The Earth (guidelines as to how a person should behave), and the Nine Satanic Sins (self-explanatory; things not to do).

    http://www.churchofsatan.com/home.html

    Worth a read :)

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  13. stace!?,
    I read the material and (don't get mad at me) my biggest concerns are rule #1 "Do not give opinions or advice unless you are asked" and rule #2 "Do not tell your troubles to others unless you are sure they want to hear them."

    In my case that would pretty much put the kibosh on blogging!

    As far as the 9 'sins' go, by the time I read through the first three, Stupidity, Pretentiousness and Solipsism, I knew that I was in serious trouble.

    Since you were brave enough to offer this information, you are no doubt aware that most people would be shocked by your admission.

    Like it or not two Millenia of Christian Thought in the Western World has left a universal fear of this sort of thing.

    I guess that I always imagined that you were just some run-of-the-mill Agnostic like myself. But if what you say is true, then you are a Theist.

    Interesting. It will take a while for me to digest this and examine my own preconceptions.

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  14. That wabbit looks weally scawy...I think for a lot of people it is easier to just follow along and do what everyone else does (kneel, pray, have a bake sale, have ashes put on your forehead, etc.) than to think for themselves. I don't blame them, life is hard and making decisions is tough. But organized religion preys on people like that.

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  15. It is a very sad state of affairs when most religions have a non-tolerance clause - most definitely are black or white, us right - you wrong in mentality. As a hooman bean, I have always prided myself on being very tolerant, of believing that we are all entitled to our own beliefs and opinions, as long we hurt no one and don't try to force what we believe on anyone else. For all it's spoutings of kindness and truth, with my limited understanding of Christianity, the history of it shows such a different face. Look at the Crusaders, who invaded the 'Holy Land' and put all non-converters to the sword. Look at Ireland, where two Christian factions have been battling it out for decades - and for what? Don't both sides read from the same books? The same words? Hear the same things preached to them in church? Makes no sense to me.

    I had no religion in my upbringing. My experiences of going to church were limited to weddings and funerals. My parents didn't go to church, although my mother was the blacksheep in her family, being Mennonite, and the only one to NOT keep up the religious dogerel.

    Out of curiousity, I have read bits of the bible, but find it incredibly difficult to swallow. Way too far fetched and wanting blind faith from its followers. Perhaps I am just too much of a thinker, but there's a lot of crap in that book. I cannot bring myself to believe in God... I prefer to think of heaven or life after death as something out of Star Trek. When I die, I will become an energy being and will join all those who 'went' before me to flit about the universe, exploring all the places this measly human body isn't able to go. That sounds like a hell of a lot more fun than sitting in an eternally green and sunny meadow with a bunch of angels playing harps and listening to some old guy (meaning god) natter on about this, that and the other thing.

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  16. Stace:

    Had a not nearly complete enough look at the site you linked us to.

    While there are things I certainly wouldn't subscribe to, I can see grains of deep truth that resonate, the biggest one being independent thought.

    There are others, but suffice to say: Vewy intewesting...

    Homey:

    Nice smile on your new avatar. You finally got your new false teeth to fit without falling out, I see.

    Carm:

    Yep, it's true. And to each his or her own, whatever works, I guess. I just wonder how many actually DO think about it, and how it makes them feel.

    If they do that and it makes sense to them, great. But seems to me they can't make a decision without weighing the facts or at least doing what you suggest, and that's NOT THINKING.

    And at least in some ways, as you also suggest, religion could be argued to be most appealing to those who don't think and who follow.

    Ponygirl:

    Exactimundo.

    Everything religion espouses is, at the worst extremes, shown in action to be almost the complete opposite. Peace/war; tranquility and inner peace/doubt, guilt and turbulence.

    And the couple of examples you used illustrate that.

    I still hold to the possibility of a supreme being and some snippet of hope of an after-life, but I wouldn't bet on it!

    Have fun flitting about!!!

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  17. The sad truth is that people aren't Good or Evil..they are either intoxicatingly Charming or mindnumbingly Tedious.

    There are charming people who are Christians, Buddhists, Satanists, Atheists, Muslims, even Scientologists.
    These folks would be 'good people' regardless of what they believed in.

    Unfortunately the opposite is equally true. Some people would be complete assholes no matter what they pretended to be....

    and these twats are the ones that we notice because their actions defy the basic tenets of their belief system.

    What is completely baffling to the rest of us is that these tedious twats don't notice (or care) that they are complete assholes because they think that everything that they do is RIGHT because GOD is on their side.

    That really burns my ass.

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  18. HE:

    Amen to that! Oh...maybe that's not the most appropriate response...

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  19. Yeah, there are good people in all walks of life, and there are horrible, hypocrytical assholes who are just like Homey says... believe they are right in all the nasty-ness they say and do because they've supposedly got god on their side. Where's my phazer, dammit, Jim! I want to vaporize people like that.... make the world a better place without them.

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  20. Hallelujah!

    Can I get a witness?

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  21. I've always wanted a phazer. Would be really useful to get rid of those horrible drivers too.

    There are too many people who use religion and their 'god' (whichever one that might be) as the driving force for their words and actions. If there is a god, I am sure he/she/it has turned away in disgust and won't have any hand in what happens on this planet anymore as it is such a mess - my god is right and yours is wrong, or you have too many or none, or, or, or,..... I have always believed, even though I do not have a religious or believing bone in my body, that one's faith is a private and personal thing. I respect people who have their faith and beliefs and are aware and secure enough within themselves to accept others who do not share those same beliefs. Why can't we just agree to disagree? What is wrong with that? Why does it always have to be right and wrong? Why not just different and leave it as such? Who do so many people have to be so narrow minded and stupid? And why the hell are they the people running the countries of the world!?!?

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  22. I don't think it's necessarily the various religions that encourage the bad stuff. Some people are just evil and will use any excuse (including religion) to justify their evil ways.

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  23. There is usually a stupidity factor, whichever angle you look at.
    I recall a friend who had been robbed of his wallet twice on a subway platform(USofA). So he collected all the calling cards of wacky religions and pseudo-scientific outfits and stashed them in a wallet.His real wallet, with cash, cards and ID was stuffed down his trousers so next time he was accosted he handed over the fake, full of rubbish.Perhaps he's responsible for the proliferation of nutters?

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  24. Ponygirl:

    Hey, I don't think Doc was allowed to use phasers, was he? Lasers, maybe, but phasers in a doc's hands? Dangerous...

    MJ:

    Can you get a witness to what? You taking notes? I'll have my cadre of lawyers contact you.

    Ponygirl:

    No, see, if all the religions of the world just let each other be, and everyone agreed on everything, then there would be no reason for war.

    And if there was no war, the entire military establishment would crumble and all those multi-billionaire companies and their executives would have to produce widgets or something instead.

    There would be no need for the Pentagon, all those people in the Armed Forces would be unemployed, the stock market would collapse...

    You get the picture.

    Anna:

    I hope you are well.

    I think individual people within religion are some of the most pure and gentle people on the planet.

    Some of the most influential and positive people in my life have been priests and nuns.

    I'm talking about religion as an institution and as a belief system based on concepts that I, as an individual, don't believe in.

    Regardless, because of the sway that religion holds on believers, I think it's a motivating factor in a lot of the world's ills.

    And I agree that some people, regardless of anything else, are just evil and they'll use religion or whatever to get their way.

    Be well, Anna. We're thinking about you and on behalf of the blogworld, here's a group hug.

    :-)

    Dinahmow:

    Yes, of course, and we're all subject to the stupidity factor.

    Perhaps your friend IS responsible for this proliferation!

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  25. I think faith (but not blind) and spirituality in people who are good is what is so admired. Religion is the PR department gone astray.

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  26. Ponygirl:

    And I think that's an important distinction to make...it's the institution of religion that's the problem, not necessarily the people within it.

    No one can argue that a person who sincerely believes in and lives the 10 Commandments, for example, can be a bad person.

    And if religion stayed within each individual, and was not force-fed to others, the world would be a better place.

    But the institution itself breeds a lot of bad stuff when it insists on that we're right, you're wrong thing and then it's used by countries as a rallying cry for war and other stupidity.

    Religion's insistence that it's either my way or the highway and its heaven or hell shell game leads to a lot of vewy, vewy, bad things.

    But the well-intended practitioners within it usually are among the nicest of people.

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  27. I have never joined the 'Moonies' BUT I have been known in my youth to pull a few moonies..... I know, I know..... but still..... :)

    x

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  28. Toasty:

    Why am I not surprised?

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  29. HE, I'm sorry to have shocked you! Allow me to clarify. I am not a member of the Church of Satan, I am merely an atheist who reads their literature and agrees in principle. I am the first to admit that I often feel unable to live up to all requirements of a Satanist. But I think the most important elements are self-respect and independant thought. I've got those alright! :)

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  30. stace,
    Oh @#&% I just shipped 13 boxes of Goat Head Soup to your house!

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  31. Mmmmm thanks HE :)

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  32. HE, I had an idea. I think we can get around those first two rules by assuming that anybody who didn't want to hear your problems or your opinions wouldn't be on your blog :) That's a general "your", not specific.

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  33. Stace/HE:

    Can I serve you two a drink or a cup of coffee here at the Snippets Spaceship Orion Inn while you're gabbing?

    :-)

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If you choose to use anonymous to comment, it is only fair that I reserve the right to obliterate your comment from my blog.