Friday, November 9, 2012

Without a Paddle

Obsessions. I’ve been watching too many documentaries. A lot of religious stuff; my obsession. It’s what you get for being a preacher. How does one get to be a preacher, you might ask? It’s a calling. You don’t get to be anything; you’re what you’re called to be.

Who does the calling? That’s open to conjecture.

Let me define religion: a myth-based system through which one interprets one’s existence/experiences. Religions do many different things, but that’s the core of what they are; everything hinges around that, the myth system. This is true of all religions; it’s what defines them. It’s not to be confused with the religion invoked when asked, “What do you believe?” That’s another use of the word, related but not identical. If one practices a religion, i.e. believes in that religion, it means they use the precepts of that religion to make sense of their experiences.

My observation is that the world divides over the definition of “religion.” The fight is over whether or not they are myth systems. If one is a believer, one has to admit to the possibility that at least one religion could not be a myth system: theirs.

Yet, all religions, by their nature, are myth systems; they cannot not be. What is not understood here is that the origins of a myth system have no bearing on the functioning of the system. There can be no true or accurate beginning of a myth system, even if it’s history is well documented. The origins have nothing to do with the effect of a myth or how it functions as an organizational apparatus. Hence, the search for the “historical Jesus” is  a Sisyphussian battle, one that can never be won. It’s an entire industry built around searching for an chimera. (And they take it and themselves so seriously. On the other hand, it’s always fun to see the Emperor naked.)

What I find fascinating is that the trapped have no idea they are trapped. It’s the Stockholm syndrome writ large, one comes to agree with one’s captors. Think of the slaves. No, not the Christian slaves, the black ones, the guys from Africa. They were more than happy to adopt the faith of their oppressors. Glory hallelujah! Have to this day. Once you’re inside a faith, you can’t see out. Which is only reasonable because, if you could see out, you might lose your faith, and then where would you be? Yes, and without a paddle.

What if one’s faith is in a vague, holy spirit that permeates the Universe with, with, with… whatever? What if? So…, what if? How about, “Don’t you believe in something bigger than you? Bigger than us?”

Are those beliefs or are they a reason to wear flowers in one’s and burn incense? Maybe take a sweat with some Native Americans; boy, do they have a myth system. There is another abiding quest: to make the vision of god so sophisticated that it can’t be disputed. The ages have been filled with ever more sophisticated reasoning as to what god could be like; only those doing the more and more clever reasoning, evidently, don’t understand that the increasing sophistication of a myth doesn’t make it less of a myth. Myths are like pregnancies: they either are or they aren’t myths. There’s no such a thing as a three-month myth or a third-term myth; a myth is a myth, they’re sort of clean that way.

What have I learned from those documentaries? That we’re never going to dent a believer. They either have to have their own catharsis or die of old age or from falling off the edge of the Earth. It could happen, you know.

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