Posts Tagged ‘Religion’

Andrew Sullivan hits the nail on the head

June 6, 2010

Responding to the opinion that sexual ethics are a key element of Christian faith, he writes:

And do I think that Christianity’s sexual doctrines are a corner-stone of the faith? Not in the slightest. Jesus was uninterested in these matters. True faith is not fixated on sex; it has left sex behind – along with money and wealth and pride – in the pursuit of the divine. The only people fixated on sex are those who wish to use its power to control others.

Thank God for Catholic girls.

May 27, 2010

That was an expression floated around high schools in my area when I was growing up.  (In case the meaning isn’t obvious, I’ll clarify that it was specifically used by boys who were not having much luck getting into the pants of secular school girls, in a province where Catholics have their own separate school system.)

Today I’m really feeling it though.  If I believed in a god I would feel sincerely grateful toward her for inspiring 40 secret mistresses of Catholic priests to petition the pope in an effort to put an end the twisted, arbitrary, mind-warping rule of clerical celibacy.

Of course I hold out little hope of their success.  What greying, impotent knee-bender, having spent his whole life trying to avoid sexual temptation, is going to finally agree at the end of his life that it was a pointless rule all along and ought to be forgotten?   Nevertheless, I am tremendously relieved to discover there are in fact some Catholic priests who are boning adult, consenting women instead of  all molesting children.  I was honestly starting to wonder.

Jesus wept.

April 29, 2010

I know religious fundamentalists lie.  Everyone in their right mind knows this.  They have to lie in order to manhandle the world they see into the shape of myths so ancient and ignorant that they predate our realization the earth is not flat.

But there’s a small part of me – the part that believes human nature is basically good – that wants to believe they are not lying on purpose.  I want to believe they are the hapless victims of an incredible but sincere cognitive affliction preventing them from accepting things that are obviously true, like evolution, and forcing them to accept as fact things that are obviously untrue, like the preposterous story of Noah and his floating menagerie.

Then this:

“A group of Chinese and Turkish evangelical explorers say wooden remains they have discovered on Mount Ararat in eastern Turkey are the remains of Noah’s Ark. “

OK.  Surely they found a few old logs lying about and due to their tragic cognitive disabilities jumped to an honest but mistaken conclusion?

But no.

“In the late summer of 2008 ten Kurdish workers hired by Parasut, the guide used by the Chinese… planted large wood beams taken from an old structure in the Black Sea area at the Mt. Ararat site… During the summer of 2009 more wood was planted inside a cave at the site. The Chinese team went in the late summer of 2009 … and was shown the cave with the wood and made their film. As I said, I have the photos of the inside of the so-called Ark (that show cobwebs in the corners of rafters – something just not possible in these conditions) and our Kurdish partner in Dogubabyazit (the village at the foot of Mt. Ararat) has all of the facts about the location, the men who planted the wood, and even the truck that transported it.”

Adam and Eve?  Word of God.  Noah’s ark?  Word of God.  Jesus walking on water?  Word of God.  Thou shalt not bear false witness?  Just a suggestion.

Amusing bit from the Star article:

Ararat has drawn a steady stream of explorers for decades. Many of them have “discovered” the ark.

“I don’t know of any expedition that ever went looking for the ark and didn’t find it,” said archeologist Paul Zimansky recently told National Geographic.

When is the smiting coming?

April 14, 2010

Dear Roman Catholic Church,

Please stop enraging me by ducking and weaving, obfuscating and pointing fingers at other people to deflect criticism for your policy of sheltering child molesters from any meaningful consequences for their actions. The public outrage that is filtering through the sand into which your holy heads are stuck is not, as you continue to publicly insist, a gay-atheist-media conspiracy to smear the good  reputation of the Catholic Church.

It may surprise you to learn that out here in the filth-infested den of lustful immorality that is the secular world, raping children is genuinely considered to be intolerably, infuriatingly wrong, and those who indulge are expected to be locked up and / or kept well out of the path of potential victims. Those who are aware of the rape of children are expected to report the abuse to secular authorities immediately so that an impartial police investigation can take place before the evidence goes cold, or risk being subjected to criminal charges themselves.

I’m afraid there is no way forward for the Catholic Church but to confess your sins. Not to each other, but to the secular police force in whatever jurisdiction to which your child raping clergy happen to be ministering. While your priest-rapists and their conspirators are moldering away in prison, they will have ample opportunity to repent. Later, while they are conforming to their parole conditions of staying hundreds of meters away from any place where children gather, they might attain the necessary distance from the targets of their despicable lust to reform.

Isn’t that what it’s all about, for a good Catholic? Sin, confession, repentance, and (ostensibly) reformation? I don’t recall a Catholic doctrine of sin, obfuscation, scapegoating, angry defensiveness, arrogant posturing and defiance, but in doctrinal matters I’m sure you know better than I.

Honestly, you are behaving as if you don’t think the molestation of thousands of children in your care is that big a deal. You are behaving as if you are surprised at the outrage and don’t understand its cause. I can’t help thinking that the needle of your moral compass has been firmly wedged up your own infallible ass for so long you’ve completely lost the ability to empathize with the concerns of ordinary citizens.

Please, if you are truly incapable of taking full responsibility for your actions and facing the consequences, at least petition your god to begin the smiting of evildoers.

Disrespectfully,
the Apophatic Attic.

In other news:

Pope Forgives Molested Children

Jesus is my gunsight.

January 23, 2010

How about this:

A US military contractor has said it will stop engraving Biblical references on rifles used by the US army.

The markings, in the form of coded references, have been appearing on products made by the US firm Trijicon, based in Michigan, for decades.

But on Thursday, US military chief Gen David Petraeus, said the practice of scripture references was “disturbing” and “a serious concern”.

The firm also sells the gunsights to Australia, New Zealand and the UK.

The inscriptions – which include “2COR4:6” and “JN8:12”, relating to verses in the books of II Corinthians and John – appear in raised lettering at the end of the stock number.

The first question: since when does a single sentence a paragraph make?

Anyway, the article does not elucidate what these verses refer to, so I will:

2COR4:6 4The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 5For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. 6For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,”[a]made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.

JN8:12 12When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

This kind of thing makes it quite hard to differentiate between your average suicide bomber and your average American soldier.

A Few Apophatic Reflections

September 12, 2008

I love the incoming links feature of wordpress. You never know what you’ll find!

Where Brad says “for a disturbing look at apophatic theology played out to an extreme, click here”, that’s me. I’m the disturbing look. Looking at a few of his other posts (ie. a Macbeth-esque contemplation of whether or not it’s OK to get a t-shirt that says “theology kicks ass”, concluding that it is fine to buy one because, after all, theology is “really, really cool” – but not OK to wear it because someone might get offended) I actually felt a rush of pride for being disturbing to a person like this. Not because I like to disturb people, but because being disturbed is often the first indicator of an unexamined, oppressive belief system that is begging to be re-evaluated – that’s crack cocaine to an apophatic. I felt like I’d done him a favour, although from our brief discussion it seems he does not feel the same.

Since I have begun to upset the Christians, I thought it might be a good time to elaborate on the perspective for which my blog is named. What I practice is not apophatic “theology”. In other words, it has nothing to do with imposing additional narratives (ie. gods and religions) on my experience of awareness, and everything to do with maintaining freedom from such impositions in order to enhance my awareness.

I have found life is enjoyable to the same degree it is experienced with open eyes, an open mind and an open heart, and upsetting to the same degree that I filter my experience through an inflexible narrative.

The foundation for this perspective was meditation. I didn’t know at the time that I was “meditating”. I thought I was just sitting on the beach – alone, in silence, thoughtlessly, sometimes long enough for the tide to come in and go back out again, a few times a week for several months. Eventually, I experienced a sudden, massive reorganisation of my psychology that has endured to this day.

In the weeks that followed I was in a state of epiphany, stamping out fallacy after fallacy as my altered psychology showed me submerged darkness underlying of everything I believed to be bright. I saw that I could not chase beauty without running from ugliness; that pain is the cost of pleasure; that I could not elevate people I admire without lowering people I find distasteful. I found I could only eliminate “evil” in myself by giving up my attachment to “good” – and everything became infused with goodness. I stamped out the “ugliness” in myself by letting go of “beauty” – and everything became infused beauty. The icing on the cake was that these were new forms of beauty and goodness, and they came packaged with their own dark opposites. After a few cycles, I began to suspect the process of releasing attachments and revealing ever more expansive forms of beauty and goodness was likely to be continuous.

At the time I was busking for a living on the streets of Vancouver. I left in the morning and stayed out all day, hammering away on my guitar and chatting with the sorts of people one meets while loitering on urban street corners. This era of listening to the stories of mad vagrants and the intoxicated graduates of Canada’s residential schools (while piqued professionals scurried by in wide semi-circles) is the first I time I experienced life with my eyes, heart and mind wide open. I had become the embodiment of divine love, truth and beauty: I felt a love which does not judge; I knew a truth which makes no claims; I found beauty in the ugliest of places.

All this seems very much at odds with “theology”. It’s unlikely I would ever have attained this perspective had I been distracted by the study of a god or religion (although nothing is impossible). As far as I have seen, western religions do not encourage their followers to become the embodiment of divinity; they point to a book, or an icon, or an abstract concept and insist that “divinity” lies within. They practice a “love” founded on shared loathing of the wicked. They dictate a “truth” that makes preposterous claims, then condemns the incredulous. Religious “beauty” is founded on the fear of death and decay, or it consists of nothing more than glamour: beguiling words and pretty things. In fact, I suspect the phrase “I became the embodiment of divine love, truth and beauty” makes western religious readers quite “disturbed”, but what can I do? That’s how it felt.

I don’t meditate any more, but I do napitate. I can conk out anywhere – planes, trains, family gatherings – for a period of mental inactivity that looks and feels very much like a nap, except that I am awake and aware of my surroundings throughout. It’s very refreshing, but doesn’t seem to result in any more profound awakenings. That is fine with me, though – I can happily spend my whole life integrating the awakenings I’ve already had.