Ah, For The Good Old Days!

Ah, for the good old days.

Oh for a return to our glorious past, when religion ruled reason, when men ruled women, and when Europeans were the illegal aliens…

Whatever happened to the good old days?

Oh, but that we could return to the  Garden of Eden before contemporary sinners bit the apple…..

Shall we go back a mere 30 years, when corporate CEO’s only made 40 times the wages of their average laborer, instead of the contemporary rate of 400 times?

Shall we go back a mere 60 years to the golden era of the 1950’s, when the upper class income level paid a 90 % tax rate, and middle class whites were homeowners who could afford to have stay at home mothers and still set aside a reasonable amount for college funds and retirement?

Or shall we rewind the clock that same 60 years to that same golden era of the 1950’s, when African Americans were still riding the back of the bus and utilizing separate bathroom and water fountain facilities?

Or perhaps we could venture back 10 years prior to that, to those wonderfully patriotic years of the 1940’s, when  African Americans were called upon to lay down their lives on the battlefield in order to insure the freedom and liberty of that very culture which was still sending their relatives back home to the back of the bus, all the while  still shamelessly forcing their loved ones to use separate bathrooms and water fountains?

Or how about remaining in that same golden decade of the 1940’s when oriental Americans were herded  into concentration camps because their eyes were a little too slanted and their skin just a little too yellow to assume they were not a threat to national security?

Ah, and how about those Roaring ‘20s!  Why, it was less than 90 years ago that Native Americans were still not allowed to vote!  Now those were the days!

And a mere few years before that when women knew that their place was at home instead of at the voting booth.

And a mere 20 years before the Woman’s Suffrage movement pushed through the right for women to vote, there was the good old days which opened the 20th Century with poor women taking their rightful place for a 15 hour work shifts in the textile mills and the mines… along with their 10-15 years old children,  who represented hundreds of thousands of the US workforce in 1900.

And how about the good old days of a mere 150 years ago, when slave labor was utilized to build a Federal Building in Washington DC… even as the the USA was waging a war which was allegedly for the purposes of ending slavery.

Or how about the good old days before their were Wicca websites, back when folks knew how to deal with weirdos like that.  Just consider the Salem Witch Trials of the 1690’s.

And at least in the good old days folks were still open minded when it came to matters of science.

For example,  in 1615 folks were still considering the notion that the earth is round instead of being flat as merely a theory instead of dogmatically claiming it as a fact.

And back in the good old days young folks thought twice about leaving the church, because in the good old days of the 16th Century christians who left the fold were tortured into returning to the fold of the loving and merciful church.

And of course who can ever forget the crusades of a mere 1,000 years ago when Jews and Muslims alike were persecuted into professing Christianity (it was for their own good, don’t you know?).

Ah, for the good old days.

Tsk.  Tsk.  What is this world coming to??

On Patriarchy and Monotheism

The mythicists who created patriarchal religions opened a “pandora’s jar” of absurdities and inconsistencies when the number of deities was reduced to one.  As “Three Dog Night” sang, “One” is the loneliest number.  It is also “the looniest” number in the light of reason and intelligent thought.

To the credit of the ancient pagans who created an imaginary world of deities, at least there was a level of reasonableness to their fiction which rendered their stories credible within the context of imaginative myth.

For the most part, polytheistic pagan religions depicted their respective gods as male AND female.  (Perish the thought!)  Most deities of the polytheistic pagan era were in fact associated with respective aspects of nature;  thus there were deities of water, sky, earth, and a number of other such elements.

Even the “primary” deities of many cultures consisted of a male god and a female goddess (a Mother Goddess who oftentimes represented creation and fertility).  In a number of societies this pair were represented as lovers or siblings, or in some cases; both.  It was in this context that the modified and retold “dying and revitalized” god myth was circulated from culture to culture.  Usually, the male god dies (in any of a number of ways; depending upon the respective cultural myth) and the female goddess finds a way to revive (resurrect) her slain consort.  This angle of the story eventually had to be somewhat adjusted so as to suit the monotheistic beliefs of later patriarchal religions.

In the Judeo-Christian Myth however, the one and only God is male. The council of deities which had been notable to several cultural myths, the Canaanites and early Hebrews included (Psalms 82), was inexplicably written out of the Hebrew script, as though Yahweh had always been the only deity.  As “the one and only God”, Yahweh is envisioned in the biblical myth with not as much as a female mate.  Yet he has a son.  Reasonable?  Not hardly.  Sexist?  In more ways than one.

In essence, the patriarchal minded Hebrew mythicists supplanted the natural role of the female by allowing their one male god the benefits of genetic fertility without so much as a female consort with whom to copulate.  If the biblical mythicists would have merely held to the original concept of male and female deities, then the Jesus myth might at least have had a certain sense of imaginative credibility which is quite lacking when God is pictured as a solo act deity.  For the Canaanite myth from which the Hebrews likely borrowed the concept of their deity, originally envisioned a main male god AND a main female goddess; El and Asherah respectively.  But the Hebrew mythicists transformed El into Yahweh, then seemingly kicked his female consort off to the curb, even condemning those who dared acknowledge the Queen of Heaven (Jeremiah 7).  And so the concept of a female goddess was extinguished, without as much as an explanation.  As if subjugating the female goddess to nonexistence were not insult enough to the very concept of womanhood, the means necessary for the newly appointed “one and only God” Yahweh to have his only beloved son was to miraculously violate an earthly woman’s virginity.  It seems no small wonder then that feminists quite oftentimes take issue with biblical teachings.

Unfortunately, the global popularity of patriarchal religions has created the misperception that monotheism is the way it always was, as though there were never any other deities in the mind of humanity.  Furthermore, the sexist ideology of monotheistic doctrines continues to disrespect and subjugate womanhood even to this very day.  Finally, the nature of monotheism is to impose the will of “the one and only god” upon everyone in any given culture, at the expense of secular reality and humanist values.  Thus the presumptuous and patriarchal characteristics of monotheistic religions all too oftentimes burden the society which would be tolerant and thoughtful.  In the process, monotheistic people such as Christians and Muslims  have been known to successfully subjugate cultural tradition and revise societal history by imposing their own concept of “the one and only god” upon their respective spheres of influence.

And so, just as pagan religions in the latter days of the Roman Empire were forced off conventional tracks by the means and methods of monotheistic ideology, likewise even today realists and humanists are subject to the undue social influence of patriarchal religion.

In summary:

Monotheism is unrealistic, even in the context of an imaginative myth.

Monotheism is sexist, in that the concept of female goddesses are shamelessly extinguished without explanation.

Monotheism is presumptuous, in that a single local deity is imposed upon the world as its one and only god.

Now I will grant that there is no more reason to believe in the actual existence of the pagan deities than there is to believe in the single patriarchal god of any respective Monotheism.  However; at least there is a certain merit to the concept of fictitious deities which acknowledge the respective genders and which respect reasonable boundaries of influence.

Such merit however, is all too lacking in the nature of the incessantly presumptuous and overly influential monotheistic patriarchal religions. 

That Was Then, But This Is Now

(Disclaimer:  Socially irreverent  thoughts.  You have been warned.  Proceed at your own philosophical peril.)

All my life I have heard about the “founding fathers”.

Who the hell were they anyway?  What characterized a person who was alive then as being a “founding father”?  What criteria distinguished a “founding father” in those days from a “non-founding father”?  And what about the “founding mothers”?  Are there no “founding mothers”?

And who gives a damn about the social theories of people who lived some 200 years ago?  How do their lives relate to us now?  The fact is that those people, whoever the hell they were, are now dead and gone.  Nothing we do affects them, nor vice versa.

They did what they thought was best for them when they were alive, it is we who are alive now who must think for ourselves.

Are we so  helpless that we can no longer think for ourselves?  Must we consult the writings of exclusively white male organizers who have been dead for almost 200 years in order to know how a society should exist?

And lest we fall all over ourselves genuflexing and  worshiping the almighty memory of this exclusive club for their foundational foresight, let us remind ourselves that they were either bigoted sexists or they were victims of their own social ignorance.

The fact is that our “founding fathers” gave neither those of a different gender nor skin tone a voice in the proceedings and there is no reason to believe that they would move to do so now were they alive in our era.

If social ignorance is a defense for those who founded a nation based upon the right to capture and enslave Africans; conquer and displace the Native Americans; and to subjugate and oppress women; then I rest my case on that very defense.

Why the hell should we who are alive today give a damn what the “founding fathers” would think about decisions we make today, in the light of the decisions they made then?

Rights and Restrictions Relative to Christianity

There is nothing special about Christianity.

I do not mean this as an attack, but as a rational assessment.

Generally speaking, there is nothing unique or distinctive concerning Christianity, relative to  other organized religions:

–  There is nothing unique and exclusive with regards to the Theology of Christianity.

–  There is nothing unique with regards to the general doctrines of Christianity.

–  There is nothing unique with regards to the social history of Christianity.

–  There is nothing unique with regards to the moral and ethical teachings of Christianity.

1.   As to the Theology of Christianity, their god is like most other gods.  Even the Bible presents Yahweh as merely a god among the many deities whose allotted reign was over the Israelites.  It was only after the fall of the nation of Israel to foreign powers (and foreign gods), that Yahweh evolves in biblical literature to the status of “the one and only god and there is none other”.  The roots of most monotheistic religions can usually be traced to pagan ritual and polytheism, and Christianity is by no means an exception in this regard.

There seems then to be nothing unique and exclusive with regards to the Theology of Christianity.

2.  As to the general religious doctrines of Christianity, their practices, rituals, teachings, and beliefs are basically like those of most other religions.  Like Old Testament Judaism, other regional religions (aka: “pagan”) of that era erected temples on behalf of and offered burnt sacrifices to their pagan deities.  Like New Testament Christianity, other pagan religions of that era practiced baptisms, feared hell and coveted heaven, trusted in virgin born male saviors, and believed in the resurrection of the dead.  The fact is that several cultures who predate the Hebrew nation of Israel had their own creation myths, feared and worshipped their own pagan deities, and some even trusted their eternal state to virgin born god/men saviors.  The roots of most pagan religions are embedded in such beliefs and practices, and Christianity is by no means an exception in this regard.

There seems then to be nothing unique and exclusive with regards to the general religious doctrines of Christianity.

3.  As to the social history of Christianity, their collective conduct with regards to the maltreatment of others and the exploitation of respective governing powers to that end is a matter of record, and demonstrates means, motives, and manners similar to most other state sponsored religions.  At times Christians have been tortured, maimed, and murdered due to their beliefs.  Then again, Christians have at times tortured, maimed, and murdered others due to their rejection of the Christian faith.  It is only in the modern era of history that Christianity has mellowed to the point of merely censoring those whose faiths differ from their own.  The roots of many pagan religions are soaked with a bloody history of extreme intolerance, and Christianity is by no means an exception in this regard.

There seems then to be nothing unique and exclusive with regards to the social history of Christianity.

4.  As to the moral and ethical teachings of Christianity, their doctrines regarding individual social behaviour are generally the same as those of most other religions and societies.  The most fundamental teaching regarding ideal behavior is the principle of social reciprocity.  The basic principle of social reciprocity is to treat others as we would be treated, and to refrain from treating others as we would prefer to not be treated.  Christians know this as the Golden Rule, and cite Jesus as the source.  Yet, long before Jesus reportedly lived, the principle of social reciprocity was being taught in a variety of religions and societies.  The roots of most every pagan religion and civilized society are embedded in the theory that ideal behaviour is a matter of social reciprocity, and Christianity is by no means an exception in this regard.

There seems then to be nothing unique and exclusive with regards to the moral and ethical teachings of Christianity.

CONCLUSION:

Generally speaking, Christianity is neither unique nor distinctive relative to other organized religions.  Christianity then merits no special social rights, which are not likewise due to any other organized religion.  Thus, a free and civil society should recognize the basic right of all religions to assemble and worship privately, with no special rights to Christianity in this or any other regard.

At the same time, any free and civil society has a duty to censor all religious teachings and relics from the public domain if for no other purposes than sound rationale and social respect.   There being no distinct difference between Christianity and other organized religions, then such censorship simply must apply to Christianity as well.  

The Journey of Life

Life seems to be a journey consisting of constant trial and error experiences within the framework of consistent natural principles which are indifferent one way or the other to cause and effect.

It seems to me that my inner self thinks, deliberates; and ultimately guides my general conduct throughout this journey known as life.

My inner self has been conditioned and influenced  for  so long as I can remember.

I have been informed and misinformed; educated and indoctrinated on a daily basis for so long as I can remember.

I have been the victim of misinformation, and I have been the beneficiary of a sound education.

I have been the victim of existing in a universe which operates consistent to natural principles which are indifferent to the results of cause and effect.  (The memory of getting my teeth knocked in by a baseball at the age of 8 years comes to mind).

I have been the beneficiary of existing in a universe which operates consistent to natural principles which are indifferent to the results of cause and effect. (The memory of the births of each of my 3 children comes to mind).

I have spoken words which encouraged and helped others.

I have spoken words which discouraged and hurt other others.

Regrets?

A few.

I regret not moving my glove in front of my face that day in 1969 when I got my teeth knocked in by that baseball.  Or that I just didn’t duck.

I regret words that I have spoken and deeds that I have done which caused unnecessary grief for others.

Ultimately, it seems to me that the inner self which guides my general conduct can be a friend or a foe.

Life seems to be a journey consisting of constant trial and error experiences within the framework of consistent natural principles which are indifferent one way or the other to cause and effect.

And then the journey ends.

Of Gods and Myths

Some might wonder why an agnostic secularist such as myself would take the time or make the effort to study the Bible. And understandably so.

Yet I hasten to state that though I no longer believe the Bible to be the inspired Word of God; that although I no longer believe in either a Creator or an act of creation as such; that although I no longer believe Jesus of Nazareth to have been more than a mere mortal man (if a historic character at all); that nonetheless I regard the Bible as fascinating literature and the writers, composers, and editors of such to have been among the greatest of all literary artists. In my opinion, the skills and the effort necessary to compose, edit, and compile such a book is noteworthy, if not exemplary. My immense respect for such is even moreso enhanced by my theory that no deity influenced or assisted these efforts, and that therefore the finished product itself is indeed a work exclusively of human effort and skills. Indeed, a literary work worthy of respect and reading, yet which is surely and clearly a “mythical history”. Or so it seems to me.

The story itself is fascinating. A god among gods (Psalms 82) whose allotment among mankind is the Hebrew people (Deuteronomy 32:7-9). An epic narrative of a people whose rise from wholesale slavery to regional dominance is attributed to its god among the gods (Exodus 15:3-4,11-18; Joshua 23:1-5,9), yet whose eventual decline and humiliating subjugation at the hands of foreign powers is represented so as to protect the integrity and the image of that very deity himself (2 Chronicles 36:11-21). Along the way an evergrowing perspective of monotheism ultimately gives rise to the theory that ensuing world events, however reflective upon the Hebrew people themselves, are but a part of a master plan whereby the Hebrew god not only lays claim to his ancient heritage but likewise claims authority over all nationalities of people (Daniel 4:17,25,32,35). Thus, the story which begins with Yahweh as a mere god among gods, concludes with all people of all nationalities of all religious perspectitves of all time being eternally indebted to this one specific deity who rose from the ranks of the council of the deities to assume the position of the one and only God of all times for all peoples of all places; henceforth and forever more (Psalms 89:5-8).

Perhaps most remarkable of all is how the early writers of the Bible were able to transform their people’s national defeat and and how later writers were able to market the natural death of one specific individual so as to develop a worldwide movement which continues to function some two millenniums later. Absolutely fascinating.

And the characters so involved in the entire process; from the writers and creators of the stories which complemented their early history right down to every propogandists of the movement who continue to breathe life into its very ongoing existence by way of public teaching and private tutorials designed to persuade and influence the minds of the masses, have succeeded to maintain and monitor this movement completely by their own efforts, with no actual divine influence whatsoever. Absolutely fascinating.

Indeed, I am an agnostic. Indeed, I am a skeptic. But I indeed sincerely respect the literary skills necessary to have written, composed, and compiled the book which more than 2,000 years after the fact, continues to hold a seemingly irrepressible allure over the minds of the masses.