Monday, March 14, 2005

My dogma ate my homework.

OK, let's see. I should probably get in the habit of posting to this thing every day, regardless of whether anybody's reading it or not. Tree falling in the woods and all that. Maybe I'll get better at it with practice. But what to write? Normally I have a lot to say, especially if somebody gives me an espresso or a couple lines of Columbian Baby Powder. But I find myself at a loss this morning. Hmmm...OK, I'll talk about religion. I can talk for hours about that wacky subject. Especially if you're a qualified therapist...

You see, I was born to a Jewish mother and a Catholic father. Neither were devout, and both came from broken homes -- my mom from your basic middle class secular New York Jewish dysfunctional roots, and my dad from a lower-middle-class French/Canadian/New England crucifix-over-the-hot-plate-in-the-double-wide bunch. So technically I'm Jewish enough (but not suicidal enough) to get Israeli citizenship, but I was raised weekend Catholic. That is, until...

When I was around nine or so, my parents found Jesus(TM). That is to say, we ALL found Him, because as the Good Book says, the sins of the father will be dogmatically beaten out of the son[s]. My parents are probably the two most unlikely people ever to successfully breed together -- the equivalent of getting a cat and a dog to have a baby -- and they fought CONSTANTLY during my entire childhood. They were always on the verge of divorce, but they finally collided with destiny when they decided to go ahead and split up. The whole thing was basically in progress when The Son Of God intervened and they became -- you guessed it -- Born-Again Christians(TM). Which meant that we -- my brother, sister and I -- became ReBorn as well. It was, as they say, A Brand New Day.

So I spent the latter half of my childhood being force-fed a worldview that seemed to perpetually contradict actual experience, but empirical evidence was never very important to the One True Church, as I discovered when I, a relatively bright lad, began to question things in my adolescent years. By the way, have you noticed how exquisitely skilled I am at the endless run-on sentence? Perhaps we are due for a short break.

• • • • • • • • • • I N T E R M I S S I O N • • • • • • • • • •

OK, I'm back. Did ya miss me? Where was I? Oh yes...
So I blindly bought the propaganda and merrily went to sunday school and memorized the entire Word Of God (or at least the random scriptures the Church of the Early Middle Ages had decided were worthy of inclusion) and attended youth groups and talked to people on the street in The San Fernando Valley about how they were going to burn in Hell for all eternity without the precious unconditional love of the Baby Jesus that God in His Mercy had provided for them absolutely free by allowing His Only Son to be brutally murdered for the vile unworthy sinful acts they would inevitably commit if they hadn't already.

There we were, little miniature Grand Inquisitors proselytizing on the boulevard of broken noses, risking our dogmatically deranged but youthfully enthusiastic lives annoying people and making Jesus proud.

But then, sometime in my mid-teens, while feeling the constant stirrings of lust and covetousness for every neighbor's daughter that would surely doom my twisted and evil little soul to the inferno, I began to question the validity of statements like "Satan put the fossil record there to deceive us." Oh me of little faith.

The point at which I lost my religion is hazy to me now; there was a moment when I decided that any god who ruled through fear and guilt wasn't a god at all, but a pedantic and whiny little monster akin to the Wizard behind the curtain. But I don't remember the exact moment. I didn't become an atheist; that would have been a reaction as overly simplistic as the infantile orthodoxy I was escaping. No, my attitude was that their probably WAS some sort of Higher Power, but that 'it' certainly would not be comprehensible to mere humans, or reducible to human behaviors and concepts.

At some early point since then, I formed a basic philosophy that 'god' is just another word for 'universe' -- that the universe is made of energy and so are we, that consciousness and energy are one. That, yes, the universe is wondrous and magnificent, which in our limited understanding always implies a creator. But what if IT -- WE are the creator? All of us and everything represents evolutionary levels of development of consciousness OF the Cosmos? We 'modern' humans like to think of life and matter -- or flesh and spirit -- as separate, but that is only due to our limited perceptive ability. If our eyes COULDN'T process color (like a dog's eyes), would that mean color didn't exist?

This all seemed, and continues to seem, like basic common sense to me. And nothing revolutionary; sages in cultures not burdened by Judeo-Christian history have been saying things akin to this for millennia. Of course, throughout much of OUR history, I'd have been burnt at the stake for saying it -- a practice that I hear rumors our esteemed Prez is trying to bring back into vogue. It'll probably be tacked on in fine print in the middle of some 'tax relief' bill somewhere, and we'll each get a check for $82 in exchange for our right to due process...

Anyway, I digress. We'll talk politics another time, after I see what sort of response I get to this little quasi-polemic.
My home address isn't on here, right? Whew!