SIGNS FROM ANCIENT/MODERN DAYS
Today, passing by a church on Minnehaha Street in Vancouver which likes to load down its curbside reader board with pithy (well, maybe pissy) conundrums for the passing parade, I read the sign, WHEN YOU'RE DOWN TO NOTHING, GOD'S UP TO SOMETHING. Actually, from personal experience and a lifetime of reading and study, and as revealed in that old movie with Joanne Woodward, "Rachel, Rachel", I think the sign, if it were honest, should read, WHEN YOU'RE DOWN TO NOTHING, WE'RE OUT TO GET YOU, for that's when the Christian brotherhood comes for you—when you're weak and vulnerable.
Of course, the upshot of pouncing on the vulnerable and lost is Christian or Moslem or Jewish houses of worship full of the mentally ill or, at best, the neurotic many who are trying to get well but not always achieving that goal. Which further means, it's in those sanctuaries where you'll find weak-minded authoritarian figures who like to dominate others (as part of that, they are manipulators, prevaricators, passive-aggressives, child molesters and rapists too) all mixed in with the weak and vulnerable who are open to that sort of molestation of body and psyche, quite often children and women. Witness that Texas mess! Would anyone but a wimpy sort of male want a women chosen from that brainwashed bunch? Of course, to be honest, sex is an interesting sort of animal, and women (men too) can be a lot more interesting in bed when that evolutionary adaptation sets the synapses to firing than you or I may imagine them to be. Sex has a lot to do with imagination and less to do with pure chemistry.
DID YOU HEAR THE GOSPEL OF THOMAS AND HUMANISM?
In reading The Jesus Papers, by Michael Baigent, I came across an interesting quote by the disciple Thomas as revealed in the Dead Sea Scrolls. Thomas said (no, that's not me, but it could be) "When you come to know yourselves, then you will become known and you will realize that it is you who are the sons of the living Father."
When I was more of a believer than I am now, I used to understand that Jesus was calling me brother and telling me that we shared the same father and, therefore, I was as much a god as Jesus was. How the Catholic Church corrupted the historical Jesus into a triune clusterfuck, I'll never know.
Self knowledge. Ah, yes! Later in the morning after reading that passage, as I was strolling through the Vancouver Mall for exercise and window shopping, I pictured a teeshirt conundrum that read: HUMANISM—THE ETHICAL LIFE.
Then I imagined the dedicated dogmatist challenging me, saying, "Yeah, but who anchors your ethics? What unimpeachable source underlies your philosophical musings?"
My only answer could be "Me and what can still be called my human nature. And yours too!"
I went on rambling in my head while my body rambled too, meandering between the aisles of the goods and services in Sears, Macy's, Penny's, etcetera. Each of us carries the basis of moral behavior in our own bodies, I thought. We all know what it is to "feel" we've been treated unjustly. It hurts. By extension we can surmise that each of us, sharing the same biological feeling structure or moral mechanism in our own bodies, can recognize and share this feeling mechanism. In fact, humans are so certain of this moral mechanism in the human animal that we recognize those who don't have this universal mechanism are a real danger to us. We call them sociopaths and the criminally insane. From that simple fact of shared biology (some have called it the golden rule)(some have announced it in the saying "all men are created equal"), we can build a humanwide ethical structure when, and if, we mature as a species a little more than we are now matured.
The flaw in religious people is that they want to cheat on this biological mechanism. Instead of referring to their own feelings as a source of ethics, they try to buttress their personal feelings by calling in a higher authority. They want to trick us into giving their feelings a little more concern than we give our own feelings. Specially guilty of this hedging of bets are the preachers and other church leaders like mullahs and rabbis who use their power positions to wheedle money and even more power out of the weaker and less skeptical among us. Specially nasty and irrational of these religious folk, leaders and followers alike, is the belief, which the gullible among them accept unquestioningly, that this higher authority who justifies their human feelings about life can also reward and punish humans with eternal punishments and rewards. Now there's a real stretch of the imagination and also of the unbounded ego of religious people and their leaders in their attempt to get the rest of us to give more importance to their "ethical feeling mechanism" than we give to our own ethical mechanisms.