Wednesday, July 27, 2005


It's late, and my journey around these States is complete. My wife and I saw the mountains of Colorado, the plains of Kansas, the Arch de Saint Louis, the rolling cornfields of Indiana, the brilliant blinking left-turn signals of Michigan, and the XXX-Adult "Toy"-store billboard next to the Welcome to TEXAS sign on I-35, along with old friends and dear family. God bless all of it (except for the billboard, that is. Let's leave that to the elements)!

Tonight, I will sleep in my own bed next to my wife and experience peace.

I wish you the same... (peace, that is, not sleeping in my bed next to my wife. Hands off on that one!)

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Guerrilla Theology

I am by no means a religious authority or a devoted student of theological studies. I am, however, a student of life and my ideals for human existence are embodied in the example of Jesus Christ. Some might call me a Christian. I don't know if I am or not, and mostly, I really don't care. I don't believe a label can define me or my faith, but I do believe that the way I live sharply defines who I am. I do know that I am not a "mainstream" Christian. For example, I believe that Christ was a pacifist. I believe that violence serves a political purpose, not a spiritual purpose, and that most "Christians" often confuse the two. I believe that Christ was a pacifist because we humans have a long history of killing each other (as exemplified in the Old Testament, not to mention history), and I believe "God" sent Jesus Christ as an example of how we can change our actions by changing the way we think about our world, i.e. the Kingdom of God.

I am a pacifist, and I believe violence is the tool of the weak (minded). However, when I view REALITY through a political paradigm, i.e. government, law enforcement, democracy, etc., I realize that violence is unavoidable as a consequence of natural social conflict. So here is the rub: Violence is a necessary POLITICAL function, but according to Jesus Christ, it is the antithesis of Christian faith. There is no Christ in POLITICS, for POLITICS is a HUMAN engineered game, a quest for social power, and one ENTIRELY founded upon the limits of human perception. To mix Christian FAITH with POLITICAL MEANS is to deny the sanctity of the former for the sake of the quick-fix security of the latter.

Now, I know MANY Christians who would disagree with this, and that's fine. People believe whatever they need to believe to get by. The humanitarian in me wants to accomodate the beliefs of those who would confuse Christian and Political ethics for the sake of self-defense. I'm content to let people believe whatever they want to believe, but this comes at a cost: relativity. Allow me to continue...

Albert Einstein formulated his theories of special and general relativity nearly a century ago. For those who don't really know what these theories represent, let me briefly elaborate. Special Relativity provides a model for understanding how light (photons, sunlight, starlight, radiowaves, etc) travels through space. General Relativity provides a model for understanding how gravity (you know, the stuff that sucks) influences light, space, and time. Now, don't disregard the relevance of Special and General Relativity just because they carry the baggage of "theory". In truth, our society could not function the way it does WITHOUT our understanding of cosmological relativity. Without the "theories" of relativity, we could not syncronize our artificial satellites that orbit the Earth and provide us with weather models, global positioning systems, and mass communications. Simply put, our ECONOMY as it exists today would not be possible without the "theories" of Special and General Relativity. So, cosmologically speaking, relativity is TRUTH. But what does this have to do with spirituality? Please visit the next paragraph!

Their is another significant "theory" of relativity that governs life a little closer to home. In the scientific field of Cultural Anthropology, the controversial theory of Cultural Relativism suggests that our beliefs have no universal foundation, and that what one culture believes to be true may not necessarily be true for another culture. I tend to subscribe to this viewpoint because, well, I understand that what I believe to be true is not necessarily what someone else believes to be true. Cultural Relativism is a model that explains the diverse belief systems that humans exercise around the globe. One may believe that Cultural Relativism is wrong, and that there exists in our world certain absolute and universal truths... of course, this just reinforces the theory of Cultural Relativism, if for no other reason than it makes clear that people, with respect to TRUTH, believe differently. Cultural relativism is a truth on par with Special and General relativity because it helps explain why our world exists the way it does.

(If I've lost you at this point, please hold on for one more paragraph. This is where the rubber meets the road...)

Our world is relativistic (more on this later). People believe whatever they need to believe to survive in this entropic universe. Regarding personal spirituality, I believe that the example of Jesus Christ provides an ideal model for how we humans should live with one another. Violence is the antithesis of this, and I disagree with those who combine the political use of violence with the pacifism of Christ in a synthesis of "Praise God, pass the ammunition". To me, this is morally wrong. Yet, in America today, the Cross of Christ and the M-16 go hand in hand. Cultural relativism would suggest that differences in belief are only natural. I'm content with this, but as a consequence, the significance of my personal faith loses a little steam. To be honest, my faith walks a line between a beautiful model of Christ and a raw universal atheism. When I think about the fact that people believe whatever they need to to get by, I tend to place "spiritual faith" in the same category as myth, i.e., an explanatory fiction we humans invent to explain the mysteries of our universe. When I take God out of the picture, the world makes more sense. No more theological jigsaw puzzles, no more "how can God let this evil happen to me?", just a raw universal THIS IS THE WAY IT IS, AND MY SIMPLE HUMAN BRAIN IS NOT CAPABLE OF UNDERSTANDING THE ENTIRE PICTURE, SO I INVENT SYMBOLS TO QUANTIZE THE BIG AMBIGUOUS PICTURE INTO SOMETHING MY MIND CAN COMPREHEND, and viola! a mythological Father figure called God is born.

I guess the point of this post is this: ATTENTION CHRISTIANS! THINK DEEPER ABOUT WHAT YOU BELIEVE. The consequences of NOT doing this will only work against the cause of Christ. Our physical Universe posses no absolute truth; it is itself a relativistic and ever changing entity. The world is what we make it. The example of Christ provides a model for understanding how we humans can make our world a better place. If the cause of Christ becomes tainted by our animal instincts for survival, we've missed the point, and we've doomed ourselves to repeat the patterns of history (not to mention the Old Testament).


Sunday, July 17, 2005

On Fox News, Terrorism, and the Nature of Cultural Illusion

So, I've been traveling a great deal this summer and staying in hotels and with friends and family who possess large televisions and countless channels. At home, my wife and I don't subscribe to cable. We steer clear for fear that we would otherwise become television zombies surfing from channel to channel trying to ease the cravings of media addiction. We live quite happily at home without cable, yet, whenever we go away on "holiday" (as the Brits say), we hungrily devour cable television content like it's going out of style (and often, it is...).

If you're familiar with the themes of this blog, you probably won't find it at all surprising that I despise FOX NEWS: FAIR AND BALANCED. Yet, whenever I get the chance, I tune in and watch. I can't keep myself away from it. This is more than just another case of media addiction. For me, watching FOX NEWS: FAIR AND BALANCED is like driving by a gruesome car accident: I just can't turn away, and I feel COMPELLED to look. As a result, I've subsisted on a steady diet of political rhetoric, narrow-minded propaganda, and patriotic masturbation.

I could certainly ramble on without end about why FOX NEWS: FAIR AND BALANCED is dangerous and downright un-American, but instead, I'll refrain from a never-ending cascade of derogatory commentary and "say my peace" in the most concise manner possible... I'll make a list!

1- first of all, the way FOX NEWS: FAIR AND BALANCED uses the term "Fair and Balanced" is downright immoral. Seriously folks, isn't it clear by now that, with respect to our HUMAN REALITY, there is NO SUCH THING as "fair and balanced"? The "media" isn't liberal... it's SENSATIONALISTIC and BENT ON COMMERCIAL PROFIT (thank you, Capitalism!). "Fair and Balanced" is a MYTH, perhaps something to aspire to, but NEVER to be fully realized, at least not in our entropic reality. Therefore, FOX NEWS: FAIR AND BALANCED represents misleading propaganda, and oh, how Hitler would be proud...

2- Anyone who believes the word "liberal" actually means ANYTHING substantial is NOT exercising an important and God-given function of our miraculous human brain. The word "liberal" is arbitrary with a highly subjective meaning. It could be used to describe anything in our world. For example:
FOX NEWS (along with the rest of the "sensationalistic" media)uses the word "terrorist" quite liberally.

Of course, as it is with words, so it is with the universe... people believe whatever they need to believe to get by in life. The fact that the word "liberal" is arbitrary doesn't prevent people from believing, often with an absolutist faith, that it can accurately describe a facet of human behavior. In truth, people who use the word "liberal" to describe another human being are revealing more about the limits of themselves than they are about the human being they are attempting to define... and this brings me to:

3- It astounds me that the "children" playing the political games in Congress consistently define themselves along arbitrary and essentially meaningless labels like "liberal" and "conservative". What angers me is that our beloved politicians would rather exaggerate what few differences they share and argue over arbitrary lines, thus minimizing the flow of progress, than actually SEE the many commonalities they share and thus work together to get PRODUCTIVE things done. Daily, I'm astonished at how ignorant and childish our "Representatives" in Congress are. At the same time, they are a mere reflection of who WE are as a democratic American body. WE bear the responsibility of giving these spoiled children their power. This alone says more about the general state of the American psyche than any sociological graph or table of numerical symbols, and this brings me to:

4- We Americans get what we deserve. The power brokers in Washington may masturbate over how effective and patriotic they are, meanwhile, they have yet to do ANYTHING about overcrowded classrooms, out-of-date textbooks, understaffed public schools, an anemic Veterans Affairs system, a less than minimum wage, the rising cost of higher education, a national debt that my grandchildren will be paying off, and I could go on and on. Like I said above, our wonderful politicians would rather bitch and complain about partisan differences than see the REALITY that they have much in common with one another. The last five years of political melodrama has only revealed the pitfalls of ethnocentric group-think. The Neocon "Republicans" have kicked-started two bottomless wars that continue to steal the lives of our American families, not to mention those citizens of Earth residing in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere. The Children of Washington D.C. speak with authority about "terrorism" and "freedom", yet, don't they realize that these are merely LABELS! What is "freedom"? What is "terrorism"? These words are cultural illusions perpetuated by the quixotic potentials of our collective minds. Surely these words represent much larger concepts than their semantic function would have us believe. Afterall, "terrorism" is simply a byproduct of war. Americans have utilized "terrorism" in the past, most notably with the exercise of nuclear weapons (i.e. Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and M.A.D.) and most recently with our belligerent strategy of "shock and awe". When President Bush speaks of "terrorists", the TRUTH is that he is not only speaking about Al Qeada, but good ole America as well. We have, afterall, created our enemies. Rumsfeld and Reagan were buddy-buddy with Saddam Hussein. They sold him arms and strategic maps so that he might adequately combat an Iranian regime on the defensive. Reagan also funded the Mujihaddin in Afghanistan, an act which lead to the downfall of the USSR, but also precipitated the rise of the Taliban and Al Qeada. We Americans are our own worst enemies. Our short-sighted political policies have created today's greatest threats to national security. And this brings me too...

5- LABELS!!! Conservative, Liberal, American, Terrorist! Why must we be so lazy with our minds? Why must we substitute knowledge for symbolic semantic dogma? I don't mean to be a Chicken Little here, but our country aint doin' so hot. Our Nation's Achilles Heel is our Federal economy. Our "enemies" know this. We no longer function through a production economy. Our economy is driven by mindless, debt-filled consumption. Our economy is, like the labels we use, a system of cultural illusions. Money has no value except within the confines of our minds. Our "enemies" wish to destroy the United States by bankrupting our Federal economy and bringing a decisive end to the "Great Experiment". Osama's plan from the moment he declared war on us was to draw us into a series of endless military conflicts that drain both our morale AND our economic resources. Thank Allah the Neocons were in power to combat "terrorism" by leading the United States into a series of endless military conflicts that drain both our national morale and our economic resources... and all for the sake of waging a "War on Terrorism", i.e., a "war on illegitimate guerrilla warfare", aka, a "war on arbitrary cultural illusions".

Okay, so I've gone on for far too long. Just promise me one thing, good reader. Don't take this REALITY for granted. Look deeper, learn, and communicate.