Mormoney, more problems

What would Jesus ban?

If you guessed abortion, hate, or heavy metal, you’re wrong! He’s cool with all of those things. What really bugs him is gay people. Why do they have to destroy marriage? Here we face a terrible threat; divorce, spousal abuse, and infidelity are insignificant next to the menace of same-sex marriage; against this last assault, the sacred bond between one man and several women one woman cannot stand.

Thank God the Mormon church had the moral fiber and financial means to support Proposition 8. Without their heavenly cash (did they melt the golden plates to cover the cost?), Prop 8 might not be law today. Yes, the campaign was $35,000,000 well spent- it proves that democracy is all about cheques and balance$.

*Removes tongue from cheek*

I’ve been told by some that I’m being too hard on Mormons; that perhaps Joseph Six-Pack was unaware of what the church leadership was up to. I say bullshit. There are numerous examples of followers who plead ignorance in some misdeed. Despite my cynicism, I firmly believe that a leader can only successfully lead with complicit agreement of followers. Quite simply, those in charge can only get away with as much as their people allow. Thus, if there were any real opposition to Prop 8 from within the Mormon party, it would not have been such a smashing success.

Before you deem me to quick to judge others, let me clarify a few things. I strongly believe in religious freedom- if Mormons hate same-sex marriage, that’s fine. If Catholics are appalled by abortion, that’s fine. If Jews are offended by Christmas trees, so be it. There’s nothing wrong with any of these ideas- and any who believes this country should live up to it’s reputation as a free society ought to agree.

Though church officials might eschew the term, it’s sometimes called intellectual freedom- the right to think and say what you want without fear of reprisal. Like all abstract ideas, intellectual (or religious) freedom is fantastic- in reality, however, it’s sometimes unpleasant. I disagree with most politicians, clergymen, feminists, misogynists, scientists, violinists, and anybody else who spouts off too frequently (especially bloggers). To use the popular phrase, I don’t discriminate- I dislike everyone equally. Which is good; it keeps things interesting.

What’s bad is when a person or group tries to make their discriminatory beliefs into law. It doesn’t matter how you feel about Mormons, Mexicans, Jews, Gays, gay Jews or Mexican Mormons. Everyone has the same rights. No further elaboration is needed for such a simple concept, laid out so eloquently by our constitution.*

*Unless…. you disagree with the Constitution and have the financial chutzpah to get new laws passed.

As always, I’m glad to report that the irony is not entirely lost on me. That a religious group that was chased out of the Land of Lincoln for their religious beliefs, and subsequently persecuted for decades for their peculiar marriage practices to sponsor legislation to deprive another group of their right to marry is about an 8 on the irono-meter.

What does all this mean for the land of the free? You decide. I’m busy working on my new law to ban Chinese marriage (we have to stop them before they reach 2 billion!).

Crucifact or Crucifiction?

While making the dog-sitting rounds today, I noticed a book at one of our patron’s homes, titled God is My CEO. Although I’m not an overtly religious or spiritual person, I find the analogy hollow, particularly on this Easter weekend..

Why is it hollow? Glad you asked.

Let’s start with a clarification: spirituality and religion are two distinct concepts. Spirituality is the belief in the metaphysical, something beyond our worldly existence. Spirituality is typical, perhaps even necessary, to human cultures throughout history. Spirituality is completely abstract, and varies as widely as can be imagined. Religion is the worldly manifestation of that spirituality, usually in form of doctrine and ritual. This is at a stroke religion’s strength, and it’s weakness: it attempts to parse spirituality into more tangible, worldly concepts. The oil which greases the wheels of religion is faith; in our hearts we know that religion is imperfect, but faith assuages fears about our imperfections and imparts a sense of piety, or strength, or righteousness, or whatever we’re in need of.

Religion (like spirituality) is a unique feature among the creatures of Earth, and it has served us sometimes to our benefit, sometimes to our detriment. Religion is neither good nor evil by nature; it is in principal only the means to grasp at our spirituality. The question of good and evil is answered in the practice of a religion, but that discussion will have to wait until another day. The issue at hand is religion’s specific role in daily life, and in the case of God is My CEO, the modern abuse of religion.

Abuse might be too strong a word.  Religion is being perverted (not for the first or last time, I suspect) by defying it’s intended purpose (spiritual fulfilment).   Instead of removing some part of us from our worldly existence through spiritual enlightenment, it throws the intangible mystery of spirituality into a mundane role, i.e., God as a CEO.  This is a tough line to walk- I’m not suggesting that spirituality and religion have no place in daily life.  Indeed, religion can be a great asset in surviving the daily grind.  It’s the attitude the title of this book that I take issue with; the analogy of God as a CEO.  Clearly, no analogy is perfect, or there’d be no need for it. But to bring something sacred and personal to the niveau of something so bourgeois and decidedly unspiritual seems, well, blasphemous.

The Christian Dilemma 

History is full of similar perversions, and our current days show there’s been little improvement of the situation.  All religions must face this issue, but I’m most familiar with Christianity, so I’ll pick on the Christians.  To be a Christian is to navigate a minefield of hypocrisy.  Will you follow Biblical scripture to the letter, will it be old or new testament?  Or do you take a more measured approach, and try to apply general Biblical concepts?

I don’t know which path I would follow if I were newly introduced to Christianity.  My personal experience is with the Roman-Catholic Church.  The Catholic Church is a fascinating example of the struggle between religion and spirituality.  For centuries, Catholics have been in a bit of an awkward situation.  The same hands that build beautiful cathedrals and compose hymnals for the exultation of God have spilled the blood of untold numbers of men, women and children.  Greedy, malicious Popes have worn the same funny hat as pious and benevolent Popes.  I won’t dwell on the checkered past; sufficed to say, one could just as easily argue there are two Catholic Churches: one good, one evil.  Today that legacy persists, though more subtly.  The rigid hierarchy of the Church remains intact, and that’s what interests me the most.

The Catholic Church is a prime example of a hierarchical religion, which I would argue is a bit of an oxymoron.  Since spirituality is a personal tenet, religion, one assumes, should be largely personal too.  For Catholics, however, religion is dictated from the top-down.  The Catholic Church maintains that the Pope is infallible, and is God’s messenger on Earth.  So if he released a Papal Bull requiring us to wear sombreros to mass, we’d have to do it.  No question.

This rigidity is an asset and a liability:  on one hand, it breeds uniformity.  The Catholic doctrine should be the same throughout the world, which reduces the likelihood that you’ll get radical, bigoted lunatic spewing venom every Sunday morning.

On the other hand, it takes religious freedom out of the hands of those who practice it.  This is, as I stated, is contrary to the very idea of religion and spirituality.

More on this to come….

Review: 2008

I know what you’re thinking, and my rebuttal is no, it is not too early to review 2008, a relative newborn as years go. The verdict: cold, dark, and full of surprises (not unlike Space). It honestly hasn’t been so terribly cold yet; in fact, I don’t think it’s even dropped below zero.

The problem lies rather with the weather indoors at the Liberry. My beloved berry is a Carnegie Library. It’s been added on to, renovated, nearly burned to the ground, rebuilt, and re-renovated. The culmination of this 111 year history is a fantastic liberry with sub-prime heating and cooling. While the catalogers are fanning themselves upstairs and sipping iced tea, I shiver in the storage/server room cum meat locker. The upshot: I now drink more green tea than the 8th, 9th, and 11th Dalai Lama.

No news is more surprising than the upsets in the Iowa caucus, with democrat Barack H. Obama (the H stands for Hussein! Like Saddam!) and republican Mike Huckabee (another guv from Arkansas) triumphing over their respective party brethren. What does this mean for you and me? Not too damn much. Some people feel that winning the Iowa caucus will give nomination-ensuring impetus to the victors. These people are idiots.

Iowa is nothing remarkable; it has a lot of land, about as many people as metro St. Louis, and a misplaced sense of pride. Its only distinction is being the first state to hold a caucus. This small get for Iowa hardly seems deserving of all the folderol surrounding the Iowa Caucus.

Of course, there’s always hope that people will come to their senses. My boy Kucinich (who had no chance from the start) endorsed Obama, which prompted speculation about him being Obama’s running partner.

The real winner yesterday was an NPR interviewee who confessed that although she was a faithful christian and republican, voted for (mormon) Mitt Romney instead of the the (christian) Mike Huckabee. Why? Because she felt Huckabee’s religious zeal was inappropriate in a world of dangerous religious fanatics, and that faith is a personal tenant, not a public spectacle.

Maybe there’s hope for 2008 after all…