Monday, April 21, 2008

Commonalities of “Proper” Religions

Walking to work today, I noticed a number of flyers along the way decrying the evils of Scientology, posted by local members of Anonymous. I took most of them down, because I was deeply offended by this absurd media notion of a “war” on Scientology. There is no war on Scientology until someone gets blown up. That's what war is: killing people who don't agree with your ideas. There are no Internet suicide bombers taking out Scientology clinics; there have been no drive-by shootings at anime conventions by Dianetics zealots. Unless you have killing, you don't have war. You merely have a debate of increasing levels of impoliteness and rhetoric, which ends either when someone brings out the swords or everyone shuffles home in cowardice.

Then it occurred to me: what would it take to get a Scientologist to kill someone for his beliefs? Sure, I've heard horror stories about Scientology members dying from negligence, but in my estimation it doesn't count when you kill your own flock, or else Jim Jones and those Hale-Bopp aficionados in the black Nikes would have more historical respect. Real religious fanatics kill other people.

Do all “true” religions (i.e. the ones that get the 501c tax breaks) have assassins? We certainly know the Jews killed plenty of people; their own books laud their massacres like football scores in a sports almanac. One need look no further than the Bhagavad Gita to implicate the Hindus. Certainly those Buddhist monks don't need all that Shaolin kung fu for spreading Dharma. As for the Christians, don't even get me started about the Crusades, the Inquisitions, the conquest of Mesoamerica...

It wouldn't be so galling if these same churches didn't constantly claim to be religions of peace. For the most part, I find that the more someone feels compelled to tell you how peaceful their religion is, the less peaceful it actually is. For example, the Rastafari (and here I mean the true practitioners in the lineage of the Burru men, not your local Stoned White Guy With Dreadlocks And A Tie-Dyed Bob Marley Shirt) almost never feel the need to explain how peaceful their beliefs are; the beliefs themselves do that for them. On the other hand, Muslims constantly talk about Islam being a religion of peace, almost to the level that one wonders if they're trying to convince themselves as well.

You can make the argument that assassins are the rogue zealots of faith and operate independently of the “pure” believers, but that's a convenient cop-out. In truth, no one likes to be told that they need to get their house in order. If violent fanatics call themselves Jews, Muslims, Christians, Hindus, etc. then it's unarguably the responsibility of everyone else who bears that classification to pull these antisocial elements aside and straighten them out. Sitting on your balcony sucking your teeth in disapproval will not keep Kitty Genovese from getting raped.

In summation: if you kill other people then you're in a religion, but if you only kill your own members then you're in a cult. If you don't kill anyone, you're probably just a hapless ascetic.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The Rational Christ

The collection of books we call the Bible is actually an arbitrary anthology, and references a number of other books in its own texts that have since fallen into the realm of apocrypha: The Book of the Wars of the Lord, The Sayings of the Seers, The Gospel of Perfection, The Covenant Code, etc. These texts were not accidentally dismissed. There are surviving decrees from the Church of Rome ordering various texts to be burned if they contradicted with their established order; ironically these are the only documents that provide us historical record of the existence of these texts.

Fast-forward to the Drug War. While caffeine, taurine, nicotine and alcohol remain freely available or very loosely controlled (evidenced by the ATF bottom-feeder practice of stinging the common minimart clerk rather than the tobacco lobbyist), all psychedelics -- LSD, cannabis, MDMA, etc. -- are strictly controlled substances. This is no coincidence: the substances that decrease the possibility of organized revolution are allowed, while the ones that incite free thinking are demonized. You can hardly blame the powers that be, since it's pretty hard for people to find a reason to get up and go to work in the morning once they realize that they're actually infinitely powerful cosmic beings in a larval stage.

There's no difference between these methodologies. There is only one conspiracy, throughout time immemorial, regardless of whatever incidental material encumbrances its wielders have acquired, from the Spanish Inquisition to the Third Reich to the Vietnam draft to the Patriot Act: the pervasive belief that you do not possess the authority, the ability or the agency to make decisions for your own body. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The Christ was not a God to be worshiped or a savior to surrender one's temerity to; he was a blueprint to be overlaid over oneself. "I am the way and the light" is not a sentence that contains a personal pronoun. The "I" is the way; myself is the light; the body furnace that the alchemical Rosicrucians called "athenor" knows itself best as a vessel for transmuting the vile metals into perfect gold.

The true and proper Christian -- in fact the proper practitioner of any belief system: Muslim Sufism, Zen Buddhism, Masoretic Kaballah, the Socratic Method, all truth-seeking sciences and alchemical schools since Ibn al-Haytham, etc. -- draws a clear distinction between submission to God and surrender to God, just as the collarable BDSM slave knows the difference between a Master and a Control Freak.

"Through God all things are possible." (Matthew 19:26)

Jesus isn't coming back, friends; he's already here. He's you.