Sunday, November 7, 2010

"My own mind is my own Church."

Thomas Paine said, "I do not believe in the creed professed by the Jewish Church, by the Roman Church, by the Greek Church, by the Turkish Church, by the Protestant Church, nor by any Church that I know of. My own mind is my own Church."

Welcome to my worship service. :)

Ahhhhhhh. Sweet, soft rainy Sunday. I hear the rhythms of the rain; my wind chimes dance with the wind, sing with the rain. I have a book to read today, a paper to write, and some freelance graphic design work to finish (a lot of things are very different in grad school, but I still like eating). So a blog post is the prefect thing to do, right?

Right. It's my going to church on Sunday, I guess you could say.

One of the classes I'm taking is an online class (which I will never do again if I can help it. I need skinsuit contact; mere textual engagement in insufficient). Many of my classmates are not skilled writers, which can make it harder for me to extract meaning, to understand their thoughts and feelings, especially without physical cues.

For this class, we had to read a really crappy article, one of those that pretty much swears that if we had matriarchy instead of patriarchy, everything would be all better. If we worshiped a goddess instead of a god, things'd be ever so much nicer!

Ack. That crap drives me nuts, I tellya. We have this absurd notion of a matriarchal prehistory that women ran and life was great. Historical and anthropological evidence refutes this idea utterly. Didn't happen. We've built several cultural structures around hindsighted ideas about shit that never really happened (sound like a familiar pattern?) and it's pretty much a bad idea to do that--build a house on sand, as it were. Any structure built on a poor foundation is more likely to collapse; this happens in the mind as well as with levees and in governments).

So, speaking of building complex, elaborate structures on fallacy, my Mom just this week joined Facebook. Right before election day, she posted something about getting through elections so we can go back to 'normal,' and votes changing things so this country can heal. I asked her if she meant all the people, or just the Christian ones. All the people, she assured me.

She continued, "this Country is a democracy,"

[Which it actually isn't--it's a constitutional republic]

Mom: "created by men who believed in God"

[Also not true. All of our founding fathers had a relationship to religion--they couldn't avoid it, given the timbre of the times (I can't recommend PBS's series God in America enough!!).] And when you're done with that--or, hell, even as an appetizer--go read The Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense founded on the Christian religion. Excellent research.

Mom: "and trusted in this nation to govern themselves, to put men and women in office who listen to the people of this nation and pass laws the meet those needs!"

[Kinda true, but not really. The idea was to create some thing that allowed for everyone to have a go at whatever they wanted, neither being oppressed nor supported. There isn't supposed to be one authoritative line; hence the whole checks and balances thing. I gotta go to Jefferson: "I am not a friend to a very energetic government. It is always oppressive."]

"Neither a state nor the Federal Government can, openly or secretly, participate in the affairs of any religious organizations or groups and vice versa. In the words of Jefferson, the clause against establishment of religion by law was intended to erect 'a wall of separation between Church and State." The U.S. Supreme Court, 1947

Mom : "It is time for the American People to stand up for our Constitution and what it stands for, and I will hope and pray for all governing bodies to work together for the good of All the people!"

[Again, I hafta let Jefferson answer that one: "Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his God; that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship; that the legislative powers of the government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should `make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, thus building a wall of separation between church and State." Thomas Jefferson, in his historic Danbury letter, January 1, 1802]

On top of that, I admit a strong queasiness about their being some sort of arbiter of what's good for all the people. I know for sure that folx like Dobson, Gingrich, Rove, McCain, Palin, Brown, Falwell & Robertson have NO fekkin idea what's good for me. Nor, I must confess, do I know what's good for them. But I believe we both have the privilege/obligation to go find out what's right for each of us, and to keep that spaciousness open for others who choose a voyage of discovery over a prison of certainty.

Thing is, I plan to stop at discovery; I don't feel burdened by a need to foist my doctrine on others. Again with the Jefferson: "It does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods or no God. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg."

I will now sit quietly back in my pew, and let this chorus of benediction round out my worship service. Enjoy. And praise be to Roland99for this excellent assembly of music to my ears.

"Who does not see that the same authority which can establish Christianity, in exclusion of all other Religions, may establish with the same ease any particular sect of Christians, in exclusion of all other Sects?" James Madison, in "Memorial and Remonstrance", 1785

Roger Williams: God requireth not a uniformity of religion.

Thomas Jefferson: The day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus, by the Supreme Being as his Father, in the womb of a virgin, will be classified with the fable of the generation of Minerva in the brain of Jupiter. But we may hope that the dawn of reason and the freedom of thought in these United States will do away with this artificial scaffolding, and restore to us the primitive and genuine doctrines of this most venerated Reformer of human errors.

James Madison: During almost fifteen centuries the legal establishment known as Christianity has been on trial, and what have been the fruits, more or less, in all places? These are the fruits: pride, indolence, ignorance, and arrogance in the clergy. Ignorance, arrogance, and servility in the laity, and in both clergy and laity, superstition, bigotry, and persecution.

Thomas Jefferson: I do not find in orthodox Christianity one redeeming feature.

John Adams: The divinity of Jesus is made a convenient cover for absurdity. Nowhere in the Gospels do we find a precept for Creeds, Confessions, Oaths, Doctrines, and whole carloads of other foolish trumpery that we find in Christianity.

Thomas Paine: Of all the tyrannies that affect mankind, tyranny in religion is the worst."

Abraham Lincoln: The Bible is not my Book and Christianity is not my religion. I could never give assent to the long complicated statements of Christian dogma.

Benjamin Franklin: As to Jesus of Nazareth, I think the system of Morals and his Religion, as he left them to us, the best the World ever saw or is likely to see; but I apprehend it has received various corrupting Changes, and I have, with the most of the present Dissenters in England, some doubts to his divinity.

"As the government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion ..." from the Treaty of Tripoli, signed by John Adams, June 10, 1797.

"The number, the industry, and the morality of the priesthood, and the devotion of the people have been manifestly increased by the total separation of church and state." James Madison, March 2, 1819

May you worship as it suits your soul,
even though that be no faith at all.
May you think as it suits your work,
even though that be no consideration at all;
and may you live as it suits the world you live in,
even though that be an unexamined life.

Pax, Shalom, Salaam, Pace, Paix, Freiden, Peace.

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